Posts tagged ‘French’

October 3, 2009

Harvesting “Les Raisins”

October 2009090Autumn is synonymous with harvest in the cooler north. The trees begin to show their fall splendor with shocks of brilliant red and golden yellow.  The garden is finally yielding its hard squashes and pumpkins for spice-laden pies and breads.  The cooler nights means that apples of all variety are finally ready to become apple crisps, dumplings and sauces.  And, the grapes…

Picking ripe fruit is an experience of utter joy.  The fragrance fills the air and the colors stimulate the senses.  I’ve had the pleasure of harvesting strawberries, raspberries, currants, cherries and now grapes this year.  But, it’s not only the harvesting.  It’s sense of community with those around you who are also caught up in the moment and in the pleasure.  The excitement in their voice as they exclaim, “You must see this clump.  There’s a bucket-full right here!”

Graeme

Graeme

Grapes, to me, are the grand finale of the fruit picking season. I am lost in the sheer pleasure of the experience feeling a special kinship with my very (very) distant relatives harvesting ancient vineyards in the French countryside. The Bible tells us the God has given us wine/grapes to gladden our hearts. Just the plucking of the fruit is enough to make my heart sing.

Forrest

Forrest

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:

wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart. Psalm 104:14&15

Colin

Colin

Drake

Drake

Grandmere

Grandmere

C'est moi!

C'est moi!

Grapes!

Grapes!

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July 30, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

P1010018All Russia is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places. [Pause]. Just think, Anya. Your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors owned serfs, they owned human souls. Don’t you see that from every cherry-tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every trunk, men and women are gazing at you? if we’re to start living in the present isn’t it abundantly clear that we’ve first got to redeem our past and make a clean break with it? And we can only redeem it by suffering and getting down to real work for a change. ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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It’s a beautiful thing when literature and life collide! When you leave your every day routine, step into the unfamiliar and purpose to experience the moment, life enlarges and expands.

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Last week, I found an ad for one weekend only of pick your own cherries (and currants) at a local orchard, and was determined to wedge it into our scheduled weekend. One of my favorite books is French Woman Don’t Get Fat.  In her book Mireille Guiliano reveals the beauty of the French culture.  She writes about her childhood home and various types of fruit her family grew, harvested and preserved. Food is respected and fruit is treasured in French homes and hearts. Her book has inspired me to get in touch with my French-side (yes, I’m part French). Now, I make my own bread, yogurt and have preserved fruits and veggies for years.

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My lovely mother joined us for this adventure in the cherry orchard. I love to pick fruit on so many levels. With so many references to fruit, the Bible literally comes alive. The fruit itself has a unique beauty that inspires the artist in me. The joy of watching generations of people experience the same child-like wonder fills my heart.  And the thoughts of cherry pies sans metal cans and high fructose corn syrup, spurs me on despite the occasion cloud burst.

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For me the most amazing part was what I alluded to earlier, the literary experience.  The majority of the people who had travelled for miles and miles to pluck buckets of cherries were Russian immigrants.  They brought everyone from Grandpas to little tots and in between – beautiful teen girls and polite young men in their twenties and thirties.  Every generation joined in the effort to provide their family with the cherries that culture so delights in. For me, it was like I stepped into the backdrop of the Russian play, The Cherry Orchard. I’m a huge fan of Russian literature and just inhaled the moment so precious and lovely.  The beautiful morning, the melodious sound of Russian spoke by natives, the joy in their eyes, the little old man who climbed the cherry tree to get the ones just out of reach – I captured it all in my mind’s eye and treasured it all my heart.

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Not only do my jars of currant jam for tea and scones and cherries frozen for Valentine’s Day pies represent “getting down to real work,” they will be a tasty reminder of my morning in The Cherry Orchard.

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And then we’d send the dried cherries off in carts to Moscow and Kharkov. And money! And the dried cherries were soft, juicy, sweet, and nicely scented. . . They knew the way. . . . ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:17

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April 10, 2009

Ina Strikes Again!

thumb_bcipMove over Martha, Ina Garten has invaded the Strong residence.  

I love cooking and baking when I’m inspired!  Personally, I think Martha Stewart is an absolute genius.  When I’m in a cooking slump, I just reach for a new Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Martha coaches me. She tells me “you can do!” and in very simple steps trains me in the proper techniques. Remember the amazing chocolate Easter egg truffles on the cover of her magazine a few years ago? With Martha’s help, I made them.  They were made in real egg shells and the process took days, but they were beautiful!  

(I used eggs from my parent’s organic, free-range flock.  My mother saved all the Araucana eggs for me because they lay lovely green and blue eggs, so I didn’t have to dye my eggs).

Now I have Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook (Thank you Gabriels for the birthday gift that keeps on giving).  She inspired my now famous Wench toast or Fraffles, if you like. After reading her cookbook cover to cover (am I the only one who reads cookbooks like novels?), I was inspired to create an enchanting gourmet French meal for my family:  Salmon en papillote & Chocolate mousse with pizelles (side note: pizelles are Italian cookies).

Graeme posing with his meal... what have I started?

Graeme posing with his meal... what have I started?

Forrest posing and Colin non-verbally expressing his opinion of my French cuisine.

Forrest posing and Colin non-verbally expressing his opinion of my French cuisine.

The salmon was moist, the veggies were crunchy and the rice was nearly perfect.

The salmon was moist, the veggies were crunchy and the rice was nearly perfect.

Dessert got rave reviews!

Dessert got rave reviews!

The kitchen just may have gotten a 5 star from food critic, Drake, that evening...

The kitchen just may have gotten a 5 star from food critic, Drake, that evening...

March 18, 2009

Fraffles? Wench Toast?

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After reading it cover to cover, I was inspired by Ina Garten‘s book, Barefoot in Paris. Perhaps it was the beautiful pictures, but suddenly I was CRAVING what she refers to as an old-fashioned French nursery dessert: French toast! Not wanting to drag out the big ‘ole griddle or a massive frying pan, I took the next best option – the waffle iron. After I mixed up the eggs and milk (too lazy to drag out a recipe book), I added a little vanilla and cinnamon for some haute cuisine flavor.  Then, I simply dipped several pieces of day old bread from a local bakery into the mixture, placed the slices on my waffle iron and squeezed the lid shut. When the “done” light turned popped on, we plated and devoured our tasty, French-inspired breakfast complete with real maple syrup and butter! Bon appetit!

 

Graeme loves fraffles!

Graeme loves fraffles!

Forrest wants more?

Forrest wants more?