Thursday, September 26, 2013

This working thing...

Working seriously gets in the way of my writing time.  Lessons to plan, papers to grade, classes to teach... But I love it.  My daily interactions with my students make every exhausting exhilarating second worth it.  My 8th graders are making a movie to share with their pen pals in France.  My POL (Phenomenon of Language) students are learning Esperanto and even wrote poems today and shared them with each other.  My 7th graders make me laugh every day, as I force them talk to me in French and explain their ideas using the words they already know.

Today, we were treated to madeleines and mousse au chocolat by one young lady.  Ahhhh... the régime took a serious hit today.  It was well worth it, though.  I'll do better tomorrow.

We had an amazing assembly this week.  Spoken word poetry by Sacrificial Poets.  Two handsome, talented young men came to recite poems they wrote about very personal issues.  Tears flowed freely from my green eyes when one of the fellows performed a poem written about his mom working as a maid.  I asked him afterwards if he had recited it for her and he said yes.  Wow.  My students loved their poetry and I think that made Esperanto poems easier.  The performances made me think of Grand Corps Malade, a French spoken word poet whose work I really like (as well as his deep voice speaking French).


Katie's Mousse au Chocolat

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 ounces espresso or strong coffee
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon flavorless granulated gelatin

Chill 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in refrigerator.  Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.

In top of a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, coffee, and butter.  Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat while a couple of chunks are still visible.  Cool, stirring occasionally to just above body temperature.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin.  Allow gelatin to "bloom" for 10 minutes.  Then carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a low gas flame or candle.  Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged.  Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream to medium peaks.  Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two doses.  There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine.  Do not over work the mousse.

Spoon into bowls or martini glasses and chill for at least 1 hour.  Garnish with fruit, if desired, and serve.

If mousse is to be refrigerated overnight, chill for one hour and then cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator.

Bon appétit to poets and students!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Refrigerator magnets

So, a couple of nights ago, I had a hankering (craving to those of you who do not speak Southern) for risotto.  I love to make risotto.  Some might find that weird because it takes a while and you have to stir and stir and stir.  Personally, I love that aspect of risotto-making.  No multi-tasking.  Get it all ready in advance and then just stand there, adding ladles (une louche, en français, just in case you are wondering-- I learned that on the job in 2007 working for Chef Érick) of hot chicken broth, stirring and daydreaming.  I am really good at all three of those jobs.  Especially daydreaming.  Believe me.  While standing at the stove stirring, I started looking at all the magnets on my refrigerator.  Yes, I know, serious business, but since I cannot solve world hunger or bring about world peace, I was stuck with my refrigerator.  We have an impressive collection of magnets.

This one seemed appropriate while making risotto since the recipe calls for some white wine.

(I just happened to have a chilled bottle of Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc on hand for the risotto and for sipping)

Or perhaps this one is better?

Oui, most definitely.
This would be tragic in any age and time--

Need a corkscrew?

I do drink water, too, even tap water in Paris.  In the summer of 2012, there was a big-to-do at the Gare de Lyon, pushing the Paris drinking water, likening it to a "great crop."  I got souvenir cups and a magnet.

We have our children represented--
Did/Do you have these?  We only kept a few--

Sports moments--

Son #1 was a huge Ernie fan (he even had an "Ernie shirt" with stripes that I washed and washed and washed; the Ernie doll he got for his second Christmas still sits on the shelf in his room)

School art projects

Mama Mildred and Son #2 are held up by a heart magnet--

The Ex-Ex on our honeymoon in 1982 (I have a thing for hearts...)

Family vacations are represented, too.

A little Paris in Virginia--

Sports teams

My adventures

Trip with Sister Moo and Best Niece

La Camargue

Inspiration for my tattoo

Prehistoric caves in southwest France with the Arles 6

Son #2 was with me on this one to Normandy when he was in 8th grade

I might not have taken this photo, but I have been there when there was a full moon

No explanation needed...

Italy with the BFF and Mo

A ride from Folsom, California while at a computer workshop

Gifts from family and friends


Mme M

Where the in-laws worked

My "friends"

This one needs no explanation either--

Art exhibits



Trips with the Ex-Ex

Biltmore House

2008-- the Ex-Ex met me in Paris... finally

And in light of yesterday's 12th anniversary, I will end with this one--

Simple Risotto
This is a basic recipe.  I added a cup of frozen green peas, 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 c. dry white wine.
approximately 3 cups of risotto

1 c. uncooked arborio rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
4-5 c. chicken or vegetable broth, heated to simmering
Salt and pepper, to taste, if desired

Sauté onion in oil and butter for 3 minutes.  Add rice, stirring to coat with oil/butter for about 2 minutes. Stir in one cup of broth and wine, if using.  Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining hot broth 1/2 cup at a time (I use a ladle), cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.  When rice is almost done, add whatever ingredients you wish-- sautéed mushrooms, vegetables, shrimp, etc. and continue cooking until rice is tender but not mushy.

Bon appétit à tous!  Here's to many more magnets to add to my collection!