Saturday, October 15, 2016

Come on over!

I've updated my look.  My personal look above (school photo 2016) and my blog's look.  Same rambling thoughts, same stash of recipes, same daydreams about France, details from past trips and plans for future trips.  Give it a try!  I'd even love to hear your opinion about which platform you prefer.

The Sabbatical Chef

Bon appétit!  Keep cooking, eating, and daydreaming!

P.S.  I love my gray hair!  The Going Gray Gracefully Program went well and although at first every time I looked in the mirror I wondered who that old lady was, I am now so incredibly glad I took the leap.  Luckily (for him), the Ex-Ex (well, he actually named it the GGGP) embraces the new look as well.  Unlike some man whose wife wrote in Going Grey Gracefully, a FB group I belong to.  The gist of the comment is that she has decided to go gray and he is embarrassed to take her to his office parties and to be seen out in public with her.  I can answer that in one word JERK! And just to be clear, the Ex-Ex coined the name of my "Program" before I found the FB group.  I have to offer that disclaimer before he calls me on it!


Quote:  Audrey Hepburn  Photo credit:  not sure- I found it on Oui, Oui Je Parle Franglais’s FB page
I am, quite truthfully, so undone by this presidential election and the ugliness that it has brought to the forefront of almost every waking moment of our lives in the United States, that I find myself in a state of unbelief that this is actually happening.  I look at the photo above, pretend it’s me, and daydream myself to a happy place where all I have to do is gaze at the Eiffel Tower and keep my hat from blowing away should a gust of wind come up suddenly. (My French friends accuse me of romanticizing their country and I am guilty as charged.  But I am not French so I do not have to worry about their next president the way I do as an American. I apologize to them if that sounds callous.  I do not mean it that way.  I have trouble understanding politics here where we only have 2 major parties.  France is way over my head! Noticing the Communist party headquarters at the end of the street I lived on in Arles shocked me beyond belief in 2005.)
I am not overly political active.  I started being aware of politics in 1968 when Richard Nixon was elected as our 37th president.  In 1972, my dad got me involved in the North Carolina gubernatorial race.  Daddy was a dyed in the wool Republican, like his father before him, Papa George.  James Holshouser vs Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles.  Holshouser, from Boone, in the mountains of NC, won.  It gave me great pride to realize I had helped in some small way.  And I actually shook Gerald Ford’s hand when he was running for election (he came to Spruce Pine and Mama Mildred took me to the small landing strip there to meet him).  Ford became president after the resignations of Nixon and his vice president, Spiro Agnew.  He was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 race, serving as president for only 895 days.
I have since turned to the dark side, as my dad used to say (not quite his language), changed party affiliations and become a Damn Democrat, to use his real words.  I took great pleasure calling him up to tell him I had cancelled out his votes for Jesse Helms each year he ran for yet another term in the Senate.  When Trump first was mentioned as a presidential candidate, I thought it was a joke.  I seriously did.  I thought that the Republicans were holding him up as a possibility and then they would introduce their real candidate.  Joke’s on me, I guess.  I have tried to stay away from the TV ads, I watched the first debate and then swore off, I keep my mouth shut in my classroom around my students, and just generally shake my head in disbelief about the whole thing.  How have we sunk so low?  It’s a good thing Daddy is not alive for this election.  We would not be on speaking terms, I fear.
In the interest of preserving this video and knowing where I will always be able to find it, I am posting a tribute to our two-term president, Mr. Barack Obama.
Published on Oct 7, 2016
Because of the lyrics of the song “Don’t Go” by Jon Tarifa, Spiros Lena was inspired to make a tribute video for the coolest President the world has ever seen!– from the Facebook of NEXT Studio.
I smiled as tears rolled down my face the first time I watched this.  And each time since.  My thoughts on FB when I shared the video:
How can anyone dislike this man and say mean things about him? Mr. Obama, my President for the past eight years, I am in mourning for our country as we head into the final stretch of this election year. Thank you for your kindness, your strength, your compassion, your dignity and the grace that you brought to your office. It may be a long time before the United States has another leader of your caliber. If anyone reads this and disagrees with me, that is their right, but I would ask them not to disrespect my feelings. May we continue to fight against prejudice and corruption in our government and in our own private lives. Keep smiling and dancing, Barack!
So where does kindness fit in?  After watching the video and seeing many acts of kindness performed by President Obama, I then read a petition posted by Molly Barker, a woman I have met and heard speak.  If you have heard of Girls on the Run or The Red Boot Coalition, she is the force behind them.  I admire her willingness to get involved and to speak her mind.  Molly, too, is concerned about how ugly and just plain nasty this campaign has become.  She has started a petition, My Promise to You After the Election.
It can be found here.  I think that it is at least worth your time to read.
I will wear my red boots when I go to vote, Molly.
It is now dinner time.  I am reheating a delicious dish delivered to my doorstep by Son #1 via my future daughter-in-law EB.  And I am hungry for something good.  It’s from Bull Street Gourmet Market and Café where EB works.  I am addicted to their food and drinks.

Bon appétit and bon week-end à tous!  Be kind.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Sabbatical Chef is still alive! And eating!

I am still alive and kicking!  And eating.  And cooking.  And hanging out with handsome Italian wine makers.

For updates and new posts come on over to my updated blog.

Bon appétit!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The BFF Hometown Tour

Come over to The Sabbatical Chef's new site at WordPress for the full story!!

Bisous et bon appétit!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Life Well-Lived

I am attempting to move this blog over to Word Press.

Here is the link to my latest post.

Bon appétit and keep reading!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Making new memories

This has been a summer of memories for me.  My high school class held a long overdue reunion in June.  We didn’t track everyone down, but we tried.  The 35 or so of us who attended had a great time.  At one point, I just sat back and watched everyone hugging, talking, laughing, and sharing 40+ year old memories.
Harris High School Class of 1976
I don’t have the “official” photo yet, but the Ex-Ex took this one.  (Sorry for chopping you in two, Bobby!)  What a crew.  What fun.  What great new memories we made atBlind Squirrel Lodge and Brewery in Plumtree, NC.  Thank you, Edie and Will, for the great food, beer, cider, accommodations, and ambiance.  I now want to get together with this group every year and I will still keep searching for classmates.  We’ve already lost 11 of our classmates, one just a couple of weeks ago.  Life is short, mes amis.
I had the chance to talk to Middle School Boyfriend (I have blogged about him beforealthough he doesn’t know it– at least not as I write this.  Should I let him in on the secret?).  I told the Ex-Ex that I had to have a photo to show the middle school girlies next year.  I have not always been so old, you know, kiddos.
I went zip-lining with some friends.  Yes, I did.
And I got a chance to really catch up with my across-the-creek neighbor and freshman year in college roommate.
The two friends I spent the most time with in high school attended.  We did a lot of things together way back when and even took driver’s ed class together– and survived!
reunion laughing
That’s us in the middle of the front row- BH, FB and TB, me, in the flowered skirt.  I love this photo because so many people are smiling and laughing.
The Ex-Ex also had his class reunion.  I had only met a couple of his classmates before, but I already felt as if I knew several of them from the stories that have been told over the years.  He went to high school near the coast, I am from the mountains.  We met in Durham, in the middle.
Here’s his crew.  The three ladies in the middle are the teachers who attended.
Aurora High School Class of 1976
And these characters?  Even the 90 year old Mrs. Long (in blue above) remembered their names.  I told them I cannot imagine having them in class in 7th grade.
William, in the hat, has the same last name as me.  We decided we are long lost cousins.  We’re people.
The Ex-Ex got props for vividly remembering the sordid details of losing a play-off football game in 1974 based on yardage since the score was tied.  Back in the day, they hadn’t come up with a different way to break a tie, I guess.
Some of his teammates-
I had fun just sitting back and watching there, too.  Watching and listening to the laughter.
We are lucky that we have these memories and these friends.  Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen someone in 20, 30 or even 40 years.  You still knoweach other. Personalities do not change.  Hair color and waistlines, yes, but who cares?  Those are minor details in the scheme of things.
I hope to make more memories with these old and new friends.
Edie, at Blind Squirrel, is an excellent baker and possibly the nicest human being on the planet.  She was always smiling, even at almost midnight as a few of us were still sipping beer and swapping stories.
Will, her husband, cooked amazing breakfasts for us during our stay.  The buffet dinner for our reunion meal was outstanding.  The Po’boy Trout Sandwich that I had for lunch after zip-lining was excellent.  I asked Edie for a recipe and she said she gets the most requests for her Vinegar Pie.  It is a recipe passed down from her grandmother.  My own beloved Grandma Bell was a first class pie lover. Whenever we took her out to lunch in downtown Spruce Pine, her first question walking in the door was “Do you have pie today?”  If there was no pie on the menu, lunch was a disappointment from the get-go.  She was a pie connoisseur. To the best of my knowledge, though, I have never had vinegar pie.  I needed to know a little bit more because, to tell the truth, vinegar pie sounded a bit strange.  And this is from a girl whose mama was raised on a farm with a very frugal Granny who could make anything from scratch and memory. Seems that vinegar pie is about as old as our country and falls into the category of “desperation pies.”  Make do or do without.  The pioneer spirit. Lemons would have been the preferred fruit for this pie, but those were not readily available in the 1800’s to folks out on the prairie, up in the mountains, or out on the farm, needless to say. Apple cider vinegar was, however, so it was used to give the pie acidity and to fool the tastebuds.  I found several variations on Edie’s grandma’s recipe, some with maple flavoring, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon extract, or brown sugar.  Most add about 2-3 tablespoons of flour and boil to make a custard before filling the shell and baking.  Some use quite a bit less sugar. Even Martha Stewart is in on the action.  This version is very sweet.  Grandma Bell would have approved.
slice2 of vpie
Edie’s Vinegar Pie
makes two 9-inch pies
Your favorite pie crust recipe (or store bought if you wish)- Edie uses Never Fail Amish Crust recipe (recipe follows)
4-1/2 cups white sugar
10 whole eggs
1 stick butter, melted
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.
  2. Lightly spray the bottom of two 9-inch pie plates with non-stick spray and lay out your crusts; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients; mix until well-blended.
  4. Pour into prepared crusts and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until crust has formed and is lightly golden.
  5. Cool completely and chill before serving.
Amish Never Fail Pie Crust
makes two 9-inch crusts
4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-1/2 Crisco
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 cup water
  1. Blend flour, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Cut in Crisco to pea-sized pieces.
  3. Mix together egg, water, and vinegar.  Add to flour.  Mix until moistened and a soft dough forms.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
This dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and will be easy to roll.
inside pie
Blind Squirrel is located on the banks of the North Toe River in Avery County, North Carolina, in a little bend in the road. Very spotty cell phone service and internet, fishermen standing out in the river at any given time, hummingbirds checking out the feeders and butterflies flitting around all of the flowers.  There are five rooms in the Lodge and cabins and camping sites about a mile away where the zip-lining happens.  Winter People, a movie starring Kelly McGillis and Kurt Russell, based on a novel by John Ehle, was filmed next door to Blind Squirrel and released in 1989.
Bon appétit, friends.  Here’s to making more memories! Merci, Edie.  I look forward to my next visit.  Maybe I can come help you bake next summer.  As I have said many times, I can even clean toilets in French, too, and have B&B experience!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sean Dietrich aka Sean of the South

photo credit:  Amazon
I love this man.  I am not sure the Ex-Ex knows, but he will soon enough.  If he liked for me to read to him first thing in the morning, he most assuredly would know him.  But while I am reading Sean’s daily Facebook post, the Ex-Ex is still blessedly asleep.  I am the early riser in the family.  Oh, Callie the Cat gets up, meows a few times and the next thing I know she is curled up on his feet sound asleep and doesn’t even bother to look up when I tiptoe into the bedroom searching for something like my Kindle or my glasses.
So, back to the Bearded Man of the Hour.  He is Southern through and through. But you do not have to be a Southerner to love him.  Just ask Ms. Arizona aka Tammy.  I have never met him, yet I feel as if I have known him forever or at least my whole entire life, whichever is longer.  Some of my Frenchie friends are now reading his FB posts and that just plain makes me happy.  Everyone should start the day with a healthy dose of his prose.  I have blogged about him before and I am pretty sure I will again.  Today’s reason? He is giving away, yes, that’s right, giving away five of his books on Kindle today.  He did this once before and I downloaded them all.  I confess to feeling ever so guilty about that. Sean deserves to get paid for his writing.  Therefore, today I bought a sixth one, The Other Side of the Bay.
Sean reminds us that we are all human, capable of lending a helping hand to those in need, whether we know them or not.  Even better if we don’t know them. He is a keen observer of people.  I imagine him to be like the old (they probably weren’t as old as I am now, though) mountain men I visited when I was little. Relatives that we would just drop in on because Mama Mildred said we did not need to call ahead.  Chances are good they didn’t have phones anyway.  These men were overall-wearing, front porch sitters.  Didn’t always say much.  Some couldn’t get a word in edge-wise considering the apron-wearing women presiding over the stove. But when they did, you listened.  Well, unless you had already run off to play in the creek…  I don’t think that any of those men from my past are still alive.  Such a shame.  However, Sean has stepped up to the plate.  He is old for his age. Which means he is wise beyond his years.  And he shares that hard fought wisdom with us, his loyal readers.  I cry and/or laugh when reading his stories.
I’ve also become pen pals with his wife, Jamie.  She is a chef-turned-teacher.  I have managed to talk her out of two of her recipes.  I won’t ask for more, just hope that she will toss one out once in a while.  I plan to make her Pimiento Cheese recipe this week to take to the beach with Sister Moo.  Sean carried on and on about her pound cake in one of his posts so I was brave and asked for the recipe.  I keep making it and messing around with the flavorings.  Hers is the best. (But switching it up and using Ms. Arizona’s gift of Praline Pecan liqueur gives me an excuse to have a little sample while mixing it all up.)
So, download some of his books and read on.  Lyla is probably my favorite. Whenever I read the stories of people he has met, I imagine climbing into the passenger side of his old pick-up truck and going along for the ride.  Food is almost always involved, too, which makes it even better.
I do not advertise for Amazon, nor do I receive anything for my links.  I just happen to own a Kindle, given to me for Christmas a few years back by Son #1. (Technically, he gave it to the Ex-Ex and me, but let’s just say the Ex-Ex has yet to read anything on it.)
Bon appétit et bonne lecture!  Read on!