Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Middle Aged Woman in Paris

I watched Ian Garten's Barefoot in Paris the other night, and I was struck by two things. First, how adorable are Ina and her husband Jeffery? Everyone should be loved the way Ina loves Jeffery. The second thing that hit me was an almost physical longing to go back to Paris.

My mother, sister and I went to Paris this past March. My sister had been there before, but it was the first time for my mom and I. I have wanted to go since I was a teenager so when my sister said she had room credits she had to use did we want to go to Paris, I said yes. This was the view outside our window.

We stayed a few blocks from the Bastille. The city was fantastic, and my sister was an awesome tour guide. She made sure we saw all the things we wanted to see and things we didn't know we wanted to see.

I had years of French in high school and college and can't speak the language at all. I tried, but I had stage fright. My sister did most of the talking. It is a common misconception that the French are rude. That was not my experience. Even at the busy Boulangerie where I bought pastry and the best fromage blanc ever, the saleswoman was patient with my ridiculous franglais. If you try to speak their language, Parisians are accommodating. They are also very polite. What they aren't is smiley.

This is a picture of my sister and I. She's the cool tall one. Unfortunately, the only picture I have of the three of us was taken during what we've come to call the international incident. We had the misfortune of sitting next to a loud midwestern couple at a cafe outside the Louvre. They were the worst example of stereotypical American tourists. My mom tried to be nice to them, and it was guilt by association. It's the only time we had bad service, and it was a real shame because the food was very good.

It worked out okay, however, because about an hour later, I got to see this. Antonio Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss.

The light was coming through the window at the perfect angle to make the marble glow. It is one of the things I will remember for the rest of my life. Spending time with my mom and sister was another.

Next Paris blog - the Revolution, breasts, poo and food deserts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grandma Lucas's Cup Custard

It's raspberry picking time. This week the berries went from red to purply black overnight. The boys and I have been picking everyday and the berries show no sign of slowing. My four-year-old has declared raspberries to be his favorites. Last month strawberries held the coveted spot.

My dad was visiting last week and commented on the abundant red berries. I could see forager envy in his eyes. I have a bigger crop than he does, but he's the reason I know how to pick berries. When I was a girl, my dad and I would pick raspberries in the fence row behind the house. We'd work our way up one side and down the other filling our buckets and bellies as we went. The berries that made it back to the house often ended up in my grandmother's cup custard. Sturdier than its creme brulee cousin, this recipe will work with any fruit, but it's particularly good with raspberries.

Grab your kids, find a fence row and start picking!

Grandma Lucas's Cup Custard

4 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar beaten together

2 1/2 cups scalded milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Let the milk cool slightly and mix into the egg mixture gradually to avoid scrambling the eggs. Put the berries in the bottom of oven safe ramekins. Fill ramekins with custard mixture and bake at 475 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes. The custard will still wobble when it's finished. You can temper the eggs, strain the custard and bake it in a water bath if you want to, but for me the charm of the recipe is how quickly you can make it. I have a hard time waiting for it to cool!