Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Homage to Mamie

Mother's Toll House cookies were famous. She didn't like chewy cookies. They had to be crunchy, buttery, and chock full of pecans and chocolate chips.
Pecans cost a fortune here, and the ones that we have are saved for when Pierre makes toffee. Fortunately, Pierre's brother brought us a 50 lb. bag of walnuts from his farm. We have oodles of walnuts. Being from Florida, Mother was adamant about using pecans. So, please forgive me Mother. I had to substitute with walnuts. Also, the chocolate chips here are little, but they are darker and taste really good, not to mention how good the butter is. So, I'm good to go.

Mother always used the original Toll House recipe that is on the bag of Nestle's chocolate chips.
Here is the link.É-TOLL-HOUSE-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies/detail.aspx
(You will probably have to cut & paste the link, as I don't seem to be able to make it a working link.)
Here are her three secrets, that are not in the recipe.
1. Cream the daylights out of the butter and sugars before adding the eggs and flour.
2. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.
3. Do not over cook the cookies.

We leave tomorrow morning to join Dominique and Christophe and his family for Christmas.
We hope everyone has a good weekend with safe travels and lots of good food and company!
♥ Rainey & Pierre

Monday, December 19, 2011

I was hoping that I could leave the extra pounds that I added while in Alsace in Alsace, but no, everything was attached. The food there is so good. We ate Baeckeoffe. This is an overnight mixture of meats, vegetables and wine, that is baked in a special clay pot. Pierre's nephew and his girlfriend (who is Alsacienne) prepared this for us! So tasty. We had Flammeküchen, a bit like a quiche with cream, bacon, onions, mushrooms and cheese. Choucroute, which is the best sauerkraut with pork and potatoes I ever tasted, and all washed down with the wonderful riesling and sylvaner wines and then followed by just a bit of Munster cheese. I rest my case.

Our drive took 5 hours. Not a long drive by US standards, but long enough. The nice thing about the interstate highways here, is that there are some really good restaurants that are a part of the interstate system. We stopped near Bresse at a cafeteria. The only time I have had better cafeteria food was at Morrison's in downtown Sarasota, in the 1950's.

Pierre's sister was with us. She had been to Alsace many times with her late husband, so we let her guide us. This was a good thing. All of the little villages (one as pretty as the other), make for lots of little turns and ways to get lost. We found our way, and then were able to spend a weekend en famille that we all enjoyed.

Since one of the reasons for going at this time of year, was to see the Christmas markets, we went to Colmar one day and then Kaysersberg the next. Colmar is a city, whereas Kaysersberg is a village, but both were over-run with tourists. There were giant buses from all over Europe. Fortunately, we were early enough in Colmar to avoid the real crush. We found a cute little café for lunch and got away before the afternoon crowds.

Kaysersberg was just plain crowded. But, we were able to find Francis Loewert. Francis had come to Tallahassee to visit us and to share his recipes with Pierre at Chez Pierre. His pastry shop is called... Au Péché Mignon! Ethan Kromhout, our pasty chef at CP in the 1980's, had gone to Kaysersberg to work with Francis and learn more about the Alsatian pastries. When we sold CP, Ethan opened his own pastry shop and called it Au Péché Mignon. The Brie au Kirsch, Tutti Frutti, and the Apple Quiche, were all recipes from Francis. Tallahassee folks know Au Péché Mignon well, as it is still a very popular place.

I was hoping to get a Kugelhopf at the pastry shop, but they were sold out and wouldn't have more until 5pm. It was 4pm and well, we had more wine tasting to do in the next village. So, next time Francis!

Here is a link to all of the photos

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We drove to Italy the beginning of September to meet friends and stay on a farm in Tuscany. To be brief... we ate, we drank and we had a wonderful time! Photo left shows us with our friends from Tallahassee, David and Frances Folsom.
We stayed 2 nights in La Spezia and took the train to the Cinque Terra for one day. It rained, but we still were able to see a lot of the old villages, eat a good lunch, and make it back to La Spezia for pizza that night. The rain stopped, so we took the boat from Riomaggiore to Manarolo, and Monterossa. So beautiful.

Next day we drove to the farm with a lunch-time visit to Lucca. Pierre speaks enough Italian to ask a local where to eat, and found a very good restaurant called Leo's (or something like that). I had one of the best pasta dishes I've ever eaten. David had the best soup. It is all about the food. And, Lucca is really lovely!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Update on Dominique and Spring in Masmolène

So here is a photo of Dominique at 6 1/2 months. She seriously looks like she swallowed a basketball. She has been really good about eating well... not too hard here, in France, I have to say. Lots of good yogurts and cheeses to chose from, not to mention that they subscribe to a vegetable basket program, where they are able to buy a basket of fresh, local vegetables every week. I think lots of communities in the US and France are doing this. Everyone should take advantage of these programs. Not only are the veggies really good, but you are supporting local farmers and gardeners.

We were in Florida for a few weeks. The weather was really nice, and we so enjoyed seeing and visiting with everyone. When we left, it was warming up and I was afraid that we would miss the wisteria bloom, but when we got back it was the first thing to greet us!

We are anxiously awaiting our first visitors. I do hope the weather holds, and especially the evening light. The sky has been clear in the afternoon and when the sun starts to set, the light reflects on the stone of the buildings and against the blue, blue sky, it is sort of magic. After all, we do know that so many painters came here for the light. They were smart, and they knew where they wanted to be. Me too.

This is our lemon tree. We planted it in the old stone sink that used to be upstairs. When we had the bathroom added, the stone mason that did the work, found the sink under a bunch of stones and saved it. It took several men to haul it down to the courtyard. I always think of Angelo Belano when I look at this sink. He was a person who appreciated beautiful things. A lesser man would have broken the thing into bits and never told us that it existed. Now, this beautiful, ancient piece, where a woman washed dishes and clothes (so hard to imagine!) is admired daily, and is home to an Italian lemon tree that is full of delicious lemons! I think we should call them Angelos.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gordes, girlfriends, and a baby girl!

Our big news is that Dominique is having a girl! This is very exciting for a couple of reasons. One, I am partial to little girls. Two the French baby clothes for girls are beautiful. They're also really expensive, so I may regret being so excited about it being a girl, but I doubt it.

Dominique and a girlfriend were here this past week for a short visit and so we decided to take a ride on Monday to visit the town of Gordes. This is one of the classic hilltop towns in Provence. The one that every tour visits. Good reason too. It is simply beautiful! Lucky for us, we are not far away and can go in off-season. We wandered slowly and were able to take in all of the details with no one else about. For example, look at the door below. It looks like a shadow, but the door is shaped like that to fit the rocks!

We had lunch at a cute little restaurant called Cannelle. It is small, bright and right in the middle of the village. for 15 Euros each we had salad, vegetable tart, dessert and a glass of local rosé. Delicious!

Sorry, I don't know how to put labels on the photos, but you can figure out which is which. ♥

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blog Slacker

I saw this term recently on my friend Christin's blog. She has an excuse. A baby. I have none, except that I am lazy. The thing is, that I live so far away from so many friends and relatives, that this seems the best way to keep in touch. So, here I go again. The goal is short entries, about everyday life, and to stay in touch, because I really do love and miss a lot of people! Don't get me wrong, I love my live here and wouldn't change it for anything. I just love and miss a lot people too.

The pale winter sun is shining on the mimosas that Pierre bought me for Valentine's Day. There were roses too, but they didn't last. Such a sweet man!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring has arrived and the leaves and buds are popping out everywhere! Oh, it feels so good. Last Saturday at the market in Uzès, it was still cold and everyone had jackets and scarves on, but the vegetables were so colorful, and the flowers beautiful. You could tell that Spring was just around the corner. There was quite a crowd of people, but mostly local. The tourist season starts in earnest next month. I'm enjoying being able to navigate the lanes in between the stalls without all of the extra people.
I stopped into a shop that has really pretty linens, and the shopkeeper told me that by Wednesday, I would be warm and thoroughly enrobed in Spring. It came a day early. No problem. I walked into the shop speaking French, but he heard my accent and started speaking English. Before he and his wife opened their shop, he sailed for the French team in the America's Cup and they spent nine months in San Diego. With my accent and bad grammar, I sound like every parody you have ever heard. Inspector Clouseau in reverse?

Just a quick note about the olive merchants. The assortment of olives is quite simply "To die for!". I happen to adore olives, so this stand is always a temptation, in that I want to buy some of every kind. They also have an excellent selection of dried fruit, garlic and dried cod. Among other things, the dried cod is used to make the local delicacy called Brandade. This is a spread made with the cod, olive oil, crème fraîche, garlic and potatoes. You serve it on croutons as an appetizer or to accompany a salad for lunch. Really, really good!

Yesterday (Monday), I went to the grocery store and while I was there found a display of geraniums. They were too tempting, so I bought two little plants and now have our first flowers for Spring in the courtyard. Since Easter is not until April 4th, and as I have always been advised not to plant much before Easter, I am being cautious. This climate is new territory for me, but who can resist one or two little geraniums?