Ma Madeleine de Proust…

A “madeleine” is a delicious small French cake. It’s also about bringing back childhood memories…

When I was a child every summer, my grandmother cooked some homemade jam with the fruit she grew up in her garden…cherries, strawberries, blackcurrant, rhubarb, currants or those we picked up in the wild like blueberries and raspberries, or those that we less romantically  bought at the market, especially peaches and apricots. By the end of the summer, there were at least enough jars of jam to last us until the next summer.

Her house was constantly full of the delicious fragrances of  cooking fruits and when she had finished  putting jam into the jars, there was always a small some leftover for breakfast the next day. The taste of fresh jam is just incomparable!!!

Buying jam in the shop is of course more convenient….but what a shame not to be able to enjoy the smell and taste of fresh jam! And now I’m a mum, I really hope my little Monster will build the same  kind of memories. Those that come back to  comfort and reassure when you close your eyes and smell the same familiar fragrances some (nearly) 40 years later. So ,although, you sometimes loose a little bit of time cooking or baking…. it certainly smells much better than a sad supermarket and is much more fun!

That’s why from time to time, I cook one jar of jam. We don’t need more, I don’t want to stock dozens and dozens of pots in our tiny apartment (I prefer shoes). Just one pot of jam for its smell and its taste just after it was cooked (just wait it’s cool!).

I make my jam with fruits we haven’t eaten just before they go off…. I think that’s a nice way to save them!!!

This week we have some peaches, apricots and orange blossom water jam to spread on our toasts.

France vs England

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I don’t miss a lot of things from France…. except maybe a couple of shops I really enjoyed visiting: Picard, Sephora, la FNAC et……LE MONOP’ (nick name for Monoprix)!!!!! Every single time we go to France, I manage to shop there at least once…. especially their Bout’chou brand for babies and child (ok! Their women department is not too bad as well with some cheap designer pieces!)

Fortunately, there are some shops here in England I would definitely miss if I had to go back there: Boots (How could I have lived without boots????), Primark, and Mark and Spencer where I can find the same kind of outfit for the little Monster as the one I used to shop for at Monoprix…. same kind of classical and timeless outfits that make him look like a perfect little boy (just before he spoils his jumper with some chocolate/jam/tomato sauce)…. same nice texture and materials.

Today, I especially spotted a yellow raincoat (certainly inspired by the very famous “Petit Bateau” one but twice as cheap) , a luxurious cricket jumper made with cotton and cashmere  (nothing is too beautiful to spread tomato sauce on)…. But my real crush were those incredibly sweet sandals!

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ARE THEY NOT THE CUTEST THING EVER WITH ALL THOSE LITTLE RED STARS INSIDE?????

Caroline xxx

PS: by the way the quality of those shoes is perfect too as they  are especially designed to give little feet the room they need to develop properly and they’re made from high quality materials and leather, with flexible, lightweight soles….blablabla….AND THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!!!

 

DIY for the baby’s room: cute hangers for our little ones cute outfits

Babies outfits are so cute, they can be easily used as a decoration! The only condition is to find some nice hanger…..not so easy!!!! That’s why I first  started to make my own home-made hangers with some nice fabrics. Initially they were just handsown.

A few weeks ago, I bought a sewing machine. Because I’d had never use those kind of things before, I thought, that my little hanger could be a good starter as they are really easy to make and I really love the result! For the summer I thought a nautic design would be perfect!

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To make them, I only needed a plastic  H&M hanger, some mesh, a nice fabric and some little decoration.

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I removed the small hook under the hanger ans I sewed the mesh around. Then, I drew the “print” of the left and right side of the hanger on the fabric. I cut the 4 pieces and I sewed them upside down. I slipped on the 2 pieces like socks and I sewed on the middle.

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One or two fish shaped buttons, a piece of rope….et voila!!!!!!!

 

 

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Caroline xxx

 

 

my inspirations for a beautiful summer….

A few weeks ago, my lovely husband and I  escaped  for a few days to Sicily without the little monster….. Syracuse is probably the most beautiful place on earth!!!!!  A longing for Italy has remained in my mind ever since(which never totally leaves me anyway…)

Those were some amazingly romantic days……but I’m looking forward to going back there with the little Monster when he will be a little bit older and able to follow the visits ! Italy is really a nice place for the family!

Caroline xxx

La Quiche of the Week: the easiest one ever!

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I think that French people like quiches because they are so versatile! You can imagine lots of different variations and serve them for lunch or dinner with some green leaves salad, or cut in some pieces for the “aperitif”, they are easy to carry in your lunchbox or for a picnic….You can eat them cold or warm. They are colourful, balanced, delicious!

Because the little Monster was pretty sick these last few days, I really had a lack of time and energy!!!!!! But because even ill, we need to keep on eating, here is a very simple recipe. It works also when the in-laws come round at the last minute or when friends arrive just 5 minutes after you come back from work, or any emergency situation!

For the pastry you need:

– a shop-bought short crust pastry

Remove the plastic film from the shop-bought pastry and line your dish with it!

For the filling, you need:

– 1 pack of frozen grilled mixed vegetables (courgettes, aubergines, etc…..I buy mine at Waitrose, they are pretty tasty)

– 1 small onion (optional)

– 1 goat cheese (approx. 150g)

– 1 handful of raisins (optional)

– 1 handful of pine nuts (optional)

– 1 handful of bread crumbs (optional)

– 2 eggs

– 200 ml milk

– salt and pepper

Cook the vegetables in a pan till there is no water left. You can add a small sliced onion if you want to.

Whisk the eggs and add the milk with salt and pepper.

Spread half of the vegetables on the pastry.

Slice the cheese and put the slices on the vegetables. Then you can sprinkle some raisins.

Spread the rest of vegetables.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs or/and pine nuts if you have some

Cook the quiche till it’s well golden (about 35-40 mn) in a preheated oven to 190 °C.

Bon appetit !

If you are a little bit more courageous, you can also make your own pastry with:

-250 g flour

– 125 g butter

-1 egg

-a drop of balsamic vinegar.

– large pinch of salt

Rub the flour, the salt and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs ( you can blitz everything in your food processor). Then add an egg, the balsamic vinegar and mix the mixture together with your hands into a ball. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board and line your dish with it. Then reserve in the fridge.

Caroline xxx

the smell of freshly bake bread

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Homemade bread seems to be very trendy these days! Some say it’s healthier, some say it’s tastier, but for me the best reason to bake some bread is this incredible smell that spreads all around the home.

Here is the recipe of the rye flour little breads with raisins like those I used to eat when I was a child….

– 250g of rye flour

– 250g of white flour (plus a little bit for dusting)

– 2 teaspoon of sugar

– 1 or 2 teaspoon of quick action yeast (according to the brand’s instructions)

– 1 and a half teaspoon of salt

– around 150g of raisins

– around 20 ml of vegetal oil (I use olive oil because that’s the only kind I have in my cupboard)

– around 250ml of lukewarm water.

Mix the flours, sugar, salt, yeast, raisins and then add the olive oil and water. Mix first with a spoon and then with your hand. It the dough is to sticky, add a drop of oil. It should be really homogeneous and pretty firm.

Divide the dough in 6 parts and give them the shape you want. . Put the on a baking sheet, dust with a little bit of flour through a tea strainer and lacerate the top of the bread with 2 or 3 slices with a knife.

Let the little breads rise according the brand’s instructions (probably around 45mn). I usually put them in my oven which I’ve preheated  before on the lowest possible temperature for a few minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC till slightly golden (a little bit less than 30mn).

Enjoy the smell ….and then the taste!

(for a little twist, you can also add about 20g of fennel seeds in the same time as the raisins)

Caroline xxx

This post have been inspired by one of my favourite blog. “Et Dieu crea Marc Jacob” is a very poetical blog about family and childhood. So for the French readers here is the link: http://www.etdieucrea.com/

La Quiche of the Week: fennel and salmon

I do believe that French people like quiches . They are so versatile! You can imagine all the mix possible and serve them for lunch or dinner with some green leaves salad, or cut in some pieces for the “aperitif”, they are easy to carry in your lunchbox or for a picnic….You can eat them cold or warm. They are colourful, balanced, delicious!

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For the pastry you need:

     -250 g flour

     – 125 g butter

     -1 egg

     -a small drop of water.

     – large pinch of salt

     -or: a shop-bought short crust pastry!!!!!

Rub the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs ( you can blitz everything in your food processor). Then add an egg, a small drop of water and the salt, mix the mixture together with your hands into a ball. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board and line your dish with it. Then reserve in the fridge. 

lazy version: remove the plastic film from the shop-bought pastry and line your dish with it!

For the filling, you need:

     – 2 fennels

     – an handful of fennel seeds (optional)

     – 2 small steak of salmon or a pack of smocked salmon

     – 2 eggs

     – 100 ml milk

     – 100 ml crème fraiche

     – a drop of olive oil or butter.

     – salt and pepper

Slice the fennels finely and cook them slowly in a pan with olive oil, fennel seeds and a little bit of salt. You can add a little bit of water after a while to allow it to cook for longer and avoid burning. When the fennel is tender and there is no water left, set aside.

Whisk the eggs, the crème fraiche, the milk, salt and pepper.

Pour the fennel on the pastry, sprinkle the cooked salmon or the smoked salmon on the top, cover with the crème and milk mixture.

Cook the quiche till it’s well golden (about 35-40 mn) in a preheated oven to 190 °C.

Enjoy with some green leaves!

Caroline xxx

A little Bit Like a Springtime Christmas….

ImageThe eggs were painted, the Easter tree decorated, bunnies everywhere and after nearly one week of preparation the little Monster was determined to start the eggs chase in the garden despite the poor weather…

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Not to scare the Easter Bunny away, Little Monster wouldn’t be caught without his rabbit ears and moustache. Here is the recipe for an incredible, natural and easy home made child make up: http://babyccinokids.com/blog/2014/04/16/the-little-things-playing-the-easter-bunny/

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Hope you had a wonderful Easter too!

Love,

Caroline xxx

 

 

 

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Hi!

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I’m Caroline. I’m French and I live in Brighton with my lovely husband and our little Monster. I like all things that make life a little bit more beautiful, elegant and interesting….

For the last 2 years, our life has become a little bit tougher and busier but lot of more “interesting” indeed…and most of all….much more beautiful and magical!

We had to reorganise our home and our life around our new family. Finally, after 2 years, we have found our “rhythm and style” and I’ve realised how quickly time flies.

All too soon now, all fingerprints will have disappeared from our windows, cars and dinosaurs from the floor, stains from our tailor made sofas….

So here is my diary to remind myself of all the beauty in our life and the happiness to be together….and if some of you are happy to follow what I like and what we do, I would be delighted to share it with you!….

….So, Welcome in Mon Cocon // My cocoon

Caroline xxx