Saturday, April 28, 2012

Love People

This is a bumper sticker I saw this morning in the parking lot at the Durham Farmers' Market.  It's just that simple, isn't it?  I wish I knew who made that up, who said it first, so that I could give him/her  credit.  Most Saturdays, the Ex-Ex and I go to Durham Central Market and just wander around without a real plan.  We see a few folks we know, shoppers and vendors.  Sometimes we get a cup of coffee or a treat.  Most times we just wander and look, touch, and smell.  It is my favorite way to spend an hour or so on Saturday morning.
This morning we went with a plan, though.  Or at least I did.  He doesn't really care what I buy or what I am scheming.  He is easy... as long as there will be meat in the meal.  He invited some of our dearest friends to dinner tonight chez nous.  Very impressive that he did this all on his own.  Well, I did get a text asking if we had plans.  But I think that the invitation had already been extended by the time I got the text and responded.  My wheels started turning.  I mentally started going through the cookbook in my mind.  If you love to cook, you know what I am talking about.  If not, just keep eating what people like me make for you.  It's okay.  Really.
Dessert formed first.  Fanny's mousse au chocolat with Lyon Farms strawberries on the side.  'Tis the season, after all.
There were also nice potatoes at their stand.  Baked with some olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary from my very own garden.  Easy.
Loaf bakery's freshly made pain de campagne went into the bag next.  Who could resist? I love to make bread, but I have never come up with a loaf that looks this good.
A visit to the market is not complete with tasting Elodie Farms goat cheese.

Dave was no where to be seen, though.  Getting ready for tomorrow's festivities at the farm, I bet.  He is hosting the Durham Central Market Family Farm Day tomorrow (April 28 2-8 pm).
(Another great bumper sticker spotted this morning--)

I plan to be there to meet the goats who give their milk to make such amazing chèvre.  I bought a couple of little goodies to serve on the Loaf bread.
Time to figure out the main dish.  The meat.  I pulled out Even More Special, a cookbook put out by the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties back in 1986.  This book has never steered me wrong.  Pork Roast caught my eye.  Scanning the list of ingredients confirmed that this would be an excellent choice.  (It is in the oven this very minute!)
Heavenly smells for the Ex-Ex as he vacuums and sweeps to get ready for our guests.  A little inspiration, peut-être?
I headed down to Wine Authorities for the Saturday tasting and found a lovely bottle of Côtes du Rhône red.  I am partial to that wine.  Can't help it after the months in Arles.  I found this bottle, Mas de Libian, at Vinodrome's suggestion, in the back of the store--

then saw the display!
He promises it will go very well with my roast.  Undoubtedly.  He doesn't mind that I almost always buy French stuff.  He does convince me to try other things, though, and I've never had a less than delicious bottle from WA.
This is the dry white I used for the roast-
I threw some locally made crackers

and Giacomo's salami into my shopping bad before heading home.
Time to tie on the apron (I still use my white Sabbatical Chef one) and get busy.
The candles are lit and our friends will arrive soon!

Bon appétit!  Keep loving and cooking.

Pork Roast
6 servings

1 4-5 lb. pork roast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
1 onion, sliced
2-3 stalks, sliced with leaves
Fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 10 1/2- oz. can beef consommé
1/4 c. dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  2. Mix together salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg.  Rub into roast, especially on the fat.
  3. Put meat into roasting pan along with carrots, onion, celery, parsley, and bay leaf.
  4. Pour consommé and wine over roast.
  5. Brown at 450˚ for 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to 350˚ and bake, uncovered, for 3 hours or until meat thermometer reaches 165˚.
  7. During baking, prick and baste roast occasionally.  If liquid evaporates, add water to the pan.
  8. Pour lemon juice over the roast five minutes before removing it from the oven.
Hint:  This dish is also good cold.

Bon appétit!  Keep loving and cooking.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Le Marché d'Aligre

Come go with me to the Marché d'Aligre in Paris.  It's very nice on Sunday mornings. It's in the 12th arrondissement, as you can see on the sign.  We'll take the métro to the Gare de Lyon and walk from there.   Just follow me.  But watch out for the green guy and cross the street when he beckons.  Parisian drivers are a bit reckless, you know.
You can find most anything here, but we'll just look at the food and flowers, if you don't mind.
Want to make ratatouille later on today?
You'll need--
les aubergines
les courgettes
et les tomates.
Maybe other vegetables or légumes are what you are looking for?
Some fruit, peut-être?
The strawberries or fraises from Spain are beautiful.  But please do not touch.  Wouldn't want to get your hand slapped, would you?
Take a peek inside our bag... We'll eat these later.  They may not last that long, though.
Or maybe pomegranates?
De la Californie?
They are a long way from home.  Even farther away than we are.
Maybe flowers, too, like this man?  Perhaps he is buying them for his sweetie?  Or taking them to his mom when he goes to see her for lunch?
I tend to be nosy, so I enjoy checking out other people's shopping bags...
And also their carts -- if I lived in France I would own one of these trucs for all my market purchases--
If we peer through the windows of this shop long enough,
maybe the very nice shopkeeper will invite us inside.
And let us take pictures of all his stuff.  We know we really shouldn't buy anything because we can't really take much back home with us.  But he sells some really cool stuff.
My high school French teacher was from Soissons, but I don't understand the connection with the beans-

This shop is the oldest one on the street, according to M. Shopkeeper.
Okay, so I found one thing to take home.  It doesn't weigh much and I really, really want it.

Okay, it's time for lunch.  All this looking at food has made me very hungry.
Au revoir for now, Marché d'Aligre.   See you in July when I return to Paris with my friends.  À bientôt!

I did bring home that bag of risotto.  I waited to make it until Mme P and Mme Boop (aka MLQ and la Princesse) came to visit me here in Durham.
It was délicieux.

And just remembering where I bought it and the lovely morning spent at the marché made it even more special. Add friends to share it with and life is good, n'est-ce pas?

I found a recipe that is a close approximation of the contents of the bag.  I love risotto and love to make it.  It takes a special kind of patience.  I often buy a rotisserie chicken from Harris Teeter and save the bones and leftover stuff after we've picked off most of the meat.  Throw it all in a pot, add some water and a couple of bay leaves, simmer for a couple of hours, and voilà, really good chicken broth for risotto-making.

Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto
4-6 servings

6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. dried shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped shallots
3 c. thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
Black truffle oil, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

  1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Add dried shiitake mushrooms and simmer for about 2 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  4. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them.
  5. Cover the broth and keep warm over very low heat.
  6. In a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat, sauté the shallots for about 5 minutes; add the cremini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, and cook until mushrooms are tender and most of the moisture has been released, about 7 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic, shiitakes, herbs, spices, and salt; sauté another 3 minutes.
  8. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes.
  9. Add 1 cup of broth, stirring often, simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes.
  10. Continue to cook and stir, adding more broth by cupfuls, until the rice is tender and creamy and all of the broth is absorbed. (If the rice is not tender yet but you are out of broth, keep adding hot water in the same manner as the broth until the rice is tender and creamy.)  This should take 20-30 minutes.
  11. Spoon onto plates and sprinkle some truffle oil and/or Parmesan over each serving, if desired.
Bon appétit, Marché d'Aligre and risotto shared with good friends!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rainy Sunday

It's been a rainy day, I've had hours and hours of school work to do, and now I need a cup of tea and a muffin.  (I got bored with averaging grades at one point in the late afternoon and decided to make muffins.  I needed to use up milk and eggs in our now dead refrigerator.  Maybe it just has the flu.  I'll find out tomorrow when the repairman shows up.)
I decided to play with taking photos.  I have four different cameras at the moment.  I decided to take a photo of the muffin mixture with each of them.  I guess I was just curious about the whole new iPad quality of photo thing.  And, remember, I said I was bored.  Here's what I came up with--  all taken in my kitchen with daylight conditions, no flash used.
Canon Power Shot SX130IS-- my little favorite point and shoot
Canon EOS Rebel-- a loaner from the school
Panasonic Lumix 8x-- the point and shoot I used before getting the Power Shot
iPad 3

The iPad can be a little difficult to figure out how to hold when taking a photo. But I really like the quality.  When you set it to camera and look at the image you are getting ready to shoot, it is incredibly clear.  And much larger, of course, since you are seeing it through the full size screen, not looking through a viewfinder or a little screen on the back of a camera.
I am having fun playing with it anyway.  Still have to find some classroom uses for it, too.  That's my summer homework.  For now I can play!

Back to my tea and muffins...

Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins

Makes 12

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. dried fruit-- raisins, craisins, cherries, blueberries, etc.
1 egg
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, for dusting
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, for dusting

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Lightly grease a standard muffin pan or line with paper cups.

Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add fruit.

Whisk together egg, buttermilk, and oil and fold into dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan.  Dust well with combined sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown and muffin tests done.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bon appétit, Dimanche!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Welcome to the Eiffel Tower

On my last trip to Paris, in March, I took lots and lots of photos of the Iron Lady... once again.  Comme d'habitude.  I just cannot help myself.  With my little Canon point and shoot.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite shots from 2012.  (I will be back in Paris in July and I know that I will take more.  Stay tuned.)
Dusk from Montmartre
A creative twist to a sign

The view from the Arc de Triomphe

The tree in front is kind of cool, n'est-ce pas?

Rain on the plexi-glass cover of the Bateau Parisien

Arles Lucy and moi (did you know that the Eiffel Tower brown paint is a patented color and only used on her and that the paint color is slightly different on each floor?)
All lit up and sparkly

And after the sparkles stop

Looking up from underneath

Looking up the side 

Another view up the side

Even on a cloudy morning she is magnifique

Another night view

I think I have a thing for trees... I am seeing a pattern here
This guy is on the side of the elevator.  I thought he was real at first.

I obviously really like this view-- more trees framing her

 The ride up - hard to get a shot because the elevator ride is a quick one

This is the very top- the antennae and satellites are way up there

M. Gustave Eiffel and M. Thomas Edison, I believe, discussing matters of great importance.  This fooled me the first time I saw it, too.  I am rather gullible.  I read that M. Eiffel had lovely parties in his apartment at the top.  Wouldn't that have been fun?  Read Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes if you want to know more.

Enough for today.
Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Bon appétit, Gustave et la Tour Eiffel!