Christine Ferber Jams

Christine Ferber Jams

Over the summer, Maxence and I spent a few blissful, brightly sunny days hiding out in my parents’ vacation house in the Vosges mountains. One day, we took a day trip to Alsace, the region just on the other side of the mountain famous for its wines, its storks, and little houses with pointy roofs and exposed beams.

We went on a pilgrimage to Niedermorschwihr, the Alsacian village where Christine Ferber, whom I’ve mentioned before, officiates. This is where the Jam Fairy makes the best French jams, and this is where she sells them, in a little bakery named Au Relais des Trois Epis.

I had been dying to go there ever since I learned about it, and grew increasingly excited as we neared the village. We parked on the tiny church square, got out of the car and were instantly knocked off our feet by the intense fruit smells. They were coming out of a small ground floor window in the back of the shop, through which we could see the lab where the magic happens.

{A cat is hiding in the picture. Can you spot it?}

Somebody’s pet is hiding in the picture. Can you spot it?

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Fennel Soup with Lime and Cashew Cream

Would you believe this recipe for fennel soup with lime stems from my once entering a giveaway for a three-day juice fast, and actually winning?

(I know. Some of you can’t get their head around why I entered in the first place, but what can I say? I’m curious, and I like cold-pressed juices.)

Presented with the option to do an all-juice fast, which I’d done once before and didn’t love, or to opt for the slightly less challenging, juice-and-soup combo, the latter is the one I chose.

I ended up not doing the actual fast — I was really very hungry — but rather incorporated the juices and soups into my regular meals, sharing them with my family and enjoying the nutrition boost. (Also, the ah-ma-zing convenience of having three days’ worth of ready-to-consume fruits and vegetables delivered to my door.)

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DIY Cake Stand (Genius Trick!)

DIY Cake Stand

Today, I have the neatest idea ever to share with you: how to turn any dinner plate into a DIY cake stand.

I was at the coffee shop the other day, waiting at the counter to pay for my Ethiopian filter coffee (so good), and I noticed the barista rearranging the baked goods in the display case. He picked up a plate of small cakes, slipped an upturned bowl underneath it, and all of a sudden, before my very eyes, a cake stand appeared!

I stared at him, speechless with wonder. What a genius trick! (He shrugged one shoulder, all “doesn’t everybody do this?”)

I was so excited I couldn’t wait to tell you about it; I even did a video and animated gifs to show you.

DIY Cake Stand

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Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

I pulled the produce drawer of my fridge open, and realized with delight that I had everything I needed to make ratatouille.

I can’t think of this iconic dish from Provence without thinking of my grandmother, who lived in the South of France for much of her adult life. She spoke with exquisite fondness of the summer vegetables that she would buy at the greenmarket there, and how she cooked each separately and with loving care until they glistened with her good olive oil, and reunited in the pot like long-lost friends.

But my grandmother was not a snob, and I know she didn’t think less of me when I laughed, and admitted that when I make ratatouille, I just arrange all the vegetables on a baking sheet, and let the oven do the work for me.

While unconventional, this method yields excellent results, and requires very little effort beyond prepping the vegetables.

Assuming you’re not going to do things my grandmother’s way (let’s be real here), you could decide to cook your ratatouille in a pot with all the vegetables together. But it can be hard then to get all the vegetables to cook properly, so that the eggplant ends up a little bitter and spongy, and the whole thing is somewhat waterlogged. And if you try to compensate by stirring frequently, you risk of making the vegetables mushy.

Vegetables for ratatouille

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Best of August

A farmhouse in the Perche

The best thing about doing work that you love is that you never have to come home from a vacation feeling down. Instead, you get to sit back down at your desk refreshed, full of energy and ideas, ready to dive back in with renewed focus.

In my case, I am hitting the ground running to work on my new book, tentatively called TASTING PARIS, which will convey the flavors of Paris through one hundred fabulous dishes. I am just finalizing the master list of recipes with my editor, and I am so. excited.

This, however, does not prevent me from still savoring the best moments of our vacation, and I wanted to share the following edibles with you.

Best of August 2016

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