How to manage babies angers? French translation, « caprices »

Everybody has once, at least, been confronted with child anger or as you say in English, tantrums. Sometimes, it’s really hard to manage it without becoming crazy. Leo and Renan often have fits of anger. They hate to be opposed or they love to take the toy their brother is playing with (that’s the twins way) so, they often try to bang their head against a wall or the floor. I tried two solutions which work with them.

The most important thing is to stay relaxed and try not to scream. First, when they aren’t too angry, I just punish them and put them in a corner of the house until they stop screaming and crying. With little kids, it’s really fast (less than one minute). My second solution, when they are really angry, is to take a spray of water and spray them once or twice on the face. It works very fast because it surprises them and they find it funny. In the French supermarket, you can find Evian water in an aerosol can that sprays a fine mist of cooling water

Once the kid becomes quiet, kneel down in front of him, look him in the eyes and explain to him what was wrong and what is forbidden, but tell him at the same time something right that he has done to encourage him in the right way.

Stuffed Veal Cutlet

Here’s a great dish to impress your guests without lost time in the kitchen.

To make it for 4 people, you need : 4 veal cutlets, 4 slices of bacon, 4 slices of swiss cheese, some kitchen twine and, to accompany it, I suggest a mashed sweet potato with : 4 lbs sweet potatoes, 1 cup of whole milk, 1 T. butter, 1 T. heavy cream, ground nutmeg (optional), salt and pepper.

Stack each veal cutlet with a slice of bacon and a slice of swiss cheese. Roll it and tie it with some kitchen twine in the middle, to be sure it will not open during cooking. Put some salt (not too much because the bacon is already salty) and pepper around it. Brown them over med high heat in a frying pan with a little bit of butter. Turn it very often to brown uniformly. After that, put it in an oven-proof dish and cook it in the oven 20 minutes at a temperature of 300 °F. That will be enough to melt the cheese.  It’s ready to serve, now you just have to cut the kitchen twine and don’t worry, now that it’s cooked, your roll will stay a roll.

During the time your meat is in the oven you can make your mashed sweet potatoes. Wash and peel the potatoes. Put it in a pan of boiling water and cook it for 30 minutes. Empty the water and mix it with the milk, the butter and the cream. Add some ground nutmeg (if you have some), salt and pepper at your convenience.

Bon appétit !

Apple clafoutis

http://images.cuisineaz.com/387155b6-f79d-44a4-9cac-172dbb3ed23a.JPG

This dessert is a very traditional french one. To make it, you need 2 T of butter, 2 t of vanilla extract, 2/3 c. sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup of whole milk, a pinch of salt and 4 apples.

Butter a cake pan or some individual ones if you have for the best presentation. Cut the apples in slices and put it at the bottom of the pan. Melt the butter and mix it in a bowl with the vanilla extract, sugar, eggs, milk and salt. Pour this batter on the apples and put the pan in the oven for 45 minutes at a temperature of 400 °F. Let it cool and even better, serve it with whipped creme.

Bon appétit !

 

Pâté

In France, we have a lot of different pâté’s recipes. This one is a traditional recipe of farmhouse pâté, which is great as starter or to make a sandwich. It’s really fast to prepare but you need 3 hours to cook it and wait the day after to become really cool before to eat the pâté.

To make it, you need : 35 oz of pig meat (take meat with fat), 2 eggs, 2 cups of hot milk, 0.7 oz of salt, 0.1 oz of pepper, 0.05 oz of 4 spices, 1 oz of sheets of parsley, 2 shallots sliced thinly, a bay leaf and a little glass of Cognac (around 1/4 cup).

Chop the meat. In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the bay leaf. Then, put your preparation in a terrine which can go in the oven. On the top, put the bay leaf to perfume the terrine during the cooking. Start your oven with a temperature of 300 °F. Your terrine will be cooking in the bath marries, so put some watter in a plate and your terrine inside before to enter it in the oven for 3 hours. The first 2.5 hours, cook the pâté with the lid of the terrine then, remove it for the 30 minutes to give your terrine a nice color.

Your pâté is cooked. Leave it cooling in the kitchen then, put it in your fridge for 24 hours before to taste it as a starter or to make a sandwich. You can keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks. You can serve it with some gherkins, it’s delicious.

Bon appétit !

Trip in Bordeaux (3/3)

WHERE TO STAY DURING VACATIONS ?

I will just suggest some nice hotels in or around Bordeaux but I must warn you that I have not stayed at all of them myself, because I live here!

Very nice, beautiful and … expensive : « Le grand hôtel » (www.ghbordeaux.com/fr/index.php), in front of the big theater, in the center of Bordeaux. It’s a five star hotel with pool and spa, amazing, with everything to do in the town just at your feet.

If you prefer to be a little bit out of Bordeaux but stay in a charming hotel, I suggest 2 different addresses : « Le Saint James » in Bouliac (3 miles from Bordeaux) with an excellent view of the town (www.saintjames-bouliac.com/fr/index.php) or « La réserve du pavillon chateau raba » in Talence (3 miles from Bordeaux) in a beautiful old house (www.hotel-bordeaux-raba.com).

If you prefer to stay out of town in the vineyards, I suggest 4 hotels, about 20 miles from Bordeaux.

If you love to play golf on vacation, you should go and stay in one of these two hotels, in Medoc’s vineyards :

www.hotel-golf-du-medoc.com or www.relais-margaux.fr

If you aren’t a golfer, I suggest two wonderful hotels close to the very famous vineyards like Smith Haut Lafitte for the first one and Saint Emilion for the second one :

 www.sources-caudalie.com or www.grand-barrail.com

If you don’t want to spend all your money in the hotel, I can give you some advices. First, I always surf on a french web site, www.fr.lastminute.com,  before going somewhere on vacation to see if they have a top secret hotel in the town. What is it ? The best hotels in France have usually some free bedrooms but, because of their standing (4 or 5 stars), they can’t say openly that they sell those bedrooms for 50% less than the real price, especially during the low season. So, check it first. You will know the name of your hotel just some days before the arrival but for sure it will be a really good one for the price of a 2 stars hotel.

My second bit of advice is to go and sleep in a very original place : in a tree. I’ve tried it for you and it’s fantastic. You will be in your second childhood and  the kids love that (over 4 years old for best security)! It’s less expensive than a classic charming hotel and you will take pleasure to find your breakfast outside after a good night in the middle of the nature. Well, it’s true, except if there is a storm during the night like I had… for my wedding’s anniversary !! www.naturacabana.fr.

My last advice is to go and sleep in a nice holiday cottage in a wine castle, where you can have a wine tasting in front of a beautiful castle. For that solution, my choice is for my friends, Nathalie and Hubert in their wine castle « Chateau Courtade Dubuc »  (www.courtade-dubuc.com) in Camblanes et Meynac, located 10 minutes from Bordeaux. Hubert is an enthusiastic wine maker and he will explain how he creates merlots and cabernets from start to ending….in your glass! He and Nathalie gave us a wine tasting of his vintages and then showed us his vats, barrels and warehouse where he actually produces Bordeaux wine. You can take home some excellent bottles for around 8 Euros and you’ll be able to tell your friends you met the winemaker!

Trip in Bordeaux (2/3)

THE VINEYARDS

There are three areas you should visit : Saint Emilion, Sauternes and the Medoc.

Saint Emilion is a medieval village classified by UNESCO as humanity world heritage, located just 28 miles from Bordeaux. It’s a really picturesque place where you can walk on cobblestoned streets, see a monolithic church, a hidden convent behind the tourist office, the old wash house (laverie), the kings tower, a panoramic view from bell tower square and, of course, all the wonderful vineyards of red wine like Cheval Blanc or La Tour Grand Faurie. You should taste the other specialty of Saint Emilion, a small cake made of almonds. Stop at the Laguiole store to buy some hand made knives made in the store. my last advice is not to go in the village with a stroller but instead to carry your baby, it’s less sport… (My arms remembered it).

To eat, I suggest going to try « Le Clos du Roy » (www.leclosduroy.fr). The food is fantastic, especially Bordeaux’s « canelés » (it’s a little cake to eat with your coffee or tea) and the strawberry macaroon dessert. It’s not too expensive as long as you stick with the set menu for around 30 Euros. In France, all the restaurants offer « le Menu » which from the Carte (what we call a Menu) you have a set price for an appetizer (entree in French), Plat (main dish) and dessert or cheese for one price. It is alot of delicious, gourmet food  at a really great price. They also serve it in 3 courses so your stomach has some time to digest properly and you won’t feel full after your meal. Just really happy….!

If you want to buy some good bottles of wine, go to the museum and wine store just behind the tourist office or, for the best way, go and visit a wine castle around the village. My favorite is Laniote Castle (www.laniote.com), because the wine is fantastic, it’s a « Grand Cru « , and the owner is really funny. Your kids will not be annoyed during the visit, because he loves making magical tricks and he will give you a rebus card. If you want to see more about Saint Emilion, I suggest you check out this video about this wonderful village : http://www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/fr/videos.html

Sauternes is a cute little village in the south of Bordeaux where you can find the most famous syrupy white wine like Yquem (www.yquem.fr). Like almost every village in France, Sauternes has its perfectly picturesque church and limestone fountain. You can walk around the village in the vineyard or on hiking trails. I recommnend eating at the restaurant Le Saprien (www.saprien.free.fr). If you like sport, you can also arrange a boat tour on the river.

The Medoc between Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean is a really famous vineyard with famous castles like Margaux, Saint Julien or Saint Estèphe. More than the wine tastings, you should arrange for a cultural tour to go and visit Margaux castle (www.chateau-margaux.com) and Beychevelle castle which is known as a little Versailles (www.beychevelle.com). If you have more time, take a day to go to Lacanau and see the stunning beaches of the Atlantic coastline, and you can even try surfing in the glamourous seaside resort of Biarritz.

Trips and visits

Here, I want to tell you about places you would only find out from a french local, not the things you read in an american travel magazine or blog. I’m going to offer you some places to visit in France, where you can take the kids and it will be interesting for the whole  family! I show you my favorite web sites that we use to find the most interesting trips and the best deals to save money.

 

Education and organization

Babies’ tears, tantrums, bad nights, illnesses, school, work, housecleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping for food : how to face all those tasks without becoming crazy and also how to save time for leisure activities, friends, love and relaxation?  Like you, I’m not a superwoman.

Here you will find some tricks to organize family life the French way, (with three little kids at home) and how we try to give them a good education (well I hope).

Let me introduce you my family : Stephane and I with our three sons (from left to right) : Leo, Pierre and Renan.

Picnic with twins

Summer is perfect to organize a picnic with all the family, even if you have 20 months old twins. How will you do it without transforming that should be relaxing day into a nightmare ? Easy !!

First, find a good spot : a garden with games for kids, a lot of trees for shaded spaces to eat, a secure river or a lake around for the view.

Secondly, prepare sandwiches for everybody because you have nothing else to bring with you, except babies’ bag to be change. (I can tell you, the old big icebox you had to bring all the time is dead !) You will ask me : what about babies food ? Like us, sandwiches : they love to eat very small ones with soft food inside like « pâté ».

To finish, find an ice cream store and taste some new flavors with the kids. For the nap, babies can sleep in the stroller or in the car when you will ride back home.

Enjoy the day with your family and have fun !

Trip in Bordeaux (1/3)

Have you already heard of Bordeaux’s wines ? I’m sure you have. I invite you to follow me in a trip around Bordeaux and its vineyards. As I have a lot of things to show you, I will write 3 articles on that subject. You will first find some good places to visit in the town (1/3) and, in a second time, I will suggest you some really nice spots in the vineyards to discover (2/3). To finish, you will see some nice places to stay for your vacations (3/3).

BORDEAUX

Bordeaux is an amazing town classified by the UNESCO as world heritage, where you will have a really good time. I live in this urban area of 840 000 inhabitants for 12 years now and there is so many things to do and see here that I can’t imagine leave the south west of France. When you arrived in Bordeaux by plane or by train, take the tram and go directly in the center of Bordeaux. Stop at « Place de la Bourse ». You can discover this wonderful place with the Haussman buildings and the fountain in the middle and, on the other side of the road, the quays, the moon port. You can have a nice walk in front of the Garonne river in the middle of the gardens from the Stone Bridge (built at Napoleon’s reign) to the water mirror,  where you can play with kids. If you like to walk, you can follow the way until the outlet stores for shopping. If not, stay around the Place de la Bourse and visit the Porte Cailhau, one of the old door to enter the historic heart of Bordeaux. Walk in the old and tinny streets until the Place Saint Pierre and the Place du Parlement. If you are hungry, I suggest you to stop at The french restaurant « Le Parlement des Graves » (www.leparlementdesgraves.fr), where you will find a very good food, a nice selection of wines and it’s not too expensive. After lunch, you can continue the visit with the Sainte Catherine street, which is the longest pedestrian street in Europe for shopping (1.24 miles). At the end of Sainte Catherine street, you will arrive on Place Tourny with an amazing view on the big theater, builded in 1780. After that, follow your way until the Place des Quinconces with the Girondins’ fountain. If you haven’t eat yet, I suggest you to enter in a french brasserie, just like in Paris, « La brasserie l’Orléans » (www.brasserie-lorleans.fr), where you can eat very good food with a very good service. When you come in Bordeaux, don’t forget to go and visit the cathedrale, in front of the city hall, the wine world city with its museum and the Palais Gallien, a Roman arena of the third century. To end that fantastic day, I invite you to have dinner on the other side of the river, in the french restaurant « La petite gironde » (www.lapetitegironde.fr) where you will have very good meals with a fantastic view on Bordeaux in a nice garden.

If you want to have a first good idea of the city, you should watch that video by the touristic office of Bordeaux : http://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com and clic on « Voir la video de Bordeaux » at the left bottom of the web site.