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making things by hand

28 March 2014

I’m not a Bagel eater nor a Bagel maker but I could not tire of watching skilled hands at work. A gem from the Brooklyn Public Library found on excellent blog Diary of a Tomato.

I’d never tell

28 March 2014

One woman band, Kawehi. Inspiring.

Is my heart set ?

21 March 2014

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I have not been here much lately, instead I have been flunking a biochemistry exam (despite the tremendous help from Mr Andersen), working on some assignments until late at night, and on wednesday of next week I will have the final oral  presentation for my college course in Food Innovation and Entrepeneurship. I went back into formal education in September 2012 with the idea that I would either learn how to make money from food (which I had not really managed in any convincing manner in the seven years I ran Maison Djeribi micro bakery) or realize that it was not for me. I have learned a lot. I have realized that I knew a lot already. I have made friends. I have had to study pretty closely some models of practice that are run contrary to anything I stand for, these are really lucrative. To put it mildly I am not convinced. I know that I will hang on to the poetry of my relationship to food and nourishment.

Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.                                                François de La Rochefoucauld

I have not given up the idea of making food for other people than my children and I, but I need to invent something altogether different than what is generally called “business” and I must shape this inside my heart and know it will happen if it is for me. Whether I can make any money from it I am still not sure. Something along the lines of a once-a-week rural bakery/café/market (where?), something of a social project (who?), inspired by a myriad of exciting projects around the world that fill me with hope when I read about them. How? We will see.

In September 2012 I also started my training as an homeopath, and come next September I will be able to take my first patients as a student under supervision, I am really really looking forward to this. What a wonderful training, I am making friends and I am learning a tremendous amount, about me, about healing. This is really for me. At this point in my life I know : what comes my way is for me to learn from. I am learning.

La nature est là qui t’invite et qui t’aime      (Le Vallon) Alphonse de Lamartine

My heart feels like a pretty soft thing still.

I’ve been playing with my food

28 February 2014

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Dug up some horseradish, washed, peeled and grated it, the smell drilled through my sinuses. Made a sauce that keeps in the fridge for almost ever and is pretty addictive in cheese sandwiches, mixing grated horseradish, powdered mustard, a little cider vinegar, crème fraîche (sour cream), with a little salt and pepper. Used some to mix with flecked smoked mackerel and more crème fraîche, to make a pretty delicious pâté.

And then inspired by a lovely recipe by Cheryl Sternman Rule, I concocted a most delicious spread substituting ready cooked beetroot for the original fresh spinach.

PRETTY in pink SPREAD

2 oz/56g cooked beetroot

1/2 cup whole roasted, unsalted cashews (I roast them at 160 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes and let them cool)

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 oz/28g cream cheese

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (or to taste) freshly grated horseradish

pinch of salt/fresh black pepper to taste

I started by reducing the cashews and the garlic into powder in the food processor, and then added the rest of the ingredients, it is necessary to stop and scrape the ingredients back from the sides where they will aim to escape. The resulting colour is pretty lovely and it tastes absolutely delicious (and quite sweet) with or without horseradish. When spinach is in season where you are, you may like to make a green spread and a pink spread the same day for the same meal and rejoice in the joy of natural food colours. Toast your bread ! Play with your food !

These past couple of weeks have been warmed with the nearness and kindness of friends and the smile of strangers, are my planets particularly aligned ? How easy it is sometimes to be alive (and grateful).

going West and back

23 February 2014

county clare

One only sees what one looks for, one only looks for what one knows. Goethe

This is just to remember to have dreams, daydreams and sleep dreams, to piece sensations and light together and create new images, a silent knowledge to bring into life.

My mother died ten years ago yesterday pretty suddenly. We went to visit friends and to breathe the wind and the sea, it was a good way to mark the day alive and kicking full of enjoyment for the moment and full of ideas and desires for the future, carrying the memories into the day.

Pear and blue cheese pancakes

13 February 2014

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We are quite French here so we learned from an early age that pears pair famously with blue cheese (roquefort!) for breakfast lunch or dinner. These pancakes are not crêpes, but the thicker, risen, smaller one they call over the waters drop scones on our right and pancakes on our left. We make them with kefir, but I guess any kind of butter- or soured-milk will do, and they are quickly mixed before breakfast on a weekend morning. In these days of strong icy wind and snowy-rain, a hearty breakfast is de rigueur, if you can count yourself lucky like we do and your home has not suffered in the recent floods or storms (and my heart goes out to people who are without shelter). In the most dreadful days of the plantation Cromwell’s choice to the native Irish was “To hell or Connaught“, in truth it looks like Connaught is one little corner of paradise, as we are repeatedly spared the worst of the weather, our top soil is paper thin (before we get working on it) but we are safe.

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Pear and Blue Cheese Pancakes (enough for 3 large or 4 small morning appetites)

[adapted from Sustainable Echo]

SIFT OR MIX WITH WHISK THE DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER:

2 cups/270g flour (I use white spelt organic)

1 tsp soda

1tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

WHISK TOGETHER AND ADD TO DRY INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs

2 tbsp melted butter or oil

1 cup/250ml kefir or buttermilk (or milk soured with lemon juice)

WHEN IT IS WELL MIXED ADD:

1 cup/250ml kefir or buttermilk (or milk soured with lemon juice)

Thin slices of pear are delicately placed onto the batter once it has been poured onto a hot greased cast iron pan,

serve with slices of blue cheese of your choice, and a glug of maple syrup (definitely not French here). And then you may go and look at some trees and be grateful.

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that resolution : reality check

6 February 2014

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As February is upon us and the Chinese new Year has been greeted I think it is time to admit that I am in need of encouragement to make good the one new-year-resolution I kinda made for 2014. If you have been here before you must have learned that I am a hoarder (more on this topic below) but I also am quite the procrastinator in the chore department. In most of my early life I have relied quite heavily on the last-minute bout of adrenaline to get mental work done, feeling it was quite a powerful inspiring drug. When my first child was born over fourteen years ago I realized that staying up all night to get something finished in style was a dangerous option, as the little thing would wake up at the same early hour full of the joys of life regardless of how much sleep I had gotten. I did not quite cure my last minuteness, just modified it into the penultimate minute, until it became clear that a life in the middle of the country with two children and animals whose need of you may not possibly be postponed was a life where meeting deadlines set on urban timeframe was no longer for me. I miss the thrill of my earlier life as an active publisher but I do not miss the stress of it. I have learned of other ways to be productive, I have also learned that I can just be.

When I went back to school and got reacquainted with the notion of homework I reverted to bad habits, worked too hard, too long and too late (the children older now and able to understand more readily and make allowances the tiredness of the adult), as if the previous years of modelling my home kind of wisdom had been swept away. I was really nervous at having my work assessed by a teacher, I was trying hard to prove to someone else that I was able, I was also mightily excited by my new studies in Homeopathy and the shift in perception that it entailed.

I have taken a long deep breath, I have decided that it is for me to decide whether I am able for what I endeavour and that there is no need to be nervous, I can be calm about my life and my choices, this is my path. But the homework you ask ? This is what 2014 was to be, for not leaving assignments to the last minute. What did I do this week ? Started my revisions the day before my chemistry exam for my other course of study. And what did I just finish ? My Pathology and Disease homework due last Friday, tsst tsst tsst. It’s not that I am not keen to study, on the contrary I am actually reading on the subject everyday, listening to lectures in the car, thinking and pondering it round the clock, but I come back from college and let the other strands of my life take over and find it hard to sit down in the one place long enough to complete my requested piece. I am not giving up, I have two assignments to complete for next Friday and I am aiming to have them done a good few days before then, it is not too late to amend my ways according to plan, let’s say it is a Year of the Horse resolution : no more of this last-minute-malarkey if i can help it.

The new year called for a new mop head as the old one’s hair had withered so thin that it felt and sounded like I was inefficiently mopping the floor with the metal clasp. I thought I might burn the old one, but when it dried it looked like such a lovely thing of beauty, fluffed up and made of lovely lines, no longer useful but to be photographed and perhaps used for an art project. Mop art. Kitchen Inspiration ? Slow art. Watch this space.

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