Fastoche Loaf--you must make this savory bread (via this cool hack for the favorite French yogurt cake!)

Cake o gateau sale
You must make a cake salé! It is everything from a casual main course to a late-night snack in bed (extra good warmed--just like the sheets this time of year)....

Today's word: le cake salé

    : loaf, savory cake

Audio File & Example Sentence: click here
Le mot « cake » s'est étendu à un gâteau salé... fait avec des légumes, des olives, du jambon, etc. On parle alors de « cake salé ». The word "cake" has been extended to a salty cake ... made with vegetables, olives, ham, etc. This is called "salty cake".

A DAY IN A FRENCH Kristi Espinasse

A Cake Hack?

Ever since I learned to make my brother-in-law Jacques yogurt cake--and after watching the French bring delicious savory loaves to various fêtes--I have wondered about the possibility of combining the two: that is, using the easy-to-remember cake recipe... for a savory loaf. Savory loaves are practical, economical, and among the best comfort foods! If you need further motivation to make one then listen to my Mom who, on tasting the slice you see above, exclaimed: Why make bread when you can make this?! 

And what could be better than knowing recipes by heart? This is what the handy-dandy yogurt cake recette allows us to do (it brilliantly uses the yogurt's container as the measure. No need for measuring spoons or cups or balances, and in no time you are able to toss together a delicious entrée or dessert! Having mastered the super fastoche yogurt cake, I've been on the lookout for another easy offering for my family or something to bring to a social gathering--like my friend Cynthia and Ian's crémaillère in Bandol (I brought the gâteau de yaourt...but now I wished I'd taken along this cake salé--because it is my family's new favorite it'll soon be yours!).

Cooking with smokey yogurt cake savory loaf
        This recipe tastes better when you make it with a family member or friend.  

Tésté et approuvé
So the cake hack worked. Génial! All I did was follow the traditional yogurt cake recipe while ignoring the sugar part. Here's a reminder for the yogurt cake recipe....


- one small (individual size) container of plain yogurt (reserve for measuring the remaining ingredients)
- flour
- sugar
- vegetable oil
- three eggs
- one package levure chimique (that is 2 teaspoons of baking powder)

Instructions (Easy as 3-2-1...):

Fill/empty the yogurt container...
...3 times with flour
...2 times with sugar
...1 time with vegetable oil (if I'm out of vegetable oil, I'll use olive oil or butter...)

Crack 3 eggs into a mixing bowl, and beat until mixed. Add one container (around 150 grams) of plain yogurt. Add 1 measure of oil (half the amount, if you prefer), three measures of flour, and mix in the  savory ingredients... here are the savory ingredients I added for our cake salé or savory loaf:

- 1 can of tuna fish
- large handful of black olives
- sauteed red onions
- fresh tomato
- salt, pepper, herbs of Provence
-a generous sprinkling of chia seeds on top make an agreeably croquant topping for this savory loaf!

Pour mixture into a cake pan (I like this kind with removable bottom ) and put into the oven at 180C (350F) for 25 minutes. (temperature and time vary--keep your eye on the cake and use a knife to test the center. When le couteau comes out dry it's ready.

Enjoy with a simple green salad. Hide a few slices for your late-night snack!

Update: The second time I made this recipe, I used leftover mussels which I shelled, added grated gruyère, black olives, and sunflower seeds--not to forget the crunchy chia seeds on top! It was nice and moist, but a little bland (I'll stick to tuna next time! And think about feta cheese for a nice kick). The olives really make it and are a part of the most traditional version--and for a reason! Some like to chop up the olives for a better distribution throughout the cake. Next time I might try anchovies and capers. What do you think? What would you add to this versatile cake salé? Add your suggestions in the comments below.

Cake sale savory cake wheat grass germe de ble
Those sprouted greens in the back are Les blés de la Sainte-Barbe--a Provencale tradition I learned from Jean-Marc's family. My husband sprinkles the wheat grains on paper towels, in three different coupelles and (my Mom) waters them until the new year. It is said:

Blé bien germé, c'est la prospérité pour toute l'année. (Wheat well-sprouted is prosperity all year.)


la fête = party, gathering
la recette = recipe
la balance = scale (for weighing)
une entrée = starter, first course
fastoche (from facile) = easy-peasy, a walk in the park
la crémaillère = housewarming
le gâteau de yaourt = yogurt cake
lé cake salé = loaf
génial! = brilliant!
tésté et approuvé = tested and approved
la levure chimique = baking powder 
croquant = crunchy
le couteau = knife
la coupelle = small dish

Golden retriever make yogurt cake
Don't miss the video Smokey and I made for the yogurt cake. Click here

Golden retriever kiss yogurt cake

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
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Do you miss the vineyard? + A handful of French vocabulary

Looking back
Looking back. Photo by my Mom.

A question I am sometimes asked is: Do you miss the vineyard? The answer is often the same: I don't look back. (One exception is when I am going through the blog archives, and come across a lively story like today's....)

le sanglier (sahn glee ay)

    : boar, wild pig

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I was surfing online, looking for information on how to discourage wild boars from gobbling up our grapes, when I stumbled into a forum at wherein a poor soul, one with the same dilemma as my winemaking husband's, wrote:

Ici les sangliers font de véritables carnages dans les vignes : ils reconnaissent les meilleures grappes et nous les dévorent juste avant qu'on les vendange (d'ailleurs, ils ont même la délicatesse de ne manger que les grains puisqu'on retrouve les rafles de la grappe encore accrochées à la vigne) !

Here, wild boars make a veritable carnage in the vines: they recognize the best grapes and devour them right before the harvest (what's more, they have the finicky tendency to eat only the fruit, given that we find only the grape stems left on the vine)! 

Jean-Marc would sympathize with this downhearted farmer--given that we spent a part of Saturday morning out in the field, among the vine rows of ripe grapes, testing a solution to The Gobbling Boar problem.

"Mais, regarde ça!" Jean-Marc pointed to the grape clusters, which were still intact--yet missing several bites full of fruit. Putain de merde! Ils mangent que les meilleurs!

Seeing the butchered fruit, Chief Grape was hopping mad, and his vengeance would come soon enough, only, in an animal-friendly way....

ACME Transitor Radio Repellant
(would Wile E. Coyote approve?)

Jean-Marc reaches into a bag that he's been carrying and produces what looks to be like talkie-walkies, but, to my dismay (for it might have been fun to shout "Over and out!" in French--not that I know the translation) turn out to be transistor radios.

"Marche par là," my husband instructs, and I walk south, passing one, two, three... seven, eight, nine vine rows. My job is to march until I can no longer hear the sounds issuing from the transistor radio that Jean-Marc is holding.

As I advance, I occasionally become distracted--for the nearby garrigue (from which all the wild pigs issue) is draped in bright red berries! There are little white flowers which set off the tiny crimson balls and I'm about to reach for a bouquet of flower-berries when my husband shouts:

"Tu entends toujours?"

"Oui, oui.... j'entends! Oui, oui, je t'assure!"

As I walk on, I fall into further distractions, wondering, this time, which radio station we are listening to? What if the current program (some sort of noisy political debate) ends... and the next program contains classical music? Wouldn't, then, Jean-Marc's experiment backfire? I pictured the wild boars arriving en masse, lulled forward by Mozart and the inspiring symphony in the some sort of sanglier Shangri-la, where they would "find the light"... and a bounty of grapes to boot!

Never mind. It isn't my job to question Chief Grape; my duty is to go along with his latest inspiration or invention: this one being The Wild Boar Buster (after the Dust Buster, which was invented by some other lucky duck, else why would we be trying to scrape together a living on a boar friendly fruit farm?!)

When I can no longer hear the static voices on the radio, I stop in my tracks, turn back, and flap my arms suggestively, or in a way that suggests that even a boar could hear no more. I watch as Chief Grape sets down one of the cheap transistor radios--just beside the gnarled and woody base of a very old grenache vine. Voilà, repellent number 1 is en place. Our mission continues in much the same way, I, advancing in spite of distractions (this time I just had to reach for une poignée of romarin... and it was too tempting not to bend down and study an impressive ant colony).... each time Chief calling me back to the present étude with "T'entends? Est-ce que t'entends?"

"Oui, oui... je t'assure. J'entends!"

As I walk on I wonder about rain, about wind, about any number of kill joys--make that kill ploys--that might carry off or damage the repellent radios that Jean-Marc is leaving throughout the parcelle. But these concerns are nothing compared to my next souci. It occurs to me that hunting season begins next week and that this field will soon be alight with chasseurs! These hunters/locals might have snickered when learning about the music played in Chief Grape's cellar (a comforting concerto with a positive influence on the wine that rests there), but what will they think this time--when they discover that the renegade winemaker is planting radios in his vineyard?

It's no use fretting about my husband's reputation. Besides, I know what he would say: "Laisse les parler!" Let 'em talk! 

Meantime, between the cheap radios and the chasseurs, I'm done worrying! Up to the poor wild pigs to fret this time--though I secretly hope, next time I look out the kitchen window, to find them dancing a jig, or swaying a slow waltz.

*    *    *

Breizh grapes
         Our first golden, Breizh, protecting the grapes. 

French Vocabulary & Audio File:
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the story: Download MP3 or Wav file

mais regarde ça = look at that!

putain de merde = @$!#

ils mangent que les meilleurs! = they're eating only the best!

le talkie-walkie = walkie-talkie

marche par là = walk that way

la garrigue = wild Mediterranean scrubland

tu entends toujours? = do you still hear?

une poignée = a handful

le romarin = rosemary

le souci = worry

Smokey and Biscuit
Smokey was born on our first vineyard, nine-and-a-half years ago. Yesterday he received an early Christmas present from my Mom. Meet Biscuit! Smokey held Biscuit in his mouth for the longest time, his tongue wagging as an audible groan of thanks welled up in his vocal chords. Have you ever heard the gratitude of dogs? If happy tears had a sound, it might be this!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
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From the French Alps to the Colorado Rockies: Notre fille s'installe

Finding Gilbert-Cover copy

In books: Finding Gilbert, A Promise Fulfilled: Diane Covington-Carter grew up haunted by her father’s stories of his time in France during World War II and the orphan boy, Gilbert, who he tried to adopt and bring home. Fifty years after the war, can she possibly find Gilbert to tell him that her father never forgot him? Order the book.

Today's word: appartenir

    : to belong

Listen to the following sentence in French, click here
On donne tout à nos enfants y compris des peurs qui ne leur appartiennent pas.
--Lyse Desroches
We give all to our children including fears that do not belong to them.

A DAY IN A FRENCH Kristi Espinasse

Now that our daughter lives an ocean away in Colorado, I've become a stalker. I regularly check her social media accounts, hoping for a video or photo, and, throughout the day I log on to Messenger to see if she's active, or live. I know, it is pathetic and I'm starting to feel like a real creep! 

I yearn for a voice clip from my 21-year-old or any scrap she might share, but what I most often get is a one-word reply, in English: Yes!  (Yes (she's fine). Yes (she is awake). Yes (she is on her way to work). So I try to word my questions differently: Tell me three highlights of your day, I type into the little box that has replaced our lively in-person conversations.

As always, I edit my note so as not to be overbearing: Tell me just one highlight of your day...

Jackie in Briancon Alps France
       from the French the Colorado Rockies...

I don't want to be pushy, manipulating, or agaçante. I'm just living vicariously through my grown child--while trying to edit all the regrets of my past so that she doesn't suffer the same erreurs de jeunesse.

Have you heard from Jackie? my sister in Denver asks. What's the latest with Jax? our father, in Palm Springs wants to know. Lately, readers are asking for updates, too. So here's, hélas, as much as I know:

In November Jackie moved to a popular ski area in the Colorado mountains. My friend Stacey, who lives there and who I've known since we (and my sister and my mom, too!) worked together in a ski shop in Phoenix, welcomed Jackie to stay with her until our newbie expat could find permanent accommodations. Her first appointment (via Craigslist) left Jackie mal à l'aise (it may have been the couple in question--a polite way to say questionable couple--or their attack dog...).  

Soon after Jackie found another roommate situation and was thrilled to tell me about the beautiful apartment. The complex even had a jacuzzi!  There was just one itty bitty pépin: 5 people would be sharing the space--two to a room. Next she mentioned one of the girls would share with a guy. Which girl? Jackie? 

No! Our Colorado transplant assured me, she'd be sharing with a girl--in a room with one bed. (How many of you reading would be comfortable sharing a bed with a stranger--guy or girl?)

Ouf! Within a week our daughter realized that she's a room of one's own kind of person, and quickly found another place (while keeping her ex-roommates as friends. Bien fait!). Now she lives with two girls and each has her own chambre.

That leaves transportation. (Jackie n'a pas une bagnole.) The new pad is farther from the bus stop, meaning that when Jackie finishes her nightshift she must walk another 10 minutes home in the dark (and snow). Hurrah for Uber, which she now uses at night (she walks during the day). It makes a dent in her tips, but is worth everyone's peace of mind!

Apart from her job as a server at the hotel, Jackie is a holiday extra in a ski shop, where she will make even more friends, as I did at her age (Bonjour, Stacey!). That brings us to free time. Just what is she doing with her temps libre

...I see videos of pool halls, jacuzzis, drinks. As I scrutinize the images--those I've gobbled on social media--I wonder if she's dating and ask as much....

Mom, a little privacy, please, comes the 5-word response. 

Harrumph! OK, a little bit of privacy. So can I still give my mini-me a few life tips? (I have some ideas on how to keep up her work wardrobe (buy three pairs of black pants!) and her banking (put those tips right into your account. You don't want cash lying around!). 

Mom, most tips aren't in cash these days, they're on the credit card receipt. (Ooh, her responses are getting longer!)

But my latest suggestion did not even merit a reply. Learning she was shopping at Walmart, I texted: buy a mattress cover for your bed!

And that, dear reader, was the abrupt end to my butting in. (When she spills hot chocolate in her bed and it ruins the mattress--she can pay her landlord's $$$ fee! She'll have to learn her own lessons just as I had to learn mine. Isn't that the bottom line? Isn't that the only way to grow and mature? I am not helping my daughter by finding a solution to every single least those she shares with me...).

Speaking of lessons, this one's for me: this lesson I am learning now of letting my daughter live her life. This brings me to her latest sms, a bittersweet pronouncement:

So sorry I'm not present's just that I am living my life.

Oh...Ah...Aw! I sighed reading it. What more could we want for our children, que de vivre leur vie.  I trust Jackie knows I am here if she needs me. Have your hot chocolate ready, My Girl, and give me a call.

Kristi and Jackie near Aix
Photo of me and Jackie taken in 1997, near St. Maximin


appartenir = to belong to
agaçant = annoying, irritating
une erreur de jeunesse = youthful indiscretion
hélas = unfortunately
mal à l'aise = ill-at-ease, uncomfortable
le pépin = snag, hitch or glitch
ouf! = phew!
bien fait = well done
la chambre = room
elle n'a pas une bagnole = she doesn't have a car
le temps libre = free time
vivre leur vie = to live their life
Kristi and Jackie Denver Botanical gardens kiss mother daughter snow

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and sharing these educational posts from France. Your contribution is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥Send the amount of your choice

"Bonjour Kristi, I've been a reader for years and thought it time to support your blog. Thanks for your frank and genuine stories that have opened a door into real French life."

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here