Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You can crush the flowers but you can't stop the spring.

Mid-April in France means a 2 week break for all school aged students so with all of my English learnin' kids on vacay, I have a break as well.  Michael, on the other hand, busier than ever with the semester nearing an end and projects and finals on the horizon.  With a little early work on his part though, we managed to go on an accidental date night last week. We had made plans to head into town on Tuesday evening to see Alice in Wonderland in VO (version original) and 3D with a couple of friends as a social outing (something we are admittedly very bad at doing). On our way into town we found out that one friend had decided not to go and the other was stuck late at the dentists office, we we were on our own. We enjoyed the movie, the chance to get out together and the spring lovely walk to and from town.

Thursday was a super social day for me. In the morning  I went over for a visit with Janice and Kimber in the morning, then out to lunch with those two and Jeramy to my first Chinese Buffet in France. The food was good (although very different from the American interpretation of Chinese food) and the staff was comical; they were certainly intrigued by the Americans with the cute little girl.

It sometimes feels like all we do here is cook and eat and this past week was no exception. After Leah and Kyle reminded us of the existence of Sloppy Joe's we got to work recreating the dish without the modern convenience of canned sauce. I was pleased to realize, upon whipping up a batch, that they are not nearly as unhealthy I had initially assumed. Ignoring the fact that it uses ground beef (which could be substituted with ground turkey, chicken, or even tofu), the basic recipe we used (which can be found here) was chalked full of veggies and tomato sauce.

And on Saturday we prepared for a lovely lunch picnic on the lake since the forecast looked amazing. The food of choice was a pan bagnat sandwich, a favorite travel food from our time in Pittsburgh since it could be made into a full, health meal and was very compact, making it easy to eat while driving the 4+ hours to either Wellsboro or DC. The components consist essentially of what you would find in a Niçoise salad here in France (or back home) packed very tightly with a lemon vinagarette into a crusty bread, wrapped well and pressed for several hours to allow everything to meld and marinate. I'm planning to delve into recipe sharing on the blog and this tried and tested recipe should be one of the first to appear within the next few days. In the meantime, here a picture of Michael enjoying our sunny spot on the lake with bare feet and a beer.

We've also been experimenting with some fun Sunday brunch-type meals...essentially to give us something to do on Sundays. Eggs Benedict is certainly in the rotation but we've also been trying out some fruity concoctions as well. We first made an awesome traditional German apple pancake doused with lots of cinnamon sugar (which we loosely based on this recipe) which turned out to be pretty amazing and surprisingly, not to sweet for me. More recently though we decided to give these delicious banana caramel pancakes (based loosely on this recipe) a try. They were super yummy and reminiscent of bananas foster.

On another Sunday foodie adventure this past week, we spent a good long time coming up with the idea of duck burritos, and subsequently, a good long time making them. Since the selection of Mexican food here in Metz is quite skimpy and expensive (and very strange at times -- imagine fajita seasoning that tastes just like sweet BBQ) we ended up making everything from scratch. Sorry there are no pictures of the final product but to be honest, burritos aren't really the most wonderful looking food. If anyone is interested in the rough recipe (I never measure) I will be posting it later along with alternate suggestions for making it with chicken, since I know that all of you don't have access to duck meat for $4 a pound.

And finally, a plant update: as you can see, my bean plant which was just sprouting out of its dried legume form only a few weeks ago is now nearly a foot tall with new leaves galore. I'm not sure if it will produce many beans being indoors but it's fun to experiment and daydream of a time when I will finally have a garden space.
À bientôt, mes amis!

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