Food Forethought: How to Make a Grocery List

Apr 7, 2009 by

Grocery basket woman

I once asked my French mother-in-law, Lucienne, how she managed to cook for the crowds when large numbers of her five children’s families descend on the old farmhouse for days or even weeks at a time. Her answer applies equally to managing daily dinners for one’s own little family: “Il suffit de prévoir”: it just takes some planning ahead.

Traditionally, French women, unlike my mother-in-law, are said to make almost-daily trips, on foot, a little basket on her arm, to the corner grocery store, or better yet, to an outdoor farmer’s market where local growers are displaying their just-picked produce, sparkling with dew. This ideal woman is supposed to know how to choose what’s freshest and most appealing,…

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Do- It-Yourself Sublime Crème Fraîche

Apr 2, 2009 by

Creme fraiche Crème fraîche is a perfect example of French ingenuity with dairy products.  A cultured cream, it’s thicker, heavier, smoother and sweeter than sour cream, with a lovely, velvety texture. It’s delicious on plain fruit, especially bananas, mangoes or berries, or other desserts (I think of crêpes or pie), as well as in soups, stews or sauces, which it thickens without curdling as sour cream tends to do.  

We have no parallel product here in the U.S., though you can find crème fraîche in some grocery stores. It’s quite expensive. I make my own for much less. It’s something so simple, yet extremely satisfying to make yourself.  Very young children could make it, except it requires a lot of patience. My son used to make it to…

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Asparagus Egg Drop Soup

Mar 31, 2009 by

Asparagus egg drop  This springtime soup is super easy and quick, yet elegant and delicious. The name is enough to get children interested, and the process of dropping the eggs is perfect for young cooks: one to crack and drop, one to whisk, switching mid-way, of course. It’s a perfect set-up to get kids wanting to try something new.

4 T olive oil

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

8 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 lb fresh asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into one-inch lengths

4 eggs

Salt, pepper, grated parmesan cheese


1.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion…

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Amazing Chocolate Truffles

Mar 28, 2009 by

This recipe has gotten me more compliments than probably anything else I’ve ever made. Some people really, really like them, including all of us at my house. Some people will probably gaze upon you with newfound tenderness and respect after you give them some of these babies. “When you get that feeling, you need confectional healing,” as the Central Market ad says, and here it is.

I found the recipe one day while standing in line at WalMart. Real Simple magazine had a title on the front that caught my eye, something about truffles made easy.  We had recently bought some Godiva chocolates as a gift and I found them overpriced, but certainly a nice gift that anybody would appreciate. I ended up buying the magazine and have made this recipe, my version of…

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How to Afford to Eat the "French Kids Don't Get Fat" Way

Mar 6, 2009 by

 Empty shop cart

“Many cards and letters have come in,” as my French teacher used to claim, asking me about eating well on a budget these days.

The following is from a reader named Heidi:

“I live in N. Mi. where the economy and income level is a little low. I try to feed my kids balanced meals but they are NOTHING like what you are suggesting. I am curious as to your budget allowance for groceries per week. We are a family of soon-to-be seven living on a very fixed income. What are your thoughts for someone like me?”

Dear Heidi,

Thank you for your questions!  

Many experts at keeping expenses low have…

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How to plan menus for healthy, home-cooked meals, á la française

Mar 3, 2009 by


To cook healthy meals for a family the French way, the first step is knowing what to cook. Before you can make a shopping list, buy all your ingredients and start cooking, you have to figure out not only what to eat, but what to eat with it.

I go grocery shopping every Monday and Thursday morning. That’s the plan, anyway. Before I make my list or shop, I start with looking through my recipes.

I have several cookbooks, but the ones I use the most are my little Bon Appétit cookbooks (Tastes of the World, Fresh & Flavorful, Deliciously Light, and Fast and Easy). They are chock-full of simple, yet tasty recipes that work. I also have two little binders where I have glued in or copied down tried-and-true favorite recipes that I’ve gotten from friends, out…

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