Monthly Archives: May 2012

Visiting the south of France

Last week, we went on an adventure to the south of France. Quentin had his first ride on the train, which he took to like a champ. The ride was supposed to take 5 hours, but turned into 7 hours because of various delays along the way. Nevertheless, he did awesome and the people sitting near us on the train gave him lots of compliments for being so “sage.”

We arrived in Cannes on May 16th. What we didn’t know was that the Cannes Film Festival was starting on that day, so the city was a total mad house. We overheard some people trying to rent a car that there were no more cars available to rent in all of the Cote d’Azur. Wowza.

The idea behind heading to the south of France was to get some relaxing time in the sun, instead of spending our whole vacation in Paris. Apparently, the weather had other plans for us, but it was a nice time all the same.

The first day was the nicest. We spent it doing things like this:

That was a lovely day! The spring in the south of France is normally very nice, like in the pictures above. We just happened to choose to go when it rained almost the entire 5 days we were there. And when it rains in France, it rains. It’s not like in California when it rains for 20 (maybe 45) minutes and then stops for a couple hours. It was pretty non-stop rain. So, the rest of our time there was spent doing things like this:

Oh, and eating and drinking wine. Those are always good things to do when it’s raining. Too bad we didn’t get to enjoy the beach and splash in the water more, but it was still a very nice respite from the city.

The perfect meal: Confit de Canard and Macarons

We’re still in Paris. Trevor is here for about one more week, and I have 2 more weeks. While we’re here, there are a couple things that we always have to eat. There are the usual suspects- cheese, bread, pastries…and then there are a few lesser known delicacies like Confit de Canard and macarons.

Confit de Canard is much more delicious than it sounds when you describe it in English. Basically, it’s duck legs, preserved in rendered duck fat, which you then pan fry and serve with potatoes sauteed in some of the extra rendered duck fat. I promise, it’s totally, amazingly, delicious.

Macarons are probably easier for everyone to get excited about. They are the fanciest oreo you’ve ever tasted. The cookies are a kind of almond-based meringue and they are filled with something creamy and delicious. They come in delicate flavors like fresh mint, salted caramel, rose, jasmine, rose vanilla, passion fruit…all of the possible colors and flavors make my head spin!  I have a bit of an obsession them, as I’ve already written about eating them here, here and here; and I’ve written about making them here and here. Unfortunately, the macarons you can find in even the best bakeries in the US do not compare to those you can get here, so we get our fill when we come to Paris.

Last night, we decided to live it up and have them both.  I documented the entire meal for your viewing pleasure.

Confit de Canard with Sauteed Potatoes.
Macarons from Pierre Herme (arguably the best in Paris)
Fresh mint- I love how much these taste like real mint
Chocolate Caramel- good, but not my favorite. I prefer the more delicate flavors
Rose Vanilla- The flavor was very good and delicate. But the filling was a little too firm for my preference.
Jasmine- Very subtle flavor. Almost too subtle, but still one that I will get again.
Salted Caramel- Hands down, one of my favorites. The flavor of the caramel is so pronounced, while the filling is soft and delicate. Amazing.
Rose- Also one of my very favorites. I never imagined a cookie that tastes like a flower would be so wonderful. This one is perfection.
Aaaaand, gone. If you’re wondering why the knife is there, it’s because Trevor and I always buy 6 different macarons and cut them in half. That way we get to try a good variety of flavors.

Freezer paper stenciling

Before Quentin was born, a friend of mine bought him some super soft and cozy organic cotton onesies. I love them. He has sensitive skin, and even some cotton sleepers seem to irritate his skin. These are so soft and perfect for  him. So, I was really sad when one snap broke on each of them. It was only one snap per onesie, which doesn’t really affect function, but I started getting it into my head that I was going to upcycle them and make t-shirts.

Of course, what would be the fun of upcycling without a little added decoration? Enter freezer paper stenciling. I discovered this on pinterest and can definitely see how one would get addicted. It’s easy and you get instant gratification. Ok ok like waiting overnight gratification, but that’s pretty fast.

You know when you paint a room and have to wait for the paint to dry before tearing away the blue painter’s tape? And how much fun it is to tear away said tape? That’s how this is. I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep because of my excitement to see the results of this project. I wasn’t disappointed.

Here is what you need:
– Onesie/Shirt/Pants…any piece of fabric that you want to add a stencil to.
– Freezer paper
– X-Acto knife or box cutter
– Cutting board
– Iron
– Fabric paint (the Tulip brand is what I used)
– A paint brush or foam brush
– Piece of cardboard to put under your fabric to prevent paint from seeping through

Step 1: Choose a picture you want to stencil onto your onesie (or t-shirt, cotton pants, blanket…the possibilities are endless). I chose to do a recycle symbol, since I was upcycling. I just googled, “recycle symbol.”
Step 2: Print out the picture/symbol you want to stencil onto your onesie. Make sure it’s the size you want it.
Step 3: Carefully cut out the symbol using a box cutter or an X-Acto knife. I couldn’t find my X-Acto knife, so I just used a cheap box cutter and it worked fine. Use a cutting board or piece of cardboard to protect your working surface.
Step 4: Trace the cut out picture onto a piece of freezer paper. Make sure the shiny side is facing down. That’s the side that will adhere to the fabric once you’re ready to paint. Once you’ve traced the picture, use your box cutter again to cut the symbol out on the freezer paper. NOTE: Above is how I did it. Afterward, I realized that you can skip the step of cutting out the pattern and just trace the image straight onto your freezer paper and just have to cut one time. Duh…I will be very glad to skip this step next time! Just make sure that you trace so that the shiny side faces down.

Step 5: Determine where you want the picture to go. Iron the freezer paper onto the onesie, shiny side down.

Step 6: Place a piece of cardboard between the 2 layers of fabric from the onesie. This is to prevent paint from seeping through and getting onto the fabric on the back of the onesie. Get your paint ready and fill in the stencil. I’d suggest using an “up and down” motion when stenciling. This helps to prevent paint from seeping under the freezer paper. Wait for one coat to dry and do a second coat.

Step 7: Wait. At least 4 hours. Preferably overnight…but I didn’t make it that long and my stencil turned out great.

Step 8: Carefully remove stencil. Admire your work. Then raid your garage sale pile for clothes for your next upcycling project.

Baby’s first trip to France!

I wrote on the Fraises et Tartines facebook page that I probably would not be posting much for right now because of our computer issues. I’m still having problems with my laptop randomly shutting down, but so far this morning, things seem to be okay. So I’ll take advantage to brag share about our trip to France. See, the name Fraises et Tartines did not come about just because food blogs with French names sound more delicious. It was also because I am, in fact, French American. I grew up in the States, but spoke French before English (*gasp*). I spent most of my summers in France visiting friends and family, so it’s very exciting to me to share a first trip to France with my son.

One of the first things we did was take him to the Jardin du Luxembourg. This is the spot where I said my first full sentence, according to my mom. “Veux pousser bateau avec baguette” (or, “Want to push boat with stick”). Fast forward about 20 years, and this was also a favorite spot for a picnic with friends when I was studying in Paris. There’s a bakery near the park that has a “formule” (or, “menu”) at lunchtime. 1 simple baguette sandwich + pastry + drink for 6 Euros and 30 cents. The simple sandwich is half of a fresh baguette with ham and butter, and the pastry I chose was a lemon meringue tarte. For about $7. Add a little sun and people watching and you’ve got yourself my ideal Sunday picnic.

Here are some pictures from the beginning of our trip. I’ll try to post more soon.

Jardin du Luxembourg on a beautiful day.

Wearing his newest hat, made by momma.
Jet lag is hard. “I’m supposed to be in bed right now, but the sun is out.”

In the summer, this fountain is filled with little sailboats that kids push around with sticks.        Hence my request as a young one.
     We went on a beautifully sunny day, which has been rare in Paris recently. We weren’t the only ones taking advantage!

Rocks! Are these food too?

I wanted Quentin to have a little ground beef, so we asked the butcher for a baby-sized portion. This is what we got. Perfect!

             The dairy section of the grocery store in France is my absolute favorite.                                 Quentin seems to like it too.

Jet lagged baby. This is the first time I’ve been able to get a picture of him sleeping without waking him up. He was pretty zonked at the beginning. 

Picture catch-up!

I’m sorry that I’ve gone missing again. I was in such a good routine of posting at least weekly, and then….our main computer died. Ok died is exaggerating a bit. It wouldn’t move past the gray screen. We called Apple Care and got it boot up, but now it moves slower than snail’s pace and we need to call them back, but haven’t had a chance. I have my laptop, but I don’t typically upload pictures onto it for fear of slowing it down with all the extra megs. Anyway, I finally gave in and uploaded my pictures to the laptop. So here are some pictures from the last few months! 
Also, forgive the odd fomatting. Blogger has changed their user interface since the last time I posted and it’s wonky to me. I’ll have to get used to it.
This is an old picture (from March). Quentin is helping me tear up newspaper to add to 
our worm bin. We add toilet paper rolls to the worm bin too. Those were his favorite!
Steamed beets and carrots from our CSA! A perfect finger food for baby.
Mr. Q likes to feed himself. Momma doesn’t like pea puree on her walls,
 but he’s gotta learn sometime, right?
 Exploring the grape vines. Thanks to Trevor, who figured out how to prune them 
currectly, there are little grapes starting to grow on them! 
They are Muscat grapes…very flavorful!
Hmm…what’s hiding in here?
Look momma! I found some dirt!
And he’s on the move!
Yum…a stick!
Enjoying a Sunday afternoon party at his grandparents’ house