Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More bitchin'

It's a phase I'm in. Deal with it.

Boy1 has bronchitis and hay fever. Boy2 has bronchitis and an ear infection and probably hay fever. I have a new river of snot/cold/cough thing and hay fever.

Boy2 and I walked past a man recently. He was smoking. As we past each other, Boy2 said, "Actually, that man smells just like Papa." I had fun telling Husband that story.

Yes, I have a 3 1/2 year old who says 'actually' and 'as a matter of fact' several times a day. It's disturbing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chocolate Crème Brulée that wasn't


Because I don't have a kitchen blowtorch or any blowtorch acutally and I was too chicken to try it under the broiler and Husband's lighters didn't work.

But it was still delicious. I topped them with chopped strawberries. People actually moaned at the table while eating it. And everyone's hands were visible and feet were on the floor so I'm sure the moaning was about the dessert.

Here's the recipe.

1 3/4 cups half and half (crème liquide légère - 15%)
1 3/4 cups whipping cream (crème liquide entière - don't ask)
12 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

8 large egg yolks
pinch of salt

8 teaspoons golden brown sugar (but only if you're going to do the brulée part)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Stir half and half, 3/4 cup cream and 6 tablespoons of sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes then whisk until smooth.

3. Whisk yolks, salt and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Then whisk in remaining 1 cup cream. Divide among eight 3/4 cup ramekins. Place in a large roasting pan. Fill pan with enough water to come halfway up sides of ramekins to make a bain-marie. Cover loosely with foil.

4. Bake until creams are set around the edges but centers still move slightly when gently shaken - about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove ramekins from water. Transfer to refrigerator. Child uncovered until cold, then cover and chill overnight.

5. To make them brulées, sprinkle each custard with 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Caramelize with a kitchen blowtorch until melted and brown.

So, in my version, I left out the last step and topped with fresh chopped berries. You could use raspberries too.

In my version part 2, I made these at about 9:30. And they were served for lunch so they only chilled for about 2 hours, which didn't seem to have an impact on taste or texture.

In my version part 3, I halved the recipe and used six ramekins. So they were slightly less full than in the above recipe, but that left room for the berries. And the portion size was perfect.

With the 4 egg whites leftover, I made these. Which were consumed without any attempt, by all members of the family, at moderation.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

There has been a system error.

You know that system. The one where I take care of my kids, cook 3 nice meals a day, keep the house clean and the laundry done, bond with my husband, do my job well, help out at the kids' school, and still have time to do other things I like - drink coffee that doesn't come from a machine that serves it in plastic cups, blog, nuture friendships, read, and respond to emails that have been in my inbox for months.

There is a weak link in the system and I have a sinking feeling I'm it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tag, I'm it.

I'm supposed to come up with 10 interesting things about myself. Which is feeling like a stretch this morning. Gina tagged me a while ago, while I was drowning in my river of snot.

1. I have a dimple on my left shoulder. My mother always told me it was where the wings had tried to sprout. I asked a French physical therapist about it one day and he actually used the word 'malformation'. Jackass.

2. I was a vegetarian of varying degrees of intensity for 12 years. Until I moved to France and saw the error of my ways. Now I'll eat anything except brains, blood sausage, tripes, or anything else made from guts or glands.

3. I spend way more money on books than clothes or shoes. Which makes me either badly dressed or well-read.

4. My oldest brother can wind me up in 2 seconds flat. I'd even go so far as to say he's gifted. Or I'm predictable. Or both.

5. I'm vaguely psychic. Or intuitive or whatever. I always know when someone I haven't talked to in a long time is going to call.

6. I miss hugs. Seriously. No one hugs here. I'm lucky to have to really cuddly kids, which helps. But really, the kissing on the cheek thing sucks after a while. After a while I just want a hug. Ohmigod that sounds so lame.

7. My English has stagnanted. I speak a very up-to-date version of 1997 American English. I say things like lame, cool, and nasty. I have, however, successfully phased out narly and rad. I'm hoping all the hours I'm now spending watching American tv on-line in English will provide the updates necessary to bring my English into the 21st century.

8. I cry a lot. Movies, televions series, commericals even (if they're good), books. Well, that's not very interesting, more pathetic really, but I'm up to 8 now.

9. I've had two stepfathers. One I liked and one I didn't. But not in that order. I may have liked the 2nd one so much partially due to the fact that I never had to live with him. And I know I disliked the first one so much because I had to live with him. He was nasty.

10. While I appear to be an optimistic, care-free extrovert, I am actually a brooding, stressed-out introvert. Seriously.

My turn. Carter-Ann, Ali, Jennifer, and Reb: you're it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Borrowing more trouble

But it's not me this time.

I got a newsletter from my co-op last week. Announcing that they would be phasing out over the next month all products made by Sanoflore. Which is a little company that sells organic essential oils, flower waters, and skin care products. Why are they phasing out these products? Because Sanoflore has been bought by L'Oréal. Now I get that L'Oréal is a giant and has historically a bad reputation for animal testing and other unethical practices. But I still think it's kind of premature. Don't you think they should wait for them to screw with the quality or drop the organic label or exploite small farm-owners before they take action? Preemptive strikes are less and less popular these days. Just ask Bush.

Along similar lines, there were demonstrations and strikes last week against the new-but-not-yet-sworn-in-president-of-France, Nicolas Sarkozy. Students in a Paris univeristy were striking against against potential changes in the French university system. Seriously, I'm thinking he should at least be sworn in before they go on strike. Or jeez, maybe they could actually wait until he tries to pass a law or make a decision . But I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Things I like

1. Fancy BLTs. Not on purpose though. I really just wanted a BLT. I hadn't had one in forever. So I fried up the bacon. Got out the rest of the stuff to make the perfect sandwich. Only to discover we were out of mayonnaise. And I didn't feel like making any. Only to discover we were also out of fresh tomatoes. And I don't have any growing in my 'yard'.

But I did have some fresh sheep cheese and some tomates confites. So, the rustic spelt country bread was spread with the cheese, topped with the bacon, topped with the chopped tomatoes, topped with frisée. Voilà. Fancy, and yet very good, blt.

2. Well, people not things. Computer geeks (meant here as a term of endearment, for heaven's sake take no offense). I like them a lot.

A pain-in-the-ass thing about living outside the US is tv. We get the new season of a series a year after it comes out in the US. And most of the time it's dubbed. Which makes it quite unwatchable. All the homepages of US television channels (the big ones, of course) that show all kinds of stuff for free on-line won't allow overseas access. And of course, dvd's are zoned. Zone 1 is North America, Zone 2 Europe, etc. And of course, dvd players are programmed to only accept dvd's marked for the zone in which they are sold. Gangsters, all of them. So anyway. Out there, in the world, are really nice computer geeks who spend time figuring out the codes and protocols to get around all that. You can get dezoing codes for just about any equipment out there. So now I can watch dvd's from any zone on both of our dvd players. And I just finished watching all the latest episodes of Grey's Anatomy Season 3 (very good) and Prison Break Season 2 (sometimes good and sometimes disappointing) for free on-line without illegally downloading anything. Geek on.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I saw on the cover of a French magazine a reference to Nicolas Sarkozy as being France's Bush. As if. I'd be looking for a new place to live that were the case.

Anyone who knows me even vaguely well knows how much I DETEST GEORGE W. BUSH. And my feelings about him resemble in no way my feelings about France's new president.

True, he is on the right wing of the French political landscape. But what seems evident to me is that the 'right' at home corresponds to the far right here. For me, a straight ticket democrat kind of girl, Sarkozy lines up with the Democratic party at home, or maybe the UDF, the centrist party does and Sarkozy is a little more to the right than them, at least in terms of economic policies. There are those of you out there who might disagree with me but whatever. Anyway, Bush, I'd say, lines right up with LePen or de Villiers, candidates who want to limit or outlaw abortions, eliminate all immigration, take protectionism to a psycho-Bush level.

As for Royal, she lines up with a left wing that we don't really have at home. Well, I guess we do, but they're never in office, or even close to it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's a good thing

So, we've got a new president.

This is the second presidential election I've witnessed here. Although I barely count the first because I didn't pay much attention at all. Lionel Jospin, who was thought to be Chirac's main contender, looked too much like a mad scientist for me to take seriously. Yes, I'm superficial that way.

So, this time, I paid attention. And listened to the speeches and read the papers and all that. Her, I couldn't stand. Listening to her talk was like watching a knat fly. Directionless. Random.

Him, I liked. For several reasons. I think a lot of things need to be dealt with in France, health care and retirement among others. And with her as president, I could easily imagine Husband paying even more to URSSAF (otherwise known as the devil) than he already does, and believe me, it's already way too much. Solidarity is fine and beautiful and all that but between the devil, payroll taxes, professional taxes, and I don't even know what else, 60% of his firm's total sales goes to soli-freakin-darity and taxes. Enough already.

There were a few of things I really liked about this campaign. First, religion was NEVER, not once, mentioned. He's Jewish, in a vastly Catholic country and no one gives a crap. And I just think that is fabulous.

Second, the campaign ended Thursday night at midnight. No tracts, no mailings, no debates, no nothing. Realtive peace and quiet for 2 days before election day.

Third, the media here are required by law to give equal air-time to both candidates of the second round. Money doesn't change a thing.

So, is it a good thing? I hope so. Ask me in a year.

My biggest fear has nothing to do with what he will do, but with people's reactions to what he will do.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm sick as a dog and have nothing interesting to say

Boy2 is 3 years old. He'll be 4 in September.

His only regular sources of English are me, Boy1, and animated pictures.

All of this had led to a slightly quirky variety of 3 year-old English.

For example.

This morning, while Boy1 was at sports activity, Boy2 and I went out for beverages. Surprise, surprise.

I was looking for a parking place. Boy2 said, 'I've spotted one, Mama. Over there."


"No, Mama, I'm actually just teasing you."


Later, at the café, I noticed some chocolate on my arm. Given the fact that I'm not currently eating chocolate, I asked Boy2 why I had chocolate on my arm.

"Cause I eat like a little pig."

Actually, that's true.