Feeling French-y

September 5, 2012



I know, I know, it’s been a leeetle slow in this space lately. I haven’t been vaporized by aliens or anything. It’s just that the Freakshow Circus is still in town. Can you hear the peanuts crunching? Smell the cotton candy?

Actually, if you really were here, you’d be smelling peaches. Luscious, fragrant peaches. 20 (ahem) pounds of them. I have no flippin’ idea what I’m going to do with 20 pounds of peaches, but keep your ears open because I’m sure I’ll be writing about them soon. Anyone got a favorite peach recipe to share? Jesus, I might even have to bake. That’s a serious threat.

In other Circus news, I think the Scamper-man (our little Russian white hamster) is dying. He’s been a lethargic little dude lately and I think he’s gone blind?  This is sad news. Even sadder is that I’ve cried several times already over the impending demise of a rodent. I’m going soft, readers. There’s no other explanation.

When you are weepy and facing the possibility of RodentGate, there’s only one thing to do: find a distraction.


Meet Aria. New Distraction.


Miss M. fell in love with Aria this past weekend, and I thought about saying “Hell no,” but then she pulled out the big eyes. That girl can work the big eyes like nobody’s business.

Thus, we have a new family member. A very affectionate, very talkative family member. Seriously, this girl loves to chat. She also loves to hop into the nearest lap and stay forever a while, even if you are busy typing on a laptop computer. Aria is a little needy right now, which is fine, although my writing is suffering the consequences. I like to think that she’s worth it, but man, I’d forgotten that a new pet is sort of like a new baby. Aria=Needy Bit of Baggage.

Aria is a tiny girl, unlike our last cat, Harryboy. Harryboy was pushing 14 pounds. I’m used to his behemoth frame, but she’s dainty. She rarely hangs around the food bowl. I wish I could say the same of myself but alas, I’m a feeder. Why hasn’t someone invented feed bags for humans yet? That would totally save me time. If I weren’t so busy working on a patent for the Valium Salt Lick, I’d totally be on board for the Human Food Bag. Then again, maybe human beings are a little overfed already…just go to WalMart. That’s an eyeful, right there.

*Awkward Segue*

So, let’s talk potato salad.

*Told you it was awkward.*

Sorry. You really have to forgive me. I’m not wearing my game face today. Aria has been howling in the night, demanding love at ungodly hours. I’m punchy, readers. Punchypunchy.

The good news is, this potato salad will not completely destroy your ass.  Most potato salads are filled with mayonnaise and eggs, which is why people like potato salad. My Daddy-o is particularly fond of potato salad, because this is a man who thinks mayonnaise is a beverage. Daddy eats a frightening amount of mayonnaise, but don’t fret about his health; Daddy has the constitution of a cockroach. He’s gonna outlive us all, I swear.

Daddy-o loves all potato salad, but he’s partial to one kind–the orange potato salad of my youth. Orange potato salad is shameful and good at the same time. Sometimes, though, I feel the need to shake the tree a little, and last week (while I was folding mountains of laundry) I saw a recipe on the Cooking Channel that intrigued me.

This recipe comes from Laura Calder, who hosts a show called “French Food at Home.” Laura’s a Canadian, but she attended cooking school in France and fell in love with the place. Honest truth: normally, I don’t like French food. Too fussy, too saucy, too buttery, too…whatever. But sometimes Calder makes simple, rustic French dishes that are beautifully simple and straightforward. This recipe is one of them.

You know what I also like about this recipe? The potatoes get a lovely bath in white wine before you dress them. Boozy potatoes? Sign me up. The wine adds a nice little acidity, as do the vinegar-marinated shallots, which were a revelation. I never thought to pour vinegar over shallots, wait five minutes, and then drain them, but Calder says the French do it all the time in salads. Maybe those French do know something, after all.

What you get in the end is a hundred miles away from the potato salads you’ve grown up eating. This one’s light, bright and fresh–no murky mayonnaise in sight. It’s served at room temperature, so the flavor of the potatoes really shines through. I was afraid that maybe Daddy would miss the potato salads of yore, but he loved this version. I did, too.

It keeps well, so you can enjoy leftovers. I took the chill off by letting the leftovers sit at room temperature for about a half hour, but I think it would be fine cold. Luckily, we had plenty of leftovers, so I had a minute to catch Minx 2 practicing her sharp-shooting maneuvers. She’s a budding Annie Oakley, and I am very grateful that her first target of choice–my backside–escaped her this time.

Check in, lovely readers, if you can. I miss you. I’m hoping to return to normalcy soon, if Aria allows.




French Potato Salad

recipe courtesy of Laura Calder

serves 6


2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup white wine, such as pinot grigio

2 small shallots, diced finely

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil

salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons each fresh tarragon leaves and snipped chives


In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring water to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes, depending on size. Drain potatoes and cool just slightly until you can handle them. Peel (optional) and thinly slice potatoes. Place the warm potatoes in a dish and drizzle wine over. Allow it to sink in–about ten minutes. While potatoes rest, chop shallots and pour red wine vinegar over. Let marinate for 5 minutes and then drain the vinegar off. Sprinkle potatoes with shallots.

Combine Dijon mustard, oil, salt and pepper to taste and whisk to emulsify. Pour vinaigrette over potatoes. Sprinkle herbs over. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby September 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

I saw the title of this post and thought maybe you had died your hair pink and dropped out of beauty school a la “Grease.” I’m relieved to find you’re still relatively normal and simply consumed by a cat. Unfortunately, I know the feeling, and am reminded daily that I’m not really a cat person.

Anyway, I’m sorry to hear about Scamper. It’s never easy to lose a member of the family, which is what any pet is–rodent or not. As for the peaches? You are the Kitchen Witch! Bake, woman, bake! Actually, this is an old recipe I haven’t made since going vegan, but my mom likes it. Don’t hold me responsible if it goes the way of Scamper…

2 1/4 C flour
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c + 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 C sugar
4 decent-sized peaches, diced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar and eggs.
4. Stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture until moist.
5. Fold in the peaches.
6. Fill 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.
7. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!


TKW September 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm


We are big muffin eaters (not muffin-tops!) here. I’ll be trying these. I’m betting the sharp-shooters will scarf them up.


Lindsey September 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

That picture of your daughter pointing the plastic gun at the can on top of her father’s (I assume) head is absolutely and utterly priceless. YES. That is the kind of house we live in too. Love it. xox


TKW September 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm


Hi! How are you? I am hopelessly behind, but I did see some posts of yours that hinted at a beautiful summer. I am hoping that it was so.

Our girls are rascals! At least they gave my backside a respite, as it is their favorite thing to shoot…


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

Welcome to the family Aria. Love the name, whoever chose it wouldn’t happen to be a fan of the Thorgal-comics now would they…


TKW September 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm


It’s Game of Thrones. We are such dorks! I think in the books it is spelled Arya, but but I wasn’t sure, so I spelled it like the operatic version. She is a lovely but noisy addition!


Jennifer September 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I love, love, love potato salad! My mom makes one with bacon that is awesome.

And peach cobbler. Obviously.


Kitschenbitsch September 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Looks amazing! I’m in love with Laura.

Re: the peaches — could I interest you in an amazing recipe for Earl Grey Peach Preserves?


TKW September 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm


YES! Please send! I’m afraid if I make bake-ey things, I’ll eat it…


Ayalag September 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

You made me laugh :) great post. Love the pic. :)


Sherri September 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I do happen to be a fan of French food – though agree that the less fussy, more rustic is best (I do bake and have a cherry clafoutis that I need to work on today) – going to try this because I am both a potato and shallot fan (and wine, of course).

Cracking up at the photo. At first, I didn’t see the can and thought he was unknowingly going to get popped in the head – then…. I thought – wait – my hubby MIGHT not even notice the can, so…… Either way = priceless.

Can you hear the circus music from my end too? I sympathize….

Peach pie. I do like a pie but …. hell no – I am not doing crust – will leave that to you (20 lbs – wow).


TKW September 6, 2012 at 1:04 am

“Hell No” to pie crust! I knew you would understand!


dawn September 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm

omg woman – you HAVE been captured by aliens – with all those fabulous doggies out there????? Ok,,, while I DON’T get it, because I’m a boxer girl through-and-through, I guess I don’t see the difference replacing one rodent with another,.

I’m sooorrryyyy .- just can’t do the cat thing., Course I’m searching breeders for a miniature pot-belly,, so what do I know??

Yes, I knew you’d turn up peaches soon here.. Its the craziest thing. I don’t even like the fruit; its just that certainty that they were VINE PICKED just that morning when I used to buy them from the corner vender. With that, then,,, I just HAD to bring home a case of peaches. It was the principle, dontchaknow!!

Not a baker,, so I’m no help w/peachy recipes, but do look forward to further vicarious baking episodes here!
Go nurse your hamster – poor dear


TKW September 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm


You can’t do cats but your are considering a freaking PIG? Laughing so hard!


Phoo-d September 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Miss M looks so grown up with her short hair cut! Gosh she is growing fast. Aria looks darling. I’m glad that you have a new feline at Chez T. Harryboy was such a great part of things! As for the peaches- they freeze beautifully. Just blanch them to remove the skins, slice, and plop into Ziplock freezer bags. The summer flavor hangs in quite nicely and I actually prefer freezing to canning when it comes to peaches. Then you can whip up a quick peach crisp or put peaches over oatmeal (or ice cream) in the winter.


TKW September 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm


I walk around the lake all the time and think of you and your visit. You would freak out at how big they’ve gotten–oh, the days of the Darth Vader-breathing, binky wearing toddler! ;)


Biz September 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I love potato salad, but not the too much mayo ones – those are icky – yours looks divine! My step-son used to eat mayo sandwiches – just white bread and mayo – so gross!


TKW September 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm


Your step-son and Daddy-o would get along just fine.


Erica@PLRH September 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Aria is a preety girl!

That potato salad is very similar to a mayo-less salad I had ages ago. It was presented to me a Jewish potato salad. I’ve been trying to find a recipe ever since. Thanks!

Peaches… My Mom makes the best peach cobbler I’ve ever tasted. Here’s another one… I once watched an episode of the Japanese Iron Chef and the secret ingredient was the peach. One chef made a beef pot roast with white peaches. I’ve always wondered what it tasted like but never had the nerve to try making it. What do you think? Are you willing to try?


TKW September 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm


I have f%$ked up every pot roast I’ve ever cooked. What’s up with that? You throw that sucker in the oven, bake the Hell out of it, and it’s supposed to turn out. But mine never does! Hmph.

How are you? Miss you!


Alexandra September 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Just so you know, I have no problem and I don’t consider awkward segue “let’s talk potato salad.”

That’s just playing it straight. something that I find irresistible when choosing the people in my life.


TKW September 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm


That’s exactly why I adore you. Shoot from the hip, and let the cards fall. I love you back, girl.


Katybeth September 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The picture of Aria does not look like a “dainty cat.” Just sayin’. But she is very cute.

Sorry about Scamper but look on the bright side you’ll be able to say no to another hamster ’cause it wouldn’t be fair to Aria. Let me share the best way to handle this request right now…You simple tell the requesting Minx that another rodent would not be fair to Aria and of-course she will ask “why” and you say, “because making Aria look at a rodent all day without giving it to her to eat would be just like me eating candy bar in front of you without sharing.” My mother told me when I wanted a white mouse when I was a kid and we owned a cat; it worked like a charm. Worked with Cole as well….Sounds awful but kids get it.
No need to thank me. The great looking potato salad was thanks enough.


Arnebya September 6, 2012 at 5:54 am

Katybeth, THAT is wonderful advice (searching girls’ requests now to see where else I can apply it as there will be neither hamsters nor kitties).


TKW September 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm


How did you get so wise?


Katybeth September 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I owe it all to my mother… ♥


Caitlin September 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

haha! i laughed at my computer screen for the awkward segue. i wish that i had peach recipes to share yet, alas, i’m no baker.


TKW September 6, 2012 at 1:13 am


You are too skinny to be a baker! Not that skinny is a bad thing…a little jealousy from this camp because my girls gifted me with backfat. Children–the gift that keeps on giving.

ps:Want Aria? She is intent on doing a 2am love fest. Which is why I am awake at 2:10 in the morning. Gah!


Caitlin September 6, 2012 at 6:30 am

Haha! Well I’m sure that I will be in that boat soon enough… once I find a man to marry me or at least want to have a child with me ?! ;) Oh Aria, I was wondering why your comment came back so late…


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Wait, mayo’s NOT a beverage? Ugh. Potato salad still looks really nice…but the yellow-y color of them does sort of go with the Frenchie pineapple dress of Grease.

Um, the awkward segue…my normal ones are like that. D’you think that’s bad?

Peach recipe…I am not a baker but I am hanging on to one I found called white peach cardamom crumble…or something close to that. Looked amazing. And if it’s called “crumble” I figure I can’t mess it up too bad. Want that one?

So sad when you don’t post! Welcome back! :)


TKW September 6, 2012 at 8:07 am


I’d never really even heard of cardamom until I married an Indian man. Cardamom is genius! I’d love the recipe. *fist pump* Awkward segues unite!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I bought cardamom for a recipe once and my aunt and sister both told me I wasted my money because I would “never” use it again. I have made it my life’s mission to find tons of recipes that use cardamom on purpose.

Grabbed this one as part of that quest and also, um, peaches.


Let me know how it turns out! :)


Jamie September 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Your dad is a genius. Mayo is SO much more than a condiment, it’s a straight up beverage.


TKW September 6, 2012 at 1:08 am


Daddy loves you already.


suzicate September 6, 2012 at 4:18 am

Your hubby is a great sport!
Aria is a beauty!


Arnebya September 6, 2012 at 5:52 am

It took me a minute to see the damn can but oh how I hollered when I did! That is so much better than mom’s tush, I tell ya. OK so your description of it wasn’t really winning me over (me of love of potato salad made with Miracle Whip) but the picture? Whoo doggie, that there is a keeper.

The peaches are a hard one. I love peaches! I don’t care for ANYTHING else peachy. Not peach pie, peach ice cream, peach muffins, tarts, cobbler, candy, soda (wait, I did have a Welch’s white grape peach juice that I tolerated). Not even an amaretto vodka peach schnapps. Not even. Maybe in a smoothie? Maybe. Probably not.

Poor Scamper-man.


Caitlin September 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

Ha! I didn’t see the can until you mentioned it!


Tiffany September 6, 2012 at 5:58 am

That sounds delicious!!! I’m hoping the circus leaves town soon!!!


Contemporary Troubadour September 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

I saw your comment above about pie crust — but I promise that this one is beyond forgiving because it’s gluten-free. No gluten = no risk of gumminess and no need to wrap and refrigerate after mixing. I stir it together with a spoon or rubber spatula, roll it out with a tall drinking glass or empty wine bottle (I have no rolling pin and haven’t needed one), and fill it with peaches. Trust me when I say even I could do this while under the influence of nausea-inducing hormones! Recipe here.

As for potato salad segue from Wal-Mart? Makes total sense to me. And Aria is gorgeous. We broke our kitty of midnight howling by shutting her in the laundry room every night consistently. She learned to accept it as the general practice chez Troubadour and now goes up there on her own when D heads to bed (he gives her dinner then too).


TKW September 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm


Aria is living up to her name. That girl can SING when she is un-loved.


Jenna September 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

Haha! I’m loving the shot of your budding Annie Oakley. Though if she wants to be an intimidating sharpshooter, the purple and pink may need to go. =)


tracy@sellabitmum September 6, 2012 at 11:10 am

Oh that potato salad looks divine! I’m so sorry about your rodent. xo


TKW September 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm


Can you believe that I’m mourning a rodent? Gah! I have lost all sense.


Justine September 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I took (am still taking?) a break from writing this summer, but I think I’m ready to be back. Reading your post reminds me of why I need to start doing this again. Not just for my own writing, but for all the blogs I’ve missed reading, especially yours. It’s so good to be here again.


TKW September 7, 2012 at 6:13 am


So happy to see you! Sometimes you do have to take a break, you know? But you’ve been missed!


TKW September 7, 2012 at 6:14 am


Thank you!


amanda {the habit of being} September 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

loooove potato salad and will definitely give this one a try! and speaking of shallots, when i make my vinaigrette, the first thing i do is mince shallots and put them in the jar with some kosher salt and the vinegar of choice (currently champagne vinegar). then i let it sit a few minutes while i chop some herbs, gather the mustard, oil, and proceed with the making of said vinaigrette. i don’t know the science behind why i do this, it’s just how i learned while spending time in france and well, it’s always tasty and that works for me ;-)


TKW September 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm


Well, heck! It took me 43 years to learn the shallot trick and you’ve known it all along? Better late than never, I guess, right?


BigLittleWolf September 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

This sounds p-r-e-t-t-y good to me –
With or without peaches and a sweet cat…


Elizabeth September 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

Pickled shallots are a delight, no? Back when we had the cooking channel, I spent many a weekend afternoon watching Laura Calder, but never made any of her recipes.

How lovely to meet Aria! She looks like a delight, but w readers are not subject to her caterwauling. :)


Barbara September 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

Are you seriously asking us for peach recipes? Google it, my sweet. I’ve made so many, I’d have to look them up. But do remember a sophie dahl recipe i postedbfor roasted peaches that knocked my socks off…

Are you absolutely certain Aria’s arrival had nothing to do with the (assumed) demise of the hamster? I seem to remember our cats loved em……for snacking.

And is your hubby about to get blasted in the head with a water pistol?


TKW September 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm


You are so naughty! No hamster jerky here, so kitty is out of luck for snacking.

It’s not a water gun; it is actually a dart gun; poor Aria is terrified by the noise, but I hope she will figure out that we are benevolent mongrels.

As for peach recipes, I can only plead the case that I am not a baker. I did try with the peaches this weekend and EPIC fail. *bang head* Hey, at least it makes for a good story, right?


Kate September 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Ah, life in the circus! The fun never ends.

Aria looks sweet. I can only say no o those big eyes here because I’m pretty sure if I got another cat I’d also get a divorce. (Talk o Daddy, baby, talk to Daddy.) I grew up with a sanging cat. Part Siamese, all MEEEEEOW. But lovely. And a good mouser. Which was a bitter end to most of our hamsters. hmmm.

I’d freeze those peaches and make smoothies. After I ate far too many.


Heather September 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Her daddy is one brave soul!
You my dear are just as crazy as me! We vowed to not get another animal for our house after saying goodbye to our Golden Retriever last summer. Stupidly we took the boys to the Humane Society and Keegan fell in love with the puppies there. Big eyes and a few tears later and Wicket joined our family. He’s just as crazy as the boys who picked him out! Aria is beautiful! Hope you get some sleep soon!!!


The Curious Cat September 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

This sounds delicious… as per usual! I’m sorry about the old hamster…poor thing…You reminded me of our own old pet hamsters – we had many! Love the last photo! xxx


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