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 [email protected] 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'!

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


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Alyssa Eppich

Merci, Kristi! This sounds formidable and I will try to make it next week while we are on vacation1


GREAT sandwich!!! Caponata is incredibly versatile. The trick is to sautee all the vegetables separately to seal in their flavour, then cook them all together in the same pan on very low heat for 20 minutes or so.
The balance of sweet and vinegar is important, and I love roasted pine nuts added at the end. The acid is important, too, so a squeeze of lemon really helps.

Patricia Sands

Darn! I left France two weeks too soon or I would be first in line for your wine tasting! I brought one bottle of JM's beautiful rosé home to Toronto with me and will send photos when we enjoy it on our terrace. Bonne fête on July 11th ... I will be there in spirit!
P.S. Thanks for the caponata advice which sounds absolutely DELISH!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Thanks so much for the recipe! It looks delicious and congratulations on 23 years of marriage! Wishing you many more happy years together!

Deborah Zajac

Joyeux anniversaire de mariage Kristi et Jean Marc!

Barbara Stevens

Congratulations from Prescott, AZ on your long and happy marriage. I chuckled at the comment under the photo of your granddaughter who wants to be an American girl. My own granddaughter lives in Zurich (her father is married to a Swiss) and wants desperately to move to the US!

Barbara Stevens

Correction: Daughter, not grnddaughter

Cheryl in STL

Joyeux anniversaire de mariage!


All best wishes on your 23rd!!


Happy anniversary!! Hope all is well!!!

Nadine Goodban

Mes sincères félicitations pour une célébration bien méritée !
Bonne continuation dans la poursuite de votre vrai bonheur de couple. Oui, c'est du travail de chaque jour ... Mais vous avez TOUT pour l'accomplir et la réussir!!!


Happy Anniversary, Kristi and Jean-Marc! Stole a peek at the linked "steamy kiss" which is a fabulous photo, but further down in the same post, I happened upon the photo of your wedding at the mairie: just gorgeous- all youth, beauty and splendor! And Kristi, you look like a porcelain doll!

joie in Carmel

Joyeux Anniversaire. Look how far you have come in 23 years. The leftovers would be perfect in a frittata for breakfast or dinner.

Diane Young

Congrats on 23 years. Your husband is lucky to have married an adventurous cook! The carbonata sounds great.


Bonjour, Kristi,
Voici les meilleurs vœux à vous et Jean-Marc pour beaucoup plus d'années en restant ensemble. Vous êtes une bonne femme qui fait cuisinier des repas sains et délicieux pour sa famille et ses amis. Ne pas changez votre bon cœur!

Young Paciello

Hey Kristi, when I was growing up in Paris and left my mother's flat for the first time at 18, I decided the best way to please my friends was to cook for them. My mother Dorian Leigh, the 1st Revlon supermodel in the '40's, had a hobby, which was cooking. She went to the prestigious Cordon Bleu culinary school and every time she came home, I would come over and learn what she did. She got the degree, but I had the knowledge. So my priest of a husband has had 35 years of great French cooking! And he is very finicky!
Wish I could come over for wine tasting! Bless you and Jean-Marc.

Kathryn Duchene

Wonderful recipe for Caponata! I love the ease of mixing it all and roasting the veggies, olive, capers and the seasonings together - especially in these summer months where there is so much else to do and getting out of the kitchen before it gets too hot is important. I look forward to making a batch for sandwiches and so much more as soon as I return from the farmers market this week. And how I wish I were in France and could attend the wine tasting!

Yetty Sudarman

Happy anniversary, Kristi and Jean-Marc and many more.

Mary and Rod Neely

Wish Rod and I could come to your tasting and raise a glass with wishes for many more happy years to come. Happy anniversary


Heureux Anniversaire de Mariage, Kristi et Jean-Marc! Que l'Amour qui vous unit soit comme au premier jour!

Geraldine Ventura

Congratulations for your 23rd anniversary! May God bless you with many more. Always look forward to your stories and occasional recipe. Loved caponata before I developed an allergy to tomatoes! Being Italian, that's a real problem, but it has caused me to be an adventurous cook. Had a tomato free caponata on a Holland America cruise that was very good.


Our dear Kristi,
Through your beautiful stories and pictures we are wrapped up in your (wonderfully contagious!)joie de vivre!
Thank you for sharing your lives with us!You never fail to inspire us to find our own in our own daily escapades!
(and this is sometimes a challenge to do!)
Congratulations to you and Jean Marc!What a joyful,meaningful way to celebrate your special day.
May each year bring you closer,continued growing in love and graced with even more blessings!
And!The caponata looks delicious!(YUM!)(Be quiet my growling stomach!!)
Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, chère Natalia, and to all you dear readers to who sent Happy Anniversary wishes! Jean-Marc and I are blessed to receive these warm messages of support and good thoughts. With best wishes to you! 

Kathleen from Connecticut

Joyeux anniversaire De mariage. The caponata sounds wonderful. I wanted to make some the other day but didn't have a recipe with me while shopping. Will make another day.
Great sandwich, but we seldom eat sandwiches. We try to stay away from the bread.


Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Thank you for sharing, Kristi! I must try this recipe as it sounds much to my liking and perfect for this time of year. I applaud the newfound joy that cooking brings you. I admire those who can create a meal out of "thin air" and the garden, of course. It is all creativity and nourishment for body and soul, no?


I so enjoy your posts, Kristi. I wish you and Jean-Marc a Happy Anniversary as you continue your adventurous life.

Robert Hyman

Wishing you both a life of anniversaries!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your
personal experiences.


Oh oh - I shouldn't have read this on an empty stomach....now I'm really hungry, even after that abundant and delicious lunch we enjoyed together! Will have to try this Sicily inspired creation...which reminds me, we didn't even get to talk about Sicily!

Diane Heinecke

Kristi, what a blessing to announce you two have been married 23 yrs. It's a good start. Felicitations!
I know you'll miss Max, but he's had a good foundation so don't worry in that regard. By the way, how beautiful both your children are!
Thanks for the caponata recipe; I'll have to try it.
A plus.

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