Coco Chanel

As we are both fascinated by the life of French fashion designer Coco Chanel, last week Nancy loaned me her latest book purchase "The Gospel According To Coco Chanel" by Karen Karbo.  Exploring Chanel's life and philosophy on a range of subjects, it is a lively look at a woman who was a visionary and lived, for better or worse, exactly as she pleased. 

Peppered throughout with aphorisms, a favorite theme of Chanel's was regarding time:  "There is time for work, and time for love - that leaves no other time." My darling, I would love to do the laundry/ironing/vacuuming but, alas, there is no time.  Or "Every day I simplify something because every day I learn something."  While this may be debatable, I do believe in a "less is more" approach - whenever I am struggling with a particular design challenge, once I pare it down to its essential elements, the answer is usually right in front of me.

In the spirit of "cut to the chase and don't fool around with the extra stuff", I am sharing a recipe for chocolate oatmeal cookies - also Nancy's - that uses a minimum of ingredients.  Flour and eggs?  Non.  Baking?  Absolument pas.  Try them with or without the optionals - I added dried cranberries this morning but have had no difficulty scoffing them down without the extras.


Pretty in Pink

Princess cake – or Prinsesstårta – is a traditional Swedish cake, now very popular in the United States and (amazingly) available by the slice in IKEA cafeterias! The recipe first appeared in the Princesses Cookbook by Jenny Åkerström in the 1930s – she was the tutor for the daughters of Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland – and it got its name because the princesses were very fond of the cake.

Traditionally, the cakes are covered with green marzipan and then decorated with bits of pink marzipan. Why green and pink? Not sure, but that is how they are!


Lazy Hazy Days

Sunday.  A steamy, sleepy afternoon, the kind I dream about all winter.  The sun is beating down, window shades are partially drawn, and sheers are dancing with the breeze.  Our street is utterly quiet.

This weekend is our church's biennial Greek Festival and last night's band, Orfeas, was exceptional.  I danced until the wee hours, fell into bed and, today, moving in slow motion.  Accomplishments so far: made the bed, watered the garden, tinkered with this post and ate a frozen brownie.  My apologies for the fuzzy photos; I'm out of practice and obviously - desperately - need David's help in getting back up to speed.  Think of them as taken in the sfumato style.


Bastille Day Fête

Ever since my last co-posting with Francophile friends Susan and Towny (The Modern Trobadors) on the art of making crêpes, I have been anticipating what collaboration would come next. I should have seen it coming - 'twas as plain as the nose on my face! Le Quatorze Juillet - Bastille Day - bien sûr!

I have never been in France for Bastille Day - the day of French independence - but it is the place I would love to be someday, when they are having a special celebration, when the fireworks and festivities will be more over-the-top than usual. The French truly understand the power and magnificence of celebrations, fireworks displays and, of course, food…!

This week, we are celebrating with a five-course meal, with a bit of Bastille Day history from Susan and Towny on The Modern Trobadors, and advice on our food and wine pairings, and cheese selection from Win Rhoades (proprietor of South Street and Vine, Portsmouth, New Hampshire). I spent many an hour with Win poring over the finest cheeses and wines; I miss having a his wonder-filled boutique cheese and wine shop here in Tucson.

Today, I have prepared a French-inspired menu.  In addition to the history as to why the French celebrate this day, Susan and Towny will also talk about the structure of a French meal, and why cheeses are consumed at the end of the meal, even after salad! Click below to see a video of Win chatting about his wine selections for the meal, and another of the cheeses he has selected for the cheese and fruit course.


Can't Help Myself

It's peach season here… and I can't help myself. I just had to make this luscious peach cream pie.

Recently, I was having an e-mail exchange with my friend Susan, who lives on Block Island, Rhode Island. We have been friends now for over 30 years, and have shared passions for BLTs on homemade white bread (when tomatoes are in season and perfectly ripe), Persian carpets, music, art and design... and, back to food, all manner of desserts... especially pies.