Wednesday, August 29, 2012

there's more than one way to skin a courgette

Whether you say zucchini or courgette, if you grow vegetables in the summer, there's a good chance that you end up with a bountiful crop of them, especially if you grow vegetables here in the South of France like Papa. 

Thanks to Papa's garden, I'm on my third summer of having more courgettes than I know what to do with. Every week Papa shows up at my door with a large basket of courgettes and I give him a glass of Rosé and try to suss out what I'm going to do with all of them.

The first summer of courgettes, I only knew one way to cook them, sauteed in olive oil with garlic and chili flakes and tossed with pasta. We ate that about three times a week (sorry Gregory).

And then I learned how to make Ratatouille, which originated here in Provence (obviously people here have been trying to figure out what do with all of the courgettes for like ever), but there is only so much Ratatouille a person can eat so this year I vowed to spread my courgette wings and this is how I did...

First there was Gwyneth Paltrow's Fried-Zucchini spaghetti, which was good, but just felt like a glorified version of the first courgette pasta I made so that woudn't do.


Then came the Chicken-Zucchini Alfredo and Zucchini Pasta Carbonara, but after awhile, all that pasta starts to taste the same, so I turned to soup, which normally doesn't go well with summer but the Curried Zucchini soup I made was awfully tasty, even though it was hot as hades out. (For the record, cold soups like Gazpacho freak me out, so don't even bother mentioning them... they're just plain wrong).

Inspired by the curry soup, I made Real Simple's Chicken & Courgette Curry, but that wasn't as much a curry as it was an essence of curry, so it was a bit blah and left me wanting.

And of course I tried Gratins de Courgettes and Zucchini Lasagna, but quickly learned that having the oven on in my small kitchen is not very clever during the dog days.

So then I changed tack, and sought out courgette nibbles... tasty little bites of courgette rather than full meals (I for one like making a meal out of tasty little bites)...

There was The Boot Blog's Baked Zucchini Chips which were easy and delicious too (but all of Marissa's recipes are delicious).

And inspired by the most mouthwatering beignets that I had at a restaurant here in The LPV, I discovered Martha Stewart's Zucchini Scallion Fritters (luckily Papa grows scallions as well). These were G O O D. But then, ever hopeful, I tried Martha's Zucchini-Potato Pancakes and was underwhelmed. The potato made them heavier without adding much flavor. F A I L. But it's OK, the Zucchini-Scallion Fritters are good enough to forgive Martha and her pancake indiscretion.


Basically, this is what I've been doing this summer. Other than the occassional BBQ, and random Le Petit Village adventure, I've been in my kitchen cooking courgettes. It's all been rather dull.

So pray tell, what did you do with your courgettes?

(or your zucchinis?)

P.S. All of the recipes featured can be found on my Pinterest boards, Delish Dish and Butta la Pasta

Sunday, August 26, 2012

French Wine, French Rugby, French Frogs

++ Gatz came for dinner on Friday. If there's one thing I like about Gatz, it's this; before he comes over, he always asks what I'm cooking and then pops into le bar au vin, and has The Sommelier pick out the wine. This time he brought a  South African Chenin Blanc for l'apéro, and a Côtes du Rhône for dinner. Well done Gatz, well done.  

++ The Chenin Blanc was the first South African wine I've had since living in France. France is all about their French wines so it can even be difficult to find Italian and Spanish wines here, let alone anything South African, Australian or Chilean (Not that I'm complaining on that one. Chilean wines are not my favorite.... yuckity yuck yuck). 

++ After dinner, The Husband and I participated in one of our favorite activities... teasing Gatz. This time it was all about his middle names (in France you usually get two). Gatz's middle name is, Jean-Pierre Roger. There's a lot going on there and since Roger in France really sounds like, Rogier, the whole thing kind of rhymes. The Husband and I happen to find this hysterical (Gatz not so much). Say it with me: JEAN-PIERRE ROGIER... see it rhymes!

++ France's Top 14 rugby is back and I couldn't be more thrilled. It's filling that void that I've been feeling since the Olympics finished and plus, I really like rugby. So far Mr. London and Toulon have won their first two matches, but my beloved ASM Clermont lost their second match and I am none too pleased.

++ Saturday night Papa's Wife made Soupe au Pistou from the vegetables in Papa's garden. After a particularily unhealthy afternoon stuffing myself with potato chips and beer while watching the Top 14, a bowl of vegetables was pretty much exactly what I needed.

++ However, what I certainly did not need was to come home and find this guy hanging out on the wall. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

because it's still yesterday in Texas

{last year}
This post isn't late. Nope, this post is right on time. Texas time. And since Miss Aidan is a Texan (an East Texan if one wants to be persnickety about it) then this is the exact right time.

It's Aidan's birthday. 

Oh, I'm sorry, could you not hear me?

It's Aidan's birthday. 

And unlike last year when we celebrated it in Avignon with Bec and Sarah B, and being the cheeky monkeys that we are, put numbered candles on Aidan's birthday cake and the poor girl turned fifty shades of pink and just about died, this year I decided to keep it a bit more low key with a birthday bumps post and not a single flaming number in sight.

So here goes.

Happy Birthday Aidan!

You're my partner in crime on this French journey, the Thelma to my Louise (or am I Thelma?) and life here wouldn't be nearly as much fun without you. So cheers to you darling girl and cheers to being another year wiser.

I want all of you to be friends with Aidan too. She's witty as all get out, spins fantastic tales of family life here in the South of France, is an amazing cook (sometimes she even shares some of her recipes on her blog... cocktail recipes too), makes a mean Mojito, and is really, really nice to boot.

See, don't you want to be friends with her? You can be if you pop over to Aidan's blog and wish her a happy birthday. Tell her I sent you.

Just please don't bring any flaming numbers with you.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blame it on Rio

If you're confused by that photo above, trust me, I understand. It's two guys; one in some sort of a tutu and one in a fuzzy pink vest (under the fuzzy pink vest was a gold lame bikini top that I was more than a little jealous of by the way) and they are playing beach volleyball. Because tutus and fuzzy pink vests are normal volleyball attire for men in The LPV. Obviously. 

Now that I've said 'beach volleyball' and 'The LPV' I'm thinking that maybe you've put two and two together and figured it out... Brazil Day!

Oui! Brazil Day!

The LPV loves that large country in the Southern Hemisphere so much that Brazil Day has become an annual affair (with Honey Jr. already talking about some big surprise for next year... oh the suspense!) and has even been exported to other villages

Unlike last year, Brazil Day was not setup in the middle of Le Petit Village's main street in front of Le Petit Bar. I guess the organizers (Honey Jr + Brother-in-Law) realized that soccer balls and volleyballs flying around tables with drinking glasses on them is not the smartest idea. This year the large pile of sand was dumped in the parking lot of the Mairie. So much room for activities (ten points if you can tell me what movie that is from). 

We (The Husband, Mr. London, Mrs. London, her brother, Fifty and me) arrived at 10:00am sharp because the invitation stated 10:00am. Silly us, we forgot we were in France. 

The festivities finally kicked off about 11:00am with the three on three football (soccer) tournament. 

There's Gatz's team. They did pretty well until they played The Husband's team (The Husband, Mr. London, and Mrs. London's brother). The Husband's team had lost their two previous matches due to practically being comatose on the pitch (I'm blaming the Honey wine from the night before and the three hours of sleep) and by the time they played Gatz's team, they had had enough of losing, so they played a bizarre mixture of soccer and rugby resulting in a win and a broken toe for The Husband (cheating does come with a price).

All the while that was going on, Mrs. London and I did what we do best, we sat in a corner, sipping Rosé, and gossiped. It's a talent.

We did manage to break away long enough for me to show Mrs. London around the original Le Petit Village.

Chapelle St. Christope
Nazi Ghost Zombie hideout

And you know what? 

I miss it. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

this is how I do it

It was a hot one this weekend, and not only in The LPV, all over France it was steaming. Even where Gregory's mother lives outside Clermont-Ferrand got hot, like 30+°C (90+°F) hot which practically never ever happens up there in her cool Thermal town. And here, it reached 35°C, which without AC is pretty unbearable. Besides sitting around in my old barn house misting myself with Evian Spray, this is what I got up to...

We popped over to Papa's house for dinner on Friday, I was trying to avoid turning on the stove and so was Papa's Wife, which meant a dinner of salads, jambon cru, and saucisson sec. Want to know the great thing about light dinners like that? They go perfectly with Rosé. But the thing is, it's so hot that it's really hard to keep your glass chilled, even with an ice cube or two plonked in it, but Papa has found a way, he has started drinking his out of the insulated Texas Longhorn tumbler I brought him back from Texas last year. That's right, he is drinking his wine out of a tumbler. Homeboy is not messing around.


Dinner was topped off with Häagen-Dazs créme brulée ice cream which is much more practical during a heatwave than real créme brulée and it's oh so delicious.

Since I still didn't feel like cooking on Saturday night, Gregory and I decided that we'd go out for dinner... alone (it's a rare treat to be sans Gatz, sans Honey Jr, sans tout le monde). And then we decided to make it special. Remember when I told you that I won €100 from 52 Martinis for a night out? Well we decided to make Saturday night our night out and return to Auberge Pierry; the restaurant that Gregory took me three years ago, on the last night of my holiday here when I stilled lived in Dublin. I've always wanted to go back, but for one reason or another, we just haven't, but I've spent lots of time dreaming about eating that creamy garlic escargot in puff pastry under the fairy light lit trees again.

All smiles and joyful anticipation, we headed back to the restaurant of happy memories... except it had changed (of course it had), the fairy lights were no more, the pebbled ground had been replaced by a wooden deck, and I'm pretty sure that the chef had been replaced too... no creamy garlic escargot in puff pastry for Sara Louise.

But, two good things did come out of our disappointment. 1) we realized that we were simply happy to be out on a date alone together without the entourage even if the food was a bit blah and 2) because it was oh so blah, there is no way I'm counting it as my 52 Martinis night, so we'll just have to go out again. Bonus.

Clearly in the mist of some sort of psychotic break, I woke up Sunday morning deciding that I should bake something while France was in the middle of a heatwave and living in a house with no AC. Papa had given me a basket full of mirabelle plums that were just dying to be turned into a clafoutis aux mirabelles, so I obliged. 

(When looking at the 'after' picture above, please keep two things in mind; 1) it was my very first clafoutis, and even though Gregory asked me, "is it finished cooking?" after his first bite, it was delicious, and 2) I am a terrible photographer.)

Since I baked something in a heatwave, I thought I deserved a little treat, and that treat was Fifty Shades of Grey. I read it all day yesterday and finished it. There is so much to say about this book - let's discuss... it's utter crap, but totally addicting like McDonald's and I've already downloaded Fifty Shades Darker, but I swear if I have to read the words, 'inner goddess' one more time, I'm going to punish Anastasia myself. Also, Christian Grey reminds me so much of an ex-boyfriend (minus the Red Room of Pain... please get your head out of the gutter), it's disturbing.

And since I finished the addictive trash that is Fifty Shades of Grey, and had quite enough of Anastasia's inner goddess for the day, we watched The Intouchables.

And I think you should too.

You may thank me later. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

lickity split

++ That's Fifty's nemesis sitting on the window ledge all high and mighty. I'm not a fan either, but I do admire his balance.

++ Brazil Day was on Wednesday. I'm sure you're thinking... wait a second, wasn't Brazil Day a month ago... and you'd be right, it was, but that last Brazil Day wasn't in The LPV, it was in The IBTWV. This one was back in the original Le Petit Village and not only were all of your favorite villagers there (Brother-in-Law, Child Bride, Honey Jr... ) but Mr. & Mrs London drove up from Toulon. It was so good I could sleep for days. And so good that The Husband broke his toe. That's right, broke his toe. It's not a party until someone suffers an injury. That's what I always say.

++ You've probably noticed that even though I outed The Husband and told you that his name is Gregory, I've gone back to writing, 'The Husband'. But I'm not necessarily going to do that all the time. Sometimes I like typing The Husband, and sometimes I like typing, Gregory. I'm fickle like that. Please bare with me.

++ Fifty has had the best week of his life. Not only did he learn how to swim last weekend, but this week he has been driven around in Mrs. London's convertible (riding shotgun no less), and got to cuddle up and take a nap with Honey's Honey. Life has been good for our furry friend, but it could have been even better...

++ Last Sunday morning at Aidan's house, I woke up to a loud bang. Clementine had burst through the guest bedroom door to breakout Fifty. Before I could get out of bed, the two of them ran out (with Fifty giving me a sad look that I'm pretty sure was a goodbye) and sprinted upstairs. I scrambled out of bed and caught up to them just as they reached the terrace. I think they were planning on jumping off of it and making a break for ol' Mexico (err... I mean Spain).

++ Thanks to receiving the most tattered copy of it ever from Mrs. London, I'm finally about to start reading Fifty Shades of Grey and finding out what all of the naughty fuss is about.

So have you read it? 

Should I be fussed? 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

my perfect summer saturday

If I was to create my perfect summer Saturday, it would begin with coffee on a sunny terrace under a clear blue sky before sitting down to a big family breakfast. Lots of eggs, lots of sausage and lots of laughter (it might also include cheeky Bloody Marys while we were making the big family breakfast).

My perfect summer Saturday would be spent outside by the pool, listening to silly giggles, water splashing,  and seeing The Husband under siege. 

Fifty would learn how to swim on my perfect summer Saturday. He'd follow the children around and Aidan's golden Clementine, trying to do what she did, while his big front paws splashed hard into the water.

(However my perfect summer Saturday would not include Fifty puncturing the children's basketball with his teeth and then tearing it to shreds.)

Human totem poles are part of my perfect summer Saturday.... the higher the better. 

My perfect summer Saturday would end with a barbecue and a Caprese salad made with homegrown tomatoes from Papa's garden. We'd stay outside on the terrace while we watched the Olympics through the opened french doors into the living room so we could feel the nighttime breeze. 

And maybe, just maybe, my perfect summer Saturday would occur at the same time as a meteor shower, so while I watched Olympian stars on TV, I'd get to see some real stars shoot across the sky and I'd make a wish or two.

And if my shooting star wishes were to come true, then I'll have lots more perfect summer Saturdays with Aidan

(and mojitos too)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

teddy bear

This is Teddy Riner.

Or, Teddy Pierre-Marie Riner if you want to be fancy about it.

Teddy is French (as if that Pierre-Marie bit didn't give it away) and he is a judo champ. He won the Olympic gold medal in the +100kg category. He was in the +100kg category because he weighs 128kgs (that's 280lbs!) and he's 6'8".

Teddy is not petit. He's like a walking jungle gym.

But he's awesome. And super duper cute. And I have a little crush on him.

That's all I wanted to say today.

Oh, one more thing, according to adidas, "before committing to judo, he tried his hand at modern jazz dancing".

*jazz hands*


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

one does tend to waffle on

++ Remember when I didn't bring my camera to La Petite's Baptême? Well looky here, I managed to score this one photo. For the record, neither I, nor Papa's Wife have any idea what the thing on La Petite's head was all about. That was all Child Bride

++ Friday night I had a dinner date with Papa's Wife. It should have been with Gregory and Papa too but they were MIA (at Le Petit Bar with Brother-in-Law, The Farmer, and Honey Jr). But without the men hogging the conversation, I got to learn all sorts of nifty things about Papa's Wife. For example, she was born in Casablanca. Casablanca! Who knew? (not me obviously) A little tidbit about her that maybe I'd never find out with the other two chatterboxes there. Plus, we had all of the Caprese Salad to ourselves. It was a win win.

++ A teeny tiny mouse scurried across my living room floor the other morning totally freaking me out. But while I was freaking out, Fifty was scared witless and hiding under the stairs. That's right, he was hiding. So I got to shoo the mouse out of the house by myself, without any help from him. Have you ever seen a 70lb dog hiding from a mouse? Well if you haven't, I can assure you, it's quite embarrassing.

++ Saturday I met Mrs. London in Aix for our usual Rosé sipping and Zara shopping. It also happened to be the very last day of  L E S  S O L D E S  so it would have been rude if I didn't treat myself to at least a little something, and that little something was this top.

++ It's celebration time here at chez nous. Something wonderful has happened. The brilliant blog 52 Martinis hosted a contest where the winner would win €100 for an evening of cocktails. Guess who one... ME! I won! I'm a winner! After a summer speckled with bad juju, winning this contest feels like that silver lining is finally shining through and let me tell you, it feels really good.

++ In a little over five weeks, my mother and three of her friends will be arriving in Provence for a visit. I've been busy planning an itinerary wanting to make sure that they get to see everything that they absolutely must see while they're here (my mother says it's because I'm anal... thanks Mom). But of course, the must see list is all through my eyes. So what I want to know my friends is this... through your eyes, if you had a week in the south of France, what would your absolute must sees be?

Please and Thank You.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

do over

It's Brocante Day here in The LPV which basically means that all hell is about to break loose. While us locals tend to go into hiding (or flee for our lives), our streets will be overrun by the 75s (Parisians) the 78s (almost Parisians), Belgians, Swiss and the Dutch, all scouring the stalls for flea market finds (it's like a turf war).

This year, we'll be having lunch at Papa's house, Gregory is cooking (Lord have mercy). But normally when it's Brocante Day we like to get out of town.

And with that, I bring you this trip down memory lane: (originally posted Aug. 4, 2010)

{no parking}

Sunday was the annual flea market in Le Petit Village. Stalls lined the streets and at 7am, on my walk with Fifty, I saw the first arrival of the Brocante lovers. 

(A 7am Sunday arrival into Le Petit Village is hardcore, it's not like Le Petit Village is 'in the neighborhood'. We're kind of hidden on top of a mountain, tucked out of the way of everything else, and not the least bit convenient. These people really must love their Brocante.)

{lots and lots of cars}

{lots and lots of people}

By 10am, the village was packed. We knew that the only way to preserve our sanity was to get out of there. And wouldn't you know it, there was a perfect place for Brother-in-Law, Honey Jr, The Husband and me to go...

The Pastis party in OnglesWhat's that you say? Pastis party?! It's crazy talk, I know.

The Husband's hetero-life-partner, Gatz, practically lives at the bar that was hosting the party, so he was pretty insistent that we go. Not like we needed much arm twisting.

We arrived a little after noon. Gatz had been there for two hours marking his territory...

{reserved for Gatz}

The boy does love his Pastis. Look, I think he's actually trying to hug it...

{I heart Pastis}
Being more of the sensible, mature types, Brother-in-Law, Honey Jr, The Husband, and me abandoned the crazy Pastis induced shenanigans inside the bar and headed to a table outside to sample the other Provencal delicacy on offer; aioli.


This is a traditional, local dish of cod, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, and boiled eggs, topped off with aioli. I love aioli but if you eat it, don't plan on any kissing or close contact with other human beings for a few days.

And while we were enjoying our food (and warding off vampires with our breath) the crazy Pastis party people decided to form a conga line for our viewing pleasure...

{feeling hot hot hot}

When they were finished with the conga, they began to throw water on each other. Because that's what you do after you've been drinking Pastis all morning. 

Brother-in-Law and Honey Jr were not amused...

But you know what is amusing?

{Honey Jr and I like to dress alike}

cotton candy.


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