Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Day Cupcakes

For the first day of school, I decided to try a new cupcake recipe and surprise my 12 new seventh grade advisees.  Mme Cupcake lent me her book, Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman.  I felt a kinship with the author immediately as I thumbed through the book and discovered she had lived in Provence.  There is even a recipe called The Arlésienne.  It has almonds, apricots and raspberry jelly in it.    But, for the little darlings, I chose the Lemon Meringue Pie cupcake recipe.  I didn't know if everyone likes chocolate (sure enough, one boy doesn't...) and tree nut allergies are becoming pretty common.  The recipe only made 12 cupcakes, so I didn't even get to taste one.  (I have to admit that I secretly hoped that one of the little darlings wouldn't want one... but not a crumb was left at the end of lunch!)  I did, however, save the scooped out bits and leftover lemon cream.  I mixed them up with some blueberries and had a delicious treat all for myself.  Remember that little hint in case you decide to make these.  It would be a sin to waste a bite of these.

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes

12 cupcakes

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Lemon Cream
3/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 c. water
3 egg yolks (save the whites for meringue)
2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

Meringue Topping
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 c. sugar
A few teaspoons of sugar for dusting

Prepare the lemon cream: 
In top of a double boiler, mix sugar, flour, and salt together.  Add lemon juice and rind.  Mix well with a whisk.  Beat in water, egg yolks, and butter.  Place mixture over hot simmering water in a double boiler and cook until smooth and thick, stirring constantly with a whisk (about 20 minutes).  Cool and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon rind together.  Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add lemon juice and beat until well blended.  Add flour mixture and continue beating until batter is smooth.
Fill 12 cupcake liners with the batter.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cupcakes are golden on top.  Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
To make the meringue:
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they start to stiffen.  Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.
Using a sharp knife, carefully remove a little cone from the center of the cooled cupcakes.  Fill the hole with lemon cream.
Place 1 tablespoon of meringue on each cupcake, forming peaks with the back of a spoon.  Dust lightly with sugar.  Bake the cupcakes in the oven for another 5-7 minutes or until meringue is just golden.  Let cool.

Bon appétit et Bonne Rentrée, to all teachers and students!

America's Favorite Food Truck Giveaway

America's Favorite Food Truck Giveaway

OnlyBurger is in the running! If you read my blogs or newspaper stories then you know how much I love Brian and his truck. I've even stalked them!

Vote! Once a day from August 29-September 10. They could win, you could win!  Click on the pink food truck giveaway link above and it will take you right to the food network website.

**I just voted.  Seems you get 10 votes a day and 10 chances to win a trip to NYC.  OnlyBurger is 4th in the voting at the moment (Sunday morning, Aug. 29)

Bon appétit, OnlyBurger!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Au revoir, summer...

Oui, summer vacation is officially over.  I am back on a daily schedule.  A multi-colored one that is not a Monday-Friday 5-day schedule.  Oh no, it is a 7-day rotating one.  I just spend all day in my classroom and teach whomever shows up!  Not really, but I do write my daily schedule of classes on the white board in big, bold letters (so that I can read it from my desk).  It is Friday and I am exhausted.  Mentally more than physically, to tell the truth.  I am happy to report that French enrollment is up this year.  Bravo!  The quote of the week was from the mouth of a 6th grader who was telling us about her trip to France and she said "You know, in France they eat a lot of French stuff."  C'est vrai.
When we get back to school, we all ask the same question... What did you do this summer?  An oral version of the first day of school paper we all had to write back in the day entitled "My Summer Vacation."  Mine is actually better done in photos, so here goes...
I started off with a visit to the home of one of my students to see his goats.

The off to Sunshine Lavender Farms for Annie's annual tour and open house.
A visit to my family and childhood stomping grounds in the Appalachian Mountains, including Grandfather.
Yosef, my favorite Mountaineer, at Appalachian State University in Boone.
A lovely clafoutis of fresh, juicy cherries.
Jeremy Hellickson pitching for the Bulls (before being called up to the Tampa Bay Rays).
Fireworks at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park after a victory.
The Juneteenth celebration in downtown Durham with music by Johnny White and the Elite Band (the Earth, Wind and Fire set was awesome!).
The first lunch in my eating out series... Panini and warm olives from Toast...
High Rock Lake sunset shared with my little sister.
Sharing a huge banana split with the same little sister in Lexington, NC.

Blueberry scones for breakfast.
Hanging out at Sunset Beach with college-age son.
Making shrimp and grits with high school-age son and a friend.
Reading about Vincent Van Gogh.

Wandering around downtown Durham with the Ex-Ex on a summer evening.
Saturday morning farmers' market at Central Park in Durham.
Cold, crisp Picpoul de Pinet and Guglhupf bread at Wine Authorities.
Finally!  Success with macaron-making!
Gardening with the BFF.
A few "fruits of our labor..."
Toby and Trace in concert.
Saturday morning breakfast at Rue Cler (not your everyday bacon, egg and cheese sandwich).
A lovely, relaxing summer.

An update on Shrimp and Grits--

At Sunset Beach, high school-age son ordered this dish at Twin Lakes Restaurant.  They had added sausage and smoked Gouda cheese to theirs.  We tried it ourselves and really liked it.  So, I've updated our recipe.  It continues to be a work in progress.

 Shrimp and Grits with Sausage

1 c. grits
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 c. cheese (extra sharp white cheddar or Gouda)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Cayenne pepper, paprika, Tabasco, salt and pepper, to taste (usually better to start with small amounts, taste and adjust)

Cook grits according to instructions on package.  As grits are finishing, whisk in butter, cheeses and seasonings.  Cover and keep warm.

3 Tbsp. each butter and olive oil
2 c. sliced leeks
1/2 c. chopped shallots
3 tsp. minced garlic
1-1/2 lbs. 20-30 count shrimp
4-5 grilled andouille sausages, cut into bite-sized slices
1/2 dry white wine or vegetable stock
Chopped roma tomatoes, if desired
4-5 strips of bacon fried crisp
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

This cooks very quickly.  Be sure to have everything ready and easy to reach before beginning.
Heat large skillet until hot.  Add olive oil and butter.  As oil begins to smoke, add leeks and shallots.  Sauté until translucent.  Toss in shrimp to cover bottom of pan.  Before stirring, add salt and pepper.  Stir until shrimp just begin to turn pink all over.  Let pan return to original hot temperature.  Stir in garlic and be careful not to burn it.  Add sausages.  Deglaze pan by adding wine or vegetable stock.  Stir for about 30 seconds or until everything is well-coated.  Add tomatoes, if using, and toss for about 20 seconds.  Serve immediately.

To serve:
Spoon grits on to plate.  Spoon shrimp/sausage mixture on top of grits.  Crumble bacon on top.   Garnish with parsley, if desired. 

Bon appétit, summer of 2010!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bull City Burger and Brewery

I love hamburgers.  I really do.  And on Monday I found out that Downtown Durham will have a new restaurant in February 2011.  And not just any restaurant.  Burgers and beer.  And not just any burgers and beer.  100% grass-fed, hormone-free NC beef for the burgers and dogs, house-baked buns, fries cooked in peanut oil or duck confit, pound cake with ice cream and chocolate sauce... just to whet your appetite.  A "Stretcher of the Day"-- a lamb burger with fried goat cheese and mint pesto or how about a beef burger with foie gras and fig chutney.  What's a "stretcher," you ask?  A burger so big you have to stretch your mouth around it.  Did I mention that one of the toppings will be caramelized onions? 
The ales and lagers will also be made on the premises.  I do not know much about beer yet, but I am a quick learner.  The wine will come from Wine Authorities and there will be an Enomatic machine in the restaurant.  For those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful invention, it is a machine that dispenses wine by the taste, half glass or full glass.  Sort of wine-on-tap that you access with a pre-paid card. 
Families and kids are welcome.  Seating inside and out.  All in historical downtown Durham on East Parrish Street.   And never fear, vegetarians, you will have choices, too.
And who is behind Bull City Burger and Brewery? 

My go-to guy for wine advice and recipes, none other than Seth Gross, co-owner of Wine Authorities, my favorite hangout and wine shop.  Seth is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY.   He brewed beer professionally in Chicago.  He's been in the restaurant business for 25 years.  He is a strong believer in the farm-to-fork concept of eating.  He promises no high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.  I intend to do a real interview with Seth very soon.  And probably beg for a job next summer.  Will work for burgers and fries.     
Check out the website and follow the progress.

Bon appétit, Bull City and Seth!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Burnt box

On the heels of my August newspaper article with a recipe for making garlic fries, complete with directions on how to put out a grease fire, I attempted to set my own kitchen on fire.  But not with peanut oil.  Oh no.  I tried to do it with a pizza box.  There I was one evening last week, aproned up, sipping a glass of chilled Bouysse, chatting with the Ex-Ex and sautéeing carrots and celery.  Something seemed to be burning, but my pan wasn't too hot.  All of a sudden smoke started pouring from the oven vent at the back of the stove.  I had turned the oven on to preheat at 425F without checking to see if anything was in it.  Made perfectly good sense to me since I am the cooker in the family and the only one who uses the oven (with the exception of an occasional frozen pizza prepared by one of the eaters).  But the Ex-Ex all of a sudden remembered the pizza box he had stashed in there the night before, not wishing to take it out to the recycling bin at 11:00 pm.  I grabbed an oven mitt, yelled at him to open the back door and I flung the smoking, charred box onto the deck.  (I did not take the time to take a photo... I recreated it from Skitch, a program I just learned to use.  Mr. S would be so proud of me.)  The house only slightly smells of smoke as I write this.  The batteries need to be replaced in the smoke alarms.  They didn't make a peep.  Good thing it wasn't while we were sleeping.  And I learned a valuable lesson.  Always check the oven before turning it on.  You just never know.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

French Feasts

I have already mentioned this book, a birthday gift from the BFF, so forgive me doing so again.  But it deserves a post all of its own this morning.  (There are so many things I need to be doing right this minute, from drying my hair to getting dressed to hauling myself to exercise class before hitting my classroom, but I woke up thinking about this book, so here I am.)  I started reading through it from the beginning while sipping my coffee.  (I will officially begin gulping tomorrow when I have to be at school for meetings at 8am!).
Every gourmand and gourmande should be able to wiggle his or her nose or wave the magic wand and land in France for a Sunday lunch with a big extended French family.  Preferably out in the country on a day when the tables are set outside.  I would choose Provence, of course, but there are no bad places to eat in the provinces of the magnificent hexagon known as France.  And since this is magic, said gourmand would also be able to understand and speak French just like a native (avec un accent délicieux, of course).  Understanding Oncle Jacques and Papi when they start singing war songs or when the jokes begin would be de rigueur.  And worth more than a few giggles.  At this meal, sure to last several hours, calories do not count and watches and cellphones will be checked at the door. 
Just to whet your appetite, I will now quote Stéphane Reynaud (page 7).   And just so you know what he looks like as you read, here is a photo from the book--
     I remember the Sundays of my childhood (just one a week was never enough), when, once everyone was seated around the table, we seemed to put down roots so that the moment became frozen in time.  Everything came to a stop; benevolence reigned.  We needed solid constitutions to withstand the advancing tide of entrées, brave the bounty of meats with all the trimmings, find a residue of appetite when faced with the groaning cheese board, and finally close our meal with creams and cakes.  The meal lingered on for hours-- there was a lot to be eaten!  "You'll have some more gratin, won't you, mon p'tit?  You're shooting up, at your age you need to eat," my grandmother would say to me, wrapped in her flowered apron, after having already served me two helpings.
     There was something noble about eating; it was a true privilege of the strong of body.  To be well-built you need a good appetite; and appetite, believe me, was something everyone had.  The smell of strong coffee hung in the air and escargot-scented burps rang out the feast's end.  We were blissfully content, slumped over the table that looked like a victorious battlefield, our bellies filled with memories of good food.  With the benefit of hindsight I suspect that was also due to the effect of the eaux-de-vie (spirits) taken at the end of the meal:  the product of many fruits distilled by a family friend, they encouraged a mood of congeniality and a shared lethargy.
     Songs punctuated the day, old classics at the beginning of the meal, turning X-rated once the Vieille Prune (a plum brandy) got the upper hand.  In short, the Sunday meal had a perpetually festive air, and the reddened faces bore witness to it.  The late-afternoon walk, a gentle excuse to digest, allowed the 6 o'clock champagne to chill in peace.  We kids got sponge cake to dunk in flutes filled to the brim.  A Sunday that begins well must end well.  Out came the boules, the crowd is reassembled, hunting and fishing memories turn into epic tales, football matches into World Cup finals.  It's a ripaille-- a rip-roaring French feast-- and it's good.  It's late, the leftovers are gone, the bottle's dregs have dried up, the yawns are contagious, the time has come to say goodbye.
     Bring on next Sunday!

Now, I ask you, is that not a man to love?  A country to love?  A meal to dream about?
The BFF found this book at Parker and Otis, a restaurant and food shop in downtown Durham.  It is published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang in New York.  It is 480 pages of M. Reynaud's writing, photos taken by Marie-Pierre Morel, illustrations by José Reis de Matos, and recipes.

And although it is still quite early in the morning, I have a craving for pork rillettes.  I haven't had any since I attended a wine class at Wine Authorities last fall.   Mon dieu!  They were made by Matt Kelly, chef at Vin Rouge, a French bistro here in Durham.  Go ahead, click on this link and take a look at the dinner menu... I dare your mouth not to water, regardless of the time of day.  The pork rillettes are right there, for $7.00.  Hmmm... I just happen to have a gift certificate for Vin Rouge.  Rillettes and French bread washed down with a glass of Morgon (recommended by Stéphane and indeed on the wine list at Vin Rouge)-- le paradis for a gourmande such as myself.

I have never made rillettes, but here is the recipe from French Feasts.

Rillettes de cochon

for six 7-ounce pots - preparation time: 20 minutes- cooking time: 5 hours + 48 hours resting time

Pork loin-- 1 pound 2 ounces
Pork hock or shank-- 1
Bacon-- 3 1/2-ounce slab
Pork belly-- 3 1/2 ounces
Thyme-- 3 sprigs
Onions-- 2
Lard-- 2 1/3 cups
White wine-- 4 cups
Salt, pepper

1.  Chop all of the meat into 1-inch cubes.
2.  Melt 2 cups of the lard over low heat.  Add the chopped onions, all of the meat, and thyme leaves.  Cook, covered, very gently for 5 to 6 hours, adding the wine at regular intervals and stirring frequently; the longer and more gently the mixture is cooked, the better the pork spread will be.  Season once the meat has cooked down and the mixture has a uniform texture.
3.  Spoon into six small pots, pressing down well, and cover with remaining rendered lard.  Chill for 48 hours before serving.

Bon appétit, les gourmands américains et français!

Friday, August 13, 2010

How does your garden GRO?

Last fall, I worked with the 7th grade science teacher at school to create a garden in a space where there wasn't much at all.  We had a couple of work days, prayed for rain, hoped for the best, had great kids and adult helpers and it happened.  I look at it and am amazed.  I just wish I could see it from my classroom window...
I stood in the garden a couple of days ago and this butterfly just flitted all around me, not paying me the least bit of attention.  I was prowling around to see if there were any figs or squash waiting to be snagged and taken home to be eaten.  Well, the figs wouldn't have lasted that long.  But no fruit or vegetables were to be found, only the flowers and my new friend, le papillon, the butterfly.
Hmmm... think I'll go check on the fig tree right now before heading home.  Shhhh, don't tell BK.

Bon appétit, M. Papillon et Mme K!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


So what in the world am I doing now?  Not enough of the above, unfortunately.  I am hitting the books again.  And the messy classroom.  And computer workshops dragging me into the 21st century with VoiceThreads, Skitch, Google docs and Moodle.  Don't know what those are?  Moi non plus-- me either, well, just barely.  Oh where oh where did summer go?  I am thrilled to see my colleagues again, though, and hear about what they've been up to the past three months.  Learning to captain a sailboat, driving up to Maine, getting a child settled back into North Carolina after being too far away in Texas (and meeting her boyfriend!), spending the summer on Lake George, healing a broken arm and just hanging out on the farm.
The beginning of a new school year is exciting and challenging.  I look forward to the busy-ness.  I like routines.  I am a creature of habit.  I feel old admitting that, but it's true.  In another month we will all be wondering if we really had summer vacation because we will be back into our Monday-Friday mode.

But until then, I will enjoy getting caught up with my colleagues/friends, writing up lesson plans, trying to figure out how to integrate some of this really cool technology into my curriculum, begin planning the March trip to France with my 8th graders, and spiffing up my room.
High school-age son is a senior.  My baby (he would die if he saw that).  We'll make a few road trips to look at schools (UT-Knoxville?  Where did that come from?) and send him off to the mountains of NC for Senior Challenge.  College-age son is a senior, too.  We will help him move into the house he is sharing this year with three friends.  He is beginning to send out e-mails to independent schools with internship programs.  My mom found a cookbook for him called A Man, A Can, A Plan by David Joachim.  I have even tried a couple of the recipes.  Not too bad.  Will he actually use it?  That remains to be seen.  He did teach me how to make perfect iced tea this summer.  And high school-age son was my sous-chef at the beach when we made Shrimp and Grits, one of his favorite dishes.  We played around with the recipe, adding grilled andouille sausage and everyone liked the results. 

So, no tears (at the moment).  I will enjoy every minute (well, most of them) of the time left with them at home and keep cooking for them.  What else can a mom do?

Hot Tamale Pie
(8 servings)

1-1/2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
14-oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapeños
11-oz. can corn with peppers, drained
16-oz. package prepared polenta
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2-oz. can sliced black olives, drained
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 c. shredded pepper Jack or sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 375F.  In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the beef and onion until browned.  Drain.  Add the tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste, corn, olives and chili powder.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then scrape into a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Cut the polenta lengthwise into quarters, then slice across the quarters into wedges 1/4-inch thick.  Scatter over the meat and top with the cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and everything's bubbling.

Bon appétit, my men!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cake, coffee and books

I have trouble relaxing once August 1 hits.  I honestly feel as if I should have a to-do list of productive things to accomplish.  During the summer, I usually find a job, but none of the ones I had in the works back in May panned out.  No trip to France.  I applied to be a group leader with the Experiment in International Living, but I think I am about 25 years over their age limit.  And heaven only knows how many applicants they get for the positions.  I could have taught summer school, but I gave that up because I was waiting on the Experiment to decide.  Oh well.  C'est comme ça.
June and July kept me busy-- I tried new recipes, read some amazing books (I spent one whole day on the sofa finishing Pat Conroy's South of Broad- I gave it to the Ex-Ex for his birthday.  Pat Conroy is the only fiction he reads.), visited my mom and siblings in the mountains and my in-laws in eastern NC, spent a great week at the beach with my family, spent time with my baby sister, Moo, at High Rock Lake, and explored Durham with the Ex-Ex.  Both boys are working, but I've been able to spend time with them and cook for them. I've written two newspaper articles (and need to get the August one done now!), countless blogs and a sketchy novel outline (I can't believe I didn't do more than that-- I think I am afraid to commit...).
As much as I would like to, I can't get back into my classroom yet.  Student U just finished with classes on our campus and the teachers will clear out by the end of this week.  I will have two days to work in my room next week, putting it all back together, and then I will take a three-day computer course.  And our opening faculty meetings begin the week after.
This morning I walked with the BFF and then worked out at Curves.  And now?  Oh, enjoying a piece of that zucchini cake and a cup of the Peruvian coffee as I type this entry and watch the cats take their morning nap.  Hmmm... maybe I am better at this relaxing thing than I thought!

Summer Reading List

In Progress--

  • Harry Wong & Rosemary Wong- The First Days of School:  How To Be An Effective Teacher (middle school faculty summer reading; even after 30 years of sitting behind the "big desk" as a friend used to call it, I am getting some new ideas-- this is making me even more anxious to get back in my classroom!)
  • Michael Ruhlman- The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef (author takes classes at Culinary Institute of America, follows chefs)
  • Mary Ann Caws- Provençal Cooking:  Savoring the Simple Life in France (non-fiction- woman buys a little house in the south of France and spends summers there; recipes included)
  • Alan Richman- Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater (GQ columnist is paid to eat and write about it)
  • Pat Conroy- South of Broad (novel set in Charleston; follows main character and his growing up in '60's; amazing dialogue and characters)
  • René Char- Lettera amorosa (poems in French by Provençal poet)
  • Sheramy Bundrick- Sunflowers (a fictional novel about Vincent Van Gogh and told by the woman he gave his ear to)
  • Steve Dublanica- Waiter Rant (professional waiter blogs about customers and restaurant business and then turns it into a novel)
  • Polly Platt- Savoir Flair:  211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French; French or Foe?  Getting the Most of of Visiting, Living and Working in France (American who lives in France and offers courses for people who have been transferred there for work, as well as their spouses; how to understand and appreciate the French)
  • Jennifer Niven- Velva Jean Learns to Drive (fiction; takes place in the NC mountains when the Blue Ridge Parkway was being built; one character is from Spruce Pine!)
  • Jill Jonnes- Eiffel's Tower (about the building of the tower and the 1889 World's Exposition in Paris; lots of good information about the Americans who came- Edison, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, etc.)
 Waiting in the Wings:

  • Michael Ruhlman- The Reach of a Chef (follow up about some of the famous American chefs)
  • Mark Twain- The Innocents Abroad (his travel memoirs)
  • Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow-  The Story of French (no explanation needed!)
  • Rudolph Chelminski- The Perfectionist:  Life and Death in Haute Cuisine
  • Reay Tannahill- Food in History
  • Gael Greene- Insatiable:  Tales From A Life of Delicious Excess
  • Derek Fell- Van Gogh's Women
  • Colette- Claudine at School, Claudine in Paris (I found these 1957 & 1958 translations from the French in a thrift shop this summer Pennies for Change)
  • Don & Petie Kladstrup- Wine and War:  The French, The Nazis and The Battle for France's Greatest Treasure
Now, I think I need another piece of cake-- quality control, you know!

Bon appétit, last days of summer vacation!
A big shout out to Celia as she recovers from surgery-- I am ready to bake for you, ma petite!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    More gifts!

    High school-age son's girlfriend went to Peru with her aunt to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders.  She spent two weeks there, helping with little children.  To meet children who have never used scissors or glue is an eye-opening experience. 
    She returned bearing gifts- again!  There yummy chocolates flavored with coffee liqueur.
    Beautiful and really, really good.
    A bar of milk chocolate with Macchu Picchu on the cover (the Ex-Ex really likes this one!).
    And whole bean coffee.
    I love the package!
    She spoils us.
    The BFF was not supposed to give me a birthday gift since she took me to see Trace Adkins and Toby Keith in concert.  But she did.  She found a perfect gift-- a new cookbook with so many amazing recipes and photographs.
    It is written by Stéphane Reynaud.  It contains "299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals & Gatherings."  I was leafing through it after she gave it to me, when lo and behold, I came across a photo of Chef Érick's cousin, Néné and his wife, Hélène.
    They own a restaurant in the Camargue, not far from Arles.  Érick took me there for dinner one night.  I blogged about it, back in August 2008, while still on sabbatical.  Just going back and reading the entry and looking at the photo of pink flamingos I took from the restaurant brings back so many lovely memories.

    A coincidence?  The BFF had no idea who Néné is or that his photo is in the book.  But I don't really believe in coincidences.  I think it was meant as a reminder that I really was there... almost exactly two years ago. She gave me the book on August 2, 2010 and this photo was taken on August 1, 2008.
    Now I have to be brave and prepare one of the recipes.  Maybe la soupe au pistou... vegetable soup made with summer vegetables served with pesto.

    Bon appétit, mes amies!  Vous êtes vraiment généreuses. You are so generous.

    Eating lunch part deux

    (Goat cheese, local honey and cracked pepper crostini from Toast)
    In case you missed my last article for the Durham Herald-Sun, I wrote about my summer project of going out to eat lunch.  Summer vacation isn't over so the research hasn't ended yet.  Last week, the Ex-Ex and I went to The Fish Shack, a new restaurant, right next door to The Q Shack, with the same owner.  I had a really hard time making up my mind what to order from the large chalk board menu.  You order at the counter here, same as The Q Shack.  I finally decided on a catfish sandwich.  I added housemade tartar sauce and the tomato from the Ex-Ex's sandwich that he discarded (he still isn't a big fan of tomatoes...).
    Coleslaw was served on the side.
    I chose collard greens for my side order.
    The Ex-Ex chose the catfish po' boy sandwich with red beans and rice.
    I will definitely return.  I want to try the crawfish, chicken and sausage gumbo.
    My latest lunch was at Saladelia Cafe.  I have been here many times, usually with the BFF, and they've catered many faculty lunches at school.  I almost always choose the same thing... I am such a creature of habit.  But when you find something you like, why mess around?  I love the sampler plate, with three choices of salads.

    Today's choices:  hummus with warm pita bread,  chicken couscous and Mediterranean eggplant.  All vraiment délicieux!  I also love their tabouli and black bean salads.  The BFF loves their Heathbar cookies, but we didn't save room for dessert today.  The dessert case contains edible works of art.  The owners also own Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Cafe.
    We are so lucky here in Durham, North Carolina!  So many choices, so little time left to eat lunch out before school starts back...

    Bon appétit, Durham!