I can be a bit cynical. Oui, moi. But love at first sight does exist. It’s the love you feel the first time you hold your child. Actually, this may be the purest form of love. I felt it twice. And I have now fallen totally in love with my beautiful granddaughter. Yes, I am a grandmother/grand-mère/mamie/grandma/grammy/mimi/whatever she wants to call me. This little angel came into the world at 7lb 7oz not quite a week ago. And she has stolen our hearts.
Not many moms go into the hospital to deliver a baby knowing what’s in store. We all have a basic plan, be it breathing or epidurals, but it just doesn’t always go the way we plan. This bundle’s arrival ended in a C-section after her mommy labored, labored, and labored some more. As a result, she has a perfectly shaped head.
Mommy is mending, Daddy is doing all he can to keep his girls happy and comfortable, and I (to be named at a later date) am totally in love. She is loved by many. Can you be loved by too many people? Absolutely not.
Life will never be the same. That’s the wonderful news.
I plan to be a Cookie Jar Grand-mère. My own Grandma Bell had a Humpty-Dumpty cookie jar. It’s funny, I do not remember her ever baking cookies. Coconut layer cakes and banana fritters… oh my goodness yes. But I remember that cookie jar. Papa Bell would buy what we Crumbcrushers called Fuzzy Cookies- coconut marshmallow concoctions.
This is the closest image I could find to match the memory in my head. A cookie bottom, squishy marshmallow covered in coconut. Pink and white. I doubt these cookies ever made it into the cookie jar. They were consumed too quickly.
I googled Humpty Dumpty cookie jars to find out if one is out there waiting for me. Oh, one is, but at antique collector prices. I don’t know who got Grandma’s after she gave up housekeeping. Pas moi, sadly. Maybe someday I will come across one (even a knock-off) in a thrift shop. Once can hope, right?
I did make cookies for the now mom while she was still a mom-to-be. She said there is no such thing as too many chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies.
The dough was pretty tasty.
As were the finished products.
Someday, I will have a little helper helping me make cookies…
Mimi’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 4 dozen (depending on the size you want them!)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired
Fleur de sel or other flaky salt, to finish, if desired
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugars at medium speed of mixer until creamy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed until thoroughly combined.
Gradually mix in dry ingredients, in thirds, until combined. (Towards the end, I usually switch over to a wooden spoon to finish the mixing because the dough is thick.) Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour. (I often leave mine overnight.)
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375˚F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop by teaspoonfuls (I use a small scoop) onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
Bake 8-1/2 to 11 minutes, depending on how soft or crunchy you like your cookies. I find that cookies baked for about 9 minutes will be crunchy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. Cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Eat a warm one, just to make sure they are pass the test, though.
Bon appétit! Here’s to falling in love, babies, cookies, and all grandmothers!
I know, I know. Red and pink are supposed to be the colors now. Valentine’s Day approaches. And I love hearts, flowers, and good dark chocolate. Oh! And don’t forget champagne. However, I am seeing green. First, an author sent me an email asking me to review his book about living in Provence. I jumped at that chance and the book is in the mail as I type this up. More about that very soon since I will devour the book tout de suite. (And I am thinking about offering a giveaway…) Next, Mme P from Pujaut sent me a link to a very funny AMERICAN stand-up comedian speaking FRENCH like a Français and making JOKES in French. My jokes in English aren’t all that funny (just ask my students), but joking around and making people laugh in French? Pas moi. Pas possible. This character, Sebastian Marx, has been living in France for 10 years. I’ve been studying the language for 40+ years. Ah oui, I’ve lived there a couple of times for a few months. Voilà la différence. It is indeed what I tell the kiddos and their parents. We teachers cannot make you fluent. We can stuff/cram/beat vocabulary and verbs into your darling little heads, but you can only become fluent by living the language. C’est vrai. And I never stop dreaming of moving over and doing just that once again. Am I just a big romantic? Do I put France and French up on a pedestal the way some of my French friends claim? While I contemplate that for a few more minutes, watch this video of Sebastian and see what you think. Funny guy.
If you don’t understand, maybe it’s time for you to move to France and learn French… Just a suggestion. We could start a commune. And pledge to only speak French. And cook good food. And listen to good music. And grow lavender. And drink rosé year round. And invite all of our new Frenchie friends over for apéritif. And hang our laundry outside to dry. To heck with clothes dryers. And ask everyone we meet “Ça va?”
It’s just a thought worth thinking and daydreaming about. So, I think that I will go do just that while whipping up some tapenade à la Fanny. Oui, chef!
Tapenade à la Fanny
2 cans of black olives, pitted 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced (remove the skin and the germ) Olive oil 5-6 anchovy filets (without the oil) 2 tsp. capers
Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix. Do not over process. Add enough olive oil to obtain the proper consistency.
If you want to read (or reread) about the wonderful time I had hosting Fanny and Olivier at my house, click here.
Bon appétit and Happy Février! Keep eating and laughing. And daydreaming.
I was just going to go back and edit the last post. Really, I was. Why should I make you read a whole new post? Hearts Part Deux? Seriously? What’s up with that? Well, here’s what. What about all of the expressions that we use that have to do with hearts?
A huge heartfelt thanks to all who contributed to this list! Someone I recently met (from Chicago aka a Yankee) asked if we (Southerners) really say “Bless your heart.” Duh. Of course. We learn that one in the crib.
heat of gold
absence makes the heart grow fonder
warms the cockles of my heart
I don’t have the heart to…
bless his/her heart
home is where the heart is
cold hands, warm heart
emptier than a banker’s heart
blame it on my head and not on my heart
I wear my heart on my sleeve (oh, man, did Daddy ever accuse me of this!)
be there in a heartbeat
have a heart
young at heart
you will always be in my heart
mal au coeur
loin des yeux, loin du coeur
My take on it? Love begins with yourself. After all, you are what you have left at the end of the day. You have to be your own best friend. Watch Hallmark movies all you want. Personally, I love the happy, heartwarming endings. Who doesn’t? Deep down inside. Bless your heart if you don’t.
I did indeed get up and make those sugar cookies. I left the butter out to come to room temperature so that when I got up it would be soft. What a satisfying feeling. Rolling out the dough. Dipping the cookie cutters into the soft sweetness. Sprinkling some color onto the colorless dough. Smelling sugar and vanilla all through the house. Pulling the tray out of the oven and letting the cookies cool just a couple of minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack. The ladies at the retirement home loved them. We left the extras on the table near the piano. Enjoy them, ladies and gentlemen. I will be back! We will sing. We will dance, partner or not. We will look at photos of your youth and remember the amazing things you did. The tennis championships you won. The children you birthed and raised. The trips you took. Or the ones that you couldn’t take because you had an unfortunate accident. Save me a corner room overlooking the lake and near the dining room and fireplace. But, until then, I still have stuff I want (need?) to do.
Thanks for putting up with us, Chloe. Take good care of your mistress. She needs you more than you know.
Need a song to sing along with? How about Waylon Jennings’ Good Hearted Woman.
Bon appétit to all. Live every single day as if it were your last. You never know what’s around the corner. The dear sweet ladies at Golden Pond taught me that today. And the amazing I-cannot-put-it-down book I am currently reading, The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. And I am three years older than the heroine of the story… Do you have a green bowl?
I have a thing for hearts. I probably have since the first time I exchanged valentines with my classmates in elementary school. Back in the day when we decorated white paper bags and left them out for our classmates to slip a little card in at some point leading up to the Big Day. I wish I still had every one of those cards so that I could pull them out and try to recapture that innocent little heart-loving girl. Some would be from classmates who are no longer alive. Some would be from classmates who moved away and I never saw again. And some would be from little kids whom I do not even remember. Many of them would be from the classmates I saw this past summer at our 40th high school reunion.
The little girl in me wants to find the best valentines and mail them to my dearest friends. I think I will find some drawn by Sandra Boynton.
How can your heart not feel happy just looking at this little guy? I’ve been a fan of hers since we decorated Son #1’s nursery with a border of her characters.
Or maybe I will make my own from the photo above. That’s my kitchen window, holding some of my memories.
Recent heart photos taken in Paris–
Christmas tree hearts in downtown Durham–
I don’t set out looking for hearts to photograph. They just somehow find me.
I remember listening to Neil Young on FM radio at night in I don’t know what year singing Heart of Gold. (Google tells me that it was recorded in 1971 with James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt singing back up and hit the top of the charts in 1972.) 9th grade. That was a few broken hearts ago. I found this version performed at Farm Aid in Raleigh in 2014. I should have been in that audience. Enjoy. Sing along with Neil if you want.
Now, I think that I will make some heart-shaped sugar cookies using a recipe I’ve been using for years. It is from a cookbook I was given as a wedding present, SpringfieldCookery. My Papa Bell was a Quaker and Springfield Friends Meeting in High Point, NC is the family church. The first Meeting for worship was held there in 1773.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
Marilyn Hipps (Mrs. Richard)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2-1/2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter until soft; add vanilla. Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Sift dry ingredients together. Combine eggs and milk and stir into creamed mixture. Add half the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining and mix well. Chill dough at least one hour. Roll a little more than 1/8-inch thick on well floured surface. Cut with floured 3/4-inch round cookie cutter. (I will use a heart-shaped one, of course.) Sprinkle with additional sugar. Place on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) and bake in hot oven (400˚F) until only lightly browned. (6-8 minutes) Remove from pan while warm. Cool on rack. 2-1/2 dozen.