Occasionally someone writes in to ask about room rates at our vineyard. Now's a good time to clear up any confusion: the rental ads seen in this newsletter are not referring to our home (how I'd love this to be our kitchen! Hélas, it belongs to Mas de Perdrix, a dream-come-true place to stay in Provence, with it's well-appointed kitchen and well-appointed everything!
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TODAY'S EXPRESSION : "faire son beurre"
The French definition for faire son beurre is: gagner grassement sa vie, or to fatly earn one's living. Maybe a better translation is: to earn a good living
ECOUTEZ/LISTEN hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word
Download MP3 or Download Wav Faire-son-beurre
Quand on pédale dans le yaourt, on fait son beurre.
When we pedal in yogurt, we make our butter.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
"Quand on pédale dans le yaourt, on fait son beurre."
by Kristin Espinasse
While looking up citations for today's story--which partly concerns a yogurt cake--I found this funny Bulgarian proverb, which turns out to be a handy lead-in to today's missive! Except that the following story, unlike the quote, has nothing to do with making money.
This essay is about making things, or creating--something I never thought I could do without coffee. But then I once made the same assumption about wine. And that turned out to be a CROCK--keeping me imprisoned from writing for the longest time!
But there are other kinds of prisons. There is the prison of numbness. Wading through this kind of soul thickness feels very much like pedaling in yogurt, or as my mother-in-law puts it: pedaling in the choucroute. (Certainly sauerkraut would be harder to pedal in, thus more illustrative, but because this story is leading up to a recipe on yogurt cake and not sauerkraut cake, let's keep on track with the "pedaling yogurt " lead-in. Now where were we?)
...We were, three days ago, sitting beside a branch of leaf-bitten kale, Smokey and I, when the joy of gardening left me. Remembering to remain aware, I focused on the feeling--a kind of blandness. Bland as that polenta I made for a couple of Indians from Mumbai who desperately resorted to pouring tabasco (only thing hot in my kitchen) over the dish.
Spice! Maybe I needed more spice in my life? I whispered to Smokey, who sat chewing on a very bland stick. There in my garden, it didn't take long to realize that coffee-sevrance had something to do with this état d'âme. At least now the abstract feeling had an identity! It even had a name: Caffeine Free!
Feeling somewhat better for the awareness, I looked over at my faithful garden hand. I think there is a place for coffee in my life, I said to Smokey, who listens to my thoughts. But for now, let's go bake a cake!
Guided by another feeling--a feeling named Chocolate!--I hurried to the kitchen to let the internal wave incarnate itself into a veritable Gâteau au Chocolat.
Because I am a lazy cook and an even lazier baker, I relied on an old standby: The Classic French Yogurt Cake (recipe here) --the easiest cake in the world to make. Use it as a base for any cake you are too lazy to make (recently I've used it for Carrot Cake, and before that banana bread!).
Knowing the measurements by heart, all the joy, now, is in tweaking things! Less sugar, less flour, more chocolate powder.... Once the batter was poured into the pan I remembered the pistachios, chopped those and tossed them on top. Next, I noticed the tangerines, sliced those (leaving on the skin) and placed them artfully around the nuts. Then, a drizzle of honey on top and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Standing back, I gazed at my cake and felt a familiar sensation, the one that was missing back in the garden.... Looking at what I had created, I enjoyed a rush of satisfaction. Come to think of it, I felt psyched! Which is exactly how I feel with that first cup of coffee.
Oh, man, I'm looking forward to that!
Have fun coming up with your own version of the Lazy Man's French Cake, which can be dressed up for celebrations, too! Use this traditional Yogurt Cake Recipe - given to me by my brother-in-law, Jacques (seen in this Christmas dinner photo, beside my bearded son!).
to leave a comment click here, or use the comments link near the end of this post.
la citation = quote
état d'âme = state of mind, mood, emotion
amicalement = yours, regards, with goodwill
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Batter up! I am unable to upload a photo of the actual cake I made, but you can see it here at instagram
Here are a few versions I have made, over the years. The first has sliced plums. The second has lemon juice added to the mix, an a dusting of powdered sugar. And the one below is a marbled version (divide batter in two bowls, then add chocolate powder to one, then pour into pan in two layers.)
Thank you for sharing this post! Have a lovely weekend. I'll be posting photos daily here.
A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.
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