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me_in_paris_198That’s me, on a trip, in a Paris restaurant.
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On a recent road trip, I listened to 2 books on CD that I checked out of the library. With long stretches of highway with nothing to occupy my time, I love doing books on CD. The better of the 2 was definitely Frances Mayes’ new memoir, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir. She narrates the story herself, and I just loved hearing her southern accent all the way through, her lilting, slow manner of speaking. She tells the story of her youth, from as young as she can remember to about age 25 or so, with most of it her coming-of-age in her teens. Her parents were alcoholics. Her older sisters were away at college. She wasn’t from a wealthy family exactly, but there was some money, a maid that she loved dearly who protected her from her parents sometimes. A grandmother figures large for some of the years. Her thought processes are normal, although she says from the get-go that she always felt she was different than most people, not a traditionalist for sure. Having read her other books, I never picked up on all the angst she experienced as a young woman, a girl, really. I absolutely LOVED the book. Mayes has a gift of prose – of a kind you don’t often read – she uses amazing language and phrases, adverbs and adjectives. Describes scenes so well and with such detail you just know you’re right there beside her.  Didn’t want it to end. As I reached across to the passenger seat to pull out the last CD I was sad, knowing the story was coming to an end. Because she ended it at about age 25, I suspect there may be another book in her future. For several days after I listened to this book I could hear Mayes’ southern accent in my head (like I hear memorable music when I attend a concert or sing a hymn or praise song at church). Her voice resonated in my head. If you enjoy memoirs, and reading about a kind of a crazy family, AND you like Frances Mayes, well, then, you’ll like this book for sure.

The other book, that I am sorry to say I cannot recommend is Sue Miller’s book, The Senator’s Wife (Vintage Contemporaries). Reading the back of the CD box I wasn’t sure, but I took it anyway. And at first I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue listening to it (when the young woman digs into her neighbor’s personal letters when she’s supposedly taking in the mail and watering plants), then got engrossed in the story. It’s about a young couple who move to a new house, part of a duplex in New England. Their next door neighbor is the aging and somewhat estranged wife of a Washington Senator. The young woman is far too curious about her neighbor and her neighbor’s marriage, what there is of it, although she cares about her neighbor a lot. The chapters switch back and forth between the young wife and the aging woman next door with their personal daily trivia, interspersed with some drama on both sides. The Senator is a philanderer, hence the partial estrangement. The young woman has a baby and consequently spends lots of time at home, overwhelmed with motherhood, hoping for something to change her life. When the Senator has a stroke and returns “home” for his “wife” to care for him (her choice) the plot thickens. The young wife is asked to babysit, so to speak, for an hour or so once a week for the old man, and that’s when, something happens that sickened me. I disliked this young woman and felt her behavior was just so disappointing. I couldn’t continue. If you like that sort of thing, then maybe you’d like the book. I was on the last CD when the story took this turn, and I was sorry I’d wasted so many hours on it to get there. Friendship isn’t about betrayal – it isn’t a friendship then. If any of you have read this already and want to comment, send me an email. Go to my contact page above.

Read Maude by Donna Mabry. It’s a true story (but written as a novel) about the author’s grandmother, Maude. It takes place from the early 1900s to her death in the 1960s. She lived a hard, hard life (mostly in Detroit), and there’s information that even takes me back to things I vaguely remember about my own grandmother’s life. I was fascinated. I won’t say that I couldn’t put it down, but I looked forward each night to read what was going to happen next. It’s hard to tell you much about the book without revealing too much of the story – I won’t call it a happy book, because there is much sadness within its pages, but you admire Maude for what she did, the role she played, her inherent grit. But I wanted to smack her 2nd husband! A good read, though.

While I was on my 3-week trip to Europe, I read 5 books. Of them all, Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robin Hutton, was by far the best story, a true story about an American Marine. Many books have been written about Sgt Reckless, this rather nondescript, small Mongolian mare that was purchased by American forces in Korea in the height of the war. She was reared as a race horse, but she spent her career as an heroic soldier for our military, saving countless lives as she willingly delivered munitions from one place to another. Everyone who came in contact with her loved her. She became a regular soldier, mostly so they could requisition food for her. Sometimes she survived on next to nothing to eat. She aimed to please, and please she did, as in one 24-hour period she ferried ammunition up steep slopes (too steep for soldiers to climb) and she did it all by herself. When the Marines unloaded her cargo, she immediately worked her way down for more. She knew what she was supposed to do. She was highly intelligent, amazing many people over the course of her life. If you love animal stories, you’ll love this one. Have a Kleenex box nearby.

Another really riveting story, one I could hardly put down, is The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam. My friend Joan recommended this one to me. Most likely  you’ve never read anything about Chinese immigrants living in South Vietnam during the war there, right? Neither had I. And you have to keep track of who is who, and the politics of the time. The Vietnamese don’t like Chinese people, so there’s that going on. The Chinese man runs an English school somewhere near Saigon. He has a right hand man who may or may not be what he appears to be. The Chinese man has a son who gets himself into trouble. Oh, webs woven every which way. As I said, I could hardly put it down. Will make a very good book club read.

IN THE POWDER ROOM: The guest half-bath in my house has a little tiny table with a pile of books that I change every now and then. They’re books that might pique someone’s interest even if for a very short read. The Art of Travel, a collection of essays about traveling (it’s not a how-to), gathering a variety of stories of some historic authors and where and why they traveled; The Greatest Stories Never Told; and Sara Midda’s South of France; also Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages (just the cutest book – with a miscellany of things – letters, grocery lists, notes, reminders, confessions the author discovered hidden inside the books he purchased for his used bookstore).

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small engraved sterling silver tea spoons that I use to taste as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Salads, on July 6th, 2015.

tuna_pasta_mint_greenbean_salad

Need a refreshing salad for a warm/hot summer night? The humidity in our neck of the woods has been pretty much in the 70s and 80s in recent weeks, which is very unusual for California. Perhaps you folks in the East scoff at 70% humidity. At any rate, if you want a cold salad that’s filling and delicious, and really simple, just have on hand some canned tuna, green beans, some eggs, mint, basil and some kind of pasta.

I’ve been reading a new blog – well, it’s not a new blog, but it’s new to me. It’s called Manger, written by Mimi Thorisson. Among other things, her photographs are stunning. She lives in Médoc, France with her husband and 2 children. She’s written a cookbook too. I haven’t gone back into her recipe archives much, but I noticed a recipe she made that looked really nice for a warm summer evening. I cooked the green beans earlier in the day when it was cool in the kitchen. I did cook the pasta right before dinner, but that’s because I decided to add it. Mimi didn’t have pasta in her salad, nor did she include basil, or any mayo in the dressing. Or lemon juice, either So, I kind of improvised. I’d been hankering to make my favorite tuna salad, one that’s been in my recipe archive for a long time, credited to Joanne Weir, but Joanne says it’s not really her recipe. I swear it came from a cooking class I took decades ago at Sur la Table, and it was a compilation of some of the favorites from the Sur la Table kitchen school pros, recipes from a variety of different instructors, Joanne being one of them. You can find that recipe here on my blog too. It’s a pasta and tuna mixture, Sicilian Tuna Salad –  that’s been a long time favorite. So I’d gathered up some of the ingredients, because I was going to make it, and then this salad stepped in front of my view, and it became my dinner.

I guess I should say – has it supplanted the Sicilian salad? No, I still like the Sicilian one better, but it’s definitely a pasta salad, whereas this one is more veggies and tuna with a few little pieces of pasta thrown in for texture. This one is very simple to make – prepare the dressing, but add some lemon juice – either in the dressing or drizzle some on the finished salad. Cook the green beans. Chop up the eggs, crumble the canned tuna, chop up some mint and basil and kind of layer the whole thing on a plate then drizzle the dressing on top. Done. Easy.

What’s GOOD: I liked how simple it was to make, and the addition of the green beans put it way up there in my estimation. You can leave out the pasta if you don’t want it. You’ve got protein and vegetables, then, and a drizzle of dressing and some powerful herbs (mint and basil) to give it tons of flavor. I put on lots of black pepper, and it needed some salt at the end also. But you could put this dinner together in less than 20 minutes including cooking the pasta and the green beans.

What’s NOT: It’s not a wow salad – not everything can be a wow. It was good. It was flavorful. It had lots of texture, and it was satisfying. All good enough reasons to make it.

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Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click on link to open recipe in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Tuna, Egg, Mint and Pasta Salad

Recipe By: Inspired by a recipe at Manger (blog)
Serving Size: 2

2 large hard boiled eggs
1 cup haricots verts — cooked, shocked in ice water
1/3 cup mint — chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil — sliced thinly
2/3 cup cooked pasta
6 ounces canned tuna — [use really good quality tuna], drained, crumbled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice — approximately, enough to suit your taste
A dash of celery salt
Several dashes of pepper

1. Cut the stem end off the green beans, rinse well and cook for 4-5 minutes in salted boiling water, until just barely tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Chop into small bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
2. Prepare vinaigrette – mix olive oil, celery salt, pepper, mayo and balsamic vinegar . You can add more or less balsamic vinegar to your liking. Set aside.
3. Assemble salad with pasta on the bottom, tuna in the center, a layer of chopped eggs, then a layer of green beans. Sprinkle with chopped mint and basil just before serving and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately with more lemon juice squeezed over the top if desired. (You won’t use all the salad dressing.)
Per Serving (it’s high because there is more dressing than you’ll use): 495 Calories; 32g Fat (58.3% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 240mg Cholesterol; 405mg Sodium.

Posted in Travel, on July 2nd, 2015.

pond_giverny_house

Many tours of Paris include a visit to Giverny, the gorgeous small estate and gardens of the famed impressionist artist, Claude Monet. Back in his days there, he was a celebrated artist – a fame that came to him later in life.

In Monet’s earlier years he and his wife nearly died of starvation as they struggled to survive in a tiny garret in Paris. Yet never would he consider taking on some other occupation. He lived only to draw and paint. His first wife died (and he was both acclaimed and censored for painting his wife as she lay dead in their marital bed). Eventually he married again, and then finally he became an artist in favor. He’d made enough money to afford a lovely home and a staff to take care of this quiet, country piece of land on a narrow lane just north of Paris. Back then it was a ‘fur piece” to get there – now it takes about 45 minutes by car.

flowers1Over the years he expanded the gardens to include a piece of land that was across the road. Technically he owned it (so we learned on our tour) but nobody else built on theirs, but Monet did. The tour includes both sides of the road and you hardly realize that there IS a road in between. The townspeople must not have wanted to make waves, so they allowed his indiscretion of developing the garden. The road, in the photo at top is behind the ivy wall you can see about half way up. He dammed up a small pond (which is on the annexed garden) and planted flowers every which way. He painted nearly every day and everyone in the household left him alone when he was painting – it is what allowed them all to live there and be part of his large family. As long as he continued to paint and sell his paintings, the family lived in some level of French countryside splendor.

cherrie_joan_bridgeHis gardeners kept the entire property thriving with seasonal flowers, built and planned along every path and wall to provide fodder for his paintbrush. The Monets entertained lavishly and often – there are cookbooks about the food they ate. Including the menus and recipes.

The bridge at left is quite famous in Monet-land. It’s in several of his paintings (Cherrie and Joan standing there in the middle).

Some of the trees, shrubs and flowers were labeled, but most of them were not. We guessed at some. I think one of the most interesting areas was the pond and in the middle of it there were very vocal frogs. I took a video, but am not very adept at the process of uploading it to my blog, so just trust me – it was very giverny_main_pathentertaining as the frogs called to each other from one lily pad to another and males protected their territory with skirmishes going on nearly every minute. Or, maybe it wasn’t male-male skirmishes, but male to female lovers’ calls.

As we meandered around the paths, we eventually made it into the main gardens in front of the house. This pathway you see at right is cordoned off so visitors can’t walk there (you had to walk around the outside edges), but it makes for a prettier picture, I think.

In the heart of summer, most likely the climbing plants and flowers completely cover those canopies.

flowers2

Flowers, pretty pastel spring flowers, were in abundance, in small clumps, mixing in more than one color or type, as at left with pink tulips and whatever the little blue flowers were. Can’t remember, nor can I tell from the photos.

Eventually we ended up going into the front door of the house (straight ahead in the photo above. Docents (French speaking only, of course) were in every room to make sure nobody stepped out of line or touched things. Monet and his wife slept in separate bedrooms, and actually the house wasn’t as big as I thought. Perhaps there are other rooms in the house that we didn’t see, more rooms for guests.

giverny_view

I’ve read that once a week – I think it’s on the day the estate is closed to the public – it’s open to artists who wish to come and paint in Monet’s footsteps. I’ve never done plein air painting (meaning out in the open, in nature), though every summer here where I live in Southern California, there is a workshop and competition for plein air.

Having heard about and read (I own the original Monet cookbook) some about the Monet family feasts, I was very intrigued to see the stunningly beautiful dining room. The house itself has been left completely as it was when Monet lived there (well, they keep it up, obviously, because it’s a huge money-maker). I have no idea if Monet’s descendants are involved, or are even alive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard.

giverny_rowboats

The photo at left, with the rowboats, was one of my favorite scenes at Giverny. Monet painted angles of that numerous times. If you go on the ‘net and look, you’ll find so many paintings of different places all over the estate. There’s something so peaceful about the rowboats, and the still pond, and the bamboo (I think) growing up behind them.

My Monet cookbook resides up in my office (meaning that it isn’t one I use much). I found that the recipes were kind of bland. Plain. And that’s not my style particularly, but the book is big, with lots of photographs of Giverny, and I have a hankering to look through the pages again, to remember my walk through the gardens, this view and that.

giverny_dining_roomThe Monet dining room is all in yellow, and it’s a very bright and cheerful room. Big. Because there were many extra chairs sitting around the edges, I think the table could accommodate more people if they needed to. The floors were beautiful. The furniture was all painted yellow. The floors that unique brick-red and white checkerboard. You can see the doorway into the kitchen beyond.

giverny_tulips

Loved the yellow and crimson tulips that were just in their final days of bloom. I wanted to cut off about a hundred and vase them in my kitchen.

giverny_kitchen

The kitchen was so cool (in blue) and airy, with the gorgeous copper pots hanging around. I suspect the table you see in the foreground was the main work surface. I think the tile wall is Delft, and I found it interesting that they combined the blue-blue (like a marine blue) of the tiles and the turquoise trim color. To me they don’t go together at all. I’m sure Monet decided that color – very little was left to chance or to Mrs. Monet.

giverny_stove_kitchen

There is the cooking wall – with different Delft tiles surrounding the stove. And would you take a look at that stove? Like a gigantic Aga, but surely it was wood burning. But I don’t know that – just assuming that it was wood or coal burning. With so many different cubbyholes for heating, warming and baking.

Off to one side of the gardens was a very large gift shop, and although I tried to find some things I wanted there, the only thing I bought was a plastic shopping bag (that cost me about $3.00 U.S.) with one of Monet’s lily pad pond scenes on it. I take it to the grocery store and cart food into my kitchen. They had lots of Monet books – oodles of them, but I didn’t buy one.

monets_studio_giverny

There at left is Monet’s art studio. It was gigantic – by far the biggest room in the house. On the walls are painted replicas of his paintings, all stuck chock-a-block on ever surface. It was connected to the house, but down several stairs to get there. I’d have liked to really study the room more, but it was quite crowded, as you can see.

All of us really enjoyed the gardens – it was a lovely afternoon, the sun shone but it wasn’t too hot (this was early April). We were fortunate that we had no rain – we didn’t have rain at all on the trip.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on June 30th, 2015.

breadfarms_grahams

Can I just tell you that you have to make these and leave it at that? No, you probably won’t believe me, will you? I don’t use that kind of forceful declaration very often. Well, just believe me, okay?

Often I’m led down a cooking path by the description of a recipe. Maybe it’s something unusual about it – or in it – that piques my interest. Other times it’s because there’s such an interesting background story about it. Or maybe it’s a homegrown recipe from way back. In this case, it’s Molly Wizenberg, of Orangette blog, cookbook fame, and her husband’s restaurant Delancey fame too. I’ve always admired Molly’s writing – she has a gift of building up a great story and I was following her long before she became famous. I read her blog and liked it. This recipe came from her column in Saveur.

And I got hooked on it because of the story. She and her family were on a drive in Washington, and her daughter was hungry. So was everyone in the car and most of the stores were closed in Edison. They found Breadfarm was about to close – they grabbed some things and dived into the bags as they stood in the parking lot. What emanated from them all were ooohs and aaahs. But it was the little package of freshly baked graham crackers that made the biggest impression. They were gone before she arrived home. And, because you’re Molly Wizenberg, you obviously can pick up the phone and tell the people at Breadfarm that you want to feature them and their recipe in an article in Saveur.

I’m ever so glad she did. Normally I’d probably not make home made graham crackers. Crackers, in grahams_closeupgeneral, are a lot of work, and one meal, usually, and they’re gone. But Molly just made this graham cracker/cookie sound so divine that there just wasn’t anything to do but make these. First, however, I had to go shopping. I don’t stock whole wheat flour much – it turns rancid so quickly (the remainder is in the freezer for now). And I certainly had never used whole wheat pastry flour. Had to go to two stores before I found those items. It also uses wheat bran – another thing I don’t keep on hand because it doesn’t keep all that long, either.

Fortunately I read and re-read the recipe before I began to make them. Making these requires several visits to the freezer as the precious little graham cracker cargo are chilled and slightly frozen before baking. I was home anyway, so I was certain to make these at a time when I would have no distractions.

My kitchen freezer is very full. (Actually, this is a mini form of hoarding, I think – I can’t seem to ever get my freezer to some manageable amount of fullness – it’s always chock full.) So I had to slide the cookie sheets with the rolled out cookies/crackers on parchment into my garage freezer (yes, there is room there). It required 2 visits to the freezer, and technically they were supposed to have a 3rd visit, but I did a shortcut on that one.

The batter is easy enough to make – you cream the butter, sugar (she calls for cane sugar, I used moscovado) and honey for awhile, then add the dry ingredients in 3 separate additions and continue mixing until it pulls away from the workbowl using the stand mixer. The batter is divided in half and pressed into a 1-inch thick rectangle on parchment. A 2nd piece of parchment goes on top and a rolling rolled_perforatedpin is used to squeeze down the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.  The recipe says to keep the dough in its rectangular shape. Well, I couldn’t do that – I was handling it too much, so I just lived with the results of an oval shape and re-rolled the scraps. Some time was spent in the freezer, then you poke the crackers with a fork and either perforate the dough into squares, or in my case, I used a square cookie cutter, which worked just fine. Back into the freezer they go, so they’re cold-cold before you bake them. They are separated and placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet. And they’re baked.

And I remind you – you have to make these. They’re just SO good. They’d be loverly with cheese as an after-dinner course. I’m serving them with my lemon velvet gelato on Father’s Day – this won’t post until a week or so later.

What’s GOOD: the taste. Oh my yes, they taste wonderful. And although you will have spent more time than usual making a batch of these, you’ll be glad you did, if you can make the time to do it. They make a very nice snack, or a straight-out cookie. And maybe you’ll think it’s not so bad because it’s almost all whole wheat flours.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever is bad about the cookie/cracker. It just takes a bit of time to make. And they’re a little bit fussy – trying to get the dough flat and square as you roll it out – you don’t want them to be thicker on one side than the other, not only would they not bake evenly, but they’d look funny.

printer-friendly PDF

Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click on link to open recipe in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Breadfarm’s Graham Crackers _ SAVEUR

Recipe By: From Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, and Saveur, 2015
Serving Size: 48

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon wheat bran — plus 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter — softened
2/3 cup unrefined cane sugar — or turbinado sugar [I used moscovado]
2 tablespoons honey

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours with the wheat bran, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and honey on medium speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is creamy, 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches, stopping as needed to scrape down the bowl, until the flour is fully incorporated.
3. Continue beating until the dough comes together around the paddle, pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball. Halve the dough ball and place each half on a 12” x 16” sheet of parchment paper. Pat each half into a 1”-thick rectangle and then cover with another sheet of parchment paper, lining it up with the first. Using a rolling pin, roll each dough half between the sheets of parchment to an even thickness of 1/8”, maintaining its rectangular shape [this was very difficult to do, so I made do with a big oval shape]. Carefully transfer the two dough halves, still between the parchment sheets, onto two baking sheets and freeze for 30 minutes.
5. Remove each sheet from the freezer, and transfer the parchment-wrapped dough sheets to a clean work surface. Remove the top sheet of parchment from each, and working quickly, use a fork or skewer to prick the dough sheets at roughly 1-inch intervals. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, score the dough into 2-inch squares. Trim the scraps, and reserve to use for re-rolling and making more cookies. Return the pricked and scored dough sheets, still in single, large sheets, to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until very firm.
6. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and heat to 350°. Remove the chilled dough sheets from the freezer, and invert each onto a clean work surface. Peel away and discard the parchment paper and, working quickly, separate the dough sheets along the score lines, into individual squares. Place the squares onto three parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Chill the squares on the baking sheets for 15 minutes.
7. Bake the squares for 14 minutes, until golden at the edges; rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through cooking. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. [I didn’t quite get 48 cookie/crackers out of my batch – probably because they were just a bit thicker than the 1/8 inch suggested – it’s hard to measure!]
Per Serving: 69 Calories; 4g Fat (49.7% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 10mg Cholesterol; 46mg Sodium.

Posted in Uncategorized, on June 28th, 2015.

grilling_veggies_pork_chop

So what’s this, you’re thinking? Huh? Veggies and a pork chop? Well, no, it’s probably not all that significant to most people. But it was significant to me. In the last 15+ months since Dave passed away, my darling DH, I’ve done a bit of grilling – a few times I’ve done meat and once or twice I did some veggies. When friends have visited, I asked them to “man” the grill. It’s been awhile, though, since I’d done it myself. I wanted to grill the yellow squash, but it seemed like a waste to fire up the grill for just veggies. The same could be said for a pork chop. It could be done on the stove top.

I know the mechanics of grilling. I know about how hot the grill should be to sear meat, and how it needs to be lower to do veggies. I know about searing, then pulling the meat aside so it’s not over direct heat, but still leaving the grill up medium-high. But I’d never really done it. I own a bunch of barbecue/grilling cookbooks, and I’ve attended my fair share of grilling classes. But there’s a difference between book learning and actually hovering over the hot grill with tongs or a long-handled fork in hand. This time I did it. For me, that was a hurdle I needed to get to, up and over.

With Dave, I just gave him the instructions and reminded him of the finished temperature of the meat and he went with it. The grill was his friend. I don’t know that I can say that – yet – that the grill is my friend. I’m not exactly afraid of it, but it’s a big-honkin’ thing – it has enough surface to grill about 30 steaks, for sure. I used just two sections for this dinner – one for the veggies and one for the pork chop. But before I took them off the grill I snapped a photo. To say I’d done it. To savor the accomplishment. Maybe not a big thing for you, but it was for me!

And yes, the pork chop was cooked perfectly (yes, I was a bit proud!) and the veggies were just barely soft and had lots of grill marks. That basket made it very easy – I just stirred them every few minutes. I feel like I’ve graduated from grilling boot camp.

But then after I was done I turned the burners to high and put down the lid, with the intent to return in an hour to vigorously brush off the grates and turn off the burners. That was a trick Dave used to do. Guess what? I forgot all about it – discovered 24 hours later that the 2 burners were still on high. Gosh darn. Maybe I didn’t graduate from boot camp after all.

Posted in Appetizers, on June 26th, 2015.

red_onion_confit_port

Whenever I look at a scramble of caramelized onions, my mouth waters. And actually, in the picture above, the onions aren’t caramelized – they’re cooked thoroughly, but they’re tinted dark brown with aged balsamic vinegar, so they look caramelized. No matter – this onion stuff is really tasty. It didn’t take nearly as long as usual to make it because the onions only cook for about 20 minutes.

The title doesn’t tell you that there are a few prunes in this. People get so turned off about prunes – too bad, because they’re really good, and particularly so in this confit (con-FEE). With a French word like confit, it implies that it’s a French dish – and indeed it may be. By definition confit means meat (usually duck) but it can also mean any concoction that’s cooked low and slow with some kind of oil/butter/fat. In this case there’s a little olive oil and butter, but very little. And no meat.

red_onion_confit_ingredientsThe recipe had been in my to-try file for awhile (since ‘09) – I found it at Delicious:Days (a blog). She based her recipe on the original which came from a cookbook by Catherine Atkinson called Perfect Pickles, Chutneys & Relishes. So, I suppose this could be called a chutney (it would be wonderful on a turkey sandwich) or a relish (served with pork or chicken?). It is “pickled” as such because it does contain some GOOD aged balsamic vinegar – you need the acid in order to call it pickles!

There at left are all the ingredients. Hiding on the right side are the fresh thyme and the moscovado sugar. And the tall bottle is 10-year old Port. I used tawny port because that’s what I had, without using the really aged stuff that’s for sipping/drinking, not for cooking. Some people might say I should use that for cooking, but at $40 a bottle, no, I don’t think so! For drinking (which is rare, but when I want it I want it to be good stuff) I buy good Portuguese Port (from Oporto, the town in northern Portugal from whence nearly all their production comes).

The onions are cooked over low heat with the olive oil and butter for awhile, then you add in some of the ingredients and cook for about 15 minutes, then the remaining ingredients and cook for another 10-15 minutes. By then the onions are totally cooked through and the liquids have mostly evaporated and you’ll left with that unctuous tangle of onions that’s so good on a cracker or with cheese.

The recipe suggested serving it with an aged Gouda (see picture at top) and some other kind of French cheese I’d not heard of, so I bought some domestic Brie (not imported only because I thought the onions sardinian_crackers_trader_joeswould overpower the subtlety of a truly ripe and aged Brie). I scooped some of the onion mixture on top of the Brie and the rest I left in a bowl for people to scoop with the cheeses or with crackers. You could also serve it on top of cream cheese – it just wouldn’t be as authentic. Most of our group didn’t care for the onion confit with the Gouda – they either ate the Gouda with a cracker, or they ate the Brie with the onions.

The only thing I’d change in the recipe is to cut the onions in smaller pieces. Because they stick together, it was hard to manipulate a little pile of them. It was either feast or famine with too little or too much of the onion mixture on a piece of cheese or a cracker.

Currently, I’m in love with a new cracker. Have you seen these paper-thin Sardinian crackers (above) at Trader Joe’s? They’re called Pane Guttiau. In my Trader Joe’s they’re with all the other crackers on top of one of the freezer cases. Once you open the package, keep it stored in a Zipiloc plastic bag or the crackers will soften. You can’t really see through them, but they are ridiculously thin and crispy and sometimes I have one of the crackers (pictured) and a slice of cheese for my lunch.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavor of this red onion and prune mixture. It is sweet – just know that off the top – tawny Port is sweet, so I probably made it more so by using it rather than a drier style. You don’t serve very much on any one bite, but it is sweet. But then, red onions are sweet once you cook them down anyway. Next time I won’t use tawny Port. And I’ll probably eliminate the sugar altogether.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. Recipe says it only keeps for a few days. I don’t know why it wouldn’t keep for a couple of weeks. The acid and sugar should keep it fresh for awhile. If it lasts that long.

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Red Onion Confit with Port Wine and Prunes

Recipe By: inspired by Perfect Pickles by Catherine Atkinson (on Delicious Days blog)
Serving Size: 8

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil — may use up to 3
2 cups sliced red onions — sliced about 1/4″ thick and cut into smaller pieces
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons muscovado sugar — light brown sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup prunes — finely chopped
1/2 orange — juice only [I used all the juice as it was a small orange]
3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar — [I used a fig balsamic which is thick and sweet like aged balsamic)
3/8 cup port wine — (use a drier Port if you can find one)
Crackers to serve alongside
Brie cheese to spread it on, if desired

Notes: this mixture is sweet.  If you want it less sweet, use a dry style Port and don’t add the sugar.  Or cut down the amount by half.  I used all of the juice of an orange, and once cooked down, it added sweetness also.  Plus, the prunes are sweet as well.
1.  Heat the butter and half of the olive oil over low to medium heat in a large pot and add the sliced and chopped onions.  Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
2.  Add the thyme sprigs, the bay leaf and muscovado sugar, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are tender.  Again, don’t forget to occasionally stir – the onions are not supposed to gain (much) color.
3.  Add the finely chopped prunes and the liquids: the orange juice, the balsamic vinegar and the port wine.Reduce heat until the mixture slightly simmers and keep stirring regularly until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Remove thyme stems and bay leaf and discard.
4.  Add the remaining olive oil to give a glossy finish and season to your own taste.  Perhaps more vinegar for an extra tangy note?  A bit more pepper to spice things up?  Keeps in the fridge for several days.  [I served it with crackers and with an aged Gouda and Brie.  We particularly liked it with the Brie.]
Per Serving: 123 Calories; 6g Fat (50.7% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 31mg Sodium.

Posted in Travel, on June 24th, 2015.

carolyn_in_Paris_Angelinas_hot_chocolate

That’s me, at Angelina, the famous Paris hot chocolate cafe and store (and  food too, but mostly they’re known for hot chocolate and pastries) sharing a pitcher of hot chocolate at about 9:30 in the morning.

As I’m writing this it’s June and I’m still not finished telling you about the trip I took in late March until mid-April. Our last stop, in Paris for 3 nights. I hope you’re not tired of reading my travel stories – I have a couple more posts to write for the Europe trip (to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and gardens an hour or so north of Paris and our visit to the Opera House).

Our first full day we spent a good part of it at the old Paris Opera House on a small-group, English speaking tour. The 2nd day Darlene and I went over to Angelina. It was a belated birthday present for her from me, a stop she was dying to make, having heard so much about the shop and their special, thick (Africain style) hot chocolate. And indeed, it was thick. So thick that it’s just about required to spoon some whipped cream into it to thin it out a little bit. Here’s what their website says about it:

African Hot Chocolatedarlene_at_angelina
The famous “African” hot chocolate is composed of three carefully selected kinds of African cocoa from Niger, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The secret recipe for this chocolate mix is specially put together for Angelina. The combination of these different types of chocolate from different lands lends Angelina’s hot chocolate its exceptional taste and distinctive character.

I bought two packages of their mix. Darlene and I shared a bag, and the other one will be a gift. I haven’t made any of it yet – it’s way too hot for hot chocolate right now. The gift one is going to my younger granddaughter who is a crazy about hot chocolate. She’ll think it’s extra special. She even has a French hot chocolate pot.

Darlene and I ordered hot chocolate and a pastry. Talk about angelina_hot_chocolate_servicedoubling up the fat. Wow. We waited about 10 minutes and they set the table, just so, and took impeccable care of us, even if we couldn’t speak French. The waiter was very kind and didn’t give us a bad time about it. As we left the place our friend Joan walked in, so the 3 of us walked back to our hotel with our purchases in tow (I bought a little pitcher like the one in the photo at top). Darlene bought several of the imprinted dishes.angelina_hot_chocolate_top

If you do a search for French hot chocolate, or Angelina hot chocolate, you’ll find many recipes. I’m not going to include links here since it’s very easy to do a search.

At right, my cup of chocolate with some of the much-needed whipped cream stirred in. Was this stuff divine? Absolutely!

Posted in Appetizers, Veggies/sides, on June 22nd, 2015.

asparagus_roasted_balsamic_appetizer

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much “over” hummus. And no, this recipe has nothing to do with hummus – I’m just ranting. I’ve just had too much of it. I don’t buy it for myself, and if I’m invited to someone’s home and that’s all they serve as an appetizer, well, guess I’d eat it. But I don’t seek it out. It’s like onion dip back in the 70s, and then vegetable platters with ranch dressing. But I do like to serve vegetables in some form as an appetizer.

So, when I was invited to a dinner, our little gourmet group, I brought appetizers this time, and that meant vegetables. As I’ve mentioned many times, my recipe to-try file on my computer is huge, but since all the recipes can be sub-categorized, I went through the appetizers and found 2 to prepare. This one and a red onion confit thing which I’ll post in a few days.

I do love vegetables. We should eat them twice a day, but I don’t. I prepare them for dinner only, and if I have left overs, then yes, they get eaten with lunch or for another dinner. But we as a population don’t eat as many of them as we should (unless you are vegetarians), so that’s why I prefer taking veggies in some form as appetizers because they’re GOOD for us, and they generally don’t fill us up as heavy, creamy dips do or bread things, or even cheese (which I did serve with the other appetizer).

These asparagus were already washed and pre-trimmed, so I did nothing but oil them a little and into a hot oven they went for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepared the very simple oil and butter sautéed garlic sauce (low and slow, so you don’t brown the garlic slices at all), adding in the tiny jot of soy sauce (low sodium) and balsamic vinegar at the end. Once the asparagus was roasted, this warm sauce was poured over the top, and I used my hands to roll them around in the dressing. There isn’t very much OF it, so you do need to get all the spears covered with a bit of the mixture.

Then they go into a covered container – I suppose while they’re hot they may absorb more of the flavorings. I let the container cool down on my counter top first, then the tray went in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

This recipe couldn’t have been easier, although I did dirty up more dishes than I’d expected in preparing it. It can also be served as a vegetable with a dinner – maybe that’s how this recipe came about (over at food.com) – somebody had left overs and decided to serve them as an appetizer.

What’s GOOD: well, that it’s a vegetable appetizer. These are tasty. Not over the top, but they were good. Next time I’d add more garlic. I’ll be eating them (the left overs) as part of my dinner, I think. Do serve them with napkins, as your fingers will get a bit oily as you pick them up to eat out of hand. Everybody thought they tasted good.

What’s NOT: only that you want to eat them with your fingers – some people don’t like that when the item is oily, and these are. Not overly so, but you must serve with napkins.

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Roasted Balsamic Garlic Asparagus Appetizer

Recipe By: from food.com
Serving Size: 6 (4 if serving as a side dish)

1 pound asparagus — medium to thick stems (not too thin)
olive oil or olive oil spray or mister
1/4 teaspoon sea salt — to taste
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper — to taste
1 teaspoon butter — not margarine
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic — peeled and sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces (amount of garlic to taste)
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Trim the asparagus, then rinse, and cut about an inch off the ends, then use a vegetable peeler to take the outer layer off another inch of the remaining fibrous ends.
3. Place the trimmed asparagus in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet, then spray with an olive oil mister or drizzle evenly with olive oil.
4. Season with the sea salt and the freshly ground pepper.
5. Bake for 8 minutes (don’t overcook). If the asparagus is thinner or thicker it may take less or more time, so adjust the baking time accordingly.
6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over very low heat melt the butter and extra virgin olive oil.
7. Add the sliced garlic and simmer (again, over very low heat) for 5 minutes – careful not to burn. Remove from heat and add the soy sauce and balsamic. The garlic will absorb color from the liquids, so don’t be alarmed that the garlic is burned – as long as it wasn’t brown before you added it, you’ll be fine!
8. When asparagus is done, remove from the oven and place in a flat container which has an airtight cover.
9. Drizzle the balsamic mixture on the asparagus and use your hands to mix the sauce over all the spears. Cover tightly, allow to come to room temp, then place in refrigerator to chill. Please note that, at first, the asparagus is still hot in the container, and that covering them and adding the sauce at this point will continue to steam them a bit for a few minutes. Serve with napkins as you’ll be picking up the spears with your fingers.
10. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving, then place attractively on serving platter. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper on top, if desired.
Per Serving: 24 Calories; 1g Fat (49.3% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 172mg Sodium.

Posted in Travel, on June 20th, 2015.

Basilica_Notre_Dame_de_Fourvière

Without a doubt, this gorgeous basilica is the focal point of Lyon. It stands, majestically, on a prominent hill overlooking the main city below. Its architecture is stunning. The view over the city also stops you in your tracks. The interior of the church is highly decorated with mosaics and glittering in gold.

Our second full day in Lyon was spent in the company of a lovely tour guide, Clémence P. (pictured down below), who met us at the Basilica, taking us on a walking tour inside and explaining the history. She’s a local, although she attended school in the U.S. at some time in her earlier youth and speaks English very well. Joan found her on her internet searches, and she walked us all over the top, then down nearly to the bottom of the hill.

There’s a very cute funicular that traverses up and down the hill every few minutes. So we 4 gals went up on the funicular and walked down, mostly with our guide as she pointed out historical things, bought us a piece of special pastry, and finally left us near a restaurant where we promptly sat down and had lunch.

cathedral_mosaic_wall_lyon

That mosaic on the right is gigantic and standing as I was down below it my photo doesn’t do it justice.

The church was built in the 1600s and especially dedicated to the Virgin Mary because, it was believed, she sheltered the people of Lyon from the bubonic plague. And every year the city thanks her by a Festival of Lights in early December. The townspeople also credit the Virgin Mary with saving them from a cholera epidemic in the 1800s and from a Prussian invasion in 1870. There are 2 churches, actually, one underneath and then the much more formal and ornate one built on top in the 1800s.

If you’re interested, go to this link on youtube and you can watch a 2 1/2 minute video of the Festival of Lights, which is quite spectacular. It occurs for just 4 nights.

We really only had two full days to tour in Lyon – we stayed 3 nights, but we didn’t get there until early afternoon on day one, had the two full days after, and the following morning we left for Paris. Sunday we did the farmer’s market and some shopping. vieux_lyonMonday was our tour of the city.

Historically, Lyon was known for the weaving of silk. Somehow in my education of all things history, I never heard that there was any place other than Asia where silk fabrics were made. Actually much was produced in Italy also, in the Middle Ages.

All of us were sad that we didn’t have time to explore that part of Lyon – it’s along one side the river. Picture at left credited to viator.com. Although you might not realize it, looking at that bank of tall buildings, so they said, weavers lived and worked in the same rooms, working only by day (as there was no electricity) with only the windows in the workrooms. In my internet exploring to find that picture, I saw photos of the historic silk weavinglyon_walking_tour_guide facilities. Cramped for sure. The heyday of Lyon silk weaving was in the 1600s, with about a third of Lyon’s population (15,000) employed in some way in the silk trade. At right, our guide Clémence. She’s standing in front of that beautiful mosaic in the basilica, one of the pictures at top.

Amphitheater_von_LyonAnother landmark in Lyon is an ancient Roman amphitheater. In our walk down the hill with our sweet guide (who has a degree in art history) we visited it as well. In my other travels with my DH, we’d visited many Roman amphitheaters in Turkey particularly.

We walked all along the top and around to the other side, then went down to the dais (is that the right use of that word? not sure). Since a couple of my friends had either not seen one of these, nor had they done the most unique thing — walking out to the very center of the “stage” to find the “sweet spot,” usually marked by a stone or something. I did it first – it’s as if you have speakers reverberating back to you – the acoustics are amazing. Other tourists standing up at the very top turned suddenly when I spoke because they could hear me like I was standing next to them. Amazing that the Romans had figured out how to do that! Why don’t we make use of those natural acoustics today?

pastries_pink_pralines_lyonbakery_lyonAlong our walk our guide stopped at a bakery. Many of the pastries and desserts made in Lyon are topped with pink praline, usually chopped up of course since they were like candy. Sorry for the reflection in the pastry shop glass. This store is the most famous in Lyon we were told.

Clémence bought us a couple of them – I can’t say that I thought they were anything pink_pastries_lyon_eatingthat special – a doughnut kind of thing with lots of pink praline stuck to the top. There was a long line at the shop, though.

After our guide left us, we were hungry for lunch, so we stopped at a restaurant just 20 yards away and enjoyed a nice lunch sitting outside. I ordered Eggs Muerette, a French dish you never see on menus here (I first had it as an appetizer course on a small barge trip in France in 1995 – does that tell you how memorable it was, that I remember it that well?). I’ve never made it. It’seggs_meurette_lyon poached eggs on a little piece of toasted bread and in a pool of red wine sauce. In French it’s Oeufs Meurette. Darlene wanted to try the french fries cooked in duck fat.

They brought her a very large bowl of them, so of course, we all had to have some. They were good, though I actually couldn’t taste the duck fat.

french_fries_duck_fat_lyon

After lunch, it was an easy walk down the rest of the hill, across the river, and back to our cool, quiet apartment.

If  you’ve never been to Lyon, and you’re going to France, you need to put it on your itinerary. It was very special. I’d like to go back there someday. Maybe I will.choc_tart_espress_lyon

As we finished up our meal, the waiter suggested we try the little tiny chocolate tart and have a cup of espresso that came with it.

Oh my. It was divine. The French DO know how to do chocolate and the coffee was perfect. A lovely ending to our tour and our day.

We walked all over the old town and I felt like we had a good overall feeling of the city, though we missed out on seeing some of the landmarks.

rock_wall_lyon

I love to take pictures of rock walls. Why? I don’t know. I find them unique – see the patches they’ve done in this one (it was near the amphitheater) with stones and bricks. And then to see the foliage that can’t have much water, yet they seem to thrive, but then they’re likely weeds and don’t need much water!

If you’re interested in finding a tour of Lyon, look for the Tours by Locals half day tour that’s customizable. That’s the one we did.

Posted in Miscellaneous, on June 18th, 2015.

perfect_hard_boiled_egg
No credit is due here to my invention or my years of kitchen skills. I read it all over at Serious Eats, a blog that’s been in existence for about as long as mine has (8 years). The difference is that one of their contributors is a restaurant chef (and I’m not), and she just set out to share her years of experience in a restaurant kitchen. So I took her advice.

Never again will I put cold eggs in a pan of cold water, cover them and bring them up to temp and simmer for awhile. Never again will I bring the eggs out of the refrigerator to let them “warm up” a little on the kitchen counter. Never again will I put eggs in their shell IN water in a pan. Never again will I just guess at how long they need to cook – 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Nope. Never again will I rap the just ice-chilled egg (in the shell) onto my sink side to “break” the air bubble at the flatter end, that membrane inside, hoping the cold water will circulate around in there and make it easier to peel (because that’s what my mother taught me to do). Never again will I try to peel them when they’re just newly chilled in ice water. And lastly, never will I try to make them in a pressure cooker (I never have, but just thought I’d add that in since Kenji mentioned it also).

breville_risotto_cooker_acting_as_a_steamerIf you’re curious about all-things-hard-boiled-eggs, then you must go read the extensive and very scientific blog post over at Serious Eats. And if you want to read the short version, with just the recipe, then do this one.

cold_eggs_ready_for_steamingWhat I WILL be doing is what Kenji taught me – to cook them exactly 12 minutes in the steamer insert of a pan. I did it in my risotto cooker (pictured above right, set on the sauté function so I could keep the water boiling), which is just like doing them in a steamer insert of any old pan set you have and doing them on the stovetop. And after exactly 12 minutes, I’ll be plunging that steamer insert full of hot, just hard-cooked eggs eggs_steaminginto a big bowl of extra-cold ice water (with ice cubes) to bring the temperature down right away quick. And I will be chilling them for a few hours, or even overnight in the refrigerator before trying to peel them.

Here’s the short course:

1. Bring about an inch of water to a boil, in a covered pan for which you have a steamer insert. Place the steamer insert inside while it’s heating up.

2. Once the water is boiling solidly, add the cold (right out of the frig) eggs to the steamer insert and cover again.

3. Set the timer for 12 minutes.eggs_chilling_ice_water

4. Meanwhile, get out a big, deep bowl large enough to contain the steamer insert and fill it with cold water and with lots of ice cubes.

5. After the 12 minutes, remove the steamer insert with eggs inside and plop them down, altogether, into that icy water. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

6. Remove eggs and refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight if possible.

Kenji does say, and I think rightly so, there probably is no 100% perfect way to hard cook eggs – you’ll have an occasional failure, but this method, which is new to me, worked like an absolute charm. But all the credit is Kenji’s!

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Posted in Travel, on June 16th, 2015.

chicken_feast_dinner_lyon

In planning the Europe trip that we took in March/April, as we 4 gals looked at a map I mentioned Lyon. It’s not necessarily on the radar for travelers to France. I’d never been there and neither had any of the others. It was close to Geneva (where we’d returned our rental car), easily accessible by train (the TGV), and I’d read that Lyon is the culinary capitol of France.

Joan took on the challenge of planning our 3-day sojourn in Lyon. Once we arrived at the train station we took a taxi to our apartment. Joan had found a very nice, old-world-character-filled 4-bedroom apartment in the heart of fresh_raspberries_lyon_farmers_marketdowntown. It’s a bit hard to find 4-bedroom apartments, but this one was perfect. The owners (who live an hour or so outside of Lyon) spoke English. You can view info, if you’re interested at this Trip Advisor link. For our 3-night stay we paid about 1000 euros, amounting to about $85/night for each of us. We thought that was a huge bargain. The apartment was very roomy. I’ll intersperse a couple of pictures below. We were there off-season, most likely, so it’s very possible it’s more pricey at different times of the year. Picture above shows the fresh, sweet raspberries.

Most people assume that Paris is the gastronomic capitol of France, but oh no, Lyon is very definitely the titular head of the French culinary world. There are a number of ridiculously expensive restaurants there (we lyon_apt_frontdoordidn’t go to any of them) that specialize in the very classic, old-school French cuisine, all with famous French chefs at the helm. With Paul Bocuse as the king of them all. I’d watched a recent TV show about them (it might have been one of Anthony Bourdain’s series on places around the world and their food) and observed the insane multi-course meals that you must have at these places. None of us was interested in doing that!

So what did we do? Well, the first night we walked out our apartment door (pictured at right – I just love the beautiful, big wood doors so common in Europe) and around lyon_4_br_apartmentthe corner to a nice little French bistro and had dinner. Nothing fancy, but we’d had a long travel day and were fine with a simple meal. Joan and Darlene went out food shopping in the mid-afternoon and came back having had so much fun selecting some snacks, coffee, wine, a marvelous baguette, cheese, etc. Plenty of food for our breakfast.

At left is the building. There was a tiny lift inside which would hold 2 people. The owners had met us there when we arrived, had stocked the frig with some ham, cheese, eggs and dairy-fresh butter from a neighbor, some rhubarb jam living_room_apt_in_lyonthat the husband had made recently (delicious, by the way), milk and cream for our coffee. I thought that was very kind of them to provide those things. All 4 of us are coffee fans, and Darlene had brought along (and Cherrie too) some of the little Via packets from Starbucks. If you’ve never had them, I must lyon_apt_BRtell you, that instant coffee is pretty darned incredible. It doesn’t taste like typical instant coffee. Anyway, we all enjoyed several cups (Starbucks makes them in several varieties of beans). The apartment had a coffee pot and a tin of coffee, but we were content with the Via and some hot tea one time. (My bedroom in the photo at left.)

The owners had told us that on Sundays (we arrived on Saturday) about 3-4 blocks away, along the side of the river, was an amazing farmer’s market, and that we simply must go. We needed no encouragement. Joan and Darlene were our reconnaissance team (they performed that lyon_chicken_rotisserierole in every place we went) and had already staked out the best stalls to visit. The picture up at the top was the meal we had on Sunday evening that we’d procured from the market. We bought a rotisserie chicken from the vendor at right in the picture. It cooked on these tall contraptions (out in the open air). The right side the fat dripped down into a pan. On the left side the fat from the chickens dripped down onto a big pile of small potatoes – oh my were they delicious! We bought the big, fat white asparagus_green_white_lyon_marketasparagus, lovely greens for a salad, including Belgian endive, some chèvre cheese, a Tuscan melon, a fresh pear, two breakfast tarts (kind of like Quiche Lorraine), fresh raspberries and strawberries, fresh Madeleines, several kinds of marinated olives, a pear clafoutis, and the star of the whole show were the slightly larger than cherry sized tomatoes. I think I mentioned it in an earlier post, about the tomatoes – I actually discovered 4 of them in my purse, in a small plastic baggie when I got home to California. I’d not remembered they were IN my purse. They were by far the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever had in my life.

dining_table_set_lyonWe had a feast; there simply aren’t any better words for it. Maybe because we’d been eating out at restaurants at least twice a day for a week or so, we savored a home meal. While Joan and Darlene went out shopping to the department stores, Cherrie and I set the table to make it a very nice sit-down dinner for our little group. We had so much fun – we laughed and carried on, big time.

In the dining room cupboards we found a tablecloth and some pretty dishes, and cute little matching placemats. Plus wine glasses and cloth napkins. It was a pretty sight.

asparagus_green_white_lyon_market

There at left are the green and white asparagus at the market. I’m not sure that anyone else in our group had ever had the white asparagus (I had, in Germany, where they call it spargel), so we tried it. All I did was pan sauté them in a little olive oil, then added a little tiny bit of water and steamed them until they were done. Then I added just a little tiny dot of butter to the pan and rolled the, over in it just to barely coat the outsides.

lyon_olives

That night we only ate about half of the food we bought and prepared, so we had enough for another feast of left overs the next night. Cold chicken and baguette slices, cheese, and whatever we hadn’t already finished. The only thing we left behind were some of the olives.

The next day we had a very fun time. I think I’ll write up another post about that. Too many more pictures to include in this one entry.

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