Sunday, April 13, 2014

Something that I really love but can't handle like I used to is milk. Could still manage yogurt and cheese, but in fairly limited quantities. Going out for an ice cream cone is done after a cost/benefit analysis on my part*.

Last Fall, all hell seemed to break loose stomach-wise; became too frightened to eat. First thing folks worried about, of course, was appendicitis. That ruled out, allergies were looked into - mainly celiac and soy. The Celiac was easy to determine; all it took was a blood test. A few days later, the doctor called me to let me know that I was okay in that regard. She then suggested that I lay off of all dairy and soy of all things.

Now, the dairy part I'd been dealing with for some time, so that wasn't a problem. Soy however: how to live without that? Soymilk's what I'd drink instead of regular milk. Miso's like peanut butter to me; soy sauce like ketchup. For crying out loud, Tofu was my staff of life. I could serve it for all three meals and have it for dessert. This was going to be tough**. Then I discovered almond milk, particularly the Diamond Brand stuff. What I like best is the unsweetened, low-fat, fortified with calcium kind; taken neat, it's got a nice, subtle, nutty flavor. Also seems to be a good, neutral taste for most recipes, sweet or savory.

Interestingly enough, had a hard time finding the same quality of almond milk when I returned to France. Everything I'd found was a.) more expensive b.) shot up with sugar c.) with nut : water proportions considerably inferior to what I'd gotten used to here. Found oat milk (of all things - labeling in the EU is not so clear as here, so it took a while to figure out where this came from. Thought the brand was Italian; turns out the contents are Swedish.). It's a pretty acceptable drink, but am not crazy about cooking results.

Back to the States again, found that my lovely almond milk nearly doubled in price.*** Since I ain't made of money, am trying to work this out. I consume about 1/2 as much of the almond milk as I'd like and have been trying to spoon a bit of regular yogurt or buttermilk on things from time to time. It's not been too bad. Still haven't touched the soy, and I really don't plan to. A visit to an emergency room last Winter in France (same pains, just worse) showed something interesting though not completely related to the GI and which could be influenced by the soy. We'll see; have to hit the doctor again soon.


* Is it good enough to make it worth the pain afterwards? There are relatively few places where this ends up being the case: Christina's in Inman, Dairy Queen because of its rarity here - love the soft serve dipped in their nuclear red flavored coating, a stand in Fort Mahon that still is allowed to serve treats from unpasteurized cream. Normally I'd be a bit iffy about that, but they're very clean and am sure that at the first case of Resort Town Diptheria, they'd close. Anyway, my favorite there is sea-salt caramel. The Frenchie likes mint.

** Particularly, too, because I found that if I got a good bit of soy in me in the weeks before my (ahem) time of the month, the PMS symptoms - migraines, cramps, a chest that felt like there were two Ridley Scott aliens just waiting to burst forth - would be vastly reduced. Even the depression symptoms went from, "just give up, Be" to, "sigh, and this too shall pass."

*** Not surprising, given the general rise in commodity prices, not to mention transport.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pancake Day.

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed today; knew that the only thing that'd help was bacon.  It being a Friday in Lent, that wasn't an option.  Decided that the second best solution would be something that I'd been craving a lot lately, but rarely indulge in:  Pancakes.

Took a look in the largely paleo-prejudiced larder to see what I could scrounge up to make something more cakey than omelette - y.  Adopted, Adapted, and, if I do say so myself, seriously Improved upon the classic Joy-Of standby:

1/4 c spelt flour
1/2 c almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1Tbs honey
2 eggs
1/2 c butter milk

Combine spelt, almond meal, salt, baking powder.  In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, honey.
Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix together until smooth.  (You'll note that the batter is pretty liquid; this is okay).

Spoon the batter in your desired pancake-sized dollops onto a greased skillet.  When you see bubbles formed all over the cakes, flip carefully, then continue cooking until the down side is lightly browned.

These turned out thin like crepes, but more substantial.  The combination of spelt, almond, honey and buttermilk was wonderfully tasty.  Though I could have eaten them plain, knew that the the day was going to require some serious lily-gilding.  Ended up with butter, some of last Summer's peach jam, a handful of blueberries and a dollop of sour cream.

This was a pretty hefty portion for one.  Downed it all and called it Brunch.  Would make a good, lighter meal for two, with the inclusion of something like bacon and more fruit.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Knitted Hug.

Would that I'd not have broken my nose four times over the course of my life (eyeglasses will never set straight). Would that I could find a decent haircut here at < $75. Would that I'd stop looking so sad when I was actually pretty happy.

This said: had to show the front view of my gorgeous new shawl / shrug / sweater thingy.

It appears as though there'll be plenty of time to get some use out of it, as, gosh, it's darn cold out.

This was what was to be my Birthday / Valentine's Day present to myself this year. The darn thing's huge, with a wingspan of something like 8', so decided to tie it in back to wear like a Scandinavian heart warmer shawl.

Warm and Soothing.

Are there usually aren't leftovers from Pizza Night, I don't often have the joy of partaking in a warmed-over or even cold slice for breakfast. 

Was so glad to have this bit waiting for me in the fridge. It really helped change my attitude after a sort of challenging start to the day.

-Crust: spelt / buckwheat / flax
-Toppings: mousse of last Fall's jack o lantern (to which I added cream, butter, an egg), bacon, cheddar, canned tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, olive oil. A liberal sprinkling of the proverbial 'parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.'
Had a glass of an Unpretentious Red with it last night. Found out this morning that a good, milky chai also goes well.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I need to put this recipe up, because I get so many compliments on the finished product (and the online recipe seems to have disappeared).

Clementine Marmalade

2 cups thin strips of clementine peels
4 cups cold water
Pulp and juice of 8-10 clementines
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups boiling water
3 cups granulated sugar

In a heavy saucepan, combine clementine peel and cold water.  Bring to a simmer, covered, over moderate heat.  Continue to simmer until peel is tender (about 30 min); drain thoroughly.  Remove seeds and white membrane from peeled fruit; dice fruit.

To prepare marmalade:  combine cooked peel, diced fruit, lemon juice and boiling water.  Add sugar and blend thoroughly.  Quickly bring to a boil and cook until mixture is thick and reaches 220 deg F on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat, skim off foam, and ladle into hot sterilized jars.

(Process if you feel the need to.  Have never bothered with this, myself.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fallow fingers were feeling The Itch after a few weeks of inactivity, so decided to see, per a conversation with a friend who is a talented quilter, what would happen if I attempted to knit a quilt block.

Am more of a fan of lace than colorwork (stranded or otherwise), so decided to use that as my starting point.  Searched out an appropriate pattern as didn't much feel like 'reinventing the wheel,' then just let the fingers get busy.
  Cornus Kousa.

 Using Lion's Fishermen's Wool on size 9 (5.5 mm) needles, knitted this up to a 20" x 20" square after blocking.  Haven't decided how many more blocks will end up making (either 11, 15 or 19 more; we'll see.), though I do know who the finished piece is intended for. 

Am happy to have the hands moving again.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Fruit Salad à la française.

Friday, February 03, 2012


One of the reasons why I'm not out every day enjoying my ballon de rouge in a café along the Champs Elysées is that that's an awfully expensive pastime*. Another reason is that I'd most likely end up suffocating after about a week or two of this sort of thing given the state of my lungs and the air quality in The City. Some days are better than others and I've learned to look out the window to see if it's worthwhile to quit the digs in suburbia and possibly paint the town red (or, in my case, something secondary like a muted purple or orange).

Was having a pretty good run of things breathing-wise up until last weekend.

After a period of relatively clean, clear, slightly damp weather, things took a turn for the worse last Sunday morning. Actually woke myself up choking, despite the major doses of antihistamines I've been taking to calm the effects of some scary food reactions. Popped a pill, donned a dust mask, then waited for both the coffee to brew and the breathing passages to clear up. On heading over to market, noted this:

Keep in mind that, as the crow flies, the Eiffel Tower is 6.7 km/4 miles from where I took the picture and it was relatively dry out.

Ran my errands, headed home via the Back of the Hill (more trees and also, hopefully more sheltered from this), took it easy for the rest of the day.

Headed out in the evening, saw that the air had cleared somewhat and so profited from that.

Still a bit hazy, though a little afterwards a fog did roll in. The light from the beacon was reflecting off whatever particles were in the air.

The next few days followed in a fog, or a cloud of dust, or something. Concentrated on cleaning house, finding healthy stuff to eat that wouldn't close up my throat** and just breathing.

When I can, I get as far from The City as possible. Wooded areas are my preferred stomping grounds. Wooded areas with ponds or streams, even streams that have been covered over and run out of faucets, are my favorites.

View from the Parc de St-Cloud, approx 8 km or sixish miles from the Eiffel Tower. Note the well-defined layer of brown in the air. There was a nice breeze blowing from my back while I was facing The City. From here, my eyes and nose were running a lot and I did cough some, but wasn't having trouble breathing.

Today - more of the same.

Again, from Mont Valérien. Just beyond what I think is the Tour de la Porte Maillot is Sacre Coeur atop Monmartre. That's roughly six miles from the house. The Eiffel Tower is to the right of the edge of the picture.

From what the Frenchie tells me, this haze of pollution is going to last at least through the weekend, possibly longer. Will deal with it; I'm old hand at that sort of thing. Am wondering, though, if taking up smoking might not help strengthen me up some more.

* I can't even imagine how much a glass of red would cost at Foquet's. If I really want ambiance with my coup de pinard, I'll go to Rond Pont in the Cité. Love the headwaiter there; he's like Jacques Tati, only with a voice. Is totally on cue with my accent and anglicisms. I am (and no doubt many others are) going to miss him when he retires. Is kind of the soul of the place and, more in general, a living symbol of a Paris that is disappearing as time marches on.

** Another story for another time.