Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Petite Aquarelle

Perigueux Market, Red Awning 12" x 16"

$120 including shipping
available at www.tomviethsketches.com



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mushrooms


cepes

Wild collected mushrooms. The taste of the forest. The taste of the earth. And, of course, quick and ugly killers. 
The entire region is a buzz with mushroom hunting fever. 
Over the last two weeks I have met with a group of women to work on the town Christmas decorations and every day the conversation starts with  “Did you find any mushrooms today?” and in chorus the answer has been “no”. But now I know better. During the mornings they have all been out finding mushrooms.  Each family has a secret forest spot where the mushrooms have been waiting for a little rain to peek their tender bodies out of the rich soil. No one wants to share or let on that they have been filling baskets and baskets of gorgeous fall mushrooms. Each woman is testing the other to see who will confess first. So far no one has cracked.


There seems to be a community-wide belief that Tom and I would never survive a foray into the forest. And that we are the perfect dopes to select only the deadliest of neo-fungi. Our French friends have taken it on themselves to be sure that we have tasted these local delicacies in every fashion possible. I’ve been called aside to be discreetly given a container of stuffed cepes and another time a skillet’s worth of cleaned, sliced and gently sauteed mixed wild mushrooms. 
The next day the husband of this friend teased that maybe we had had stomach aches or funny side effects. Not at all, they were delicious and much appreciated as we would certainly be found dead hours later if we tried this on our own.

One ‘hunter’ told a tale of woe. She had set off to a ‘special’ hunting ground. Well, by the time she arrived (at dawn!) there were already 4 cars parked in the woodland path. Soon she declared she felt as if she was on the Champs Elysees in the middle of Paris. The forest was crawling with people bent over knocking over mushrooms to see what kind they were.  Apparently mushrooms hunters establish their claim on their moving zone by making funny noises to warn away others. This was exactly why not not even good friends were letting on what they had been up to in the mornings. Loose lips can’t savor the gifts of the forest.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday's Petite Aquarelle

Hidden Fountain

$120 including shipping
www.tomviethsketches.com

Thursday, December 1, 2011

a little more thanks giving.....

"...we are thankful to have French guests at our table. And for the charming way their research on French Wikipedia seems to have confused the two American traditions of Halloween and Thanksgiving."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe Rescue


Naturally I really wanted turkey for Thanksgiving. But I didn’t want to hunt around for a whole turkey, something that they don’t seem to have here in France without a special order. And I knew for certain that I couldn’t special order a turkey with one of those magic basting buttons.
Topping off my terrific turkey troubles, my oven isn’t big enough for the American-sized turkey pan that I so carefully packed and brought across the ocean for just such an occasion. 
Cranberries don’t exist, fresh or canned. And I never thought to bring a case or two of my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal-- Pepperidge Farm Stuffing. 
Rounding out my worrisome woes,  I told Tom we were having two French couples over for dinner on Thanksgiving Day. He suggested not mentioning it as a holiday dinner-- this ultimately leads to comparisons to French holidays and regrets that we didn’t load up on fancy hand-made chocolates. 
We also didn’t want to burden our French friends with how to act on our holiday.The French do know the television version of this family event -- the father standing over the bird ready to carve, the family around the table ready to gobble up mountains of food, and the inevitable moment when someone starts a squabble, because, like the turkey itself, American television families always squabble at Thanksgiving.
But I really wanted to feel connected to what family and friends were celebrating in the US of A  so I decided to cook up a great big turkey pot pie. No one needed to know that in America this is classified as a leftovers dinner. In fact, because of the lack of frozen pearl onions, and because someone gave me wild collected cepe mushrooms, this was the freshest Thanksgiving dinner I’d ever made. (But oh to have had my canned cranberries and packaged stuffing!)  
The only moment of “what is this American thing?” was when everyone looked down to see their bread already on their plate. Biscuits floated on top of the pie. This was a first for them. Then after a moment or two of disorientation, someone commented on the cepes and you could feel the sigh of relief with this familiar seasonal ingredient.
Originally dessert was to be an apple pie, but when we thought of the gravy, biscuits, and mashed potatoes through the eyes of someone not used to this quantity of starches we just couldn’t add a pie crust to the mix. So it was brownies instead, and for our guests that was as American as it gets. And oh so easy to gobble up. 
No one squabbled, but as with any family the noise level went up and up as the evening went on. Tom and I held on tight as the conversation raced on faster and faster. We lost Tom in a few turns, but he managed to rebound with a minimum of faux pas’s.  (He didn’t accidently call anyone a racist this year.) We were happy to think of the progress in our French and the friends we have made in the last year. Maybe this wasn’t a bona fide Thanksgiving, but there was a lot to give thanks for.


from Recipe Rescue Cookbook (Forbidden favorites rescued by the experts at Eating Well Magazine)
Edited by Patricia Jamieson and Cheryl Dorschner
**thank you Cheryl!! such a handy crowd pleaser!
Chicken Potpie
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced
1 clove garlic
6 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 12-oz can evaporated skim milk (1 1/2 cups)
4 cups cooked diced chicken or turkey (1 lb.)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup pearl onions, thawed
3/4 cup frozen peas
enough biscuits to cover pie - or 2 - 3 per person You’ll have to figure our your pan and your eaters!
salt and pepper to taste
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are just tender, 3 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour wine, stirring with a whisk. Gradually whisk in stock and evaporated skim milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in meat, lemon juice, parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
Blanche carrots in boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir the carrots, onions and peas into the filling. Spoon the filling into a deep, 3-qt casserole dish (I use a lasagna pan sized for the amount of guests) and set aside while preparing biscuits. (The filling can be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cover the filling with biscuit rounds and brush with milk.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 10 - 20 minutes or until the biscuits are nicely browned and the filling is bubbling. Serve immediately.
Serves 8

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday, a little more shopping....

We have shamelessly added new things to our little store. So here is our contribution to Black Friday.

100% cotton tea towels.
 $10 each.
Pricing and shipping available at tomviethsketches.com




and Friday's Petite Aquarelle
Blue Skies
$120
www.tomviethsketches.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Words


Breakfast Conversation International Style
Cast of Characters: Savannah Sally, Paris Pauline, London Lilly 
Savannah Sally: Good morning. Did ya’ll sleep well?
London Lilly: Very well thank you. I was knackered. 
Sally: Oh.  I sleep in pajamas, not knickers. Coffee? Would you like that with sugar? Half and half?
Lilly: Half and half? Blimey, what’s that?
Sally: It’s half milk and  half cream.
Lilly: My goodness, couldn’t you Yanks just say light cream? I thought you might mean half sugar and half coffee!
Sally: Toast anyone?
Paris Pauline: Yes, please.
Savannah Sally: Some cherry preserves?
Pauline: Pardon me, what did you say? Are you talking about sex already this morning?!
Sally: Sex and cherry preserves?  I’m a little lost, Honey.
Pauline: Cherie, I don’t need protection from my morning toast. 
London Lilly: Pauline, Ms. Savannah means jam, not a “French Letter”.
Sally and Pauline: A “French Letter”?!
Lilly: A rubber, a condom, an English Hood (capote anglaise)......


My goodness what a way to start the day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dedicated to Jen

Right after my friend hopped in the car she mentioned that today was the New York City Marathon. I found it a bit strange that my French friend was aware of this far away event, but I was happy to be reminded so early in the day that today was the day that a very special friend, Jennifer, was running those 26 miles in The Big Apple. Three thousand miles and six time zones away. Here we were heading out to join our walking group. As the group assembled in the local parking lot I noticed that another friend had an umbrella that mentioned the NYC marathon. He was unaware that today was the marathon and had grabbed that umbrella completely by chance. 

Turns out that he had run the NYC Marathon in 1990 and was proud to state that France had the second highest participants after the U. S. 


To top off all this strange marathon vibe, unbeknownst to us, there was an important running race being held on the hiking loop that we had selected for today’s outing.

I stood at the starting line and thought of the amazing contrast of what my friend Jennifer was going to encounter today in her grand undertaking. I felt sad to be so far away and unable to participate in some small way in her grand day. For kicks I took a few photos to send to her, hoping they would make her laugh.  And then the runners started passing by and it hit me – I was supposed to be paying attention. All the mystic signals of this morning were to keep me in touch with my friend even if she didn’t know it. So here is my little way of showing her where I was during the early part of her run in a very big city, at a different time of day. There is no way to show the good whishes and encouragement that I sent over that great big gulf spanning distance, time, and culture.




Starting Line

Security


and they are off...

over hill and dale



No Mushroom Picking

signage

herds of on lookers







The finish line is just under the church.

almost there


celebration area

Winner's interview


and here is Jen's grand accomplishment!!!
FINISH        01:17:37 PM       3:31:12.00       01:17:37 PM       08:04.00      

Name
Marker
Bib
Gender
City
Country
Jennifer 

17713
F