Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family and Friends’ Category

It’s getting pretty cold overhere. Not freezing yet (and I am so not looking forward to it!). But still cold… And baby girl needed something to keep her warm and cosy while outside. I fell in love with this snowsuit but while it is not really heavy, it restricts her movements a lot.

 

The husband and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when we put it on her the first time! It took her about 10 minutes and a lot of momentum to roll over. It was really funny to watch!

 

 

Time to go! Good night everyone!

Read Full Post »

Wow…. I just can’t believe I haven’t blogged since 2010! I just wish I could start this blog post as though all this time hadn’t gone by, pretending we were in the middle of a conversation… But my life has changed so much in these few months, so much I can’t even wrap my mind around it…

And here is what rocked my world:

She is now 7 months old and the most smiley baby I have ever seen. Her Papa calls her Froggie and she loves to play and explore. The first 6 months were not easy, I won’t lie. The sleep deprivation was brutal, especially after I had to go back to work. But she started sleeping through the night a couple weeks ago and we couldn’t be happier.

In 2012, I look forward to playing with her and seeing life through her eyes, watching her grow and learn. I also would love to find a better balance between baby, marriage and work. I’ll need to take better care of myself, be healthier to have more energy and be the happiest parent I can be for my little girl. I hope that blogging again will help me take the time to reflect on the joys of my life and to make sensible decisions for our future.

So I guess I am back, hopefully for good….

Read Full Post »

Hi yall…

I’m not sure where this blog is going. For some reason, writing about my daily life, food or work doesn’t seem appealing at the moment and I often find myself procrastinating on updating my blog.

All I can think about is: TRAVEL! Us French people enjoy about 11 national holidays and 5 weeks paid vacation a year! Also, most workers, like my husband, also have “RTT days”, which are extra days off to compensate for his working 40 hours a week instead of the legal 35 hours. ah ah ha! Well you understand now that work and money aren’t a priority in this country. Maybe it is also because things like healthcare and education are virtually free. But we are very passionate about our vacations. Try to cut our time off and you will see the French workers down on the street, pounding the pavement with banners and yelling anti-government slogans…. Ah France….

Well being a doctor, the 35 hour work week is a mere utopia and I sure don’t get nearly as many days off as my husband. But every now and then I get to enjoy a 3 day week end and I better make the best of it! And if you ask me where I want to go for a short vacation, my first answer will always be “ITALY!”. I am so in love with this country. But more than going to the major big cities like Rome, Florence or Milan, we like to explore the more remote towns. Since our wedding, almost 4 years ago, we have gone to Italy about once a year. We particularly liked Venice and the Cinque Terre. But this time, Bellagio (on lake Como) was our destination.

After a short flight (1h and 20 min) we arrived in Milan, then took a train to Como (about 1h15), then a hydrofoil to Bellagio (about 50 min). It was quite a trip to get there but once we arrived, we knew we had made the right decision.

We had booked a room at Hotel Florence and it was so romantic:

We spent our days walking around, exploring the nearby fishermen towns, drinking tons of cappucinos, enjoying mid-afternoon snacks of cheese and wine (brought back a bottle of Amarone del Valpolicella, our favorite!) and late nights “italian coffees” with Amaretto ;). Bellagio, “the pearl of the lake”,  is an extremely beautiful town, with 2 18th-century villas (Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi), small tiny streets and an incredible view on the lake!

Here are a few photos. Enjoy!

First, some shots taken while walking around Bellagio:

Lunch at La Punta, the tip of the town with a beautiful view of the lake:

Travis found these intertwined daisies and requested I take a picture of them for his desktop. This turned out to be our favorite photo…..

Walking to Pescallo, a nearby fisherman village:

The gardens of the Villa Melzi:

The view from the villa’s porch. Notice the snowy Alps in the background:

As you could tell from the photos, the weather was quite changing. Here are 2 shots taken from our hotel room. The first one at 9:30 am, before breakfast. Looked like a cloudy day, right?

Well, here is the same view, an hour later, when we got back from our breakfast. Surprise!!!!

We had such a FANTASTIC time! Bellagio is amazing…..

Luckily, we’ll be back in Italy in less than a month. We’ll be in Positano and Pompei with our friends Nick and Melissa for 10 days! Can’t wait to be there and especially to spend time with them!

Read Full Post »

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. This past couple of month has been really crazy for many reasons:

1) I had 2 poster presentations to prepare for the American Academy of Neurology meeting I was attending. And I undertook a MAJOR project 2 weeks before the meeting that I absolutely wanted to present. So I ended up working every night after work (and weekends) on my research project. This left me seriously sleep deprived but totally psyched about the new results of my research!

2) Although the meeting was great, being stuck in Toronto for 5 days (thanks, Volcano) not knowing when I would be able to fly home was NO fun! After 3 weeks of arduous work, I was really looking forward to being able to spend some quality time with the hubby…

3) But after my return,  I still had 2 more conferences with one poster and one oral talk to prepare . Ahhh…..Work Work Work…..

4) Major Bummer:  I haven’t blogged in over a month! Not that I haven’t had any blog material. But life just gets in the way….

************

But I know that dwelling on the bad times wont get me anywhere and I am determined to see the bright side of life. In spite of everything I just mentionned I’ve had some pretty rocking moments too. Here is a little overview of what has made my heart smile over the past few weeks….

1) Niagara Falls:


I was at first pretty disappointed to discover that there was a city around the falls. I had imagined something pretty wild and remote. Not a big city with lots of tall hotel buildings overlooking the falls. But taking the boat to get a closer look at the roaring waters was just amazing!  Was also a great way to spend time with my coworkers and get our minds off work!

2) Reading a book at Starbucks!

Oh… that felt soooo goood….. I hadn’t given much time to reading but while I was in Toronto, I decided to take a morning off to go to a local bookstore, sit with a Soy Latte and read. I was so lucky to find the perfect book for my lazy morning: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin! It is such a fantastic source of discussions, quotations and thoughts on this very tricky question: Is it possible to become a happier person? Like Rubin, I am not an unhappy person, I haven’t experienced traumatizing catastrophes, I have a good job, a lovely husband and I live in a beautiful city. But I have always believed that little changes in my attitude or my outlook on life could make me a happier person. This is not a self help book but through her experience, Rubin has helped me find some little ways to make my life more enjoyable and overall more fun! I loved her openness, especially when talking about her relationship to her husband.

I highly recommand this book!

Especially with my new adorable bookmark! I couldn’t resist….

3) AirFrance!

Spending time in Toronto was fun but I was so frustrated to miss time with the Hubby while we were stuck there. After 5 days, my group finally flew to NYC, hoping to get on a NYC-Toulouse flight (the Paris Airport was still closed at the time and southern French airports had just reopened).

I was just so so glad to get in that airplane! Especially when the announced that the Paris airport had finally reopened and our flight was redirected to Paris.

More than 2000 people were waiting at the AirFrance checkin area. Almost all of them were able to go home that night! It was such a relief!

4) Driver’s license!!!!!!!

Yep! I finally did it! Passing the stupid driving test wasn’t easy! The success rate is about 40% (so different from America, huh?) but I did it! I did it!!!! It is such a relief for me … and my bank account (learning to drive in France usually costs around 2000 euros, and even more if you have to take the driving test several times!). So glad it is over!

I even got to drive my sister’s Smart car (the “A” in the back is my mandatory “young driver” sign):

Oh so cool…. The hubby and I are even thinking of buying me a car! I’m so thrilled!

************

Well I think it is time to end this crazy long post! I’ll be back with more news later this week!

‘Night yall!


Read Full Post »

Passover celebrates the jews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt. It is one of the most widely observed jewish holiday. When the jews escaped, they didn’t wait for the bread to rise. So during eight days we don’t eat any leavened bread.

It is traditional for my family as for most jewish families to gather the first 2 nights for a special dinner: the Seder. At the Seder, every person should see himself as if he were going out of Egypt. Beginning with our Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we recount the Jewish people’s descent into Egypt and recall their suffering and persecution. After our reading of the Hagadah(the special book retelling the story of the exodus), we get to sit down to a delicious (huge) dinner.

My family is from Tunisia (which used to be a French colony) and forever our Passover dinner has been prepared with lots of love by my sweet grandmother. Only a couple years ago (at age 90!) did she decide it was a little too much work for her. I have since been hosting our family seder and prepared the traditionnal tunisian food with my mom and sister.

I only have time to post a few photos right now but I’ll make sure to give yall the recipes later.

We started by a Kemia, an assortment of typical salads and appetizers:

Potato, egg and tuna salad

Mekbouba: stewed bell pepper and tomato salad

Cumin carrot salad

Maakoud: a loaf made with eggs, fish and spinach

Boutargue made with dried fish eggs

Banatages: yummy fried potato and meat balls

Larenj: the most awesome turnip, bell pepper, grapefruit and orange salad! This is my absolute favorite! I tried to make it once but it was not nearly as good as when my mom makes it!

The main dish is called Msoki and is a stew made with 19 vegetables and herbs along with some meat. We only eat it on passover.

For dessert, I did some baking experiments. Making cupcakes without flour and baking powder was actually easier than I thougt. I made two kinds: orange-almond and chocolate-hazelnut.

Chocolate-hazelnut cupcake

Orange-almond cupcakes

Both types of cupcakes were really awesome. The Husband has eaten a total of 18 cupcakes in 36 hours! That is one cupcake every 2 hours!

I’ll be back with the recipes and more tunisian food!!!

Have a great day!

Read Full Post »

Good morning yall!

Hope the weekend was nice! Mine was pretty great except some utterly frustrating problems with my image processing program. This is the second weekend in a row where I decide to get some work done end up spending (wasting) all my time trying to fix some bug. Last week, I had some problems with the MRIs I was trying to analyze and this week, it was the program itself that was not working properly. That’s when having an engineer in the house comes in handy and I ended up leaving the husband with the task of uninstalling- reinstalling all this stuff, while I went and baked muffins…. haha… Life is not that bad afterall…

Anyways, rent is over I promise….

We woke up pretty late yesteday and were both craving eggs. I sent the hubby down to get some fresh farm eggs at the cheeseman while I tried to make my kitchen look less like the horsemen of the Apocalypse had ridden through it (gumbo night side effects). As soon as he came back up, I put together these Fried eggs with Parmesan mushroom toasts:

I just love my eggs fried with a little bit of butter. I can’t help it… I know it isn’t as healthy and all but this is probably the only dish where the butter makes a huge difference to me! Am I the only one????

I also made some Strawberry Mint Parfaits:

Cut up strawberries mixed with fresh mint, topped with Fromage blanc, honey and a sprinkle of bee pollen. Delicious!

The afternoon seemed really short, for some reason… And I wished I had spent more time cuddling and watching TV instead of trying to work with something that apparently wasn’t ready to work with me… Sooner than later, the evening came and I was back in the kitchen for some more cajun cooking. I made Créole Grits!

First, to make the sauce, I used: 1 pound crawfish, 1 stalk of celery, 1/2 red bell pepper, 5 tomatoes, 1 tsp lemongrass, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper and a few leaves of basil and mint added at the end.

Instead of white rice for this cajun inspired dish, I decided to use corn grits. And I have to say, it was a pretty good decision. The corn has so much more flavor than rice and added a lot to this dish.

It was a perfect ending to an otherwise great weekend. I unfortunately don’t have time to tell you about my mid afternoon baking adventure but will sure post about it soon… Let me just say it involves bananas, pecan and oat bran….

Have a great Monday!

Read Full Post »

Cajun night!

Can’t believe the week is over! And guess what: today was my first free (and I mean totally free) saturday in a while! I usually either work or take a driving class or both! But this morning, the only thing I had to worry about was staying cosy and warm in my bed, while the sun was shining through our bedroom window! It felt wonderful to just be home…

I woke up starving and knew exactly what I wanted for breakfast. Luckily the Husband went along and didn’t request pancakes….

Sautéed Pears Hot Cereal:

Peal 2  pears, cut in half, core and cut into 1/6 inch slices. In a little iron skillet, heat a tbsp of butter, add the pears. Then add 1 tbsp of sugar and continue sautéing until soft and caramelized.

Serve on top of 1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill 10 grain hot cereal cooked in skim milk and sweetened with Agave syrup. Top with a few dark chocolate chips.

It was the best hot cereal I made…. ever!

****************

Most of my afternoon was devoted to preparing tonight’s diner. I still managed to squeeze in a stretching class at my gym. My back especially needed it after last night’s Body Pump! After the class, I ran to 3 different stores to get all the ingredients for my Seafood Gumbo! The hardest to find was the okra, since it is considered an “exotic” product here.

Sorry the photo is so bad. Too much light… but you get the idea….

I used the recipe from a cookbook that was given to me by a lovely lady named Jane during my last trip to Dallas: “The Court of two sisters’ cookbook” (from the famous restaurant in the French Quarter). I think I might even have eaten there during my summer rotation at Tulane University in 2004!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups canola oil
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups celery, diced
  • 1.5 cups green bell pepper, diced
  • 1.5 cups onion, diced
  • 3 cups okra, sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cups parsley
  • 6 scallions, diced
  • 3 pounds shrimps, peeled (the recipe also calls for oysters and crabs, but oysters were out of the question since my last all you can eat oyster dinner and I didn’t want to splurge on blue crab)
  • about 12-14 cups water
  • 3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 big cloves of garlic
  • rice

In a large stock pot, make a dark roux from the flour and oil (takes about 20-25 min). Add seasonings and vegetables (except scallions) and cook until okra looks less stringy. Then add water and simmer until the gumbo thickens. The scallions and shrimp were added towards the end. Simmer some more and the serve over white rice.

So good! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

I served this dinner with some Jalapeno corn bread:

Again, not the best picture, but it gives you an idea of the light texture! There is something about corn bread that immediately takes me away from this busy urban life and  brings back sweet memories of southern summers….

Dessert was a new creation: Honey Pistachio Panna Cotta with Strawberries. I really love Panna Cottas, because they are so easy  to make, so versatile yet they always please everyone around the table. Today, I decided to get creative and came up with that recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 600 mL low fat half and half
  • 35 g brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lenghtwise or one tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 mL greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 20g raw pistachi paste (about 1 Tbsp)
  • gelatin

Directions:

  • Heat the half and half and sugar in a saucepan. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  • In a separate bowl mix the yogurt, honey and pistachio paste.
  • Pour the Panna Cotta mixture over the yogurt and mix well.
  • Let stand for 30min to cool down.
  • Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into indicidual cups, then chill them until firm (about 3 hours)
  • Top with diced strawberries.

************

Again, sorry tonight’s pictures are so bad. Must have been all that wine my sis kept pouring in my cup. But I suppose bad pictures are better than none (considering I almost forgot taking them!). The food was excellent though… And that’s all what really matters.

Stay tuned: more cajun food tomorrow!

Have a great night!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »