Thursday, February 25, 2010


Sandra Gulland's THE LAST GREAT DANCE ON EARTH is available here on Amazon. I give this book *****.

This is my fourth book review linked to Food for Thought hosted by the incredibly talented Jain of Food with Style and Once in a Blue Moon. Be sure to visit each of these sites. You will not be disappointed!

THE LAST GREAT DANCE ON EARTH is the third and final book in Sandra Gulland's series on Josephine Bonaparte. Thus I write this post with a bit of melancholy, for this one ends with Josephine's death. Through these works, I've truly come to love and admire Josephine as a dear, dear friend. I will miss her.

As with the previous books in this series, the author uses fictional diaries written in Josephine's voice. In the opening pages of this final novel, Josephine and Napoleon have moved into the Tuileries where they celebrate their fourth anniversary. Napoleon continues to rise in power and is declared First Consul for Life.

The saga of Josephine's trials continue. She faces difficult times and much stress because of Napoleon's family. The fact that she has not conceived a child complicates her relationship as the wife of Napoleon. France needs an heir!

Josephine has to come to terms with the knowledge of Napoleon's infidelities. Both Josephine and Bonaparte struggle with the strains upon their marriage: her inability to conceive and Napoleon's wandering eye. The love story continues, and the two remain passionate about one another as their love continues to bind them to their destiny.

With amazing fortitude and ingenuity, Josephine prevails. On December 2, 1804, Napoleon and Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress of France. It is from this passage that I took my inspiration for connecting with food. I found it touching and intimate that this couple shared a simple meal, just the two of them alone, at the close of such an eventful, historical day. A roast chicken is always a favorite around here, but it was the soufflé that caught my attention. Like Bonaparte, I'd like to eat mine first. You know the saying, "Life's short. Eat dessert first!"

Rather than a simple vanilla soufflé, ours is Grand Marnier.

This delicate dessert soufflé is rather simple made with heavy cream, a bit of butter, sugar, flour, orange zest, 6 eggs, and of course a healthy dose of Grand Marnier. The aroma as it was baking filled our home with the most amazing fragrance.

Please, have a bite and think of Napoleon and Josephine as they celebrated their coronation.

After Napoleon and Josephine divorced, Josephine was given her beloved Malmaison, where she spent the last years of her life. She was an avid gardener and devoted much of her energy to establish the gardens of Malmaison. She cultivated many new plants grown in France, and her rose garden is renown for some 250 varieties of roses. Josephine Bonaparte died in 1814. The Chateau de Malmaison is just a short distance from the heart of Paris, and today is a museum open from April to October. The official apartments are open and include Josephine's clothes, china, glass, and personal things. Read more about this national French treasure here and here.

Now at the end of these three wonderful books, I, too, "have tears in my heart".

For through these works of fiction, Sandra Gulland has given me a beloved friend in Josephine who will always be dear to my heart. I appreciate this new perspective of the fascinating Josephine, and like Sandra, I hope that continued research into the life of Josephine Bonaparte proves to vindicate her. Though each of these novels stand on their own, I recommend that they be read in succession as they seamlessly chronicle the life of Josephine Bonaparte.

I read somewhere that Josephine adored both the sight and scent of violets, and that after her death Napoleon wore a locket of violets from Josephine's garden at Malmaison. I think this is a lovely thought for the love story of Napoleon and Josephine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

F is for French Toast

F is for

French Toast

It's certainly no secret among my friends that one of my favorite foods is French toast. If it's on a menu, that's usually what I order when we go out to eat breakfast. So this was one of my Christmas presents this year.

But you can see this isn't exactly what comes to mind when one says, "French Toast!"

No, indeed! So since you've come for a visit I've pulled out some essential ingredients to make us a little treat this morning. Most any bread works for this dish, but I like to use challah bread in thick slices so it's nice and fluffy.

While you're here you may stay in our "French" guest room. I'll just bring up a breakfast tray with a pot of rich fresh ground coffee and a glass of chilled orange juice.

Just for you, I've used French linens. The napkin ring is also French.

F. L. G.

I have a group of French napkin rings that I've found when exploring weekend brocante markets in France. I like to think about who might have owned these little rings of silver and have a bit of fun imagining whose monogram is delicately engraved upon them. This one I think must have once belonged to Françoise Louise Gauthier.

I like to top French toast with a bit of mascarpone cheese and fresh berries.

But I also like to eat my French Toast with lots of confectioners sugar and a little maple syrup. What do you like on your French Toast?

French toast is a rich, sweet dish, so I like to add a side of sausage with mine.

Americans eat French toast for breakfast, but the French like to offer it as a dessert. They refer to it as pain perdu, or "lost bread".

I tucked in the new issue of Phyllis Hoffman's Celebrate Spring for a little reading pleasure.

Enough of my talking, you must be ready to eat. Settle in and enjoy your own plate of French toast. Bon appétit!

There on the bed resting on the pillows are Brigitte, Gabrielle le chat, and Zoé le lapin. You can read about them here.

Please take your time and enjoy your visit. Then click here to check in with Mrs. Matlock and the other Letter F lessons. I'm also linking this to Tablescape Thursday @ Susan's Between Naps on the Porch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On a Pink Mission

Five years ago this weekend a young couple exchanged wedding vows. The bride's gown was made of tulle in whisper pink, the groom's tie was fine pink silk, and the wedding cake was a tower of pink and brown polka dots.

Yes, this young bride, my niece, does love pink! And the poor dear also suffers from the same "dish" affliction as her auntie. As she says, "It must be genetic!" So when I saw these heart shaped dishes in pink and brown with heart polka dots, I knew just who would appreciate a set.

I found these in 2007 being sold in a local grocery store for Valentine's Day. The availability in each store was limited with only a few pieces at various stores in the area, but I wasn't going to let that foil the plan. If one store received only the polka dot plates, another the stripe plates, and yet another the cups, well, then I'd simply track them down.

I admit it turned into a "mission" of sorts. but after phone calls to a list of stores in the metro area, I managed to locate all the various pieces. I could envision how cute it would be to mix and match these.

"Mission Accomplished"

Well, let's just say I "travel" great lengths when dishes are involved. And preserving pays off.

One store even offered these heart shaped ramekins to mix with the plates and cups; all of which were marked Blackhawk Marketing LLC.

There are so many uses for these little jewels, and they fit perfectly on the heart shaped salad or dessert plates.

Then by chance, I found two of these little pink and brown tidbit plates by Department 56. The photo color is off, but these rectangular plates are actually the same pink glaze used on the hearts. One is just a bit more intense than the other. Simply a "delectable" find to go along with those sweet pink and brown dishes.

In fact I found all these pink and brown ceramics so "delectable", I kept a set for myself. In the photo above you can see I used them as the dessert service for a dinner party that February. Dessert was mini chocolate heart cakes with fresh whipped cream and raspberries. I wish my photo was more interesting, but it was taken in 2007 before I knew what kind of photographs are expected of bloggers. LOL

As originally intended, a complete set was wrapped in love and given to my niece, the pretty young bride in pink. I think she uses her mugs and plates often.

I usually just use mine during February along with this pink cup I received as a valentine gift from a student in 2006. I like to use it as a container for a small plant and mix it among my valentine decorations. It fits in perfectly with the group of pink and brown stripes and polka dots.

The cup is from Starbucks and features 

delicate script around the inner rim 

and within a heart on the front.

And this sweet little 

"love" heart is tied to the handle. 

How special is that?

This year I serendipitously received 

these two larger heart shaped bowls 

as a valentine gift from a student.

They are perfect for morning cereal, 

hot oatmeal, or a tasty soup. 

 They also fit perfectly into the mix!

Happy 5th Anniversary, Sam and Michael


Happy Pink Saturday to All

Last week Nerina @ Nicnacmanic, a Bit of This, a Bit of That shared the most fantastic assortment of Love Cuisine. Be sure to stop by Nerina's for a visit if you missed her post last week. And for more pink goodies visit Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound.

Monday, February 15, 2010

E is for Envelopes of Red and More

This post is linked to both Alphabe-Thursday and Tablescape Thursday.

is for

Envelopes of red to celebrate 

Chinese New Year

The Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year began on February 14 this year. Red, an auspicious color, is the predominant color for the New Year celebration because it is a symbol of joy, virtue, truth, and sincerity. The red envelopes called "Ang Pow" are given out during the New Year celebrations. The elderly and married couples give the red envelopes to the children and single young adults. It is customary for the red envelopes to contain money. The amount in the envelopes should be an even number, and the number eight, which is associated with wealth, is considered to be very lucky. These red envelopes were filled with chocolate coins covered in gold foil.

is for

Exchanging small gifts of food or

sweets with friends and relatives

During the celebration of the Chinese New Year the practice of "New Year Visits" takes place. Families and friends visit one another, and in addition to the envelopes of red, gifts of fruit and some various types of sweets are given when friends and family visit each other's homes. Mandarin oranges are one of our favorite fruits here at HFTS this time of year. They are also one of the most popular fruits during this celebration. These fruits represent luck and good fortune.

is for

Egg Drop Soup

The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, as this is a time for Chinese families to clean their homes (as in spring cleaning) and to welcome the coming season of spring. Toward the end of the fifteen day celebration it is tradition to serve Egg Drop Soup. The ribbons of eggs in this tasty soup represent fertility.

is for


2010 is "The Year of the Tiger"

 Those born in the "Year of the Tiger" are said 

to be engaging, lucky, and brave.

is for

Entertaining to celebrate the 

Year of the Tiger

Gung Hee Fat Choi

Congratulations and be prosperous!

For more Letter E Lessons join Mrs. Matlock's class here. To see more table settings visit Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch.

You can read about the Chinese New Year celebration in detail here at Wikipedia.