Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


Leave a comment

Bon Appétit !

On the plane from New Orleans to New York, I watched the movie Julia. It was the story of Julia Child. Years ago, I’m not sure I would have been interested, but life has a way of giving you a new perspective.

Before moving to France, I didn’t really cook. I wasn’t brought up in the culture of dining. Food was necessary, but not really a life style. It is now. And just like Julia, I have fallen in love with it. The fresh ingredients, the sauces, the slow cooking, the sometimes even slower eating… it is an experience everyone should enjoy.

I see Julia now and what she did was revolutionary – bringing this art of cooking into her world – a world of Americans that were fascinated with TV dinners and convenience. She saw something different, and she became. When women didn’t work, she became. When no cooking shows were on PBS, she became. When people wanted to see small wasted, delicate women, making no decisions, no opinions, no movements, she went to school at Le Cordon Bleu, and she became.

We turned on the television this morning, and there was Julia again, still teaching us how to cook the French way. If you are inclined, I encourage you to try to make something new. And savor it. Or try a new restaurant. Try a new anything. It’s so easy to get boxed in. Wearing the same thing. Eating the same thing. Living the same day over and over again. The best things in my life have come from change. Some of the hardest, sure, but always the most rewarding. Change is only one letter away from chance. Take your chances. See things from a new perspective. Allow yourself to become. Possibly the greatest gift you can give yourself (and surely to others). It’s so easy to say, “Well, I never do that…”. Or “They never do that…”. Maybe you do now. Maybe they do now. And it just might be delicious!

Fill your heart. Feed your soul. Taste this life! Bon Appétit !


3 Comments

Fizz.

An Italian Fizz cocktail, with Dutch tulips, in front of the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France – this was yesterday’s lunch. Of course we had a few healthy things like calamari, fish, and carrots. But sometimes (all the time) you have to feed your soul, and not just your stomachs.


It pleases me to see how the drink matches the tulips. The colors meld into each other. This is so satisfying. This was not vacation, but a Sunday, a day — a day that could have easily been ordinary. They all can be, I guess…but we need to give ourselves permission to enjoy. It’s so easy to let the days just go by. But we’re not given that many. Each one is priceless. I don’t want to let any of them slip through the cracks, my fingers, my attention.


I don’t know what colors today will bring. From my desk, I can see the golden leaves of the apricot tree — shining against the evergreen of the pines. They tell me to look around. Look within. There is so much to enjoy. See everything. Feel everything. Fill your heart. Feed your soul. Taste this life!


Leave a comment

Delightful.

I picked up an old sketchbook this morning. One I was making a few years ago while traveling in the southern part of the US. We stopped in a store in Mississippi. It was filled with home goods. I was admiring some material between thumb and index finger. The clerk, with great pleasure, not knowing me, nor where I lived, said, “These tablecloths are so French, you can’t even find them in France!” Even as I type this, I’m not really sure what that means, but she said it with such pride, such exuberance, how could I not be delighted as well! Delighted enough to write it in my journal on a January 27th.


Sometimes I think we use the excuses of time, money, location, situation — excuses not to find the joy, the beauty, the magic of the moment. I have been guilty of this for sure. But years ago, I made it my intent to see things. Everything. Everywhere. Anytime. In people. Places. Things. And this intent became habit, and became a life.


I had terrible dreams last night. The kind that want to rattle you through breakfast. But I entered my French kitchen. Heated the croissants. Drank the coffee. Mixed up the bread dough. I love making bread. I love that soon the scent will waft through the halls. Soon we will eat the most delicious bread! Bread so good, so French, it takes an American girl in provence to make it! It doesn’t have to make sense — it’s just delightful!


Let go of the night — any darkness that surrounds you. Enjoy your day!!!


Leave a comment

Bourbon balls.

I understand it’s probably my own vanity that keeps me from bringing a lot of things back from our travels. My suitcases are always at the weight limit, despite my honest efforts. (In my defense, my mother taught me, when packing, you need to bring enough for weather changes, mood changes, or in case you want to open a store.) I usually return to France with a few postcards and a lot of ideas!


As we passed through Kentucky, I picked up the postcard of the blue horse. It was next to the Kentucky Bourbon balls. I knew I would be making them when we got home. (My less vain husband had room in his suitcase for the Kentucky bourbon.)


In the spirit of slow French baking, the Bourbon balls take two days. As with most of my kitchen experiences here, it was quite the adventure. We searched Carefourre (our version of Target) for the pecans. We combed over the whole store. Not in the nut aisle. Not in the snack aisle. Not in the “exotic” aisle. Finally, next to the avocados. Of course! Victory number one. The recipe on the postcard said one box of powdered sugar — a couple of things, in France the powdered sugar is really the regular sugar and the sucre glacé is the American version of powdered sugar — and it doesn’t come in a box. So I guessed. I mixed in the rest of the ingredients until it felt right, and made my balls. The next day I made the chocolate. We don’t identify semi-sweet or bitter sweet – we have “noir” – so I guessed. Stirred until it felt right. Use a double boiler the recipe card said. So I made one. Bowl and pan. It worked.


I put them in the refrigerator. Changed my clothes. And we went to see my mother-in-law. Two bourbon balls in tow. Before I presented them she asked what was in the container. I opened it and within seconds she devoured the two balls. Victory number two.
When we came home, we sat down with tea and tried them for ourselves. Dee and lish! Delicious! Time spent together. Travels remembered. Victory number three.


The adventures continue if you choose to take them. The victories continue if you choose to see them. Life is sticky and messy and oh, so very delicious!


8 Comments

Taste this life!

I have eaten a lot of jelly in my life. At hotels. Restaurants. Even my own house. But eating jelly that I have made, from fruit that I have picked, from a tree in our garden, and put on bread (that I have also made) – well, now this is new. New and exciting! I can honestly say that I think about it before I go to sleep, as if it were Christmas Eve!


Maybe it’s the taste. The freshness. The effort made. The sharing with someone you love. Or maybe it’s figuring out that this is probably “IT” – finding the joy in the small things. Celebrating the little things. Figuring out that there are 364 other “eves” to Christmas – that can all be just as exciting!!


I love that the cover of the jar matches the jelly that colors the toast that brightens the breakfast that fills my soul and begins my day! That’s a good morning! Perhaps even a holiday! The little things — they that make living such a big deal!!!!!!!


2 Comments

Any Wednesday

I never imagined you could barbecue sardines. In my head, they were only those tiny little fish in a tin box. So many things to discover. Yes, they do come in bigger sizes. Yes, you can barbecue them. And yes, you have to separate the head and the bones on your own plate. And yes, they are delicious!

There is a certain luxury to having a barbecue on a Wednesday afternoon. Drinking a cool white wine, in the shade of the provencal sun. No longer reserved for a Sunday, but an any day. So was our Wednesday. He was grilling sardines as I sipped the wine and I thought, what a picture of France! (but I never stopped to take a photo) After we got home I thought, I should have taken a picture — capture the moment. But sometimes, when you stop to capture the moment, it disappears. So I didn’t have a picture on my phone, but I had one in my head. It raced down to my hands and on to the paper. The beautiful sardines. So black they turned blue. Grays turning into greens. The moment, not captured, that sounds too harsh, but more embraced. Embraced in the permanence of heart and acrylic.

I don’t know what this day will bring. This Thursday. Perhaps it will turn into a Saturday, if I let it. Why not?! There are so many things to learn. To see. Nothing to be confined in tiny tin boxes, but spread across summer skies and welcoming canvas.

Happy Day, everyone!


1 Comment

Flavor


I began sauteing some chicken cajun style and added some juicy green peas. It was delicious. That evening, I added some more peas into the same pan, and a little more spices. The next day, we still had peas, so I barbecued chicken and herb sausages on the grill and added them to the pan of peas. Delicious. We ate all the peas, so I sauteed some asparagus in the same pan and we ate with the sausages. All the flavor from each day mixed and melded and just got tastier! Last night we only had a little asparagus and a tiny bit of sausage left, so in that same flavor-filled pan, I made an aspargus/sausage and cheese omelette. Everything used. Nothing wasted. I washed the pan. And we begin again.


Every day I use this body to create something. Some days I add a little paint. Some days I add some words. I sprinkle in a few salty tears, and some sweet tears of tenderness. A dollop of laughter. And a huge helping of joy. Along the way, I do fall. Sometimes I get dirty. But everything is valuable. Every experience used. Nothing is wasted. And if you ask me how I am today, I will tell you, “Well, I’m just getting tastier!”

Fill your heart. Feed your soul. Taste this life.