Monday, November 26, 2012


Today's blog post is a photo video. Because a photo is worth more than my meager words and the music of the Indigo Girls completes the story.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome to the French Culinary Institute of Our House

Who doesn't like yeasty, fried dough covered in powdered sugar? No one. So Fiona and I decided to make beignets, the glorified doughnut of the French. Here's the recipe, which we followed almost EXACTLY.

1. Pour one cup of warm milk in a large bowl.
 2. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons of powdered yeast, and 1 tablespoon of flour.
Fiona learned how to correctly measure dry ingredients from Laura. Obviously.
 3. Once the yeast starts to bubble up, add in 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, 4 cups of flour (we used 3 cups of all-purpose and 1 cup of whole wheat), and just under 1/2 cup of sugar. I always use less sugar than any given recipe calls for. Mostly because I enjoy breaking the rules.

Mix well and knead for five minutes. Eight-year-old daughters are really good at kneading beignet dough.

Don't you just want to kiss it? Or is that weird? Never mind.
 It's supposed to then be refrigerated for 6-8 hours. We just left ours in the fridge overnight.
4. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 2 inch squares. Let rise for about an hour.
Laura did this step. You can tell, can't you?
5. Fry the dough in canola oil.
 6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This photo makes me laugh, not only because of Fiona and Laura's shenanigans, but because Cyd, in the background, is LICKING THE COUNTER!
On Saturday, I made an old favorite, the decadent Croque Monsieur. I can't tell you for sure if this is really an authentic French recipe, but it was tasty. When we had this sandwich as kids, in France, it was basically a grilled ham and Swiss sandwich, with extra Swiss cheese on the top that was then broiled. This recipe includes a béchamel sauce, so it's obviously superior.

If you want to make this yourself, you may want to google a real recipe, because this one is, well, vague and unscientific. Here is how I think it went down.

1. Make a roux. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk for a couple of minutes.

2. Add 2 cups of milk and whisk until thickened.
2. Add 1 cup of Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Heat until melted and season to taste.

Voila, your béchamel is done.

3. Spread some Dijon mustard on bread. I used the sandwich bread we had, but in real French life, you should use some heartier, better bread, like brioche, or something similar. I'm not perfect, people.
4. Add sliced ham and Gruyère to your sandwich.
5. Fry it up in some more butter. (Hi, Julia.)
6. Top with additional cheese.
7. And then ladle on the béchamel sauce.
8. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.  Then, stick it under the broiler until brown.
Hello, holy cheesy goodness. 

And now, don't mind me as I dump some photos from this weekend that have nothing to do with French food. 

I loved how the light was coming in at that moment. 

So I kinda made everyone pass through the light so I could capture them. They humored me, because they're nice.

It's too early to be roasting chestnuts. Most of them were rock solid, not even ripe enough to eat. Dammit.

Oh, and I also made a delicious and very easy leek and asparagus soup, topped with goat cheese. But you're tired of reading recipes. I can see it in your eyes. Allow me this, at least:


Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Post is Mostly Gluten Free

 I would like to live in a cabin, full time. This one, at the KOA campgrounds in South Bend, had two sets of bunk beds, a small desk, and a separate room with a queen bed. It would have been perfect, if only it had a bathroom and, while we're dreaming, a kitchen.
 Laura was in charge of the web spookification (it's a word) of the cabin, because she was the tallest. And, let's face it, the bravest.

This is one of my favorite photos of Fiona and her friend:
 Carving pumpkins is fun, but the gutting of them is for the damn birds. Seriously. I would feel better about the whole thing if we actually cooked and ate the pumpkin when we were done with it. But we're not Martha Stewart, nor do we live in a commune where these things are expected. In past years, we have at least roasted the pumpkin seeds. This year we had no indoor plumbing, much less a stove, so we're absolved in full.
Wonder Woman. Classic Pumpkin. Groovy Witch. Spongebob Square Mouth.

This was taken on the actual day of Halloween. Cyd ditched the zombie costume in favor of the princess. 
I don't feel like I've truly blogged unless I've posted a photo of food. And who doesn't love potatoes. Also, they're gluten free.

I've learned that my blog gets discovered by people searching for gluten free recipes. This is the number ONE way random strangers find my blog. And I don't even know what gluten free actually means. But if you're interested, you can click here for the only genuinely gluten free recipe I've ever posted.

Other search keywords for this blog: "happy clothes" and "what goes with French onion soup". Now these make sense. 

Peace out.