Grrr! Grumpy and grouchy and broody in French! (Plus a fiery recipe...)

Hen house poulailler chickens 
"Broody" is less useful to you than the French word for grumpy (unless you're a hen), so we'll feature the second term--in verb form--today. Two mini columns follow: the first is a response to Audrey, who lives near the Spanish border, and the second is an update on our moody poule.

Today's Word: ronchonner

     : to grumble, growl, grouse

Voici des verbs similaires à ronchonner : rouspéter, râler, grogner
Here are some similar verbs to grumpy: to complain, to moan, to grumble. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE  by Kristi Espinasse

Following the Recipe for Disaster post, Audrey wrote in asking for the bananes flambées recette (everyone else wanted the banana tart instructions, which I'll get to eventually). Meantime, Audrey wrote:

"Yes please, the recipe, as I have to follow a gluten-free diet it would be perfect for me & one I could do for guests...."

Voici, Audrey, here's the au pif recipe for an easy, and apparently gluten-free dessert--one Jean-Marc made recently for our friends Kathleen and Dean. Just look at that blue flame! Dean, watch your hand!

Jean-Marc making bananas foster

BANANES FLAMBEES RECIPE

-One ripe banana per person
-Sugar to taste
-Butter
-Rum
-Ice cream (we use vanilla or salt caramel!)

Melt the butter and begin turning the whole bananas in the pan, until slightly golden or seared. Sprinkle sugar over the bananas and add a half cup of rum (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan by roughly an inch) to the poêle. When heated, very carefully--at arm's length and away from curtains or dishcloths or billowy shirts!--ignite the pan liquids (the rum) with a match or un briquet. When fire subsides, transfer the bananas and a little of the butter rum sauce to a plate or bowl, beside a scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.
 
The deliciousness of this simple dessert will give you an amazed look similar to this one...  

Broody hen
Now, changing subjects, a little story from my Instagram about her (our hen, Edie). After sitting on her colocataire's unfertilized eggs, and brooding for one month (she would not leave her nest, quit laying eggs, and had to be plucked out--via the roof!--of her nest box each day for fresh air and exercise), now she spends all her time out of the henhouse. Each night I find her roosting on the rooftop (of said hen house). So, after dark, I have to grab the broom by our front door and head over to her. I place the end of the broom beneath her feet until she steps up onto the broom handle...at which point I deliver her like a pizza back into the hen house for the night). It is quite a scene! And it's entirely lost on the two of us.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
la poule = hen
ronchonner = to grumble
la recette = recipe
voici = here you are
au pif = by guesswork, by eyeballing it (recipe)
une poêle = frying pan
la poule = hen, chicken, chick
colocataire = joint tenant, roommate

IN BOOKS: PARIS POSTCARDS by Guy Thomas Hibbert
The unique sights, smells and sounds of the famous city are the luminous backdrop to these eleven tales whose colorful characters are lured to the City of Light and Love. Order a copy here.

Paris postcards Guy Hibbert

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Even Cheese Puffs sound elegant in French: Gougères recipe and post by Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

Ann mah the lost vintage novel in beaulieu-sur-mer France
Our family lived on two French vineyards during the last 10 years, beginning in this 2007 post. Ann Mah's book brought it all back--the sights, the sounds, and the scents--especially the beauty, the history, and the passion behind it all. I learned more about wine reading Ann's book, in addition to details of WWII (like the humiliating punishment for collaboration horizontale--or sleeping with the enemy!). The novel's modern-day narrator, Kate, is curious, funloving, and determined to pass her Master of Wine exam, a feat that brings her back to her family's vineyard in Burgundy where she discovers a hidden side of war and wine. Excellent summer reading! Order a copy here. 

Today's Word: Une Gougère

    : cheese puff

How to pronounce gougères? Click here to listen to the following example sentence
Une gougère est une brioche salée au gruyère. Il s'agit d'un mélange de pâte à chou et de fromage (du gruyère le plus souvent) que l'on cuit au four. A gougère is a savory brioche with Gruyère cheese. It is a mixture of puff pastry dough and cheese (usually gruyere) that is baked. --L'Internaute.fr


Gougères and The Lost Vintage

by Ann Mah

I fully admit that one of the reasons I wrote a novel set in a French vineyard was so I could linger there in my imagination. I've been enchanted by Burgundy's ever since I first visited the region in 2010 to research an article about Thomas Jefferson's favorite wines. And if I also sensed the presence of hovering ghosts, they only added to my fascination.

Burgundy is, obviously, famous for its wine - but the food is pretty fantastic, too. I have fond memories of eating Epoisse cheese so ripe it flooded the plate. There was beef bourguignon that melted under my fork, and snails drenched in garlic-parsley butter. But my favorite treat was the gougère - a cheese puff that is at once savory, crisp, and tender. As it turns out, hail from Burgundy where they traditionally accompanied cellar wine tastings.

Food and wine are a huge part of French culture and they play an important role in my new novel, The Lost Vintage, where they become a metaphor for all the issues that the characters are grappling with - questions of tradition, change, and how ( if) we should confront the past.

I hope you will enjoy The Lost Vintage - and if, like me, you're coming across the kitchen, I'm making a recipe for my favorite cheesy cheese puffs. Made of pastry cabbages, they seem mercurial to cook. In fact, they are ridiculously simple - so easy, I often bake them with my four-year-old daughter. Although some choose to blow the dough into mounds, I prefer to shape it with spoons, which creates a rough surface that turns golden and crunchy in the oven. Gougères pair beautifully with almost every kind of wine - and they also make a great cocktail snack for hungry book clubs. If you do these, however, beware: a batch does not last long!

I'm so excited to share The Lost Vintage with you! Happy reading - and health!

--
Many thanks to Ann Mah for the previous story and for the following recipe! 

Gougères French cheese puff recipe

Gougères / Cheese puffs
Makes about 35 puffs

2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons (65 grams) butter
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs 2/3 cup (75 grams)
grated Gruyère or Comté cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line with baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a medium saucepan, combines the water, salt, butter, and cayenne pepper. Heat the mixture until the butter melts and it begins to boil.

3) Immediately dump in the flour and stir briskly to combine. Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture forms a ball and begins to film the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to fully Add the cheese and stir to combine.

5) Using two spoons, serving the dough into small mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Each mound should be about the size of a cherry tomato; Space them evenly to allow for puffing.

6) Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking for 18-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Gougères are best hot from the oven, but still appealing at room temperature. To reheat, place them in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for 4 to 6 minutes.

Lost vintage 2
“Mah’s detailed descriptions of life on a family vineyard, how wine is produced, and how subtle differences in taste are discerned are so robust that a novice wine drinker may progress to aficionado status by the end. Engaging… will delight Francophiles and readers who enjoy historical fiction with a twist by such authors as Lauren Willig or Christina Baker Kline.” –Library Journal (starred)

Jackie in cap ferrat  ann mah the lost vintage
Our Jackie grew up on the vineyards in Provence and was once crowned Harvest Queen (at age 9) for diligently picking grapes each September. It is all a memory now. Reading The Lost Vintage I can still hear the flutter of leaves and the creaking of buckets brushing by the old vines. Click here to order a copy.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Broyer, Pilon + Mousse au Chocolat aux Epices - a spicy dessert to celebrate this word journal's birthday

IMG_20171021_182123

Thank you for the wonderful profiles you are sending in, in celebration of this word journal's 15th birthday. It is a pleasure and a gift to read about you for a change, and your "bonne continuation" messages have given me an invigorating second wind! If you did not see your comment posted, scroll down to the end of the comments in the previous post and find the tiny "show more comments" link.

I told you I was celebrating this milestone and today's chocolate mousse is a festive way to do so! This is an easy recipe my superhero belle-soeur made for our family lunch in Avignon, chez Jacques (mon beau-frère, who gave us all that popular French yogurt cake recipe). The hardest part about chocolate mousse is the patience you'll need to slowly incorporate the whipped egg whites into the melted chocolate. We've included a video clip to help you to understand la vitesse involved. And you'll hear a slice of Nick Cave's album "Skeleton Trees", which was playing in the background as Cécile (who just saw him in concert in Paris!) made this spicy dessert. (A note about the photo: that's a bottle of beer in the background. In another photo, you will see a wine bottle opener--two objects which have nothing to do with a recipe tuturial for chocolate mousse. Don't worry, neither object belongs to me--and neither belongs in the photo. But it's kind of funny, isn't it? Which reminds me to tell you to just have fun making these recettes, and enjoy collection of our French family and friends recipes in these delicious archives

 
Today's words are BROYER and le PILON

    => the first means "to crush" or "to grind" and the second is a pestle, in French


AUDIO FILE & Example sentence
Hear Jean-Marc read today's words and the following sentence:

Soundfile for broyer and pilon

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au pilon.
Open the cardamon seeds, grind them with a pestle.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

My sister-in-law, Cécile, spent the night Saturday so she could help us with a few projects here at our new home in La Ciotat. For one, we needed her welding skills to take out an iron banister along our front porch. Next, we needed her to remove the base of some giant slide-out drawers that belonged to an old bed frame we dismounted (and transformed into a potager or kitchen garden! In this way we avoided having to buy wood to construct a new frame!). 

A bed frame repurposed into vegetable bed

Finally, Cécile helped with our family lunch, by making dessert.  This chocolate mousse was a spicy suite to the most delicious meal (Jacques' longtime love, Mariem, is Moroccan. And Mariem's dear and funny maman made us the best couscous in the whole wide world...marinated lamb, chicken, large slices of long-simmered pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, onion, raisins, and piment all on a bed of grains. After eating the gently-spiced plat principal, the gingerbread-safron aromas lingered in my mouth as I drifted off the the land of Tout Va Bien. (Isn't that where comfort food takes us? To a place called All is Well?) Surrounded by my adopted French and Moroccan family, and the history we've knitted together, was the next best thing to a 1970s Thanksgiving with family in the Arizona desert--only a selection of cheeses didn't follow the main meal, and, afterwards, my sister and I didn't shoot at leftover beer cans with Grandpa's BB gun. (In reality we probably only did this once, and we were in the wide open desert--almost as far off track as this missive has gone....).

I leave you with a recipe as thick and rich as good family memories. Enjoy, and many thanks to my sister-in-law, Cécile, who created this Spicy Chocolate Mousse and who appears in the photo tutorial below (she apologizes for her stained hands, but she welds and hammers in a workshop or atelier every day!). Cécile has a new Facebook page featuring her furniture and other creations. See you over there!


LA MOUSSE AU CHOCOLAT AUX EPICES
Pour 8 personnes

200 grammes de chocolat noir
200 grams of dark chocolate

6 oeufs
6 eggs

5 sachets de sucre vanillé
5 packets of vanilla sugar (you can use 5 tablespoons of sugar, just add vanilla flavoring)

1 morceau de gingembre
1 piece of ginger

du zeste de citron
some lemon zest

10 graines du cardamom
10 cardamom seeds

un demi verre d'eau
half a glass of water


INSTRUCTIONS


Melting chocolate in a bain-marie or double boiler

Faire fondre le chocolat au bain-marie
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (this is simply a small pan set inside a larger pan filled about halfway with water, which will gently heat the pan of chocolate above it)

Ouvrir les graines de cardamom, les broyer au  pilon
Open the cardamom seeds, grind them with a pestle
Breaking open the cardamom
Pestle to grind the  seeds

Emincer le gingembre et le zeste de citron
Mince the ginger and the lemon peel

Slicing and mincing the ginger and lemon peel


Réserver le tout dans un peu d'eau pour faire ressortir les arômes
Reserve everything in a little water to bring out the aromas

ginger lemon peel cardamom in water

Séparer les oeufs
Separate the eggs (yolks from the egg whites)
IMG_20171021_182253

Mettre le sucre vanillé avec les jaunes d'oeufs, avec une fourchette battre le tout et incorporer le gingembre citron, cardamom
Put the vanilla sugar with the egg yolks, with a fork beat everything together and incorporate the ginger lemon, cardamom

Monter les blancs en neige (astuce: ajouter un pincée de sel)
Whip up the egg whites (tip: add a bit of salt)

Lorsque le chocolat est fondu, incorporer la préparation avec les jaunes d'oeufs, et rajouter un peu d'eau au besoin pour que cela soit fluide.
When the chocolate is melted, incorporate the preparation with the egg yolks, and add a little water as needed to make it fluid.

Combining the eggyolk preparation with the melted chocolate
Mettre cette preparation dans un plat . Incorporer tout doucement les blancs d'oeufs montés en neige, cuillière par cuillière , l'idée est de faire rentrer de l'air dans la préparation.
Put this preparation in a dish. Slowly stir in the whipped egg whites, spoonful by spoon, the idea is to bring air into the preparation.

Mettre la mousse au frigo plusieurs heures. Si vous êtes pressé, c'est possible de la mettre au congélateur, une heure.
Put the mousse in the fridge for several hours. If you are in a hurry, you can put it in the freezer for an hour.

Spicy chocolate mousse with ginger cardamom lemon peel and verveine or verbena leaves on top

Manger très frais.
Eat it chilled.

Bon appétit - and for more recipes visit the recipe archives...

Cecile tabouret bench
Cécile's benches, tables, mirrors and shelves can be seen in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix'Potentiels is a shop at 9 Rue Fermée in Aix en Provence (check the address, as the boutique may move in the new year).
There are lamps, jewelery with stones and leather, bags, cushions and carpets, candles and ambiance perfumes, sweets for the taste buds, plants, furniture for the interior--mirrors, seating ... and much more!
An expo every month, and especially passionate people!
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 19h

Aix'Potentiels, c´est une boutique au 9 rue fermée à Aix en Provence
Ce sont des lampes, des bijoux en pierres et en cuir, des sacs,des coussins et des tapis,des bougies et des parfums d´ambiance, de la reliure des douceurs pour les papilles, des plantes, du mobilier de la décoration d´intérieur des miroirs, des assises... et bien plus encore!
Une expo chaque mois, et surtout des gens passionnés !
Ouvert du lundi au samedi de 10h à 19h

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


La Crève and Chili Basta! Fast and Easy Chili recipe with a Provençal twist

Corsica where the mountains meet the sea

Along with most of the rest of France, j'ai chopé la crève. I wonder how? Did I catch a cold while crammed into a stairwell with other ferry passengers on our way home from The Island of Beauty? Or, as my dentist suggested during a three-part "crowning" series (ma première couronne! I've got one more appointment to go...), did I catch a draft during mi-saison--when even the French don't know how to dress?

As I lie under a pile of blankets, with a sore tooth and a headache, my daughter appeared, having just returned from her job waiting tables (this time at a local campsite canteen). Speaking softly she asked if there was anything I needed. "Je peux t'ammener du thé? Quelque chose à manger?" Can I bring you tea? Or something to eat? Next Jackie informed me, "Tout le monde a la crève. Everybody's got a cold. (And, by the next day she had it too :-(

Then Jean-Marc began complaining of a maux de gorge.... Uh-oh spaghettio! 

Speaking of food, I have not lost my appetite so it must be, as Jackie guessed, la crève and not the dredded grippe, or flu. At the first signs of a sore throat, I wondered whether a hot or spicy soup would help? N'importe! Best to hurry and make something before symptoms got worse and there was nothing to eat in the house! A nourishing bean stew--coupled with fading vegetables from the farmers market--would get our family through the next couple of days.... I only needed to shop for one ingredient (the ground beef), but you may have another substitute (chicken, turkey, cubed porc...) available? Hopefully you have some onions and carrots lying around and a can of kidney beans? You are almost there....

CHILI BASTA (or chili "bye-bye"...as in bye-bye La Crève!)

350 grams of ground beef

Herbes de Provence (the "Provençal part!)

salt and pepper

2 carrots

2 peppers (I had one yellow, 1 red)

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 large cans (800 grams each) of tomatoes (mine were whole, in juice)

1 can of kidney beans (800 grams)

1 or 2 Tbsp of SRIRACHA SAUCE

1 tablespoon honey (I used Jean-Marc's vineyard honey)

=> Brown the meat, adding the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Transfer to larger soup pot. Continue frying the rest of the vegetables in oil, either together at once, or, as I did, peppers, the onion and garlic, then carrots....adding them to the soup pot.

=> Add two cans of whole tomatoes and their juice (I broke up the whole tomatoes with my hands). Then add the kidney beans, the honey, and the hot sriracha sauce. Let simmer for an hour (the longer the better). Bon appétit and don't forget to wear a nice écharpe to keep the drafts out and prevent  la crève!

What do you enjoy in your chili? I love to cut up cubes of cheese (I had emmental and delicious comté on hand) to add as a topping--this helps cool down a scalding hot chili.

AUDIO FILE
listen to today's French phrase choper la crève:

Choper la creve

Spicy Chili basta on a bed of Corsican chestnuts or chataignes

Chili Basta on a bed of chataignes harvested in Corsica. Hey, chestnuts would be good in in this chili, too! Next time....

For more recipes, scroll to the end of this post, and look for the "recette/recipe" tag. Many thanks for reading and for those who would like to support this free word journal, it is easy to do so:

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Beaux Arts school in Toulon
Jackie, our 20-year-old daughter, begins her second year at art school. After living in Aix-en-Provence, where she studied design, she will now attend class in Toulon at the historic L'École supérieure d'art et de design Toulon Provence Méditerranée. Wish her bonne chance! (And wish the rest of us bon rétablissement...or "get well soon!")

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Brugnon...or nectarine? (A two word hint: sticky pits) + bee or wasp? And an easy recipe for fruit crumble

Brugnon nectarine tree loveseat yellow flowers (c) Kristin Espinasse
The word brugnon is used when the pit sticks to the flesh, whereas the word nectarine is used when the pit is free. In English and in other languages, only the word nectarine exists, whether or not the pit sticks. Listen to the sentence in French, below. (photo: A brugnonier, or nectarine tree, at our former vineyard.)

un brugnon

    : nectarine

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the French sentence, below.

Download Brugnon 2

Le terme brugnon est alors utilisé lorsque le noyau adhère à la chair, tandis que le terme nectarine est utilisé lorsque le noyau est libre. En anglais, et dans d'autres langues, seul le terme nectarine existe, indépendamment de l'adhérence du noyau. -Wikipedia 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

I am getting ready to make a third crumble this week. It's been a lively one, this past semaine, with old friends, new departures (I've begun riding my bike again!), and a very itchy and swollen pied gauche. I was stung by something on Tuesday, while heading out on foot to the farmers market....

I had just put on my trusty yellow sneakers (a hand-me-down from Jackie, the baskets are really orange and only appear to be as yellow as my kitchen) when I felt the most painful piqûre on the top of my foot. MY first thought after what in the heck, was I hope this is one of those good stings!

I searched the ground for a flailing bee (and the top of my foot for a stinger), but saw nothing.... and thought nothing more about it until the coming restless night. My foot itched terribly. The next morning it began to swell and swell.

That day artist and teacher Tess, and my friend Lee came for lunch, along with Lee's daughter Melissa.  "Are you sure it wasn't a spider?" Tess said.

Was a toothy araignée lurking inside my trusty (can they still be trusted?) tennis shoes? But araignées don't sting do they? The shoot of pain I felt was definitely a sting and not a bite!

"Keep your eye on it and if it doesn't get better get to the doctor," my friend urged. Tess rummaged through her purse and, tada!, produced a tube of Anthisan... I had never heard of it before. "You can only get it in England," Tess said, and her singsong response made me wonder what other remedies the English kept in their medicine cabinets?

"I'll  squeeze some on a plate," I said, but Tess insisted I keep the entire tube. I'm glad she did because I had to keep applying it throughout the day and night.

The next morning Jean-Marc and I headed to the old port here in La Ciotat. When I suggested we ride our bikes, he was pleasantly surprised (I have not been on my bike since we lived in Ste Cécile...).  

New bike in ste cecile

    Eight years ago in Ste Cécile...

The swelling in my foot had gone down and I carefully tied the tongue of my baskets back, with the help of my shoe laces. My swollen ankle had more room this way and the bite marks could better heal. A very tight bubble began to rise above those bites (or stings?). Running my finger across the "cloque" (as Jean-Marc called it) I wondered whether to listen to my husband (and pierce it) or leave my body's defense system to finish the job it had begun.

Wooden ramp in la ciotat seafront

There on my bicycle for the first time in years, I followed my husband who lead us along the boardwalk, down a bumpy wooden ramp to the sea and back up to the old port. We parked our vélos on one of the docks.... to check out a little boat... and then continued into the old town to buy some needed liquide vaisselle and some amandes effilées for the crumble I wanted to make.

As I rode my bike I noticed how an already colorful La Ciotat was even more vibrant.  The rush of happiness could only be explained by one of three things: getting back on that bike, time with friends, or that high voltage bee or wasp sting (I like to think that intense shot of pain amounted to something. But if it didn't, don't burst my bubble! (as I said to Nurse Jean-Marc who I'm sure was just dying to stick a pin in me).

*    *    *

French Vocabulary

les baskets = sneakers or tennis shoes
la semaine = week
le pied gauche = left foot
une piqûre = sting, bite
une araignée = spider
liquide vaisselle = dishwashing liquid 
une amande = almond
effilé = flaked

  Cut up nectarines or brugnons for a crumble or pie

Easy Crumble aux Brugnons

6 - 8 nectarines quartered, then cut into smaller quarters

Squeeze of lemon 

1 cup flour 

1 cup sugar (you can use half as much...)

1/2 cup butter (I used salted) 

2 tbsp oats (optional) 

Cinnamon 

Sliced almonds or other nuts

Put the cut up nectarines into a baking dish and squeeze some lemon over the fruit. Put one cup of flour into a medium-size bowl and add the cut up pieces of butter. With your fingers press the butter and flour together continually until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add  the sugar, sliced almonds, cinnamon and oats. Mix together before spreading the topping over the fruit.

Bake at 350f or 175C for 35-40 minutes 

Kristi riding bicycle

Last Thursday, riding towards the old port of La Ciotat.

Still reading? Don't miss the story "gribouiller" about Jackie and her handy tip for getting a pen to work! She is around 7 years old in the story... and can you believe she will turn 20 on Monday, September 18th? This reminds me of some good news I forgot to share: our daughter was accepted into art school in Toulon. Félicitations, Jackie!

If you are new to this word journal, you might enjoy the book Words in a French Life. It makes a good gift for a French learner or anyone interested in France.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Adieu Mas des Brun: Last dispatch from the vineyard & Ratatouille recipe!

Mas des brun hat cabanon sea view
Goodbye Mas des Brun. Thank you for 5 wonderful years!

FARNIENTE--from the Italian fare (to do) and niente (nothing). Farniente is a new word for me, and an old one when it comes to naming a home (Jean-Marc tells me many French people name their homes farniente). Help us find a name for our new place, submit your suggestion in the comments at the end of this post

SOUNDFILE

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following French words
Nous cherchons un nom pour notre future maison...nous pensons à "Farniente."
We are looking for a name for our future house...we're thinking about "Farniente."

Computer

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

Goodbye Mas des Brun

by Kristi Espinasse

I've just cleared off my desk to type this last dispatch from our former home sweet home. It is quiet here now, only a very dusty house and a few towers of boxes after Jean-Marc's family left, last night.

What a help they were! Jean-Marc's brother, Jacques, arrived, along with Mariem, his "coeur" (as he's called her for years) and her 11-year-old son Farès, who is a smiling participant in anything--even moving! My belle-soeur Cécile joined us, too, for phase one of our déménagement.

Forming a human chain, our family transferred the wood pile to the rented camion and emptied the entire contents of Jean-Marc's wine cellar bottle by bottle, case by case! As an array of dusty bouteilles traveled out of the cave
UP the path in front of our porch, our golden retriever was reminded to sors de là--or move it! 

Demenagement moving rental truck
Our former home. Read about that window above Smokey....

If Smokey is a little displaced so is his unbeknownst-to-him adversaire, Lili--the 12-year-old long-haired chat we've inherited along with our new (1960-built) house in La Ciotat. Though Lili has been entrusted to the neighbors, we all hope she'll just stay put. The question is, after 10 moves, will we stay put too?

SUBMIT A NAME FOR OUR NEW HOME
Talk to you again soon--from La Ciotat. Meantime, help me answer Cécile's, question: "What will you name your new house?" Submit a name in the comments box below (link at the end of this post).

FRENCH VOCABULARY
Mon Coeur = sweetheart
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law, step-sister
le déménagement = move, moving
le camion = truck
une bouteille = bottle
la cave = cellar, wine cellar
sors de là! = move out of the way!

Oven-roasted ratatouille
Batch after batch of oven-roasted ratatouille has sustained us during this move! My favorite way to make it is to chop up all the vegetables listed below and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper (we ran out of herbs de Provence and won't buy more until we move!). Put the coated veggies on a tray or two and into the oven they go (at 180c or 350F, for one hour). Delicious with a roast chicken, all that leftover sanglier, or tossed in pasta, to name a few incarnations of this wonderful dish.

The veggies you'll need. Let me know if I've left something out...
2 eggplants
2 peppers
2 zucchini
lots of cherry tomatoes, whole or halved
2 carrots will add a wonderful roasted sweetness!
1 onion
1 potato
3 or 4 cloves of garlic

Tip: The more colorful the better. When our curb-side veggie stand had yellow tomatoes, I grabbed them. Ditto for the white eggplant and also the bright purple eggplant. Carrots are not part of the traditional ratatouille, but the color and taste sweetens everything! Do yourself a favor and make this easy dish whenever the ingredients are in season. It is so handy to have on hand, just like its Sicilian counterpart.

Previous recipe: the scrumptious La Tarte Tomate

Up the coast in la ciotat
On Monday we will complete phase 2 of our move, just up the coast to La Ciotat. A bientôt!

Santa maria restaurant-beach in la ciotat
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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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Eplucher + More about friendship... and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio!

zucchini courgette parmesan sunflower seed grain de tournesol pata negra iberian ham entree first course
Eplucher is the word of the day. You've got to peel a few zucchinis to make this easy recipe.... 

Eplucher

    :  to peel

 

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French (English translation is above)

Il faut eplucher quelques courgettes pour réaliser cette recette fastoche....


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

One reward of offering to help Bernard in the kitchen was learning a delicious, fast, and easy recipe. "Tu vas voir, c'est très facile," Bernard says, setting up our makeshift production line:  one of us will use the econome to cut ribbons from the courgettes, the other will chop parmesan and toss it over the cut zucchini, into the round metal ring (for an individual serving--this last piece is optional, but it makes a nice presentation once you--Ta-da!--lift the mold).

The hardest part about making Courgette Carpaccio is paying attention when you are an aloof sous-chef whose thoughts are éparpiller, or spread out, like ingredients along a messy counter...I love the messy counter! I love how Bernard is so relaxed about cooking. He seems grateful to have a volunteer. This is awkward. Nah, I'm fitting in. He's still not quite sure if he has all the ingredients. Wow, look at that fridge! He hasn't roasted the sunflowers seeds...Who cares! Food tastes better when made by friends! Uh-oh, I think he's waiting for the cheese crumbles. That's my job!....

"Désolee," I say to Bernard, explaining that I am absent-minded, sur la lune, by nature. What I really want to say to my husband's friend is that I am caught up in a bursting moment. And that is the other reward of helping Bernard in the kitchen, the chance to nouer les liens as they say here or se rapprocher, an area where, like cooking, the more you practice the better you get at it (by that I mean friendship).

I have to quit thinking in terms of "my husband's friends" or Pierre's or Susan's or (you name a friend's) friends. As a longtime expat or a newlywed or an old introvert or a young naval-gazer--whatever your challenge--tende la main d'amitié--reach out your hand and begin to reap the reward of friendship.

This post is dedicated to my husband and all of his friends who have been truly inspiring examples of amitié--and to my friends who truly know the meaning of this well-known citation:

Un ami c'est une personne qui reste dans ta vie malgré la distance et les années. A friend is someone who stays in your life despite the distance and the years.


BERNARD'S COURGETTE CARPACCIO

Bernard's Fresh Zucchini Entrée.

Most recipes in this blog are au pif--by guesswork. I learned this wonderful phrase from my mother-in-law, the best cook on the planet.

To make this delicious entrée, or first course, simply layer the following ingredients (except the Spanish ham, with which you'll place beside the following mound):

- Thinly-sliced zucchini (use a regular  potato peeler or a Vegetable spiralizer
- parmesan (pound cut) - chop and crumble this over the zucchini
- roasted sunflower seeds - sprinkle on top
- swirl of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Pure Bellota Iberico Ham


To comment on this recipe or story, find the link at the end of this post.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
fastoche = easy
désolé(e) = sorry
Tu vas voir = you'll see
très facile = so easy
econome = vegetable peeler
nouer les liens = to bond, to strengthen ties
tendre to main = hold out one's hand
amitié = friendship
au pif = by guesswork

French Harvest Tour

Experience France as it comes alive during the Harvest season!

To celebrate the final tour of our successful 2017 season, France Today Travels are offering $750⁄£580 off per person on our last few places.

This last-minute offer is exclusively available by quoting the code "HGY65."

 

Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

To order "Bonjour/Au Revoir doormat", click here

une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwav
une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwave

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

La ROCHE-POSAY sunscreen is rated top by Consumer Reports

Lisa playing petanque by the old cabanon with glass of wine on the roof in St Cyr-sur-Mer

Over the past week we have had the pleasure of spending time with several young people. Young people make great friends! Here is my husband's godson's girlfriend, Lisa, enjoying a game of pétanque here at our vineyard (we've not moved yet). Lisa is studying theater in Paris and would one day like to open her own theater.

Fred and Jules
And this is Fred, who just turned 90. 90-year-olds make great friends! Keep Fred in your thoughts and prayers, he will begin, now, to receive hospice care. Love you, Fred. You are an inspiration. You began learning French in your 70's, signing up for this blog when it first began and sending me your thoughts and encouragements along the way. I remember when you sent me a very long list of stories (blog posts) be considered for my story compilation. The time you sacrificed for a friend. Mille mercis for being such a great ami!

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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!

KRISTI'S FRENCH SLOPPY JOES
(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

FOR THE SANDWICH

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 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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Au pif, kale pesto recipe, and Bookshop for sale in France!

Making parsely pesto pistou citrons lemons golden retriever dog
Making parsley pesto. In today's post I make another kind (without parsley): Pesto Manqué (find out what's missing...)


TODAY'S WORD: au pifométre - or simply "au pif"

        : at a guess, by guess work, off the cuff, off the top of your head


EXAMPLE SENTENCE:

Au pif. Les grands chefs cuisinent au pif.
By guesswork. Great cooks cook by guesswork.

The following link does not work within this newsletter. Click the title of this letter to be taken to the blog.

Click here to listen: Au pif . Les grands chefs cuisinent au pif.

Try the book Pronounce it Perfectly in French


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


We are heading out to Nice to spend the weekend with American in France and beer-maker Dan, his wife Julie, and our good friends Gilda and Robert. I have a few hours in which to come up with un cadeau pour nos hôtes....

I want to keep things simple and sentimental (I'm thinking of my stash of antique clés... part of which I have given to special friends. But I wonder if I have already given Dan and Julie a key?

What about a vintage book? Julie and Gilda are artists. But how many vintage books on art do I have lying around? Que dalle!

Sheep bells! I also collect sheep bells! But who else treasures les clochettes des moutons?

Well, my husband sure isn't obsessing about what to offer our friends -- Jean-Marc recently bottled his 2016 Mas des Brun rosé and will gift it (along with olive oil from our domaine). This gives me an idea - just add to that gastronomic basket... Currently we have kale in the garden and lemons and olive oil from our trees.... I could make pistou!

But we do not have pignons or Parmesan. Pas de panique. You can do like the venerable French women do - do as any cook worth her salt would -- you can make it up au pif!

I leave you with the result of kale + lemons + oil + a few things in my kitchen drawers....


"PESTO MANQUE" RECIPE

(manqué...because pine nuts and Parmesan are missing)
(everything after this line is approximate...)

3 cups of kale
1 lemon + grated rind
3 tablespoon raisins (dried grapes for a vineyard theme!)
1-2 cups olive oil 
3 or more cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in the blender or food processor. This pesto is delicious with sliced tomatoes, over potatoes, pasta, fish or salad. It makes a nice decorative swirl on top of a bowl of soup.

Stories you may have missed: "PESTO IN BED" 

Mas des brun rose oliv oil and kale pesto manque
What we're bringing our hosts. I hope they don't see this post.


FRENCH VOCABULARY
Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.

manqué = missing
un cadeau = gift, present
une clé = key

l'hôte = host
que dalle! =  zip, nada, none
pas de panique = no worries!
le pistou = pesto
le pignon = pine nut

Wintasting with Warsaw Zurich and local friends
Thursday night Jean-Marc served his 2016 Mas des Brun rosé to visitors from Warsaw, Zurich, and to some locals from Toulon and Bandol. We had some munchies, but the kale pesto would have been good drizzled over slices of bread or some of that fresh goat's cheese we ate!

Kristi and tanja
With my friend Tanja, right. Those were her traffic-stopping legs you saw at the beginning and ooh-là-là end of this post. So don't miss this post.

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Recipe + Hospitality + gardons les choses simples (one pot meal in the Land of 5 Courses)

Kristin espinasse christmas nativity scene santon gift dog
Bringing in the New Year at a party in Marseilles. Thank you Christine and Thierry, for your wonderful hospitality!

TODAY'S WORD: avoir hâte de

        : to look forward to


EXAMPLE SENTENCE:


En 2017, nous avons hâte de passer de bons moments avec notre famille et nos amis.
In 2017 we are looking forward to spending good times with our family and friends.


ECOUTEZ - Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the example sentence in French: Download Avoir hate de


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

The last two meals we've had at home with friends represent most of my goals in the new year. "Keep it Simple" "Go with the Flow" "Use what you have" and "Be yourself!" are mantras we hear time and again, but putting them into practice is pas si simple que ça! Until grace appears...in the midst of it all. I now realize that la grâce is all I need in the new year. Grace and trust!

When Jean-Marc invited Nico and Carol for lunch, I said, OK. What will we eat?  And, comme d'habitude, my husband answered simply.

"We'll have oursins. I'll go and gather them!"

Sea-urchins rose wine south of france

...and comme d'habitude, I said, "But we can't just have oursins!" After a deep breath, I thought. Well, why can't we?! Just because we are in France--The Land of 5 Courses, doesn't mean the French never have a one-pot deal! Besides, if oursins weren't enough, we could have a little something with them. Gardons les choses simples!

Finally, after all these years, an epiphany: I no longer have to host as the French host. I don't even think the French are hosting as they used to: it is a new era! 

Soon we were enjoying a hand-to-mouth déjeuner on the front porch--on the 31st of December! Jean-Marc stood before a bucket filled with sea water and fresh-caught urchins. Using nifty sea urchin cutters, he easily opened the spiny globes and passed around his favorite sea urchins on the half shell. I brought out homemade Oven French Fries and we all enjoyed reaching into the roasting pan (the oven's roasting pan and not something more refined) for the last crispy bits of patates. It was a delicious moment with good friends. I wish I'd gotten a picture for the souvenir!

In the New Year I will get pictures of all such moments. The images help me to remember--and they serves as wonderful meal planners, too....

Kristi-cappelini-primavera
Serving Cappellini Primavera. photo: Barbara Barrielle

On January 2nd my longtime friend Barbara, who I hadn't seen in years, came by. I decided to keep to the one pot meal deal, serving the Cappellini Primavera (simply spaghetti--but a fancy name is worth 4 courses!). It was gratifying to make a meal with what was surviving winter in my garden: basil, fennel, parsley, kale, and even a large (if not fully ripened) tomato! Topped with olive oil, lemon, and walnuts this is one meal I will remember to serve again! (Recipe below.)

Barbara-Charlotte-kristi
My dear guests are framed by sunflowers on January 2nd. I am so proud of both my guests and my flowers!


Barbara brought her daughter, Charlotte, born the same year and days apart from our Jackie! When the girls were little, we enjoyed pushing their strollers together, side by side in St. Maximin. The next time we'd see them, Charlotte would be 9... And that was ten years ago! I wish Jackie had been here to talk with Char, who is also half-French-half-American. She is studying political science at Tulane University in New Orleans. Char is interested in international intelligence and she is putting herself through college with the help of the US Air Force.

What a pleasure it was to spend time with friends who are good at setting and meeting their goals. I encourage you to follow Barbara on Instagram, where she shares travel/food/wine adventures in France and beyond @barbarabarrielletravels . You can also follow at Charlotte @charslit .

While you are there please hit the "follow" button and follow me @kristinespinasse. I have more simple meals and more of the simple life in France to share with you in 2017. Many thanks for reading and for sharing this word journal!


Jean-marc-looking-forward
Look at that smile! Love this picture of Jean-Marc, taken after our one-pot lunch, where he served his 2016 Mas de Brun rose. photo by BarbaraBarrielleTravels

FRENCH VOCABULARY


pas si simple que ça = not so easy as that
comme d'habitude = as usual
un oursin = sea urchin
le déjeuner = lunch
une patate = spud, potato

Compilation
RECIPE
You are going to love this easy, quick pasta dish. For the primavera, use any greens on hand. I used kale, parsley, basil, fennel. I also had a green tomato and a small yellow zucchini (the round kind)

-sauté all the veggies in oil. I didn't have an onion, but that--and garlic--would be a nice place to start!
-cook the cappellini (or spaghetti) according to package instructions, approximately 3 minutes. Drain
-toss cappellini with olive oil and half a lemon.
- add extras like chopped ham and walnuts (mussels would be good, so would pine nuts)
-sprinkle with parmesan and bon appétit!

Make it better! Add your suggestions to this recipe here in the comments box.

Cappellini-primavera

Jean-Marc-and-Kristi-january-2nd-2017
Photo of Jean-Marc and me, taken by Barbara. Thanks, Babs!

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.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety