Non, I am not posting about math problems. Heaven help anyone who asks me a math-related question. The kids in my after school study hall know that. I have a couple of 8th graders on call to help with anything more complicated that multiplication tables. And recently I proved that I am not even very good at that. I was at a workshop and we were asked to choose a number between 1 and 10, multiple it by 9 and then add the two numbers together. Oh, I can’t remember all the steps but everyone should have come up with the same number. Pas moi. Nope. I was puzzled until I realized that I had goofed up the second step– I need to study my 9’s, I guess. I will get right on that. Mon dieu.
I am posting about my 2018 trips to… France. Of course. I count the days. And I even catch myself thinking “This time next month I will have already spent my week in Paris.” I have no idea why I do that. It’s exciting and depressing all at the same time. I go in January as a guest of ACIS, the student travel company I use. They host global conferences for teachers who are taking students on trips. I have been lucky enough to go for the past five or six years. The conference lasts three days and I am extending my stay for three extra nights. I will meet with my fabulous Tour Manager, Bertrand, and check out some possible places to take the kiddos during our unscheduled time in March (that’s the 76 part of the equation). I personalize the trip for my students so I am always on the lookout for new, interesting things to do with them. Bertrand’s advice will be most helpful. ACIS has some great activities planned for us– a guided tour of the Palais Garnier (the Phantom of the Opéra’s home) and a walking tour of the Marais followed by a visit to the Picasso Museum. I always make new friends and see something new.
I wander around a lot. I get lost (I am better at getting lost than I am at multiplying by 9) and find myself in an undiscovered neighborhood or street. I plan to have a drink at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz-Carlton (if I don’t chicken out- I figure there is always the chance that the bartender or doorman will look at me, realize that there is no way I belong there, and toss me out with a Good riddance, Madame). I hope to have foie gras at least once, if not twice. A slice of Galette des Rois from a good bakery. Maybe an MOF pâtissier. Last year, Christophe Michalak’s creation.
A baguette from the shop that won the 2017 Best Baguette competition, the Brun Boulangerie in the 13th arrondissement. I don’t know that neighborhood well. I look forward to getting lost. (last January– lost looking for the Marquis de la Fayette’s grave- a grand adventure)
But I hope to find the bakery first so that I will have something to snack on while finding my way out!
Perhaps I should let Pierre know I will be there.
He hasn’t been able to clear his schedule in the past to meet up with me, but one can always hope, n’est-ce pas?
I will also be able to spend some time with my dear friend Mme M who lives not far from Paris. I think that she is going to take the train into the city. She will retire from teaching at the end of the school year and our 30-year student exchange/pen pal letter writing adventure will sadly come to an end. At least for our students. Not for us. She was/is my first real French friend and she has shown me so many wonderful places in her country and taught me so much. I hope that our adventures together never end. In 2008, we spent a weekend in Champagne, visiting champagne houses and sampling the vintages. Tough, I know. But seriously, someone has to do these things. Might as well be moi.
At Taittinger in Reims. Santé.
We got lost (big surprise, right?) and ended up driving through a beautiful vineyard. Having no sense of direction has its advantages.
Well, that’s enough daydreaming for right now. I have Gingerbread Cookies to bake. Gwen Stefani’s Christmas album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, is playing. Her duet with main squeeze Blake Shelton is currently my favorite. Enjoy! Dance around if you feel like it. Guaranteed to make you happy.
The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, 2004
Yield: 3 dozen 3-inch cookies
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- In a saucepan set over low heat melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, molasses, salt, and spices. Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl and let cool to lukewarm, then beat in the egg with a whisk.
- In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour. Stir the dry ingredients into the molasses-butter mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Divide the dough in two and place it on a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour. Working one piece at a time, roll it out as thick or thin as you like. (King Arthur: We roll these cookies, which we prefer a bit less crisp and more chewy, to a 1/4-inch thickness.) Sprinkle enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface and rolling pin.
- Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible. Transfer cookies to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Re-roll dough as many times as necessary to use it all.
- Bake the cookies just until they are slightly brown around the edges, 8-12 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
- Decorate with Royal icing, if you wish.