Wednesday, January 31, 2018


The forecast for this afternoon and evening is for, wait for it, rain. The ground has not even begun to dry out. And now it will be soggy for that much longer. Everything outdoors is dripping with moisture. Even when it's not raining, it sounds like it's raining.

If it keeps raining, and then freezes, droplets like these will become icicles.

I will be keeping an eye on the temperatures over the weekend. It's predicted to get colder as I mentioned. Just how much colder is not clear. I have to decide when to go cover the fig tree with freeze-protective fabric. Little buds have formed and I don't want to lose them. The same with the bulb patch I planted last fall. The daffs and tulips are up and I don't want to take the chance that they'll freeze, so my plan is to cover them with some leaves for insulation.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Old lace

I think this is Queen Anne's lace from last summer. While a lot of the flower stalks don't survive winter's winds and rain, many, like these, do.

Raindrops on wild carrot.

I saw on one of the weather sites I look at that below-freezing temperatures were predicted for next week. This morning, however, the forecast has changed (quelle surprise !) and we're back to cooler, but not freezing weather. I'm sure it will change again by the weekend.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Wildflowers in January! These little orange flowers, perhaps some kind of daisy, are blooming right now out in the vineyard. I only know of one patch of these; I haven't seen them anywhere else on my walks out there. They pop up every year in a spot close to the dirt road, between two rows of grape vines.

With the recent break in the rain, I was able to take the camera out on a morning walk.

It seems a bit early for these to be blooming, but I'm not sure. The warm and wet weather may have tricked them into believing it's spring already. Whatever the reason, it's nice to see a little color out in the predominantly brown winter vineyard. I should note that there is a lot of green on the ground. Mosses and some little plants, like these, are thriving.

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Sunday is hunt day around here during the fall and winter months. In our area, general hunting is permitted just the one day a week and on holidays. And all that can be taken are certain game birds and wild hares. The hunting starts at 09h00, stops at noon for lunch, and resumes at 14h00 to end around dusk. Very civilized.

Poste 16 is one of several hunt stations along the vineyard road where Tasha and I walk most mornings.

But there are also periodic organized hunts to cull the populations of chevreuil (roe deer), renard (fox), and sometimes sanglier (wild boar). They start a little earlier than general hunting does. I imagine the hunters gather for a briefing on how it will all go, then they spread out to stand at certain "stations" around the hunt area. In the vineyards out back, the "stations" are identified by number. When the hunt begins, a group of lead hunters will move a pack of hunting dogs through the wooded areas and blow brass horns called cors de chasse (similar to what we would call a French horn) as communication. They scare the game out of hiding toward the guys with guns waiting at the numbered stations.

These hunts, called battues, are extremely regulated and are run by hunters with high levels of experience and training. I hope. I don't know if today will be a general hunt day or a battue day. Either way, Tasha and I will get out there early and try to get back home before things get under way.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Water, water everywhere. The current break in the rain is allowing the ground to drain a little. Not much more can soak in, so it has to run off. All the usual low spots are filled with water, either standing or running down to meet other streams on their way to the river. In our case, it's the Cher which, in turn, joins the Loire at Tours to make its way to the ocean.

A drop of water hanging on to the grille of a fence.

With all the flooding happening around France, the Cher is not posing a serious danger. Oh, it's overflowed in the usual spots, those flood plains and other low lands where the river normally spills over. But there are no reported threats of unusual high water or flooding of urbanized areas.

Meanwhile, we get a respite and a chance to dry out a little. This morning there is a thick fog outside and the temperature has dropped to about 2ºC (36ºF). That's the coldest it's been in a while.

Friday, January 26, 2018


The cyclamen in our yard are in full bloom right now. It's nice to look out and see these patches of purple in the grass. It reminds me that spring is on the way. Still, it's early; two more months of winter to go.

The cyclamen come up in patches like this every winter around the yard and give us a little color.

Another sign of the coming spring is the arrival of the 1099s from the US. As citizens residing outside the country, we have until June to file our tax returns, but I'm hopeful that I'll get it done before then. The French tax returns are due in May, and I need to have the US numbers together for that, so there's incentive.

The other thing to do is the census. This year is the second French census we've participated in and this time we can do it on line. Just like our taxes! It makes things a lot easier for us and for the census people as they don't have to come to the house for our completed forms.

Next week February arrives and we'll be eating crêpes. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 25, 2018


January, so far, has been very wet and warm. The weather people are saying that this could very well be the warmest January since 1900. Rainfall and snowfall records have been broken all over the country, and right now many regions in France are dealing with flooding rivers, including Paris. I've measured 93mm of rain for the month to date, and that doesn't include the rain we're getting today. That's almost twice the normal monthly rainfall for us and the most I've measured for any January since I started keeping track in 2005.

I won't need a chainsaw to gather up these branches. They'll be good kindling for next year's fires.

We have certainly noticed the warm temperatures. After a month of wind and rain, our property is littered with fallen branches. None of them are very big, but they're pretty much everywhere. I guess it's nature's way of pruning the trees. When (if?) it dries out, I'll be out there gathering them all up and stacking them for kindling.

I'm worried about our largest apple tree. It has been losing big sections of branches over the years. When I say big, I mean that I needed a chainsaw to cut them up and move them. A huge crack in the main trunk has been getting bigger as well. I'm afraid that one day half the tree will come down. I'm surprised it didn't happen this month with all the wind we had, but it held on one more time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


We still have whole figs in the freezer. They're fruit that a friend down the road gave us from her tree last fall. We ate many of them fresh, and Ken preserved those we couldn't eat by cooking them in syrup and freezing them whole. I used some over the weekend to make a tart.

I used a pair of kitchen shears to cut a cross in the top of each fig before baking.

The tart was easy to make. I had leftover pie crust in the freezer, so I just had to thaw it, roll it out, and blind-bake it. Then I sprinkled some ground almonds into the shell, and filled it up with the figs, also thawed out before-hand. I baked the assembled tart for about twenty minutes. Since the figs had already been blanched in sugar syrup, they were sweet and tender and needed no additional ingredients before baking.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tasha Tuesday

When Tasha saw that I did a post with Bert yesterday, she insisted on equal time. So here's a Tasha Tuesday post. She posed nicely for her portrait. She's a bit disheveled, but that's the way it is this time of year. Today is her 11-month birthday. Tasha will be a year old next month. Wow.

She's a pretty little puppy. Almost a year old.

As I've said, for her birthday she will get a good grooming. And she needs it. I have not been very good at brushing her out, and she has matted fur behind her ears. I swear that, after this grooming, I will brush behind her ears every day. Yes. I will.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Funky feline fotos

It's been a while since Bert has shown up here on the blog. Tasha's been absent, too. Chalk it up to our miserable month of rain and wind. This morning, when I took Tasha outside for "business," the wind gusts were blowing rain in my face. Not at all pleasant at 05h30 after just crawling out of bed. The only good part is that it's not really cold: 12ºC or about 54ºF this morning.

Bert stayed dry inside while I watched Grigor Dimitrov win his match against Nick Kyrgios in Melbourne on Sunday.

Once it gets light outside (sunrise at 08h30 this morning), Tasha and I will brave the wind-driven rain for a short walk. It's really just a light rain and Tasha doesn't mind it, but the wind makes it horizontal and that stings her little eyes. I need windshield wipers for my glasses.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in central Paris that connects the Institut de France on the left bank with the Louvre museum on the right. People hang out on the bridge in nice weather along with street artists and musicians. The original bridge, built early in the 19th century, was removed in 1979 after the last of several barge collisions. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1984.

The Pont des Arts, with the Louvre behind, before the Love Lock fad became popular. Color slide, 199?.

In the late 2000s, couples began attaching padlocks to the bridge's rails as a gesture of love (which included tossing the lock's key into the river below). The fad continued until the city decided that the weight of the nearly one million padlocks was doing damage to the bridge, not to mention that many city residents thought the locks were unsightly. By 2015, all the locks had been removed from the rails by the city and replaced with glass panels so that locks could no longer be attached.

To get an idea of what the padlocks looked like, here's a photo I took in 2011 of another bridge, le Pont de l'Archevêché, a little further upstream near the Notre Dame cathedral. I don't know if those locks are still there.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Last night, Ken and I watched a documentary about rooftops in Paris. The show highlighted the roofs of famous buildings like the cathedral of Notre Dame, the dome of the Invalides church, and the glass and steel roof of the Grand Palais. This roof view is not in Paris, but in Rouen in Normandy.

A few of the interesting roof elements on the Rouen Cathedral. Color slide, 199?.

I woke up to rain, as predicted, this morning. Walking the dog will be a short affair once it starts getting light outside, unless there's a break in the rain. The satellite view is not encouraging.

Friday, January 19, 2018


And plenty of it. The wind and rain have calmed down, temporarily. Another wave is predicted for the weekend. Joy. I haven't taken the camera out in weeks. The weird thing is that it's not really cold. In fact, the unseasonably warm temperatures are expected to continue for a while. Normally, January and February are our coldest months.

Escalator in the Pompidou Center, Paris, 2011.

I'm sure people around here are wondering if we're going to have a freeze this year. They always say that we need a good freeze or two to kill off the excess of bad bugs and weeds and molds. And then there's the probability of an early spring with a freeze or two in April. Like last year, spring freezes wreak havoc with the grape crop, especially if the vines start budding out early because of a warm winter. Oh well. Time will tell.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


This is another shot from the rooftop café and observation platform that once existed on the top of the Samaritaine department store. The basilica of Sacré Cœur in the distance draws the eye immediately toward the Butte Montmartre. But what I like best about this image is the closer dome of the Bourse de Commerce, former home of the Paris Commodities Exchange. It sits at the western end of the Les Halles development area.

Sacré Cœur and the Bourse de Commerce seen from La Samaritaine. Color slide, 199?.

Since 1998, the building belongs to the Paris Chamber of Commerce which offers business services to French and European enterprises doing business in Paris. The building and its dome have status as a historical landmark/monument.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I wanted to write a little more about the rooftop café at the old Samaritaine department store. I mentioned yesterday that the store is closed now. The store was established in 1870 and gets its name from a water pump that once existed on the Pont Neuf (bridge) across the street. The pump was adorned with a sculpture of the biblical story of Jesus and the Samaritan and Parisians eventually started calling the pump "la Samaritaine."

The Pont des Arts and some other famous landmarks seen from the rooftop café at La Samaritaine. Color slide, 199?.

The current collection of buildings that housed the department store were built around the turn of century (1900, I guess I shouldn't use that phrase any more) with the main buildings constructed in the Art Nouveau style. The store's success and its remarkable architecture made it a landmark on the Paris riverfront.

Fast-forward to 1981, when I arrived in Paris for the fist time as a student. The store was still open for business and I shopped there from time to time. Their 1960s slogan, On trouve tout à la Samaritaine (You can find everything at the Samaritaine) was well known and still in use.

One of the features of the store was the rooftop café. Back then, the café was like its counterparts on the street level with outdoor seating and waiters for table service. Ken and I and many of our student friends started hanging out up there when the weather was good. It was a somewhat hidden gem of a place, never crowded, at least in my memory, and it offered some of the best views in Paris for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Ken and I went back to the café in the '90s, but it had changed into a more modern self-serve coffee shop with vending machines and modern plastic tables and chairs. No more table service, no more waiters. The views were still great, but the ambiance left a lot to be desired. Shortly after that, the place closed down as the building was sold, then condemned, and then incorporated into a serious redevelopment project, not without some historic preservation and design controversy.

I don't have any photos of the store when it was open, but I have this one that I took in 2016 when the building was covered in scaffolding for renovation. Here's a better photo of the store from the Wikipedia site.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I'm not exactly sure when I took this picture. It's probably some time in the '90s, and if I wanted to dig through the slide collection stored in boxes in the attic to find the date, I could. But I'm not doing that today. It was long enough ago that the rooftop café on top of the now-closed Samaritaine department store was still open; that's where I was when I took the picture.

Looking west along the Champs-Elysées. Color slide, 199?.

The colonnade and building in the foreground are the eastern facade of the sprawling Louvre museum. Behind it you can see the obelisk in the center of the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées stretching west to the Arc de Triomphe. Behind that, the axis continues out to La Défense and its high-rise development which, today, is even more high-rise and more developed than when this photo was snapped.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Here's an old favorite from 2004 (before I started blogging). I posted it here in 2006 during the blog's first year. It's taken on the grounds of the château at Bouges, about an hour south and east of us. I don't think I've been back there since then. I don't remember what was going on when I took the picture, but I was lucky to have the camera ready.

Four kids on unicycles with one running behind. Château de Bouges, October 2004.

This was before I had my own digital camera. I was using one of Ken's first cameras, a Canon PowerShot Pro 90, undoubtedly set on automatic mode.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Another old photo from inside the cathedral at Rouen in Normandy. Candles that are used in religious settings are called cierges in French. I guess that distinguishes them from the standard bougies that people use in their homes. And on birthday cakes. Tea lights are called bougies chauffe plat (platter warmers). Candles used to be called chandelles, but bougie seems to have taken over as the more popular term.

Cierges in Rouen. There's a coin box nearby where worshipers can leave an offering before lighting a candle. Color slide, 1992.

I'm up early this morning. Tasha got up with Ken, went outside (to pee), then ate her breakfast. She then came up to the loft and insisted I get up to take her outside (to poop). She usually waits for me to wake up, but this morning I guess she just needed to go. We are in this pattern now where she waits for me to take her out for morning "poopies." Ken thinks I must scare the shit out of her. I'm looking forward to summer when Ken can just leave the door open in the morning and she can go out on her own.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Paris morning

Another shot from the archives, this time from a spring morning in 1997. Ken and I rented a studio apartment in the 7th arrondissement. The windows in the main room opened on to a tiny balcony with a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

The view from our window. Color slide, Paris 1997.

We were in Paris that year to attend the French Open tennis tournament for the first time. We had tickets for the women's final on Saturday and for the men's final on Sunday. The weather was great on both days. We watched Iva Majoli beat Martina Hingis for the championship, and Gustavo Kuerten won over Sergi Bruguera.

Friday, January 12, 2018


Among my favorite pizza toppings are leeks and bacon, together. I've been making a version of this pizza for almost twenty years, and it's always good. I don't use tomato sauce for this pizza. I start with my regular pizza dough recipe. Before baking the pizzas, I cut up and sauté a couple of leeks in olive oil until they're tender. How many I use depends on their size; more if they're skinny, fewer if they're fat.

Leek and bacon pizza for lunch. Yum! By the way, that "Gallo" bottle is Portuguese olive oil, not wine from Ernest & Julio.

In the US, I used standard American bacon, thickly sliced if I could find it. But here in France I use lardons fumés, those chunks of smoked bacon that are a staple of French cooking. They get sautéed as well prior to baking the pizza. Cheese is optional, but grated Parmesan works well, sprinkled on when the pizzas come out of the oven. Yesterday I added grated French Emmental before each pizza went into the oven.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


I'm not sure that this butcher shop exists any more. I tried looking for references to it on line and by looking at Google maps street view, but I couldn't find anything that looked right. I believe the shop was on the rue Montorgueil in Paris, judging by other photos in the same batch and the street pavement. But I can't find a butcher shop with this name.

A pigeon does its shopping on the rue Montorgueil. Color slide, 1992 (I think).

The street has changed a lot since I took this photo back in the early 90s. It had already changed then from days I spent here as a student a decade earlier. It has become a pedestrian street. Many of the old shops that served the former working class residents have been replaced with upscale boutiques, cafés, and restaurants. Needless to say, property values have skyrocketed as this very centrally located neighborhood became trendy and an attraction for tourists.

The catalyst for the dramatic change was the closing of the old central market halls (les halles) back in the sixties. The neighborhood was on the edge of a huge construction zone for nearly thirty years while the city rebuilt its center. The construction was still going on when I was a student. The result was less than stellar, which prompted a competition for a do-over in 2004 and another decade of construction. The new canopy over the renovated underground Forum shopping center was completed in 2016 and the surface-level park renovation is scheduled to be finished this year.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


As long as I'm digging around in the archives, here's a another shot from over twenty years ago. I took this one in the then-new Parc André Citroën on the river in Paris' 15th Arrondissement. The little girl was riding around the jets on the plaza-level fountain trying to outrun the spray.

I would set this shot up a little differently if I were taking it with my digital camera today. Color slide, 1992 (I think).

It would be interesting to see the what the park looks like after so many years. Maybe I'll have an opportunity to go over there the next time I'm in Paris. If the weather's good, of course.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


This is the interior of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Rouen, in Normandy. Construction began in the 11th century in the Romanesque style. By the 12th century, the construction reflected the emerging Gothic style and continued for more than three hundred years. The building was significantly damaged in the second world war, and underwent a restoration shortly thereafter.

One of the side aisles in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Rouen. Color slide, 1992.

I've been to Rouen several times and have seen the cathedral, inside and out. It's a seriously impressive building and worth visiting. I think this photo dates from 1992. Like yesterday's image, it's a color slide that I've since digitized.

Monday, January 08, 2018


The Musée d'Orsay is one of the more popular museums in Paris. The building was once a railroad station, built for the Universal Exposition of 1900 on the site of the Orsay Palace which had been destroyed in the Paris Commune of 1871. Since 1986, the renovated station is home to Paris' collection of impressionist works, formerly shown in the Jeu de Paume museum across the river in the Tuileries Garden.

My "impression" of the main gallery of the Orsay impressionist museum. Color slide, 1992.

When I was a student in Paris in 1981-82, I saw the impressionist paintings at the Jeu de Paume. I hardly remember them. It wasn't until 1992, I think, that I visited the collection in the new museum. This photo is from that year. I was taking color slides then, more than a decade before I would get into digital photography. I've since digitized the slide, but the quality leaves a little to be desired. I still like the photo, though.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


This time of year, French people like to eat a special pastry called une galette des rois (kings' cake) in reference to the three kings in the biblical epiphany story. The "cake" is made with flaky pastry and filled with frangipane (almond paste). They're available in all the supermarkets and bakeries during the month of January, but I find them to be too expensive for what they are. Cheap galettes are not very good because they're often made with some shortening other than butter.

My "epiphany" came when I realized I could make this cake myself.

So, I've learned to make my own galettes over the years. It's not difficult, but it does require some time to make the flaky pastry. Of course, the pastry can be bought ready-made in the supermarket, but I figure if I'm going to make my own galette, I should make the pastry, too. The technique I use for making the dough comes from a French television chef and I've been using it now for eight or nine years. Here's a link to a post I did in 2012 on making the dough.

The first step is to make what the chef called une détrempe with flour, water, and a little salt. After that rests for 30 minutes, it gets rolled out into a rectangle shape. A block of cold butter is rolled into a smaller rectangle shape (between two sheets of plastic wrap) and placed onto the dough. The dough is then folded over the butter and the whole thing is folded again, put in plastic, and then into the refrigerator to rest for another 30 minutes. After resting, the dough is rolled out lengthwise, then folded in thirds and put back away to rest. This step gets repeated five or six times. The goal is to make multiple layers of flour and butter that will puff up when baked.

When it's time to bake the cake, I roll the dough out and cut two circles (using a plate). The almond filling goes onto the center of one of the circles, the outer edge gets painted with beaten egg so that the two layers seal, then the other circle is put on top. I use a sharp knife to cut a pattern on the top of the cake, then paint the top with more beaten egg to make it brown well. The cake then goes into a hot oven for about 30 minutes.

I usually put a little ceramic figure inside the cake (collected from bakery cakes bought in years past). Whoever gets the slice with the ceramic figure inside is crowned king for the day. Commercial cakes actually come with a paper crown. I got the fève, as it's called, in my slice yesterday.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Pizza dough

Regular reader Evelyn recently asked for the recipe that I use to make pizza dough. We made pizza for lunch on Friday, so I hastily took some photos during the process. The recipe I use makes two individual-sized pizzas, and it was inspired by Jim Leahy's pizza book (a gift from friends and pizza aficionados in Illinois). I've adapted the recipe a little, but I believe it's faithful to Leahy's no-knead original.

The dough looks like this after rising for 18 hours.

First, I use standard all-purpose flour. Once in a while I'll make it half all-purpose, half whole wheat. Other flour mixtures would probably work just as well. The flour is measured by weight, not volume, so a kitchen scale is a handy tool to have. Here are the proportions: 333 grams (11.75 ounces, or about 2.5 US cups) all-purpose flour, 223ml (a little less than 1 US cup) of water, about a teaspoon of active dry yeast, and a dash of salt.

The sticky dough after being turned out onto the work surface. Obviously not gluten-free!

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, then seal with plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Set aside (or put in the refrigerator) for 18 hours. If you refrigerate it, take it out six hours before using so that it comes back up to room temperature. When I plan to make pizza for lunch, I make the dough around 6:00pm the night before. That way it's ready to use at noon the next day.

Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape them into smooth balls.

When it's ready to use, turn it out of the bowl onto a floured surface. The dough will be very sticky at this stage. The flour helps you to handle it, but be careful not to over-work it. Cut the dough into two equal balls and put one back into the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until you're ready to make the second pizza. Gently roll out the first ball of dough into a disk shape, using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface. Cover the disk with a damp towel and let it rest for five minutes or so.

Roll the dough ball into a disk and let it rest before topping and baking.

When the dough has rested, I transfer it to a pizza peel sprinkled with semolina to keep it from sticking (cornmeal or flour will work, too). Then I quickly add the toppings and slide it onto a preheated pizza stone in a 220ºC (about 425ºF) convection oven. A higher temperature is probably better for a standard, non-convection oven. Wood-fired pizza ovens are considerably hotter, often over 700ºF, but you can't do that with a standard home appliance.

Friday, January 05, 2018


In 2011, I visited the Pompidou Center in Paris for the first time since the early 1980s. I hardly remember that first visit, so I was happy to have the opportunity to go again. I've always thought that the building itself is amazing, a piece of modern art/architecture in its own right that is home to Paris' premier modern art museum. So much more goes on in that building than anyone can experience in a single visit, but that's okay.

A view out over Parisian rooftops from inside the Centre Pompidou, September 2011.

I am not one of those who can spend hours in a museum. If anything, I breeze through museums too quickly. All the art starts looking alike to me after a short time. And I get uneasy when there are crowds milling about. For me, a museum is more of an experience, an impression, than a study of art or an artist. The setting is almost as important to me as what's on display.

This photo is of a sculpture on one of the outdoor terraces up in the main galleries. I don't remember who the artist is. It reminds me of Calder. The image is mostly black, so I took the rest of the color out and made the whole photo black and white.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


The bridge in this photo is called the Pont au Double (The Double Bridge). There's nothing "double" about it. The name comes from the toll that was charged to cross it: two Roman coins called deniers, a "double denier." The current bridge, built in 1883 and restored in 2002, is the fourth bridge over the Seine at this location. And the toll has long been abolished. The church is, of course, the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris on the Ile de la Cité and the Pont au Double.

I took this photo in 2016 with my Canon 600D (called the Rebel T3i in the US). I don't use that camera any more since I got the 6D. I do miss the lens I used for this photo, an 18-55mm zoom that turned out not to be compatible with the newer camera.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Making bagels

It's hard to find bagels where we live. We can find industrial bagels in the supermarket, but they're not as good as those made in a real bagel shop. Paris has a few bagel shops, but that's hours away. And they're not quite the same as the bagels I remember in New York, Montréal, and San Francisco. I had bagels in Montréal (at St. Viateur) in 2016 and they were delicious!

Three sesame, three poppy, and two plain bagels cooling on racks after baking.

So, I've learned to make my own bagels. They're called water bagels because they cook in boiling water before they're baked. It takes some time for kneading and rising, but it's not difficult at all. I set aside a few hours on Tuesday morning to make a batch. With the recipe I use, a batch is eight bagels. That's a good amount for us. Any more would need to be frozen (which we've done, and they freeze pretty well). The dough (4.5 cups flour, a little sugar, salt, 1.5 cups warm water and 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast) gets mixed and kneaded before it rests and rises for one to four hours. It can even rise over night in the refrigerator, but you need to let it get back up to room temperature the next day before making the bagels.

Boiling the bagels. The hole almost closes, but not quite.

After the first rise, I shape the bagels by making eight equal balls of dough and pushing my thumb through the center of each. Then, after a second, shorter rise, the bagels cook in simmering water for about six or seven minutes. Before they're simmered, they look a little small, but as they cook they puff up to a good size. Then they get topped (with sesame or poppy seeds or anything else you like) and go into the oven to bake. Once cooled, they're ready to eat! On Tuesday, we ate some for lunch with cream cheese and smoked salmon. This morning, we each had one toasted with just a schmear. Yum.

If you're wondering, "schmear" comes from the Yiddish word for "spread," so a bagel with a schmear is a bagel spread with cream cheese. I think it's a New York thing.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018


Here's a second look at the Zamansky Tower at the Jussieu campus of the University of Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie). The view is toward the east, down the rue des Ecoles to the rue Jussieu.

The 29-story Zamansky Tower at Jussieu.

The new year is here and it's time to get some things done. I plan to get the den cleaned up, starting with filing the pile of papers accumulating on my desk. I need to renew my passport before March, so I will get that started this week. I've downloaded the application form, but I've also got to get a certified check from my bank and a prepaid return envelope before I send everything in to the embassy in Paris. I got official passport photos made the last time I was in the US.

I put away the holiday decorations and took the tree down on Monday. This weekend I'll make the traditional Epiphany galette des rois (cake of the three kings). I also plan to make some bagels this morning. We'll have a lunch of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon later today.

Tasha was restless this morning and I had to take her out at 04h30. Ugh. We tried to go back to sleep but were not very successful.

Our weather continues to be unusually warm with a continuing series of windy and rainy storms coming through. This morning it's calm, but another wave of wind is expected on Wednesday.

Monday, January 01, 2018


Here's wishing you a healthy and happy 2018!

Thanks for visiting - Merci de votre visite