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Archive for September, 2009

My handmade soap versus Lush soap

My handmade soap versus Lush soap

Lush : ahhhhhhhhhhhh….

I literally run into this store whenever I find myself in the surrounding of one.  They are very easy to spot or rather, to smell.  Just follow the smell of handmade soap and Voilà, I am home…!

Display of Lush Soap in store, downtown Montreal, Canada

Display of Lush Soap in store, downtown Montreal, Canada

What I love about this store is the display of their product.  Simple, not cut for most of them and sold by weight and ingredients, wrapped in an already printed butcher paper… nice…

The simplicity of leaving the log of handmade soap uncut is appreciated only by the soapmaker himself.  What a beauty.

What do people do when they see a handmade soap?  The first thing : they touch it, then they smell it and then only, they look at the price and then they will look at the ingredients, the wrapping, the colors and so on…

Little Lush soap

I have discovered since making soap (2006) that most of the people prefer the simplicity of a handmade soap versus a well-trimmed, well colored and well smelly divine of one.  Why?

Well, it comes down to : HANDMADE, plain and simple.  It is handmade if it looks hand manipulated, mostly dark in color with earthy tones here and there.  Of course the smell of a soap gets our attention so it is the reason you can smell the store from a mile away but still, simplicity is the first to be recognize here in a good handmade soap.

So here you have it, my handmade soap versus the Lush soap.

Little brown soap : Lush one, the log soap : mine

Little brown soap : Lush one, the log soap : mine

In this picture, the little brown soap on the left comes from Lush store.  The smell is earthly and spicy and oh so fine.  Mine has been left uncut, in the form of a log and I just cutted an end piece to show the inside of the log.  The smell is also divine.  The texture of the Lush soap is a bit on the dry side and they left it with rounded edges and all.  This is the kind of look that people buy and prefer over the well-trimmed and pink and beautiful ones we find more and more on the market these days.

log_2

Lush soap and my log of handmade soap

Here is a link to one of my posts, where I made 35 handmade soaps at home… crazy idea!

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Butter homemade, fresh

Butter homemade, fresh

How do I manage to stay slim, me the french woman in Mexico?

One word : HOMEMADE

I homemade what ever I can.  That is my secret without having a secret.  you should see me doing my weekly grocery shopping, which is almost daily here. 

My routine when I enter a grocery place, I go directly to the fruits and veggies section and I shop for the special that day.  If they have a rack of fruits and veggies going bad, this is the place I fill up my basket.  Products going bad have to be cook the same day and they are, for most of them very ripe and delicious. 

Secondly, I head for the meat and dairy department.  There, I do the same, looking for any meat on sale or so.  One thing that does not change much is that most Wednesdays of the week, meat are on sale, to make space for the fresh one coming for the wkend.  This is ideal to buy on special.  I also then, cook the meat the same day and freeze complete meals.

The third stop I do is the freezer section where I buy frozen veggies, in small quantities because they are very handy here in Mexico since all the fresh veggies have to be soaked in a special liquid before we eat them.  Buying some frozen ones make my life a lot easier.

And basically that is about it for my food shopping.  I also buy in the off days, locally here in the small village.  I get most of my veggies there, my fresh herbs and my local homemade cheese also. 

The main thing to do is : stay away from any package full of sugar, preservative and the no-food stuff.  Here in my house, most of the food is homemade : butter, ice cream, bread, dog cookies, oil, home remedies for dogs, lip balms, pâté, cheesecake, meat dishes, some soft cheeses, soap, sausages, tomato sauce, pesto, chili, etc…

By going back to my roots of homemade foods, I eat healthy, real food with lots and lots of fresh homemade butter!!

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carlos queso, originally uploaded by La Belle Aurore.

Not far away from work in the country side of Querétaro, Carlos makes great homemade cheeses directly from his cows’milk. A kind of cheese that must have around 25% of fat or more, littly salty, with a taste of fresh cream with each bite. Nice to be back here just for his cheese.

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Memories

Calendar 2010

Calendar 2010

Recently, I went to a Fall Wedding in Quebec, Canada.  The fall season in the east part of this country is a thing to be seen.

What a great way to save memories of magical moments like this one, I made a 2010 calendar for the newlyweds.  Very easy to make if you took a ton of pictures and a great gift after for all.

The bride with little girls

The bride with little girls

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Querétaro mi amor

Mountain of ballons

Mountain of ballons

Saturday in pm, needed a haircut and the best place to have it is downtown Querétaro, Mexico.

The mexicans people love balloons, all kinds, any colors as long as it is a balloon.  Here in the old centre de Querétaro, almost everyday, there is somebody carrying a pile of balloons on his back, selling it to the local children and families out for a walk around.  Yes, there are two feet underneath those ballons.

Entrance to the hairsalon

Entrance to the hairsalon

This is the entrance to the hair salon, an old door without any age, a small place with beat up old chairs and a friendly smile each time we go there.

haircut chair_queretaro

The hair salon does both : men and women, the old fashion way.  If only this chair could speak for itself, with the hay in the back sticking out, oh the stories we would listen to, well into the night…

barberchair

The cost of a haircut is 4$US (40 pesos).  The woman cutting the hair that day is a young one, around 30 years old, the daughter of the daughter of the owner.  This is a picture of the first owner on the wall, above all the chairs (3 of them), an old black and white picture that has seen better days…

Little colors for a girl'hairs

Little colors for a girl'hairs

She cuts hairs without wetting them, just cutting very fast all around without giving it any style basically.  When all the head is done, then, she starts asking questions how we would like to style it.  Depending of the style chosen, she will wet the hairs with a spray bottle filled with water and will cut more if needed.  All in all, it takes about 10 minutes, done, simple and the rest of the style : do it yourself at home…

Saturday downtown Querétaro is also the night to go for private music concerts.  We have been going since 2006, very seldom missing a Saturday.  The concerts are private, with very limited spaces available and taking place in a hunted house now turned into a museum Casa de la Zacatecana.

The balcony above the room where the concert is taking place

The balcony above the room where the concert is taking place

This house stayed closed for many years and only recently did they decide to open it to the public and turn it into a museum (visit this site to know the story of this casa).  The acoustic of this place is remarkable and very appropriate for concerts.

Claudia Ramirez, violin I, Guillermo Villalobos, violion II

Claudia Ramirez, violin I, Guillermo Villalobos, violion II

The cuarteto ‘Sonus’ was formed in 1998 with four very talented musicians.  One of the best concert I have listened to in many months.

Luis Obregon, Clarinete

Luis Obregon, Clarinete

Their program was filled with Rock and Jazz music, very nice.

Valery Sekretow, violoncello

Valery Sekretow, violoncello

From Led Zepellin, to Metallica, from Jimi Hendrix to The Eagles, we finished this wonderful evening by stopping by my favorite place to eat, the San-Miguelito, just a few blocks away.

San Miguelito, Querétaro

San Miguelito, Querétaro

I love this place, located in an old hacienda full of history and ghosts that we can feel all around us when we eat.

Close up of a set table at San Miguelito

Close up of a set table at San Miguelito

All the articles seen on each table, including the tables and chairs are for sale.  Those glasses are locally handmade made and over the years, I came out to own a very nice collection of two of each, having them all now.

View of the back of the resto, going to the gardens

View of the back of the resto, going to the gardens

The resto not only serve food but also has an open garden at the back where reception, family gathering can take place.

Cathedral of Querétaro, view at night

Cathedral of Querétaro, view at night

On our way out of the San-Miguelito, just above our head to the right, there is the Cathedral of Querétaro, always lighted at night, so peaceful and full of history.  Good night all!

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Rillette de Canard : Duck Pâté

Rillette de Canard

Rillette de Canard

Rillette de canard (Duck Pâté), is basically ‘Creton’ for me in Québec, Canada.  Simply put, it is meat mix with spices and put in little containers.

I love pâté.  My mother used to make creton when I grew up.  The owner of the grocery store at the corner was making great creton and one day, after so many requests from our mothers, he decided to sale little bags of his own spices mix for making the creton.  It was a secret recipe so no ingredients were written on the bags…  Now, each family has its own recipe…

Rillette de canard out of the container

Rillette de canard out of the container

For me, I like simple things and Rillette de Canard is a simple recipe :

One duck

Water

Salt and Pepper

Cut the duck in pieces.  Rub the parts with salt and keep it in the fridge over night.  The day after, rinse the meat well under running water.  Drop the meat in a big container on the stove.  Add the spices and enough water to cover the meat.  Put a lid on, and let it cook on the stove until the meat is done.  The time will vary according to the size of the duck.

When the meat is done, remove the meat from the pan.  Let the liquid in the pan cooks by itself.  Remove the skins, bones and the no-meat parts of the duck.  Using your fingers, pull apart the meats in little pieces and drop it back in the pan on the stove with the liquid.  Taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning here.  Let it come to a boil and let the liquid reduce until you obtain about 1” at the bottom of the pan.  That liquid will be mostly fat from the bird.

Remove the meat and divide it into little containers.  Drop the liquid on top of each container, covering completely the meat.  This will seal the meat and add a nice fatty layer of duck fat on top, the best part.

Rillette de canard served over homemade bread

Rillette de canard served over homemade bread

Serve over handmade bread.  Can be frozen for 6 months.

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Mountain of handmade soaps

Mountain of my handmade soaps

Mountain of my handmade soaps

A mountain of some of my handmade soaps.  From the top down :

Un enfant (a child)

Solo por ti (only for you)

Windmill of your mind

The day before

I will always love you

She can win you with a wink

Hurry honey, I am getting numb

Click on each title and it will open the page link to the actual posting of each one of them.  Too bad I cannot post their fragrances, just divine!

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