When I first began this site, it started off as just trying to make myself into a better person by doing things that I had always wanted to do (like figuring out how to make Coq au Vin), and sharing the journey along the way. Over this last week, the site sort of took a different turn in a new direction. This is ultimately the direction I wanted the site to go in all along.
There is a life motto I have been telling people since I was a teenager. Ironically, the first time I ever said it, it was to my grandfather.
I was 16 at the time and had just gotten back from Paris. I was telling my grandfather about my Parisian adventure. He said to me after I finished sharing my story that he wished he could do that. I remember looking at him a little funny…like it was crazy for him to say that. That’s when I said to him, “Life is short. Do anything and everything you ever dreamed of doing.”
For years, his kids had told him he should go out and travel during his retirement. He never did. But it was those words that day that prompted him to go out and chase every last dream he had for himself. He spent the last 15 years of his life traveling all over the world. Over those years, he would share those stories with me in the letters we wrote back and forth to each other. He was my pen pal from the day I was a kid and could send out a letter on my own, until the day he died.
After he died and I started traveling more, I continued our travel tales. With each place I visited, I felt like he was near, sharing this adventure with me. He used to collect coins from every country he ever visited. This goes all the way back to World War II, when he was in the war. He had brought back coins and stamps from Nazi Germany. Those are coins that I ended up inheriting after he passed away.
Every time I visit a country, I make sure to have a handful of coins to add to our collection. This is a ritual I have kept going since 2007. That’s why traveling all over the world is so important to me. It’s about keeping an important memory going by adding to it long after the other person you shared it with is gone.
Those words I told my grandfather that day is the same motto I have repeated to so many people throughout this lifetime (and to myself, because sometimes you have to remind yourself what your life motto is). Do anything and everything you have ever dreamed of doing.
After the NYCIFF Awards, I was talking with George Pogatsia (director/writer/star of “Family On Board”) about his speech on championing each other. It takes a village to create success. We all have to help each other make our dreams come true. We cannot make a dream come true on our own. It is absolutely foolhardy to think we can make our dream happen on our own. It takes many people along the way to help us get to where we are trying to go. It takes a village to make every single dream come true for each individual.
When you work together to help each other make dreams come true, you’re creating amazing energy together in order to make each and every dream come true for each person involved. Consider it karma working in everyone’s favor.
Creating this kind of energy helps inspire each person involved to be greater than we were before. That kind of energy is a really good, positive feeling.
When you help each other, you go into it believing in the other person and their dream. You help them any which way you can within your own limitations. You do this without wanting anything in return. The way the universe works is that when you help others, wanting nothing in return, someone will return the kindness to you. It may not be the same person you’re helping. It could be someone else, the right person that can help you get to the next step in the process.
The amount of energy you put into helping someone else’s dream come true, you’ll find that the same energy x7 comes back to you. It’s just the law of the universe (aka the law of attraction). Do good for others, and the kindness will be returned somewhere down the line in a variety of different ways from so many different people.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
That being said, that is the direction this site has gone. This site is about sharing people’s dreams and how they’re making them come true. This content will be brought to you through interviews and collaborations. There will be a lot of repeat offenders here because of the collaborations. A collaboration means that we are working together to share the story of how one person is making their dream come true.
For instance, we will be documenting Family on Board’s journey to the Oscars. This will be done in collaboration with George Pogatsia, the film’s director.
In the upcoming days, I’ll also be sharing with you one artist’s journey to creating a new arts festival in the Bahamas. That artist is no stranger to this site. He created my Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal painting.
Journalist friends I’ve made over the years in hockey will also be contributing to the site in their own ways. Russ Cohen (from Sportsology, author of various books including “100 Ranger Greats”) recently added his first collaborative post to the site. Russ and I have known each other since the start of my hockey writing career. He’s been a great friend and mentor over the years, so having him contribute non-sports related content here…I am definitely a very lucky person.
There are other hockey reporters that will be submitting stories, recipes, DIY projects, etc. in the upcoming months. In a way, this site allows them to have a place to share their other passions that are outside of hockey. [i.e. There is life outside of hockey for hockey writers.]
This site is about building a trustworthy community of individuals that this site supports in their journey through life. It is about believing in that person and their dream. As of now, sharing each person’s journey is a stepping stone. As time progresses, perhaps this little community we’re building can do more for each other.
That’s what this site is doing on its backend as far as bringing forth content. The purpose of creating this content is for one simple reason. It’s to help inspire people out there to go after every single dream they can have for themselves. Life is about pursuing each and every dream. You could fail at a dream or get to the end of its path and decide it wasn’t meant for you. It happens all of the time to every single one of us. Eventually, you’ll find there are some dreams that were worthwhile and others that weren’t. That’s what life is all about.
The worst thing anyone could ever do is dream and never pursue it. You will always ask yourself ‘what if.’ What is the point of asking yourself ‘what if?’ Just go out there and live the dream. You’ll find that life is more amazing when you are pursuing your passions in life.
If a story is shared here, it’s not a one time deal. We’ll continue to follow their journey, sharing their story as a way to get people to be more interested and involved in something that is absolutely incredible. The people you’ll find here are people I believe in. The things they have created or done…they are projects I am passionate about seeing do well. If you love something…you’ve got to say something. That’s what this site will be doing.
There are very few films that come into existence that becomes one of the most important films you need to see in your lifetime. “Winter” from Heidi Greensmith is one of those movies that should be on your list of things to see before you die.
This film premiered as the finale at the New York City International Film Festival. It was adequately placed at the end of the festival because it would have blown all of the other feature films out of the water.
Tommy Flanagan (“Gladiator” and “Sons of Anarchy”) stars in this heart-wrenching tale of a man who has lost his way. The film begins with a drunken man that could easily be mistaken as a homeless man. He’s not homeless, he has a home. It’s his son, who deferred a fellowship with Columbia University for two years, who tries to bring his father out from underneath this gloom that has consumed him.
At first, you may think this film is about an alcoholic father who is abusing his kids and has lost the rights to see his youngest son (who is in foster care). No. That is another mistaken assumption.
This story is about a family who lost a wife and a mother to a very violent crime. It’s the story of a man who is broken and blaming himself for his wife’s death. As a result, he falls into an abyss of mental illness. This artist is trying to get his kid back, and his eldest son is just waiting for his dad to return to normal. He sacrifices so much trying to help his father get back on his feet again.
The amazing thing about this story is that it teaches you not to judge a book by its cover. This man’s mental illness came about because of grief and regret. His son put it perfectly. His dad was not crazy. His heart was just broken.
It is in this man’s healing that he returns to painting again, but in a whole new light. He’s a different man working out his demons and creates complete and utter genius. His eldest son saw this from the beginning. He saw the man his father truly was. To him, this story is not about an abusive alcoholic father that has fucked everything up for their family. This story is truly about a man that had a broken heart and lost all sense of himself the day his wife died. He just needed time (and help) to find a way out of that grief.
I believe this quote from Lisa See’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” adequately describes the journey this man takes out of sorrow.
Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you find peace.
This incredible tale makes you re-evaluate how you look at life and at people who are going through a difficult time in their life. On the surface, we instantly stereotype them as drunks, alcoholics, abusive/neglectful parents, homeless, mentally ill, etc. All of those labels are incorrect. This man is an artist who is waiting for his next inspiration. He’s waiting to discover his own genius that is inside of himself.
Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to discover the genius within. That is the journey this artist was on.
Tommy Flanagan’s role was phenomenal. The way his various emotions were captured on his face…it is a moment of beauty and brilliance. This role opens your eyes to see how incredible of an actor he is. I would say, one of the best in the business after seeing him in this film. He brought his A+ game to this film and his performance is Oscarworthy.
In the story, the eldest son tried his best to keep the family together and help his father at the same time. He is the real hero of the story. The way he saw who his father was deep down inside, most children are not that perceptive. They would have cowered in fear, be mortally wounded with each derogatory word yelled at them. Not this kid. He was just waiting for the genius he saw within his father to emerge. What he was willing to sacrifice for his father to discover that, shows just how much he loved him.
Heidi Greensmith has brought this thought-provoking tale to the screen. Most importantly, you need to note that she is a female director. There are very few in the business. She’s also a mother and a wife and despite her other duties, she was able to make something this brilliant.
The film picked up an award for Best Drama Film at NYCIFF. Tommy Flanagan picked up the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Heidi Greensmith picked up the Best International Director award.
Congratulations to everyone from “Winter.” This film was brilliance.
The New York City International Film Festival hosted their Sixth Annual Awards on Thursday night, where they also announced that “Family on Board” and “Malan Breton: A Journey to Taiwan” would be submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an Academy Award consideration.
Closing out the festival was the film “Winter” by Heidi Greensmith, featuring Tommy Flanagan.
Here is the list of a few of the winners from NYCIFF’s website. It is not the complete list.
You will find a special thank you video from William Shatner posted on their site. Shatner won multiple awards for his film “Chaos on the Bridge.” Sebastian Roché also picked up the Matthew Cowles Award for acting.
THE NYCIFF 2015 AWARD WINNERS
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL – BULGARIA
BEST USA FEATURE FILM
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
TOMMY FLANAGAN FOR WINTER – UK
BEST DRAMA FILM
WINTER – UK*****
BEST INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORHEIDI GREENSMITH
BEST USA DIRECTOR
BEST INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILM
IT’S ME – LEBANON
BEST INTERNATIONAL ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
ASSIL AND JAD By BANE FAKIH – LEBANON
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT FILM – USA
FAMILY ON BOARD
BEST DIRECTOR IN A NARRATIVE SHORT
GEORGE POGATSIA – FAMILY ON BOARD
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A SHORT NARRATIVE FILM
GEORGE POGATSIA – FAMILY ON BOARD
*****BEST INTERNATIONAL ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A SHORT FILM
WALLIS MURPHY-MUNN – SANDBOY – USA / IRELAND
BEST USA ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A SHORT FILM
ELISABETH JAMISON – FALLING TO PIECES – USA
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
A JOURNEY TO TAIWAN – USA/TAIWAN by MALAN BRETON
BEST INTERNATIONAL ANIMATED SHORT
MYRIAM OBIN – ÉLOÏSE, LITTLE DREAMER – QUEBEC / CANADA
BEST USA ANIMATED SHORT
YVONNE GRZENKOWICZ – ARCHAEOLOGY – USA
BEST TV PILOT
TOPSY MCGEE – USA
BEST MUSICAL VIDEO
STELLA – UK
Congratulations to all of the winners. Many of these films are heading to the Cannes Film Festival.
(Courtesy of George Pogatsia, Director, Writer and Star of “Family On Board”)
The big news coming out of the New York City International Film Festival (“NYCIFF”) is that “Family on Board” and “Malan Breton: A Journey to Taiwan” were submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a 2016 Oscar consideration.
“Family on Board” won in every category the short film was nominated in. It picked up three NYCIFF awards for Best Narrative Short Film USA, Best Director in a Narrative Short, and Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Short Narrative Film.
You can read more about the short film Here and Here.
Congratulations to everyone that was a part of “Family on Board.” If you get an opportunity to see it, it is a must see. This short is the type of production that sticks with you long after you have seen it. You will constantly be wondering about the fate of Mike Petito. It will leave you with questions on whether a hero trying to save someone deserves to be thrown in prison. It will also teach you a life lesson about staying true to yourself no matter what the circumstances are.
Kudos to George Pogatsia. He created a masterpiece which (hopefully) is the beginning of a much bigger masterpiece down the line.
We’ll keep you updated on the film’s journey to Oscar night.
Philadelphia – M. Night Shyamalan is at Wizard World Comic Con talking about his upcoming TV series “Wayward Pines.” My good friend, Russ Cohen, is covering the event for Culture Burst. Video from the event can be found here: M Night Shyamalan at Wizard World Philadelphia.
Opening up the NYCIFF gala on Thursday night was a heartbreaking film short from George Pogatsia called “Family on Board,” a story of a man who attempts to help save his neighbor who is being abducted after a burglary in their home. What could be seen as being a heroic moment, he gets the book thrown at him by the justice system as he is portrayed as a violent vigilante and is sentenced to five years in prison.
Being a family man, he is forced to leave his wife and two children. Because of the honorable circumstances surrounding the events of that night, the judge allows him to have a month with his family to get his affairs in order before he is ordered to report to prison.
The events that follow on that morning he reports to prison are the few short minutes that will leave you heartbroken.
Mr. Pogatsia was kind enough to do a short email interview for PerfectionistWannabe.com.
1. What was the inspiration behind the story? Was it based on a true story?
I read a story a while back about a man in Texas who called 911 about 2 guys burglarizing his neighbor’s home. He ended up shooting and killing both. He never recieved any jail time. It made me think, what if this happened in New York City? Also, I was living in downtown Manhattan on 9/11. The towers falling actually woke me from bed and I had a friend who was scheduled to report to prison downtown on 9/11 … I threw those stories into a pot, I sprinkled in my imagination and mixed it up. I came out with Family on Board.
2. While we take a look at the conflict between hero vs. vigilante, the main part of this story is about a man who has to leave his family. We see an outstanding citizen who was trying to do the right thing, but the court has decided differently and he has to leave his family. The irony of this story is that even though he was turning himself in, you have to wonder just what would have happened if he was asked to turn himself in on 9/12/2001 rather than 9/11/2001. He wasn’t just leaving his family for 5 years. He was saying goodbye to them forever. He was able to get those last moments with them that morning, something not too many people were able to do. Why did you choose to write the story this way?
On 9/12 Mike Petito would have reported to prison to serve out his jail sentence. I chose to tell the story this way because I enjoy having the audience participate. I like developing characters they can relate to and care about. I try get them invested in their lives then have them theorize on what happened in the end. Did he leave forever? I hope to provoke thought and discussion. Almost like thinking about an old love and what may have become of them.
3. Will this eventually be turned into a full feature film?
I’m developing a feature version of Family on Board. Tony Sirico (“The Sopranos”) is a big supporter of the project, his role will be considerably larger in the feature. Oscar winner John Avildsen (“Rocky”) wants to direct.
If you get a chance to see this film, I highly suggest seeing it. I contemplated leaving when I realized the day…9/11/01. I didn’t know how far he would take the actual events occurring in that moment. 9/11/01 was a real nightmare that many of us had to live through and haven’t quite healed from. But luckily, the story quickly changed to post-9/11 and I was glued to my seat in those next couple of minutes. It left you questioning just what happened to Mike Petito that day.
I would love to see this as a full feature film, especially with the same cast of characters. It’s a story that will keep you wondering long after you’ve stepped out of the theater.
NYCIFF will host their Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 7, 2015.
During its opening night gala, with actors and directors out on the red carpet for the launch of the festival, the two main features were a film short called “Family on Board” directed by George Pogatsia and the feature film “Phantom Halo” directed by Antonia Bogdanovich.
On the second night of the festival, William Shatner graced himself on the red carpet to showcase his new documentary “Chaos on the Bridge,” the chaotic tale of what it took to bring “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to a television screen.
Fashion designer Malan Breton was also in attendance both nights. He’s at NYCIFF to present his new film “A Journey to Taiwan.”
Family On Board
Tony Sirico (“Sopranos”) stars in “Family on Board.” He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Matthew Cowles, who also stars, received the award posthumously.
George Pogatsia not only directed, but also starred in this sad tale about a misjudged hero. He was in attendance at the gala on Thursday night.
Here is a clip from the film:
The film leaves you with a lot of questions about more than just what happened. It makes you question whether it’s right for a hero the court has deemed as a vigilante to end up in prison just for saving someone’s life. It’s also about a hero staying true to who he is no matter what the circumstances are.
This short film is a must see.
Phantom Halo stars Sebastian Roché (“The Originals,” “Supernatural,” “Once Upon a Time”), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Love Actually,” “The Maze Runner”) and Rebecca Romijn (“X-Men”).
Sebastian attended the gala with his wife Alicia Hannah. Clare Grant (who also stars), Antonia Bogdanovich (co-writer, director) and Anne Heffron (co-writer) also attended.
Here are a few takes from the Q&A:
The story is very reflective of the co-writers childhoods and upbringing.
There is a reference to a ‘pound of flesh,’ but don’t mistake it for a “Merchant of Venice” reference, even though Shakespeare quotes appear throughout the movie, it is purely Anne Heffron’s take on people calling her Asian daughter ‘Chinese,’ when she’s actually Korean.
Heffron is a master of writing male lines.
At the end, Roché and the panel discussed what acting means in an independent film. You’re not doing it for the money in an indie film. You are doing it for the pure passion of what you love, so you bring your A-game to every scene. It’s about the passion of the art.
Gbenga Akinnagbe is not African (like his name would suggest). He is an American, born in Washington, DC. He spent some time living in Mexico. He was not originally cast in the role of Roman. There was another actor cast, but he did not work out.
Roman uses an English accent (like Roché does), but this was a fluke. Roman was not originally a British character. It came about after they were messing around on set.
Even though Thomas Brodie-Sangster speaks in an American accent, it was very important to Bogdanovich that they cast a British actor.
Chaos On The Bridge
William Shatner’s newest documentary is “Chaos on the Bridge.” A movie about the chaos that went into bringing “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to life and into the homes of every American.
If you are a Star Trek fan or even a TNG fan, this is a must see. It will give you a whole brand new perspective of what it meant to create TNG…the chaos that went into it is just unbelievable. Not only is it visually stimulating, but it is absolutely hilarious as well.
Shatner was in attendance both on the red carpet and after the feature to do a Q&A.
Here’s a glimpse at his new film:
Shatner’s next project includes taking a little road trip on his new motorcycle and filming it. NOTE: This isn’t just any kind of motorcycle. You really need to see it.
Fashion designer Malan Breton was in attendance for both the opening night gala and Shatner’s film on Friday night. The designer was at NYCIFF to showcase his new film “Malan Breton a Journey to Taiwan.”
He showcased many of his beautiful designs prior to the film, which was shown prior to the gala on Thursday night.
As you can see in the pictures here (from William Shatner’s night), he wears one of his designs.
Here’s a glimpse of his moment at NYCIFF:
Other glimpses from NYCIFF
Here are a few pictures from the first two days at NYCIFF.
New York – Director Thomas Vinterberg (“The Hunt”) stopped by the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center to speak to the Lincoln Center Film Society members about his new film “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
Based on the book by Thomas Hardy, Carey Mulligan (“The Great Gatsby”) and Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (“The Loft”) star in this tale of a young, independent and headstrong woman who attracts three very different suitors (a farmer, a soldier and a landowner).
Along with Vinterberg, Schoenaerts stopped by as well to discuss the film.
Here are a few pictures from the evening.
Some notes on the talk:
While shooting the final scene of the movie, Carey Mulligan fell off the horse and concussed herself.
Schoenaerts is heading to Cannes Film Festival for another film he starred in called “Maryland.”
When Schoenaerts met Vinterberg for the first time, he was waiting for him in the lobby of a hotel. Based on the past work Vinterberg had done, as well as his long history in film, Matthias thought he would be meeting a much older gentleman. When Thomas walked up to Matthias, he thought this was Vinterberg’s son. When he realized it was Thomas himself, he couldn’t believe it. He did not expect someone so handsome and young, but then it made sense, because Thomas was 28 when he hit the first wave of stardom of his directing career.
The most important scene in the entire movie was the kiss at the end.
ENDING SPOILER: Originally, Vinterberg wanted Matthias’s character to leave on a ship to America and not turn back. Instead, he was asked to keep the ending with the kiss and he stays.
The classic show “An American in Paris” is back on Broadway. Before they had their Opening Night, I was able to see the show during previews and I have to say, it literally blew me away. It is no surprise at all to see that “An American in Paris” tops the nominees for the Tony Awards, receiving 12 nominations.
Let me explain what was so fabulous about “An American in Paris.” First, for those who do not know, the show is a musical ballet. What made this show absolutely breathtaking was the prima ballerina Leanne Cope (Lise Dassin).
In the scene where she is trying out for a role in a ballet company, she is not allowed to rehearse with the other ballerinas after arriving to the rehearsal late. At one point, she goes ahead and sneaks in and starts dancing with the others before taking off to dance on her own. It is this moment that is particularly breathtaking because you not only see a phenomenal performance, you see Cope’s passion in her dancing. It is this passion that set her apart from any other character in the production. Her awe-inspiring performance throughout as a ballerina was like watching a ballerina in heaven dancing before your eyes. That was how perfect she was. You could get lost watching her dance. Her passion for ballet could be seen in each step she took. That is what made her so incredible. That is what makes any actor so incredible…their ability to come up with a spectacular performance because they are doing what they love.
I knew nothing about the background of the musical, so I was surprised that there were a few numbers I grew up with like “I Got Rhythm,” “‘S Wonderful,” and “Shall We Dance” that were in the show.
The costumes throughout were absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could add all of the dresses into my wardrobe. They were so beautiful.
The story is about three men who are in love with a young ballerina. There’s the composer who writes an entire ballet to immortalize her. There’s the rich man who wants to marry her because that’s what his parents want him to do. Then there is the soldier who steals her heart, but her obligations to the rich man prevent her from being with him.
These three men…just so happen to be friends and they are all in love with the same girl.
Who does she choose? Well, you’ll have to see the musical for yourself. Here’s a sneak peek…
If you’re in NYC looking for deals to shows, use the Today Tixapp. You can scroll through and find the cheapest tickets available and purchase them through the app. A Today Tix representative will meet you at the theater half an hour prior to the show to give you your tickets. You just grab the tickets and go. One of the simplest processes of getting your theater tickets. It beats waiting in that long TKTS line (plus, it’s cheaper). You can also take $20 off by using the code: KCZJB.
The $1.50/day challenge ends tomorrow. For me, it ended sooner than I thought it would. Even though it did, I have to say that this challenge was very humbling.
On Day Two, I continued eating the pre-made meals I made for the week. Breakfast consisted of the congee soup, free coffee and soy milk, and water. For lunch, I had fried rice with a few carrot/celery sticks. For dinner, I tried to be a little more inventive with my food and attempted to create an Indian version of a burrito using the leftover lentil soup and some of the shredded chicken. I added Naan bread to the dollar count ($0.50).
Dinner was where the problems started to set in. I ate a few bites from dinner and then stopped. The cat ended up coming over and eating the rest of it for me. I just wasn’t interested in it. By breakfast on Day 3, I tried to eat some of the free cereal and free soy milk, only to find I had no interest in eating at all. This is where I could sense a problem is arising. To go two meals in a row and choose to not eat than to eat a poor man’s meal, that says something very strongly to me. There was a health problem arising.
As I contemplated ending the challenge to eat something healthier and more heartier (i.e. more than $1.50), I looked at my lunch of lentil soup and realized I was not hungry at all. I was about to go 3 meals straight without eating.
The last time I went through multiple meals of not eating, I was in a poor country…Morocco. I went 3 days without eating before my driver had to step in and arrange for me to eat something that met my palate (which ended up being Chicken Tagine Citron). That’s just the way that I am. I’d rather not eat than to eat something that was mediocre or boring.
This challenge humbled me in realizing just how fortunate I am. I’m thankful for the bounty that God has given to me over the years. Then I was humbled in realizing that even though I felt like I was starving by day three on only $1.50/day, there are people out there that don’t even have $1.50/day to eat the bounty I was able to create. Some may go days without eating, but that’s not by choice or stubbornness because the food doesn’t agree with their palate. They’d gladly eat a rotten banana peel from the dump if that’s all they could find.
I never really appreciated the life that I’ve been afforded until I took this challenge. It makes you thankful for the little things you take for granted. At the same time, it makes you feel compassion for those who only dream of being able to have access to such bounty. It also makes you wonder what is wrong with this world when there are so many countries that have way more than enough to feed their people that we find ourselves wasting so much food at every meal. Somehow we can’t find a way to share the wealth with those who have nothing.
Why can’t we help those find means to fight their hunger? I know in this day and age we are faced with countless issues on why we cannot end hunger, like war and politics. But when you look at hunger as a human rights issue, war and politics do not matter. Human beings matter more. They always will.
After I ended my challenge on Day Three, I noticed that I started getting very ill. I knew my health may become an issue by changing my diet and not having access to plenty of fruits and vegetables. That was the main reason I decided to end the challenge. At the beginning, I did have that ‘what if’ this lowered my immune system and I became ill, but I was willing to forego the scare just to challenge myself to understand what the majority of the world is struggling with. Well, the ‘what if’ went into a full blown fever, vomiting, inability to keep liquids or solids down, and later a horrible respiratory infection.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the medical services available to me. Yet, there are people out there that don’t have access to medicine or medicinal food (i.e. the good ole chicken noodle soup, broth, or orange juice). Some people don’t even have access to clean water. Some people have to walk miles just to fetch a jar of water. This is the world we live in. The difference between the haves and the have nots? Money and Where You Live on this planet.
I think many of us dream of One World someday where hunger and access to clean water is a thing of the past.
I donated $250 (my fundraising goal) to UNICEF through theLive Below the Line challenge. If you’d like to donate a few dollars to help children worldwide have access to food, water and medical supplies, please join me in donating.
If you can’t donate a few dollars, think of gathering a few non-perishable food items from your kitchen and dropping them off at a local food pantry or food kitchen. If you can’t afford to spare food or money, consider donating some of your time to help out at a food kitchen or pantry. They always need volunteers. Find ways you can help stamp out hunger in the world. Sometimes it starts in your very own neighborhood.
I decided to do this $1.50 A Day Food Challenge a week earlier and post up my results for each day of the 5 day challenge.
First, I just want to make the disclaimer that during this time period, I used free items as part of the challenge. After all, if you’re lucky enough to get free food anywhere in the world, it counts towards food on the table, including what you’re paying out of pocket.
Granola w/ soy milk Coffee w/ soy milk
Today’s breakfast was a free meal. One day, I was given a bag of Cascadian Farm Organic Protein Granola. It’s one of those free merchandising bits that happens around New York City every now and again. Some marketing group stands outside handing out samples. In this case, I was given a full bag of granola.
I had a bowl of the granola along with soy milk that I got from my office (free).
I am also a coffee fiend. I won’t be able to make my own coffee because it fits outside of this week’s budget. This week, I’m going to use the free coffee and soy milk offered at the office.
Throughout the week, I’ll be using the carrots/celery. A bag of carrots was $0.99, and the celery was $0.89.
For lunch, I had a bowl of Lentil Soup I made from my crock pot. The ingredients pictured here produced 4 bowls of soup at $0.24/bowl.
Keep in mind, that lentil soup can be drab and boring. In order to make it more flavorful, it is important to sauté the onions and tomatoes prior to putting them into the crock pot. It makes a world of difference.
2 Cups of Lentils
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup onions, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Madras Curry Powder
1. In a crockpot, put the lentils in the pot, covering it with water, leaving about an inch of water above the lentils.
2. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cook until translucent (about 1-2 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes, cooking until the tomatoes are soft, almost liquid (about 3-4 minutes).
3. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper to the crockpot along with the tomatoes/onion mixture. Stir the ingredients.
4. The lentils are done in 2-3 hours if cooking on high temperature. At low temperature, it is 4-6 hours. Check the lentils after 2 hours and stir to make sure the lentils do not clump or burn at the bottom. The lentils are done when the beans are soft.
Makes 4 servings
1 4 lb. bag of lentil soup = $2.00 (only used roughly 1/2 a pound, which equates to $0.25)
2 tomatoes (6 pack of tomatoes = $1.29. 2 tomatoes=$0.43)
1 onion = $0.30 (1/4 of an onion = $0.08)
Spices/oil $0.20 TOTAL: $0.96 for 4. 1 bowl = $0.24.
Lunch Cost breakdown:
Lentil soup: $0.24
Carrots: $0.99/bag (cost will appear this one time to encompass all 5 days)
Celery: $0.89/bag (cost will appear this one time to encompass all 5 days)
Ranch dressing: $0.05 (One bottle was $0.79. I used only a fraction of it and may not use it again)
TOTAL SO FAR: $2.17
NOTE: Challenge is $1.50/day for 5 days. Because I’ll be using the carrots/celery over the course of 5 days, it’s just easier to calculate the cost now for the entire bags instead of trying to figure out the cost of a single stalk of celery or a single carrot and how much was used in each dish. Total amount of money that can be used over these 5 days is $7.50. Money remaining: $5.33.
Fried Rice BBQ Chicken Sandwich Green Beans Fried Bananas
One thing that I always make when I buy chicken is stock. I boil the chicken with carrots, celery and various spices. After it’s done, I not only have chicken stock to use in various soups and recipes, but I also have the chicken, carrots & celery to use in other dishes.
Using these ingredients as the base, so far I’ve created chicken fried rice and congee (rice porridge).
When making chicken stock, you can use whole chicken, chicken quarters, or any chicken part you want. You can also use any spice you’d like. I generally use Asian spices, especially star anise, to flavor the stock and the chicken, because I like to make a lot of Asian dishes with the chicken and stock. I recommend not just throwing in a variety of ingredients. Try to stick to a ‘spice theme.’ For this batch, I used ground cilantro, garlic, ginger, ground ginger, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. It allows for a bit of an Asian flare, but not too powerful like it would be if I added star anise to the mix. Star anise will give you the equivalent of the Pho soup flavor.
Keep in mind that there are a variety of ways to make chicken stock. This is my way, which I find to be the easiest, hassle free way to make stock.
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced celery stalks
NOTE: To make this process easier, if you have a stock pot with a deep steamer insert [like the one featured from Cuisinart here], use it so that it will make it easier to keep the stock and the ingredients separate. If you do not use a deep steamer like the one featured in the link, you’ll have to manually separate the ingredients from the stock and then feed the stock through a cheese cloth as seen in these examples.
Fill a large stock pot with water, place over medium high heat. Place steamer in the stock pot.
In the steamer, place the chicken, carrots, and celery in it, along with the spices, salt and pepper. Boil for a little over an hour (i.e. until the chicken is fully cooked).
When the chicken is done, remove the steamer from the pot and put the chicken/vegetables into a large bowl to cool.
All that should be left in the pot is the stock. Wait for it to cool down to a warm (manageable) temperature before transferring the stock to jars or bottles.
After the chicken/vegetables have cooled, separate the chicken from the vegetables/etc. and shred the meat, put the meat aside into a resealable container. Use the vegetables immediately after for your next dish.
NOTE: If you are using glass to transfer the stock into, here are some points to remember. 1. When the stock is between warm to hot, transfer it to the glass container. Make sure to use a towel to hold the glass while you fill up the container. 2. Quickly put the lid on it and set the jar aside to let the stock cool down. 3. When you hear a pop, that means that the jar has sealed. 4. Keep the jar out until it is lukewarm (room temperature) to the touch before putting it into the refrigerator or freezer. This usually takes a few hours.
Glass is very temperamental to hot/cold. You do not want to put hot glass into a cold environment or vice versa. The glass will break.
Since the meat/stock is being used to create other dishes, I’m going to list the meals as they go, but include the cost to make the base here and add the supplemental costs as we go along.
2 chicken quarters (4 lbs. at $2.16 (it was on sale), each quarter at $0.54/each) = $1.08
Celery/Carrots added to price from lunch.
TOTAL SO FAR TODAY (+Lunch): $3.25
Keep in mind that this is $1.50/day challenge. The total cost here is going to be combined for the 5 days of the $7.50 total, because each of these recipes are being used for multiple meals.
What I ended up having for dinner was 1/2 serving of fried rice, bbq chicken on a biscuit, and green beans. For dessert, I had some fried bananas that were given to me for FREE from a Thai restaurant I go to all of the time.
Rice ($1.49/3 lbs. 1/2 lb. of rice used) = $0.25
1 egg ($1.29/12 eggs. 1 egg used) = $0.11
1 bag of frozen green beans = $1.00
1 biscuit ($1.09/10 biscuits) = $0.11
OVERALL TOTAL TODAY (All meals): $4.72
I made fried rice from the chicken/vegetables mixture. It netted 2.5 servings.
I also made congee (rice porridge) from the chicken/vegetables/stock. This netted 4-5 servings. [The garnish is spring onions that I grow at home.]
I will be using the green beans over the course of the next few days, so I thought I would add the total cost to today’s total for the entire bag (like the carrots/celery). Between the fried rice and the congee, I was able to generate 6-7 more meals for the next few days.
There is still rice, chicken, carrots, celery and green beans leftover to create additional meals over the next few days. There are also 3 more bowls of Lentil Soup to devour. As we go through each day, I’ll only add any additional costs beyond what was already accounted for today.
As a first in the artist spotlight series, artist Kyle Mosher takes a moment to do an exclusive interview with Diary of a Perfectionist Wannabe.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Nothing like an ice breaker to get us going here! My name is Kyle Mosher and I am originally from Canada. I moved to the States when I was about 7. My entire family still resides in Canada and I go back and fourth quite frequently. I would spend part of my summer living with my grandparents going to hockey camp at Standstead College in Stanstead, Quebec until I was about 15.
I grew up in New England, but I’m currently residing in Charlotte, NC.
2. How did you get into art?
Being the only child of Canadian parents, art was never seriously encouraged. I always had a natural eye for being able to render though. I would draw a lot as a child, but stopped probably around high school when I made my varsity hockey team. The team was a very competitive Division 1 school. Our sophomore year we were the 7th rank public team in the US and were state champions. So I really had to focus on hockey. Don’t get my wrong, I loved hockey, but it got difficult the older I got and it really stopped being fun in University. I couldn’t stay healthy and my injuries started to take their toll on me, not just physically, but also mentally. I had to stop playing because of injuries. I had a lot of down time and started to read and reflect. I took a serious look at my life and made the decision I have too much of a wild spirit to make it behind a desk and I was too broken to do physical labor so I decided to leave the University I was at and enroll in an extremely traditional Fine Arts institute. My parents had no idea. I took a summer drawing class at a community college on my own dime and told the teacher, “I need you to condense 20 something years of everything I missed into this one class.” I then took my “portfolio” to the NH Institute of Art and somehow managed to get in! As I look back at it now, it’s pretty crazy. I guess it was just one of those things that was meant to be.
3. Having interviewed hockey players for the last 7 years, I know how hard it is to move your life in a different direction. Was it difficult to focus on an art filled life instead of a hockey life?
I was very resentful of hockey for a long time. Walking away was easy. I was really trying to separate myself from that person and that life. I wanted to be my own person and carve out my own life. I spent a lot of years searching for who I was without hockey. It was very therapeutic and allowed me to exorcise a lot of demons. I really liked the person that I have become. I’m proud of what I was able to do and I did it 100% by myself with no support. No one really gave me a shot doing this art thing, but I used all the negative energy to push me. I am definitely very mediocre in terms of talent with art, but my passion and drive is what has allowed me to become a full-time artist. I would describe myself as a 3rd or 4th round draft pick that just worked my ass off, ha! It’s funny because I have so many great memories from hockey. I traveled all over, won championships, lost championships, and formed a brotherhood with some amazing friends. [They’re] memories I’ll cherish forever, so I really miss it now. Looking back there are a million things I would’ve done different, but I’m comfortable with my life. I’m just grateful and thankful I was able to play hockey for as long as I did. I wish I could’ve done it on my own terms though without the pressures from my family.
4. What was the first painting you ever sold? How did it feel to sell that first piece?
I think the first painting I ever sold my mom bought, haha! Typical mother! The first painting I ever sold to a client was….not until four of five years after I graduated college. I spent those first few years bouncing around from one shitty job to another (the typical artist story). I actually stopped making art for almost a year. I had another life changing moment and decided I didn’t want to be another statistic, so I kicked my ass into gear and really started focusing more on how to make it as an artist. Life was very humbling after college. I can really appreciate now all the hardships I was dealt. It made me a stronger person, a more humble person, and definitely made me a better artist.
People can view the art on my website. If they are interested in purchasing a piece they can shoot me an email: Me@KyleMosher.com, with the piece they are interested in or I can send them the list of available pieces with other details. I also have a “Rent-to-Own” program, which, is an honor based payment plan that allows people to make a down payment, have the painting hang in their home, and they make payments at an agreed upon amount and frequency. Alternatively, I am currently accepting commissions, but there is a 2 month wait list.
6. What are your favorite pieces you’ve created thus far?
Such a difficult question! I hate this question, because I really love them all. The Kanye and Pharrell pieces hold a special place in my heart because they really set it all off for me. They are definitely 2 of the crown jewels in my collection and the pieces most people associate me with. My most recent series, Heist and Showroom, are really rad. I love the direction I went with those and had some major breakthroughs. I really can’t pick a favorite though!
7. What work are you most excited about sharing right now?
I’m working on an epic painting for Andrew Ference (captain of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers). I’m not giving away any other details other than it’s going to be epic! It’ll be finished in a month or so. I also befriended a really well known gallerist and art-critic based in NYC. He’s taken me under his wing and we are working on some really exciting paintings. Probably the most difficult paintings I’ve ever worked on. I say paintings, but we aren’t even really in that phase yet. I’m still in the planning phase of sketching and conceptualizing. I usually have insane amounts of clarity when it comes to my work, but he’s really pushing me, which, I love, and putting me in this uncomfortable space I’m not used to. The idea is create more dialogue, rhythm, and intrigue, and also more sophistication to my work.
8. Your work focuses on a lot of branding from hip hop artists to commercial items. Can you explain your appeal to these subjects?
I love pop-culture. I’ve always been really into music and I joke a lot about that being my real calling in life. Music really inspires almost more so then visual art does. I’m inspired by the stories I hear of musicians who “make it” so that’s why I like to portray them. I dig the “rags-to-riches” story as I can relate. More so the rags, not yet the riches, ha! Believing in yourself and putting your all into your dreams and overcoming adversity is a beautiful thing. In terms of the logo and branding, I started as a graphic design major when I was at the liberal arts university so graphic imagery also holds a special place in my heart. When I would work contract design jobs, companies always had these brand guidelines, which specifically stated, “DO NOT EDIT OR CHANGE THE LOGO IN ANYWAY.” There are 2 things about that which intrigue me: 1. I’m rebellious so immediately it’s like the forbidden fruit, and 2. I am very much drawn to the idea of taking well-known logos or branding and putting my signature look on them. I am my own biggest fan. 100% I love my work so to create a “mock” marketing campaign or a piece of fine art using my signature style is very much self-indulging, haha. Plus, I think these companies could leverage my signature style and learn a thing or two from this rebellious artist!
9. What do you do when you’re not creating masterpieces? What are some of your other passions in life?
I fumble around with music, but I am far from a musician. That would be an insult to musicians. I like staying active, go to the gym and such. I’m into fashion so I like staying up on that. I aggravated another major injury a couple summers ago playing pick up with my college buddies so I’m still saving to get my second shoulder surgery. I’d love to eventually start playing hockey again. I haven’t played in over a year, probably the longest I’ve ever gone without skating in my life.
10. Any exciting announcements or projects you want to share?
Lots of exciting things in the works! I signed a few NDA’s so I cannot go into anything specific, but I’m in talks with a few major brands to do some cool work with my signature style. The Ference painting is really rad and the new series I’m working on for the NYC gallerist is going to be really different from anything I’ve ever done, but still in line with my brand. I’m constantly working, always pushing myself, and always pushing my art. There is no Plan B so it’s just about finding ways to make it happen as an artist, but never compromising the morals I have as an artist or as a person.
You can find Kyle on Instagram and Twitter (@TheKyleMosher) and on his website.
For those who would like to purchase a Mosher painting or print, email him, follow him on Instagram and Twitter (sometimes he has flash sales), reach out to him and work a deal using his Rent to Own program, or you can commission a piece with him. You’ll find that the majority of artists out there are looking for ways to get their artwork out there, and they realize that not everyone can afford art. You never know what you can afford from the artist unless you ask. You’ll find a lot of times they’ll work with you to make their work more affordable for you.
You can read more about Buying and Acquiring Art here.
$1.50/day for 5 days is $7.50. That was the challenge presented to me. That was the challenge that One.org is putting out there to the world. Nearly 1.2 billion people in the world live on $1.50/day for food.
I’ve read a few articles from people that accepted the challenge [like this one who lives on a vegan diet]. The comments I’ve read on these articles are really first world problems. There was a constant: you can’t eat healthy on that diet. That was the point of the experiment. It’s not a matter of ‘You can live on $1.50/day’ challenge. It’s a challenge for us to understand what it means for 1.2 billion people in the world that live on $1.50/day.
1.2 billion people in the world don’t care about GMOs, pesticides on their food or whether the food they purchase was organic or not. All they care about is that it’s food on the table. I’ve watched documentaries on children going through the dump (completely barefoot) looking for anything edible to eat…like a rotten banana peel. Sometimes all people can afford is the rotten food that’s being thrown out.
I’ve been in markets where all they’re selling is rotten meat, vegetables and fruits. The smell is so atrocious, but that’s how they live. Even the indoor supermarkets have flies swarming all over the food. This is normal to them.
The humbling part of my journey was realizing that even though I was witnessing poverty, I was seeing them through Burberry sunglasses. I had security with me. I had my own driver. Yet, I was witnessing hardships and the life of people in a third world country. Even though many are starving and are destitute, they look at you with a smile in their soul. Their kindness is genuine. They do unto others as they hope God will do unto them. They live with the philosophy that if they work hard and do things pleasing in God’s eyes today, then tomorrow God will shower kindness upon them. If the next day they find that God did not find their works good enough to reward them, they work harder the next day. They give to the widows and the elderly, even when they have very little. They are always performing acts of charity.
To me, that is a life principle. It also makes me thankful for each and every day I wake up to the life that I live. There are times when I feel like I’m not doing enough for my works to be pleasing in God’s eyes. But then I’m reminded of the people I’ve met in third world countries that live by this principle of doing things to be worthy of God’s favor. All they want is food, a roof over their head…the basic necessities. That’s the only favor they are asking from God. It makes what I ask for completely selfish and foolish. Just take a look at my purse wardrobe. One bag could feed someone for 1,000 days…and yet, I think I’m not doing enough to be rewarded properly… (first world problems).
From April 28-May 2, One.org is challenging the first worlders out there to see what it is like to live on $1.50/day. PerfectionistWannabe.com is accepting that challenge.
Considering that this site leans more towards the good eats, this will be somewhat of a challenge. Luckily, these past few weeks, I’ve already been putting the challenge to work.
For those who have access to an Aldi, I highly recommend going in and buying your groceries from them.
Just recently, I picked up 4 chicken leg quarters (about 4 lbs worth of chicken) for $2.17. Wow, right? I just happened to walk in when they put the $2 off sticker on the packages. Normally, they’re $4.19 for the 4+ lbs. of chicken. It’s $0.95 per pound.
With that chicken, I can easily make chicken stock by boiling a couple of the chicken quarters. I shred up the boiled chicken for other dishes. That’s roughly $0.54 per chicken quarter.
For the chicken that has fallen off of the bone, I make chicken noodle soup with the leftover celery and carrots (celery and carrots vary in price, but are both under $1 per 1-2 lb. bags).
The chicken stock I reserve for other dishes (including soups).
I picked up a bag of dinner rolls that came out to $0.50. There were 8 rolls in the bag. You can generally get a loaf of bread for $0.85.
A can of tuna is $0.59. A six pack of tomatoes is $1.29.
In other words, Aldi is a great place for the budget minded folks. After discovering I could buy chicken for $0.95/lb. there, I have a difficult time wanting to spend 3-4 times that at the supermarket for the convenience just because I’m there buying other groceries.
There are a variety of dishes you can make with this sort of budget. Believe it or not, there are also ways of getting free food on top of it all. So during April 28-May 2, I’ll be sharing with you just how I was able to live for 5 days under this budget AND still be a foodie. And yes, I will find ways to get free coffee and almond/soy milk. There are ways.
As I’ve been spot checking the site to see what needs to be updated, I was going over my About page and remembered that I wanted to learn how to make coq au vin. What better way to learn but to learn from the master herself, Julia Child.
Before we begin, I’m going to say this…this was the first time, as well as the last time I will ever make coq au vin. While it was challenging and interesting, it was also very time consuming.
Since it was Easter Sunday when I made this, I also had to make up a few other things before the main course could be served.
I had never made Baked Camembert before. I have to say that it was extremely simple to make and came out like a piece of artwork.
This easy starter recipe was so good and absolutely hassle free to make, I almost ate the whole thing on my own, forgetting that Easter Sunday was just beginning.
I highly recommend making this.
As an additional side dish, I also made Honey Hen wings. I adapted it from Laura Calder’s recipe and used wings instead of chicken quarters. It was so delicious the first time I made it (last week), it was well worth making it for the second time in a row.
Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin
Since this recipe is rather lengthy, as well as the process, Life’s a Feast made this same recipe and posted up the original Julia Child recipe, including what she had for dessert: Charlotte au Chocolat.
The coq au vin recipe isn’t just for the chicken. Her post also includes the additional two recipes: Champignons Sautés au Beurre (Sautéed Mushrooms) and Oignons Glacés à Brun (Brown-Braised Onions). In order to make this dish, you have to make the mushrooms and the onions on the side. Braising the onions alone takes around 45 minutes to do.
For the alcohol content, I used cognac (which was a really cool process…I’d never flambé before) and chianti as the wine.
It took about 3 hours to make this dish from start to finish. Was it worth the wait? No. It wasn’t. The meal was delicious, but by the time everything was complete, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t enjoy the fruits of my labor.
While the chicken was simmering over the flames, I put together this rather simple pear flan recipe from Julia Child (as found on Bettunya’s blog).
I tried to use up as much cognac as I could on Sunday, so I decided to use cognac to soak the pears in. You’re only supposed to soak the pears for an hour in the alcohol. Because I was taking so long with the coq au vin, the pears ended up soaking for 2 hours. Trust me, this ended up being a good thing.
By the time the main entree was on the plates, the clafouti was ready to come out of the oven to cool. The cognac made the dish smell so good!
After dinner, the clafouti was passed around, topped with some ice cream and when I say this was the treat of the day…oh believe me, it was a treat! I felt so drunk after eating half a slice. Like I said, the pears soaked in cognac for 2 hours was a good thing.
I usually do not make French desserts, so I was happy with how easy this was to put together. Julia’s original recipe called for Bing Cherries, but it can be substituted with apples, pears, etc.
This is a dish you will definitely enjoy. It is a must try!
Earlier, we spoke about owning classic pieces that will withstand the test of time. One such piece that has withstood the test of time is the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.
In 1976, Cybill Shepherd wore the DVF wrap dress in the iconic movie “Taxi Driver.” The design of the dress is still the same almost 40 years later. It is an investment piece that you will not regret adding to your fantasy wardrobe.
The iconic dress comes in a variety of prices and styles. While the price may be a little high for most, and the dress never really goes on sale at drastic discounts…then again, I stand to be corrected. Scouring the web, I discovered a few sites that were selling the iconic dress for less than $100. Of course, I discovered this after I spent almost $200 on one at Bloomingdale’s (and that was on sale)!
French women always appear so put together, classy and stylish. From the front rows of fashion week to grandmothers smoking a cigarette with their coffee and pastry outside of a French cafe, these ladies have a sense of style. While French women have that je ne sais quoi about them, there really isn’t any trick to looking classy and put together at all times. It’s all about being a smart woman. Here’s how they do it…
1. A Quality, Well Fit Blazer.
2. The Trench.
3. The Navy Sweater (in cashmere).
4. The Tank.
5. The LBD (little black dress).
6. The Perfect Jeans.
7. The Leather Jacket.
The thing about this list is that you’re not going to go out to just any retailer to purchase these items. French women buy qualitative items, which means it may cost a little bit more.
Start off with a black blazer. Over time, add a navy and white one. Save for the splurge which is the timeless classic Chanel tweed blazer. This blazer will last the rest of your lifetime. It’s a piece you can even pass on to your children or your grandchildren. That is what we mean by quality. It’s built to last.
When you shop for a trench, you should always go to the best in the business. The best just happens to be Burberry. Their coats are meant to last you an entire lifetime.
There are so many different grades of cashmere out there, it is hard to figure out which is the best quality. Real Simple put together a checklist to consider when you shop for cashmere sweaters. Simply put: look for the sweaters that say 100% cashmere.
I’m a lover of Gap tank tops. For many years, Gap put out the most qualitative tank tops on the market. These are tanks that 10 years later, I’m still wearing. You can get them on sale for $2.99 at their end of summer sale. I always stocked up on them (especially the white ones) because I layer my clothes, and I love sleeping in these tanks. Gap did have a quality setback a few years ago (which is why I don’t shop with them anymore). But after much complaint from their consumers, they brought the quality back. Places like Gap and J. Crew are excellent places to stock up on basic tanks, tees and sweaters.
The little black dress is probably the most difficult dress to find. It’s more than just owning a LBD. It’s about the fit and how it makes you feel. The perfect LBD makes you look incredible…and you know it. It makes you feel confident and sexy, yet comfortable. It can take years to find the perfect LBD. Once you find it, you will cry the day you have to retire it. This is your go to dress from the office to the Kentucky Derby to that client dinner. It’s that date night dress that makes your guy think he’s the luckiest guy in the world the second he lays eyes on you. It’s not the dress. It’s how the dress makes you feel when you wear it. You’ll know the dress when you find it.
Every woman is in search for the perfect pair of jeans. I know, I’ve bought 10 different pairs from a variety of vendors in the last couple of years. There’s that sexy jean you need. There’s that pair of boyfriend jeans you wear when you just want to chill out. There’s the every day jeans. There’s the trendy jeans. There’s even the nicer pair of jeans you wear out for date night. In all of these years of searching for that right pair of jeans, I’ve only found 2 or 3 that were the perfect fit and made me look great every single time I wore them. Don’t ask how many pairs of jeans I went through just to find them.
The leather jacket is one of the most important pieces in your wardrobe. It can go with anything, including that gown you wear to the opera. What’s great about leather jackets is that if you’re not so keen on wearing real leather, the faux leather jackets are just as nice and come in a variety of colors. Two colors you definitely need are black and white.
2. What Not to Wear
Who What Wear put out a post on the 7 Style Mistakes French Women Never Make. It’s definitely worth the read because it’s not just the basics that matter. There are do’s and don’ts to creating your own style. Basically, the first rule is not to try so hard.
My favorite of the bunch is that French women do not wear sky high heels. That’s funny because Christian Louboutin is French.
The most important point was Coco Chanel’s take on what to do before leaving the house. Stop and look in the mirror. Remove one piece before leaving the house.
If you want your wardrobe to be versatile: stick to neutral colors.
5. How Do They Afford It?
One of the great lessons in understanding the way French women dress is understanding the dynamic on how they can afford to wear Hermés scarves and carry around Hermés Birkin bags.
Simply put, they don’t have huge closets. They don’t amass a lot of clothes (like Americans do). They buy qualitative basics and add accessories that can be mixed in to create different looks. They save for the one handbag that will last them an entire lifetime. They buy qualitative scarves that are going to look chic with their wardrobe, and last forever.
They’re not going to buy a cheap scarf that will unravel in a year or two. They’ll pay $300-$1000 for a cashmere or wool scarf that they know will last them their entire lifetime. In other words, by the time the piece of clothing is ready to be retired, they would have gotten a penny out of each wear (cost/per wear).
The French woman’s way of fashion isn’t just classy, it’s smart and economical. You may be shocked at the sticker price of what they decide to buy, but to them it is an investment piece that is meant to last the rest of their lifetime. They choose a piece of clothing that they can wear today and still wear when they are 80 years old, and know that it’s not going to fall apart (and will still be in style). They also know it won’t make them look like they are from a different age.
They’ll choose classic styles that have withstood and will continue to withstand the test of time like a DVF wrap dress, a Chanel tweed jacket, an Hermés Birkin bag, an Hermés scarf, or that little black dress. They’ll buy the Louis Vuitton luggage because LV has been around for over a hundred years and still command a high price for luggage pieces that are over a century years old.
The Hermés Birkin bag goes up in value. It’s the only handbag that goes up in value.
There’s a reason why these luxury stores are still going strong in places like Europe. It’s not because the rich are buying it up. Smart women that want a qualitative product are buying from them. They saved up the money in order to purchase that one piece. These are investment pieces that they plan on using for the rest of their lives.
We are our own greatest mystery, and our life’s work is to solve ourselves.
– Jan-Philipp Sendker
Today, I want to talk about this quote and how it pertains to this site.
There are a lot of things in life that I aim to perfect: my mind, my body, my heart and my soul. When I cook up recipes, I look for things that are challenging so that I can become a better cook. When I try out new restaurants and new dishes, it is so I can learn to be more cultured. When I read, I want to learn things I didn’t know before. When I walk this path, I want it to be filled with all of the riches that life has to offer. The only way to do that is by not only becoming a greater human being, but by also challenging myself to make myself better than I was before.
We never know what we are capable of. There are times you can feel so defeated that you feel like the only best alternative in life is death. I know. I’ve been there many times at various junctures in this lifetime so far. I was ready for whatever decision God had for me. He could let this tumor kill me or he could change my life.
That latter part is why this site exists. Back in August 2013, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my parathyroid gland. Both the tumor and the gland had to come out. The parathyroid is the gland in the neck that synthesizes calcium. When I went in for my physical, the amount of calcium in my blood stream was over 120. Normal is in the single or lower double digits.
What did that mean? It meant that not only was the gland synthesizing the calcium I was putting into my body, it was working overtime and pulling calcium from my bones and putting that calcium into the blood stream. Left untreated it could either give me a heart attack I could not come back from or a brain malfunction due to the amount of calcium circulating in the body.
Doctors still talk about my case. It wasn’t because I had a tumor, it was how I knew something was wrong.
Only a Doctor Can Fix It
Right when I had given up on the only dream I had ever had in this lifetime (to have a family of my own), I was struggling with my relationship with God. I was furious with him because for some reason he just didn’t seem to want to make my only dream in life come true. He pointed out this one guy. It was someone he had been talking to me about all of my life. After 36 years of promises and nothing to show for, I doubted God would deliver up what he had promised to me. He was failing to live up to our bargain.
Was what I have done for God my entire lifetime not good enough? Or was it not enough?
I was mad. I felt like I had paid my dues and God decided I was not worthy of this one dream…the only dream. So I decided to break my own heart and let go of the dream. Trust me, I was mad at God. I would sit in the meditation room at the Meditation Center trying to center myself, feel peaceful, but all I could do was scream at God.
Why give me this dream if he never intended to make it come true?
At one point, I heard him yell back at me after having to listen to my laments for a few months. He told me it was enough. There was something more important that I needed to focus on. He told me that there was something wrong. I needed to see a doctor. It was not something I could fix. Only a doctor could fix it.
At first, I blew off the warning. What makes me think this is really God talking to me after I thought he was talking to me all of these other times pointing some guy out to me saying, “That’s him. That’s the one I’ve been telling you about ever since you were a child.”
I blew off making the doctor’s appointment. Each time I went in and humbled myself before God, he kept repeating the same message: “You need to see a doctor. There is something wrong. It is something you can’t fix. Only a doctor can.”
So after several warnings, I made the appointment to see the doctor. I went through all of the motions. I appeared healthy. She just wanted me to go to the gym, maybe interact with other people a little more. Be more social. So I started looking at gyms and classes, trying to take my doctor’s advice.
I was prepping to go on a cruise with my friend when the doctor called and left a message saying she had received my blood tests. She said, “Scrap everything I told you before.” She needed me to come back in to do the tests again. There was something wrong. My calcium count was off the charts. She needed to double check to make sure it wasn’t an error.
I thought to myself, “What in the hell is high calcium?” I quickly did a Google search and discovered that I had hyperparathyroidism. In other words, I had a tumor in my parathyroid gland. This is what we had been waiting five years for. The tumor had finally shown up.
I had been showing signs for the last five years that something was wrong. We knew it was cancer related we just didn’t have any idea where it was in the body. Now we did.
When I returned from the cruise, I was retested and it came back positive that I had high calcium. We started going through the next steps to having the surgery. All the while, they were preparing me for the worst.
With each doctor I saw after the diagnosis, they asked me how I knew. I said, “God told me in my meditation that something was wrong. I couldn’t fix it, only a doctor could.” I repeated this from one doctor to the next.
When I went in for my nuclear tests at Roosevelt Hospital, the doctors had been talking to each other about what I had said. As I awaited the chief doctor’s decision on whether I needed more testing, one doctor sat looking at the screen, shaking his head. He asked me, “How did you know?”
I repeated the same thing.
He was an Indian man. He looked at the screen then looked back at me in disbelief. I realized that God was working his reality on this man.
You see, there was absolutely no way I could have known about the tumor. There are ZERO SIGNS. There are symptoms that can easily be misdiagnosed as acid reflux or feet problems that can be corrected with shoe supports. There are no signs that are definitive that there is a tumor in your parathyroid gland. Only a blood test can reveal there is a tumor.
The doctor told me his faith (before he went into medicine) believed this way. He said this was the actual first time that God and science agreed. They had several doctors ask me the exact same question: How did you know? The fact my response was the exact same every single time, so matter of fact, and I did not appear delusional, it made them question their own beliefs. Maybe God really was talking to us. They had put my responses in my medical report. Each doctor confirmed I said the exact same thing.
Because the truth was, there was something wrong. I couldn’t fix it. Only a doctor could.
I was diagnosed mid-August. I had the tumor removed on October 22, 2013. Who I was prior to going under died that day. Who I became after I woke up…that is the journey I’m currently on.
Who Are You?
I lost almost all of my memories within the weeks that followed. I had to remind myself what my name was every single morning. The woman looking back at me in the mirror…I did not recognize. To this very day, I still don’t see that the person I am today is the same person I was before the surgery. I can tell. I can even see it in the pictures of me before and after. They are two very different people. At least to me, I see two very different people. They do not look the same at all. Actually, I don’t recognize the person looking back at me anymore.
I cut off my long locks. I refuse to grow them out anymore. That person with the long beautiful hair is not me anymore.
That person that loved hockey and writing about it and just loved that journey she was on…she does not exist anymore.
I had to reteach myself how to do so many things, like math, for example. I tested out of every math course in college except statistics (because it was required for my major). To all of a sudden forget how to add simple numbers, do division or multiply…I was absolutely humiliated that I was reduced to being an idiot.
I had problems reading books. I just didn’t want to read. I had no interest in it whatsoever. I knew I loved to read. I just couldn’t pick up a book.
I had to reteach myself how to spell. I’m a credentialed member of the media…I never had to check my work after so many years of writing. Now, I have to read everything ten times before clicking SUBMIT. I leave out words all of the time. ALL OF THE TIME.
I knew I loved to travel all over the world, but something inside of me refused to leave New York. Now, I use my newly adopted cat as a reason I can’t leave.
It took almost a year for this foodie to eat anything beyond basic children’s food. I ate grilled cheese sandwiches for months. I knew I loved amazing food, but I tried to eat it post-op and I could not taste anything. It took almost a year to be able to enjoy something that was absolutely amazing.
In other words, all of this time post-op, I struggled to find myself. I was lost within the walls of this body feeling trapped. I have said to myself every single day since I woke up, “I should have died that day.” But for some reason, God decided I should live. We are not necessarily on the same page.
One think I am thankful for, no matter how complicated this journey has been, was the loss of my memories. He left me with only one memory. He left me with the dream thus far. That story about that guy he had pointed out to me…I remembered him and the story thus far. I could not even remember my own name or the person looking back at me in the mirror, but I remembered that guy.
I couldn’t remember the people that hurt me in the past. When they surfaced, my friends and my brother helped me. If they were bad, they just told me to stay away from them. If they were good, they let me know that person was okay. When the memories came back, it came back without the emotions. I recognize that an emotion existed connected to that person, but I no longer felt that emotion towards that person. I no longer felt the pain and suffering.
While this is a good thing, I think it disconnected me from being human.
This site was a way of finding myself again. It was a way to force myself to rediscover who I was prior to 10/22/13. There are things I discovered in life that were tremendous and amazing. There were experiences I had in life that created this incredible and amazing journey I was on. I needed to find myself again in that confusing emptiness that now existed within me.
I was given a clean slate when I lost the memories. Now, I’m refilling this mind, soul and body with things that will make me into a better human being.
This is also the life of learning how to live without the dream. You just don’t realize how much you are part of something until it is gone. This is what happens when you stop dreaming. You are lost trying to figure out what in the world is going on.
God gave me a second chance and left me with only one clue…the dream. He didn’t even give me my name. He told me about that dream I had let go.
Knowing God, he’ll make sure he puts this post before the eyes of the other person this dream is meant to be shared with. For some reason that dream means something very important to God. I wish it didn’t. I also realize that this person must have prayed for me to live. I’d like to slap him across the face for it, especially because when you look at our reality today, what has become of the dream? Nothing.
This morning, during my meditation, I was talking to God about reality versus faith today. How can he expect me to have faith in a dream that in reality has never come to fruition?
His answer came from Master Noel Bada just a few minutes later.
How about that for an answer? God has called you to be faithful to your calling.
Before I awoke from the anesthesia, I felt like I was floating down the river of life, going past houses with families standing alongside the road. They were all smiling and waving as I floated past. I heard God say, “Don’t forget.”
I woke up to the sound of a loud beeping noise and a nurse telling me to breathe. I felt like I had just taken a dip into God’s ocean of love. I was reborn.
All of these things are connected: the dream, seeing families alongside the road, and remembering only one person in this entire universe (and it wasn’t me).
That is life’s mystery, trying to figure out what this life is meant for. We are meant to solve that mystery.
It’s Not the Story, It’s Just the Setting
In a dream I had not so long ago, God explained this lifetime to me. He explained why the story played out a certain way. He explained the mystery within the story. I am in a certain setting. It’s just the setting. We may think it’s really the journey in life, but it is only the setting.
The setting was created that way because it was designed for the two of us to meet. The real story was the love story.
God appeared as the best friend I took with me wherever I go. No matter what happens, what pain I endure, or the decisions I ultimately choose, I will always return to my best friend no matter what. There is no being in the universe that can rip me away from him, because no matter what happens in the story…even if I lose my way and fall in love with the wrong person…I will always return to God.
That’s where I am in this juncture. I’m working on my relationship with God. I’ve had to go back to the very beginning, reminding myself of the law of attraction. I’ve had to remind myself that my soul is always recording what is happening. That videotape is always seen by God. I must always have pure thoughts, no matter how sad my soul is. I must always do good for others first. Bestow good thoughts and blessings upon people as they walk past. I have to refill my karmic bank account for the next lifetime…the one where I ask God to make sure I don’t come back and I can just stay with him. This child wants to go home, but I’m stuck here. My mission is apparently incomplete.
So this is my new mission: I dream of owning a large home filled with children that do not have a family of their own. Perhaps we can be a family together. That is what I want. This is not something I aim to do with anyone else. I am exactly where I want to be right now. I’ve changed my entire way of being and living because I understand my choice to do this on my own. The dream isn’t about faith anymore…it’s either God delivers what he promised, or he doesn’t. Either way, I’m moving forward without God’s dream. If that dream is so important, he’ll figure out how to deliver it. I’ll look at it with absolutely no expectations. I find that when you expect something and it isn’t delivered, you become disappointed. I kind of don’t want to be disappointed in God again. He has failed me several times already in this lifetime.
But where there is failure and disappointment, sometimes you can look at it as a life lesson. But what that lesson is…only time will tell. You just have to hope and pray you figure it out before it’s time to start a new life all over again.
What Any of This Has To Do With This Site
I just want all of you to understand where I’m coming from by putting my energy into this site. This is my way of challenging myself to be a better human being. By pushing myself to understand things I never understood before, relearning how to do the basic stuff, and using what I’ve learned to create a better world…that is my aim for this site.
I don’t want a life that is just mediocre, because I’m not mediocre in any sense of the word. I aim to have a better life. Most people do. But what is better?
We start with learning how to be a better soul. So once a week I’m going to get spiritual on you. Believe it or not, I find that bearing my soul has always had more interest. Why? Because we relate to each other in some way. We just need each other in order to learn and be inspired to be greater than we were yesterday. That is really our aim in life, to be a better human being than we were yesterday.
That, in itself, is the true journey I’m on. That is this site’s mission: To Be A Better Human Being Than I Was Yesterday.
It’s about healing ourselves and the world. I haven’t heard this song in years, but every time I get a moment of quiet, I hear this song playing in my mind. This is my new life’s mission.
If there’s anything this author has discovered is that her children know how to be French better than she does.
This was one of the most interesting articles I read this past week. It really makes you rethink how you eat, how much you eat and what you eat. For instance, instead of grazing throughout the day (like most Americans do), it’s important to eat three meals a day. You want to be hungry when you approach each meal so that each meal will be a complete pleasure.
After reading this article, I decided to make lunch the heaviest meal of the day and eat lighter in the evening (like a salad or a soup).
I will say that taking the advice from this article, I approach each meal differently, savoring each bite with pleasure.
I’ve been sharing this list with my foodie friends. We’ve been salivating over the pictures.
Don’t be dismayed if you love French food, go through the list and realize you’ve probably only had a handful of these dishes. Imagine this list as showing you the possibilities of enjoyment you can add to enhance your life. I’m making it my mission to either try these dishes at a restaurant or learn to make them this year.
For those who want to build a Fantasy Wardrobe, I highly recommend starting here (we’ll discuss this topic further this month on the blog). While French women appear to have the best taste in fashion, it looks like the way they build their wardrobe is all about class and common sense.
They very rarely wear trendy clothes. They never wear stilettos. They invest in neutral colors. They buy qualitative clothing, which means buying more expensive clothing (which also means owning less clothing). This is not about having a lot of clothing (like us Americans who amass a rather large collection of clothing).
I’ve noticed there are a large number of French women carrying around an Hermès Birkin bag. Believe it or not, this article explains how it is possible for them to own a bag that costs between 4-6 figures (i.e. the down payment on a house, or in some cases, the cost of an entire house). [Forbes did an article on how you can buy your first Birkin.]
Simply put, they wait and save for that investment piece.
This article will make you rethink how you’ve crafted your own wardrobe.
This is on my list of books to read. The author of this bestseller is currently in the NYC area talking to a group of French loving New Yorkers about the French life. Like the first article listed in this post, Guiliano goes into more detail on how French women eat and live. They’re thin, eat these incredible meals, eat carbs (and chocolate), yet they stay incredibly slim. How is it possible?
It’s not about depriving yourself, it’s about embracing the finer things in life and ENJOYING THEM.
On Sunday, I’ll dive more into living that positive mindset.
This is one of my favorite sites to be inspired on how to decorate the home. The styling and pictures are just absolutely gorgeous! I recommend following this site. I’ve been following it for years. Make sure to also follow her on social media.
Ever been mystified by the whole caviar and pâté experience?
I was. So I decided to go out and educate myself on how to buy caviar and pâté, as well as how to eat the luxury items. The best way to learn is to go to the professionals.
Petrossian is the answer in both Paris and the United States. They are not only the experts, but they offer some of the finest goods on the market.
First off, caviar is expensive. The reason lies in the process of cultivating fish eggs. It is not as easy as one would think.
Caviar is not cheap, just less expensive — more affordable. The restrictions on wild caviar made the price very high. The actual progress in the production and the number of farms all over the world created more offerings. However, one should also remember that caviar is not raised, sturgeons are, and that this process takes over ten years. This is the reason why caviar will never be an inexpensive product. Plus, the fact that to create good caviar requires a lot of work and enormous specialized knowledge. Now, if the dream becomes affordable, then it will drive caviar lovers back to caviar — those who’ve stopped their consumption because of higher prices.
There are a variety of different types of ‘caviar’ out there. Let’s start from the beginning.
What and Where to Buy
First, the term ‘Caviar’ is used only from the roe (fish eggs) that come from sturgeon fish. It only comes from sturgeon fish. You will find that other variations of roe (like salmon roe) are labeled as salmon roe, not caviar. Caviar only comes from sturgeon fish. All other fish eggs that do not come from sturgeon fish is called roe.
Caviar is black, while salmon roe is orange. Depending on the fish, roe can come in a variety of colors.
If you are starting out and need a less expensive, but highly qualitative brand of caviar, start with the Classic Transmontanus Caviar. In Petrossian stores, the smallest tin is $51. Online, a small tin will cost $53.
You can also try the less expensive roe that comes from salmon, trout, or even flying fish. The reason why the eggs from sturgeon are so expensive is because for many years, the fish were considered an endangered species. In the quote above from Petrossian, it also takes many years to cultivate sturgeon. The less expensive roe comes from fish that are more bountiful.
If you’re in a city where there’s a Petrossian store, you’ll find more variety and that the prices are considerably lower in their stores than online. For instance, online, the Salmon Roe retails at $62, but that’s for a 250g tin. You can pick up a 50g tin between $12-$14 at the store.
I prefer the salmon roe and caviar. If the caviar wasn’t $50+ per tiny tin, this would be a staple in my home.
The are so many different grades and prices, with $50 being the cheapest and the price of caviar going upwards into the 4-to-5 digit numbers. The more expensive numbers depend on the rarity of a special harvest which produces an incredible batch of eggs that are unlike any other. For instance, one serving of Petrossian Special Reserve Ossetra Caviar costs $394. For 16-32 servings, the price goes up to $12,500. That’s one expensive dinner party right there.
Petrossian doesn’t just sell roe and caviar. They also sell baked goods (in store), chocolates, smoked fish, and other fish delicacies.
One delicacy I highly recommend is the Tarama Au Crabe Royal. It’s a mixture of créme fraiche, cod roe and crabmeat.
As for pâté, Petrossian offers some of the best pâté I’ve ever had in my life. Try the Pheasant, Pork & Duck with Figs, Pistachios and Port from Petrossian. The nice vinegary taste in each bite creates a sharpness of flavors that awakens your tastebuds. The Petrossian pâtés are far better than any other one I have ever tasted. They make all the rest taste like cheap liverwurst.
How do you eat Caviar/Roe?
There are a variety of ways you can eat caviar/roe. My favorite is definitely Deviled Eggs with caviar. You can create little stacks on top of a blini.
The varieties of ways you can eat caviar/roe are endless.
If you ask Armen Petrossian how he likes his caviar…nude. As in, by the teaspoon. You can follow it up with a glass of champagne or vodka, or a slice of blini.
It is important to serve up caviar with aMother of Pearl Sea Shell Caviar Spoonand NEVER use sterling silver. Using silver only degrades the quality of the caviar, and tarnishes the spoon. Luckily the caviar spoons range from a couple of dollars and on up.
Just remember that caviar hates metal and will instantly spoil it.
If you’re serving up caviar at a party, here is a HOW TO with pictures.
You’ll find that there are a variety of amazing ways to eat caviar. Maybe you’ll even find a certain kind of roe that you’ll love.
If you’re looking for recipes, just type in ‘caviar’ in Pinterest and you’ll find everything from appetizers to soups to main courses.
How to Eat Pâté
As you can see, I like my pâté with caviar. I’ve also eaten it alongside a baguette, some French jam, butter, fruit and cornichons on the side for an afternoon snack.
You can serve it up any which way you want. Try it on a sandwich, alongside eggs at breakfast, or with cheese and fruit. Some mousse varieties can be used to add on top of potatoes, as a dip, or even stuffed into vegetables. There are just so many ways you can eat it.
There’s something about luxury that someone out there always tries to offer a cheap imitation. Don’t bother with the cheap imitations. You won’t enjoy it. How will you know it’s fake? Armen Petrossian elaborates in his interview with The Daily Meal.
How can you detect false wild caviar, or poor quality caviar?
Would you buy the wedding present of your daughter in the flea market, or on the net? Certainly not. You will go to a reliable source, a reputable company. It is the same with caviar. You go to a well-known specialist and let him or her guide you for your party. False balls called “caviar” are easy to spot. You put an egg on a sheet of paper and press. If there is no juice, only paste, then you know this is not caviar.
For expired roe, you can take some grains on your tongue and see if it creates an effect like small needles. If so, then your product is no good. Use your nose and smell the caviar. It should not have a strong smell like herring for example. A light, agreeable smell is what you should have. If you tilt the tin and the caviar is very oily, like a heavy soup, then this is a bad sign. Note that a little oil is normal. And if the grain is hard, with practically no juice, that’s also not good.
In other words, stick to the real stuff. Only buy from the best in the business. There is no such thing as shopping around for a better deal on luxury food. You won’t enjoy the lesser quality. In other words, it would be a waste of your money. Buy only the best and don’t throw your money away on cheap imitations.
If you are ever in a city where Petrossian has a shop, I highly recommend stopping in and trying their foods. They package everything up with ice and special containers so that you can get your purchases home without spoilage.They also ship out their merchandise the same way.
Petrossian also has cafes and restaurants where you can sample a little bit of luxury. Just come prepared knowing the tab will be considerably high.
If you can’t make it to a shop, but want to try out some of their delicacies, order online. You will not regret tasting the best of the best in the business.
Before moving this site to a new platform, I experimented with a topic last year to see how it would be perceived. Each month would get its own region and we would take a look at all things from that region. We’re revisiting FRANCE and all things FRENCH to start off Diary of a Perfectionist Wannabe’s relaunch since it was so popular last year. We’ll take a look at French food, arts, culture, photography, books, etc. all throughout this month.
Each week we’ll be showcasing a cookbook and divvying up a few of the recipes from the book. This week’s French recipes are from Laura Calder’s bookFrench Food at Home.
For those just starting out learning how to cook French food, it can seem a little daunting. As James Peterson writes, you could end up using every single pot and pan in your arsenal just to make one meal.
Calder makes the different processes of making French food a little easier.
For instance, this fabulous Honey Hen recipe with Lemon Pasta was so good, you’re not going to want to share it.
1 chicken (3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard*
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
[*You can use Whole Grain Mustard as a less spicier substitute for Dijon mustard. It is equally as good.]
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt the honey in a saucepan and whisk in the mustard and herbs. Pour over the chicken pieces in a baking dish, and roll them around to coat well.
Bake, turning occasionally, until the meat is cooked through, well browned, and veiled in its dripping hot sauce, 40 to 45 minutes.*
[*Cooking times may vary.]
This is one of my favorite, easy and simple pasta recipes from Laura Calder.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grated zest of 4 to 5 lemons*
1 cup heavy cream
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice to taste
1/2 pound fresh egg pasta
[*For extra zing and/or color, use a mix of lemon/lime zests.]
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. While you wait, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour over the cream and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste.
Cook the pasta. Drain, return to the pot, and toss with the sauce. Divide among four serving plates, garnish as you like, and serve immediately.*
[Note: This dish must be eaten hot. When it goes cold, it basically turns into cold butter and pasta noodles.]
If you’re like me, it’s a little difficult to get through an entire loaf of French bread. Instead of tossing the bread out when it starts to go stale, Toast Soup is the answer.
6 slices smoky bacon*
4 cups chicken stock
About 8 cups cubed French bread (roughly 1 loaf)
2 cups milk, more if needed
2 teaspoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard**
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
[*Note: When purchasing bacon make sure it says “Smokey” not “Smoke Flavored.” There is a major difference.]
[**Note: You can use Whole Grain Mustard as a substitute for Dijon mustard.]
Fry the bacon until cooked but not necessarily crisp. Pour over the stock, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let infuse about an hour.
Meanwhile, toast the bread on a baking sheet in the oven until quite dark, but not burnt. Transfer to a large saucepan.
Strain the stock over the toast, reserving the bacon. Add the milk, vinegar, and mustard and purée until very smooth with an immersion blender.* Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cut the bacon into slivers and refry until crispish. Reheat the soup, whisking in the cold butter at the last minute to give it gloss. Serve piping hot with the bacon bits scattered over.
[*Note: For added texture, do not purée all of the bread in the soup. Leave a few pieces as is, but purée the majority of the soup.]
* * * *
Laura Calder’s book is one of my favorites. It’s a great beginner’s book into learning how to cook French food. She makes things simple because creating an elaborate French dinner can seem absolutely terrifying. The recipes are easy to intermediate and everything tastes absolutely wonderful.