Before I left Arles last December, Chef Érick gave me a box of watercolor pencils and a small sketchbook of watercolor paper. We also made a trip to an art supply store he loves in a nearby village. I came home with brushes, paper, paints and my pencils. He also gave me one of his sketchbooks with what I have titled "Van Gogh à table" (above) in it. I haven't framed it yet. Nor did I get him to sign it... When I asked him about it and if I could keep it, he just shrugged and said bien sûr. Of course. As if anyone can just pull out a pencil and paints and do this. I was flattered that he had that much confidence in my capacity to learn to paint. Do all artists think that the rest of us can do it if we just try? But I am very realistic about my limited ability.
In 5th grade, I was placed in a special language arts class. This was the closest thing we had to gifted education at Harris Elementary School. I joined the class a few days after everyone else. I suppose I hadn't shown my innate brilliance enough at that point to be placed in the class at the same time as everyone else. Ha! I vaguely remember taking some sort of test (IQ, maybe?) and then entering this class. I knew everyone, of course, because it was a small school in a small town. We stayed together in this class for four years. I owe my mastery of English grammar to Mrs. Sproles, our teacher, and her love for diagramming sentences. Label another part of speech a verb and she would have you stand up in front of class and ask you to perform that action. "Stand up, Teresa, and ____ for us, please." That made a lasting impression on me. I think that we were all able to laugh at this or at least I do not remember being publicly humiliated. (I can also read just about anyone's handwriting thanks to exchanging papers across the aisle with a certain boy for 4 years... thank you, Steve Snider!)
Mrs. Sproles also attempted to make artists of us. I struggled mightily with drawing trees. I've been scared to even try since then. I took one other art class in Spruce Pine, but I really do not remember much about it. That has been the extent of my art career. Well, with the exception of going to an art workshop with my friend Ghislaine last November. She is very talented. I attempted the Eiffel Tower and Steve has framed that work. I call it "The Leaning Tower of Eiffel." It's home is in our bedroom-- I'd rather it not be on display, truth be told.
My art supplies are safely tucked away in a desk drawer. Once in a while I pull out the watercolor pencils and attempt something. Well, I've done it three times so far in the past 10 months. I've drawn a pot of lavender twice and a beautiful pitcher made by Véronique, the potter in Le Cailar, once. I sent the lavender to Érick just to prove to him that I've tried. I gave the pitcher to my BFF. I mostly just daydream about painting lovely watercolors. In my next life, maybe?
My Lavender #1
One of my 8th graders brought in a treat for us today. This is a recipe that she and her sister developed. She told us they created it one day after they found brie on sale at the grocery store and their mom just happened to have some lavender grains in the spice cabinet. It was délicieux! I just bought some brie so I will try it myself this weekend. I sure wish I had some of Sophie's lavender honey left...
8 oz. Brie
1 box Filo dough
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 whole grain lavender
2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
Note: Read the directions on the box of filo dough before beginning.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Coat a cookie sheet with the melted butter. In a small bowl, combine honey and lemon juice, stirring until mixed well.
3. Following directions on the box, place one sheet of filo dough on the cookie sheet and coat with melted butter. Repeat this process three times.
4. Drizzle the honey-lemon mixture over the center of the dough (where the brie will be placed), and then (grinding with your fingers) sprinkle the lavender over the honey-lemon mix.
5. Place brie in the center of the dough and wrap up the sides, bunching the end of the dough in the center of the brie.
6. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until brie is melted and tips of dough are golden. Serve warm with crackers.
Bon appétit! Et merci, Christen. Très bien fait!