I just saved this blog as Blog #250!! Thanks for being here, reading about the things I find important: Stories!! (and recipes, of course! Don't Recipes just go along with Stories?!)
Can I just tell you how happy I am to show up here again? It's been a crazy week and the next one looks to be the same way, if not worse. I'm the Decorating Chair for our school auction which will be held next Saturday, the 22nd, and my job is to decorate the Meydenbauer Center! That's the Convention Center in Bellevue!! Thankfully, we are only decorating one lobby and one ballroom! It's still a big job with lots of coordination to be done, many people to give jobs to, and delivery trucks to meet. I love it, though, and it will be beautiful. The flowers will arrive from Hawaii on Wednesday, our centerpieces will be gorgeous, and the Egyptian theme has been great fun to work with. We even have a 10-foot pyramid coming!! Can't wait to see THAT thing! You can bet I'll be taking pictures!
But (totally!) enough about that!! I've missed being able to cook as normal and to sit writing the stories that accompany the dishes I make and the life that revolves around those dishes. I've also missed shooting as many photos as usual (except for a soccer game). A few more days and things (might) be back to normal …
In the meantime, I'd love to share a slice of la France with you.
That's not really the slice I meant! However, I must tell you this story: I found this oil painting today and totally fell in love (Of course! Who wouldn't?!) I was actually shopping for a frame and mat for a photo that our son took of my husband and me. I had two frames and a collection of mats down on a shelf looking at them. They were both very beautiful and I couldn't decide. In my desperation to make a choice, I sighed, wished my oldest child and decorating partner was with me, and looked upwards … and saw that beautiful painting. To you, it might not be beautiful. You might be thinking, "but it's just black and white, really" and you would be 'almost' right. I sure wish you could see it in real life because the contrasts are amazing and the yellow that you see? Well, to me it's just the glow from the windows of this Parisian evening with everyone leaving work, stopping chez le boulanger for the bread, perhaps chez le boucher (butcher) for a dinner meat, and certainly chez le fleuriste (the florist) to take home a romantic bouquet for la cherie. C'est Paris, after all, non?
AND … it reminds me of the 'dark days' we've entered into here in the Pacific NW USA. It is getting darker earlier, especially since the time change, and the winter rains keep the cloud cover close to us. Sometimes, it's too much and I just want to go find an open, blue sky. Concentration on the 'coziness' (and the reveal bulbs from GE!) help me get through till Spring!
I debated and justified NOT purchasing the painting, but my heart was yelling at me to get it. Besides it was on a great sale! I thought it would go just perfect in a certain place in our resort-of-a-bathroom, but it has found a very welcome home perched on the top of a china hutch (that holds books and office supplies!) in my office. I couldn't bear to put it upstairs, at least not yet. I'm writing just now and glancing up at it, imagining that I'm in my grand salon (large living room) in Paris writing to you about my very romantic life!
And a very romantic life I DO have … I tend to imagine it being different, but when I really, and I mean really and sincerely, weigh my options, what could I possibly do differently? There are the normal answers, like "I'd have a larger bankroll", "I'd have married later rather than sooner", "I'd have married SOONER rather than LATER", "I'd only have x-number of kids", "I'd hire housekeepers!" (my latest fantasy!) … I suggest that most of us could say, "Life isn't half-bad!" which being positively translated means, "Life is half-good" and there's nothing to complain about there.
Let me tell you the 'rest of the story': I asked Ken to hang the photo that I alluded to earlier in this post and he turned around in the office and said, "Were you shopping today?" I hesitatingly said, "Yes" while I looked his face for any sign of approval. He hates when I ask, "Can I buy xyz?" He would rather I just buy it on my own judgment rather than feel like he's some dictator of the funds. (I'm so lucky!) His face said, "I love that" and his voice said, "I was in a store the other day and saw something just like that! I stared at it for the longest time …" He was pensive and I wondered if he liked it or had decided that he didn't. So I asked! He said, "NO! I loved it! I'm glad it has our home as its own now!" LOVE when that happens! Being married almost 20 years has its advantages!!
The slice of la France that I meant to share with you is Quiche Lorraine! So on to the task at hand.
Growing up in France, I ate Quiche quite often. Last summer, Em and I found that Paul did a great job with a great dish! I didn't realize quiche was off-limits to certain someones and that so many variations existed until I came back to the States when I was 18, found that "real men don't eat quiche" and that many more ingredients than necessary were being put into quiche! If that is what you're looking for, go make pizza already! It was quite a departure from its origin, to be sure! Quiche is, however, wonderful as a dinner OR as a breakfast … or brunch or snack … and will remain one of my favorite dishes of all time.
When Mom made quiche when we lived in France, she used Gruyere cheese (a form of cheese known in the US as Swiss cheese and now readily available in the US). This time that I made it, I used white cheddar cheese …
… called Black Diamond Cheddar (can you guess why?!). Aly found it at the market and I loved its taste! It was a great choice for diversity's sake, but not so different in taste from Swiss cheeses, actually.
Mom also used ham, but Aly asked specifically for bacon. The kid never eats bacon alone, but she loves it in Quiche … so I complied.
That's all baked in a crust …
… topped with a custard mixture and baked way-too-long-for-my-stomach-to-wait!!
- Pie Crust (your own or Pillsbury will help you out in a pinch!)
- 10 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (or about 6 oz. cubed ham)
- 1 ½ cups of shredded Swiss Cheese
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 ½ c. half-and-half (or whipping cream, but please … I beg you "DO NOT" use milk! If you use milk, your quiche will be way too runny and watery … not something you want when crust is involved!)
- ½ t. salt
- 1/8 t. pepper
- Dash ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375˚. Prepare your pie crust and fit into a quiche pan. (If you are using a prepared dough, you might choose to use a deep pie pan and not roll it out further.) (The recipe I consulted originally suggests baking the crust first at 400˚, then filling it it, but I choose not to do this step … I just fill it and go!)
Sprinkle cheese into pan, then bacon (or ham cubes).
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg (the quintessential French spice!). Beat with whisk until mixed well. Pour egg mixture into pastry shell over the cheese and bacon (ham).
Bake 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted off-center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Add a green salad with vinaigrette, followed by a cheese platter and fruit and you have a very authentic French meal. Light and easy.
So to come full circle now …
Our soccer team won our game last night (played in absolutely POURING rain!! Way more pouring than is typically NW!). Ben was so wet that he was just dripping! Since I was in the stands, I was ever so grateful for water-proof blankets and umbrellas! Those guys were so excited to have won and now they are going to State! The disadvantage is that our school has a fall soccer season and other schools that will be at State will have a Spring soccer season. Another personal disadvantage to BEN is that his sport is Baseball which is played in the Spring and if we make Baseball State too? Well, we're just hoping the dates are conflicting!! It was an exciting night by all counts!
Another full-circle item … I did decide on a frame and mat for the picture Ben took of us. I had purchased this cool 'frame holder' at a garage sale a long time ago with the intent of putting Emily's senior picture in it (yes! 18 months ago!! Give me some leeway already! Sheesh!)
But I never did it. Ugh ... I wish I were a better mom!
So (sneaky me) I used it for this instead …
… and I love it! At least, I'm a romantic! Now I have to find something else for Em's senior portrait … then I can be a good Mom, too!