Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dear Blog

Noon- Rest After Work
Vincent Van Gogh 1890

Dear Blog,
I have been writing thank you notes and you most definitely deserve one this fine December Sunday morning.  You have been my faithful companion since 2008.  You have given me a creative outlet and you never once have been critical of my thoughts, my split infinitives or my misplaced commas. You do not make me feel guilty, even when I neglect you for days and sometimes weeks.  I am the one who heaps on the remorse and I chastise myself for not paying more attention to you.  I am sorry. I could come up with a thousand excuses...
  • Wow!  I haven't written anything for the past few weeks because I have been working on that book I told you I was going to write.  Not true.  I haven't written anything since the 1:00 am writing episode a couple of months back.  I can honestly say that I have been sleeping well with no sentences running through my head in the middle of the night...
  • I have been working out!  Finally getting back into decent shape so that walking up the steps of the Arc de Triomphe won't kill me in March or embarrass me in front of my 22 students who will be practically running up them.  Nope.  I have walked a few times with the BFF and I have indeed lost weight, but I am basically a slug.  However, if I must go any time soon, I would rather it be in Paris...
  • 'Tis the season!  I've been busy decorating, shopping, baking... I can't even go any further on that one.  I have a wreath on the door, a stack of addressed envelopes for Christmas cards and a list.  Does that count?
  • I've been cooking my way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking!  Oops. Sorry, Julie Powell.  I know, I know, you've been there and done that.  Not by moi.  I did manage to bake the Thanksgiving turkey for the Ex-Ex, Son #2 and myself without burning it or drying it out.  I've probably only baked four turkeys in my 57 years on this earth.  And I did sneak a couple of bites to Sam, the best pup in the world, without getting caught.
  • Enough.  Even I am not a good enough liar to keep it up.
So, if I have not been doing all of those things, what have I been up to?
  • Brainwashing children to make them think that coming to French class is the best part of their day.  I sigh every time the bell rings because the class period goes by so quickly.  I've embarked on an idiom-a-day to begin class and they seem to enjoy trying to figure it out.  I found a great book--

  • Some of my 8th graders and I did a Sunday afternoon painting class at Bull City Burger and Brewery with two fun young ladies from Wine and Design Durham.  I chose La Tour Eiffel, of course.  And in the wake of the horrific events of November 13, that was very à propos.  Wine and Design makes even me feel just a bit like an artiste.  We were not wining, by the way, just designing.

Annie's amazing chef d'oeuvre

Mr. P's tribute to Paris

  • I was interviewed for our weekly News and Notes.  I felt like a rock star when the interview was published.  You can read about me and my love affair with France and French here.  KP, the author of the piece, and I have been friends and colleagues for many years.  She makes me sound much more interesting than I really am!

  • And the really big deal in our family was the Ex-Ex's induction into the Durham Academy Sports Hall of Fame on December 4.  He is part of the second class of inductees.  He came to DA in 1981, starting out as a P.E. teacher, coaching 7th grade girls basketball and JV baseball. He has been our Director of Athletics for 25 years.  He no longer coaches, but he spent several years coaching varsity boys basketball and varsity softball.  He is only the second full-time AD at our school.  Son #1 drove down from Asheville and gave the introduction for his dad.  Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I felt that night.  I did have the presence of mind to video most of his introduction.  

So, dear blog, in conclusion, I have not forgotten about you.  I still love you and am so grateful for you.  I promise to pay more attention to you, even though you never ask for or demand my time.  I am always amazed and thrilled that there are readers every day.  I hope they enjoy the tried and true recipes and good stories that you faithfully give them.  You provide a forum for the ramblings of an ordinary woman who has extraordinary luck.

The Sabbatical Chef

                      Chef Érick Vedel, Arles 2009

For my 50th birthday, Érick invited friends over for dinner and made this cake for me.  A millefeuille cake with crème pâtissière between the layers.

After the kids and I painted the Eiffels, we decided to have an art exhibit, complete with treats, and invite the faculty and staff, as well as their classmates to view our canvases.  I decided to make financiers.  (Click for Dorie Greenspan's recipe on a blogpost from March 2013)

When I was finished, I had a bunch of egg yolks left over and couldn't bear to pour them down the drain.  I decided to make the crème pâtissière (also known as crème anglaise-- it is just basically vanilla custard) but to add a different twist to it.  I had a little container of lavender sugar in the my spice cabinet.  I took the custard to school for the 8th graders in my French club to sample and then left it in the faculty lounge.  I got quite a few compliments and some surprised tasters who didn't know that you can eat lavender.  I usually buy a bag of it at the market in Arles when I am there in the spring.
Click here for the recipe (as well as my ramblings from April 2009)  for the millefeuille cake and crème pâtissière minus the lavender.  I added perhaps a half teaspoon of the crushed florets.  I didn't think to take a photo... I was too busy licking the bowl.

Bon appétit, my dear blog and faithful readers!  Keep cooking and eating!

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