Friday, December 28, 2012

CHOCOLATE BÛCHE DE NOËL

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE


“What?!” my son exclaimed, his voice dripping with disbelief and just a hint of sarcasm. “Christmas? We’re celebrating Christmas? I don’t remember you guys doing anything for Christmas since we were kids and then only once or twice because Grandmère and Grandpère were visiting!” Well, he forgets last year, but this is pretty much true. Yet once in a while my husband feels not so much the pang of nostalgia as the occasional urgent need to reassert himself in a household of Jews. Even before the eighth Hanukkah candle was lit, before the last Hanukkah presents were purchased and exchanged, my husband began talking about Christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

TRADITIONAL APPLE KUCHEN

A HOLIDAY BREAD BAKING BUDDY
 
Wishing all of my friends a Merry, Joyous, Peaceful Holiday Season. Thank you for the greatest gifts of all - your friendship, kindness, generosity, encouragement and support. And the smiles and laughter. These are indeed the best gifts I could possibly receive. 


Long ago during my college years, I joined my aunt and uncle for the holidays at their forest green house on Long Island. My grandmother and two older cousins were there as well. The day after grandma joined us, she let us know that she planned on baking – not usually her strong point. I, for one, was just a little surprised but waited expectantly to see what she had up her sleeve. You see, my grandmother was one of those women whose cooking repertoire came straight from the Old Country, arriving on that steamer with her own mother from Russia. Cabbage soup, liver and onions, stews, heavy, earthy foods meant to stave off hunger and warm both body and soul. And sweets were definitely not a part of her culinary heritage.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FLUFFY GREEK SPIRAL FETA ROLLS

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. 
 – Robert Browning 


My morning ritual begins with a mug of steaming café au lait and two pains au lait sliced lengthwise and filled with cherry jam. Sometimes husband and I sit in comforting silence, side by side, sharing the occasional witticism or a random thought as we sip our coffees and eat our breakfast. Or we flip on the radio and listen to the news, the weather report, a bit of music before flicking it back off and shuffling back to bed for a quiet half hour or so of chat and reading. Once I get back up, I boot up the laptop and check out the Huffington Post headlines as I wait for incoming e-mails. And each and every day since the Newtown massacre, the headlines have been a macabre roll call of yesterdays’ dead by firearms.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

GREEK-STYLE PRESERVED LEMON CHICKEN WITH OLIVES

EVERYTHING IS CHANGED


The emotional wounds from Friday’s massacre in Newtown are still raw, the passions still vivid and red hot. Everything is changed and we will never be the same. Those of us who are parents may have been especially touched and now we hug our children just a little tighter before they leave for school in the morning, pull them a little closer each night as they return, exhausted from their active day. We study their every movement, listen to their slow, steady breathing, revel in their laughter and stare into the depths of their eyes, astonished at the life we have created. My sons are adults now, 22 and 24, yet they still are and always will be my babies and I still worry about them, am still astonished by their presence and still attempt to protect and coddle them, no matter how they protest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

AFTER NEWTOWN

ANGER AND OUTRAGE

I never talk about my political convictions on my blog although heaven knows they are strong enough, an integral part of my being. My blog, for the moment (and I stress this point), is about food and my life in France. Although I often write about difficult moments and personal tragedy, although I sometimes wax eloquent on the tough decisions my husband and I are forced to make when at a particularly stressful crossroad, I still keep my politics out of it. Little do my readers know or understand the role my political beliefs played in my leaving the States to search for another country, another culture, to see how the rest of the world handles such topics that have an impact on my life, that mean a lot to me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

CHOCOLATE CHESTNUT CLOUD CAKES

AND LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN!

There is probably a smell of roasted chestnuts and other good comfortable things all the time, 
for we are telling Winter Stories – Ghost Stories, or more shame for us – round the Christmas fire; and we have never stirred, except to draw a little nearer to it. 
Charles Dickens 


Hanukkah has come upon us in a rush, almost unexpectedly. Surrounded by the remains of our renovations, pampering a sick dog, befuddled and amazed by the busy-bee energy of our normally slow-as-molasses son, time has slipped by at an almost unreal pace and we are astonished when we realize that it has only been a month since our move. Four, maybe five short weeks. It feels like we have been here forever emptying cartons, stepping over heaps of tools, tripping over coils of wire, making so many trips to the dump it has my head in a spin! And now Hanukkah has arrived and I am just not ready.

Monday, December 3, 2012

GLAZED ORANGE COINTREAU QUICK BREAD

A BOOZY HOLIDAY SEASON


That first spritz of orange, the citrusy scent blended with the warm scent of cinnamon and the house finally smells like the holidays. As a Florida girl who grew up a stone’s throw, just a hop over the river from the orange groves, winter has always meant oranges, grapefruits and tangerines. Even in Europe. As soon as the summer’s berries and stone fruit disappear, leaving only faded imitations of themselves behind, when apples and pears pile up golden green just begging for my attention, I begin the impatient wait. To citrus.

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