yellow rose, chocolate croissant, and Eiffel

quite a day….
I have not really slept since 6AM CST Sept 14.  It’s now 7PM Paris time which is Noon CST Sept 15.

I hear the church bells peal through the open windows of my flat; the weather is beautiful here.

There is so much to see, experience, feel, and taste; I don’t want to go to sleep, but I know I must.  And soon.

My flat is lovely, overlooking a courtyard of hydrangia bushes.  The setting sun bathes the building in a golden yellow, and a brisk breeze floats through the sheer clad windows as I sit at an antique desk and type this blog post.  Old world meets new – antiques and internet.

Just past the front gate of my building sit two parks secluded by trees, a chocolate shop, and a corner cafe, where I hope to find thick, rich European hot chocolate tomorrow morning.

Dear Martha placed a yellow rose in a vase near the doorway to greet my arrival into Paris.  Two croissants, cheese, bananas, lemons, and metro tickets completed my welcome package.

After touring Martha and Jerry’s village and mine, we sat in the warm afternoon sun and feasted on a lunch of croque jeune homme (open face ham and cheese toasted), salad with chicken, and pasta.  Two Metro rides deposited us near the Eiffel tower.  As with sunrise and sunset, I keep shooting the Eiffel tower from every angle I can find.

We walked along a portion of the Seine, and I thought how beautiful this scene would be at night, illuminated by not only street lights, but by the stars and the moon.

A worker was making repairs to the Eiffel tower, very, very, very, very high up the tower and hanging over the edge of the metalwork. We walked over the tunnel where Princess Diana lost her life; we gazed at the vegitation house, its front covered in green plant growth; we rode the Metro home, squished in the cars along with others ending their work day.

Martha and Jerry tasting ice cream from a stand near Eiffel:

Sleep … I have to sleep..

Sept 16….Good Morning!  The sky is light blue, dotted with floating clouds.  It’s cool here…I must find hot chocolate!

Martha and I are going for a morning walk to Notre Dame, then we will all three spend the afternoon at Sacre Coeur…all promises to be another wonderful day!

a food adventure

Though there may be an absence of recipes in the near future, I hope there will not be an absence of food related blog posts.

I’m traveling later this month, and I expect to see Beautiful examples of food…all types of food.
My plan is to post daily as I travel…time will tell.
I hope you will check back often as I share the sights, sounds, and tastes…along my travels.
Though I’ll probably turn off my phone…let’s just say that my Facebook checkin will be from CDG airport…

rite of passage

Home….

A few weeks ago, Nephew A asked, “do you miss the country?” I, without pause, hesitation, thought or consideration immediately replied, “every day.”

I live in the city now, and have for 12 years; however, rural West TN will always be … Home…

I drove home Friday afternoon to attend the annual dove hunt shindig.  If you are from the country, you are probably familiar with this annual event.  If not, just know that the event involves food, food, dove season (field) opens, and more food.

Nearing sunset, I drove along the two-lane roads, listening to a narration of Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad,” read by a gentleman with a deep south, Charleston accent.  Warm, late afternoon sunlight bathed the corn fields, ripe for harvest.  It was as if a huge protective, welcoming blanket surrounded me along the drive.  Some can’t go home, or choose not to go home, but for the remainder of us, going home will always be a comforting event.  It is where our memories lie, where our dreams were formed, and where we choose to return to rest at the end of our earthly journey.

Food…
Food is huge during the annual dove hunt.  From the pre-hunt cookers producing poppers, and fried fish and b-b-q bologna, to the post hunt lunch of shoulders and ham and baked beans. And that brings me to the  ’rite of passage.’

There will not be a recipe in this blog post, for you see, I did not receive this rite of passage.  I am not privy to the ingredient list, nor the technique, nor the cooking time nor temperature.  It is my brother who has mastered this art, and this year, it was his son to whom the instructions passed.

As I watched, Nephew A listened and followed directions for preparing the shoulders for the overnight rest in the cooker.  His Dad is master of the cooker, consistently preparing delicious post hunt shoulders.

Nephew A, this is where your memories are being made, and a place to which you will return for years to come.

I can attest to the fact that the shoulders, cooked overnight, cooled, and pulled were delicious!  I don’t really need the recipe; all I need is an invitation to attend the feast.

Sunrise next morning…
I arrive at the field with the hunters long before first light.  Everyone is looking for ‘just the right spot,’ as if having a premonition of from which directions the doves will fly.  I, on the other hand, am looking for a location where my camera lens and I will not get pelted with shot, yet have a view of the field, the sunrise, and hopefully a few birds.

And then it happens……..someone yells “BIRD!”  and the shots fire.  Dove season (in this field) has arrived, just after sunrise, over a fog laden field of drying corn and spent sunflowers, heads bowed in reverence to this time honored tradition.
The birds hit the ground with a thud, the young hunters are thrilled with their marksmanship, and after dressed, the dove will provide a tasty dinner.

CLICK HERE to see the pictures from the Dove Hunt 2011.

Epilogue…
Nephew A and his Wife M are expecting their first child in February 2012…..a son….rite of passage….

Sophia’s Baklava

Labor Day celebration cookout turns Greek….

After we consumed Michael’s bbq ribs, the potato salad, and the baked beans, we began discussing baklava.  Sophia’s Greek heritage, her baking knowledge, and her Greek cookbook led the way to the kitchen.

I randomly chose a page in the cookbook – this translates to Dessert!

 Greek cooking and baking; a well-worn, much-used cookbook from Sophia’s library

 a very special personalized cookbook

 the basic Baklava recipe; Sophia tweaked the recipe

Sophia – our mentor

 Greek honey…thick….rich…delicious

Sophia and Val …

 …utensils in hand

 tasting the Greek honey

 delicious!

 lemon zest to add to the sugar syrup

 Sophia buttering the phyllo

 Sophia’s method of adding the nut mixture to the phyllo sheets

 rolling the phyllo sheets to encase the nut mixture

 pressing the layers together

Val reading the recipe

 Sophia’s smile

each log brushed again with butter, then sliced with serrated knife through top layer at 3-finger widths 

 another brush of butter after the slits

 a splash of tap water

and into the 325 degree oven until golden brown

 adding the Greek honey to the sugar/water/lemon zest syrup

 the thick rich Greek honey slides slowly from the spoon into the syrup

syrup ready to pour over baked phyllo/nut rolls

 just out of the oven

 three cooks in the kitchen

adding cooled syrup to hot phyllo/nut rolls (cool/hot is important per Sophia)

Queen Val and her tea (Sophia brewed a delicious, soothing Greek tea for us to sip while waiting for baking to complete)

 soaking..waiting…waiting…waiting…

Sophia’s Baklava
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups nuts; mixture of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts (none were salted nor roasted)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or crumbled biscotti
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 t ground cloves (or to taste)
  • 1 package purchased phyllo dough, thawed 
  • 8 oz butter, melted
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup Greek honey
Mixing:
  1. Process first five ingredients in food processor until finely chopped; do not process into a powder nor paste (excess nut mixture may be frozen for later use)
  2. Melt butter in small pan; sit aside (you will need a small brush to slather the butter onto the phyllo dough sheets)
  3. In large pan, make syrup by combining 3 c. sugar and 2 c. water; boil for 10 minutes
  4. Add grated lemon zest and Greek honey to sugar water mixture; sit aside to cool while phyllo dough/nut rolls bake
  5. Spread melted butter on three individual sheets of phyllo dough, stacking one on top of the other after brushing with butter
  6. Fold buttered sheets in half, short sides meeting
  7. Generously add nut mixture to the edge of the stacked and folded buttered sheets and roll phyllo sheets around nut mixture; place in an un-greaed, unlined baking dish with 2″ sides (choose a dish that is large enough to hold all the syrup, which will be added after baking)
  8. Continue to make phyllo dough/nut rolls
  9. Brush top of rolls lightly with butter
  10. Sprinkle a few drops of water over rolls from fingertips held under running water
  11. Bake in 325 degree oven until golden brown, turning once during baking.  Baking time will vary but should be between 30 and 45 minutes.
  12. Syrup mixture should be cooling at this time; Sophia stresses the need to add room temperature syrup to the hot phyllo/nut rolls immediately after removing them from the over
  13. Once syrup is added, sit the dish aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature.  The syrup will soak into the rolls.
  14. The baklava will keep at room temperature for several days.
As you can see, we did not exactly follow the recipe in the book pictured above; thus, the recipe truly becomes “Sophia’s Baklava.”
Sophia is moving to another city.  I almost missed meeting her…but didn’t.  Years ago, there was another dear lady in my life that I ‘almost missed meeting….but didn’t.  She changed my life.   Meetings such as these are meant to be….

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