Sunday, February 22, 2009

You say potato...


...I say Gratin Dauphinois.

After living in France for 16 years, I have finally, just about, almost, reached potato nirvana. It took a chance conversation on Facebook and an experiment with refrigerator ingredients to come to this point. Everything I thought I was doing right was wrong, wrong, wrong! Cheese? Quel horreur! Milk? Alors! Mind you, I have been corrected and I hope to mend my ways.

A little history... I married a French guy. He had a mother. She hated to cook. (I should have run away then.) I brought my love of cooking and 17 boxes of kitchen paraphernalia with me when I moved here. I had spent the prior year getting to know him... eating in restaurants, going to his friend's homes for dinners... in short, enjoying the cuisine of France. One of my most favorite dishes has always been Gratin Dauphinois. What could be easier than potatoes, milk, and cheese I thought? Pfft. I can do that!

Yeah. Right. Not til now. Now I know I don't have to simmer the spuds in milk, minding the heat so they don't get scalded... no wondering which cheese is the right cheese... there is NO cheese! This is a simple dish prepared simply and with love.

Tonight I had three little potatoes that had been leftover from last week's raclette. I had a dab of butter, a tiny box of creme l├ęger and a clove of garlic. Salt and pepper grinders are always on hand. I was set. I sliced the taters into a large bowl, poured the creme over top, seasoned it, rubbed garlic and butter into a ramekin and poured it all in... Popped it into a low oven and let it go for about 2 hours. And THAT, my friends, is the trick. Long and slow. Who knew? How easy is that? Sheesh. All these culinary years later.....

The end result was... almost perfection. I would use a full cream and not the light version. (Screw the calories for this dish!) Other than that? Nirvana.

In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.
~Julia Child

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The sun’ll come out tomorrow...


Lots of stuff on my mind lately and, apparently, it's not just me, it's a few other folks as well...

Some friends have emailed and said they've been laid off from their jobs. Others are concerned and waiting for the axe to fall... there just seems to be a general malaise in the air. Following the Obama election/inauguration euphoria, it feels like we're on the slippery slope of a manic low...

President Obama has said it'll get worse before it gets better. Even if you are doing okay, maybe your friends or family members aren't...?

I'm just wondering, what is your top tip to keep a positive outlook?

Bet your bottom dollar...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You just keep me hanging on...


Had to do a fast shoot of hangers for a website I'm working on... It got me to thinking of all the junk that just accumulates so innocently at first, and then all of a sudden, BAM! There's a pile of crap you really don't need, but aren't sure of what to do with. "I might need it for something someday".

I'm here to say bullshit on that!

Last August I emptied my bedroom. I took everything out and reamed in a BIG way. All those size 10 jeans, 80s suits (think serious shoulder pads), and shoes that were either worn out or never worn at all; no mercy! Boxed, bagged or binned! Gone! Bye-bye!

With that ream came a bunch of dry cleaner hangers. Those wire nasties that conjure up Mommie Dearest... I had them. Lots of them. I had planned on bringing them back to the dry cleaner so she could recycle them, but never got that far in the out-the-door process. So, they hung around. Gathering dust. Until today.

Today, they came in handy. Tomorrow, they go back where they came from. Fitting, eh?

Set me free!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Are you ready for some football?


Living overseas offers the best of both worlds. Your new culture and its traditions, and those you grew up with. One of the things I miss living here in France is American football. (And, yes I have to clarify it as American. We get our fill of "football", but it just ain't the same thing.) I should also clarify that the only times I really miss American football is on Thanksgiving Day and Super Bowl Sunday. The half-time commercials are anticipated and this year The Boss is doing a 12-minute show? It might be the only time during the broadcast that you won't leave your seat!

I've often wondered if the 4-minutes on, 2-minutes off for commercial breaks contribute to the short attention span of America's youth. It's mind-numbing. How can you concentrate on the show/movie/game you are watching with the constant interruptions? Here in France you get them all in big doses, usually at the beginning, somewhere in the middle and then at the end, followed by a weather report. BBCPrime doesn't even run "commercials", but rather promos for upcoming shows and their own lame station IDs.

President Sarkozy has recently announced that the public stations will no longer be airing prime-time ads! At first I thought great! But what will they be replaced with? When can I run to the kitchen to refill my wine glass? How will I know what to clean my teeth/floors/toilet/dishes/body with? Pharmaceuticals alone... sheesh! I don't know what half the stuff is for! What exactly is Oscillococcinum? (Don't know, don't care, but it works when you are coming down with a cold!) Only in France can a naked woman taking a shower be selling yogurt. And treasures like this will never see the light of a plasma screen.

But, I digress. This post was about football, specifically the Super Bowl. The above photo is of me and Sue T., circa 1971. The Navajos never made it to the Super Bowl, but we made sure they would move to the left, move to the right..... you know what I mean!

So, to all my friends in the US, paint your face, grab your beers, wings and chips and have fun!

Oh yeah.... Go Steelers!