Les transats (something you can rent on French beaches)...
Décontracté at Chateau de Pibarnon: a visual report

Meetup at our home + French Sloppy Joes (A Sicilian-inspired recipe)

Caponata or french sloppy joe ingredients

Ignore the veggies for a moment and listen up: we're having a wine-tasting here at home on July 11th at 5 pm. Email jm.espinasse@gmail.com to reserve your seat. Hope to see you!

Yesterday, Jean-Marc and I quietly celebrated 23 years of marriage (our civil union was in Marseilles, on July 4, 1994.  Read the story and see the steamy picture.)

If I had to do it over again, I would only change one thing: my cooking. I would have spent more time learning how to make soups, multipurpose pestos, and a trusty French cake for all occasions. I would have paid attention in 7th grade Home Economics class. And when my teacher handed me that frightful measuring cup--I would have seen it, instead, as a measure of future happiness for myself and, especially, for others. That saying is true:

Le véritable chemin pour toucher le coeur d'un homme passe par son estomac.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach--and that means "everyman": male, female, or man's best friend (our dear golden, Smokey, busy licking his chops after enjoying some peau de saumon, says bonjour and bon appétit).

The following recipe was a happy accident (isn't that how all recipes begin?), inspired from our recent cousinade -- the one in Sicily. After returning from Sicily, I was on a mission to make that caponata we'd had at my cousin Laura's birthday. It was so good I made it twice that first week and there were plenty of leftovers. And that is how this sandwich (which quickly became my husband's new favorite) was born!

Kristis french sloppy joes
                           Jimmy's favorite new sandwich!

(Sicilian...but made in France!)

As usual, the recipes on this blog are au pif--all measurements done by guesswork. For this one, chop the following vegetables (into cubes, or similar sizes)...

3 eggplants
2 onions
3 tomatoes
3 stalks of celery
3-6 cloves of garlic

Put all cut vegetables into a large baking dish. Add:

1 cup of green olives
1 small jar (or less) of good capers

Mix in and toss with:

Olive oil to coat all veggies
Half cup of balsamic vinegar
1 or 2 cups tomato coulis
3 or more tablespoons of honey
salt and pepper

Bake at 180C (350F) for one hour (check after 40 minutes, toss veggies). Cooking at an lower temperature, for longer, is better


Hamburger bun (with sesame seeds and the rest)
slices of ham or chicken or other sandwich meat
Mimolette or swiss cheese or something close
lots of caponata (it's a sloppy joe!)

Enjoy this French Sloppy Joe and for all the leftovers, let creativity guide you.... And if you don't want to go to any trouble making caponata, you can always buy some.

Caponata with chopped walnuts ham eggs
Here are some other ways to use the caponata: toasted walnuts on top are delicious! Also on this plate, couscous, goat's cheese, pickles and ham.

Helpful additions:
Le Creuset Baking Dish

Pyrex glass storage container (I use many of these. See my frigo)

Honey from France

Sicilian balsamic vinegar (with figs, perfect!)

A pretty multi-purpose towel to cover your picnic table (after lunch you can use it at the beach!)

French market basket - in case you want to pack your lunch and go...

Caponata strawberries hummus
Homemade hummus, strawberries from the garden and three-peppers grilled in the oven. Go and make some caponata--and bon ap'!

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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