There’s still time to throw your name in the hat for the Two Maisons Giveaway. I’d love to meet you and you’ll have a chance to win a lovely petite 19th century silverplate treasure box. You can read about how to add your name right here. l’ll be selecting a winner at the end of the day tomorrow so depechez-vous!
July 13th, 2010 comments 2
July 12th, 2010 comments 1
we’re having a heat wave here in Provence so something about this post feels positively absurd…
Yet something feels so easy…
Then I opened today’s “Story” from Story People aptly titled “Second Choice”:
“you look like someone from the 70’s, I said & she smiled & said that this time around she’d done it by choice & that made it easier”
Perfect… just perfect.
July 11th, 2010 comments 7
There’s a wild plum tree in the garden that generously offers morning shade for our table. Generous spirit that it is, we’ve been blessed (burdened?) with so much fruit that I imagine our entire village could make jam from now ’till September and there’d still be plums to spare.
They’re a small plum, the size of a cherry, and they’re plum delicious. The have have just the right amount of sour to balance the sweet. However just one tiny branch has yielded 12 pots of jam so far and there’s only so much jam we can eat or give away. I’m like the friend with the bumper crop of zucchini… pot’s of jam on offer everywhere I go.
The tree is literally groaning under the weight. Oh please, does anyone out there have any other crafty ideas for this bumper crop? Or better yet stop by and say hi and I promise I’ll only make you take a bushel or two with you when you leave.
July 7th, 2010 comments 14
Today is July 7, the 7th day of the 7th month, and a very special day for me. The number 7 is my lucky number and as luck would have it I see extra icing on today’s cake because today marks the 77th post I’ve made to this newbie blog. In the spirit of the day’s celebration, my wish is to say thank you to all of you out there with a Two Maisons Giveaway!
And it’s not just one Giveaway I have in mind… My second favorite number just so happens to be Two (as in Two Maisons silly…) So there are Two Giveaways in store!
First up: some lucky someone is going to be the recipient of this lovely silver plate treasure box. It’s from the Two Maisons Online Shop. In it’s 19th century day it was a snuff box – my but they had pretty snuff boxes back then… It’s aged to perfection and waiting to cradle your favorite keepsake. There’s a heart on the lid and with that I offer my heartfelt thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
To win this petit tresor, think about the 7 wonders of your day and then leave a comment on this post. Share your wonders or just pinky swear that you gave it some thought (I know… you’re busy…). Make sure that there’s a way I can contact you if you’re posting anonymously and if you’re a blogger and wish to post about the Giveaway, I’ll put your name in the hat Two more times! The lucky 7 winner’s name will be randomly chosen on the 14th (7 plus 7) of July, which is Bastille Day here in France and the perfect day for a celebration! I’ll be posting about the second giveway then, so check back. Good luck everyone and thanks again for stopping by.
July 6th, 2010 comments 1
In Provence it’s called pistou and it’s made without nuts or cheese. At which point I rise in protest. What’s the point? But Pistou has it’s place in the local cuisine: basil, garlic, salt and olive oil…. pounded in mortar and pestle to a smooth sauce, then added to soup (of the same name) or drizzled over fish or luscious vine ripe tomatoes. Yes, this fragrant green elixir is a fine culinary friend….
But my basil is threatening to bolt and the pine nuts and Reggiano will not be denied… It’s pesto pour moi ce soir!
July 5th, 2010 comments 2
when the thermometer rises in Provence the heat wraps our garden in a haze. The romantic quality of this subdued Provencal light is almost impossible (for me) to capture in a photograph but always reminds me of the magical Maxfield Parrish illustrations in the book Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton.
I was first introduced to this book by Garden Design magazine years ago and was swept away by Edith’s descriptive imagery, the Parrish images encapsulating her prose.
And I was fascinated by her adventure; in the spring of 1903 Wharton travelled around the Italian countryside visiting some eighty Italian Estates. She’s said to have travelled by train, carriage and motorcar, not a simple feat for a woman of her time.
In her book she praises the Italian designs for their stonework, their water features and their foliage which countered the days trend for English-style flower gardens.
And she shares her belief that a garden’s design should relate to both the house’s architecture and the surrounding terrain. Above all, she asserts, that our gardens “are meant to be lived in.” And I couldn’t agree more. I’m off to the garden now…
July 3rd, 2010 comments 3
If you squint (or put on your reading glasses) you can spot La Petite Cuisine at La Villa Madie; in the middle cove, just there between Cap Canaille and the sea. Thursday’s perfect spot for a cocktail and lunch by the sea. I didn’t want to leave… A dip, a siesta and then dinner? Maybe next time….
July 2nd, 2010 comments 2
The French market basket… it’s called a cabas in French and it’s almost as common a market sight as the quintessential baguette. When you live in France you use one every day. There’s one in the car, one at both front and back door. There’s one filled with freshly laundered towels, the recycling gets carried out in one, then the days shopping gets carried back in.
I’ve always carried the classic (or is it the boring?) natural straw model and they all seem to be in various states of disrepair. There are the ones with the short leather handles, the ones with long leather handles and the ingenious ones that have added straps around the bottom of the bag to prevent a nasty blowout. As with most things, I tend to prefer them when they show a bit of age but I must admit a few of mine are downright decrepit. But never mind…
You can never have too many of these essentials on hand and this summer I think I’ll splash out into the world of color. In the French street markets there’s an explosion of hues and variety à la Tunisia. I love them all, but when it comes to settling on just one…. I freeze. I have major color commitment issues here. Help!
As long as we’re at the market let’s pick up a few things….
It wouldn’t be a French meal without bread…
And garlic finds it’s way into most everything we do….
J’ai envie de Poisson pour ce soir…..
I’m all for spicing it up….
The cheese course is a must chez nous…..
And who can resist these colors? Our Franco-American 4th of July is just around the corner….
June 28th, 2010 comments 4
Strawberry Crème Fraiche Ice Cream
- 1 pound ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1 TBl Chambord
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup whole milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup crème fraiche
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Make the strawberry puree: In a blender, puree the strawberries until completely smooth. Strain the berry puree through a fine mesh sieve into a glass bowl, taking care to extract all of the strawberry juice. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar and Chambord, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with several inches of ice water (half ice half water). Set a smaller metal bowl of at least a 6 cup capacity in the ice water. Pour 1/2 cup of the heavy cream into the inner bowl. This will help cool down the custard. Set a fine mesh strainer on top.
Make the custard: Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan mix the remaining 1 cup of cream with the milk, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat the mixture over medium high heat stirring ocassionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pan. In a steady stream, pour half of the warmed cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens slightly and measures 175°F to 180°F on an instant read thermometer. Do not let overheat or boil or it will curdle.
Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath.
Cool the custard: Stir the custard frequently over the ice bath until an instant rean thermometer measures 70°F. Add the strawberry puree and mix well.
Chill and freeze the custard: Chill the custard mixture in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove custard from refrigerator and stir in 1/2 cup of crème fraiche and the lemon juice. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. I used a simple Donvier hand crank model and it filled it to the brim but worked beautifully… It’s sooooo good!
June 23rd, 2010 comments 4
i read an excellent blog post the other day by Tara Bradford of Paris Parfait (you can read the rest of her post here). It has me thinking about the “business” of seeing. For the design aficionado, professional or amateur, it’s all about what we see, how we interpret and translate what we see, and most importantly, how what we see makes us feel.
Yet even the best “eye” can go through life blind. Tara reminds us that true seeing isn’t a spectator sport and that it’s more than a visual sense. It’s about opening our eyes to the the moment and fully engaging with life on all of it’s levels. Even the messy ones.
Seeing what’s in front of us
How often do we take the time to really see?
It’s one of life’s persistent mysteries that many people have a gift for noticing everything, while others appear willfully blind. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances may pry open their eyes…trying to highlight the sparkle and sizzle and wonder of their surroundings. But they are reluctant partners, afraid to splash too much colour onto life’s messy canvas. They worry about the consequences of becoming fully awake and engaged in life. Instead, they dwell drowsily in comfort zones mired deep in charcoals and greys.
What would it take for them to snap out of their slumber? A loss? Love? A lost love? A fresh challenge? Why do some people shun the sun in favour of shadows? Too fearful to tread unknown paths, they stick to tired and familiar routes. But safe havens do not exist.
As we know all too well, life is fragile. Love is mercurial. Change is the only certainty, despite our efforts to preserve the status quo.
So let’s open our eyes and revel in the beauty of what is, right here, right now, today.
“The time which we have at our disposal is elastic;
the passions that we feel expand it; those that we inspire contract it;
and habit fills what remain.” -Marcel Proust
(except for that bit about charcoal and grey… which was surely metaphorical, because grey goes with pretty much everything!)