Non French Cooking In France: Episode 1

This is not my picture, but it is what it looked like. I was too busy eating mine to take glam pictures.
This is not my picture, but it is what it looked like. I was too busy eating mine to take glam pictures.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the part of the show when I cook things in France that are not French. It’s true that France is known for it’s cuisine and, as an American living here, I feel incredibly inspired by that. But, the facts are – living here is like living in a box with baguettes, some wine and an assortment of cheese. Yes, you can survive, but since 2/3 of those things are personal allergies, it’s not going to be very fun for me.

With today’s kitchen adventures, I went through quite the adventure to bring everything together, but here goes nothing.

First off, rules of the kitchen:

1. Make sure there are measuring cups/spoons BEFORE you start.

2. Check to see if the country you live in sells baking powder/baking soda.

3. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you an hour to find 6 ingredients in the store.

4. Suggested soundtrack cleanse: Taylor Swift (to make you happy), Sam Smith (to make you sad) and Frozen (so you can let it all go).

For this episode, I decided I would take advantage of the absolute OBSESSION with peaches in this part of France, and make a crumble (which also doesn’t require baking soda or powder) and voila!

Here’s the original recipe I was following, in case you get tired of my rambling: 

1. Spend an hour in the “Supermarché” trying to find ingredients. Shake the boxes and cross your fingers that they’re actually what you need – cause, let’s be real, you can’t read the packages.

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2. Grease your pan with butter, because there’s not enough of that in the recipe itself…just grab whatever looks like it will fit your stuff. Set the oven to something that’s not 250 degrees – because in France it’s CELSIUS, yo. Push some buttons, turn some nobs and eventually get it to somewhere around 180 degrees (which is something close to 350 degrees in Farenheight, don’t ask me, I’m just here for the food).

3. Use a knife, cave man style, to skin the peaches (because there isn’t a peeler, duh).

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4. Throw them in a bowl with some sugar that looks about 3 tbsp, some cinnamon (3/4 tsp(ish)) and a couple of squeezes of vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon). It’s probably going to look your dog threw it up, but it will smell like autumn and happy thoughts.

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5. Dump everything in the pan you’ll be baking in. Wash the bowl in the cold water, since the hot water takes 3 hours to warm. Dry it thoroughly. Combine “dry ingredients” aka 1 cup of flour…as in an actual kids cup. Plastic rainbow, yes please. Same amount for oats, and 1 cup brown sugar. Mix.

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Maybe just a bit more, butter -- for a snack.
Maybe just a bit more, butter — for a snack.

6. After everything dry is mixed, add in 1 cup of butter. But, since the butter isn’t labeled with measurements, just go ahead and cut as much as you want. It’s France. There’s no such things as too much butter.

7. After everything gets crumblyumtious, sprinkle it like fairy dust over the top of the peach dog barf filling, you have in the pan.

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It should look like this.

8. Throw it in the oven for about 45 minutes. But, since you can’t figure out the heating system until half way through,  you might want to leave it in a little longer. Especially since the heat was set only for the bottom elements.

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9. Take out of oven gingerly, trying your very best not to burn yourself, break the ceramic pan or permanently burn a counter. Allow to cool for a couple of hours.

10. Feed to darling brats, who will exclaim, through malicious grins, that they can’t stand it because they don’t like sugar…Share with parents, instead, and have them find value in you for something miraculously good.

The End. 

And for those of you who would like the ACTUAL Recipe, here it is: 

Fresh Peach Crisp

Prep Time: 15mn
Cook Time: 45mn
Total Time: 1hr

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced – about 6-7 peaches
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cold, cut into cubes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
  3. In a large bowl, toss peaches with cinnamon, vanilla, 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons flour. Pour the peaches into the greased casserole dish.
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine 1 cup flour with old fashioned oats, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until you have a crumbly consistency.
  5.  Pour the crumbly topping on top of the peaches.
  6. Bake in the oven, uncovered for 45-50 minutes.
  7. *Notes: Some of you have suggested that this calls for too much butter. If a cup seems like too much for you, feel free to reduce the amount to 1/2 cup. If you want your Fresh Peach Crisp to be extra crisp, bake for 5-10 minutes longer, making sure to keep a close eye on it. I personally love the end result using a full cup of butter.

The Peach Dilemma

Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia – one of seven prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo – with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries.
Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia – one of seven prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo – with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’ve never been very interested in politics, but lately it just seems so much more applicable to my life than it ever did while I lived in the United States. In today’s political trash bin we have the issue of fruit.

Not just any fruit, but fruit grown by French (and other EU) farmers to be exported to Russia. You may not really be following the whole embargo train ( I know I wasn’t before I moved to France), but here’s a little snippet so you’re caught up to speed.

In a nutshell: A bunch of world leaders are acting like spoiled brats, and aren’t playing nice.

Here in France this is an issue because 1 billion dollars worth of exports went to Russia last year, and that money isn’t coming in this year because of the bans. This is especially bad since the French economy was already in a bit of a squeeze, even before the temper tantrums began.

BUT it also means that peaches are damn cheap, here. As are pears and apples. Since there’s nowhere to send the fruit, it’s being overstocked in most stores, so there is no shortage. This seems initially like a great problem to have, but it’s causing serious issues for smaller stores and especially farmers who were depending on the income the sales would produce.

And, overall, these bans and embargoes don’t really seem to be helping anyone, since the Russians are also experiencing problems with food pricing (some places with 60% increases).

Overall, nobody really likes to talk about politics, but enjoying the fruits of this problem are coming at a cost higher than initial thought would assume. I don’t really ever want to be the ignorant American living in another country, unaware of what’s going on in the world around me, so I think it’s important to look into things like this.

While living in Seattle may have made me feel like issues with Russia were on another planet, the reality is it’s now only a bit father than the distance from Alaska to Hawaii for me to get from here to Moscow. If there was a time to start paying attention, it’s now.

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Value of EU agri-food products banned from entering Russia (€m 2013 figures) via The Guardian