The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Slaving over a hot oven

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on June 2, 2011

However observationally impaired you might be, if you’ve read any of my blogs or if you think you know me at all, it can’t have escaped your notice that I’m a bit of a foodie. By the way according to the OED:

foodie, n.  /ˈfuːdi/

colloq: A person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.Sometimes distinguished from ‘gourmet’ as implying a broad interest in all aspects of food procurement and preparation.

So that’s me.

By now I’ve already discussed books, languages and karate; well cooking is just as important to me as all of the aforementioned. Wherever I go, whatever my mood, I need a decent kitchen. It isn’t even just about being able to eat what I want when I want, cooking is just therapeutic. A bit like ironing, except after the cooking comes the eating, and other people’s reaction to it, all the aaaahs and mmmmmhs… It is always a pleasure seeing my mam’s face light up when she sees a nice neat pile of freshly  ironed clothes and linen, but it isn’t quite the same thing. Once I lived in CROUS acommodation and all I had was a 10L fridge and 2 hot plates to share with a dozen other people on the same floor. I was miserable.  And incidentally I lost a bit of weight, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise. However, I wouldn’t go back to those days of eating nothing but sandwiches microwave-zapped potatoes and scrambled eggs and dehydrated soup. Nooooo way!

Anyway I’m much happier now and although my kitchen is small-ish, it’s more than enough to be inventive with, and I must confess, I went slightly overboard these past few days, producing all sorts of foodstuffs, but as ever, mostly sweet things. As time goes on I am becoming more and more of a dessert expert. My main problems however are:

-first, picking out a recipe (whenever I offer to be in charge of lunch, I systematically end up spending hours pouring over cookbooks)

-secondly, sticking to it. I never EVER follow a recipe through. There is always something added in or taken out. I reduce the amount of sugar, add cocoa powder, use a different tin, add icing, replace cream with coconut milk… (this actually led me to enter a cooking competition, but I’ll write this another time, shall I? )

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my latest achievements, or “foodporn” as my friend Jan calls it

chocolate mousse


more cheesecake

fresh bread

fresh pasta

a honeycomb rose for mother's day

more more cheesecake

my entry for the cooking competition
































so what do you think, does it look nice?


Posted in Food, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Carrot cake, the cure to political despair

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on October 26, 2010

Holidays, at last! – or so I feel I should be saying. Strangely enough, it feels like it has been no time at all since Uni started again back in September. It probably has something to do with this ongoing strike I have mentioned a couple of times already and which you have all probably heard of. In some subjects I’ve only had a couple of lessons over the past month and a half, and unfortunately those tend to be the subject where I am most behind (like Russian – a mix of strike, illness and the lecturer giving birth means I have been to about two lessons) . However, maybe this bout of strike will abate over the holidays. Strikes usually do, which is why our clever government times them so carefully. When people go on holiday, they don’t watch the news as much, they don’t go to work or university so they don’t get to discuss those sorts of issues with their co-workers and co-students. Also, during holidays, people don’t care as much, or at least they don’t want to care. Especially with the sort of weather we have been having lately. And the fuel shortage. And the general deflation of people’s spirit. People would rather stay at home gathering chestnuts and relaxing reading a book by the fireplace than use up their few remaining liters of fuel to go to wet marches in empty streets for something most people hardly believe in any more. It’s all a bit depressing.

Honestly, this new law adding a couple of working years is not that unreasonable. It is true that we live longer, but it is also true that we have to study longer also. Take me for example, I agree that my life may be longer than previous generations’. But my studies won’t be over for another three years if everything goes to plan. I’l be 26, and I’ll still have 42, maybe 43 years to work, so that takes me all the way to 68-69 years old by the time I can claim a full pension. If I work these 42 years throughout, without breaks or sabbatical. It seems an awfully long time. But who knows, maybe by that point they will have figured out a way to make us live forever. Oh my God, an eternity of working all the time. Not an appealing prospect.

But whatever happens, whatever our government turns up with -and I think I have said it before, no-one will be completely happy about it. And if nothing happens, no-one will be happy either. So the protests in France are just the expression of general unhappiness. I’m somewhat surprised that other countries haven’t done it before us; we are far from being the unhappiest nation on the face of the earth, but then again, there is that expression that striking is the french national pass time. And in the meantime, I simply cannot figure out what I should hope for: for it to calm down, or for people to stick to their principles. And what would both of these options imply about the French. Do we want to give up, or are we just acting like a petulant child. In any case, these holidays will be a trial for this grève movement. Students are trying to keep things up. I saw an interview of a marching schoolgirl on telly the other day. She didn’t stay on for long enough for me to see whether she knew anymore than I do about the situation, but she mentioned facebook and text messages as a way to keep things going.  If facebook can help organise flash mobs to sing Do-a-deer-a-female-deer in a railway station, why can’t it be used to keep a protest going. Now only remains to see how many pupils and students went on strike only to skive off lessons, how many really are convinced by the slogans they write on their banners, and how many are fed up.

Now let me move on to something cheerier: CARROT CAKE. yum.

I am not being a traitor to the striking movement, I just believe in comfort food and cooking. Besides, we  live on an isolated farm in the Auvergne, fuel is scarce, and I have no driving licence anyway. So CAKE. Carrot cake. My own recipe. Well almost. It’s a variation around Jamie Oliver’s carrot cake, which I believe can be found out there somewhere on the internet, but adapted to fit my tastes, and hopefully those of my family. I still haven’t baked this in France for them, and I hope it isn’t to spicy for them. But come on: carrot cake, what can possibly go wrong. Every time I make it, it reminds me of our holidays in Ireland when we were small. Every second year or so, we’d go up to Ireland, the emerald Isle, the land where the Shamrock grows et, etc… and have a great time. We would spend the days outside on the edges of cliffs, chasing sheep and standing stones, visiting breweries, going fishing, riding ponies, eating in pubs, chancing upon sessions led by three bearded Irishmen drinking pints of lemonade, sniffing out which houses had peat burning in their fireplace… And we would regularly buy soda bread and carrot cake.

Carrot cake is so lovely and moist and flavoursome. It has such a characteristic taste and, in Ireland, it comes complete with a thick layer of very sweet and tangy icing, the recipe of which I simply cannot find. Can anyone help me with that? My little sister has been asking for it, and I miss it. Haven’t been to Ireland in ages!Anyway, in the meantime, here is my recipe, I’ll post a picture of the final result later on:

250g unsalted butter;   250g soft light brown sugar (I sometimes make that half-and-half sugar and golden syrup to make it moister);   5 large eggs, separated;   zest+juice of one orange;   170g self-raising flour;   1 heaped tbsp baking powder;   100g ground almonds;   100g shelled walnuts, broken;   1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon;   pinch ground cloves;   pinch ground nutmeg;   1 heaped tbsp ground ginger;   250g carrots, peeled and grated.

1: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC

2: Cream the butter and sugar in a big bowl until pale and fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks one by one and the orange zest and juice, gradually. I say gradually, and I mean it. Otherwise you’ll end up with lumps of fat and sugar swimming in a sea of yellow liquid. Not very appetizing.

3: Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the almonds and walnuts, spices and carrots. You’re more than welcome to add more spices depending on how you like your carrot cake. I like it quite spicy and tangy, so this time I might add some lemon rind. I’ll see.

4: In a separate bowl, beat the eggs whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then fold very carefully into the cake mixture.

5: Pour into a prepared baking tin and bake for at least 50 minutes. If the top of the cake becomes too brown, cover with tin foil and place in the oven. As with most cakes, you can test the cake by stabbing it with a knife, when the blade comes out clean your cake is ready.

Please let me know if you know a good carrot cake icing recipe!

Posted in Food, France, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »