DINNER AT MY LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

FALLS IN LOVE WITH PARIS ALL OVER AGAIN

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I have a little house in Paris.

The door opens onto a quiet street.

Around the corner an old bookstore.  A  thousand stories tumble from the shelves  into my waiting hands.

There’s a tiny bistro resplendent with a zinc bar.  And a blackboard chalked with splendid anticipation.

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I have a little house in Paris with a courtyard.

Fragrant thyme grows round my door.

Tall windows overlook the courtyard.

There’s rusty metal table and two battered chairs,

Nothing is perfect here.

Everything is perfect here.

 

 

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 Grinning wolves spill water into a stone trough.

 Romulus and Remus.

Guarding  my courtyard.  Guarding my dreams

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I have a house in Paris.

Where enfilade rooms lead quietly into each other.

And ancient wood floors whisper the passing of bygone footsteps.

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In the kitchen surrounded by gleaming pots

and ancient cutting boards

I sauté  lamb and sausages.

Simmer Tarbais beans to a silky softness.

Crisp the golden duck confit.

The cassoulet bakes.

I break the crust again and then again.

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I’ve shined the silver.

Ironed the linen.

Polished the floors.

Edith Piaf fills my little house with songs of love.

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I brush the silver dust of Paris from the balcony railing.

It is that suspended moment in time.

Not day.  Not night.

Twilight.

I lean out.

Far out.

I can see my Monsieur Tinny and beloved Theadora dancing down the tree-lined boulevard.

We will raise our glasses.

Tonight we celebrate our love of Paris.

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LIVING WITH JOYOUS MEMORY . . . SOUVENIRS OF OUR CHILDHOOD

She safeguarded memories.  Behind glass.    Away from curious fingers.  Inquisitive questions.    Beloved treasures.  Souvenirs of her childhood.

An old letter.  Dolls worn with love.    Small bits and pieces of her life.

On the shelves she placed beloved objects.  Liberating the past.   They had sustained her.   She opened her heart and shared  her soul.  This is my poetry.  These are my day dreams.

Embrace these simple pleasures.  These happy, bitter-sweet  memories.   This joyous parade  will follow me to the end of my life.

 

 

AMARETTI COOKIES . . . wickedly wonderful classic Italian cookies

An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude.    It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness,   heady with the perfume of almonds,  perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness.

Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked cookie one encounters in North America.   This Italian confection dates as far back as the 1700s, and is ancestor of the ubiquitous French macaron.   It is a cookie equally at ease with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of sparkling Prosecco.

Amaretti cookies  have the same almond base and deliciously chewy texture of a French macaron, but unlike the macaron it is a snap to make.  One simply whips up egg whites, folds in sugar and ground almonds and rolls the morsels in sugar.  There’s very much a Christmas feel about amaretti cookies.    They are so decadently,  deliciously different.

Don’t wait for Christmas to bake these cookies.  This is stoned fruit season, and these cookies are a marriage made in heaven when you serve them with home-made peach ice cream.    My favorite bakery in Toronto, BOBBETTE & B ELLE,  introduced me to these glorious cookies.

The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

 

TREAD SOFTLY ON MY DREAMS

 

“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

William Butler Yeats wrote these words in 1889.  Every day I follow the dreams of Miss Celi of THE KITCHENS GARDEN blog.    Her words had  me searching through the third poetry volume of The Wind Among the Reed.  This is a dreadful day with the images of Barcelona  refusing to leave ones mind.  We need all the light and all the dreams we can gather and we need to share them with all humanity.

 

MADEMOISELLE . . . COCO CHANEL AND THE PULSE OF HISTORY

 

 

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In 1955 I discovered Vogue Magazine.   An elegant, exotic, exciting and completely new world spilled from the pages.

The one shoe store in our small town sold shoes in two colours – black and brown.  White shoes for nurses.  Clothing came in three styles – practical, matronly and Eaton’s catalog. I was young.  I wanted more.    I devoured Vogue.  I discovered Coco Chanel.

 

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My clothing budget was meager.

I raided Woolworth’s Five and Dime  for strands of pearls.

I bought men’s tortoise shell frames for my eye glasses

 

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I sewed white collars and cuffs onto my dark suits and black dresses.

And insanely and extravagantly  I spent a weeks salary on a bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume.

All because of Coco Chanel!

 

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MADEMOISELLE    COCO CHANEL  and the pulse of history  by Rhonda K. Garelick is a riveting biography of one of the most fascinating woman of the 20th century.

If you admire Chanel.  Love fashion.  Adore Paris – then dive into this book for interesting new information about this woman who created a global icon – CHANEL NO 5.

 

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This book is an intriguing  glimpse into the life of Chanel – warts and all.  If you find the tales of  Chanel reinventing herself repetitious – ignore them!   If the amount of words overwhelm you – skip a few pages.  If you feel the photographs are too small – be clever and Goggle image of some of the men in her life.  You’ll be rewarded with dozens of photographs  of Boy Capel, Igo Stravinsky, Grand Duke Dmitri, Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster and poet Pierre Reverdy.

 

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Chanel transformed forever the way we dress.   The little black dresses, flat shoes, elaborate costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, jersey knits.    She took women out of strait jacket corsets and put them into everything from evening dresses and her classic boucle suits to “boyfriend’s” clothes, fisherman’s sweaters and sailor pants. Today you see these fashions on  women of every age and every background.

 

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I continue my ongoing and long love affair with all things Chanel.   Because of Chanel I fell in love with Paris and all things French.  In my garden  Camellias are blooming.   White Camellias  – Coco Chanel’s favorite flower.

 

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SUMMER IN A DISH … ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN

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All through the long and glorious summer the garden  rewarded us with glorious vegetables.  I  walk from the kitchen across a long stretch of grass and into the garden.  It is another world  –  this world of vegetables going quietly about their business of growing.   Italian basil, Thai basil and parsley encircle the garden.  No matter where I am in the garden I brush against these fragrant herbs as I harvest vegetables.  My basket is filled with prickly zucchini and brilliant coloured rainbow Swiss chard.  They will be the starring ingredients of the most delicious, refined and positively addictive vegetable gratin.

Zucchini and Swiss chard gratin  takes the ubiquitous zucchini and the humble Swiss chard to new heights.  Seasoned with onion, paprika and garlic.    Enriched with Parmesan cheese, eggs and tart sour cream .  Topped with buttery bread crumbs and fresh parsley this gratin is paradise in a dish.   Served as  a  main course or as a side dish with  roast chicken  or pork it is summer perfection on a plate.

The very best of summer – ZUCCHINI AND SWISS CHARD GRATIN

THE MAGIC VEGETABLE … ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH FETA

I have a magic  zucchini factory in the garden.   One minute beautiful yellow flowers, then POOF, elegant slender zucchini.    One must lift the safe-guarding prickly leaves to be sure to find every zucchini.  Then you gather intoxicating handfuls of mint, dill and parsley.  It is these herbs that make this particular recipe for zucchini fritters so delicious.  Toss in some cubed feta cheese and you are away to the races.

Put small dollops of your zucchini mixture into the saute pan.  They are perfect for appetizers.  Serve them with a simple little dipping sauce of mayonnaise sparked with Sriracha sauce and thinned with a little white wine vinegar.

Or use a large amount of the mixtures for generous sized fritters perfect for a meal.    Garnish with a smattering of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling lemon zest and a little sea salt.  Add a simple tossed salad and you have the ultimate summer meal.

This taste of summer awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.