independence day {rustic lemon cake}

A big part of being in a healthy relationship is learning to say two things: 1) I’m sorry and 2) I was wrong. They’re all but five words when combined, but the inherent feelings of inadequacy that are intertwined with admitting them makes them difficult to utter. In a good relationship, where trust and love is both solid and reciprocated, there is no fear in saying them.

But what about the solitary relationship we share with ourselves? There is no one to hug us when we admit them, or to make a joke and break the tension of the moment. It is so easy to intellectualize how I need to be easier, more gentle to myself, yet so hard to actually implement it in the moment.

I’m exacting, precise, determined—perhaps this is why baking is something I love. I respect the rigidness of the variables involved in making a cake. Yet, I’m forgiving of my foibles in the kitchen, and harsh of the others that happen in my every day life. Go figure.

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I’m taking this moment to admit my feelings that perhaps I made a mistake in choosing Paris for an entire month. The last eleven months have been a constant flow of change, trying to figure out my path in life without Michael. Going to a city where I don’t speak the language, across an an ocean from all my friends and the people I love for an entire month wasn’t exactly the right choice for what I intended to be a relaxing, peaceful way to wind down this first year.

I chose Paris because it was his promise to Isabella. For a fleeting moment I considered Italy because that is where I would’ve been more comfortable. My Italian, though rusty, is considerably better than my French, and the Italians are much friendlier (even the monsieur in the SFR store said so!). Not to mention a house in the countryside would’ve been a better choice than being dropped into the middle of a bustling city like Paris. I live in New York City, for heaven’s sake. What the hell made me cross an ocean to escape to another loud, busy city where I so clearly do not have the upper hand?

Oh yes, it was Mikey’s promise I was trying to fulfill.

This is where I admit I was wrong to myself, for not realizing that his dreams no longer have to be mine. It is where I whisper a silent “I’m sorry” for moving forward, and hope he knows wherever he is that I have to because I was the one left alone on that horrible day last summer. For better or worse, our worlds have diverged.

Now that I’ve admitted my anxieties and frustrations about this time in Paris, I can begin to move forward with my time here. It would be silly to not make the best of it, and sulking because I feel “stuck” in Paris is just plain stupid.

What plunged me into this melancholia was the not-so-simple act of buying fruit and vegetables my second day here. The day we arrived, to say we were tired was putting it mildly. After settling into our apartment, I set out to get provisions. A neighbor told me about the Monoprix a short walk away. Monoprix is like Target, only better because it’s French—oui? You can get everything there, from panties to prawns.

Back home, I wouldn’t dream of buying fruits and vegetables at a Target, but here it actually looked good—and since we were tired and hungry, Monoprix would be my first food shopping experience. I read the signs as usual, and stuck with stuff that was labeled of French origin in hopes of it being fresher and local. I was keen enough to observe shoppers bagging their produce and bringing it to a scale, where there’s an employee stationed just to weigh them—I’m not joking. As I rounded the corner to the butter section, I heard the angels sing from above. I’m already addicted to the crunchy bits of fleur de sel laced throughout the one I chose. It was a seamless experience, and my Brooklyn accented bonjours, mercis and au revoirs made me feel less nervous about being in a foreign city.

Then I ventured out the next day in search of a smaller shop to buy more fruit and vegetables. There was no layer of thick skin that prepared me for what I was about to encounter. See the Monoprix adventure the day before set me up for failure. I walked around that day, thinking “gee France, is just like New York, only the whispers overheard are in a different language”. After all, the sounds of city life were the same—people bustling to work, kids en route to school, trash being picked up and streets being cleaned.

Do you remember Mr. Whipple? Well, the French Tourism Board should produce a PSA for Americans along these lines as a crash course on buying produce. Monoprix encourages you to serve yourself, but if you try that at any other produce stand get ready for a tongue lashing that even the most apologetic “je suis désolé” won’t get you out of—at least if you’re shopping at the market on rue de Bourgogne off of rue de Grenelle. I broke the rules picking my own fava beans and tomatoes, and it meant open season on the silly American had commenced. Once I realized my faux pas, I apologized but the line had been crossed and there was no turning back in monsieur shopkeeper’s mind.

I carried my bounty home, feeling so upset and beaten. I had learned a lesson at least—do not touch anything at a French fruit and vegetable stand. Accept that they will put every item in a separate paper or plastic bag, and hope it counts towards their environmental karma and not yours. In just three days, I’ve accumulated more plastic bags, and little brown paper ones they neatly pack the berries into, than I normally use in the U.S. in a year. Carrying a canvas bag obviously means nothing, and when I try to say I have a bag, eyebrows raise and remind me “they know what’s best”.

Thankfully I found a closer produce stand just this morning, and the monsieur at the helm was incredibly sweet. His welcoming smile didn’t chastise me as I absentmindely picked up a container of raspberries—old habits die hard. As soon as I remembered the protocol, I kindly asked “je voudrais un framboise s’il vous plaît”, then rattled off “deux bluets, un framboises, deux pommes, deux citrons”. We ended the transaction with a “merci et au revoir”, and the pep had returned to my step as I walked home to make crepes for breakfast.

Had I not had the first awful experience, though, this lemon cake I’m about to share might not have come to be. See before I found the market with the friendly Frenchman, I was in an awful state, worried I wouldn’t be able to properly buy ingredients while here for the next 24 days. As I sat down to work on the book, I needed to prove I wasn’t a total idiot to myself. I went into the kitchen, and scanned the meager ingredients I had left. There was flour, butter, salt, milk, eggs and a lemon, along with the baking powder and baking soda I’d brought from my home pantry. Okay, maybe they weren’t so meager. I also packed my scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons. I had clearly come prepared for battle.

I rummaged through the cabinets and found an acceptable loaf pan. My mission was clear. In order to redeem myself in my own eyes, I needed to bake a cake. There have been many changes in my life the last eleven months, but baking is one variable I can wield some control over.

With no mixer available, I decided to use my biscuit and scone technique to “cut” the butter into the flour. The flour I bought had a finer, talc-like consistency, resulting in a heavier weight when measuring by the cup. One cup equaled 165 grams, which I knew was about 2 tablespoons more than the all purpose flour I buy back home. For the sake of trying to share the recipe, I went with 290 grams of the French flour, knowing it would be about 2 cups of all purpose flour for my American friends to replicate.

35 minutes later, a fragrant, buttery lemon cake emerged from the oven. I may not have known the rules for buying fruit and vegetables, and my mastery of the language may be lacking, but I can find my way around a French kitchen—and that is a universal skill that has kept me grounded the last 334 days. The kitchen is my road to independence no matter where life takes me.

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rustic lemon cake

serves 10 to 12

I should preface this recipe by reiterating that I’ve only made this with flour available to me in France. That said, this is one case where using a kitchen scale most defintely helps. I suspect the consistency of the cake should be spot on when using U.S. available ingredients, and perhaps try using a butter like Kerrygold or Plugra to replicate the flavor too since French butter is much richer than it’s American counterpart.

2 cups (290 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated natural cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt

1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda

1 vanilla bean, split & seeds removed

Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon

4 ounces (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 large egg (50 grams)

1 cup (250 ml) milk

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 3-inch by 9-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Add the flours, sugar, sal, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla bean seeds and lemon zest to a deep bowl. Use a fork to stir together until well mixed. Scatter the butter pieces on top, and rub together with your fingers until it forms a sandy mixture with some larger pebble-sized pieces; set aside.

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg, milk and lemon juice. Pour over the flour-butter mixture, and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined and there are no visible traces of flour.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Comments

  • Sandy: Oh yes, this is paris but it isn’t france at all! I am a german girl and it isn’t this easy for me to speak french. Traveling to a tiny little village every year brought me to the real french. People there are so friendly, even if I come across the pronunciation of words. Oh goodness and they have words which sound so similar but have a total different meaning – sometimes funny. The french I met are patient.
    I hope the best for you in mastering french life in paris, dealing with your thoughts and dreams and hope you can enjoy your time finding what works for you.
    with warm wishes from germany, Sandy

  • Chiara: I feel absolutely the same, baking and cooking is nerve soothing and makes me forget everything around! The way you share your experiences is so brave and strong. Have a great time in Paris!

  • Mary: Hi there. I follow your blog and also on twitter…and I live in France, not in Paris but in another big city. I share your ethics with regard to plastic bags etc. (This surprised me, because in my town it is frowned upon *not* to have your own bag…but I agree, in Monoprix they do like those plastic bags!) See if you can find a Naturalia in your neighbourhood., there’s lots of them. http://naturalia.fr/entreprise/nos_magasins.asp
    It’s a really good organic food store, with good produce that is local. At the market, not all of it is local and a lot of it is imported from Africa by distributors… Another organic ‘supermarket’, is Biocoop – there are three in Paris, don’t know if they are near you.
    http://www.biocoop.fr/magasins-bio/trouver-ma-biocoop/(region)/211. You can buy good whole grains, a huge variety of flours etc, healthy snacks and nuts – huge choice. And organic toiletries too. (Both at Biocoop and Naturalia.)
    Finally don’t be disheartened. I’ve lived here for 5 years and I am still getting used to the ways of the French. Most of them are so friendly but there are times when I still get upset and intimidated. Remember, it’s not you, it’s them, and they are that way with their own – not just because you’re a foreigner. If you want any more help, feel free to email me. :)

  • Patti: When my uncle died, My aunt bundled up her two kids ages 3 and 2, and went to florida for a couple of weeks. She said she found it cathartic and liberating. She said she felt smothered here at home, and that she and her kids managed and came out better for their time alone. I do hope your adventure with your daughters gives you peace. I think it is great that you honored your daughter’s wish to go to Paris.

  • Auntie: Great story and a learning experience, Jennifer. You didn’t let those idiots get you down, but bounced back by doing what you do best. Hope the next 24 days go better and you’ll have a more upbeat
    feel for the “City of Lights.”
    Love ya, xoxoxoxo

  • JulieD: Wow for coming to the realization that you don’t have to live out Mikey’s dreams. I’m sure that was so hard. I felt the weight of that statement. I’m so sorry the first few days were rough…I would have made the same mistake. xoxo the cake looks & sounds amazing!! I need to make it soon. Thank you, Jennie.

  • merry jennifer: You are so brave, both for traveling to Paris with two young children for a whole month and for admitting that you might not have made the best decision for yourself. Good for you, on both counts, Jennie.
    I’m with you on the baking. When life seems out of control, I turn to the flour, butter, and sugar. The predictability of chemistry in a mixing bowl always seems to right the world for me.
    And, even though you’re an ocean and several time zones away, we — your friends and champions – are still here for you.

  • Kathryn: If you get a chance, hop on a train from Paris and head south. It’s a really quick & easy journey and I’m sure you’d fall in love with Nice or Aix-en-Provence. The people are much nicer than Parisians ;)
    There are some important lessons in this post though – I think it’s so much harder to admit to yourself when you’re wrong and to forgive yourself. I hope you and the girls enjoy the rest of your time in Paris.

  • Jenny: On our honeymoon ten years ago – Jim kept telling me – whatever you do – don’t touch the fruit! don’t touch the fruit! I thought he was insane apparently not. As I told my little boy this morning as he was crying while waiting for the bus to Camp Anchor – a camp for special needs kids – (Andrew has autism) – “make the best of it” – I hope you can make the best of Paris – could you take the train to London – and spend a day or two? The London Eye – the girls would love – and the train ride was so much fun. Just some thoughts – you are there for a month – maybe change your plans a little and take a few day trips?

  • Peggy: I just made this and all I can say is perfection! And I was able to use exactly what I had on hand which includes a lemon bought this past winter (reduced) stored in the freezer. I have to admit one half of the cake has a sprinkling of raspberries & blackberries in it as they needed to be used before they were lost…. Which was our favorite? Both!
    Thank you for sharing!!

  • Jenna: Hi Jennie, I loved reading this for so many reasons. Admitting we are wrong is one of the most important things and being able to tell ourselves, where no one is there to make us accountable, well that’s strong. My first trip to Paris was last June. My second will be this coming August. My aunt and uncle are living there for four years. I so wish I knew you and could say, Oh call up my aunt or uncle! They’d do anything for anyone, even if it is navigating a produce section. Then again, you are learning so much on your own and sometimes that’s the only way worth learning. Is this your first time there? Are the girls enjoying it?

  • Dottie: Oh, Jennie…I am glad that you’ve realized you need to be kind to yourself…remind yourself of this often as you continue this adventure. Life reveals itself in little bits and pieces and after this trip you will find you’ve grown stronger in so many ways, you will have given your girls wonderful experiences many of us will only dream of and you will be glad you went. Face it, you’re probably still tired and it HAS to be exhausting to function in a place where customs and the language are so different. I work at a college where the students often go abroad for a semester – and they all express the same sort of fatigue as they’re becoming acclimated to a whole new world…but each and every one comes back to say that once they got through that transition, it was well worth it and they’d do it again in a heartbeat. Go find some wonderful pastry, make a cup of coffee, and snuggle in with your girls to read a story. For today, get some rest and tomorrow will be better. As for me, I’m going to get some lemons and make a cake. Thanks, Jennie!

  • Kate @ Savour Fare: Oh Jennie, my parents have spent a month in Paris for many of the last 20 years, and they’ve taken lots of students too (my parents were both college professors). Culture shock is very real, and it does get better. Paris is a lot like New York. There are rules and people can be gruff. But when you become a regular, ask the shopkeepers questions (try to speak French. Even if you fail, it will get you far. And tell people you’re from Brooklyn. Brooklyn is very hot in Paris right now), you’ll start to feel more at home. If you’re feeling homesick, head to an English language bookstore. I recommend Tea and Tattered Pages near Duroc. It’s darling and will make you feel less alone. And there’s no shame in shopping at the Monoprix. If my Target had produce and meat like the Monoprix near Odeon I’d shop there all the time! The one in the 7th near the train tracks is probably slightly closer to your flat but not as nice.

  • Erin: I hope you will enjoy your time in Paris. It is a beautiful city and still much different than NYC. I’m sending good vibes your way! Thank you for sharing the journey of your life with all of us. We are rooting for you!

  • DamselflyDiary: I really admire your ability to take off for a month in Paris. I am often hesitant to go to Starbucks alone (I exaggerate of course).
    You may not feel it or know it yourself, but your journey this past year has been an inspiration for many. Your honesty and raw courage are something I admire.
    I hope you enjoy your time in Paris! I look forward to hearing more about it in future posts.

  • Carol: Your upcoming month is a book unto itself!
    Having spent time in Paris two summers ago, and doing grocery shopping & cooking there, I can relate. But for every grumpy Parisian shopkeeper, I found at least 5 more wonderful ones, and have many wonderful memories.
    Nothing compares to carrying home a baguette, a log of goat cheese, some fresh produce and a bottle of wine, and eating dinner in the shade of the Eiffel Tower. I will live vacariously through you and your children.
    Sigh.

  • Rose D., Frenchtown, NJ: Sending prayers to you and the girls that the next 24 days are glorious for you all. P.S. I’m following you on Instagram and you continue to make me hungry with every one of your meal photos!! I’m waiting for my pizza dough to rise as I write this!! Blessings to you!

  • C2will: I must try this cake recipe. I hope you enjoy Paris as much as I did. I also had the same experience at the fruit and vegetable stand during my trip, just a lesson that I kept in mind for the remainder of the trip. We thoroughly enjoyed living in an apartment for ten days. What a lovely experience for your girls.

  • Maggie at Eat Boutique: I had a very similar Paris experience, Jennifer. Please do not fear. They never warm up to us Americans but eventually, when you feel like a local to them and aren’t going away anytime soon, they warm slightly and give in. It will all be okay there, I promise. After 6 months spent living there over the last 2-3 years, I can say, you eventually feel like you own that city, those silly Parisians.

  • Stephanie: Thank you for coming back online to share your thoughts. I love the idea of saying I’m sorry, I was wrong to ourselves.

  • Selfish Mom: I want to hug you so much right now. :-( (The frowny face is for the people who made you sad, not for you – I know you’ll turn it around.)

  • Stephanie: Sounds like such a big lesson learned….you cannot live his dreams. You have to live your own. Hopefully once you’ve settled in a bit, you will come to enjoy Paris. And maybe get in a quick trip or two to Italy, or even just outside Paris? France can be very different in the countryside.

  • Leire: Hi Jennie…keep fighting :) your strength and your weakness is inspiring to me…and as cruel as it may sound I find hope in your experience.
    I live in Bilbao…900km to the south of Paris. This might be the nearest we will be together?…
    I don’t know how religious you are…but there’s this place in the south of France…Lourdes…whenever we go there, God sends us what we need to heal our souls…it’s someone we see, usually, that reminds us of our pain and our loss and in this magical place, this outrageous paing brings us hope.
    It’s hard to explain, easy to experience :)
    Whatever you do, you are doing well…living is enough, nothing more is expected.
    Love to you and your daughters

  • Kristy: Nice work not to let yourself be run down by new experiences in a strange land. We’ve lived in a small town in Germany for the last 3.5 years (we’re not military) where we are pretty much the only expats and the motto of storekeepers here is “The customer is always wrong”. I’m kind of used to it now and just keep on smiling, I find it drives them mad.
    My fave new cookbook is Rachel Khoo’s “Little Paris Kitchen” (the show is great too) – see if you can get a copy from http://www.play.com or http://www.bookdepository.com (cheap books, free European delivery) whilst you’re in Paris to complement the trip.
    Also, check out my blog entry on my fave Paris store for EVERYTHING, BHV – http://traveltruth101.blogspot.de/2012/04/paris-bhv.html.

  • Sara: Your ability to articulate and share your feelings about why you chose Paris, your feelings as you endure this unplanned detour in your life and your ability to try to remain grounded (I say try, because I know some days are harder than others) is inspiring. I hope as your days go on, you gain a certain rhythm that you and the girls can enjoy. I took my family to Paris last Christmas, and we found a terrific woman who gives walking tours around Paris, focusing on whatever you might want – history, neighborhoods, gourmet shops (we took that one – fabulous day!), the Louvre, etc. she was great. She is young, American, and relates well to kids. Prices were reasonable. If that interests you, I can send you her contact info (I have no reason to plug her services on your website). If you take the girls to Versailles, dont’t miss Marie Antoinette’s manufactured village – almost like a life sized play village where people actually lived – it was my daughter’s highlight of the trip. Anyway, I wish you and your girls peace and enjoyment in Paris and in all of your travels.

  • Ingrid: Hi Jennie!
    When I first read the message, I thought…I know what I want to write here.
    I know it might sound weird. But I live in Belgium and we’d be glad to invite you to stay with us for a week-end. Liège is 400 kilometers away from Paris ( directly reachable with the train ;-) ).
    It might sound crazy but that’s what I’ve been wanting to write. And I really think this could lead to great surprises, cheerful moments and discoveries for our grils ( mine just turned 7). Still, you might call me crazy…but this invitation to you and the girls from us three comes from the heart.
    We really would love you to be our guests! Feel free to laugh if you find it ridiculous ;-)

  • Tracey Alvernaz: Good Morining Jennie,
    Oh, another country is mind boggling and a life experience at times, eh? Just like life.
    Nothing more to be said,
    Wishing you rainbows, sunshine,hugs and more,
    Tracey

  • Maria in NJ: I still say BRAVA Jennie Perillo! While reading your blog there were a couple of girls from France that said if you needed any help to reach out to them. Its just my advice but I think you should. I have meet some really nice people from the blogs that I follow. I also think that you should take one gals advice and go South. I heard it is magnificent! Enjoy your time there, don’t turn it into a mistake, make it something wonderful. And who cares about that guy anyway…

  • denise: I am so sorry that you are having a tough time in Paris. So many emotions going on, that it is probably a bit harder then usual. If you would like any suggestions please reach out. Have been there many times and always happy to share the joy I find.
    But, on a side note. I am not a fan of the Monoprix. I only go there to indulge in their beauty products; there’s a lipstick I love and can only get there. I always shop at the Supermarche, only for milk and coffee for the house. I buy everything else at the markets. Not sure where you are staying but Rue Rambuteau and rue de Bretagne have great markets. You can get everything from pastries, wine, cheese, great produce, meats, etc….. at the end of Rambuteau is the George Pompidou Center. MEM was just in Paris and the girls LOVED the pompidou center.
    Do … feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Always have to talk Paris.

  • Kate: I agree with Carol – my experience in Paris was that for every nasty shopkeeper, there were 10 who were wonderful – I think you may just have gotten the crabby jerk. I have always found that if you try your French with them, for the most part they are very welcoming. It’s the American’s who don’t even try to speak the language they don’t like (and after having witnessed a college girl scream “y’all got crepes?!” as she walked into a CREPERIE, I can’t say I blame them). The market on the Rue Mouffetard was always very welcoming to us and there are some wonderful cafes and bakeries there too. We would shop for our fruits and veg, then go buy some wonderful bread, cheese and salami and head out for a day of exploring. It’s also near the zoo and botanical garden, so the girls might like that.
    I’m sure once you and girls settle in, you’ll grow to love Paris – what a wonderful (and healing, hopefully) adventure for you all!

  • Deborah: Don’t forget to look up David Leibowitz while in Paris…..I’m sure he would love to spend time with you!

  • kathleen: It’s too bad some Parisians have forgotten the USA saved their butts in WW2. You are brave, Jennie, and I have a feeling that something really good for you all will come out of this month in France.

  • Sharyn Dimmick: I just returned from Paris. I did limited food shopping there, both at a Monoprix and smaller markets. I found that as long as I did my best to speak French and waited for shopkeepers to help me, everyone was friendly and helpful. The only surly and monosyllabic Parisians I came across were those manning information booths at airports and train stations.
    I have rarely met a lemon cake I did not like. I hope you are feeling more settled after your successful baking experience. To me, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and I can’t wait to return there for an extended stay.

  • Julie: Ah Paris. What a wonderful but difficult city. So much visual beauty, from the Eiffel Tower to the Luxembourg Gardens to the many chocolate shops and bakery windows. I just got back from a month in Paris with my family and can assure you that after the first week (or so) it gets so much easier. I am from Vancouver, in Canada, where we tend to spend quite a bit of time saying “I’m sorry” for every indiscretion, real or imagined. Going to Paris was a crash course in interpersonal defensive driving. This past month was my fourth trip to Paris and I just learned not to touch the fruit (or anything else for that matter) so you are way ahead of me! Yet, I love this city so very much. I love it for its beauty, its love of the aperitif hour, its ability to honour the family table and good food and the way it provided me with the most amazing backdrop to step outside my daily life and think and walk and plan for the future. I think so much of what is special about Paris is not fully realized until the vacation is over and you are back in your own, comfortable world and life, wherever that may be. Looks like you are having an amazing time. Love the knife that you scored yesterday and am so enjoying following you on Instagram. xx Julie

  • Jenn Marie: Jennie, I had the very same experience at my first French produce stand, although I was in a small village in Brittany. I squeezed something to test for ripeness and was quickly chastised for my mistake. I’m quite sure my face turned red as I struggled to find an appropriate response. It’s scary being reprimanded in your own language, let alone in another!
    I trust this trip will be blessed, and will be a time you look back on with pleasure. I know the confusion and pain of experiencing new things and going on adventures after losing your love. I’ve been following your journey since last summer, and as odd as it may be to say, I’m really proud of you. You are finding your way forward with great heart and courage.

  • Cam: Please don’t hate the parisians! They can’t help it. Just convince yourself you’re stronger than them, and all will go well. Make it your dream!
    I hope you’re enjoying your time in the most beautiful city in the world, and don’t miss out on mint tea and arabic pastries at the lovely patio garden of La Grande Mosquée (next to Jardin des Plantes in the 5th), the food market at Bastille on Sundays, picnic in the parc at Buttes Chaumont, and buying bread directly from Poilâne on 8 rue du Cherche Midi in the 7th. I used to live there, and while I’m not far, Paris is the love of my life, and like a small hole in my heart.

  • Bevi: Enjoy Paris with your girls. Seeing the photo of your daughters reminded me of a favorite book of my daughter, Linnea in Monet’s Garden.

  • Diane: I’m with you on the baking…..
    Anytime I need an “out” I head to my kitchen !

  • Andra@FrenchPressMemos: Paris is magical in so many ways, including the not-so-positive ones you experienced. At the end of this trip, I have no doubt that you will have conquered most of the quirks. The gift you are giving your girls is tremendous – not just the experience of being there but the example you set for them – your spirit and confidence venturing into a big foreign city with them. Enjoy your time and keep on baking. XO

  • Leslie: Reminds me of my first trip to Paris. Great story. Enjoy your trip. It is a beautiful city with lots of interesting things to see and do.

  • Samira Buchi: Dear Jennie,
    I discovered your blog last year, same month, when I was traveling through the usa. I am following you from Switzerland where I live. I feel sorry to hear the tough time you’re having in Paris. Remember the movie “Sabrina“ : Paris is always a good idea… You will find your way.
    I give you an address I hope you will appreciate. BOCO http://www.boco.fr/ The owner is a friend of mine. I am sure you will like the concept.
    Don’t hesitate to contact me by e-mail, I have many friends in Paris who can help you find what you’re looking for.

  • Samia: I simply LOVE your blog and recipes.Follow you from Spain. Sammy

  • Lisa Marie: Hello, I have followed your Blog for the last year. I am an Expat living here in Paris and I have 2 & 5 year old little girls. I TOTALLY understand EVERYTHING that you are writing!!! It’s the French and it’s something as an American I will never get adjusted to. My husband is here working. What Arrondissemont are you staying in ? I think it’s wonderful that you have brought your girls to Paris. It’s a wonderful city however, very difficult to manage with young ones. We have traveled to Italy, Spain, and most of Europe — it’s amazing to me the difference in Cultures and how they are toward women and children. You can always take that trip to Italy with your girls But for them to see Paris knowing that your husband wanted to bring his daughter is very special. Keep writing, cooking and know that you are a true inspiration to soo many !! My heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you some peace and comfort.

  • Becky: This recipe stuck in my brain as one that I must make sooner rather than later. I’m glad I did so. The cake is buttery, lemony, and delicious, even though I forgot the vanilla (I was going to add extract to the milk because I don’t have beans).
    Thank you for continuing to share your life journey along with the wonderful recipes.

  • Melinda Benton: Your lemon cake will be my surprise present for my daughter as she returns home this weekend also with a troubled heart. The recipe will be a story in my mind as I make it, a story of hope, and I pray it brings her comfort too. Thank you for the beautiful thoughts you shared; the food is the sweeter for them.

  • MaryLouise: Hi sweet girl, I haven’t seen your posts in a while so I’ve missed lots of what went on on your trip to Paris. I did notice in what I read today you seem to be healing and ready to move a little more into the rest of your life. Mikey will always be in your heart and you will see him always in your precious girls, maybe you are ready to move a little closer to the rest of your life. I noticed you said, “Michael”, and that says a little of your moving forward. I wish you all good things, God’s blessings for you and yours, and may you be exactly where you are supposed to be at all times. I heard a little excerpt from a very holy man and he said something like–stay in the ship Jesus put you in let the hurricanes and storms come, you stay fast and do not fear, stay in that ship and believe.
    OXOXOX, ml

  • Sugar Daze/Cat: Jennie, am just catching up on my blog reading – it’s been a hectic month getting my shop opened – and am so sorry we didn’t have a chance to meet while you were here in Paris. Would have been delighted to take you out food shopping in exchange for the honor to bake with you! Next time! Glad the City of Light won you over in the end – it usually does! Thinking of you and your girls today and sending you strength and love. Cat x

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