Author Archives: iz

About iz

I am retired and enjoying life. My love of travel, especially in Europe, is rooted in my upbringing as an "Army Brat". Interests include family, reading, walking, hiking, writing, art, speaking French and helping others.

Christmas 2013 in Albuquerque

Was I ever READY for a calm, stress-free holiday!

Beginning November 8, I had spent untold hours shopping sales and clearance racks for gifts of clothing, toys, art and craft supplies and more for the needy folks in our community served by the Secret Santa program.  I amassed over 50 children’s’ outfits for all sizes of kids, from baby to 16, and at least that many baby dolls, Barbie and Barbie-knockoffs, Lalaloopsie mini dolls, basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, etc. They covered every surface of my living room and guest bedroom!  The Secret Santa mission was so consuming that I didn’t have time to find and put out any of my treasured Christmas decor — not even a wreath for the door. I was able to plan and cook for a couple of parties, though.  Diane Cox and I threw a turkey dinner for our walking buddies.  The gathering at Diane’s home was all the sweeter because she returned home from an unexpected hospital stay just two hours before the guests arrived.  She’d had a small heart attack from the stress of getting ready to sell her home and move back East to be near her daughters and their families, after losing her husband Tom last summer.

I also had an Open House with refreshments and a boutique sale of things from my extensive bought-for-gifts collection. Now is the time of life for paring down the lifetime of things we have all amassed.  After that pleasant event, we finally got the names, ages and wish lists of the Secret Santa recipients, and I worked almost full-time on that for five days — right up until I flew to Albuquerque on December 20 to spend Christmas with Dan and Quinn and Kerri.  Happily, they favor a low-key holiday, which has been lovely.  The weather here has been in the 40s and 50s, with blue skies and sunshine and a dusting of snow on the Sandia mountains which form the eastern boundary of Albuquerque.  The city sits between the Rio Grande river to the west, at 5,000 feet of elevation, and the Sandia Mountains, which loom 10,000 feet at the peak.

Sandia Mountains

A slice of the Sandia range on December 22, 2013

This is my grandson Quinn, 11, on a climbing structure we found on the hunt to catch unobstructed views of the Sandias.

This is my grandson Quinn, 11, on a climbing structure we found while hunting for a spot with unobstructed views of the Sandias.

We have done a bit of last minute Christmas shopping, gone to the movie “The Hobbit”, watched a couple of Christmas specials on TV, put together the puzzle that Tutu (Grandmother in Hawaiian; that’s me) traditionally brings, and just hung out together.  On Christmas day, we took a two-hour walk up on the lowest slopes of that mountain.  There was quite a bit of snow on and along the path.

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Quinn graduated from elementary school, and started 6th grade this year. For his creative arts class, he chose the stand-up bass as his instrument, and regaled us with a surprisingly large repertoire of short but recognizable tunes.

Danièl Mazet-Delpeuch: son film et un grand repas dans le Périgord

Chers amis,

Le film “Haut Cuisine” est arrivée récemment aux cinémas aux États-Unis (septembre 2013).  En France, ce film s’appele “Les Sauveurs du Palais” et est sorti en septembre 2012.  Le film est basé sur la vie de Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch.  Elle a des bons amis à Santa Rosa:  Cathy Burgett, qui est Professeur et Chef des études de pâtisserie dans le programme culinaire à Santa Rosa Junior College, et Michael Hirschberg–Sonoma County chef et restaurateur et guide des voyages en Périgord et Provence chaque été. Il y a quelques années, Danièle est venue à Santa Rosa.  À cette époque, L’Alliance Française l’a accueilli avec une soirée au restaurant La Gare. Elle y a  fait une conférence sur le sujet de la nourriture du Périgord, surtout les truffles et le foie gras.  Elle a aussi donné des leçons privées sur la cuisine Périgourdine.

Le film est librement basé sur le livre écrit par Daniéle, “Mes Carnets de Cuisine: du Périgord à l’Élysée” (1997).  Daniéle a 70 ans environ maintenant.  Selon leblog.editions-bayard, “Elle a grandi dans une ferme sans eau d’un hameau du Périgord oú elle … a appris à cuisiner les savoureuses recettes de sa grand-mére.”  Elle s’est marié avec un fermier, dont sa famille était assez riche et puissante dans leur voisinage (comme un grand poisson dans une petite mare , je pense ).  À cette époque dans les années soixantes, le divorce était rare dans cette societé à la campagne, presque interdit.  Une femme mariée dans une famille éminente n’osait pas de demander un divorce. Mais elle, elle a osé.  Hier soir, j’ai dit que Danièle est une femme forte. Mais selon MIchel ça veut dire de corps robuste.  Mais mon amie Elisabeth dit on peut dire “Elle est une forte femme”, et peut-être c’était ça que je voulais dire–une femme d’ésprit forte.  Je peux dire aussi: c’est une femme formidable.  Elle a enfin obtenu son divorce, mais c’était un désastre financier pour elle et ses quatres enfants.  Le judge était partial, et la ferme de sa famille dont elle avait hérité a été attribuée à son mari.  Elle a lutté pendant des années, et finalement, elle a regagné sa propre ferme–où elle habite toujours jusqu’à maintenant.  Danièle cultivait des truffles et élévait des oies pour le foie gras, et des moutons.  Depuis les années mi-soixante dix, elle a enseigné des  classes de cuisine.  Je pense qu’elle est devenu très connue par ces classes et par sa promotion des “Week-ends en Périgord”.

*Elisabeth m’a dit, si je comprend correctement, qu’en ce cas,  un change de place de l’adjectif forte change le sens de la phrase.

Si vous avez la chance d’obtenir le DVD du film Haute Cuisine ou Les Sauveurs du Palais, vous devez regarder les “extras” qui comprennent une interview avec la vraie Danielle.  Maintenant, le film est disponible sur Netflix, et aussi on peut le trouver sur le stream, gratuit,  par YouTube (http://goo.gl/sPsc70).

Le film, avec Catherine Frot jouant le rôle de Danièle (appelée Hortense dans le film), est l’histoire de deux périodes dans sa vie.  La première est l’époque quand elle était choisi par le Président François Mitterand comme son chef privé au Palais Élysee (1988-90).  Il voulait une femme de la campagne pour préparer les repas de son enfance, pour lui et sa famille et ses amis et invitées–et de temps en temps, un Chef d’État étranger.  Elle était la première femme  à être chef de cuisine du Président.  Comme vous pouvez l’ imaginer, le Chef de Cuisine des grands Repas d’État et sa brigade (tous des  hommes, bien sûr) ne lui avait pas donné un accueil chaleureux.  La deuxième histoire dans le film est basée sur ses 14 mois comme Chef de Cuisine à l’ Antarctic, en 1993.  Là, elle était presque la seule femme dans un enclave de chercheurs scientifiques.  À l’époque, elle voulait un changement dans sa vie, une expérience différente.  Elle l’a trouvé.

En juin 2011, j’ai eu le grand plaisir de voyager en Dordogne avec Michael Hirschberg et quelques amis du cours français et aussi notre prof, Todd Straus.  On est restés dans une Chambres d’hôtes qui s’appelle La Tour de Cause.  Les propriétaires sont de Santa Rosa: Daphne Smith, et Caitlin et Albert Woodbury.  Un soir, Danièle est arrivée pour préparer notre dîner.  Nous l’avons tous aidés comme étant sa brigade de cuisine personnelle. C’était une expérience merveilleuse.

Selon Danièle, elle fait “la cuisine simple, comme le type des bonnes femmes, que tout le monde connait, mais nobody sait comment faire maintenant.  Il peut être très simple, ou bien plus sophistiquée — mais plus légère, rien de lourde.  C’est comme un poém.”

According to Danièle, what she does is “simple cooking, the kind of women’s cooking that everybody knows about but nobody knows how to do (these days).

It can be very simple or it can be more sophisticated… traditional food, but lighter, nothing heavy.  It’s a kind of poem.”

IMG_0584Voici Danièl à la cuisine de la Tour de Cause, avec quelques-uns de son brigade; le Prof, la hôtes Caitlin et Iz.

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C’est Michel qui est en train d’aider Danièle avec les amuse-bouche verres. Betsy est en train de prendre un photo.

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Danièle coupe l’autre amuse-bouche, une tarte mince avec des oeufs et des truffles.

IMG_0635Avant d’être à table pour le dîner, nous avons partager les amuses bouches et du vin.IMG_0631On a  niabled aussi des cerises fraiches.

IMG_0636L’entrée: des tranches de coeurs d’artichauts avec fois gras

IMG_0640Le plat principal: des cailles en feuilles de figues, cuit avec des figues fraiches.

IMG_0639Le légume: haricots verts avec d’aile.

IMG_0645Le déssert:  des iles flottants avec sauce de cerises sur crème anglaise.

My Family

Dan & David; Kerri, Taylor, Lexi, Michelle; Quinn

Dan & David; Kerri, Taylor, Lexi, Michelle; Quinn

It’s not often that the Hawaii Campbells and the Albuquerque Campbells are together.  This photo of them all was taken in the Sumer of 2014.  Dan, Kerri & Quinn visited Dan’s brother David and his family: Michelle, Taylor & Lexi.

 

Blog Blague

Sujet: Bretons & Corses

Trop forts les Bretons!

Dans un club de violonistes deux musiciens bavardent.   Un Corse et un Breton.

Tous les deux sont fiers de leur talent.

Le Corse dit:  La semaine dernière j’ai joué un concerto dans la Cathédral d’Ajaccio devant 6 000 personnes.

J’ai tellement bien joué que j’ai fait pleurer la Sainte Vierge.

Le Bréton réflechit, puis répond:

Moi, la semaine dernière, j’ai joué devant plus de 10 000 personnes.  C’était  à la Cathédrale de Rennes.  À un moment, j’ai vu Jésus se décrocher de la croix et venir vers moi.

Alors là, je me suis arrêté de jouer, et dans un silence de mort, il s’est approché de moi et m’a dit:

–Mon fils, je te préviens, tu as intérêt à bien jouer!

Surpris, je lui dis:

–Mais oui, Seigneur. Mais pourquoi tu me dis cela?

Et il m’a répondu:

–Parce que la semaine dernière, lors d’un concert à la Cathédral d’Ajaccio, il y a  un petit Corse prétentieux qui a tellement mal joué, qu’il a fait pleurer ma mère.

A Paris Shopping Experience

Le Défi  (The Challenge)

    I am happily ensconced in my rented apartment on the Left Bank.  It’s comfortable and has almost everything I need.  I’ve stayed in apartments in many parts of Paris, and it’s always fun to explore a new neighborhood.  Every one of them has been worth returning to, but each apartment has its little challenges.  In this case, it’s a toaster.  Or rather, the lack thereof.

This is my first apartment that didn’t come with a toaster and an English electric water-heating pot.  I don’t care about the quick water-heater; I can always boil some water on one of the two burners next to the sink if I want tea. But for me, a toaster is essential.  The irresistible baguette of Paris is a staple of my diet.  I need to be able to toast it for breakfast and when it’s less-than-fresh.  The key to quality is to buy and consume your baguette fresh each day, or store it in the freezer.  But sometimes I forget to use my petite freezer compartment as a breadbox.  If you store bread in plastic bags at room temperature, which to the French is a sacrilege, the crust gets soft and the lovely crispness is lost. Toasting improves the texture if you have stored it in plastic.  I must confess that I sometimes make this irreverent faux pas.

     My landlord, Michel, said that he would reimburse me for a toaster if I would shop for and purchase it.  That seemed fair, since he lives a hour’s train ride from here and probably doesn’t want to spend his weekend getting me a toaster.

   I had scoped out toasters yesterday at Monoprix, and found they are more expensive than in the U.S..  Monoprix is a department store-cum-supermarket which is similar to our Target.  Monoprix had toasters at 25, 35 and 45-euro price points.  You have to multiply that by one and a half (150%) to get the dollar equivalent. The exchange rate these days (2011) is murder on an American budget — everything is waay expensive.  I had planned to visit the huge BHV department store today, near the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), to check out small appliances.  Last night while I was looking at hair curlers on amazon.fr, I decided to peruse the toasters, too.  What a selection!  There were dozens, priced from a low around 20 euros to over 200.  But ordering online meant waiting for delivery, and I want a toaster NOW.  Then, Michel told me that amazon could not deliver to the building because they don’t have the front-door code to get into the vestibule where the mailboxes are.  I guess Amazon France doesn’t ship via La Poste, which is the equivalent of the U.S. Postal Service. La Poste can get in any apartment door to access the mailboxes.
   Where could I have something delivered??  I still wanted to order a hair curler which wouldn’t burn out on European electrical current as my American one had.  Aha!  Valerie would know. She was our 2006 upstairs neighbor, and now is a dear friend.  Her (“our”) building on rue Lucien Sampaix in the 10th arrondissement has a Guardienne, Madame Chavarot.  She’s the caretaker who is on the scene during the daytime.  Mail and packages come to her, and she hand-delivers them to each apartment.  But it has the same entry challenge as here in the 5th, a massive old wooden door at the street where you need to punch in a code to pass through, then an inner door requiring another code, or call-box to ask a resident buzz you in.  Valerie said it’s not a problem to have packages delivered; there’s a buzzer at the street which I never knew about.  Once, I waited out on the sidewalk for 20 minutes before I could tag along with someone who knew the code.  The secret button rings in Madame Chavarot’s tiny quarters on the ground floor.  She doesn’t live there, but she has a long, narrow room with a table and chairs, TV, a daybed, bathroom, washer-dryer, small stove and fridge.  Cupboards line one wall.  They hide, among other things like cleaning supplies, some wicked-strong port wine.  She got me tipsy on it last time I visited.  Madame doesn’t much care for chocolate, and her boyfriend works at a florist’s.  But she loves champagne, so she’s easy to buy for.  If something was sent to me at the building, Madame Chavarot would hold it for me.  Our relationship is cemented with champagne and port, and many hours of chatting — in French, since she doesn’t speak any English.
   Valerie said I could have an Amazon order sent to her, but suggested that I might first want to try the specialty chain called Darty, which carries all manner of electronic gear and also both large and small appliances.  There’s a Darty at Place de la République, a short walk from rue Lucien Sampaix, and on Métro line 5, “our” home line when we called Lucien Sampaix home for three months in 2006.  Serendipitously, the other end of line 5 is the closest Métro stop, Saint Marcel, to my current apartment across the river in the 5th arrondissement.
     I decided to forget about BHV — it would probably be too expensive anyway — and head to Darty to search for hair curlers and toasters.  I had looked up the French names,  so I would know what to ask for: fer à bouclé for curling iron, and grille-pain is a toaster.  When I exited the Métro at République, I was home again, in my old stomping grounds.  There was the giant statue of Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, towering above the enormous square.  It being Saturday, the place was bustling even more than usual.  Tout le monde, and their children, were out shopping.  Plus half the cars in Paris.
Statue of Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, at Place de la Réputlique.

Statue of Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, at Place de la République.

   I was soon in Darty’s basement, which was uncomfortably warm with all those people in it (no air conditioning until mid-summer, and even then it’s weak).  First I found les fers à bouclé’ and determined they didn’t have the kind I need, and even the possible substitute I had seen at Darty on-line won’t do.  On to les grilles-pain.  Michel had said be sure to get a small one, as the kitchen has a very narrow counter.  Darty had about twenty different toasters on display, nearly all of them way too big for my modest kitchen.  But they did have one which would work: the “ultra compact” SEB model I’d seen at Monoprix for 35 euros.  Here it cost 38 euros–that’s $57 folks, for a mediocre-quality toaster, made in China. (But what isn’t?)  The made-in-Europe grille-pain models– England and Germany particularly seem to love their toast — were très chèr (very expensive), albeit of higher quality.
   Being frugal, and not wanting to lug the toaster plus two bags of groceries all they way home from Place de la République, I decided to buy the SEB ultra-compact at the Monoprix across from the Saint Marcel métro station in my new neighborhood.  So it was back to line 5 and a 15 minute métro ride to my part of the 5th.
   Something I was reminded of today is how many Paris stores, even small neighborhood groceries, have very visible security people. They are invariably tall, powerfully-built, stern-looking, extremely noir Africans, dressed in coats & ties.  They watch the customers with suspicion,  those little walkie-talkie thingies in one ear.  Kind of like US Secret Service agents.  They stand near the entry doors, and strategically around in larger stores, their presence striking fear into the hearts of honest customers and shoplifters alike.
    Today I approached two of these intimidating security guys and said (very politely, bien sûr):  “Bonjour, Monsieur. Excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais à quelle heure êtes-vous fermé aujourd’hui?”  “Excuse me for bothering you, sir, but what time do you close today?”  Stores are closed on Sundays in France, with few exceptions, so one had best get their urgent purchases made before Saturday night closing.  At the République Monoprix, I had asked another security guy whether ALL Monoprix stores close at 22h00 (10:00 pm) as posted in his store, and he replied that it depends on the neighborhood.  Stores in sketchy neighborhoods close earlier, at 20h00 (8:00).  I wasn’t sure whether the Saint Marcel neighborhood is considered safe or questionable.  There IS a soup kitchen set up in the evening at the Square Marie Curie a block away.  They feed quite a crowd of down-and-out men, who sit or stand around in groups socializing as they slurp their soup and munch on the main course.  Does that qualify as sketchy?  Those raggedy dudes rather intimidated ME.
   So I hustled to get back before 8:00.  Thankfully, the enormous guard at the Saint Marcel Monoprix assured me they are open until 22h00, so I guess it’s a safe neighborhood.  I bought the toaster, and a bag to carry it, and headed home to rue Poliveau.  Mission accomplished!
Sorry, there are no pictures of Darty, the selections of fers à bouclé’ and grilles-pains, Monoprix or the security guards. This was written in 2011, the first year I began taking photos, and I didn’t think to document these experiences.  Here’s a photo of the toaster, though: 
IMG_0118Voilà le grille-pain!  It’s surrounded by the staples of my Paris kitchen: bread, yogurt, paté, spinach-artichoke soup, pasta & bottled eggplant-red bell-pepper sauce, and cheese, cheese, cheese.  A few of my favorites are shown here: Chaource, Saint Agur, and a Pié d’Angloys which I’d never tried before.  Normally, there would also be Camembert and perhaps a couple of others.  In Paris, you CAN live by bread alone.  Along with cheese.  And of course some healthy greens.
Oh, and I couldn’t resist.  Here’s the yogurt aisle at a Monoprix supermarket: lots of choices!
Yogurt aisle at Monoprix

 

 

Bienvenu à mon blog.

Il faut se lancer toujours un défi.  Préférablement, plusiers défis.  En 2011, pendant que je voyageais en France, je me suis lancer le défi d’envoyer aux amis un photo chaque jour.  J’ai commencé à faire un peu de commentaire avec la photo quotidienne. Et puis, j’ai commencé d’envoyer plusiers photos avec plus de commentaire: en fait, c’est devenu un journal de voyage.  Je l’ai envoyé aux amis par mail (e-mail).  En faisant ça, j’ai découvert que j’aime faire les photos et écrire de mes expériences.

Avant que je puisse écrire, il faut faire attention aux détails des expériences.  Il faut aussi réfléchir.  Pour faire des photos intéressants, c’est nécessaire de rémarquer l’atmosphère dans laquelle on se trouver.  Donc, le defi d’écrire a développé ma perspicacité, et en faisant ça il a enrichi mes expériences.

Récemment j’ai  commencé à écrire un blog.  Le blog est plus facile a partager que les mails.  Aussi, les posts peuvent être plus longs, avec plusieurs photos. Maintenant, j’ai assez de défi en écrivant en anglais. C’est plus difficile que j’avais imaginé.  Mais, dans le futur, je voudrais écrire de temps en temps en français.  Peut-être que je sois masochiste.  Écrire en français, je le trouve très difficile.  Mais je sais qu’il peut m’aider apprendre mieux la langue français.

Donc, j’ai créé une catégorie dans ce blog qui s’appelle “En Français”.  C’est probable que je n’écrirai pas souvent, mais je essaierai.  Maintenant, je voudrais simplement écrire une entrée pour que la catégorie “En Français” ne serait pas vide.

Le voilà!