31 August 2012

French Food Friday: Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom

Hello friends. Last week was Julia Child's birthday, and while my schedule didn't allow me to post last Friday about her, it did remind me of my Julia Child themed birthday I had a few years ago...

Three years ago, my husband came up with a great date night/birthday gift theme. He took me out to eat and then we went and saw the movie Julie/Julia. A cute movie about how one woman uses a plan to cook through Julia Child's cookbook and a blog to reinvigorate her life. It was a fun date, but what was neat was two days later for my family birthday party, two of the gifts I opened from my husband were Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"  (which of course I had heard of) and this book...a hidden gem I didn't know until that day, existed...

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a lifetime of Cooking.

If you only buy one new book for your kitchen this year; this should really be it.

Divided into 8 sections (Soups & Two Mother Sauces, Salads & their Dressings, Vegetables, Meats, Poultry & Fish, Egg Cookery, Breads, Crepes & Tarts, Cakes & Cookies, and Kitchen Equipment & Definitions) this little paperback book is a cornucopia of useful information.

Want to know the steps to a perfect saute? It's in there.
How to prepare a souffle dish? In there.
The best pan for the job? In there.
How to tell when something is done (and by something, I mean everything from different cuts of meat to cookies to breads)? In there.
How to butterfly? When to dredge? Perfect Pie Crust? How long to braise, boil, steam or bake? All in there.

This is a fabulous book full of useful techniques and cooking information.

It's also full of fabulous recipes, including main starter recipes for soups, sauces, bouillons,syrups and more.

What I really love about this book is to be so full of information and recipes, it's actually a smaller paperback; a lovely companion to the hardback (and uber thick) French Cooking techniques Cookbook. Bon Appétit!

Do you have a favorite cooking resource book? What is it?
More Julia Child's Good Stuff...

28 August 2012

Wordless Wednesday Link Up #1

                                          Me...Having a little fun at the Louvre, May 2011.

Welcome to our first Wordless Wednesday Link Up here at Katie's Language Cafe (If anyone can think of a better name for it, I am taking suggestions!).... (Pretty Pictures, Minimal Musings....anyone got anything?)

Want to link up? Here is what you need to do...

1. Be a follower in some way (GFC, NB, or email delivery) of this blog, Katie's Language Cafe.
2. Link up the html post to your specific Wordless Wednesday link (it doesn't have to be new or current, you are welcome to link up an older picture post if you choose.
3. It's called Wordless Wednesday for a reason. Keep text to a minimum. Under one paragraph or a 100 words is usually a good rule of thumb.
4. Link back to this blog in some way. Either link a text link to Katie's Language Cafe, put this button  at the bottom of your post, or in your sidebar. Any of the three will do :-)
5. Please visit the photo link above and below yours. This way every one gets some visits.

Looking forward to visiting your photos. This will be a weekly link up!

A new weekly link-up and new travel tales...

Good morning!  I just got home from a whirlwind weekend trip to New York City. My husband flew me there (from Arizona) for a date night. In the 24 hours we were in the city, we took in Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, ate lunch at Rockefeller Center, saw a Broadway Show ("Wicked"), took a carriage ride through Central Park, ate dinner at the Renaissance Hotel (overlooking Times Square) and took in the view at the top of the Empire State Building.

My husband and I, outside the Gershwin Theatre, Broadway, NYC, August 26, 2012.

Now most people would raise eyebrows at a trip that encompassed that much travel (6 flights) for only one day of fun but we are TRAVELERS, and we are ADVENTURERS and love doing trips, even short ones, on the spur of the moment.

 New on Tuesdays...Because I do have the blessing (and traveling is a blessing) to get to travel both domestically and internationally quite frequently (this year so far has found me on 10 flights, 3 foreign countries,2 coasts, and 6 states, so far, I will start encompassing Tuesdays as Travel Tuesdays here on Katie's Language Cafe. This way I can share each week fun destinations, tips and photos with you!

New on Wednesdays...STARTING TOMORROW we will be doing a Wordless Wednesday Link Up here at Katie's Language Cafe. I will post the link up late Tuesday nights so that it is ready for you first thing in the morning. Share a post that highlights a favorite photo or two with minimal wording (preferably less than one paragraph)...while we LOVE LOVE LOVE travel photos here at KLC, it can be anything inspiring to you as long as it is family friendly.

So stop by tomorrow and link up a new or old photo post here to the "Wordless Wednesday" link up and be sure and come every Tuesday for our new Travel Tuesdays...which reminds me...

Our blog schedule:

Mondays: MERCI Mondays...all about French language
Tuesdays: Travel Tuesdays...traveling tips, photos and adventures to share
Wednesdays: Wordless Wednesdays link up
Fridays: French Food Fridays
Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays: more great posts on French culture, fashion, history, traveling, language acquisition, book reviews, giveaways and more!

Consider following us via email so you don't miss a thing!

15 August 2012

MERCI Method Part 2: Master the Vocabulary

 "Merci" in French means "thank you", but here at Katie's Language Cafe, MERCI also stands as the acronym for our own unique method for second language acquisition:

In part one, we introduced the MERCI method of second language acquisition (trademark pending)...

M-Master the vocabulary
E-Explore the culture
R-Remember the rules
C-Communicate often
I-Immerse in the Language

                                      Lucky for us, the French language has alot of cognates,
                                                              about 1,700 to be exact!

The first step is Mastering the Vocabulary.  My experience in foreign countries with regard to not being understood was my inability to communicate my message did not come from a bad accent or poor pronunciation, but from a lack of knowing the right words I needed. Vocabulary is necessary for labeling, requesting, ordering food...communicating ANYTHING.

Mastering vocabulary takes effort and practice but it need not be cumbersome. If you approach foreign language learning like cramming for an exam, you will not be successful; not long term anyway. A little every day is better than a lot right before its needed. I try to put at least 30 min a day into my language learning, with 15 of this being vocabulary study. When I started doing this, instead of studying for a few hours the day before class time or tests, my conversational abilities grew exponentially!

There are alot of ways to learn vocabulary...the way that works best for you will depend alot upon what kind of learner you are (auditory, visual, hands-on, etc).

Here are a few ideas for you to try...

*study vocabulary in theme units (food, clothing, greetings, etc) practice writing them down and saying them aloud, like studying for a test

*label everything in your house with small sticky notes with the french label and also coordinating functional phrases. Practice these throughout the day. For example, the refrigerator may have the french word for refrigerator on it, but also a sticky that has (in French) "I'm hungry" or "I'm thirsty".

*Commit to spending some time each day on a language program like Rosetta Stone or Real Language Right Away.

*Notecards; write out the vocabulary~~the French on one side, the English on the other and carry in your purse or bag to have on hand to study during down times, waiting times, etc.

*Purchase and Download at least one French word book on your e-reader (Nook, Kindle, etc)

* Purchase at least one familiar book/story (can be simple like the Runaway Bunny or more complex, like Harry Potter) in French and read it. If it is a familiar story, you will be able to glean much vocabulary in addition to building fluency.  

I am a visual learner, and mnemonics are one way I have found helps me remember lots of new information. I purchased and tried out the 200 French words a day program that helps you not only learn the noun/label for a word via a picture but also the gender of the noun (French nouns are male or female) at the same time. I enjoy going through this program a few times a week...the funny graphics seem to work to help me remember not only the vocabulary but also to learn at the same time if it is male or female.

Everyone learns in different ways, what is important is not the "how" but the "when".  Everyone, even practically every non-French speaker, can tell you that hello is "Bonjour". Why? because they've heard it off and on their whole lives. It has become familiar. To learn a foreign language, you must commit yourself to familiarizing yourself with as much of the vocabulary as you can, best done by spending a little time each day in this practice.

Do you have other tips for learning vocabulary? Please share them in the comments!

10 August 2012

Feta Stuffed Mushroom Caps

I love cheese and have yet to meet a cheese I didn't like. When I visit France,  visiting the local Fromagerie is always a must! I like experimenting with all different types of cheeses when I am creating in the kitchen, but I find one that is under used in many recipes is feta, which gives these mushrooms a unique texture and a taste that is different from your typical brie filled appetizers (though you can easily substitute Brie in these if that is your preference)...These are especially nice when you use parsley from your own herb garden.

Feta Stuffed Mushrooms

2 packages white button mushrooms
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter
1 package crumbled feta
4 scallions, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup diced parsley, flat leafed preferred
2-4 garlic cloves (minced)...(If you love garlic go with the 4. If you want just a hint; go with 2)
fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Wash your mushrooms gently. I have a little mushroom brush I got at Williams Sonoma years ago that does the trick easily, but you can use your hands and a gentle touch. Make sure they are clean but be careful not to bruise them. Pat dry. Go back through and toss any mushrooms that are bruised or have soft spots.

3. Tear out the stems. You should be able to do this with your fingers and they should remove easily. You want to remove enough of the "inside" to give yourself a little bowl for your stuffed mixture.

4. Warm butter over medium low heat. When melted, Saute your mushrooms for 2 minutes. This should give them some nice color on the outside. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. In same pan, add parsley, garlic, and scallions and fresh ground pepper to taste. Add a little more butter if you like.

 **A word about the scallions...you can use 4 scallions, using only the green part up about 1/2 way to middle or you can dice up to the white very small. If you use the white, cut the amount of scallions in half  and use only 2 scallions. Cook a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.

6. Put mushrooms in baking dish, open side up. I like to use a mini muffin pan for this and make them individually. This is a great way to do it if you have children helping you in the kitchen. You can also use a regular baking dish or pie pan and that will save the step of having to transfer them after baking.

7. Put cheese inside each cap. Then top each  with one tsp of the  parsley mixture.

8. Bake at 350 degrees 15-17 minutes. Watch closely. The cheese should be melted, but not browning. Serve warm.

One variation: When I make these as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, I add  a handful of chopped sage into the herb mixture with the parsley, which ties them to the rest of the meal beautifully.


06 August 2012

The MERCI method Part 1: Introduction...

photo credit: KFLC/me reading in Paris
(This is the day I got the idea for KFLC & MERCI)
Currently I am working on a masters in French History. But, as a speech language pathologist (my day job) with a masters in communication disorders and sciences and a  background in linguistics and language acquisition, I am amazed how hard the beginning of my journey to learn French, my own second language, was. I have since realized that when one wants to learn any foreign language they must think "MERCI" from the very beginning . "Merci" in French means "thank you", but here at Katie's Language Cafe, MERCI also stands as the acronym for our own unique method for second language acquisition:

M-Master the vocabulary
E-Explore the culture
R-Remember the rules
C-Communicate often
I-Immerse in the language

If you have always wanted to learn some French; now is a great time. It is the start of a new school year coming up and you can learn along with us as we continue to post lessons from the beginning!  If you have always wanted to learn some French or if you are a homeschooler, you can get your child started on a second language, starting with our first language lesson posted here.

The MERCI method, part two will be posted later this week and will delve further into these 5 areas of second language acquisition.  In my opinion, language acquisition is a living thing that grows or dies, depending on the attention it is given. I hope you find your own journey towards acquiring foreign language fluency  benefiting from your time you spend here at Katie's French Language Cafe.  

À la prochaine (until next time),

03 August 2012

The Siren of Paris Guest Post & Giveaway

Bonjour everyone! French food Fridays will return to the blog next Friday with my recipe for feta stuffed mushroom caps, but  today I was asked to be part of the virtual blog tour for David Leroy's new book, "The Siren of Paris"!  As you know I am working on my second Master's in History and this fall one of my classes is on the French Revolution so I was thrilled that Katie's Language Cafe was invited to be a part of this blog tour! And even more thrilled that David Leroy, the author, offered to do a guest post for us here at KLC! Don't forget that at the end of David's post is the rafflecopter giveaway form, so be sure and scroll down and enter!

David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for this debut novel.  This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two. The Siren of Paris will appeal to serious history buffs (like me) as well as fans of action/adventure novels and lovers of historical fiction.

Here is a guest post written for my readers here at Katie's Language cafe by Author, David Leroy!

David writes...

When Words Did Kill...

The words “French Resistance,” conjure up, in the modern imagination, daring heroes blowing up trains, intercepting enemy secretes, and taking clever escapes from the Germans. This myth largely ignores the less glamorous forms of resistance, which was the birthplace of the movement in the first place: underground newspapers. Resistance did not begin by blowing up anything but with a typewriter under candlelight, or a stenograph borrowed from the university to print up a few copies of a tract for the “neighborhood.”

For a moment, my dear reader, let’s assume you are one of these daring souls venturing into the world of the clandestine press. First, you need paper, and that can be a problem, because extra paper is very hard to come by during the occupation. But determined, you find a way to secure a supply of paper on the black market in Paris. Second, you need something that can duplicate. Luckily for you, there is a stenograph at the university which no one seemed to notice missing when you were dismissed from your job. Now, with paper and a method of duplication, you need some collaborators in this underground paper, so you, of course, turn to your trusted friends who share a hatred for the fascist occupation. They help you write articles, edit them, and distribute your paper under the doorways of the apartment complex, in the market, and on seats of the metro. Of course you will also need courage, luck, and a little bit of blood, and you actually succeed beyond your wildest expectations.

Raymond Deiss had paper, a stenograph, and experience with printing. He also had friends, luck, and courage. His previous experience with publishing was in the world of musical scores. He managed to get 16 issues of Pantagruel out to his fellow Frenchmen before he was arrested in October 1941. He was beheaded, in 1943, in a prison in Cologne, Germany. Sixteen copies is not a bad run for an up and coming resistance paper.

Agnes Humbert, a middle aged single woman, also had access to all of the necessary tools and alliances to bring about an underground paper, due to her position working at the Library of the Museum of Man. This paper, titled Resistance, only had 5 complete issues before all of the members of this resistance cell were under arrest. However it marked the official start of the “French Resistance” because nearly everyone the leadership was betrayed, resulting in a huge public trial. Agnes’s luck enabled her to survive the war. However many male members of the Groupe du Musee de l’Homme died. If you are ever in France, and you see an obscure small plaque with names on it, chances are it is in memory of people who died in the Resistance. , (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupe_du_musée_de_l%27Homme ),

Instead of becoming a deterrent, this triggered a landslide of underground papers, such as Combat, Defense de la France, Le Franc-Tireur, L’Insurge, Valmy, Liberation Nord, Liberation Sud, and an unknown number of small individual short run periodicals. “They were all in love with dying and they were doing it in PARIS,” is what Butthole Surfers-Pepper would sing about this special period of French journalism. These papers provided information about the war that went counter to the official government position. They also provided a source of contacts for larger resistance networks. The core objective of this press was to encourage the population and offer hope. This may seem harmless enough, but the Germans were hypersensitive to not encouraging any sense of nationalistic pride in France; thus even the bells of Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as all other Catholic bell towers, were silenced throughout the war . Examples of actual resistance papers are rare, because eventually most were destroyed. Just being in possession of such a paper could cost you your life.

By the time of Liberation, many of these papers had grown in size and distribution with circulations reaching 200,000 to 250,000 with several regional editions. The short novel Le Silence de la Mer was written and published during this time. The increase did not come without a cost. For instance, looking at just the Defense de la France network, 688 of its 3,000 members were arrested, 127 executed, 322 were sent to camps and 132 never returned. Jean and Georges, characters in my book The Siren of Paris, are among those 132 who died.

As success increased, so did the danger to all those involved. In the spring of 1944, the Germans, along with the French Malice, began a systematic program to clamp down on these papers. Of the 2000 undercover agent positions advertised in Paris that year, over 6,000 hungry collaborators applied. Many of the underground resistance papers were operated and written by young university students or even teenagers. Once arrested through some betrayal, they would be tortured in the basement of a house over on Victor Hugo, giving the asbestos walls a signature handprint. Survivors would then go to 180 Rue De La Pompe, to be further tortured in the nude while entertained by classical piano to drown out the screams. The lucky ones were just shot.

The mythical image of the French Resistance is based upon the Maquis. This is a band of rouge guerilla fighters, well armed and trained, living in the mountains away from the cities. They are estimated to have grown to around 30,000 members. None of the Maquis appear in The Siren of Paris.

Young men, destined for forced labor in Germany, discovered through the underground press that they were welcome to join the Maquis. But the underground papers were run by people with no guns, living in cities, surrounded by the constant danger of betrayal from collaborators who were rewarded with outrageous sums of money.

The daring young paperboys provided by Volunteers of Liberty and Defense de la France, who disappeared from the streets of Paris in 1943, and 1944, do appear in The Siren of Paris. For their courage, they gave their blood, usually during a concert of classical piano. The very few who did survive went on to a memorable holiday at Buchenwald.

So, my dear reader, do you happen to know anyone with a stenograph, and perhaps some paper they can spare? Of course, we need to practice utmost discretion. This will be just between us. I am sure if we careful, we will be able to get at least 16 issues out before our luck changes, because these words we write do kill, and most likely ourselves. 21x27 cm will work fine, and we will print just on one side so they can also be placed on walls as posters. Anything smaller we can spread through the metro in between stops. I can tell by your smile that you are going to be a hero. ~~David Leroy

Thank you David for your guest post today.

So dear, readers...are you intrigued?
You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088CA098  or paperback here http://www.amazon.com/The-Siren-Paris-David-LeRoy/dp/0983966710/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 You can learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com/.

Today, we are giving Katie's Language cafe readers a chance to win their own copy! This giveaway will start today and end on 12:01am Sat. Aug 11. This giveaway is not associated with facebook or twitter in anyway. Winner must reside in the United States for this giveaway. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck,

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