Posts Tagged With: 13th arrondissement

Happy Something To Me


The view of the leaves outside of our window – May 5, 2010

Greetings, dear readers of An Alien Parisienne! Sorry it has been a couple of weeks. The good news is I have been out, living life, and as you know my motto is, “Life first, blog later.” I’ve stolen that motto from a long time online friend, Bonii Jo, to give credit where it is due. It’s true, though, that if I am not writing here, it is often because I am “out there,” doing things.

Or, perhaps more truthfully, I am on the internet superhighway reading as if I am in a 1994 Dauer 962 LeMans (allegedly the fastest car in the world).  The sheer number of open tabs on Google Chrome turns into a solid bar of color where I cannot even see the icons of what is on each tab anymore. Hunting down a web page becomes a game of guess and click, or maybe hit and run, to keep with my superhighway metaphor. I try to use things like Read It Later to little avail. I like to read anything and everything I can get my eager little fingers and eyes on, and inevitably my brain gets clogged up with all of the mental commentary about said readings and all they inspire, and before you know it, I am blogging here. It’s like a brain detritus bomb most times. A blowout on that superhighway when I actually stop to contemplate in writing what I have in mind.

I was the kid who always had something to read in front of her. I read the cereal boxes at breakfast. I read the billboards on the way to school on the schoolbus. I read everything set before me — I even passed that stupid little “pop quiz” that teachers used to give where it says at the top of the test in the instructions, “Before you do anything on this quiz, read ALL of the questions FIRST, then begin to work.” Then the last question says something like, “Only perform the task in item number one, and ignore the rest of the questions and/or tasks on this quiz.” The task in number one is to write your first and last name at the top of the paper, and that’s it: end of quiz. It was the kind of quiz designed to make most kids feel like idiots, laboring over the questions they didn’t even have to do, if they had read the directions. But of course a good percentage had not followed the directions (kind of the whole point of the quiz — to hit kids over the head with the idea that it is always good to read the directions first) and it quickly became obvious who had and who had not done what they were supposed to. I remember teachers sitting, smugly, at their desks, chuckling silently to themselves over the fact that they duped kids into needless work.  I remember the audible groans from the children who realized the error of their ways in not taking care to read the directions first. The whole thing boiled down to rewarding readers and rule-followers such as myself, and shaming the ones who were more renegade in their approach. Still, I am the one who can actually set the timer on the DVD (used to be “the VCR” and I almost typed that — god I am getting old. More on that in a mo’) because I READ THE FREAKIN’ INSTRUCTIONS and therefore know what to do and how to do it.

What I am getting at is that I love to READ and with the interwebz at my disposal, it is like quick and easy crack almost all day long at the crack whore house of endless crack. Until the man of the house gets home and wants his due time on the ‘net, too. He is more of the writer, though. And the organizer of media for his writing. I, on the other hand, cannot seem to stop reading long enough to write, and then when I do: KABOOM.

Here we are for another explosive installment of the life and times of Paris Karin, the Alien Parisienne.

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Categories: Karin Brain Miscellany, Life in Paris, Paris Adventures, Paris Blogging, Paris Friends, Paris Museums, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Cabbage and Tea

Yesterday, 8 October 2009, I did something truly brilliant: I roasted cabbage!


It was so brilliant, I decided to roast some more today — the second half of the head of cabbage I’d made yesterday and which I had gotten last week and needed to use up.

I have had great success with roasting brussels sprouts, garlic, and onions. Pretty much what you do is cut stuff up, slather it with olive oil, generously salt and pepper it (I have gotten snobby and use fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper), and bake the hell out of it, which means until some parts begin to turn dark brown and blacken. Oh, except for the garlic, in which case you slice off the top of a bulb (or whatever you call the thing where all the cloves of garlic are clumped together at the stem), drizzle OO on the open top, wrap in foil and then bake the heck out of it until the cloves are smooshy “like buttah” and then stuff your face silly with it.

I thought yesterday, “Why not roast cabbage, too?”

A quick internet search showed me others had tried this, with success. I decided not to follow any one recipe to the letter; instead, I just kind of wang it (is that the past tense of “wing it”?) and it was delicious. The photo up there is where I ate half the pan already, but thought at the last minute, “Hey, maybe I should blog this!”

Thankfully, today, I made some more, and this is what a finished pan-ful looks like:



Here’s the basic “recipe”:

Cut a half a head of cabbage into 1/2″ to 1″ wedge-y slices.

Lay (lie? I always screw that grammar point up) the slices flat on a foil or parchment-lined pan with edges. A  pan with edges is so the olive oil does not flow all over you and the bottom of the stove. The liner is so that you don’t have to take a blowtorch to your pan to get the carmelized gunk from the oil and cabbage off once it’s cooked. really. Do this. Seriously.

Drizzle the wedge-y slices generously with olive oil.

Salt with a coarse-grain salt & pepper, if desired. I recommend using salt. I’m learning that good quality salt, like the fleur de sel up there, really makes a huge difference! With this batch, I used a fleur de sel de l’Île de Noirmoutier with curry seasoning infused into it. For those on a low-sodium diet, you may have to skip it, but I think salt adds a wonderful counterpart to the sweetness that results in the roasted cabbage.

Roast at about 400°F (I set my oven to about 200°C, or a little higher) for about 30-40 minutes. To be honest, I have not timed this. LOL. I had read online that it took about a half an hour, but I know that with roasting veggies, it takes as long as it takes to get really brown, even kind of black, on the edges. I am pretty sure I had the above stuff in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Then EAT.


And eat.


And eat.


And eat.


Stuff your face, preferably with no makeup on, and still wearing your jammies at 12:20 pm (or as the locals put it, 12.20).

2009-10-09 October 9 - cabbage & making tea

Then, while you are at it, make some TEA!

I have a friend on another social networking site who wanted to know how to make some tea, Rooibos, or South African red bush tea, in particular. It’s easier to show in a post how to do this than to try to explain with words in a message or comment.

I used to own a tea shop along with the one whom I call DeuxEx (second ex-husband) about five years ago. During that whole experience, I learned a LOT about teas and how to brew them, so I am here to share a little of that expertise here. I want to give a shout-out to Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Company out of Ojai, California. Five years ago, this company was integral to my learning about tea and I used to carry the loose leaf versions of their teas in my store. Between Zhena’s company, books, the internet, and life experience with tea, my knowledge of teas has grown over the years, and I confess, I’ve turned into a bit of a tea snob after as a result. While I still use bagged teas, especially herbal tisanes and infusions I get at the health food stores here, I LOVE loose leaf tea. It really does make the freshest and most vibrant of cups, and is really not that hard to work with once you know how to. Maybe “snob” is too strong a word to use — I guess I discovered once I had a really fresh cup of loose leaf tea, it really is better-tasting. I have become spoiled in this. Bag tea just does not taste as pleasing to me anymore after having loose leaf.

The second thing about me & tea-making is that I really hate those little metal tea balls. They don’t work that well, truth be told. The thing about making a good cup of tea is that the hot water should hit as much of the surface area of the leaf as possible, and if you cram a bunch of tea leaves into one of those little balls, the tea cannot circulate and release its ambrosia into the water very effectively. Tea balls are okay in a pinch, and I confess I still use one when I am not feeling like going to the trouble of making a whole pot of loose leaf tea, but they pretty much suck and you are depriving yourself of a full taste experience if you use one.

Here’s an easy way to make loose leaf tea.

1. Get yourself a good-quality coffee press. It is best to have a “dedicated press”; that is, if you use the one you have been using for coffee, the coffee oils that are nearly impossible to wash away *will* leach into the tea and influence its flavor for the worse. If you are going to make loose leaf tea a lot, and you should, lol, then get a dedicated press. If you have a press you have used fewer than three or four times for coffee, and it is just sitting in a cupboard waiting to be re-purposed, by all means, use it. Run it through your dishwasher first to get as many of the oils off as possible, or if you are Euro-happenin’ like me and have no dishwasher, then try to wash it as best you can, disassembling the press and washing each piece in really hot, soapy water.


This is a 32 oz/900 mL Bodum press. I’ve forgotten which model. It’s considered an 8-cup press, though, with 4 oz being a “cup” of coffee (can you believe it? LOL Thinking of the monster sizes one can get at Starbucks nowadays…). PJ bought this one for me in Paris in Monoprix; I used to have one of these from Target. I think they run about $20 at Target.


Sorry — mine’s not looking too clean here, lol. When I make the same kind of tea over and over, I tend to just dump the leaves in the trash and “bachelor wash”  with water only. I’d already made and twice- steeped (loose leaves can be re-used a couple of times!) some Rooibos earlier in the day, so this is what I did just before taking photos.

2. Get your tea.

A note on Rooibos.



Rooibos is not actually “tea.” It is, basically, leaves from a bean bush: Rooibos is “a broom-like member of the legume family of plants” (

All true teas come from the plant Camellia sinensis, a leafy bush that grows on the hillsides of countries such as China and India. The Wikipedia article does a bang up job of explaining the differences between what is actually “tea” and what is not, and I recommend checking it out if you would like to be in-the-know!

There are different brewing methods for different kinds of tea. For example, if you have not really liked the astringent taste of green tea, it is possible that you are using water that is too hot and cooking the leaves, as well as steeping it overlong, which brings out more of the bitterness of green tea. There are *wonderful* brewing guidelines in the Wiki article: Tea Preparation.  Try the guidelines out when making your tea and follow the water temp and steep-time suggestions in the chart. Use a timer. It really does make a difference, especially with loose leaf tea.

I should also mention that I am drinking bucketloads of Rooibos this week as I am off the java — going caffeine-free right now, and probably will be doing so for a few months. It’s because of health stuff related to gluten-intolerance, etc. that I might write about later. Rooibos has no caffeine.

3. Measure out your tea.

Guidelines say that about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of loose tea should be used for every six ounces of water. I have a scoop from back in the days when I ordered Zhena’s tea in bulk, and it holds about 2 1/2 teaspoons (it’s around a scant tablespoon). Yes, it got near something hot and warped a little, lol. I use one of these scoops per 12 oz of water. If you are using metric, for about every 350 mL use an amount of tea that can fit in your cupped palm. It really does not have to be exact. More tea makes a stronger brew, less tea, a weaker brew. The strength of a brew should *not* be tied into the amount of time you steep, but on the amount of tea you use! I used about three scoops of tea in my press, so that’s about 8 teaspoons.



4. Put the loose tea in the bottom of the coffee press.


5. Boil the water. (Duh. LOL. This is my electric hot water kettle. These are ubiquitous here in France.)


A note on boiling water. Some people say to be *sure* to use purified water. This is probably best, of course, for people’s bodies as well as for the tea’s flavor. I don’t have a Brita or other brand of filter on the faucet nor a purifying pitcher. I cannot be bothered to haul a bunch of water bottles home in my little shopping cart. I use tap water. I may decide to be proactive about the quality of water I am consuming in the future, but for now, I keep it simple. You do as you please. For superior teas, I would use filtered water.

You’ll also note if you read the brewing guidelines in the Wiki article that specific water temps are used for different teas. Black is the most forgiving in terms of water temperature — the hottest water is best for brewing black teas. White and green teas need to have cooler water. Boiling water and then setting it to the side to cool for 5-10 minutes with white and green teas is very important. Rooibos is forgiving about water temperature! You can use piping hot water, or water that has cooled slightly, to brew it. You can steep it as long as you like with no harm done. Rooibos will get stronger in flavor as it sits, though.

6. Steep.



7. When the time is up (I lost track of how long I steeped this Rooibos, but it was about 5-6 minutes I think. I was distracted taking photos, lol), plunge your tea.






8. Pour…


…and drink.

9. You can add sweeteners as desired. For the past week or two I have used raw honey regularly. I have tried to avoid sugar in its various forms for the past few weeks, but I have eaten/used some honey I got about a month ago at the Marché in Aix-en-Provence to put in my tea and on rice cakes.



This beekeeping/honey producing family is trying to get their honey distributed in Paris… I wish I spoke French so I could help them get their honey into a shop, like Les Abeilles in the 13th. It is DIVINE stuff.


I thought the jars were cute, too.

I got Lavender and Rosemary honeys.

I may have to stop eating it for a while, though. I think I am starting to react to it. Either that or it is too much cabbage…


2009-10-09 October 9 - cabbage & making tea1

(Sections of the pan were disappearing as I was taking the tea brewing photos. I’ve been writing this post for a couple of hours now, eating as I write, and the pan of cabbage is almost all gone, no kidding, lol. I have a feeling my tummy will hurt later, but REALLY, this cabbage is THAT yummy!)


While I am here, I want to explain how to use the same method as outlined above to make iced tea. My online buddy really wanted this post to explain how to do just that, so I feel like I must!

Follow Steps 1 to 7, with the following difference. Double or even triple the amount of tea in Step 3. So, for a 32 oz press, use about 24 teaspoons. Probably as much tea as one teaspoon per ounce of water would work well. What you are working towards is a tea *concentrate*. Brew the tea according to the instructions above.

After the tea has steeped and been pressed, allow it to sit and cool for about 30 minutes. Then pour the 32 oz concentrate into a gallon plastic container which you filled with a couple of trays of ice cubes (or, even better, a large, glass “sun tea” style jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Iced tea *will* grow bacteria in it fairly quickly, especially if it is a fruit-infused tea. Putting the iced tea into a very clean container is necessary). Then, fill up the rest of the container with water. Refrigerate.

If you really don’t want to use loose leaf tea to make iced tea this way, you can used bagged tea. The loose stuff really is more delicious, but there is some maintenance with the whole loose tea leaf way of doing it. What you should do for bagged tea is use about 6-8 teabags per 32 ounces. Steep only for the number of minutes in the chart on the Wikipedia page. Remember that a longer steeping time only means bitter tea, not stronger, better-tasting tea. Increase the amount of tea to achieve a stronger flavor.

Also, it is easier to sweeten the tea for iced tea while the concentrate is hot. Sweeteners dissolve better in the hot tea concentrate and lead to more even sweetening once the concentrate is diluted.

Good luck!

My next project?

I hope to figure out how to cook these:


Our local “Poor People Store” (as PJ and I like to call it), Leader Price, has lots of Bio (organic) products lining their shelves these days. These are French Green Lentils. I saw a recipe here at David Lebovitz’s site, but he’s pretty particular about using Puy lentils in it. I don’t think these lentilles are the “real deal.” I’m also still avoiding eating carrots. Onions? Can eat. Parsnips? I need to check their oxalate levels, but they may be okay. I’m not really sure what to do with these lentils, though — I don’t think they are going to make good lentil pancakes.  I could be wrong, but green pancakes? Hmmmmmm. Not sure about that. If you have a good idea or recipe, let me know!

Until next time, then, Over & Out.

Categories: Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance, Gluten-Free Recipes, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lentil and Rice Pancakes

I’m having trouble with getting into the regular post habit here since returning from vacation.

Part of my writer’s block can be attributed to the fact that I have QUIT SMOKING as of September 16. Yay me! However, yay-not-so-much-for-writing because one of the things I loved to do was smoke and write and write and smoke, and some of my mojo has up and gone without the nicotine to fuel it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have the notion to write and the words to say, I just find myself getting really antsy and thinking about smokes a lot when I spend too much time seated at the computer, something that is required when writing a blog. Orrrr, something that is required when*I* write a blog, lol.

Anyways, I hinted in my previous post about posting a yummy lentil and rice pancake I had tried to make almost three weeks ago.

Last April, I had purchased some Chana Dal, or yellow lentils. I purchased them in an Asian market in the 13th arrondissement close to the M° Olympiades, if I remember correctly. At any rate, there are a lot of Asian stores and restaurants in the southeastern part of the 13th, between Olympiades and the Porte d’Ivry, and PJ and I had gone into the area to check out the foods in stores like Tang Frères. I had tried cooking them into a hummus-like dip at one point, found it was pretty icky to do so (I was doing one of my “let’s make this up as we go” kind of things by looking up “how to cook lentils” on the Internet and then going from there), and when we returned from Canada and the cupboards were fairly bare, and my tummy was hungry and we were too jet lagged to do any decent shopping, I thought, “I think I read something online about making pancakes out of lentils and rice…”

Sure enough, I Googled and discovered many a recipe for Lentil and Rice Pancakes.

Here is the recipe I used: South Indian Lentil Pancakes (Adai) at this link —–>

This is the recipe, copied in full from the web page at the Healing Heart Foundation. This recipe is copyrighted material by Dr. Dr. Neal Pinckney (2004), so if you decide to copy this to your own site, please observe polite ‘netiquette and cite your sources.

1 C mixed lentils (red, brown, green, etc.)
2 C brown rice
1/2 t salt (optional)
The night before, wash and rinse the lentils thoroughly. When the rinse water runs clear, soak the lentils and rice together in a bowl with fresh water overnight. The next day, drain and grind into a semi-coarse paste in a blender adding water as needed.. Put the batter into a bowl, add salt, cover and let sit a few hours. This can be blended in the morning and will be ready to cook for dinner. For a sourdough flavor, let it ferment overnight.
Drop a ladleful of the batter in the center of a non-stick pan that is hot enough to make a drop of water dance. Push down in the center with a large spoon to make a thin, round pancake. When the top looks dry, wait 20-40 seconds more, turn and cook the other side. Serve immediately with a chutney (see the recipe for Cilantro Chutney). The batter can be refrigerated for about a week.
Add additional ingredients for variety. Try any combination of finely chopped onions, jalapenos, spinach, ginger, cumin seeds, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon or other favorite spices.
4 servings, each: Calories 445, Fat 2.3 g (5% cff), Carbohydrate 89.95 g, Protein 15.29g

1 C mixed lentils (red, brown, green, etc.)

2 C brown rice

1/2 t salt (optional)

The night before, wash and rinse the lentils thoroughly. When the rinse water runs clear, soak the lentils and rice together in a bowl with fresh water overnight. The next day, drain and grind into a semi-coarse paste in a blender adding water as needed. Put the batter into a bowl, add salt, cover and let sit a few hours. This can be blended in the morning and will be ready to cook for dinner. For a sourdough flavor, let it ferment overnight.

Drop a ladleful of the batter in the center of a non-stick pan that is hot enough to make a drop of water dance. Push down in the center with a large spoon to make a thin, round pancake. When the top looks dry, wait 20-40 seconds more, turn and cook the other side. Serve immediately with a chutney (see the recipe for Cilantro Chutney [at the main recipes link associated with the original webpage]). The batter can be refrigerated for about a week.

Add additional ingredients for variety. Try any combination of finely chopped onions, jalapenos, spinach, ginger, cumin seeds, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon or other favorite spices.

4 servings, each: Calories 445, Fat 2.3 g (5% cff), Carbohydrate 89.95 g, Protein 15.29g

This recipe seemed to be the easiest, most adaptable one I saw online for Dosas, or Adai, Indian rice and lentil pancakes. There is another version of this one at My here: Dosas. (And while just now looking up information on Dosas and Adai, I found this link on YouTube here: Adai – Lentil Crèpes. Looks like a fun variation I may have to try next!) Another note: this is a vegetarian/vegan recipe for those looking for healthy gluten-free and vegan options!

I just used the Chana Dal yellow lentils and no others. I soaked the lentils (with the rice) overnight first as the recipe said to do, and then rinsed both well the next day. I have read about the need to do this with Chana Dal to remove the oily coating that is on them; Google it for yourself if you are curious about them/it! I don’t know if these are the “right” kind of lentils to use for Dosas, but they worked for me and tasted pretty good! I followed the above to a “T,” soaking times and all. The only difference is that I used white rice as I was totally out of brown rice at the time I made these. I used my little crèpe pan I bought in a small goods store here in my neighborhood (the 19th arr.), and I adored the addition of cinnamon to these pancakes! They are more savory than sweet, but for this low-sugar girl, with the cinnamon, this was as close to a real pancake as I had had in MONTHS and I found them very yummy! From the photo below, you can see instead of a food processor or blender, I used a stick/immersion blender with the container that comes with it to make my batter.
2009 09 - September - lentil pancakes

Mmmmm! Cinnamon!

2009 09 - September - lentil pancakes

I topped mine with almond butter and shredded coconut.

These tasted best hot right off the pan, but I did refrigerate some of them and re-heated them on the stove in the crèpe pan (we don’t have a microwave here in our apartment).

Let me know if you try these out! Bon appétit!

Categories: Gluten-Free Recipes, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , ,

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