Noël à Paris

Here are some photos of December in Paris:

Short, crisp, sunny days:

Luxembourg Garden




The Senat Musée d'Orsay photo 1-1 photo 2-1


Notre Dame by day and by night:

IMG_6119 IMG_6193


More Christmas trees:

A small forest installed in front of the Pantheon

IMG_6106The Senat



Place Vandome



Store windows, decorations:

The Bon Marché



Galeries Lafayette

IMG_6134 IMG_6141Printemps

IMG_6147 IMG_6146 IMG_6155 IMG_6150



photo 5 photo 4 photo 1 IMG_5843 IMG_5841Upsidedown trees and snowmen in a cheese shop 🙂

photo 2


Russian Tea Cakes cooked in a microwave/oven combo… possible!

photo 3


And… the reason for the season: Nous t’attendons, l’enfant Jésus notre Roi.  Creche at Saint-Germain des Près




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But it’s Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day not Friday, you say.  What terrible pun are you cooking up now, Foust?

No proper pun, but cooking yes.  Fried things.  Fried little potato pancakes ( for St. Patrick’s Day, and fried little almond-honey-orange cigars ( for tomorrow morning’s lab meeting.  Monday mornings are always more pleasant with a bit of fried dessert, n’est-ce pas?

In other news, I’ve a new favorite bread called “Ekmek” from the boulangerie around the corner (  Light, airy, moist with a golden brown crust, hints or honey and olive oil, good company for savory and sweet warm foods alike.  à mon avis, “Bread tasting” ought to be as popular and refined a pastime as wine tasting….






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bread flip!

Oh la la le pauvre, my poor neglected blog.  I don’t even want to think about what the long vacation from writing has done to the random distribution of inter-post-intervals.  Oh, how life has changed since the warm zucchini summer!  Mrs. Farmer inquired about my blog recently, and after confessing that it had gone the way of most new year’s resolutions, the way of the dodo, the way of day-old tomato salad, I related the problem that assails authors of neglected blogs and pen-pals alike.  That is, where to start?  I could write to you, poor blog, about an unexpected “temporary early retirement” in New Haven, waiting for the creaky wheels of bureaucracy to produce a visa in the good company of fall color, old and new friends who graciously shared their couches, kitchens and guest rooms.  I could write about five weeks of intensive french classes in Nice, watching the Mediterranean shift color along the Promenade des Anglais, living with a belle famille français très bavarde, who graciously welcomed me into their home, their kitchen, their table, and encouraged me through my first stammering conversations.  Although I still speak comme une vache espanole, I was told last night at a soirée that I speak very well (for an anglophone), but have an accent Niçois!  (Je serais très fière d’être Niçoise !  Issa Nissa ! Merci D&D&family, vous me manquez!)  I could write to you now about work, about funny encounters with Parisians, churches, open air markets, pastries, chocolate, and a love affair with la baguette monge from the boulangerie around the corner, mais tout ça ferait trop for my out of shape finger and writing muscles.  Donc, I will take Mrs. Farmer’s advice and stick to sights, smells, sensations of the present, which this morning are dominated by Jacque Pepin’s “bread flip”:

It all started Friday night, wiped out from the week’s work, finding nothing on French TV to amuse and benumb my aching brain, I turned to good-humored Jacque Pepin for help:

In this episode, he shows how to make a stove-top quick bread fried in olive oil, which he discovered at a Thai restaurant in Middletown, CT.  Having no oven here in my studio, I marked it on the “must try” list and also shared it with my parents last night over skype.  I few hours later my dad, le vrai boulanger de notre famille, emailed a photo of his first flip bread.  That photo being the last thing I saw before drifting off to sleep post-soirée, I woke up full of motivation to try my own hand at the “flip.”  It began with gooey dough: flour, salt, water, baking powder, olive oil, covered, frying and steaming on the stove top for ~10 minutes.  Then, came the point when Jacque had deftly turned the doughy disk with a flick of the handle.  At first, I was scared.  “Perhaps I should dig a spatula under the edge first to make sure it’s not stuck.”  to which, J. Pepin in my brain retorted, “perish the thought, Foust; that baby is swimming in so much olive-oil, she’s almost green!”  So I took the handle in both hands et voilà!  Maybe it was a beginner’s miracle, mais en tout cas, my fragrant frisbee ended up reversed and back in the pan ready to finish.  For sure it wasn’t perfect; I used a little too much oil and not enough heat to generate the nice air pockets like Jacque’s, so it turned out a little gooey, but fresh, warm, and incredible all the same.  I ate half of it for breakfast with coffee, an apple and yogurt, and presently trying to resist the other half until dinner time.  I guess it goes to show that not even the world famous boulangerie down the street avec sa belle baguette monge can complete with the pleasure baking a fresh little something at home.

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‘cot more zucchs pizza

A few years ago, my friends sold their family farm.  It had been an impressive operation, big trucks and big tractors among big canyons pulling nutritious stuff from the ground and turning more under season after season.  Mr. Farmer was never around the house during the summer, working around the clock to fit the most basic of human needs.  Winter was his “summer break.”  It seemed like a good life, with seasons for working and resting.  I only visited the farm twice, and I’ll never forget squatting at the edge of a gigantic circle and digging real potatoes, like gold nuggets, out of the ground.  Mr. & Mrs. Farmers’ kids worked at the farm too, driving tractors and weighing trucks.  Alas, none of the seven adopted the family vocation, and so the Farmer Brothers retired and sold the farm.

The silver lining, that I’m enjoying this summer, is that the Farmers’ cultivative energy has been plowed into the FarmHouse Garden & Orchard.  I’ve been to the FarmHouse countless times and still regard it as my second home.  The Farmer Blueberry Bower was already turning out loads of blueberries before I left for school five years ago.  Now it’s more prolific than ever, with a mesh house to thwart the birds.  In addition, the Farmers are now pulling bumper crops of blackberries, raspberries, and apricots, mountains of ‘cots raining from a single tree.  I eat apricots like candy all day long.  The Farmers are also very generous with berries as well, donating the fresh, fragrant substrates for pies, tarts, ice cream, and sorbet.  “There is one rule,” stated Mrs. Farmer, that is “if you take fruit you must also take zucchini” from the a growing pile on the Farmer kitchen table as they march in from the garden week after week. Zucchini bread, Zucchini muffins, Zucchini quinoa, and this evening, le pièce de résistance, zucchini pizza.  Carmelized Walla Walla Sweet Onion, fresh tomato and basil zucchini pizza…




ah summer

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Zucchs as long as my forearm,

blossoms attached, deep green piled in a crate, 3 for a dollar.  My dad and I walked there at 9 this morning. It was already an arid PleasantDermWarming 85 degrees.  The farm stand on the corner opened last week, a tent surrounded by little red flowers.  5 minutes and $15 later, our bags were loaded with treasures: corn, squash, beans, cucs, zucchs and raspberries, picked yards away <24h ago having never suffered a fridge or single day of cold weather.

Moist, giant zucchs (an abbreviation or rightful omission of a lilliputiafying suffix) form the base for realizing Elise’s recipe, uniting chocolate, coffee and almond in Sunday afternoon bread form.

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Summer vacation is . . .

Waking up slowly

Reading for pleasure

Living “off-schedule”

Trying a new up-do from youtube


Eating cake for breakfast . . .


Eating ice cream for lunch


Hanging out all afternoon at the zoo with an old friend and three darling carrot tops

Sitting for an unpredetermined length of time in a rose garden


Among lily pads



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We will exult and rejoice in you;

we will extol your love more than wine;

rightly do they love you.


Song of Songs 1:4

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1 tsp of sugar has only 16 calories.  When added to a very small serving of decaf espresso can satisfy a sweet craving.  Cannot be that evil.


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les croissants aux amandes

On this my third week in Germany, I am returning to Göttingen from Strasbourg on ICE 76.  It’s my fourth ride on the high speed German trains, and I’m growing to like this low-stress form of transportation.  The quiet, gently rocking view from my “fensterplatz” is especially nice as the sun plays hide-and-seek through the clouds over the countryside.  My work in Göttingen goes well so far, my collaborators are supportive, and I find real pleasure in getting to know the simple aspects of living in Germany.  Buying groceries.  Trying all kinds of crusty schwartzbrot. Browsing the Saturday morning farmer’s market.  Attending mass.  Cycling.  Göttingen is the most bike-friendly place I’ve ever lived, and with the good bike loaned by a friend, I can easily commute from my guest room to the lab (~30min), the bahnhoff (~10min) or center of town (~15min).   Göttingen oozes all the intellectual charm befitting her identity as an old “university town.”   Although it’s roughly the same population as New Haven, the city center is so packed with shops and commercial activity that I feel I’m in a much bigger city.  The crown jewel in my opinion is still Cron&Lanz, a chocolatier/bakery/café in the heart of town.  There mouthwatering cakes gleam like gems in warmly lit cases.  The clerks and waiters wear smart black and white uniforms serving afternoon Kaffee und Küchen on dainty china with silver.  The cakes are so beautiful, I can hardly begin eating them.  Chocolate torte with countless delicate layers.  Rasberry and mixed berry küchen mit sahne (whipped cream) mounded generously on the side.  I’m studying German on the Deutsch Welle website almost everyday, and it’s a lot of fun to sit in public places and listen to people talk, understanding a few more words everyday, and trying out simple phrases at shops and with coworkers.

This past weekend in Strasbourg was my first visit to France since the whirlwind tour of Paris I had through an essay contest in high school.  Because I’m busy with lab and learning to navigate in Göttingen, I didn’t think to put much effort into studying the city ahead of time as I like to do in preparation for travel.  Nonetheless, I could naïvely appreciate the beautiful French and German architecture, and especially liked the gothic Cathedral at the heart of old Strasbourg.  I was delighted by the vibrant and active Catholic community living the magnificant structure.  Both at Sunday mass in the grand sanctuary and this morning in the small side chapel, the community sang and participated actively in the liturgy.  Furthermore, as I had been studying French all fall, it was awesome to sit in public places and hear it spoken everywhere, trying simple phrases as restaurants and cafes.  Lastly, I enjoyed trying traditional Alsacian cuisine, Flammkuchen, choucrout, et frommage, as well as eating my first real French croissant, vraiment delicieaux!

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RandomFoodBlog: Sauteed Kale with Toasted Pine Nuts and Raisins

This winter I fell in love with Kale.  Out of the crate it’s tough and dark, but a little adversity in the form of heat or acid reveals it’s true character hearty and supple, without wilting into slimy fiber-goo like other delicate greens.

While my favorite Kale prep is Aarti’s massage with lemon, honey and mango, this recipe from Elise’s blog comes in a close second, wedding our beloved Kale with toasted pine nuts, golden raisins, and red pepper flakes for extra heat.

** One final note, Kale is only in season for a couple more weeks, so get it while it’s fresh!

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