Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin fondue, & seeing the pretty mornings...

"C’est un joli matin", Pablo said at the breakfast table this morning. It is a pretty morning. 
And it is. And he can see it.

There will be moments of struggle today, of drag, of annoyance and frustration. And yet, it is a pretty morning. We are grounded in it.

I am so inspired and enlightened by his wonderful capacity to be in the moment, to really look at the world, no matter what the struggles of the day might be or have been.

What a resource that is. A tool to build resilience, for an expanding life.

Some years ago, I was scuba diving in a beautiful spot in New Zealand. To be away, to travel, to experience life and the ocean, what a privilege. It was a cold water dive, one of my first, and so as we sank down to admire the underwater landscape, the dancing kelp, the vibrant colors, I noticed I was very cold. My whole body was cold. And it made it very challenging to see the beauty around me. It took great effort, to shift my focus.

So often, our immediate needs cloud our vision. Crises cloud our vision. For survival, I suppose. Yet the key to seeing that pretty morning, was acceptance. Stop fighting the cold, and accept it. Accept needs (whether met or unmet). Accept the struggles without judging them. And the clouds will part, to reveal the pretty mornings, that exist no matter what.

One can always count on struggles, and on pretty mornings.

I have been working on that, lately. Or rather, realizing how very bad I am at accepting my own struggles, while I am able to meet Pablo's struggles with acceptance and empathy (most of the time!). My own struggles fluster me, make me feel inadequate. In short, grumpy :-) And stuck.

So here’s to the day where I will be better able to accept and embrace my struggles for what they are: life’s journeys, tools, resources for learning and growing.

At least, Pablo has helped me to not let my struggles blind me from those pretty mornings, those lovely seconds of joy or contentment or beauty inexorably present even on the worst of days.

I have very much been struggling to get back to meal planning ever since the move and recent upheavals in our lives. I have been so very thankful for my mother’s help during this time. And if one thing has remained constant through these past couple of months, it is our meals.

Our family meals have been our guaranteed moments of connection, of being grounded and present. Instead of a burden as one might see it (to prepare a four course meal in spite of chaos, rush or stress), it has been a resource. Something that has helped us all through the difficult times. Moments to grab and rescue us from the whirlwind of projections, fears, anxieties and plans, moments to keep us tethered to life, to the serenity of the here and now... which is all there really is.

So... for this week’s menu, scroll down, and if you have time for some fun family food, try this pumpkin fondue we shared on Halloween night with dear friends visiting from France. It was enjoyed by all ages :-)

I will try for a post a week for the time being, as I make time to work on my book / cookbook. I thank you so very much for your patience and loyalty. 

Pumpkin Swiss Fondue

Serves 4 per small pumpkin

Age for babies: The mashed up roasted pumpkin with a bit of cheese on it (alcohol-free recipe) could be given from 8 months on.

1 pumpkin
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 clove of minced garlic
2 cups of Swiss Fondue
Country bread (if you're in the mood for making bread, this easy country loaf from Local Milk is awesome)

Wash the pumpkin, cut off a top "hat" and remove the seeds and threads inside with a spoon. 

Preheat the oven at 350°F.

In a small bowl, mix coconut oil (or ghee) with minced garlic. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with it.

Place the pumpkin (with hat on) in a baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes, until flesh is tender. (This can be done a few hours ahead)

Meanwhile, a couple of options for the cheese fondue:

1- Go the very easy quick route as I have done on Halloween night this year, and buy a Swiss fondue mixture (Trader Joe's has a very good one with a mix of Emmenthal, Comté and Gruyère Cheese). Reheat per instructions.

2 - Make it yourself with or without alcohol. I like David Lebovitz' recipe here, especially the suggestion of replacing white wine with lemon juice and water for an alcohol free version. 

10-15 minutes before the meal, pour the Swiss fondue inside the pumpkin, replace the pumpkin hat and bake another 10 minutes at 350°F.

Cut up "mouillettes", country bread sticks, place the pumpkin in the middle of the table, and let the dipping begin!

When the cheese is gone, cut up the pumpkin and enjoy with some simple crisp romaine lettuce in vinaigrette. 

Onto the week's menu...

A slight modification on the menus from the past: Pablo now goes to daycare three mornings a week, and I shall list the content of his bento box-like lunchbox.  

Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: creamy Brebis (sheep), sharp cheddar, Rustique Camembert (cow), goat gouda.

Desserts: At lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
Smoked salmon, avocado & quinoa salad, cooked zucchini with vinaigrette, goat gouda, tangerine.

Goûter (4pm snack) – Chocolate pudding

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Baked artichokes with shallot vinaigrette
Main course: Mixed vegetable jardinière with pork belly


Pablo's Lunchbox:
Boiled leeks with vinaigrette, hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes & blue potato salad, cheddar, pear.

Goûter - Apple

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Broccoli spinach soup
Main course: Braised endives with ham au gratin (quinoa flour béchamel)


Picnic Lunch  
Fennel spinach watercress savory cake, lentil shallot salad, comté cheese, grapes

Goûter – Pear

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Pumpkin celery soup*, apple cheddar muffins
Main course: Trying these lentil cakes from Cannelle & Vanille


Appetizer / Finger Foods: Authentic Greek Salad
Main course: Flaxseed tortilla quesadillas with mozzarella and creamy mushrooms

Goûter - Yogurt with fresh figs

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Watermelon radish (with butter and salt)
Main course: Butternut zucchini Spanish tortilla, with butter lettuce


Pablo's Lunchbox: 
French-style grated carrots, tuna rice salad with tomatoes and beans, cheese, persimmon

Goûter - Tangerine

Appetizer / Finger FoodsPea salad
Main course: Pan-fried leg of lamb with flageolets beans.


Picnic Lunch
Persian cucumber sticks, sardine ricotta pea sandwich, cheese, fruit.

Goûter - Apple compote

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cream of cauliflower
Main course: Sauteed shrimp with lime over red quinoa


Mixed quinoa salad with crudités, proscuitto.

Goûter - Blackberries & apple

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Green beans cauliflower herb salad
Main course: Dutch oven roasted chicken, roasted sweet potato fingerlings

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  1. So happy you're going to be posting more often—love reading your voice and trying your new recipes! As always, this looks AMAZING. And super exciting news about a cookbook, I will certainly be purchasing whenever that happens. :)

    Glad that Pablo is able to remind you of pretty mornings. It's so easy to get caught up in the bad and stay grumpy (especially mornings for me... haha). I hope that life gets smoother and smoother for you!

    1. Ah thank you so very much for your warmth and support, Vanessa! :-) Your kind words brought a smile to my face tonight.

  2. I have to compliment you on the delicious (and nutritious) lunches you are preparing for your little one while at school. Such an inspiration! I wouldn't mind some of them for my own lunch :)

  3. Thank you for sharing all these delicious ideas. I'm a huge fan of your blog. I've just started one as well if you want to look at it: I'll try to share some of my little ones week's menu as well so as we can exchange thoughts :-) Have a nice evening.

    1. I look forward to checking out your blog, love the name!

  4. I tried the lentil cakes! I added sesame seeds :) So good.. My son ate two! Also, so glad you're back in action, missed you lots!


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