Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chicken Curry

For many years, I was the only cook in the house. My husband grew up in a household where he wasn’t even expected to set foot in the kitchen, and so it fell upon me to prepare the meals. I didn’t mind. I’m a creative person who likes to cook, although cleaning up is on my ‘ten worst things to do’ list. So the deal was made. I’d cook and he’d help clean up. I bought a couple pork chops and proceeded to render them inedible. My first attempt at cooking a whole meal was a fiasco.
I learned slowly.
My first success was turkey breast with cream sauce served with peas and carrots. I mastered this, and proceeded to serve it every night for three months. My husband’s uncle, who lived with us at that time because he was consulting surgeon for the Paris Ministry of Health, tells me that he cannot look at turkey without feeling ill now.
My husband, who is funny like that, would still be happily eating turkey with cream sauce – sometimes I wonder about him.
My husband & I moved to Florida around that time. Cooking, for me, was taking the car and going to the Kit’s Kosher Chicken and getting a grilled hen, then stopping at the supermarket for a ready-made salad and mashed potatoes. Or I’d put a hotdog in the microwave.
Then I had the twins, and when they started eating solid food, I became obsessed, no, let’s just say I was determined to give them a wide variety of food so that they wouldn’t become finicky.
As a child, I’d eaten only five things, and that until I was eighteen. I decided my kids would not be like me. So I had to expand my cooking abilities. I asked friends for recipes. I went to my grandparents' house and watched them cook. I bugged my mother for lessons. I’d left home at seventeen, and I’d never been interested in cooking, so my mother tried to teach me a few basics. She gave me a crash course in gravy making, how to boil an egg, and how to roast a whole chicken.
And then we moved to Argentina. We had a cook and a maid living in the house with us. I watched as Suzanne made empanadas and rice and beans. I learned how to barbecue beef. I found out how to make a tomato and onion salad, and I tried to learn how to make the delicious squash and chicken stew the Argentines make – but could never master it. Mostly in Argentina, we ate grilled meat and green salad. I learned how to make a spicy barbecue sauce and how to serve coffee there. After we went to Ureguay, where I learned how to make steamed mussels.
Our next stop was in the Dominican Republic. Again we had a maid and a cook, and again I begged to learn their recipes. So Luz showed me how to make red beans and rice, sliced beef and onion stew, and baked chicken, Dominican style. She also showed me how to make banana fritters, potato pancakes, and a delicious orange and onion salad.
By the time I moved back to France, I’d picked up a fair array of different recipes from all over the world. And to that, I added classical French cooking.

So what’s on the stove now, you ask?

Chicken curry with coconut sauce and cardamom seeds.
1 chicken cut up
4 or 5 onions, chopped
1 apple – chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons coriander
1 can coconut milk
1 plain yoghurt
2 lemons
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube

Put chicken, onions, garlic, and apple in hot oil and fry until lightly golden. Add juice from one lemon, curry and cardamom, stir well. Add half the coconut milk, the water, and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil then lower heat. Cook on low/medium heat for an hour. Add yoghurt and rest of coconut milk. Sauce should be thick. Add the coriander. Stir, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over rice with lemon wedges.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Monday

Sitting here listening to Queen singing 'We will Rock you'. It's hard not to sing along, lol.

Gray day. I'm going to Paris with some friends but not sure which day. Maybe tomorrow. Have to go Christmas Shopping!

Actually, I'm a terrible shopper, but I love to follow my friends around. They are super-shoppers, and they know all the best stores.

For example, we will go to 'Le Bon Marché', which is a huge department store built in the twenties in a wonderful art nouveau style. The whole store is beautiful. Then I want to go to the Chinese section of Paris, in the 14th district. It's like Chinatown in NYC, I guess, with many little shops selling everything Oriental. I also love walking around the old Latin quarter, St. Germain de Près. There too are lots of artistic shops with new creators and everything that is 'in' and 'brand new'!

And while I'm walking around Paris, I can't help look at the beautiful buildings and think that I'm lucky to live so close to the 'City of Lights'. In the evening, the Eiffel Tower will be lit up, and the navy blue night will be a velvet cloth strewn with the diamond lights of the Paris skyline.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Enough already!

I have been having a great Thanksgiving weekend. I got my flu shot, and my butt is sore, and I got the stitches out of my head which hurt worse than having them put in -
But I am thankful I won't get sick this winter, and my head's healed, so that's all right.
Enough with this complaining already!
It's raining - the dogs get mud all over the floor when they come in.
But I'm thankful to have two such nice dogs, with lovely waggy tails and loving eyes.
I can't seem to get any writing done, especially with the kids home this weekend. But I'm thankful to have my children with me, and the writing can be done later.
Tonight I'm going to a friend's house for dinner, and I'm thankful to have such a wonderful friend who lives so close. I have other wonderful friends who live far away, but I miss them terribly, along with my family. But at least I have people I miss terribly - can you imagine not missing anyone?
Winter is coming and my house is old and drafty - but at least the roof doesn't leak and I'm thankful to live in such a nice village. The garbage men just came around for their Christmas bonus (already!) but I'm thankful they come at all - so there.
Well, enough already with the thanks - but no, there is one more! I'm thankful for everyone who stops by to read my blog -

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.
May you have many blessings, may you have good health, & may your turkey be tender!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Shipwreck diet!

Congrats to Bonita who chose the shipwreck diet and won a copy of "A Grand Passion" - I hope you enjoy it!

What happened was this:
I lived in the Caribbean and we loved to take boat rides to the small, uninhabited islands nearby. One island, Hans Lollick, was off the coast of St. Thomas, and we could see it from our balcony. My neighbors invited my sister and I to go to the island one day. We took their motor boat, but as we arrived, the motor conked out. We put the anchor down and swam to the beach, and decided to wait until our mother called the coastguard. Night fell. Ferel donkeys on the island meant we had to stay near the beach, because they were feeling protective of their territory and would charge us if we wandered into the forest. We climbed along the cliff and looked for something to eat - coconuts? No. Fish? No fishing pole. What did we find? A can of ravioli a fisherman had left behind.
We built a fire and waited.
The coast guard came at around midnight. They had a big boat and had to stay out in deeper water. They shined their lights so we could swim out to them. I do NOT like swimming over reefs at night. Rule number one, do not make any splashes. Swim Quietly, lol.
It was a nice night and there was lots of phosphorescence. I leaned over to see it in the wake of the boat, and my glasses fell off.
The coast guard took us to the docks where my mom picked us up. I was Starving. I did not want to eat an old can of ravioli. My mom was furious that I lost my glasses. No dessert for a week.
The shipwreck diet:
One can of ravioli. No dessert for a week.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Guess the Diet Contest

I was just reading a blog and the blogger made me laugh (she's a slushpile reader with an agent) about a submission about a diet book. (The Rejector)

And I came up with three brand new diets:

There's the "Basic Training" diet. Signing up for the army and doing basic training is a great way to lose weight. I'm surprised no one has written about that yet.

There's also the tried but true 'Hermit Diet' which consists of sitting cross-legged and naked on a stone, and eating only what the pilgrims bring.

And there there is the "Shipwrecked" diet: only eat what you can find on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.

OK guys - you know me, right? Which diet did I try and will subsequently tell you about? (Which resulted in very little weight loss, and I will tell you why after you've guessed!)
And to make it more fun, the first person to guess right will get a free download of their choice! On your mark, get set, GO!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The leaves are finally turning gold here, but the weather is still balmy. We had a few days of frost, but it turned warm and rainy again, and today there is a lovely mix of clouds and light in the sky. The leaves on the forsithia tree right outside my window here are pale yellow, and when the light shines through it it turns everything golden. On the hill the trees are turning rust and brown. I will have to go out and take the dogs (and my camera) for a walk.
I wish I'd taken my camera this morning as I drove to town. There was a tractor plowing in a field. The sun warmed earth was steaming in the pale morning light, cherry trees behind him were red and orange, and dark clouds, almost violet, seemed to underline the rising sun. Autumn is such a lovely time of year. Until it starts raining. And then everything is gray - the sky, the earth, the trees, and the stone houses. Dreary! But not today!
I am still plodding on with my WIP. It's a new project - I've never attempted a murder mystery - so I'm sort of feeling my way forward. I like my characters, and right now one is about to do something, well, awful. She's a secondary character, so I'm not going to dwell on her, but her actions will set something in motion that will hurt a lot of people in the book, but ultimately will solve the crime. So often good things do come out of bad things. Sometimes you have to wait and see the end result - step back and not judge until everything has settled down and the results are in. This character is like a catalyst, and if she doesn't do this terrible thing, then the murderer will keep on killing. It's sort of the theme I'm working into the fabric of the story. We'll see what happens with it!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Veteran's day, Bingo & a Pig's head

We gathered in the village square this morning to hear a speech from the mayor, listen to the recital of the names of the dead soldiers, and sing the National Anthem. As usual, there was a good turnout with much of the village present. There was a little coctail afterwards at the town hall. I just can't seem to drink wine before lunch though. Luckily they had orange juice!

And, we played BINGO in the village hall tonight! It was the first time the village organized a bingo game, so it was a bit rough around the edges - microphone problems - way too hot in the room - a family showed up that was The Family from HELL - But otherwise it was fun.
We (my daughter and I) didn't win anything. But there were some cool prizes. And one prize was...
A Pig's head.
No kidding. The WHOLE thing. Pink and cooked and sitting on a tray. It was a prize given by a local butcher. He also donated three meters of blood sausage and some hams. There were lots of umbrellas to win - some flowers and plants, a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven, a CD player.
The Family from Hell. One of the boys had a whistle and would, every time the number 22 was announced, blow it piercingly. It made everyone jump. Once was cute. Every single time was Really Annoying. They also won a Christmas tree and a showerhead. You'd think they'd be more cheerful - but they whined and bitched and scowled and blew their stupid whistle all night. Ewwwwwww. The pig's head looked vaguely like the boy who kept blowing the whistle....
It was fun. I saw some people I haven't seen in ages. Even if we all live in a tiny village - we don't always run into each other. I like this woman called Gabby, but she works all the time. Tonight I got to sit and chat for a while with her. She is Swiss, and speaks German. My daughter needs German lessons. Gabby's son is doing badly in English. So Gabby and I have made a tutoring deal - we'll swap kids once a week and tutor them. LOL! So, see why you should go to Bingo games?
It's late now, and everyone is in bed. I'm insomniac because I drank too much coffee at the Bingo game. That will teach me! I want to go to sleep but the coffee was NOT decaffinated.
(I keep wondering what the winner of the Pig's Head will do with it? I suppose it's for eating -

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Auguste as a Centipede

Here is a picture of Auguste in teh costume my daughter made for him on Halloween. He didn't mind it at all - probably thought he looked super-cool.
Rusty just yawned and went back to sleep.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Dog is Houdini, but he's no rocket scientist.

Auguste is a small wire haired dachshund. You pronounce his name the French way -
And when I let him out in the back garden he immediatly makes plans to escape. Not that I have a small garden - it's very big, has an apple orchard, several stone walls, a couple sheds, and lots of play space. But Auguste dreams of adventure. So he goes to the wire fence (It's pretty overgrown with vines and such, being built at least 30 years ago) and he noses around until he finds a chink in it. Then he digs.
Dachshunds, as everyone knows, were bred to hunt badgers, which as everyone knows, live in huge underground galleries. Badgers are the most dangerous animals for a dog to hunt because the make special tunnels into which they lure their enemies, and then they collapse the tunnel on top of them, burying them alive.
All this is just to tell you that in order to breed a dog able to dig out badgers, the breeders had to find something pretty special. So, they crossed a small terrier-type dog with Houdini. I'm not even going to imagine how they did it. But the fact is, these dogs can get out of anything. My dog's breeder informed me (before I bought Auguste) that his dog dug his way out of a cement courtyard. I didn't believe it...then.
So, I have to walk around the edge of my garden every single day and block the holes Auguste digs at the base of the fence with large rocks.
This is where I'm lucky: Houdini was no rocket scientist. Auguste goes to almost exactly the same spot each time. So, bit by bit, I'm building a stone wall in his escape hatch. He keeps trying to dig around it. But so far, I've been able to (mostly) keep him penned in.

This is where it gets funny.
I have a Labrador retriever too. She does not dig. She likes to sleep. She likes to lie on the grass and snooze. Auguste is a playful guy. He likes to chew on the Lab's ears and feet, and that drives Rusty (our Lab) crazy.
SO - Rusty has decided to help Auguste escape.
She is bigger than he is and can hook her paws over the rocks and move them. Then she sits back and lets Auguste dig. He gets loose. She goes back to her spot on the grass and lies down. Peace at last. I see Auguste is missing and run outside to catch him before he gets into too many adventures. (There are 3 chicken farms in my village, remember).

So far, I'm keeping up with Houdini. (Thank goodness they didn't cross him with a rocket scientist.)

Friday, November 03, 2006


(Lifted from December's blog) Okay, it's this quizie thingie is where I pick my favorite movies, and choose a quote from each one, and now you guys have to guess the movie from the quote and I'll write your name next to it when you guess it.

Have FUN!

1: -"Don't shoot! It's the dynamite! If you shoot it, it will get mad at us and blow us all up!"

2: -"There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." (Harry Potter - Feyrhi)

3:"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." (Lord of the Rings - December)

4: "But why is the rum gone?" (Pirates of the Caribbean - CotBP)

5: "If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door." (Gone with the Wind - December)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The villagers are Perplexed

A couple years ago, my sons killed Halloween in the village. It wasn't really their fault - Halloween tried to make a splash in France and ended up as a flop. No one really got excited about it except the kids and a few parents, but the village fête commitee, bowing to publicity and the fact that Halloween was in fact invented by the Celts and the Celts, as everyone knows, originated in France SO...(ipso factum whatever) and voila - the French embraced Halloween for a couple years and then it faded, helped along by my sons decision to dress as terrorists and bombard the village with beebees and take All the candy.
ANYHOW - a few kids (mine - still) dress up and still make the rounds. But the French are mostly perplexed. "Bon bons ou Farce!" the kids scream.
The villagers open their doors. "What cute costumes. What do you want?"
"Well, I don't have any. But here are some...": (What follows is an actual list of what the kids brought home)
2 bottles of water
1 whole baking chocolate bar
A handful of walnuts
2 euros
A brand new box of Belgium chocolates
Several candy bars
A bag of sours
A box of cookies.

The kids are estatic and the dogs are tired (having accompanied kids all over village. Dogs were dressed up too. August was a centapede.
I wish I could post photos but blogger is acting up - I'll try to post on my Sam's Shots page.

And on another note, I entered Miss Snarks contest and got an honerable mention as 'Best nod to the Bard', lol (#23)