French Fridays with Doriie: The AHA Moment

I know this is almost a week late, but that does seem to be my life lately.

Now that I am back in school, I have a "no blogging until school work is done" policy. Yeah, it kind of sucks but I keep telling myself that it is the adult way to approach things.

Plus, the longer I put off writing the reflective-we-just-finished-cooking-the-book-posts, the longer I can hold off facing the inevitable that I need to figure out what's next.

Cooking my way through a cookbook had an unexpected effect on my cooking thought processes. Week after week after working through recipes in the voice of one author resulted in a new filter being applied to my cooking.

As I progressed throughout the book, I found that with each recipe I was better able to predict the next steps. Taking things one step at a time made the impossible, possible. With each recipe, my kitchen confidence grew.

Yes, I could cook scallops. And make a good steak.

Chicken? Yup, I can overcome my squeamish poultry aversions and roast a good chicken.

I can change a recipe to fit my needs (alright, I may have been predisposed to this one...)

I am typing this while 1,700 miles away from home and there are no food pictures on this computer.
Hence...a random Cher hiking picture.

As part of our retrospect, we were asked to share our top five twenty-one recipes from Around My French Table. While I have had many culinary "AHA" moments during the almost five years that it took to cook all the way through AMFT, perhaps my biggest "AHA" moment came from reading though a sampling of several hundred posts and realizing how much life has changed since we began this project.

When we started this project, Runner Girl was a junior in high school. A few weeks ago, she finished her junior year of college.

Culinary Kid was a sophomore and struggling with some pretty significant health issues; it's been a rollercoaster ride, but we are a long way from where we were. There were days that I thought the light at the end of the tunnel was most certainly an oncoming freight train. Now, I think that the light is actually light...

Several loved ones have been lost. New family has come to us by birth and marriage.

My parents got a puppy (trust me, this is a major life event...)

I can remember thinking about the future and wondering how on earth I was ever going to survive everything that life was throwing at me. Some times, I felt like I was standing directly in front of one of those ball machines at the batting range.

You know what? I made it through each and every one of those events. With no major pieces missing.

I can cook duck and I can survive life.


Now, for those recipes...

Yes, it's more than five; but since when have I followed directions?

No apologies.

Marie Helene's Apple Cake - my first FF recipe...and apples...
Potato Gratin - Because. Potatoes. Heavy Cream. And Cheese.
Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux - This is the recipe that I have made the most from AMFT. Hands down. It totally changed my relationship to whole roasted chickens. Heck, don't most relationships need re-evaluating every once in a while?
Leek and Potato Soup - Why is this the first time that leeks have entered my life? I still haven't forgiven the universe on this one.
Beggar's Linguine - OMG. It's like eating candy for dinner.
Mustard Batons - Because. Puff Pastry. Mustard. Easy.
Slow-roasted tomatoes - One of the most versatile items ever.
Deconstructed BLT and eggs - Bacon.
Pumpkin stuffed with everything good - More bacon.
Cauliflower-bacon gratin - Even more bacon
Crab & grapefruit salad - Because...grapefruit. And crab. Plus, it was so pretty.
Warm scallop salad with corn, nectarines and basil
Endives, apples, and grapes - Crack. Pure crack.
Herb-speckled spaetzle - This might be the second most repeated recipe from AMFT.
Coeur à la crème - The first time I made this, it was an utter fail. So, I did what any normal person would do - I went out and bought the mold. This is my favorite dessert from AMFT (and has quickly become a family favorite).
Pierre Herme’s Olive Sables - Apparently, I like weird combinations.
Goat cheese & strawberry tartine - Stuff. On. Toast. I couldn't let this recap go by without at least one stuff on toast reference. (Right, Trevor?)
Salad Nicoise - Also one of my most repeated recipes.
Moules marinière - Two words... Kitchen. Diplomacy
Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic - Like leeks, why did no one tell me that these existed???
Curried Mussels - The recipe that turned my seafood hater into a mussels lover.

I am not sure what to make out of my selection. I wonder if there is some Rorschach like analysis out there that correlates recipe preferences to psychological conditions. I don't think I even want to know what the verdict would be...

Peace out.


This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.


  1. I miss cooking with this group so much. I don't think I made even half of the recipes above. Well, I got to know you and your wonderful writing. It always makes me smile Cher! Love the stuff-on-toast-Trevor reference, I wrote a post quoting that too, haha! I need to make the apple cake, asap. Have a great day my friend!

  2. I also love Marie Helen's apple cake and I have made it a few times. The rest of your list I am yet to make. So I have a lot to look farward too.

  3. If you listed the ones you didn't like it would have been a shorter list. A great post, so true with all the changes that have happened. Love your hiking

  4. Great post, Cher! It would not have been a proper ending to FFWD if you followed the directions of listing only five recipes. ;) Great pic! Love hiking!

  5. I kind of freaked out when I was looking back at one of my older posts and it said, "my 7 year old daughter...", because she is a long way from 7 now and has gone through some major transformations. Great list of favorites; so many of those I would have never even made if not for FFWD!

  6. I am glad that you made it to the other side with all parts intact. I love the list. It has been so helpful to me to see everyone's preferences so I know what to make next. Here's to the future. Good luck in school.

  7. That's a great list. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had a long list (and I may or may not have named a new verb after you). It's incredible how much this group has transformed my own approach to cooking, too. There are a lot of the same picks as my list, but for every post I've seen I've felt that I should have added even more.

  8. I was also thinking back on everything that has happened over the past 4 years. There have certainly been a lot of ups and downs. But the cooking part has mostly belongs to the ups.

  9. Cher you have so much discipline "no blogging until school work is done"! I admire you! I love your "short" list (hey, I thought it said "15" so there!) and actually wonder what our lists might be if we were asked to pick things we didn't like/ didn't work. Neil and I reckon it's less than 5.

  10. I'm with you on the Jerusalem Artichokes! I get downright giddy when I see them in the market nowadays! :)

  11. I don't know how I missed your post last week... This is a great post. I knew you wouldn't list just 5. On the one hand, you don't always follow the directions, at least for FFWD, but at the same time, you seem disciplined about the "no blogging before the school work's done". You're a complex woman! I'm glad we're dragging out the end because I'm not sure what I'm going to do without my regular check in with my Dorista friends.

  12. I am loving reading the posts from this week. It's so fun to see everyone's favorites and to be reminded of some great recipes. (I can't believe I almost forgot about the potato gratin!). It's amazing how much life has changed during the past 5 years. I'm glad you and your family are doing so well!


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