Friday, December 31, 2010

A French Cooking Experiment: Bouchées à la reine

Though a small village, Kandern sports three grocery stores, and there are annual debates among English-speaking ex-pats as to the benefits and savings that are to be had at each. One thing can be said about Hieber's, Penny and Lidl this time of year: they are stocked with delectable holiday treats!

I have seen these little pastry pie shells ("Königin Pasteten" or "Queen's Pies" in German) for years in boxes on shelves and in bakery windows. In December, the meat section is filled with varying brands and recipes. My friend Sharri had raved about them our first year teaching here together, but I had never tried one. So Thursday, on a whim, and perhaps partly due to having not eaten a snack before grocery shopping, we picked up a box.  

There are lots of variations. Mine didn't end up looking quite this picturesque.
Today, I felt up to the task of preparing the filling after a morning trip to the recycling center. Yum! Isaac approved, and our plates were clean. The recipe is rather simple and a fanciful make for the holiday season. Enjoy! 

Königin Pasteten: Agnes Sorel
4 Pasteten shells
5 oz mushrooms, washed & quartered
5 oz lamb, cooked & cubed (I used leftover Christmas turkey, but you could try chicken or pork as well.)
1 T. butter
2 T. lemon juice
1 cup Béchamel Sauce (see recipe below)
2 T. white wine
1 T. Worcester sauce
fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Make Béchamel sauce.
  2. Saute the mushrooms in butter briefly over low heat.
  3. Add meat, wine and Béchamel sauce and heat through.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Pour into shells and sprinkle with parsley.

Béchamel Sauce: Makes 1 cup
2 T. butter
1 T. flour
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. cream
  1. Melt butter in pan.
  2. Add flour, milk and cream quickly.
  3. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly (around 5 min).
  4. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more milk. Likewise, if it's too thin, add a bit more flour. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carol of the Bells

One of my favorite things about teaching is watching a student move from "I can't" to "Oh, wait, I can!" A few students this semester had this realization, and this class had a couple of them. So proud of these guys!

Another Suzanne Micheals original arrangement.

Linus and Lucy

Though not especially Christmas-sounding, this song has become so associated with Christmas due to Charles W. Schultz's 1965 Peanuts Christmas special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Peter, Elle, Simon and Jonathas perform one of my first attempts at arranging for four pianos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Meaning of Normandy

Each year the Junior class at Black Forest Academy takes a trip to Normandy, France to tour the D-Day beaches and museums. I have been in the process of taking over the leadership of the trip and this was my second year helping to lead. It always ends up being a great time of learning about an important and meaningful event that help shape Europe and and the United States. The students come away with insights not just about the war, but about the meaning of courage, sacrifice and heroism.
I often think about how blessed I am to be able to be involved in teaching these kids such important lessons, but I am even more amazed at how the work Suzanne and I do here affects mission work around Europe. After the trip I received several emails from parents telling me how much their child learned and how the work we do here allows them to continue their work. One parent wrote to say: "We are very grateful and see you as God´s provision for our daughter´s needs and your ministry has enabled us to stay put here in Spain. This year our ministry is flourishing and we would have been sorry to have had to leave... a new beginning of a church has birthed, a baptism and baby dedication soon to happen, a ladies retreat for 200 women of southern Spain, time spent with many unsaved people who have no other contact for knowing or hearing of Jesus."
Your prayers and financial support are so important to not only our work, but also the work of many others around Europe. Thank you for all you are doing in support of the gospel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My students' STOMP-inspired Performance

Watch "CHOMP: The Christmas Stomp" below. My Music Appreciation students put sooooo much work into this number, and it was a hit! They composed most of the rhythms themselves. Congratulations, guys! :)