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Choucroute + Winner announced


While my computer was in the shop being repaired, Jean-Marc and I rearranged our bedroom, and now I've got a desk with a view--and a working ordinateur, just in time to announce our latest winner (scroll to end of post)!  

la choucroute (shoo-kroot)

    : sauerkraut

la choucroute garni = sauerkraut with meat (smoked pork, frankfurters) and potatoes


Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.


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Pédaler dans la choucroute: Problème après problème dans la cuisine, Kristi avait l'impression de pedaler dans la choucroute au lieu d'avancer.

One problem after another in the kitchen, and Kristi felt like she was pedaling in the sauerkraut--or going nowhere fast!

HulstonExclusive French made clothes now available to purchase on-line. Thomas Hulston Collections.


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

A few days after I gave away my citrus zester I suddenly needed it more than oxygen! But last week while tornadoing through the house, armed with a copy of Zero Waste Home and on a mission to simplifier, the zesteur d'agrume seemed superfluous. After all, I had a vegetable peeler and a cheese grater, both capable of double-émploie according to the minimalist gurus. 

Then, out of nowhere, I got an inkling to make lemon curd, or caillé de citron. Only, when the dual-purpose cheese grater slid across the surface of the lemon, returning zestless--and the vegetable peeler sent lemon skins rocketing across the comptoir and onto the floor, I realized what a folly it had been to giveaway the essential zesting tool! Imbécile! You could've used the extra saucepan, too. How dumb to give that away! (And don't get me started about the pronged scalp massager. No sooner did I ditch it, than Bruce, who sometimes comments here, shared this adorable video! leaving me no choice but to buy back the gadget--and the utensil and the pan--from the secondhand shop!)

Back to the Zester Setback: it was only the beginning of a cooking saga involving cops, robbers and flying horses! ...or horseflies, rather. I don't mean to exaggerate the troubles I experienced Monday, but, honestly, from the moment I set foot in the kitchen to cook--until the instant my detailed essay about the trial went POOF!--any and all of my morning's efforts were like pedaling in choucroute

Going Nowhere Fast
Ironically the story about the kitchen episode was titled "Persistence." And though I've spent the past 36 hours mourning the loss of my essay (and eating everything I managed to make that fateful day)....I shall now try to patch together my narrative. It may lack the passion of the first draft, penned when lemon zest was still stuck to my teeth (teeth do not make good alternative zesters either), but to give up now would be the ultimate passionless act! Allez, un peu de courage!

Perhaps adding titles to the following paragraphs will jog my memory and help to retrieve some of the content lost when Monday's opus disappeared into the internet's ether!

I should first tell you about the surreal moment that preceded my effort to make lemon curd. It took place just before the Zeste Episode, while gathering ingredients for the recipe. There were not enough eggs or sugar or lemons! May as well throw in the towel, I thought, when another voice echoed in my ears: That is perfectionism! Now let it go and IMPROVISE. You could use one less egg... add in honey for the missing sugar... and use that ugly lemon that you discounted! According to my Zero Waste bible, ugly fruit or FRUITS MOCHES are all the rage right now. In an effort to spare landfills of excess fruit, consumers are urged use a non-judgmental eye when selecting fruit: go for the two-legged carrots! the bruised apples! bent bananas!

I picked up the wrinkly, scarred lemon. Surely it held no juice? Why not just give up now! Then again, I could probably manage... The surreal moment lingered. It was that familiar instant between following through with something--or flaking out. It was simply a matter of choice.  Courageous? Or lazy? 

With the lemons now zested (half the peels ending up in the bowl) I forged ahead, and when my kitchen knife was too dull to quarter the lemon, I ripped the fruit apart!

Tossing all ingredients into the blender, I knew this was cheating (and not "creaming the butter"), and I worried the whirl of the blades might somehow upset the molecular energy of the mix.  

No use worrying about concepts you didn't even understand! Pouring the creamy yellow energetic mixture into a saucepan, I allowed for a meditative ten full minutes of stirring and, just as promised: thickened lemon curd! And only five setbacks so far (honey was a good substitute and the extra egg was not needed!)

Motivated by success , I decided to press on--and use that cabbage I'd had Jean-Marc buy for me, only to encounter obstacles 6, 7, and 8!

I have never seen a cabbage the size of a bowling ball, and if cutting lemons with a dull knife was impossible, this would be a miracle!

I tried sharpening the knife but even my aiguiseur was dull! Placing the knife over the cabbage, I'd have to sit on the handle to cut through the mass. But such acrobatics could end in a trip to ER. Another solution was needed.

As I stabbed at the cabbage a horsefly flew by. I recognized him from the bathroom, where he'd tortured me before my trial in the kitchen. Having managed to lock him into the medecine cabinet, I was eerily surprised by his escape from the mirrored prison!

Windows wide open now, I chased the giant red-eyed fly around the kitchen. GO! GET OUT! I shouted when a current of freezing air rushed into the kitchen. Closing the window in defeat, I chose to live with the pest and work in a warm room. 

Back to work. Now where was I? ...

Looking around the kitchen my eyes settled on the cat litter bag inside the sink. If a Japanese cook saw that, he'd have a heart attack. ANY meticulous cook would have a heart attack! But a little explanation might help:

There was no cat litter in the bag. The rectangular sack was a remnant from our kitty days. After the cats ran off I eventually gave away the litter box, toys and food. And then I discovered the plastic litter box liners. Not wanting to throw them away, I tried fitting them into our garbage can but they were the wrong size. However, if I lined the sink with them I could use the bags to catch garbage AND continue to analyze our garbage output (another Zero Waste Tip: know thy garbage).

Suddenly, I saw the folly of it all. The complete chaos in my minimalist kitchen. If someone walked in now (dare I say a reader! Or my Dad!) they would ... they would....

"Well just what would they do?! Unfriend you?" The little voice of reason was back. "Carry on, my child!"  

I returned to my cutting board to saw apart the giant cabbage, when a thrumming at the kitchen door rattled my heart. Who's there?!!

Next, I was hit over the head... with a dust pan!

As I jumped to the side the pan fell onto the counter and I swung around to find an empty kitchen. No bad guys. Still as can be, I tuned into a familiar sound. I looked up to see the stovetop hood shaking and understood what had happened: The baskets and antique wooden dustpan had tumbled off, helped forth by the vibrating fan!

So shaken, I was ready to throw in the towel. How much can a sensitive soul take?

"Kristi," the little voice was back. "No one is singling you out! Every cook has obstacles! Every kitchen is just like this!"

The thought cheered me, and I looked back over at the cat litter bag/sink garbage can. Well, maybe not just like this. :-)


I've almost pieced together the story I lost Monday, but a few episodes are missing: I ended up turning the cabbage into two dishes! 1) sauerkraut and 2) sautéed cabbage with apples and onions. Had another setback with the sauerkraut, when a host of ants showed up while I was elbows deep (defenseless) in a bowl of chopped cabbage. Mixing and squeezing the ribbons of chou, I could no longer tell the difference between the caraway seeds (kraut flavoring), or the ants. But by this time, a fermented ant was no big deal!

Bon appétit when you eat chez Kristi ;-)

To leave a comment, click here. Thanks in advance!


Provence & French Alps Tours - Two regions of France in one affordable tour. Majestic mountains, Provence colors. Wine tastings, Michelin Star cuisine.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.

un agrume = citrus fruit
double-emploi = multipurpose ('double'purpose)
le lait caillé de citron = lemon curd
imbécile = idiot
allez! = come on!
un peu de courage = be brave!
un aiguiseur = knife sharpner

Happy to announce the winner of Benjamin Houy's book, Upgrade Your French.... the book goes to Paul, who wrote:

I like to read your blog twice a week. I am taking French classes and really enjoy your posts. Jean-Marc's readings are very helpful with pronunciation.

Thank you, Paul. I will contact you soon. Félicitations!

Smokey homemade sauerkraut

 Fermenting sauerkraut. How long will it take? Do you like choucroute? Comment here.


What today's story first looked like... before all was lost.


The lemon curd turned out lovely and thick! Find out what I used it for when you look at my photo gallery here!

If you enjoy these words and stories, thank you for forwarding this post to a friend!

To comment on this post, click here.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Oh, I do enjoy your blog Kristin! It makes me smile, laugh, empathise, wince - all sort of things! Today's story made me laugh!

Enjoy your yummy lemon curd.

Helen in the UK x


Yum!!!! Your lemon curd looks delicious... and glad to know there are others with kitchen issues. La cuisine n'est pas juste!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Sometimes things go so smoothly in the kitchen and other times disaster strikes! I work in a local kitchen shop in town, similar to a Williams and Sonoma but locally owned and I never knew there were so many kitchen gadgets! How did I live so long without them! :-) I love the citrus zester. The lemon curd looks delicious!

Juliette Préjean Hudson

I hve been reading your blog for many years. Thank you for not giving up or listening to a few 'rude' people. Keep it up!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

What a gorgeous and inspiring view from your bedroom window! I could sit on that balcony with a comforting cup of coffee, french yogurt cake with lemon curd and a dollop of creme fraiche and watch the sun rise. Or...with a glass of Rouge-Bleu to watch the setting sun color the sky.

You have a gift of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, providing the reader with a thoughtful moment or a good laugh. All under the sweet gaze of your trusty companion Smokey.

You and Jean-Marc seem to have found a slice of paradise at Mas des Brun...

anne wirth

Dear Kristi,
A week without Kristi is a week without a friend to tell her story. I may not comment all the time but I faithfully read your blog. Today's story was especially enjoyable. I can see you whirling around your kitchen. You are dauntless!
One question - where are the sharp knives? Sounds like a great present for JM to give sometime.
Thanks for your time and talent.

Doreen Sharabati

I haven't written before but couldn't resist today; you've started off my day with a chuckle and I thank you for that! I love your spirit! Do continue, please; I was quite taken aback last week when you hinted that you might quit...DON'T!

Jacqueline Satterlee

Trop drôle :-)

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these lovely messages. Anne,  I forgot to say that I lost my good kitchen knife somewhere in the garden,  where I use it to hack through the jungle of celery and parsley out there!

Gordon Lyman

A delicious blended drink you gave us today.
And the laughter made it healthy for sure!

Angela Bell

Enjoyed so much "hearing" this tale with my morning coffee.I have been trying to waste less, too, and after several moves in the last few years, have depleted possessions at least somewhat. We had two or even three of so many kitchen tools because we all used to cook together in the "old" house. The "triplicates" are gone, but I do still have double of many utensils. The one thing I think you should have, dear Kristin, is a well sharpened knife so that you don't cut yourself. That's a lesson my daughter taught me. It's all right to buy something once in a while--how would we keep the economy going otherwise? Have a happy day! PS I am just learning to love cooked cabbage. I also cut it into "steaks," drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and roast. Delicious!


Kristi, I kept chuckling to myself while reading your story. A beautiful disaster! For a writer, such stories are golden fodder for an entertaining and hilarious story. I love la choucroute and, in fact, just read about it recently in Ann Mah's Mastering the Art of French Eating, which was excellent. Thank you for the book recommendation! And lemon curd!!! It looks divine, as does the photo at the top of today's post of the view from you new writing spot. Living vicariously through you as I sit in my windowless office.

Chris Allin

P.S. Another thought after a chuckle reading about your kitchen knife in the garden. Search "garden knives" on Amazon. Plenty to chose from. This little tool conquers all kinds of garden challenges!

CarolE from Texas,USA

Your story is all too familiar......days when things seem to conspire against you.
I keep a tiny silver zester on hand as it works better than anything I have and it take up no space.
I tried the saurkraut-making in a tall jar and let it sit in a side room to work. Then I forgot about it and when I finally checked it, I was afraid to eat it in case it spoiled. Now I don't thin it can spoil....but I enptied it out anyway even though it smelled really good.
Now I want to see what you do with the lemon curd as I love it also. Keep up the fun articles.

Pam Milton

I do love sauerkraut. In fact, my grandfather used to make it from cabbages in his garden. He had several very large stone crocks that he would use for the fermentation and I use one of them today as an end table in my living room.

I really enjoy your site, Kristi, and am so jealous that you live in the south of France!


Loved the post this morning. One of the worst things in the kitchen is not finding something you need. It happens to me at work often, when others don''t put things back in the right place. Our firehouse had the kitchen remodeled. A 2 week project turned into 3 months. We made due with the grill when we could bare the cold, and a camp stove one of the guys brought in for us. We were always trying to find something. Though you did have all those obstacles., it sounded like you had a positive out one.
I love the view you sent!!!!! That alone is worth putting up with all the obstacles one has.

Have a wonderful day!!!


Hahaha! Merci pour cette suis en traine d'avoir UN MOIS comme ça et maintenant j'ai l'explication pédale dans la choucroute. Bon courage!

Brenda Prowse

Ah Kristi you are too funny. Your "voices" are so persistant and you put them right in their place-well done. I love choucroute so am making some on this rainy blustery chilly Paris afternoon. Besides, I spent two hours this mornng at the Prefecture waiting to pick up my Carte de Sejour only to be told that it is not ready, come back in a month. At least they issued a temporary card-another hour's wait. 3 hours plus travel time for nothing! Chopping cabbage with a sharp knife is therapeutic. Thank you for the inspiration.



This post was so funny! I love cooking and this hit home with me! NEVER let go of our kitchen tools! :-)


Barbara  Hylton

I can see Lucile Ball acting out your script. Very funny and I can so relate.

Kate Lindsay

I love your blog & home made lemon curd - I'm always amazed at how many people haven't heard of lemon curd! Thank you for keeping us in touch with France through your stories!

Lorette Vandenberg

So funny, these things happen to me all the time. I love making sauerkraut. I make it every other year. We grow our own cabbages and I use 12 of them using the method my Opa did. Slicing it very thin, placing it in a large crock pot with pickling salt and letting it ferment for a few weeks; after which I can it all. So good!!!

Share Gilbert

Kristi, I had the same type of experiences, including accidently erasing a short story that I had spend days writing. Ugh! I had to try and recapture my brilliant (sic) thoughts!...I wonder what phase the moon was in!

I always love reading your posts!!
Thank you for the entainment!

nancy t

Excellent rally! And lovely photos and 'new' office view. I have been reading Bea's Zero Waste Blog posts for a few years. She has many wonderful suggestions and guidance but you are finding your own way, as she encourages. Like you, I love to spend time in my kitchen and there are some tools that are worth the drawer/shelf space! But I have donated many an odd specialty tool where I found a sharp knife does the trick.
Thanks for the choucroute reminder. I have a lonely cabbage destined for the sea salt and a jar to get to.



Another wonderfully evocative story! And I love choucroute garni.

Julie Farrar

What an inspiring/distracting view outside of your window. I was so sorry to read about your lost cats. That story must have passed me by because last spring I was wrapped up in caring for my dying dog. Which brings me to that video -- I had an unused head massager that I used regularly to my beloved Skyler when her arthritis made it too hard to even stand some days. She totally blissed out like the dog in the video.

I applaud your efforts to lessen your footprint on earth, but don't discard things simply for the sake of discarding them. If, for example, you cook a lot then it is good to buy lemon zesters and great knives. To buy things you know you'll use and not throw in a drawer and forget is a good purchase. If you really want to make less trash then buy kitchen utensils at an antique store or yard sale like I do. For example, I may use an apple corer once or twice a year so I bought a used one. That way I have the proper tool for the job and prevented someone else from sending an apple corer to the landfill.

Your lemon curd is so lovely.

Kathleen from Connecticut


Thank you for being you. There is always a wonderful story to be told and you manage to come out on top. I have never made sauerkraut, but may try it some day when my CSA program gives us cabbage.
A good zoster is worth having and protecting.
I have made lemon curd when I make a sunflower tart. The curd is the easy part and assebling the sunflower is the hardest part, attaching the little leaves around the edge and hoping that they do not break off when you remove the foil that has been holding them in place as it bakes.


Nancy Milburn

Love your blog. Finally figured out why I've not been receiving them! Now, I can get back in the habit and enter your contests which I didn't know about!!

Elizabeth Dawson

I have to agree with Kathleen from Connecticut and thank you for being you. And thank you for all your wonderful stories.
Port Hadlock, Washington


There are times when you have to stop, sit down and have a nice cup of tea.
Some folks go overboard about what they read in books or on the net.
My neighbor takes any and all new pills rec by Dr. Oz or any far out blog...Next thing he and his wife will be eating grass. Go buy another juicer and a knife sharpner. Put book in blender, put on chop then go outside and plant some jasmine by kitchen window.

Kristin Espinasse

Hampton, still giggling from your suggestion, and thanks to all who have commented, above. I love reading your notes!

Leslie NYC

I work as a cook and made a rule for myself(which I sometimes follow) of not buying anything until I need it. In other words, no set of pans or set of knives. Just pieces I need. Kitchen tools and ceramics are gorgeous, so it is good to be disciplined. That said, the microplane is such a useful tool(stolen from carpenters for the kitchen and now ubiquitous). It is good for citrus zest but also garlic, ginger, and parmesan cheese. I give them as gifts when I come to France.
A lot of lemon curd recipes call for zest, but I like the smoothness of zest-free curd, so that's another improvisation for you!

Michele Fraser

I was with you every step, cut, grate and jump of the way!! Save some lemon curd for me .......... or make some more (I made preserved lemons with my meagre harvest!). Love it xoxoxo

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Love the Instagram photo gallery, too. Your profile photo there taken at the beach in Les Lecques is so beautiful!

Leslie NYC

Is that the sea in the distance, outside your window?

Diane Young

Yummy for lemon curd. I hadn't thought about it in quite a while and now I really want some. Think it's safer for me to buy a jar with my scary knife skills, so admire your zest for zest! Also that gorgeous view out the window. Stay safe.

julie camp

Great selfie material. What would Martha Stewart think!

You are a breath of freshness.


Our dear Kristi,
This is absolutely wonderful and filled us with laughter!(ps I have unintentionally eaten cooked ants in my sauteed broccoli,you are right!!,no big deal!):)
Between your gifted writing and gorgeous picture,there is NO better way to start the day!!
Natalia. xo

Joanne Ablan

I sympathize with your pest predicament. We have quite a drought
going on in California and I was saving so much water that the spider infestation nearly killed some of my plants and me! I confess that I
gave into using a pesticide around the perimeter of the house and
another on some of the most severely affected plants. After a December storm the plants are revived, but then there was the power outage, electrical failure, and now PG&E is releasing gas in the neighborhood . . . Hold on to your interior voice of reason and keep the faith! Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

daphne mackay

Thanks for the morning laugh and your willingness to share with all of us! Life can be such a comedy at times; most often after the fact! You may have lost your zester but not your "zest" for life and we all appreciate it! Off I go to stick my finger, (did I say that?) into a jar of lime curd! :)

Sue Lennox

One of your best'

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Days like your self talk.

I love sauerkraut and lemon curd!

Still giggling....

N vandenberg

Thank you. I needed a fun story. Loved your kitchen

Susie Sivyer

On a dull gloomy day here in the Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia you have made my day with your very eventful day! Thanks for putting such a giggle in
my soul. And the view from your office is extraordinaire! I enjoy your Blog so very much! Keep it coming!

Karen Cafarella

What a wonderful story today. I love both lemon curd and sauerkraut. Although haven't had both in quite some time.

The view from your office is beautiful.


Vivian Langley

Kristin: Thanks for the great story. Moving to a re tirement/assisted living, I had not known that there would be more space for storing and so gave away, threw a way things I could have taken with me. I keep saying "they were just things". Please, please do not stop writing; you bring joy to everyone.

Faye, Gleneden Beach, Oregon

I love your posts & always look forward to reading them. I also love the view from your office -------gorgeous!

Stay well and keep posting your wonderful photos!

edie schmidt


I understand frustration in the kitchen all too well.I have a small kitchen and when we have friends over for dinner I feel like I'm competing in the Olympic Trials. Sounds like I should get a lemon zester instead of trying to use my grater too! I love going to kitchen gadget stores even though I'm not really a gourmet cook. It's hard to justify buying those extra kitchen tools!
Edie from Savannah

Linda Karber

What a gorgeous view from your desk! Your lemon curd did look lovely, both in the jar and on toast!

Barry from Alabama

When life gives you lemons, make lemon curd! This story was too funny!

BTW - The last photograph has a lot of depth..The lemon curd, Smokey, the plants. The image just keeps unfolding! Wait, the sauerkraut photo has something working also! :)

Joan L.

Sauteed cabbage, onion, and apple sounds wonderful... Fun story. Joan L.

Carolyn dahm

I have not posted in such a long time. Thank you for making me laugh this evening Kristi! And I just can't get enough of that Smokey always peeking into the window...and your pictures!

All my best to you,


Ok ... one thing made my stomach turn (ant choucroute?!), but to make up for it, two things made me laugh. The first one was a brilliant line you wrote: "No use worrying about concepts you didn't even understand!" - that will become my new mantra. The second thing to make me laugh was your Facebook line of always starting your recipe searches with "easy". All I can say is, Amen Sister.

judi dunn

.. Your day was a 'comedy of errors' to be sure, but you persisted and got thru it ! You now have made a fab lemon curd and turned out tartlets and some great looking choucroute! I grew up on home made sauerkraut from my German grand mere! She always made it with porkchops and then made dumplings to go on top... light little clouds of deliteful deliciousness!
It was a feast! I make it for my family today but do not make my own kraut...I buy the fresh bagged at the supermarket... oh lazy me. JBD, Tallahassee, Fl.

Kristin Espinasse

Catching up on comments this morning. Thank you for the wonderful comments.

Leslie, Yes, that is the sea, about four kilometers away.

catharine ewart-touzot

glad you now have a view..and quite a nice one too...looking for a new home that is at the top of my list, a view..that I love and want to see daily..from where I work


I love everything about this post! But also wanted to comment on how beautiful your view is !

Audrey Wilson

You might have lost the orginal,but this is just as entertaining .I can visualise you mid the chaos . Haven't we all been there before? My such episodes seem always to happen when I am preparing dinner for guests !!
I remember once when my American son-in-law came to stay with a group of several other pilots, who were eagerly anticipating roast beef & Yorkshire puddings That was the one time the puddings were flat ! What had I done wrong ?? ! No idea could have been any of a number of things.


I gave you that zester!

Ginny McCann

My mother always said, "The French have a word for it." It seems the word is bon/bonne. It's so expressive and simple yet has so many meanings. Great post and lovely view.


Kristin, comme vous disiez autrefois, Bon Courage!

Debra Jordan

What a wonderful story. Thanks for the laughter and the inspiration to be less wasteful.


Coucou Kristin
My life changed when I discovered le zesteur! Indispensable!!!
And here's typo time:
La choucroute garni = garnie
pedaler = pédaler
double-émploie = double-emploi


Kristy,this blog was/is fantastic!!! You are so beautifully human avec grand courage and amazing, creative persistence (like my wonderful wife)!

Eileen Armstrong


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