the french pantry

My host mother Hélène prepares the most wonderful, simple dinners. Too hot to turn on the stove? A big Salade Niçoise appears. Need a bit of protein? Let’s have Oeufs en Cocotte, or simply put out slices of ham with the lovely heirloom tomato salad. All that’s left in the house is pasta and a single, lonesome tomato? Add a bunch of herbs, an unholy amount of garlic, and a generous glop of olive oil and you’ve got a “pistou” for your noodles.

Almost every dinner, there’s a tomato-heavy salad and fruit for dessert (side note: they salt and pepper their cantaloupe, and it’s great). They don’t drink every night, and when they do, they pour small amounts of rosé over ice cubes. They don’t snack between meals.

So, my take-home of all this is twofold. On the level of practices, I’m eager to make the weekly farmer’s market near me a part of my routine so I can replicate the beautiful salads and dessert fruits that I’ve become used to.

The second bit is more of an observation. Here are five things that are always in Hélène’s pantry that are rarely in mine (a peek in my pantry reveals a million kinds of beans, chipotles in adobo, and canned-tomato variations… I guess it’s obvious how much we make chili-ish meals!)

– Canned green beans
– Canned, high-quality tuna (and its cousin, tinned sardines)
– Chives, which she keeps chopped up in the freezer and adds to EVERYTHING – when’s the last time I used a chive?!
– Eggs (OK, I have those too, but I don’t use them as wisely)
– A selection of cheeses and fruits for dessert purposes (funny, both of these might be a snack in the US)

And bonus,
– “L’eau qui pique” – Sparkling water


dinners this week, vol. 1

I thought it would be good to reflect on what dinners (and subsequent lunches) we eat each week, in the hopes of eventually building a catalogue of weekly meals, all planned out and ready to go. Better than reinventing the wheel each week! I really enjoy having leftovers for lunch, and usually enjoy cooking. But I dread making the weekly menu and going to the grocery store. This may at least alleviate one of those problems.

This week, we made:
Wild Rice, Broccoli and Spinach Casserole with Homemade Harissa

-Easy Pork Chops with a side of asparagus

Texas Turkey Chili (but we used chicken)

Chicken Tikka Masala: this was crazy good! A little involved, but worth it. We had it with jasmine rice because I couldn’t find basmati rice at Market Basket.

Strengths this week:
– Plenty of leftovers, especially from wild rice casserole and tikka masala.

Weaknesses this week:
– Due to birthdays and out-of-town visitors, I ate out twice this week, which messed up my budget and means our meal plan was a little skimpy.
– Literal weakness: I fainted this week!

PS. Dying to try this recipe soon!