Monday, September 30, 2013

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

I've always wondered why pumpkins were associated with Halloween. Anyways, I was out shopping for my weekly vegetables and fruits today. Summer has passed and sadly so have the good peaches, nectarines, red tomatoes, and zucchini. Instead, I came across a display counter full of different varieties of squash. I touched a piece of pumpkin, then checked the calendar on my mobile - Sept. 30, exactly a month away from Halloween (October 31). That's when something in my head clicked. Just one of those ah-ha moments!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fresh Peas

Green Peas and I have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I like them, but most times I just hate them. I often hear people around me here talk about how good they are fresh, especially from their own garden. I've never had any in the Philippines and my first time was when I used to eat  lunch at AR and LU's last year. On that day, I told myself that it would be hard to go back to canned green peas from now on!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

It's always kinda bittersweet when I talk to an old friend. In the past 2 years, I've managed to meet and make new friends in France, but it's different. My old friends are people I grew up with, people who have seen me at my best, my worst, and everything in between, and there's always that attachment of home. I've accepted that it's gonna be a while before I go back to the Philippines and right here is my home now. But there is a....but. Talking to my good friend, JO, 3 days ago was like an air of familiarity in all this unfamiliarity around us. It brings back to mind a lot of good moments, because to me in the long run I tend to forget whatever negativity has happened. It can be toxic to hold on to the past, but I also think that once in a while it's good to be reminded of where you came from, what molded you, and who affected you. JO, is a friend that is incomparable. She's truly unique in her own beautiful way and a citizen of the world. And after hours of talking of her, I can still recognize the girl-turned-woman that she is. So many things has happened to her in the past 5 years, but she still has that je ne sais quoi that I love about her!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Stuffed Mushrooms / Champignons Farcis

I've always loved reading books and magazines. When I was younger, I remember reading a book about a little boy. One day his mom packed him leftover Stuffed Mushrooms for his school lunch. The description of the mushrooms stuck and I found myself in our kitchen looking for a can of whole mushrooms. I was about 12 year old and was not as passionate about food although it did pique my curiosity at times. I took a button mushroom in my hand, took a closer look, and wondered to myself how could this be stuffed. Of course, at that time mushrooms to me were only button mushrooms and I was completely unaware that there were other varieties! In the years that passed, I'd find myself looking for fresh button mushrooms in the grocery stores in Cebu, Philippines, but the only kind I found were the canned ones. I started experimenting with the other kinds of mushroom I found - Oyster, Enoki, and Shiitake Mushrooms (click here, here, and here)- until one day, I just stopped thinking about Stuffed Mushrooms altogether. I thought that the cause was lost until yesterday when I found myself looking back at a bunch of big-sized button mushrooms at the store. I looked at the sign - Champignons a farcir / Mushrooms to stuff - and just like that, the book, the little boy, and his school lunch all came to mind. YES!!! Bingo!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blanquette de Dinde / French Turkey Stew

It's been 3 days since my last blog post and believe it or not, I am still sick!!! Although my runny nose has stopped, I have a terrible terrible cough that gives me the worst migraines. My migraines may have also worsen when I received news that my new job's training has been pushed to December. Ugh. Anyways, I am unable to even think about work right now. That'll bring me even more down. What I am most worried right now is that it seems Dad has been infected with the bug. I brought him straight to the doctors at the first signs and he is now under medication. With his fragile lungs, it could be deadly if left untreated. I am taking medications too, but I don't see many signs of improvement yet. I can honestly say that this is the worst that I've ever been sick because of the flu. Thankfully, MR is staying strong so he can relieve me of household chores and errands. But rain or shine, I am still taking care of our meals and today I made Blanquette de Dinde.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tete de Veau / Calf's Head

I prayed the good Lord that he transfer SO's ailment to me if he could. I would take it all, if he spared my daughter and He answered my prayers. SO woke up this morning, free of all. She had a slight fever last night, which we stayed up to monitor. But this morning, she was free like a bird and it showed in her face and movements. I, on the other hand, could barely go out of my bed. But like they say in show business, the show must go on. So it is with great reluctance that I cleaned the house today, took care of the chores, and even went out for grocery shopping. I could give up, but I tell myself I have 3 persons counting on me. Especially 2 who are entirely dependent on me - SO and Dad.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chicken Tinola, the Overseas Way

Atchooooooo......!!! Yes, I'm still sick. What's worse is SO is too! Boo. The past couple of days I asked her to refrain from coming in our room or to come too close to me. I tried to open our windows as much as possible to air out the virus, but the little rascal just wouldn't listen! Any chance she could she would stay glued to me, even surprising me with hugs and kisses! She's a really sweet kid, but now we are in the same boat with runny noses, sore throats, headaches, body aches, fatigue, and cough. She also had a slight fever last night, which we are monitoring. When you become a mother, I think nothing is worse then seeing your child sick. I've only experienced seeing SO with the flu and fever and it's already heartbreaking. I can't even begin to imagine any other ailment. *knock on wood* Naturally, we didn't bring her to her swimming class this morning. I, myself, wouldn't have been able to drive her there. All I wanted to do all day was lie in bed with my box of tissue beside me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Soup for the Sick

Unfortunately, my body has surrendered and I am officially sick!!!

It all started last Wednesday when I got rained on. I knew I would be sick with the stress combined, but I thought it would be over right away. It started with the usual sore throat, then runny nose, and finally horrible cough and just when I thought I was getting better, round 2 took off. Now, I am officially sick and will most likely take antibiotics. In the meantime, I decided to make myself my usual remedy - a soup that is known to pick me up and make me feel good instantly. My energy charger.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Roast Beef Sandwich

We were left with about half of the roast beef (click here for the post) yesterday. A dozen ideas of what to do with the leftover beef came to mind. But MR came to see me this afternoon and asked if I could prepare Roast Beef Sandwiches for dinner tonight. Sure, why not!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Green Beans with Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes

To go with the Roast Beef I prepared (click here for the post), I made Green Beans with Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes. This dish combines two of my favorite veggies and although I prefer popping Cherry Tomatoes in my mouth raw I thought I'd try eating them cooked for a change. Needless to say, nothing has changed and I prefer them raw. I find that they have more flavor. But it was good to try and I might even experiment to make the cold alternative version of this dish to make a delicious cold entree.

Roast Beef

Did I mention that SO went on a school field trip 2 days ago? Well she did and she had lots of fun! When she came home for lunch, she regaled us with fun stories. Oh it's such a joy to hear her talk and express herself! She's 5 years old, but there are times, because of her choice of words, that she sounds like she's much older. It's kinda bittersweet because I hate to think of her growing up so quickly, but I also can't wait for her to be independent and see the world through her eyes. But it reminds me of how fast time flies. It feels like it was only yesterday when I rocked her to sleep at night. Sadly, those days are long gone. *insert a deep sigh* These days, she goes on school field trips with friends, picking apples from trees in a farm, brings back 4 of them at home, and teasingly asks me if I can make her a delicious dessert with it. Hayyyy. *insert another deep sigh*

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Kitchen: Food Mill

School is in and so are the birthday parties. SO was invited to her first birthday party of the year today and she had a blast! It was a costume party and originally, she was going to go in her Snow White costume. But as I was going through our clothes,  I stumbled on a Filipino native dress that SO once wore for her school's Lingo ng Wika program in the Philippines. I asked her if she'd like to wear it as her costume today and she agreed. I'm probably bias, but I thought she was pretty cute! My little Donya. <3

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tarte aux Nectarines et Amandes / Nectarines and Almond Tart

Something bad happened in SO's school. It's a really crazy story! Apparently, a man who lives in front of the school went out of his apartment, extremely annoyed by the children's noise, arrogantly yelled at the teacher and threatened to harm the children! I told ya, it's a crazy story! The parents were really worried and so were we. So many stories came out and trust me, it's enough to give me chills! I wasn't sure if I would let SO go to school this afternoon until the situation resolved itself, but the teacher assured us that she wouldn't let the children go out of the rooms. Still, a lot of mothers let their children stay at home. I was fuming mad. I don't know how I stopped myself from going to the man and scratch his eyes out! When you rent a house/apartment that's right in front of a school, then inspect noise from the children, especially when they are playing in the courtyard. It's really infuriating. The police got involved, the town's mayor as well and for now, it seems like the situation has been stabilized. I hope it stays that way because it's really scary stuff to deal with. I never ever want to question my child's security in school. I can't help but think of all the horrible events we see on television!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Buffalo Grill in ZAC d'Augny, France

There's not a lot that I detest, but one thing for sure is I absolutely hate late lunches! I tend to get the worst headaches ever which usually last all day long and I also have a really bad stomach ache right after eating. It's the worst combination ever! I try to avoid that as much as possible, but there was nothing I could do today. SO had her first swimming class today. It started at 11:30AM and lasted about 40 minutes. For the first sessions, the swimming instructor asked that I stay with SO to help her out in changing outfits and taking showers. MR and I stayed the whole time and watched our little girl with much pride. But then, I got a call from the hospital where Dad was. They asked if we could come pick up Dad as the doctor gave the green sign for him to come home. It was 2:00PM when the four of us were finally in the car. Our stomachs growled in unison, pleading us to get food!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Paksiw na Baboy / Pork Paksiw

We didn't finish the roasted pork shoulder I made for lunch yesterday. Click here for the post. It was way too big for us! We ate about half the meat and set aside the skin because it was slightly rubbery. When I saw the leftovers last night, my initial thoughts were of a sandwich with homemade mayonnaise, but then I thought, why not try to turn this into Paksiw? This would make us an excellent lunch for today!

Paksiw na Baboy - Filipino braised pork in vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Roti d'Epaule de Porcelet / Roasted Shoulder of Suckling Pig

Shopping is a passion for me. Shopping for clothes. Shopping for accessories. Shopping for furniture. But most especially, shopping for food. I grew up in a household where the appreciation for food and cooking was highlighted. At a young age, I was exposed to life's finest, but I also enjoyed simple delicious dishes. When I was 16 years old, I lost my mother and that's when I started getting serious about cooking my own food. I remember times when I would yell at my mom from the kitchen with a cooking question, only to realize that she wasn't resting in her bed anymore. My then-boyfriend / husband now was in the picture and I liked practicing my recipes on him. As I became a wife and a young mother, my love and role as a provider took a bigger place in my life. But I realize that it wasn't as big as it is now. I've realized that I've come to an age where I appreciate knowing where the food in my plate comes from and making amazing dishes with it. Going to the grocery store or market has become a once, twice, even thrice weekly habit. I get ingredients for our family favorites, go with the seasonal flow, and sometimes stumble on new food items. It's always exciting to find new things to work on, to start from scratch, research, and come up with new dishes which eventually become new family favorites! :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

La Fontaine du Bonheur in Metz, France

Sudden change of plans. On Friday afternoon, I brought Dad to the doctor's office because I saw that he wasn't doing good. As it turns out, he is again a victim of pulmonary edema! Damn it, when is this ever going to stop!!! Considering how badly things went the last time, our family doctor contacted right away a cardiologist who advised us to admit Dad at the hospital yesterday morning. When you're at that moment, going through it all, there's not really time or space to process it. But now, lying in bed, alone on a Sunday morning, it's finally sinking in. It hurts. God knows how much it takes for me to  put up a strong facade. Because we all have a role to play for Dad. MR is the understanding one, the one who listens, the softie. SO is the clown, putting on a show anywhere anytime, making us laugh, sharing her innocent stories from school. I am the strong one, hiding behind my mask of encouragements, I push to do beyond our limits, and I believe that someday somehow it will go back like the way it was. It's a hard role to play. No one can see my tears, no one can feel my pain, and no one can hear my sadness. Because if I crumble down, the whole house will too.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tarte aux Mirabelles / Mirabelles Tart

The Mirabelle is one fruit that I appreciate cooked rather than raw. Much like Apricots and Apples. And the way I usually eat it is in a tart. I've thought of making pies, muffins, and even a mousse with my harvest, but my heart lies in a simple Tarte aux Mirabelles. It's simple, easy to make, and needs just 4 things - a pastry crust, mirabelles, a baking dish and a working oven.

How-To....Store Mirabelles

So if you're like me and find yourself with 15 kilos of Mirabelles at once, your next question must be: what do I do, what do I do??? A tart only needs a couple of handful. I could make jams, but not 15 kilos worth. And most of all, I want to store them for a later use (it helps that I bought a big freezer). So I do what I have been taught to by locals here and it's perfect for what I have in mind! A good Mirabelle Tart during the cold winter.

Les Mirabelles - the fruit symbol of Lorraine!

I currently live in the east region of France, in Lorraine specifically. In the past almost 2 years, I have loved discovering this region through my kitchen. And a Lorraine kitchen without Mirabelles is not a complete kitchen. The Mirabelle fruit is a variety of prunes and it is the fruit symbol of Lorraine. Lorraine is responsible for at least 80% of the country's Mirabelles production!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Falafel Sandwich

On a weekend that SO was staying at my sister's house, she came back home with a little gift from my friend, VI. I met VI through my sister because she is married with my sister's business partner and they are neighbors. VI and I bonded with our love for food. She is Lebanese and when she found I was born in Jordan and absolutely love Middle Eastern food, we had even more reasons to bond! I told her that we tried a Lebanese restaurant (click here for the post) in Metz recently and it was one of the best meals we had so far this year! I also told her that one of my bucket list wish is to try one day one of those famous Falafel Sandwiches in Paris. Maybe that's why she thought to give me this gift.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grilled Cote de Boeuf

My absolute favorite beef cut is Bone-In Rib-Eye steak. When grilled quickly, the meat is tender and just melts in the mouth. Just the thought waters my mouth already! In the meat package my brother-in-law prepared for me, there was a single Bone-In Rib-Eye steak just calling out for me to grill and enjoy. But something inside me told me to keep it until the perfect moment. But here we are now, with summer also coming to an end, and I knew I couldn't keep it any longer. Especially when a quick look at the weather station informed me that the rain and cold was coming up by the end of the week. I had to face reality - the barbecue grill was gonna be inactive for the next 8 months and it was now or never for my Grilled Cote de Boeuf.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sarciadong Isda / Filipino Fish with Tomatoes and Eggs

SO got accepted in the swimming program we applied for! Yey! All that is left is to wait for a spot to open up. The gym's supervisor called and asked if we could drop by today to finalize the details and payments. As you can imagine, SO was the first out the door for our appointment. After a quick visit of the place, MR and I decided that this was perfect for SO and we are excited for her to start her training right away!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mixed Mushroom Risotto

Today was SO's first day back to school and I wanted to prepare a surprise for her. Anyone who knows us, knows how much SO loves mushrooms. I thought I'd combine 2 of her favorites - mushroom + rice - for lunch today. As you can imagine, she finished and enjoyed a good plate! She regaled us with stories of her morning and after eating lunch, she was excitedly ready to go back for more. MR and I were also amused with our morning. It was after all our first time to experience a first day of school in France (SO started in the middle of the year last school year). We had decided to bring her together to school this morning, but made no real effort with our looks. I mean, we were showered, cleaned, and dressed as we were on any usual day. But we were kind of shocked when we got to school and saw other parents in their best outfits, jeweled up, heels, and with full-on makeup. MR and I suddenly felt under dressed in our jeans, casual shirt, and slippers. LOL.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shrimp Coco

It's back to school for SO tomorrow, which means summer is almost over. I say 'almost over' because it's officially summer until the 22nd of the month. I'm hoping that this heat is gonna stay for the rest of the month, but it looks like it's gonna be cold real soon! Brrrr!!! But anyways, SO is really excited to start school, be with her friends, and even make some new ones.  This afternoon, SO and I prepared her school bag for tomorrow. I am just as excited as she is and I hope she will always be as happy to go to school. Aside from her school, I am taking care of her extra-curricular activities. I asked her what were the activities she wanted to pursue, although I already had a little idea in my mind. She chose swimming and dance classes. My priority is swimming classes for now and I reserved her a slot in a nearby gym. The class is fully booked, so we're not exactly sure when she will be able to join or even if she will be accepted. I'm crossing my fingers.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chicken, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Green Olives Stew

Bad news!!! When MR wanted to start his car the other day, it wouldn't start! Oh no! He asked me to see it, but there wasn't much to see. There was no contact and no way to tell what the hell was wrong with it. So I did the next best thing - I told Dad. I have to admit that MR and I know nothing about automobiles. Back in the Philippines, we relied every time on the car shop to repair whatever needed to be done. Sadly, we never really needed to know this kind of stuff. So I told Dad that I would call a auto repair guy, but he stopped me before I could even dial a single number. Something about super high rates, probably an empty charged car battery, and contacting my brother-in-law first.

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