24 October 2009

blue and white

ok, my train is in 4 hours, so i’m not gone just yet.

but.

blue and whitei just wanted to say that i’m currently obsessed with anything of the color combination blue and white.

i’m not sure why – but i zeroed in on this chocolate solely because of the packaging, i bought cookies for my hosts that had that same color combo, and i of course wrapped them using blue and white ribbon.

funny how we go through color phases, no?

23 October 2009

happy early halloween

batsi don’t think anybody at the foyer knows about my blog. so it should be safe to post this.

since i’m leaving tomorrow for strasbourg and mannheim, i won’t be here for halloween…. which means, halloween has to be celebrated now since the impact isn’t the same once its past (trust me, i’ve gone to halloween parties on nov 1 – its never the same.)

so everybody is getting a bat on their door tomorrow morning (or rather, later today)

doing simply silly stuff like this makes me happy. and life more exciting.

i also love my job because when i attended a training session i got to make patisseries. maybe not edible… but still.

dramaticcloudsand in other news, i’ve begun pursuing yet another passion, yet another thing that makes me tick… and even if it’s scary chasing a dream, it feels good to be pursuing actively rather than just sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

i just hope i can be successful with this new dream. and if not, well, i’ll just keep trying until it works! i’ll succeed eventually.

sheepand i’ll leave you with my favorite thing from france – the moutons! (sheep)

see you after the vacances!

21 October 2009

salon de l’aviculture et des produits du terroir

salonag01so i went into this thinking it was a salon de l’agriculture, with fruit and veggies and food and what not… not aviculture, which is poultry farming.

salonag02but it was still nice because i adore animals. i of course perked up when i saw the texas reference.

salonag03<3 the grays

salonag04 and the browns as well

salonag05especially this curly haired beauty.

salonag06but my favorite? anything white and poofy. like clouds. sheep. and the 4 cuties pictured here.

20 October 2009

quiche lorraine… with gruyere cheese

foyercooking01did you know you can buy bacon here already chopped up? allumettes, they call them – matchsticks. fine with me, less work.

foyercooking02regardless of how well a country is known for its food… nothing, and i mean nothing, tops something you make yourself that comes out of a hot oven. is it possible for the phrase “freshly baked __________” to ever end in something bad? don’t think so.

foyercooking031 crust. 2 eggs. 200ml heavy cream. bacon. gruyere… that was AOC protected. salt. pepper. me eating something i made – heaven.

foyercooking04oh, and every sunday here at the foyer it’s family dinner, with a rotating theme. this week was my turn: tex-mex. well, faux tex-mex since i’ve never ever made tex-mex before… after all, why would I when i am surrounded by so many good restaurants?

and this is my tower of hand-made tortillas. but it wouldn’t have happened for all the helpers i had. large group of people cooking together for a big meal = something i treasure so, so, much. most people only get to do that for major holidays. but i get to do it every sunday with people from all over the world who i absolutely adore.

well, except for the 8 sundays in which i won’t be there thanks to the paid 8 weeks of vacation i have.

starting this week – toussaint! yay for toussaint vacation!

17 October 2009

two magazines and a book

lpndoesn’t this look innocent?

just two magazines (cooking related of course) and just a children’s book. it’s not very much.

but it’s going to grow. exponentially. my amazon.fr wishlist is already dangerously long. and books are the one thing that i don’t plan on throwing in the poubelle come may.

also, the number one thing that i refuse to leave france without: PH10 by pierre herme. it’s out of print. not to mention super expensive. but it will be mine. not sure how, but it is going to end up on a certain bookshelf in texas. promise.

and in other news, a little preview of what i did today…

chocthe salon du chocolate 2009. oh yes. a giant room. in paris. filled, and i do mean filled, with chocolate. soon.

11 October 2009

a staple plus a st honoré

bread01i’ve discovered my favorite bakery in evreux. it took me a while, sampling various baguettes, but once i found one that hit the spot, it sealed the deal.

and now, i’m exploring other breads sold by the boulangerie. like this one.

bread02the pavé campaillette. i wish i knew more about it, but all i can tell you that it tasted heavenly. soft. whit-ish. and as for the word campaillette – i can’t really find any information about it online either.

bread03i think they’re starting to recognize me as a regular at the bakery. so don’t worry – once i’m on their good side, i’ll be asking questions like crazy and i’ll be able to solve many mysteries. but for now, i’m just enjoying tasting it all while building up my reputation as the insanely happy girl who visits 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, times a week.

sthonore01i was also ready to buy a real pastry! one that requires me running home to photograph it before eating it. however, the box wasn’t shut completely, which i thought was odd, so i forced it down.

mistake.

sthonore02i squished my st. honoré!

sthonore03a squished pastry is still a delicious pastry. and with the right angles, it is still a beautiful pastry.

posted by cathy at 1:45 am… thank goodness she doesn’t have to be at work until 1:30pm!

soft really does mean soft

dough01 when you have an electric mixer, some things don’t really matter… like “softened” butter. before, as long as the butter wasn’t rock hard, the electric mixer made it nice and creamy for you without any trouble.

but when you only have a whisk, a wooden spoon, a spatula, and the muscles in your arm and hands… things are different.

“softened” butter is no longer “softened” butter but really does mean softened butter. that butter had better be room temperature and shiny and greasy and just like the consistency of a thick lotion.

i learned the hard way. one sore arm, an HOUR later, and a pate brisée later, i decided that for the next round i would stick the butter by a warm area to let it soften up.

and so making my pate sucrée was a breeze, as the butter was creamed in seconds and was a joy to work with. unlike the brisee where all i did was fight with it.

dough03but back to the brisée – the whole thing was a mess, starting with my not-soft-enough butter. like, how i finished making my dough, had it all wrapped and stacked… and realized i had forgotten an egg. rather than just let it go, my stubborn self added the egg back in at the very last step. the dough had a hard time absorbing any more liquid… so… we’ll see how this crust turns out. i’m sure it’ll taste fine, but i’m still going to make another batch, because i want to do it right.

but its okay – it was my first time baking in a month! plus it keeps me humble.

dough02and look at my dinky and wonderful scale. i would never ever try to bake without one. and note the milk – REAL, fresh milk. not this boxed stuff that so many french people like.

i am curious, though: 1) when baking, does it make a difference which milk you use, boxed or fresh? 2) patisseries/pastry chefs in france, do they used boxed or fresh? 2 i may never know, but for 1, i’ll be experimenting!

anyway, it goes to show, you can make something many times and think you know it very well… but take yourself out of your comfortable environment, (or stop for a few weeks) and it’s a whole new game! with new rules. and i’m more than happy to be playing.

peanutcheesePS: i went to the ocean again yesterday. i can’t get enough of it. 1 hour away from something so beautiful. and this time i pique-niqued with a few friends… with a lovely cheese… with no knife. BUT thankfully one of us had a necklace with a peanut that had a knife hidden in it. so we found a way to slice our cheese!

PPS: the cheese is brebis, made from sheep’s milk. heavenly taste. not-so-heavenly price. but worth it.

posted by cathy in evreux at 3:05pm on october 11th, 2009.

08 October 2009

don’t ever deprive yourself. ever.

reimsbiscuit01i am stupid and i thought i could ignore this very important rule about myself:

don’t deny yourself the things you like.

which would be: baking and cooking.

i can’t believe i thought i could live 8 months without touching an oven. or a stove. or a fridge. the tough part is that the kitchen is only open 12pm-1pm + 8:30pm-11:00pm on weekdays, and all day on weekends. i thought i’d be OK eating the cafeteria food during the week, and cooking occasionally on the weekends and eating out.

but. i can’t. believe. that. the. worst. food. i’ve. ever. had. in. my. life. has. been. in. france. because france is home of some of the best things i’ve ever tasted.

i knew i wasn’t going to like the cafeteria meat, but the vegetables… i didn’t think it was possible to mess it up. but when everything, and i mean everything, is canned… and then slathered with mystery creams and sauce… i crack. i can’t eat the meat, i can’t eat the veggies, what is left…?

my reasoning was that i didn’t want to buy things that i was going to trash in may, but at this point i don’t care. so very soon, i’m going to have a whisk, a spatula, a tart pan, a chef’s knife, a very cheap scale, a cutting board, a wooden spoon, a cooking pan…. just the basics. but enough for me to at least survive. my plan is to cook during lunch, then bring my delicious leftovers to the cafeteria for dinner. after all, not everyone is as picky as me and i refuse to abandon the social aspect. as bad as the food is, it at least brings people together.

even if it means less money for traveling around europe or buying books, i won’t be completely happy if i’m not eating things i make.

reimsbiscuit02in other news, i am a five minute walk from my favorite cookies in france, the biscuits rose de reims! much better than being a 10 hour $$$$$$$$ plane ride away. much better.

reimsbiscuit03and i have also finally set up my photo studio! which consists of… a sheet of paper, my desk, and a window. ta-dah! so now i can make pretty pictures of all the yummy things i’ll be making (and buying).

reimsbiscuit05the beautiful crumbs and powdered sugar of the cookies. how i love love them.

posted by cathy at 4:47 pm in evreux on 8 october 2009.

05 October 2009

unexpected hearts

i love finding untraditional hearts.

heart01 like this one, on a friend of a friend’s bookshelf way back in february, in austin of course.

heart02and this hook in evreux. i probably would have passed by it if not for the subtle shadow it made.

i find the heart symbol has been cheapened because it is so overused (and i’ll admit i abuse it as well). but every time i stumble upon it in a unique form, i have to make a photo. have to.

and i am seriously <3ing evreux and all the people i’m meeting.

01 October 2009

waiting

waiting01well, guess what! today is my first official day of my contract! and guess what i’m doing! …waiting. (and posting photos of from my daytrip to trouville-sur-mer and deauville)

that’s right, this job is for those who love waiting. if you are a strict on the schedule person, you might kill yourself. for example: apply in november, wait, notification of acceptance 6 months later in may, wait, notification of what city you’re in in june, wait, go to consulate in july, wait for your visa, wait, come to france, wait for your contact to contact you, wait to find out what school you’re at…wait. etc. but i love it. i’m not in a rush to do anything. i’ve got plenty of time.

so much today is instantaneous. poor poor waiting. he’s so abandoned. people like instant much better. i don’t blame them, the convenience is wonderful.

but, waiting is what makes life so much sweeter, stronger, and better.

waiting02like this. this is gorgeous. and now. but at 11am. 8pm is where the party is at. what does one do? wait.

waiting03and baguettes. wait for it to rest, for it to rise, for it to develop flavor, for it to bake… but never for it to cool. i don’t wait for that. i eat ASAP once its out of the oven. HOT WARM bread always, always wins over cold bread. no waiting there!

waiting04and. 9 hours later. for this. always, always, always, worth it. if i can, i try to never leave a place with an ocean until after the sun has set. because that glow gets me every time.

yay for “first day of work” !

posted by cathy at 5:41 pm in evreux on october 1st 2009, where she is waiting!