East of Paris Bookstore

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

I don't do much for New Year's.  I don't like silly hats, off-tune singing, or sharing the road with less than sober drivers.  We stay at home and have some champagne when the Crystal Ball drops in New York, then we go to bed as usual.  Midnight is a time we rarely see.  As for New Year's resolutions ... no way.

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to an Auld Lang Syne video (the one above). I held off looking at it remembering that I always need a dictionary to figure out what that song means. It piqued my general aversion to celebrating a meaningless date on the calendar.

If this all sounds grouchy, it's meant to.

Then I watched the video ... while I still am not planning on seeing midnight, my "Oscar the Grouch" attitude disappeared. It is lovely. It makes you think. It makes you grateful for life.

Watch it with the volume up.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas

Mr. Wonderful had a morning of medical tests just before the holidays.  Proving his wonderfulness yet again, he suggested that I go to the Beverly Whilshire Hotel  for breakfast rather than sit and wait for him in the nearby hospital.  The decorations were lovely.  Breakfast was unhurried, and when I closed my eyes I almost thought I was in Moscow -- after all the place was glitzy, filled with marble, and the conversations all seemed to be in Russian.
Hearing Russian also reminded me that I had another two weeks to get ready for Christmas baking, since Russians, Serbs and various other Orthodox Christians follow the Julian Calendar for religious observances. Nonetheless, when Mr. W and I got home, I felt like celebrating early. Chocolate seemed appropriate.

While I did not attempt to bake a traditional Bûche de Noël, I did make something that started as a log:  a chocolate "salami." Since the chocolate salami turned out well, I made another one with walnuts.  These desserts are called "salami" since when you slice the "log" the slices look a little like salami ...  They taste great, especially with some good Burgundy.

Here the the recipes for both logs ...

Chocolate Salami

125 grams chocolate [I used semi-sweet chocolate chips]
2 Tbsp. water
125 grams sugar (fine grained bakers' sugar works  best)
125 grams finely ground walnuts
1 Tbsp. Cointreau or rum
1 egg beaten lightly
100 grams almond slivers

Put the chocolate and water into a heavy sauce pan and heat on low until the chocolate is soft. Mix it well, then mix the sugar into the warm chocolate. Add the Cointreau and the egg.  Mix well.  Lastly add the walnuts and almond slivers and mix well. The mixture will now be thick and hard to stir.  

Prepare a sheet of plastic wrap about 15 inches long by sprinkling it with sugar (coarse grained) and cocoa power.  Spoon the chocolate mass along one edge of the plastic wrap.  Roll the chocolate mass in the plastic warp and when all covered up roll it into a log shape. Chill. Slice when ready to serve.

Walnut Salami

3 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips
100 grams almond slivers
1 egg
1 Tsp. cloves
1 Tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Cointreau

Put the walnuts, powdered sugar and chocolate into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fine grained.  Add the spices, Cointreau and the egg.  Pulse until everything is well mixed. Add the almond slivers and pulse a few more times to chop the almonds a bit.

Put the mixture into a heavy wide-dimaeter pan and heat slowly until everything is warm to the touch and any chocolate bits have melted and virtually disappeared.

Prepare a sheet of plastic wrap about 15 inches long.  Spoon the walnut mass along one edge of the plastic wrap. Roll the walnut mass in the plastic warp and when all covered up roll it into a log shape. Chill. Slice when ready to serve.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

White House Visit

Yesterday, while at the White House, I had occasion to take a few photos.  Yes, that was a pompous sounding sentence, but I couldn't resist.  Regardless of one's political persuasions, there is something grand about going to the "WH" ....
The view from West Executive Ave.
Actually, yesterday I had the privilege of being one of 80 Orthodox Christian leaders attending a conference at the White House to learn from and share with the Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships.  For more information, go here.
I am on left next to the lady with the green scarf.
Technically, the Conference was in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building [formerly known as the Old Executive Office Building], in the beautiful Indian Treaty Room. However, this is part of the 18 acres of the White House complex, so saying we have a meeting at the White House is OK.
Here are photos of some of the architectural features of the Indian Treaty Room.

And, then there are the de rigueur tacky souvenir shots
 Plus a few more parting memories ...

Getting through security

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