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Archives for : August1956

Rock Around the Block

Finally!  Block Party Day!  The guys started early as usual setting up in the center of the street which the local police blocked off with sawhorses.  I had heard that the obstacle courses were going to be  doozies this year.  With the aging population of bike riders in this neighborhood, we needed one just for the little kids and a special one for the older kids.  Zettie Louise had been tapped to help with the course for the older ones and set up a practice grid in her driveway that she tried out over and over to insure that the curves were just right.  The little kids were happy with small walls and cones to drive around as long as they could ring their bells and toot their horns.  Harold had purchased a new barbecue grill this year, so the men would have something new to huddle around while grilling our hot dogs and hamburgers.  There was talk of barbecued chicken and shish kebobs, so I looked forward to seeing how they cooked those.

I made my apple bars and added a second easy dessert, a dump cake.  So called, because I dumped everything into the same dish and baked until done.  I wasn’t sure what the other girls were bringing but everyone has a specialty and I always look forward to seeing what shows up on the community table. I didn’t feel as competitive this year as last and didn’t plan on repeating my choice to stuff two brownies into Harold’s mouth for taste testing.

Edie was established now with the other ladies in our group and made sure that she left an empty folding chair next to her for Chloe.  I wasn’t sure who Chloe had spent any time with yet, but this would be a great chance for her to meet everyone at one time.  I was wearing a new pair of long shorts, had shaved my semi-tanned legs and slathered on my body lotion for a nice shine.  The weather was perfect and not too hot.  I will acknowledge that I am a woman who sweats.  My mother was a woman who sweated.  We don’t glow, we run a little hotter than average.  A little cooler weather never bothers me.  Steve had quickly eaten early this morning so that he could help out with the set-up.  Our husbands are so good at taking care of the heavy lifting.  I don’t mind making a suggestion or two for organizing but I don’t think any of them have been put into place. Mags was going to make a big batch of some new delicious cocktail that I hadn’t heard of; hopefully it would help loosen up the group and make the conversation lively.
When Steve came back in, he showered again and put on fresh clothes.  I had purchased a new shirt for him and it showed off his tan arms.  He had played a good amount of golf this summer and looked good. Friel’s had dropped off the beer kegs and they were sitting in the shade in big galvanized tubs in ice water.  When we went outside, the other neighbors started coming out also and the party began.  A new toy called the Flyin Saucer was being thrown back and forth on the front lawn next door and it sailed from hand to hand.  It looked like a saucer too.  Daisy had her bike decorated with pink bows and headed down to the little kids round up.  Junior took off with his friends to see what kind of devilment they could get into.  It was off to a great start.

When Chloe arrived, Edie invited her to come and sit so they could get to know each other.  That was nice of Edie.  She probably remembered how it felt last year when she was the new girl.  At least she got Artie to stand with the guys this year.  Steve waved Francis over to the group by the grill and there followed a lot of hand shaking.  I sat back to watch the scene.  My neighborhood was really impressive.  We eagerly take in newcomers, value those who have been here forever and make sure that our kids have a good life.  I felt the warm sun on my face, sipped my Gin and Sin, and listened to the friendly conversations going around me.  Oh that Gin and Sin?  That was Mags’ contribution – a great mix of gin, orange juice, lemon juice and grenadine syrup, wrapped around some ice cubes and shaken.  Very refreshing!

 

 

Cherry Clafoutis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9X9 baking dish. Scatter the cherries and slivered almonds over the bottom of the dish.

2 Whisk the eggs and sugars together until smooth. Whisk in the salt and flour until smooth.

3 Add the milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish over the cherries and slivered almonds.

4 Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned. Check about halfway through the baking and if the top is getting well browned tent it loosely with aluminum foil.

Place on a wire rack to cool. It will deflate while cooling. When cool, dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve.

You Say Potato

I wanted to invite Chloe over for coffee before the Annual Block Party so that I could prepare her for our yearly summer gathering.  Being the newest on the block always brought the most interest, and last year Edie and Artie were the crown jewels of the event.  The men would easily take Francis into their group; ex-military meeting ex-military always has something to talk about.  Artie spent last year sitting with the women, a fact people are still gossiping about. I called Chloe and set up a date, asking her to bring Marie-Claire along for Daisy to play with.  I flipped through the pages of the French cookbook and found a cake with cherries.  Steve loves cherries and if it turned out well, I could add it to my recipe box on an index card.  The ingredients were easy to find and I understood how to make it.  I just didn’t know how to pronounce it.  Cherry Clafoutis.  I purchased fresh cherries to pit and made it anyway.

When Chloe arrived with Marie-Claire, Daisy and I met them at the door and the little girls danced away to play together.  Some actions defy language or country.  The little girls were already at home with one another within 10 seconds.  I wanted to make Chloe feel at home but wanted to be true to my own style.  I had the Clafoutis in the oven finishing up and it was poofing up nicely.  I had set a pretty table with my (oh so American) matching cups and plates. I used the good silverware but poured the coffee in the kitchen and carried out the cups on a tray.

When the buzzer sounded, I returned to the kitchen and took the Clafoutis out of the oven, dusted it with 10x sugar and brought it out warm to serve as suggested.  When I placed it on the trivet, it started to deflate a little, and Chloe’s eyes misted up.  I thought I must have done something wrong and started to apologize.  Chloe explained that everything was alright with the dessert but that it brought back memories of her Grand’Mere who used to make it for her.  She explained that KLA FOO TEE always deflated a little after coming out of the oven. Well, at least I knew how to say it now.  The Clafoutis was delicious but subtle.  The cherries were soft and the sugar dusting on the top was the right amount of sweetness.  Actually, it tasted and looked a lot like an upside down cake.

Chloe was curious about the block party and I prepared her as best I could.  I let her know about the expectation of bringing a side dish and she said that she wanted to try and make Salade de pommes de terre.  It sounded fancy.  Chloe explained that it was potato salad.  I brought out my cookbook, which she eagerly looked through, stopping from time to time to make comments on how good some recipes were.

I realized I might enjoy French cooking.  We didn’t have any liquor with our coffee but maybe next time we’ll meet later in the day.  I’m not opposed to a drink after lunch; I will just have to figure out what kind to serve.  Perhaps Champagne!

 

 

 

Bonjour

Since I have never met anyone really French, I visited the book store before my visit to try and score a cookbook that contained authentic recipes.  Clearly, Chloe had worked hard during the war.   I couldn’t imagine what being in the Resistance really meant but it made my brain race with dangerous situations.  Zettie Louise and Chloe might have a lot in common even though they looked completely different.  Lucy was at the shop and she helped me find a cookbook with some French recipes.  I didn’t recognize some of the ingredients but purchased it anyway.

Chloe had lots of visitors over the next few days but found time to call and invite me over for some “cafe au lait.” It sounded vaguely exotic and I wanted to see the inside of the house.  Trucks, driven by men in white overalls,  had been parked outside for the last few days.  I sent Daisy over to Gail’s house to play and Junior was helping Zettie Louise.  Gail didn’t mind another child underfoot if I shared details about my visit to Chloe’s.  There was no jealousy in my getting the first invite since I was Chloe’s closest neighbor.

I had already dropped off a basket of blueberry muffins yesterday.  I added some whipped honey butter on the side.  You can’t really go wrong with muffins; everyone eats them.

I dressed a little better than usual and even wore my thin strand of pearls.  I could up my sophistication level a little.  Chloe’s house looked like a construction zone – ladders, planks, drop cloths and workmen toiling away.  There was a small man hanging wallpaper in the dining room so we sat at a wooden planked table in the kitchen.  It looked worn, but in a good way.  Chloe said that Marie-Claire was with Francis at the park.  Chloe put out a beautiful spread that made me ask who else was joining us. She laughed and explained that it was for us.  Wow.  She could entertain. I started taking mental notes.  The cafe was smooth coffee and Chloe was using sweet porcelain cups but not one matched another.  This must be a new concept.  If one broke, you could easily buy another without a problem.  There was a casually gathered vase of mixed garden flowers that probably took some time to construct in such a natural manner.  It was “forsual” – both formal and casual.  We chatted about our children and our husbands, but didn’t dig into any deep topics.

Chloe talked about Mrs. Kravitz’ garden being the selling point of the house.  It reminded her of her cottage garden back in France.  She had ideas about expanding the garden with herbs and other vegetables.  Chloe spoke well with her accent and sounded European and chic, which obviously she was.  As the time approached lunch and the end of our visit, she pulled two tiny crystal glasses out of the cupboard and poured us both a small portion of something from a crystal carafe.  It smelled sweet and bitter at the same time.  I offered a toast to Chloe and we very gently tapped glasses.  I could already tell that I would like her.  It’s weird how sometimes you just get a good vibe from some people.  We downed our drinks and I enjoyed the warmth of whatever was gradually sliding down my throat.  We smiled at each other and I thanked Chloe for the invitation.  I offered to invite her over soon so we could continue to get to know each other.  As I left, Chloe spoke in French and kissed the air on both sides of my face.  I returned home with an assignment in my head; I have got to learn some French!

May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

Vache sacree!  My neighbor is French, as in Paris.  The for sale sign came down a few days ago, so I have been waiting anxiously to see who bought the Kravitz’ house.  Yesterday morning, a moving truck pulled up front and it was followed soon after by a dark sedan with Madame and Mister Underbridge.  As soon as the car pulled up, neighbors appeared on the sidewalk outside to greet them.  I watched for a little while from behind the drapes.  I didn’t want to disturb them when they had so much work to do.  There didn’t seem to be much furniture and some of it must have been from France since I had never seen a few pieces available in our furniture stores.

While I was making supper, there was a slight rapping on the front door.  That’s how I met Chloe, as she liked to be called.  She introduced herself and I invited her in.  I kept my cool enough to introduce myself but was still a little mesmerized by her accent.  She was obviously from France but spoke perfect English. Chloe asked to borrow a cup of sugar and held out an aluminum cup.

I was a little flustered but agreed and went into the kitchen to get it.  She followed me and I asked her if there was anything else she needed.  She looked at the full cup and laughed a little to herself.  She told me that she didn’t really need the sugar but thought that was how she was supposed to introduce herself to her new neighbors.  She said the government had given her a pamphlet on life in the suburbs when they arrived.  We both laughed.  I realized that I could handle this a little better.  I took some notepaper and wrote down our names and phone number and handed it back.  I told her that when she had time, to please call and we would get to know each other better.  We were neighbors after all.  I also told her if she really needed anything to just ask.  I wanted us to get off to a good start and I could tell that she was a little embarrassed at falling for the government’s idea on how to make a friend.  Chloe confessed that she was a little tired from all the moving and thanked me for the note.  She asked to borrow my pen.  Chloe neatly ripped the paper into two pieces and wrote down their names and number also.  She had beautiful penmanship!  I read over the names and spoke them aloud.  Francis, Chloe and Marie-Claire Underbridge.  Chloe explained that Francis was out of the military now and she had met him through her work in the Resistance.   Vache sacree!  I wanted to know everything now but understood that there would be time for us to talk again soon.

I asked Chloe if they had food for dinner and she confessed that three American casseroles had already been delivered by other neighbors.  That sounds right; I warned her that more were coming.  Chloe explained that they were surprised by the abundance, but it didn’t shock me.  We’re good people here on Calista Court.

Chloe would learn that in time.  She thanked me for the sugar and I stood at the front door and waved as she left.  Welcome to Monterey Park, Madame!

The Grand Tour

Several families have toured the house next door for sale this week but I guess none have yet to take it for their own.  I remember when Steve and I first moved in.  It was a dream come true to finally have our own home. We had been saving some money and waited until Steve had climbed the management ladder a bit higher to take on the loan and the commitment.  The government helped with the loan and our mortgage book was slowly completing with each monthly payment.  We plan to have a wonderful mortgage book burning party when the time arrives and the house was paid off.

Yesterday, after I returned home from the butcher, Mags ran across the street to let me in on what I had missed while shopping.  She watched a couple with a little girl about Daisy’s age tour the house next door.  They stayed quite a while apparently and walked around the front and back yards.  The for sale sign was still up but Mags had a good feeling about these folks.  She described the woman as a dark-haired petite woman wearing a chignon and she wore sturdy heeled shoes with rounded toes.  Mags said that she seemed classy and a thin ex-military type man was with her.  The little girl had tumbling long dark curls tied up with a ribbon and she was dressed in a smocked jumper.  I wondered if this was the first sighting of my new neighbor.  I thought about the possibilities while making dinner.  It would be nice to have a playmate for Daisy close by.  Mags is usually a good observer of character and she seemed to like the way this family looked.  It might be interesting to have another couple to socialize with also.  We all know each other so well now that we can practically finish each other’s sentences.

Well, I guess I will know soon enough; for sale signs don’t last long on this block.  I’ll have to let Mrs. Kravitz know about these folks too.  I wonder how long it will take for me not to call that house the Kravitz’s?