Saumon à l’oseille (Cooking Entry)

What comes to mind when you hear the words French food? I know several people that this frightens. Okay perhaps frighten is too severe of a word so I shall replace it with intimidates.

The excuses I have been offered for why some people prefer not to attempt cooking French recipes include too many ingredients, too rich, too complicated, blah, blah, blah.

I, myself, adore French cooking. The herbs, the creams, and one of the reasons for living…butter blend together to create a wonderful dining experience. I am not one who fears quality, complexity and freshness.

I have prepared several French dishes all of which, if I do say so myself, were successes. Rosemary chicken is one of my mainstays and is especially good with the fresh rosemary plucked from my garden. I’ve also dabbled in ratatouille, lemon thyme chicken, gougères, and most recently salade niçoise with all fresh ingredients.

And while I love the challenge of complex cooking, I also find the need to create something simpler during the weeknights. The weekends, on the other hand, all bets are off.

Since time is short during the week due to lengthy work hours, I do not wish to sacrifice taste and quality for time. I refused to rinse and repeat each week offering the same menu. How ennuyeux!

Enter Voila! Effortless French Cookbook by Cecile Delarue.

I first came across Cecile (I hope she does not mind my referring to her by first name) via Facebook. I’m not quite sure how I found her. Perhaps it was my love of Paris and France and during my search I stumbled upon French and Parfait. So I began following her. Then lo and behold she posted that her new cookbook was about to be released. And of course I had to purchase it.

I have this ritual whenever I get a new cookbook. I will close my eyes and open it to a random page. Whatever recipe appears is the first I will make. When Cecile’s book arrived, I ripped the package open, closed my eyes tightly, held my breath and opened the book. What was revealed? Saumon à l’oseille. Translated into English: Salmon in Sorrel Sauce.

I was mesmerized. A total of 9 ingredients were listed and a prep time of five minutes and cook time of the same. It couldn’t get any easier than that.

Living in a coastal town has its advantages, very fresh seafood. Shrimpers Seafood Market is a quick trip from my house. I love these people! They offer such fresh products at a reasonable price. And you know it’s good if the likes of Emeril Lagasse shop there.

But we also face our disadvantages, the challenge of finding ingredients. I searched high and low for sorrel. Even Whole Foods failed me. So I had to substitute arugula and fear I did not purchase enough. However, two steps to make the sauce and three to cook the salmon including plating, I could not complain.

Cecile took me through this easy recipe one step at a time and I especially loved how she offers suggestions of wine pairing. I took her advice and it was a match made in heaven!

My taste buds are seriously starting to salivate as I write this entry. The word that springs to mind when I think of this dinner is delightful. Absolutely delightful!

The sauce was a bit runny which was no fault of the recipe at all, but rather due to my lack of enough arugula but it tasted fabulous. The salmon was cooked perfectly. I had made a pot of jasmine rice that I laid on the plates first followed by the sauce and then the salmon acted as the crowning jewel. But there was no lead role in this recipe as the sauce and the salmon merged into one blissful bite.

For those who fear French cooking, banish those thoughts. I highly recommend Cecile’s book. She offers a vast array of simple recipes many of which I will be trying very soon.

Merci Cecile! You have helped us embrace French cooking without fear. And for making our hectic lives easier without forfeiting quality and taste.

By the way, she has another cookbook out The Everything Easy French Cookbook that I have added to my wish list since my birthday is this month.

File this one under: Make This One Again and Soon!

You can find Cecile’s books here:

Voila! Effortless French Cookbook

The Everything Easy French Cookbook

Want to learn more about Cecile Delarue? Click below:

Frenchandparfait

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter: @ceciledelarue

Stay tuned for another recipe from Cecile’s books.

Until we meet again…au revoir!

part02

The Fearful Dragon (Short Story)

For being a dragon, he had a lot of issues.

Drillbits was much smaller than the other dragons. Yet deep down he’d convinced himself that he was just as fierce as the rest.

He would spend his days roaming the forest with his friend Skittles, a corgi who had somehow become lost from his group of fairies. While their friendship seemed unlikely, the two were inseparable. And their personalities could not have been more opposite.

Skittles would wander through the trees absorbing all of the scents and sights that nature had to offer. He tended to be oblivious to his surroundings. He had not a care in the world because he saw everyone and everything as his friend.

Drillbits, on the other hand, was very cautious. Sometimes he was overly wary of the world outside his cave. He was on constant alert fearing a foe was in striking distance.

Where Skittles would stick his nose into any shrub, Drillbits would step back and study the situation. When he was a young hatchling his mother claimed he would seldom leave her side for fear of the unknown. Had his mother not pushed him off her back, he probably would never have learned to fly.

Dusk was the worst part of the day for the little dragon. Things that appeared one way in the daylight would take on a whole different shape as the sun began to fade away. Or so it seemed. A pile of branches in the sunlight would become a hulking predator, as the day grew darker. Skittles was constantly reassuring his friend that the change in light was playing tricks on him. There was nothing to fear. Drillbits pretended to believe him but deep down knew those branches were going to get him.

Noises were probably Drillbits’ biggest enemy. Sudden squeaks, screeches, and even something so simple as Skittles passing gas would send Drillbits running. As he would trot away from wherever the noise erupted, he would glare back attempting to appear ferocious but in realty those noises really bothered him. He wasn’t sure if it was fear or just annoyance. But regardless of the sound, he did not like it.

Skittles tried ever so hard to help Drillbits become more carefree, but he never seemed to succeed. Drillbits was constantly on guard. Still Skittles loved his friend and accepted him.

Even though he was quite young, Drillbits had yet to learn how to breathe fire. But he insisted that one day the world would be sorry when fire would spew from his mouth.

“Just you wait and see,” he would tell Skittles. “I know it’s in there. I can feel it.”

And every day that passed, no fire appeared from within. Though he would try his hardest, he could not even muster a single puff of smoke. But he never gave up trying. One day it would happen.

On a warm summer day the two were playing in the forest. Skittles was chasing bumblebees and Drillbits; well he was too busy worrying about his imagined evils in the trees.

Skittles was jumping about pouncing on bugs, lizards and all sorts of tiny creatures. He never did hurt them, but he simply loved to play. Drillbits followed his friend staring up toward the sky keeping his eye open for anything dangerous.

When he turned his attention back to Skittles, he realized his friend was gone. He’d vanished! Disappeared! Where did he go?

“Skittles?” he called out. “Where are you?” And the only response he got was silence.

Drillbits batted his tiny wings and began to fly making every attempt to find his friend. He flew higher and higher to get a better view of the ground. Surely Skittles’ stumpy little legs could not have taken him that far. But he continued his search.

“Skittles! Stop playing around and come out from wherever you’re hiding,” he yelled. “It’s not funny!”

And yet he still could not find his friend. He glided a little further and then circled back toward the direction from which he came.

Drillbits gazed upward and saw the sky was beginning to turn purple. The sun was starting to fade and dusk began to make its entrance. The little dragon began to panic. He knew he had to find his friend and fast. All the nightly creatures he feared existed would soon appear.

As he swooped downward he heard the faint cry of his corgi friend. Skittles was in trouble and he knew he had to help him.

Drillbits listened intently to his friend’s cries and began to follow the direction of the sound. He dropped a little lower avoiding the many branches that he imagined were trying to grab him from the sky.

Then has he hovered over the creek he saw his friend stranded on a large rock in the middle of the water. As he flew closer he spotted a large wolf pacing back and forth along the water’s edge. The wolf had his friend trapped.

Skittles looked upward, and saw his friend flying overhead. “Help!” he called out.

The wolf paced faster and faster. Drillbits knew he had to do something quickly. He flew upward to get momentum and then dove downward toward the wolf. As he flew closer, he felt a fire growing inside him.

Drillbits circled the wolf and opened his mouth as wide as he possibly could. Then with the largest breath he could muster, he exhaled large orange and yellow flames. The fire grabbed hold of the wolf’s tale and sent the enemy yelping off into the woods.

“Drillbits! You did it! You breathed fire!” Skittles cheered.

The little dragon circled once more and lowered himself down toward the rock.

“I’ve got you,” he said to his friend as he landed on the rock and allowed the corgi to climb on his back.

“You saved me,” Skittles said. “Just wait until everyone hears what you did.”

Drillbits smiled proudly. He knew he would breathe fire eventually. And one day he would be fierce like all the others.

Then he heard something crackling in the darkness, picked up speed and headed home as fast as he could. Maybe he would be fierce another day.

Paris – A Dream Realized (My Thoughts)

I cannot pinpoint when I first fell in love with France. But it has been a love affair that had risen up to the surface many years ago.

Over the years I have collected a number of books about Paris along with countless CDs containing songs from the 40’s to present day and the years in between. I’ve acquired dishware, clothing, jewelry, you name it. I admit I am addicted to the French lifestyle. Deep down I know I must have a tiny bit of French DNA in my being.IMG_1860

My love of France created another obsession… cycling. Each year as Le Tour de France rolled around, I would spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings glued to the television. My eyes devoured the beautiful French scenery. I would sip my coffee and just soak in the stunning visuals of the green lush grass, stone buildings, quaint towns and villages, and gorgeous floral fields.

And then I noticed the riders. I became enamored with their skill and tenacity. As a result Le Tour became much more to me than the striking beauty of France, it became the admiration of these powerful men all vying for the yellow jersey. Personally though, I cheered for the rider who would land the green jersey. It’s all a matter of preference you see. And one particular rider caught my attention…Mr. Green Jersey himself Peter Sagan.

Late last year I decided that standing at the finish line at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées would be added to what I call my Life List. For some reason the term “Bucket List” is just too grim for me. I prefer to call it my Life List because it means I am living. I began devising a way to visit Paris and see Le Tour as soon as possible.

The notion of travelling to Paris was just that… a dream, an idea, a simple notion. But now that I had Le Tour on my list, I needed this thought to transcend from being an inkling to becoming a reality.

I brought the idea up to my sister Margaret one day. Why not go to London for a while then take the train to Paris? It seemed like a nice plan and she was game. So we put the plans in motion. After designing the perfect schedule, I contacted Mary Catherine, a friend of mine who’d posted photos of Paris on Facebook and inquired about a place to stay.

Mary Catherine recommended Hotel Muguet, a quaint boutique hotel that is a brief walk to the Eiffel Tower. I quickly booked our room for fear they might be sold out due to it being July and Le Tour weekend. Margaret took care of reserving a room for us in London. Our airline tickets were purchased and our plans were coming together.

Sadly on July 4th, my rider Sagan was unfairly disqualified from Le Tour. I will refrain from a barrage of commentary on how I deemed this disqualification wrong on so many levels. For I do not wish to start arguments on who was wrong and who was right. As human beings we can agree to disagree. For a fleeting moment I thought about abandoning my mission to see the finale of Le Tour, but maybe in some schoolgirl kind of way I thought Peter might have wanted me to go. Silly I know but I refused to let the organizers rob me of my dream. I would still attend Le Tour and I would wear a Sagan shirt in solidarity.

Our departure date arrived very rapidly and we were off on our adventure. Our first stop was London, and as always London did not disappoint. We had decided to spend a few days there, then journey to Paris and return back to London. We had only 1 ½ days allotted to our Paris excursion but we decided this would be our “trial run” since neither of us had ever stepped foot in wonderful France.

The train ride was scenic, fast and fun. If you’ve never experienced the Eurostar consider this an endorsement. We emerged from the train and queued for a taxi. The wait was a bit lengthy but eventually we were in a cab and on our way to the hotel.

At first I was a bit disappointed or maybe it was more of apprehension as we wound our way through the streets. To me it looked like just another city. Then a short while later Margaret tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out the window next. There in all its glory appeared the Eiffel Tower. I’m pretty sure I allowed a gasp to escape my mouth. It was official. I was in Paris!

Our driver deposited us on the doorstep of the hotel that was situated on a very quiet street. After we went through the check-in ritual, we ventured to our room. While the room was very small, it was absolutely lovely. We were greeted by a box of macarons (an add-on I opted for when I received the hotel’s pre-arrival questionnaire). We didn’t take too long to get ourselves situated before we ventured out to see the Eiffel Tower up close and in person.

Margaret and I wound our way through the Parisian streets and voila we arrived! For those of you who’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower be warned, it’s MASSIVE! I could not fathom how tall it was. We debated on whether we would ride to the top or just skip the long queues. In the end we decided we would wait until our next trip to go to the top and we would bring our sister Judy along for the ride.

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Wow! That is really tall!

After we walked around the Tower, we went to this little festival type set up of tents across the street. We studied what the vendors had to offer and suddenly my stomach started to talk to me. I swear it said, “Feed me.” So we began our walk to our hotel and searched for a café or restaurant along the way. Paris does not lack in cafes, bistros, brasseries, and patisseries. I swore I would gain many pounds just looking in the windows. Is that really possible?

We chose a corner café called Café le Dome. Our waiter began to speak to us in French and soon learned neither of us could speak the language. Please note, learning French is on my to-do list. Next time sir.

Allow me to interject here. Prior to our arrival in Paris, we decided we must drink wine, and eat cheese and bread. These were our requirements. So we ordered a carafe of wine and the cheese plate with bread. Then we began to study the menu. I spied one of the cooks who appeared to be on his break eating the pesto pasta and it looked very appetizing. I tried to order that and our waiter snapped “No more pesto! No!” Okay then. I attempted to order some type of veggie sandwich that caused our waiter to snap again “None of this here!” as he waved his hand over the bottom portion of the menu.

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Gooey heaven on a plate.

So I ordered a simple cheese and tomato sandwich that was accompanied by a light salad. I will say that I am elated they did not have the pesto pasta or the other sandwich I tried to order because what I was presented was pure heaven. Two slices of bread enveloped melted cheese and tomato slices and were topped with gooey cheese. It was a true cheese-lovers dream. The food was quite delicious. The service not so much. Funny that I just stumbled upon the Google reviews and Café Le Dome received only 1.8 stars. Would I return there? Why not? If only for that sandwich!

Did I mention that the hotel was quiet? Well permit me to restate that again. When my head hit the pillow I do not recall anything after. I slept soundly which was much needed, for the next day would be busy but fun.

We rose at a decent hour, enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and journeyed out to find the Champs-Élysées. Once again we passed the Eiffel Tower and stopped for a few more photo opportunities. The grounds were buzzing with visitors from all walks of life. We continued our adventure and quickly learned that the maps that are randomly placed around the city are a bit misleading. Or perhaps it was a case of reader error. I caved and stopped a local to ask for directions. Yes, we were definitely headed in the wrong direction. Terrible maps!

We followed his instructions and were well on our way. But this did provide us the chance to gaze around the city. I grew fond of the apartments boasting varieties of flowers in boxes. The architecture of the buildings was absolutely stunning. Ah Paris!

IMG_1876I think we were only a few blocks away when we spotted the Arc de Triomphe. We were nearly there. And in plenty of time as we would soon learn. I was under the impression the event began around 1:00 according to what I’d read. But I knew that could not be possible as we approached the Champs-Élysées and saw a smattering of people milling about. Vendor tents stood proudly on display and barricades were erected to keep the spectators from entering the road.

After strolling about and visiting tents, we decided to grab a bite to eat. We spotted a small café and got fabulous baguettes containing mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Luckily we got the last two seats at the outdoor tables and I stared intently at the road while savoring my sandwich and beer. Once our lunch was done I stopped outside a souvenir shop. I asked the man when would the cyclists arrive. He told me 4:00. What? That was more than 3 hours away. My dream of seeing the riders’ arrival was coming to a screeching halt.

Sadly we trekked back to hour hotel. Deep in my heart I knew that somehow I would still have a chance to see at least some of the race. There had to be a chance.

We’d reached our hotel exhausted but not ready to call it quits. After changing clothes we planned a trip to find Shakespeare and Company, a well-known bookstore in Paris. Bravely we approached the Metro. This certainly could not be difficult. The man behind the glass window told us which train to take and off we went. As we emerged from the Metro station we checked the map and began our “5 minute walk” to the bookstore. Please note, five minutes in Europe does not really calculate to a true five minutes unless you are walking at a sprinters pace. The further we walked the more we realized we would never find the store. But we did see some very beautiful cafes locate the bookstore.

We decided that we would attempt to return to the Champs-Élysées and see some of the race. But the question was how? Should we find a taxi or try to navigate the Metro? Earlier I had seen a Metro station pretty close to the Arc de Triomphe on Avenue Kléber. Surely we could find our way there. We learned it would not be too long of a journey and eventually we made it.

As we approached the Champs-Élysées we noticed the crowd had filled in. I stopped a man and asked if the race had finished. He laughed and said it hadn’t even started yet. I looked at my watch and it was well after 4:00. Wasn’t that when the man at the souvenir told me the riders would start arriving?

We weaved our way through the crow and found a spot a few rows deep off the street and close to the Arc. As fate would have it, the race did, in fact, only START at 4:00. At one point I slipped from the crowd and managed to get a beer for each of us. After I returned, beers in hand, the excitement began to mount. There was a parade of sponsor cars and then nothing. I think we must have stood there for well over 2 ½ hours before the planes soared overhead announcing the arrival of the cyclists.

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Lingering smoke from the airplanes announcing the arrival of the cyclists.

Finally, in the distance I would hear the burst of cheers and applause from the spectators down the road. They were here! They had arrived. Standing on my toes I craned my head and saw the first group of riders. My heart raced as if I was on one of those bikes. The first lap zipped by and then we patiently waited for them to begin the second lap at which point drops of water began to tap the top of my head. Yes, it was beginning to rain.

The riders sped by again and then I looked at my sister and contently informed her we could leave. I didn’t need to see the winner because we already knew who it was. Froome you did it again. Now had Sagan still been part of this race my story would have ended differently. Next time.20638014_10214210021071567_2126171324047953001_n

We popped up our umbrellas after we left the crowd and headed toward the Metro. One small snafu occurred when I mistook the name of the line for the station we needed to exit. But no worries. We got off the train, went up the stairs and came down to the proper platform. And in no time we were back at the École Militaire station conveniently located a short walk to our hotel.

We stopped by Marcel et Compagnie for dinner. Once again we ordered a cheese plate and carafe of wine. While the service was far from stellar, the food was amazing. We both selected the zucchini risotto and were not at all disappointed. I was surprised at the serving size. I was lucky if I ate a quarter of what was spooned into my bowl. And this establishment received 2.9 stars so we were moving up on the scale. Would I return to this restaurant? Absolutely.

We sadly walked back to our hotel. I was going to miss Paris. It was a short visit but probably one of the best experiences of my life thus far.

We accomplished a lot from navigating the Metro and street maps, to seeing wonderful landmarks, to crossing an item off my Life List. In hindsight, I do wish we had planned for one more day and road to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But as I mentioned earlier, this was our trial run for Paris. The next time we would bring our sister Judy along with us. We would ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visit The Louvre, successfully find Shakespeare and Company, perhaps take a boat ride down the Seine, drink lots of wine, consume cheese and eat pastries.

As we boarded the train back to London, I collapsed in my seat. Paris did not disenchant. While it was a whirlwind, this visit only increased my love for the city and its people.

In the immortal words of Edith Piaf, non, je ne regrette rien. Okay, maybe one tiny regret, I should have had eaten more pastries. Next time Paris, next time.


For your reference:

Hotel Muguet – 11 Rue Chevert – 75007 Paris, France
Café le Dome – 149 Rue Saint-Dominique
Marcel et Compagnie – 39 Avenue de la Motte-Picquet
Eiffel Tower – Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe – Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies (Baking Entry)

Last week we celebrated July 4th, the birth of our nation. I’ll be honest. This is not my favourite holiday especially when it lands in the middle of the week. This year was particularly weird. Our nation is divided on the political scale – I won’t go into a tirade on how I feel about the state of our union. The air of atmosphere is becoming less communal, meaning people are spending way too much time on their electronic devices and less time just communicating with each other…verbally. Then there was the devastating blow to one of my favourite annual sports events, the Tour de France. The disqualification of cycling great Peter Sagan baffled me and now just pretty much annoys the crap out of me. C’est la vie. Next year Peter.

So let’s just skip my petite vent there and get onto the good stuff, which is the things I do find enjoyable about the 4th of July.

Growing up we spent the holiday together as a family, sometimes just the immediate ones and often times with my extended family of aunties, uncles and cousins. There was usually sprinkler time where we’d all end up soaking wet. We could see fireworks in the distance and on the rare occasion someone would have a few bottle rockets for the older kids to set off.

Then there was my number one favourite thing…the food!

Our grill probably resembled the majority of family grills in the U.S. Burgers and hotdogs cooking as the flames from the charcoal created billows of smoke that would tease our noses with the wonderful aroma of beef mixed with hotdogs. Mom would provided her homemade potato salad or macaroni salad and on some occasions she would present both. There were always baked beans, pickles, buns and the coup de grâce brownies.

These days my family is pretty much dismantled. Both Mom and Dad have since past and my oldest sister and brother live in a different state. But my sisters Judy and Margaret are here with me, and we planned a cookout with our own twists.

Hamburgers have now evolved into turkey burgers. Baked beans are still represented on the table. In lieu of Mom’s special salads, Margaret produced her absolutely delicious ramen noodle salad – I could seriously eat the entire bowl.

But what about the brownies? Enter master baker Paul Hollywood. No, he did not make an appearance at our cookout, although that would have been just lovely.

I recently purchased a copy of his book The Weekend Baker that is filled with recipes from around the world. Since this was our nation’s birthday, I chose to visit his New York section and selected his Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies. This lovely gem of a recipe can be found on page 216 in this treasure trove of international bakes.

The recipe, while not too difficult, did offer its challenges.

I was successful in locating all of the ingredients save one, double cream. Where I used to live outside of Atlanta, there was this quaint British shop (plug for a Taste of Britain here). I know I would have been able to purchase double cream at their location. However, living in small town Santa Rosa Beach, it was a lost cause. I was forced to substitute the cream with heavy whipping cream that may have caused the end result of my brownies be a little to be a wetter than normal.

Challenge number two was the need to convert the measurements from metric to the standard system. As I called out the varying amounts in grams, my sister Judy was quick to provide me with the U.S. equivalent or as close as we could get to it anyway.

My other sister Margaret assisted in the kitchen, pouring ingredients into various cups or measuring spoons on command. This was truly a team effort and one that I feel we actually won.

The aroma the oven offered was something I’d never experienced before. The scent of the chocolate intertwining with cream cheese and butter was more than my nose could take. The more these delectable beauties baked the more I was ready to just dive in and take a bite.

I ended up baking them a bit longer than the recipe called for but that was due to the need to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. And when I opened the oven door and moved the pan they still seemed a bit runny. So what was another five or 10 minutes?

Finally the timer announced the dessert was ready but alas, Paul’s directions made us wait until they were cooled which is a must follow step. I believe that wait time allowed the brownies to firm. Patience is a virtue, right?

The moment arrived when I began to gently slice and plate the brownies. Total chocolaty, gooey goodness is the best way I can describe the outcome. They were a bit messy on which I blame the heavy whipping cream. But nonetheless, based on my taste testers these were a huge success!

File this one under: Make This One Again

You can pick up Paul’s book here:

The Weekend Baker

Want to learn more about Paul Hollywood? Click below:

Paul Hollywood

Paul Hollywood City Bakes

Stay tuned for another recipe from Paul’s book. Until we meet again…cheers!
 
IMG_0059

Barq’s® Root Beer Chocolate Cake (Baking Entry)

My sister Judy celebrated her birthday last month so I decided to bake her something other than the typical boxed cake. I flipped through LuLu’s Kitchen penned by Lucy Buffett and selected her recipe for Barq’s® Root Beer Chocolate Cake.

Now you might be thinking root beer in a cake couldn’t possibly taste good. Let me dispel that notion right here and now. While it does sound a bit off, it is utter deliciousness!

The recipe can be found on page 236 for those taking notes here. And don’t worry, I will provide a link to purchase her book because trust me…it is filled with some fabulous, easy to make, damn good recipes! I like it to so much that the book normally sits out on my cookbook holder.

I will admit I altered the recipe just a bit. You see, while I enjoy cooking and baking, I also love sharing my end results with others.

Instead of baking a cake, I chose the cupcake route. That way I could hand off these treasures to others and not simply offer a slice of cake on a plate wrapped in cling wrap. To me that is so gauche unless you are sending someone home with a “to go” plate. Otherwise, it is so much more pleasant to present a box of cupcakes rather than slices of cake. Am I right?

Lucy’s recipe is easy to follow but I did face one obstacle. For some reason I had difficulty locating an 18-ounce box of chocolate cake mix. The market near me is laden with a surplus of gluten-free or sugar-free boxed cake mixes. Then I was presented with two rows of brownie mixes. Are you kidding me? Finally on the very bottom shelf I found the only real box of chocolate cake mix the offered and grabbed it like it was a hidden treasure.

When I pulled it out to make my cupcakes I discovered it was a mere 15.25-ounce box. But their measurements of ingredients to add (eggs, water, etc.) matched Lucy’s so I went for it.

And just know that if you are faced with the same dilemma have no fear, it worked out just perfect! They were perfectly moist and scrumptious! So good that they really didn’t require frosting but to not top these lovelies with the chocolate cream cheese frosting would have been a travesty. I could’ve taken a spoon and just devoured the frosting from the bowl, it is that good! Creamy and not too rich, which was surprising to me based on the ingredients.

File this one under: Make This One Again

You can pick up Lucy’s book here:

LucyBuffett.com

Amazon

And you can learn more about this fabulous lady here:

LucyBuffett.com

#gumbolove

#lulus

#crazysista

Time to fly off and deliver the goodies!

Until we meet again…cheers!

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Hello? It’s Me (My Thoughts)

What’s that sound I hear? Oh yes. It’s the sound of crickets. It’s been way too long since I posted anything to my little blog. I can almost hear an echo amongst these pages. And that lack of sound or words makes me a bit sad.

Life, as of late, has been rather hectic. It’s been fraught with the struggle between the proverbial “9 to 5” job, daily basic to do lists and my writing. I fought with the notion of being on the clock more hours than the day permitted and sadly I lost every time. But then one day something clicked…

I LOVE writing. And I need to write. To me it’s like a drug. The more I compose the more I need to do so. I crave it. I yearn for it.

When I’m not in front of my laptop, I am penning in my head. Sleep is constantly interrupted with thoughts parading through my mind. So I had to pull out the pad of paper once again in order jot down the ideas that pop in my head before they disappear.

I am now knee deep in my first novel, and I absolutely love it! But my love affair with my novel has led me astray from Folkfairy. Upon this realization, I had a long internal conversation with myself and have decided that my blog must thrive. It’s been like a plant that has not been watered in days. Slowly withering away. So now it’s time to bring it back to bloom.

There is a plethora of short shorts overpopulating my brain. So be on the look out for new stories of all types.

But I will not just be penning stories because after all writing does not limit itself to stories, novels or prose. Writing is weaving words together on paper (or in this case a computer screen). It is defined as the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text.

Those who know me know I love little projects. Inspired by Julie and Julia, I am going to start blogging my narrative on recreating recipes from two people who inspire me in the kitchen. I’m not going to reveal them just yet but I may also throw in a random recipe here and there.

You see, cooking and baking is therapeutic to me, much like writing. I have my own vegetable and herb gardens in the backyard and enjoy using the fruits of my labor when I cook. So writing + cooking/baking = pure happiness.

Now I won’t divulge the actual recipe, I will provide the source. It’s up to you to go find it and make it if you choose.

What I will offer is whether I hit the mark, if I had to make any alterations (I do not consume red meat, fowl or pork products so I often times adjust recipes to fit my eating choices), my thoughts on the process of reproducing the recipe and an accompanying photo of the finished product.

I’m sure there a several out there that might be thinking this all sounds mundane and we are all allowed our opinions. But I want to share things that I enjoy and will offer my honest commentary.

And not to fret, the short shorts will be peppered in my blog again so if cooking and baking is not your thing, feel free to skip over those entries and go right for the fiction and fantasy.

Until we meet again…cheers!

Au Revoir 2016…….It’s Been Strange (My Thoughts)

Today the calendar tells me it’s the final day of the year 2016.

I admit normally I get a wee bit sentimental reflecting on the year. Often times I am somewhat saddened to see the year come to its end, yet at the same time I feel a sense of excitement anticipating what the next year will bring. But this is not the case this year.

In essence, 2016 was not a bad year for me. And with this thought I shall begin. This year brought me many fine gifts. My sister Judy found a job where she is not only valued but she truly likes the company and the personnel. Well-done Judy. Margaret, another of my sisters, relocated a mere 15 minutes from us. The Three Musketeers ride once again. Welcome to Florida Margaret. We are so happy you are here. Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!! In April I was fortunate to once again travel to England. What a trip! Not only was the weather with us but we accidentally happened to see the Queen at Windsor Castle, and I was privileged to see not one but two of Bellowhead’s finale shows. And if that was not enough I had the honour of attending a Bellowhead after show session AND played Jon Boden’s fiddle. What a dream come true!

Both my sister Cathy and her husband Wayne battled two various forms of cancer together and have survived. Take that you horrible, wretched disease! One day we shall never see you again! And my brother Don and my sister-in-law September found themselves once again relocating to a new home in Athens, Georgia that is far closer to us than New Hampshire. The Hoeler siblings are once again close to each other.

This year we found more adventures than we dreamed. And 2017 will only host more for us. That I am sure.

So now, unfortunately, I must now look at the not so nice side of 2016. The side where the world lost. And a part of me lost with it…..

Let’s start with horrible terror that took place in Nice while the town celebrated Bastille Day. This was yet another sign that nasty people are still alive and thriving. But these people did not steal the heart and strength of those citizens in France nor the rest of the world that watched in horror. Lest us forget the act of silence bestowed on those lost by the leads in Le Tour de France…..Chris Froome (Sky), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) paid their respects on the podium.

Then there was the vote for Brexit. The only positive outcome was David Cameron’s resignation. Now the country faces a future of uncertainty. Time will tell if their decision was right.

But of course my country faced the Comedy of Errors also known as the Presidential Election. While Clinton won the popular vote, the Electoral College saw Trump become our President Elect. God help us all. I can only hope he surprises us all and proves me wrong. Sadly I face the future fearing this will not be the case. Unfortunately I lost friends over this election. Friends who could only say they were right and dismissed my views as incompetent. Their loss. Not mine.

Finally this year stole a lot of well-known people from us. And the list is long. So I will focus on a few that hit home most for me. As a writer, death’s stealing of our authors hit me hard. Harper Lee, best known for “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Richard Adams author of “Watership Down” both left this world but left their mark on us all. I can rant a litany of all the artists that left us way too soon… David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Fry, Alan Thicke, George Michael…. All of which I grew up with. But Alan Rickman hit me the most. Such a talent with so many characters with which I wanted to share dinner and never will. They shall all be missed greatly.

Now there are only 3 hours and 35 minutes roughly until this year has its final curtain call. Will I miss the good times? Of course. Will I miss the bad times? Not at all but I grew from them.

So what do I look forward to? A fantastic year. A year of opportunity. A year of growth. A year to succeed and a year of happiness.

Personally for me, I look forward to the world meeting my heroine Cayla in my first novel that I hope to publish next year. She’s a really likeable person I promise. I have my sisters Judy and Margaret to thank for going on this ride with me. My novel is my freedom and I look so forward to being free!

I look forward to the adventures of the Three Musketeers and all the joys life offers.

Let’s all make 2017 a good year. Let’s make it best year. Let’s take this New Year and make it something to behold. Make opportunities don’t wait for them. Take chances; don’t let them pass you by. And love each other. Because love is all we really have.

Carpe diem my friends!

Cheers!