Howdy folks! The weather here is still very cold, it rains most mornings but slowly it’s been getting warmer each day. The days are long. Sun is up before 6am and it only turns dark well after 9pm. It’s been so nice to be able to go wherever you want, whenever you want with no rush in getting there. I did my first yoga earlier this week and I’ve been able to take long walks along the Seine every day. My legs are screaming each night but I’m still reveling from my new found freedom.
We are currently living 20 mins outside Paris, a stone away from the affluent suburb of St Germain en Laye, where the great French Monarch Louis XIV was born and raised. I haven’t explored much of the area, but I’m happy to found good boulangerie (bakery), fromagerie (cheese monger) and poissonerie (fish monger) within 5 mins walk. We went to see H’s parents over the weekend and as can be predicted, the car was filled to the brim. I expect I wouldn’t have to cook till year end. Another happy news is my savings paved through and I’m a poor but happy owner of a KitchenAid. In pomme d’amour (metalic red). Everything sounds more romantic in french, doesn’t it?
The nicest thing about living in a wealthy suburb is that it is really nice to walk around. Flowers (tulips, roses, daisies and poppies) everywhere and St Germain en Laye is known for its architecture and gardens. I can hear the birds chirping (loudly) as I type this and can see the ducks and squirrels from my window. It’s like you are still close enough to the hustle and bustle of Paris and yet you get the quietness one usually finds when one retires to the country side. I must say I do wish we live closer to town though it hasn’t been good for the wallet.
BBQ & Picnic season have officially started. The grass is not as wet anymore and when I wait for H at the chateau’s garden, more and more people are out and lying on the ground, soaking on the late sun before dinner. The french knows how to enjoy life, I must say!
We’re off to Singapore & Bali tomorrow. See you when we get back.
Here we are saying goodbye and thank you to the people and the place that have hosted us the past three years. There are no words beside this certainty that they will stay with us till the very end.
“Tu es prete?” H asked me. Switching to french are we now?
“Yes, ready.” I answered.
One last look. Then off we go, with our suitcases, heading up north to chase our next summer. The page has been turned, a new chapter ready to be written. Ate a proxima vez, Angola! Te gosto muito.
p.s. Gonna see my parents whom we have not met in two years. Be back end of May. Till then, keep safe & have a good one.
CC: This one is for you.
My friend, CC, is going to inherit this old, battered 2.5 yo muffin tray. She’s going to help baking muffins & cupcakes for the children at the St. Isabel orphanage. So I thought why not share with her a recipe using muffin tray that she can prepare for herself & her family.
I find falafel is one of the most budget friendly dishes to make. Dried chickpeas, bread crumbs, cumin seeds, onion, garlic, parsley/cilantro/ both, paprika, salt & pepper – all dumped into a (mini) food processor. It costs almost nothing and yet if I go to the Lebanese restaurants here, I can easily feed a village with falafel. The “downfall” of falafel is its method of preparation: it’s deep fried. I don’t mind but for the sake of health and trying everything at least once, and for CC, let’s make a baked falafel in a muffin tray, shall we?
Go here for the basic recipe. If you wonder why my fried falafel is a flat disk (instead of round balls), I was trying to skimp on oil, heh!
I can almost foresee my menu for the next 7 days, it will be pasta, pasta and pasta. It’s something quick and I can prepare in the morning to be reheated when H returns for lunch. Not to mention, I have few more packets to finish. Have I told you I “collect” pasta shapes?
Anyway, those who cook for me (my mom, my dad, my mother in law, my husband) know my predilection towards acidity. I am forever adding lemon and tabasco to a dish that tastes perfect to everyone but me. I’ve been told off by the Italians not once, not twice, but five times that I ruined their dishes (twice in Singapore at a separate restaurants, once in Sienna, once in Rome and once in Toulouse). I blame this on my grandma who raised my mom, then me, beside a big pot of Sayur Asem, an Indonesian tamarind-base (spicy) vegetable soup.
So for me, the hero of this dish is the lemon. Not from the lemon juice, but from sauteing the lemon zest together with garlic. I also like that the cream-broth mixture tones down the saltiness of the capers. H still picks out his capers, but when the dish is this delicious and simple, I don’t mind at all. Besides, my capers are going down, down and down.
We received this book as a farewell present. It’s a photo journal of Angola during the civil war in 1998, when the civil war ended in 2002 and the days after; by a Brazilian photographer Sergio Guerra. Some photos are very intense, while others are light and hopeful.
Angola, A Courageous Nation. Courageous to live, courageous to die, courageous to restart. Restarting every day, finding forces in their own bodies, not disheartened by the pain of separation: children, husbands, wives, mothers and sisters, separated or missing.
Courageous to reinvent life every day and not be embarrassed by this, but rather to make this as a hope for the future. Understand that pain will bring about happiness.
My first time seeing patty pan squash was at a supermarket in Cape Town. H had never seen it before either. So when I saw this here at a South African supermarket chain, I figured this could be the first and last time I see this ingredient. So I grabbed some.
If you’re buying patty pan squash for the first time, choose the smallest/youngest ones that you can find (no more than 5-7 cm in diameter). Touch and choose the firm ones, not semi-soft ones. This was my first mistake. I thought I was being smart by going for the median: not so large, not so small; not so soft, not so firm. Safe in the middle. And now I know why. The older ones? They have a bitter aftertaste. I didn’t feel/ mind it so much when I sauteed them, but it was very evident when I stuffed them.
Since I have that extra Pesto Rosso (Red Pesto), I suppose eggplant would be a good pair. I don’t know how it would come out, so I made some with diced tomatoes (just in case) as well as several with a combination of red pesto & diced tomatoes.
I personally prefer the tomato base, because it’s juicier and not as oily. H prefers the combo mixture – it has that oomph from sun dried tomatoes. To-meh-to, to-mah-to.
Anyhoo.. we really, really, really love this dish. This is the kind of dish that makes me forget that we are in Angola. The eggplant is very “meaty” and filling and light at the same time. I find the arugula salad is essential in this dish, the sharp peppery taste breaks down the mesh & meatiness of the eggplant. The walnut adds another texture. I also find the chorizo is salty enough that I skip the salt entirely.