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Oooo, La La!


By Gini Rainey

Okay, I’ll admit it!  I’m a slacker.  Actually, I took a couple weeks away from writing my blog, but the time was well spent.  My husband and I had a wonderful time in Paris.  Such a good time that I believe we experienced cultural overload.  Paris, like so much of Europe, is filled with so many wonderful treasures that to try and see all of it is nearly impossible.  We not only went to The Louvre, The D’Orsay, and the Musee Marmottan Monet, among others, but also went to Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and Saint Sulpice (the largest church in Paris.  We took a half day side trip to Giverney  and walked through the gardens and home that inspired the artist, Claude Monet.  I even ran my right hand down the banister in hopes that a small amount of inspiration from the father of French Impressionism might cling to my painting hand.

Not being much of a walker, my pedometer didn’t quite know what to make of the nearly 5 miles a day that we covered while in Paris.  The only thing that saved me was the periodic stops  adult beverages we made at the sidewalk cafés that are a standard fixture in Paris.  One of the best was the Brasserie Les Deux Palais that was across the street from The Sainte-Chapelle (that has the most amazingly beautiful 40 foot high stained glass windows) and the Conciergerie (once the palace of medieval kings prior to being used as a prison).

We ordered the mixed cheese board and were pleasantly surprised with three kinds of cheese and three kinds of meat, along with a basket of crusty baguettes, butter, and mustard.  Our intent was a light snack, but after eating all of this along with a couple of glasses of red wine, we found that there was not need – nor room – for anything else .

My favorite French chef, Jaques Pepin, has a recipe for rolls and baguettes in his cookbook “Today’s Gourmet” that was published in 1991 by KQED, Inc., and while you might not actually be in one of Paris’ sidewalk cafés, you can certainly recreate the experience at home on your own patio and take pride in the homemade baguettes you made with your own two hands.

Pepin’s recipe has you placing 2 envelopes yeast, 2 cups tepid water, and ½ teaspoon sugar in the bowl of a food processor and it proof (sit) for 5 minutes.  Then, add 4 ½ cups bread flour, 1 cup rolled wheat, and 1 ½ teaspoon salt to the processor bowl and process for 1 to 2 minutes until the ingredients form a ball.  Grease a bowl with 1 teaspoon peanut oil and place the dough in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours until double or triple in bulk.  Push down gently to let the air out and place the dough on a large cookie sheet and spread it out with your hands to a rectangle about 14 x 9 inches.  Cut the rectangle into four strips and move two strips to one side of the sheet and spinkle them on both sides with ½ tablespoon cornmeal.  They should extend the length of the sheet and these will make 2 baguettes.

Cut the remaining 2 strips into three rectangles and arrange next to the uncut strips and sprinkle on both sides with ½ tablespoon cornmeal.  These will make your rolls.  Oil the rolls and loaves lightly on top with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and cover gently with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour until double in bulk and sprinkle with flour.  Make lengthwise slashes or criss-cross slashes on the rolls and bread and place in a 450° oven and throw 2 tablespoons of water onto the oven floor, closing the oven door quickly to help create bread with a crustier exterior.  Repeat 5 minutes later.  Bake for a total of 22 to 25 minutes and remove from the oven when they are brown and sound hollow when tapped with a spoon or knife.  Cool on a rack and serve with your favorite cheeses and meats.  We had camembert, blue cheese and brie, along with hard salami, prosciutto, and ham, along with a nice red wine.  Who could ask for anything more, except for a wonderful French waiter standing by ready to refill your glass!


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Reading the Kids Back to School

stretford tyler tx

By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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A Good Pounding!

By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here:  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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