As said before, I’m not fond of cucumber. But it is a handy vegetable to use as a basis for a cold summer soup, or a summer sorbet or as in this case, here in a European winter…a cup with a filling. The combination of shrimp and goat’s cheese , dill and capers, seasons the watery cucumber. And even though cucumber is not in season at the moment, I feel like fresh foods after the heavy holidays.
- The quantities are only approximate, use to your own taste.
- The filling can be varied to your taste too.
- Decorate the skin of the cucumber by scraping shavings off with a peeler, or use a fork or a small lemon scoop to scrape off strips..
- Use sardines instead of shrimps, or shredded white fish or chopped smoked salmon.
- Use fromage frais with chopped herbs or diced seasonal vegetables.
- Add mustard or pesto to ricotta and mix with shredded ham.
- Consider chopped almonds with a finely chopped chicken filling.
- Serve with a vinaigrette of your choice.
…a life around bicycles…
“Do you remember all the times we got pulled over by the policemen for me carrying you on the handles of my bicycle? “, he asked.
She laughed. “Oh yes! … such fun and carefree, irresponsible years!”
That happened of course in the university years of this couple. They relived these moments while reminiscing over past times and paging through all the old photo albums. They remebered the times when they both grew up in their childhood homes, each with their bicycle, driving to different schools in different towns. Then they met at university and continued cycling everywhere together…to class, to tennis matches, to university functions, to town, to the movies, to dances, to river picnics. Those years, most of the student population owned bicycles rather than cars. It was cheaper. And easier. And if yours got “borrowed”, you would just “borrow” the next one. Then after a while it got more romantic for the guy to carry his girl in front of him on the bicycle handles…his ox, as his bike was called…that way he could smell her hair waving in his face and have her close to him, and she enjoyed her Titanic-moment in front on the handles, with her guy doing all the pedalling work. So it happened many times that study hours were to be spent at “the dam”.She would ride in front on the handles, carrying their books and he would pedal for death to reach the top of the bridge crossing the rail road track so they could free down on the other side at an exhilirating speed. Suddenly a siren would honk beside them, forcing them to stop at the foot of the bridge and obediently and humbly they listened to the policemen’s rant about their criminal act of lifting on the bike handles. But when the stern officer of law disappeared in the distance, they continued on their course, unperturbed by the mean little piece of paper in the pocket. It is just what a student does in a university town. Laws don’t apply to students of course…which is why they carry student cards..
When this guy finally married this girl and entered the professional career world, they continued their cycling ways for a while, until they couldn’t hide behind their student faces any more.the fines started burning a hoole in their pocket, so they decided it would be cheaper for the girl, now a grown-up wife, to pedal her own bike again. Gone were the carefree riding on bicycle handles.
..the first cycles..
When two daughters enriched their lives, the tricycles and bicycles started taking up more and more space in the garage… The young guy was now a father and he trained his girls on thier bikes in the garage where it was safe, thenmoved into the garden andfinally he pedalled beside them to pre school across the big, scary main road. And on their firm demand, he watched them pedal the last two metres to school, where they turned and waved a proud little hand back at him. It continued for many years, and they enjoyed every minute on their bikes… doing their tricks, racing their father, chasing the dog, racing around the pool, falling into the pool…where the safety net proved its worth by allowing only their behinds to get soaking wet.
As young students, the girls too depended on their bicycles to get around and now, as young adults, they race their bicycles up and down mountains and in the challenging traffic of Paris and Toulouse. And the young student-couple of years ago, still ride their bicycles too…of which one is still a black ox and the other a cute pink velo with a basket for fruit and a flask of coffee and two old leather bags for art stuff. And like in their student years, the guy still holds the back line, and although he can’t feel her hair waving in his face as he did so long ago, he can now appreciate her cute derriére as she pedals frantically in front of him.
..riding my bicycle..
Back from Hawai’i, I’m inspired to do some “island painting” and eat more seafood, especially fish. I’m alittle disappointed in the availability of fish and seafood there as well as exotic fruits. I expected a wealth of seafood and a whole range of interesting and different fish meals. We could find loads of pasta meals and New York steaks and hamburgers and chips, even French resturants, with Mahi Mahi quite frequently, but for the rest, exciting fish meals were scarce. We also had to drive quite deep into Kona island to find guavas , which we picked from a tree and they were absolutely delicious! But maybe the season wasn’t producing what I was looking for. At least it got me back into the “fish and fruit” zone again and the first thing I did when arriving back home – apart from loading a first bundle of washing – was to take off to the fish market and buy fish for our dinner! For now, a little appetizer – ocean inspired, to get going…
…baguette slices with seaweed salsa…
With a glass of cold, dry white wine, it is a good and easy little appetizer to tantalize the tastebuds while waiting for your fish to appear on the table. You can also be sure of many health benefits in seaweeds. In french we call it salade de mer, which literally means sea salad, composed of different sea weeds, found at health and Asian stores. It is healthy cocktail of vitamins and proteins and minerals.
The quantities are relative. Start with a little and add more as you proceed. Here is what I did:
- 2 TBSP of salade de la mer(a mixture of dried seaweeds)
- 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped , rinsed capers
- a pinch of fennel fleur de sel
- TBSP of rice vinegar
- TBSP of mirrin
- TBSP olive oil
- Toasted slices of seeded baguette
Mix all the ingredients together and leave for about 10 minutes for the seaweed to absorb the oils and vinegars. Taste again and adjust seasoning. Serve in a little bowl along with toasted baguette slices.
- The seaweed can be replaced by finely shredded white meat fish, or fish can be added along with the seaweed.
- A drop or two of white balsamic vinegar can be added with lime/lemon juice and shallot wine vinegar, instead of the rice vinegar and mirrin, for a different interpretation.
- The salsa can be eaten with fish, like tuna or a cod or any other “gentle flavoured” white fish”.
- A cold dry white wine, like a chenin blanc is a good companion.
- Don’t leave the seaweed salsa standing for too long, since it becomes “rubbery” after a while.
- The seaweed mixture can be found at health stores or at Asian stores.
Since Hartman was at the convention and meetings most of the time, I had ample time to sketch…
…flamingos and koi…
…reflections and flora…
A short tour through our trip to Hawai’i:
…sunsets from our room, different every evening!…
…Kona coffee to wake up and start the day with…
…bananas and guavas on the tree…
…a shea shore and a coast of volcano rock…
…shades of blue…
…for the energetics!…
More Hawai’i photos can be seen here at Myfrenchkitchen: Travel