Thursday, November 8, 2012

Plaisirs d'automne... Autumn pleasures...





Julia Child and Jacques Pépin
request the pleasure of your company 
for a fall pot-luck dinner party.
Come and join us at l'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, 
Roo de Loo (rue de l'Université), Paris.
Please bring a healthy appetite, 
and your favorite recipe 
from Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
A bientôt.

Your hosts,
Jacques and Julia.


I will never say it enough: We have wonderful friends. 


Most people would at least pause before replying to a similar invitation. Pas nos amis. Not our friends. They R.S.V.P.'d within a couple of days and agreed to play along. Had I thrown in a Julia and Jacques look-alike contest, they would not have missed a beat...

You may remember I have a soft spot for la Grande Julia. She would have turned 100 this Fall. What a special way of honoring her long, prolific career and the great girl she was. Good food. Good wine. Good company. Oui, Julia would have approved. 

The only bad news about the party was that I could not invite more people. Space was limited, even in our palatial [by European standards] home, and I wanted all twenty guests to sit in the same room. 

The party took a while to plan, but it was worth it. 

Le Husband and I decided to prepare one of Julia's specialties, le Boeuf Bourguignon. It took three evenings to make. We had fun and worked side by side; narrowly avoiding disaster while flambé-ing [methinks I just invented a new verb...] the dish with Cognac. We had forgotten to turn off the stove vent, and the bright flames were sucked in; threatening to set the basement on fire. We did not panic (no doubt the Cognac fumes had helped relax Jacques and Julia that night...)

Call Ze Firemen: Ze Frenchies have set the 'hood on fire!!!

Things settled down,
and le Boeuf Bourguignon went back to simmering quietly...

Meanwhile, our friends researched Julia's career and came up with a selection of scrumptious dishes. Les entrées (appetizers) included gougères au gruyère and champignons farcis. Soupe à l'onion, homard Thermidor and haricots verts sauce Mornay joined our Boeuf Bourguignon as plats du jour (the day's specials.) Finally, dessert: Mousse au chocolat and tarte aux fruits. 

Quel festin! What a feast!

Finally, everything was ready for our soirée, and the house quietly awaited guests on a rainy, blustery evening.




The quiet before the storm...

The Frenchified Julia, waiting for her guests...

It is fair to say a wonderful time was had by all. This was the perfect fall celebration and for the next few hours, guests' laughter and animated conversation prevailed. Folks, it was LOUD in there. Jacques and Julia were the only well-behaved ones, silently working side by side on the flat tv screen, oblivious of le tintamarre (the racket) around them.

In a corner of the room, empty wine bottles started piling up. The stack would get a lot bigger by the time the evening wrapped up, much, much, later.


Joyeux anniversaire, Julia! Bon Appétit! 


Then, once the quiet had returned, there would be cleaning; pushing furniture around; and for our lucky family, a couple more days enjoying tasty leftovers.

Ah, plaisirs d'automne. Autumn pleasures. Merci, Julia. Merci, les amis.

But who said Fall pleasures all have to be enjoyed indoors? The weather has been hit-and-miss, but a handful of dry days have allowed for some outdoor action. 

At the beginning of the week, I visited a lively Seattle neighborhood, Capitol Hill. I took a morning walk in Volunteer Park, home of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a 100-year old Conservatory. 





Bonjour, Space Needle!






Later on, I followed Capitol Hill's most exclusive street, Millionaire's Row, and gawked at château after château...











I decided this was likely a conservative neighborhood... but one should never presume.

Suddenly, I saw la maison bleue (the blue house.) Two peaceful angels were guarding the front door. Upon closer inspection, it appeared the angels were carrying signs. The house itself was covered in stickers. I got closer, and I smiled, for one of the angels had a message for me.





Fear not, little angels. Washington State has heard you. 

Along the way, I made time for une omelette aux fines herbes (fresh herb omelet) chez Café Presse, a local restaurant.







Meanwhile, not everyone was enjoying a pleasant Fall. The East Coast is still reeling from Sandy's visit. Somewhere along the way, an outspoken Republican governor and a Democratic President gave everyone a much-needed lesson in bi-partisanship when they met stranded populations on the Jersey coast and pooled resources to help others.

Then came the long awaited presidential election day, as everyone sighed with relief all over the country. Enfin. Finally. 

In a heartwarming display of democracy at work, Americans voted. In the cold, in the dark, with no power. They voted. It was a beautiful sight.

Tom Rivers, NJ
(photo: Mel Evans, AP)
Staten Island, NY
(photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
Everyone voted on November 6, 2012!
(photo: Sarah Stathas, Reuters)

Junior and his immigrant parents stayed up late on Election night. A Social Studies project had to be completed, and our 7th grader was mesmerized as he kept track of the giant map on the TV screen. Slowly, the map started turning red... and blue. (There was something going on in Florida, but by now, everyone is getting used to it. Florida does not do presidential elections very well... Sorry, Florida!)


This will come in handy when planning upcoming vacation...
(kidding, folks, kidding!) 

Finally, the president's name was announced. Barack Obama. People cheered. People cried (not always from happiness.) It was a done deal. Battles had been fought. Millions had been spent. A President had been elected. 

Le Husband and I were happy to participate in our third American Presidential election. Whomever Americans voted for, I hope they remember that - to quote a friend and neighbor this week - "United we stand. Divided we fall." 

And to keep things light (this is just a fun little blog, after all,) we were very happy to hear that President Obama has just honored an immigrant family some of you may recognize...

A bientôt.


"De rien, President Obama!"


Governor Christie's fundraiser for New Jersey families:


All photos unless otherwise noted, by French Girl in Seattle.
Please do not use, reprint, or Pin without permission.



58 comments:

  1. What an utterly brilliant idea for your dinner party! Very inspired, and I bet everybody thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening.

    Such tumultuous times in the US, storms, elections, uncertainty. Hopefully now things will settle, and people can move on. xx

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, and yes, let us hope everyone can move on... Tumultuous times indeed.

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  2. Now that's a party I'd love to attend! What a great idea. I'm going to show this one to my "chef". We are life long Julia fans!!!
    Love the idea of the video on the TV. You are so very clever and creative! Thanks for the morning walk too. I always enjoy tagging along..........Sarah

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    1. Bonjour Sarah. You are no stranger to Julia-themed parties yourself as I recall AND you even got to cook with la Grande Julia once. Quelle chance!

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  3. Oh how I would like to make your guest list. Very very creative...and I bet delicious. What a great blog today!

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    1. I will need to move into a much larger home (maybe Versailles will do?) so I can invite all my local friends, as well as my fellow bloggers next time...

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  4. And you said you didn't cook:-)
    This looks like so much fun:-)
    I am now craving une soupe a(I am on my Android..please forgive the lack of accent)..l'oignon:-)
    Soon..the weather will warrant ..many..
    We like Mr.Obama..I know I am Canadian..but I was cheering for him:-)

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    1. Bonjour Nana. I did not say I do not cook. I said I do not bake :-) I can cook as long as I have a recipe to follow... especially if the recipe is Julia's or Ina's (Garten) -- Bon weekend au Canada.

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  5. Oh my...somehow I regret not attending your party, even though I wasn't an invitée, and couldn't have made it there anyway! It looks like so much fun; what a fantastic idea.

    Actually, I think I'm just disappointed we didn't think of it, too!

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    1. Well, chère Alison, it is never too late. What are you waiting for? I am sure there are many Julia-themed parties organized all over America to celebrate her 100th birthday this Fall!

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  6. Encore ce n'est pas possible! I wasn't invited. Mince alors!;) Hee hee you're silly french girl..that picture of y'all with Obama. I also love your Fall pictures. Great neighborhood and photo of the angel.;)

    Your post took me back to one of my last meals in France. It was supposed to be just a lunch... Jeny a 87 year old woman was our hostess! She did have some help from my mother's cousin. She didn't have the energy to cook us anything fancy like Julia's stuff but yours looked great! Jeny had the best stories. So many stories in fact, she fell asleep in the middle of a couple of them. Jeny's husband had just past and loved the company. She was dressed in some type of couture outfit with her hair slicked back. She was still very pretty and confident. Jeny broke out with a ciggy on the second floor of her bastide home. She was puffing away all nonchalant. I was so envious(she was 87!) and I had quit smoking 6 years earlier. She told me she started smoking after her husband died.LOL We had a wonderful singing swan cake for dessert and the best champagne...I'm dreaming again. It was surreal...especially when a retired police officer at the 'lunch' broke out his trumpet and started playing. hee hee It was a spectacle. I won't ever forget it. Thanks for this post. It made me smile and remember.=)

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    1. Ah, Sandy. To say that I enjoyed the story of your "déjeuner chez Madame Jeny" would be putting it mildly. I could see it all: Jeny falling asleep mid-sentence; Jeny all dolled up for the occasion; Jeny smoking... and last but not least, the trumpet playing policier. This is the stuff great books are made of :-) Thank you for sharing with us! PS: I knew you would love the little Angels :-) -- Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  7. what a wonderful party idea and surely it has given the soul food that shall last long into the winter months-thank you for allowing us to partake!

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    1. Welcome back, dear g. Soul food. Soul food. I like that. Yes, I believe you are right. Hope all is well on the East Coast...

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  8. Dearest Véronique,
    What a great post and the flambé got a little bit risqué but things went well in the end and it looked delicious.
    Indeed, Florida is not acting the way it should.
    Hugs to you,
    Mariette

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    1. The Flambé scared the living daylights out of me, Mariette! Good thing we had been sipping red wine while cooking "a la Julia," or I might have FREAKED OUT! (maybe Florida has been having too much red wine pre-elections, too?)

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  9. Bravo ZE cuisinière and ZE cuisinier! Great job!
    Though I wasn't invited :-( I am fair enough to say that both your boeuf bourguignon recipe and the way you set the tables look magnificent.
    I understand you had a busy week, Mam Julia - I mean Mam Véronique.
    Love the quote "United we stand, divided we fall". This country is unique and you are unique: talking about boeuf bourguignon and the Presidential election in a same post: only the French girl in Seattle could do that!!!
    bizzzzz,
    Anne (Playing With Scarves).

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    1. Merci, Ze Scarf Specialist! Had you lived closer, you would have been invited, and brought some French style to the party (even though I am glad you and your beautiful scarves were nowhere near the stove when we attempted to set the neighborhood on fire!) -- Thank you for your kind comment. Ze French Girl in Seattle has learned to bridge cultures (and topics!) after all these years, I suppose :-) PS: What the heck goes on in Florida during Election week?! Please investigate and report back, d'accord?

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    2. What Ze heck goes goes on in Florida during election week? Easy, simple, basic: Florida is Ze state of retirees. Everything goes slow here, including counting the ballots. Give us a year or so (LOL) and we should know the result. Hopefully before the next presidential election....... Not sure.......
      Need to go. have to help counting the ballots ;-)
      PS1. Thanks for your kind words. I really wished we have been with you. Too bad it's so far away from where we live.
      PS2. As great minds think alike, we also had a boeuf bourguignon here last week. And I had my scarf on while cooking... Bien sûr!
      Bizzzzz,
      Anne

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  10. A chaque saison, ses plaisirs. Et c'est vrai que l'automne est idéal pour se retrouver autour d'une bonne table!

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    1. Absolument, Richard, et pas seulement l'automne, n'est-ce-pas? Au fait, comment va ton petit chien? Il ne fait pas trop de bêtises, j'espère?

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  11. I love this idea for a dinner party. Your friends are so lucky !

    Jackie

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    1. Bonjour Jackie. I guess I am lucky too, since my friends accepted to cook most of the meal with me. The French don't usually do Potluck very well, you know, but I decided to give it a try. An American friend commented she was very proud of me :-)

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  12. What a wonderful idea for a party! And I love that Julia and Jacques accompanied your meal on the television. As for the flambé-ing adventure, remember when Julia wore a fireman's hat on the show? She was always prepared for such activity!

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    1. I totally remember that episode. As I recall, Julia was warning Jacques that it is VERY DANGEROUS to light alcohol while pouring directly out of the bottle! I guess she was right... again!

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  13. Veronique, your party looks like a smash! What fun. Such lucky guests. I love you in the chef's hat! Also loved your stroll through my stomping grounds of North Capitol Hill! Press is one of my favorite "let's pretend we're in France" spots, and funnily enough I think you were just right down the street from one of my dearest friends when you snapped that first photo of that lovely brick house with the white trim. Sounds like a fun day! XOXO

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    1. Merci Jeanne. "Let's pretend we're in France" spots. I like that. :-) They pretend so hard chez Cafe Presse that they serve water WITHOUT ice. Imagine that! :-)

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  14. Hello Veronique, I is wonderful to see you . . . Your dinner party looks like so much fun! Great turn out, too. Capital Hill is one of my favorite neighborhoods. I love walking there and admiring the homes and their manicured gardens.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and for the lovely compliment.
    Have you been getting much sailing in?
    I do hope the weather brings you sunshine this weekend,
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

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    1. Bienvenue, Connie. Well, funny you should mention the sailboat: Le Husband and Junior are out there on the water this afternoon-- a cold, but exceptionally sunny November day. More to come, I hope. A bientôt.

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  15. Veronique,your tribute dinner to Julia Child was fabulous and fun! Those Julia Child dishes must be so delicious. Amazing pictures of Fall. Wow, finally President Obama! What a week we all had! Bon weekend!

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    1. So true, Pamela, so true... Now we can all go back to our mundane lives. No more Julia Child. No more presidential election night. What will become of us?

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  16. Hi French Girl. This is my first visit and I must tell you how much I Love your Party!! Jacques Pepin was our neighbor when we lived in Connecticut and although we never saw him in person, the most wonderful cooking smells used to waft across his yard. Mmmmm..
    Connie*
    ps I used to live in Seattle AND France!! Cheers!

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    1. Bienvenue chez French Girl, Connie. What? You lived next to the grand Jacques Pepin?! I would have knocked on his door one day, pretending to be lost :-) Glad you joined the ranks of my faithful Followers. I will be visiting you too! A bientot! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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  17. Oh là là ma chère Véronique! VOUS êtes cuisinière extraordinaire! Votre maison et salle à manger sont si jolies, grâce à vos amis et l'amour que vous y creez. BRAVO!

    Merci pour être venue aujourd'hui me laisser un commentaire.

    Je vous souhaite un très magnifique week end! Amitiés, Anita

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    1. Merci beaucoup Anita! Ravie d'avoir de vos nouvelles!

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  18. I love your Julia and Jacques dinner party to celebrate Julia's 100th birthday. The menu sounds delicious! It has been a long time since we had an adult type party at our house since we are always hosting the birthday parties for our grandkids since we have a bigger house and backyard. We will have to change that! Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Bonsoir Michel. I love adult parties, and have missed them when Junior and his friends were younger. Now that they are entering the teenage years, life as we knew it may resume... :-)

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  19. Wow! Your Jacques and Julia dinner party was a smashing success. (Smashing in the good sense.) :) What fun, and how delicious.

    Those are enormous mansions indeed. I prefer our little ranch in the 'burbs. Though those homes are beautiful; i'd not want to clean one. Maybe on Millionaire's Row.. there are many maids who do that? But as you say, one shouldn't assume. And i admit that i was rooting for Washington to approve Marriage Equality, as my home state of Maine did! Happy about that.

    And yes, Governor Christie and President Obama gave Congress a much needed lesson in bi-partisanship. I hope they paid attention, but really, what are the odds? :) Have an excellent weekend, Veronique. This is a wonderful post!

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    1. My dear Mary. Thank you for stopping by. I have a funny feeling Congress would not know bi-partisanship if it hit them in the face! Sad, but true...

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  20. Your dinner party looks like so much fun and don't you look the part in your chef's hat!! I enjoyed the stroll around the neighbourhood admiring the grand properties and the beautiful old conservatory. Thank you so much for stopping by this week - I always appreciate your visits and your thoughts. I'm so pleased you enjoyed my Oman visit - it was such a memorable place.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Merci, miss b. Oman and warm weather sound really good right about now! Cold and wet in Seattle.

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  21. Can see you are having too much fun, as usual !

    Huge sigh of relief over here for the election results.

    Huge sigh for the storm relief that hasn't reached everybody yet, still thousands without electricity going into this past weekend.

    Raising a glass to toast your party from afar and after the fact...

    Happy Veterans/Armistice Day !

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    1. Merci Mister Toad. You did a great job on Veterans/Armistice Day. Loved your last post!

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  22. Hello,
    I enjoyed both the party and the tour of Capital Hill! I'm your newest follower.
    Cindy

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    1. Merci beaucoup Cindy, et bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle

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  23. It appears that I missed the social and gastronomic event of the Season. My mouth is still watering at the mere thought of this delicious dinner. Oh, my dear Julia. I remember her early programs on Channel 12. You, of course, were probably not yet a gleam in your Father's eye.

    Our first Christmas as man and wife (35 years ago!!) my husband gave me a gorgeous set of Cuisinart pots and pans and the two-volume set of Julia's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Do you think he was trying to tell me something? My American friends thought it was an incredibly unromantic gift, but I thought it was fabulous!! My tante Jeanette agreed.

    The Boeuf Bourgignon recipe is definitely worth the time and the effort, as is the Coq au Vin. And, her recipe for mayonnaise tastes just like my Grandmother's.

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    1. Wait a minute... I am not THAT young, you know :-)
      And yes, your husband was definitely trying to tell you something, but he knew you pretty well already, since he did not get kicked out of the house with his Cuisinart set and Julia books...
      Un plaisir to hear from you, as always, ma chère M-T.

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  24. A lot of nice reading and watching, as usual! Mybe a special comment on the voting little Boston Terrier - my daughter has the same, who however never voted, at least not yet.

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    1. Your daughter is lucky, Peter. I have a soft spot in my heart for dogs with cute "flat faces..." I could not resist this one when I found it online :-) Will swing by your blog today. I know you must have a good story waiting for me there... :-)

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  25. Merci bien pour votre post, French Girl. Il m'a beaucoup plait. I loved that recipe. I shall "steal" like a good "voleur" and make it my own! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Greetings from Seattle, Cuban in London! Steal away... It is not my recipe, and I know Julia would not mind... A bientot.

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  26. OK, that is just about the BEST BLOG POST EVER!! I was smiling ALLL THE WAY THROUGH!! Have to say met Julia twice and she was exactly as seemed on TV and deserved your darling salute!! Quelle fun!! I'm sorry for those not happy with the election results, as I've known the feeling in the past!! We all get our turns to suffer and later cheer!! Brava, Veronique!!

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    1. Merci beaucoup Suzanne. I would have loved meeting la Grande Julia. What a fun-loving person she was. I do believe no American has ever understood - or embraced - the French and their customs the way she did. Maybe Julia was French in another life? :-)

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  27. S'il n'y avait pas eu le film avec Meryl Streep, je crois qu'en France on n'aurait jamais su tout ce qu'elle avait fait pour le renom de la gastronomie française!Mais malheureusement, qui aujourd'hui peut se permettre de faire un vrai boeuf bourguignon? trois jours de cuisson, à deux! :o)Les traditions se perdent , heureusement que tu es là pour prendre le relais!

    Trop contente qu'Obama ait gagné!

    J'adore toutes ces maisons, j'aimerais bien voir les agencements à l'interieur!

    Bises et à bientôt!

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    1. Je suis d'accord M. Julia avait clairement BEAUCOUP de temps libre pour préparer de telles recettes... Une fois de temps en temps, c'est sympa, mais quel travail! Heureusement que pour les autres jours, il y a la bonne vieille cocotte minute. :-) Alors, c'était beau, la Pologne on dirait?

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  28. Aren't you brave trying Julia's LENGTHY recipe. Bravo and I wish I'd been there. I would have happily added yet one more empty to the pile!
    V

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    1. Very brave, V, but Le Husband does not often step into the kitchen, and when he does, he is fearless (the Cognac part was his favorite :-) Maybe you will come to Seattle and we can cook un petit truc français (a little French something) for you...

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  29. Love the way your chef's hat is at a rakish angle in the second photo!
    Julia is not really an icon in the UK, but she certainly seems to inspire a lot of affection still in the US.

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle