I went grocery shopping on Saturday to pick up the baking powder for my pancakes so that they would be nice and fluffy, but I had a really difficult time finding it! In Canada, baking powder comes in a big yellow container, but I couldn’t find anything similar at my local grocery store. I scanned up and down the sugar and flour aisles repeatedly before I asked a clerk for help, but nothing looked right.

When I had done a quick search in an online dictionary at home I had found the translation “poudre à pate,” but the clerk had no idea what I was talking about. It was really difficult trying to describe what I needed, but I ended up using my hands a lot and explaining that I need it to make bread rise (not exactly the truth, but perhaps the easiest way to describe what I needed).

The clerk took me to the aisle where I had previously searched, and showed me packets of “levure chimique” and “levure du boulanger”, and he said that this was the only thing they sold for that purpose. I looked at their ingredients and decided to go with “levure du boulanger” as the “levure chimique” contained baking soda, and when I got home and checked on the internetz I realized that I had actually purchased yeast! How confusing!

Baking Powder and Yeast in France

I went back yesterday, and purchased the “levure chimique”, and I am happy to say that it worked like a charm! I made apple cinnamon pancakes for lunch today, and I have to say that they are the best pancakes of my life. I substituted splenda for sugar and royal gala apples for the apples in the recipe, and they were amazing. I can’t wait to make them again, mmmm! One of the comments of the recipe mentioned that they didn’t contain enough cinnamon, so I also added 1 teaspoon instead of 1/4 of a teaspoon. I also sprinkled cinnamon on top, because I am a bit nutty for it 😉

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Mille-Feuille pastry

This is a pastry that I purchased on Monday from the bakery near my house. Mondays are never fun days, so I have designated them “pastry mondays”… a very delicious day, indeed. Back in high school I was friends with a norwegian exchange student, and we would go to Tim Hortons together once a week, and try a new donut flavour each time. That is also my goal in France to “appreciate the culture” (or pastries *cough*). (I really do miss Timmy’s, though… mmm boston cream donuts, ice capps, and french vanilla cappuccinos).

The mille-feuille also goes by napoleon and vanilla slice, and it is a deliciously flaky pastry filled with custard, and topped with a chocolate and vanilla glaze. Yum!

Food in France

February 7, 2009

Living in France has not only been a brand new experience for me due to the new setting, but also because it is my first time in a different country, and my first time ever living away from my family… unless you count going away for a week in summer camp!

Besides the people, food is easily one of the things that I miss most from Canada. My Mom is an excellent cook, and I was very spoiled to never really have to lift a finger; there was always a delicious meal prepared every evening. I would help out sometimes with the meals that required more preparation, but for the most part I was never really involved in the cooking.

At home, the only time I really spent in the kitchen on my own was to bake and to make fudge. I love baking cookies, cakes, naan bread, etc. for my friends and my family. I quickly learned, though, that this was not a good way to stay thin- even though I wasn’t technically baking for myself, I would always have to sample just to make sure that they passed Quality Assurance 😉 I’m lucky that I don’t have an oven in France, but there is a bakery on every corner, so the temptation is there all the same ><

Luckily before I asked my mom to show me how to make curry chicken and rice using a curry sauce that I bought at Loblaws. It was pretty delicious ^^ When I first arrived in France I had no real cooking utensils, so I ate cereal for almost every meal. After I acquired a pot and a pan, though, and life was good hehe. I also found a curry sauce at the big supermarket here (Carrefour) and I had curry chicken and rice probably 4 times that week. I’m a bit sick of it already… I think it’s because Tiki Masala is probably my least favourite curry sauce.

To change things up I used tomato sauce instead of curry a few times to make a chicken cacciatore type meal. It wasn’t bad! To keep things fresh, though, I scoped out Allrecipes.com, and I found a few delicious recipes. One that I tried was a chicken stir fry. I cut up enough vegetables for 4 people hehe, but I only added a portion of chicken for 1- it ended up tasting pretty salty, so I think that I will half the bouillon cube next time.

Chicken Stir-fry

One day at the supermarket I saw a really good deal of 12 eggs for 1 euro, so I decided to go for it, although I would hardly ever eat eggs at home. I made myself a delicious omelette for lunch the next day using this handy omelette tutorial – it is really good for kitchen n00bs such as myself ^^ I looked through the website’s how-to index afterwards, and it really gave me a craving for pancakes. I bought some flour from the grocery store yesterday, and I attempted to make pancakes, but they came out more like crepes- completely flat. I asked my mom what she thought, and she said that I should add baking powder next time- strangely it wasn’t listed anywhere in the recipe, but I have found another one from Yahoo! Answers to use for next time.

I was really craving pancakes for dinner last night, but I knew that it wouldn’t be very filling, so I was trying to find a compromise… I made another trip to Ikea earlier this week, so I decided that I would also make the swedish meatballs that I had purchased there… bacon tastes amazing drizzled in maple syrup, so why wouldn’t it be the same for meatballs? Hence…

Pancakes and Swedish Meatballs Drizzled in Maple Syrup

The first pancake tasted a little bit plain, so I added cinnamon to the batter of the subsequent pancakes, and I also sprinkled it over the meatballs. It turned out to be quite delicious! It was really easy to make- the most time-consuming task consisted of whisking the batter by hand.

The maple syrup was 5 euros ($8 CAD), but it was definitely worth it, as you cannot have pancakes without maple syrup- that would just be a disaster. A lot of canadian foods are really difficult to find here, or they are outrageously expensive. One thing that I miss a lot is peanut butter. A teeny tiny jar is 5 euros, and it isn’t even Kraft! Another thing that I really miss is Kraft Dinner. I have tried everything that I can think of to find it here, but I fear that it is impossible… I even asked a question on Yahoo! Answers. There is a website called Canadian Favourites that ships Canadian food, but the prices are ridic, so I’m hoping my mom will send me some hehe.

Everyone in Canada- please eat a beaver tail for me ! Mmmm I miss them so much

Transit in France

January 30, 2009

Living in France thus far has been quite different than living in Canada. As soon as I stepped outside the airport the first thing that I noticed was the lack of snow. It was incredible to me to be seeing fields of nothing but green while everything in my hometown is coated in a sheet of white, and walking for 10 minutes back home would result in bright red thighs and numb toes!

Also, the transportation system here is incredibly easy to use, and really fast. I really like how the tram on a nearby street comes every 5 minutes. A strike began, though, today which resulted in a decrease in the amount of buses and the metros that were running. It reminds me so much of back home and the transit strike! (Not that it’s a good thing). That is the only thing that I do NOT miss from my hometown- the terrible transit system. It is completely ridiculous that the transit workers have been on strike since early December; it really made it difficult to get to work and to my exams. I really feel for the people that still have to deal with that.

In Lyon, all of the public institutions are currently striking with the transit workers, which means that the post office, the train station, and the airports are closed. Talk about mayhem! I’m not sure, really, how long it will last, but I hope not long, because I would like to send some things through the mail. I really hope that I get some letters from back home… email and skype are super convenient, but nothing is better than getting a letter.

Velo’v (Photo from Wikipedia)

Luckily the Velo’v system is still running at least! The Velo’v system consists of stations of bicycles strategically located across the city. All you have to do is swipe a certain card, and then you can take the bike with you until you reach the next station wherever you are going. It costs about 5 euros to sign up, and if you already have a public transit pass, than you can use them anytime, and the first hour is free!

Speaking though of transportation, most of the cars here look like Honda Hatchbacks. They are mostly triangular in shape, and quite small (due to the small roads and lack of parking, I’m sure). A couple of cars that I have seen here, that I have never seen in Canada include the Renault Clio hatchback and Peugeot. I’m personally kind of partial to Japanese cars such as Honda, but you hardly see them at all around here. The only Honda dealership that I’ve seen sells motorcycles. One car that I really like IS quite popular here, though! It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone that it is so popular in Europe, as it was prominently featured in the Italian Job movie… but it would be the Austin Mini!

Clio Hatchback (photo from Wikipedia)

There is a dealership in Lyon dedicated ONLY to the mini, as they are so popular. It used to be a part of the B&W dealership, but I suppose it warranted its own. Another type of car that you see a lot of is Mercedes Benz… most transport trucks and cabs seem to be Mercedes. It is strange to see them everyone here, when they are so rare in Canada, but it sort of reminds me of the film Valkyrie (although that film was set in Germany…)

Will write more another time ^^

Hope everyone is doing well ❤