How to make sunshine

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My Mama Ruth’s recipe for quiche lorraine to brighten up gray, chaotic Paris! (She just told me her mother, Roxie, brought this back from France!)

The crust

There are lots of great ready-made versions in French stores, haven’t found really good ones in the US (recommendations welcome). If you have time, make your own.

1⅓  cups + I Tbsp flour (about 250g)

Pinch of sea salt

I stick (125g) butter (best you can find, raw if possible)

1 Tbsp cream cheese (1 square Kiri à la crème)

Butter or oil to grease the baking dish

Stir flour and salt, cut butter and cream cheese into small pieces and blend with fork until mixture becomes crumbly. Work into a smooth ball. Set aside for 30 min to one hour (slight fermentation process will make it tastier and more digestible). Roll out and line a deep pie dish (I prefer glass).

Filling

8 thin slices of cooked ham, more if desired (can also use fried smoked bacon)

8 ounces Swiss cheese (medium slab gruyère or emmenthal, raw milk if possible) more if desired, cut into thin slices

½ cup (120 ml) milk or sour cream

4 eggs

½ Tsp salt

Dash of fresh nutmeg

Cover the bottom of the pastry crust in baking dish with slices of ham, follow with cheese, then alternate layers. Blend remaining ingredients with a fork, pour over ham and cheese. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for at least 40 minutes, if necessary add time until filling bubbles and browns, “sets”.

Delicious hot or room temperature, with green vegetable or salad and vinaigrette on the side. Pair with your favorite dry wine.

Ha ha! Who cares about the weather, demonstrations and stalled transportation!

xxxxx Aliss

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to make Christmas last forever (or at least until the end of January…)

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This is a post from a previous Christmas, just as relevant now 🙂 ” This year’s darkness hasn’t been due to the weather but many other things… “As a native of more southerly latitudes, I had to learn to ignore Parisian weather to survive. If I had known before I moved here that my birthplace near Washington, DC, is comparable to Madrid and Rome in terms of sunlight, whereas Paris is comparable to Montreal, that lack of sunshine depresses the immune system and dampens the spirits… I may not have come. Then one day I was ranting about the gray skies to a French friend who said, “Il y a d’autres soleils à Paris” (There are other suns in Paris) and that was a turning point. I learned to love rain even when it falls every day for months as it has this winter, one of the darkest in 30 years.

Living in Paris has made me think that Christmas and Hanukkah lights are Northern Hemisphere responses to winter sun deprivation, and this year they are more vital than ever. So here are my strategies to make Christmas last forever, or at least until the end of January and the gradual approach of Spring…

  • Virtual fireplace on flat screen TV (DVD’s available and now streaming on Netflix!)
  • Epiphany galettes (King cakes) still on sale in the bakeries (collect prizes, wear crowns!)
  • New Year’s cards can be sent until at least the end of the month (and received!)
  • New Year’s resolutions boost energy and project us into the future, especially if updated and tracked
  • Skype faraway friends and family to open presents they sent by mail
  • Sort pictures, print some to send with New Year’s greetings
  • Play with presents: make a list of who gave you what and what you will do with each one in the new year, include thank you’s in New Year’s cards
  • Keep a log of good times over the holidays, in your appointment calendar, and relive them by journaling: funny things people said, conversations, realisations, issues to clear up?
  • Food memories: recipes new and heirloom, to share in New Year’s messages
  • Food continued: bake cookies and send to older and younger loved ones
  • Keep the tree and decorations up even as the tree folds inward like a shriveled umbrella and begins to look like a biological equivalent of Miss Havisham’s wedding cake (in Great Expectations)
  • Make un-decorating part of the holiday, set aside lots of time, enjoy treasured ornaments, as mementos and promises of future holiday celebrations
  • Keep the music playing: all the oldies you didn’t listen to when it was really Christmas, laugh at Bob Dylan and Elvis holiday albums, discover Yuletide gems by Lynerd Skynerd, Louis Armstrong and the never-obsolete Frank Sinatra. If that’s too much, fall back on instrumental “Winter Solstice” and “Celtic Christmas” collections from Windham Hill and others…
  • Recycle your tree in any of Paris’s parks until January 28th (and beyond), knowing it will become fragrant mulch for gorgeous spring landscaping…
  • Hibernate without guilt, perhaps with the help of a carefully selected winter virus, just severe enough to keep you on the couch in front of the “fire” with herb teas and soups,  but not requiring antibiotics or ER trips…
  • Continue your creative and professional work when the fog clears
  • Start thinking about Valentine’s day…”

Merry Christmas!

To be continued, love xxxxx Aliss

 

 

When in existential doubt, look at pastry

pastry

It was a toxic afternoon: a lunch date gone terribly wrong, a miscommunication with a friend, a big tech glitch, all this after a hectic end of spring, beginning of summer, heat waves coming and going, bad news, end of world atmosphere…

Didn’t even have the heart to photograph street scenes, no eye-popping beauty jumped out and grabbed me.  Came across this recent pic on my phone and got an immediate physical lift. Never even tasted these works of art, merely immortalized their colors and shapes as I passed the shop window. Now fantasizing about shrinking like my namesake and strolling around inside this display like an edible city, breathing in the flavors, taking an occasional mind-boggling bite.

Haven’t solved any of the world’s problems yet, but approach the subject with a fresh attitude.

Can something so ephemeral save us?

“Hope is always accompanied by the imagination, the will to see what our physical environment seems to deem impossible. Only the creative mind can make use of hope. Only a creative people can wield it.” Poet Jericho Brown, interviewed in the Kenyon Review:

https://www.kenyonreview.org/conversation/jericho-brown/

https://onbeing.org/programs/jericho-brown-small-truths-and-other-surprises/

And for another way to feel good, plant some trees, please:

https://www.americanforests.org

Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.

Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres.

Reduce your paper and wood consumption. Double-check with Rainforest Alliance that what you’re buying is considered rainforest-safe. You can also purchase rainforest-safe products from the alliance’s site.

Tree planting in France:

http://www.yves-rocher-fondation.org/plantons-pour-la-planete/?fbclid=IwAR1MVdct9Aoq-uHUEhEEz_aZCNM01YpE2SRYuqmio9WEzROdIUpjVmKJSSE

http://afac-agroforesteries.fr/le-programme-plantons-avec-la-fondation-yves-rocher/?fbclid=IwAR1kkthW6soYWFbUZVeRcEhV1bgKry45lsz-rc-LHWJyvkxQrJpu7sIgMQg

http://ecotree.fr/en/

I may not have solved any of the world’s major problems yet, but approach the subject with a fresh attitude.

xxxxxxx Aliss

Soulgasm

Baltic

Finding myself

Above the Baltic

Between Saint Petersburg and Paris

Where is the sky

Where is the sea

Imagined arms in first position

A ballet beginner

Embracing a ball of light:

I’m not a nationality

I’m not a passport

I’m not a language

A country

A political party

A religion

An addresss

A family member

A marital status

A gender

A weight

A height

A skin color

A diploma

A job title

A news cycle…

Maybe a visitor

A soul in a body

A person

Spaciousness

©Aliss Valerie Terrell 2019

 

 

 

Still, Look Up

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(Glass walkway and trampoline under the dome at Galeries Lafayette, this week)

Horrendous world news… What to do? Vote, donate, vote with our spending, listen, support any way we can and keep looking up… From all the brain research I’ve read, literally directing your eyes upward stimulates the frontal cortex, center of creative imagination and projecting ourselves into the future. MRI tracking shows that when this area is activated, the brain functions as a whole, harmonizing the fight or flight and emotional areas, with the inventive part. So this is what we need to design a different world.

xxxxx Aliss

The Heart of France

Reposted from August 201610333405_10152648423348899_8170936228487363108_o
A memory from August 15th, 2014: “Paris, City of the Goddess… This morning in our courtyard I could hear bells ringing everywhere for a long time, the way it must have been before cars, watches, and smart phones, when the streets echoed with human voices and bells tolled the time. The city is almost empty and today is Assumption Day. You don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian to feel the feminine energy here. Notre Dame stands in the very center, where geobiologists say Telluric Currents meet and people have been drawn to worship from time immemorial. Traditionally all distances in France were measured from Notre Dame. When you were out in the provinces, the old road signs used to read ‘Paris Notre Dame xxx km.’ There are shrines to Mary everywhere with ex-votoes at the entrances and on the walls saying, ‘Thank you, Mary’ or ‘Thank you, Mother’ and sometimes details about the events of her intercession. Whatever your beliefs, these places seem like portals to another dimension where you can release your fears and pain if you are willing to trust that somehow they can be transformed through grace beyond human understanding…I thought this was all superstition until I moved to Paris. The Goddess of La République, called ‘Marianne,’ seems to be replacing Mary in some contexts. Her statue stands on one of the major squares of the city and in all the Mairies, or town halls, presiding over civil ceremonies of all kinds. If she allows us to imagine a higher power of justice and gives birth to compassion and hope, then is she Mary’s secular sister… or daughter?”
 xxxxx Aliss

Notre Dame

Reposted from March 2017Point zero*

Embedded in the cobblestones in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is this marker, the starting point of all main roads leading to French cities and the endpoint used for measuring their distances, the very heart of the country. DSC03304The cathedral itself is a visual encyclopedia of French culture and history.DSC03305

Beside the main altar stands a 14th century statue of the Mother. No matter what tradition you come from, she is the incarnation of compassion enfolding soul,  reminding me of Kwan Yin, (Guanyin) the Buddhist bodhisatva, sometimes compared to Mary.

I’m grateful to have this sanctuary nearby, to sit in silence, in candlelight, sending and receiving love through this portal, always, but especially in times like the ones we are living.

To be continued xxxxx Aliss

*Photo: Jean-Jacques Breton, Paris à vos pieds, editions Parisgramme, Paris 2013, p. 106. (Scan and color-adjustments, Aliss Terrell)