De Ma Cuisine

Thoughts Archive



October 2016



Is Canada a Foreign Country?

Written by , Posted in Thoughts, Travel

fallcolorsrtWe left my parents’ place last Tuesday morning. We drove the long way up and around Lake Superior to get to Minnesota. It was probably the prettiest drive we’ve had so far. The leaves as we drove through Ontario and then Michigan were amazing. I love this time of year.

It was a bit weird to cross back into the states again. We realized, on this trip more than others, that Canada really is a foreign country. There are different laws, units of measure, and customs. Words are pronounced differently. They don’t use pennies, but do have loonies and toonies ($1 and $2 coins). And the health care system, I’ll just leave it at I miss the Canadian system terribly. I’ve been asked many times what the differences are between the two countries I’ve lived in. I usually say that they’re not so different really. But, this time, I saw things through a different lens.


I haven’t lived there for fifteen years. I’ve spent most of my grownup years in the US. I’ve voted in 3 presidential elections and for only one prime minister. Many customs come back naturally. I can still fit in in Canada, but it’s a bit more of a stretch these days. I feel like a foreigner. rstreetbostonrt

I know people change as they grow up and move away from home. They discover more about themselves and who they are at their core. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more comfortable in my skin, with my quirks and imperfections, and with my values, that have become more set in stone. A lot of this happened after I moved away from home. I’m sure that’s common. We grow up, are nurtured by our parents or caregivers, then set free in the world to figure out where we fit. I wonder where Canada fits in with me. Will I always feel a bit like an outsider? Maybe… But, the Canadian part of me will always be there, even if I don’t say “eh” anymore. It was a wonderful place to grow up, boasts one of the most beautiful countrysides, and as it is home to so many that are dear to my heart, will always be one of my favorite places to visit.



September 2016



Times Change

Written by , Posted in Thoughts


It has been a year of changes. I’m not ready to say that they’ve all been for the better. Not yet. But, I have hope that they will someday represent a time of growth and even encouragement.

Change can be confusing. I’ve felt lost through a lot of it. I’d thought one thing for so long, only to discover that it’s not a possibility anymore. Maybe it never was. Maybe it is, but looks different than I thought it would. It changes a person. It’s changed me… Is changing me.

Food, something that I’ve loved for so long, became more of a necessity than a joy for a while. It was thrown together instead of lovingly created. I get why people eat boxed meals and fast food. I was tired at the end of the day. I wanted to eat and relax a bit before going to sleep so I could do it all over again. It brought me a greater understanding of regular folks. It was a luxury, the way I got to cook before. I had a good thing going. I won’t pretend to understand why it ended. I still harbor a bit of frustration and bitterness about that. But there have been lessons learned and maybe someday the bitter will become sweet.

That was one thing that changed.

The rest, either I don’t need to go into detail about, or I’m not ready to. At least not on here. Since it’s been like six months since I last posted, I’m confident there are two people still reading. You’re probably friends of mine and know what’s going on anyways. If you’re still here, thanks for reading. I have hopes and plans for this little corner of the interweb. It might look a little bit different than it used to. But, it will still just be tales from the life of Rachel O.



January 2014



#TimAndRachGoToParis2013 – What We Ate

Written by , Posted in Reviews, Thoughts, Travel

Paris-WhatWeAte-2When we talked about the trip before we left, all I could think about was the food. And it didn’t disappoint (with the exception of one calzone and the pâté that I just couldn’t force myself to like). We were blessed by so much more than the food though. But, food is where we will begin.

We spent three weeks in Paris and in that time, I cooked dinner just once. I’ll admit, as much as I love to cook, it was really nice to have a break.

So we ate out a lot.

I won’t bore you with every detail of every single meal (you’re welcome). But, here are a few highlights.

We ate baguettes every day. They might be what I miss the most about Paris. Not joking. I have refused to eat “French bread” since we’ve been home. It is not the same. I was given a kitchen scale for Christmas so I can finally try to make my own baguettes. Wish me luck! They’re harder to make than I’d expected (more about that in the Cooking Classes post).

We ate a lot of butter. (We also walked about 3-5 miles a day…) Amazing, salted, European butter. The best butter is obligatory when eating a French baguette. Our first meal in Paris was at La Chope. We ordered ham sandwiches and got a baguette with butter and ham. Not what I’d expected. It was better. The sandwiches were simple and delicious. I had mine with my first glass of lunchtime wine, a rosé. We ate (trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t exhausted), watching people through the window. There was a man selling oysters in front of the café. People would walk up and get a sample. Most bought some too. It felt like everyone had a baguette in their bag. I knew we’d come to the right place (because of the baguettes, not the oysters… not my favorite).




We ate a so many little cafés that I’ve lost track. Most were great, a few were just good, some were more touristy. Our preference was to dine at the ones where we felt a little out of place, but got along just fine. (Note: We didn’t experience any of the “French rudeness” that people talk about. I speak French, but Tim doesn’t. However, he tried. The server would come over to take our order and Tim would ask me how to say something, I’d translate it, and he’d repeat it to the server. All the while the server knew what we were both saying, but waited patiently for Tim to finish. My French was corrected and also complimented. We thought the French were incredibly kind people.) Our two favorite restaurants were like this and we ate surrounded by the locals, enjoying real French food.

Our favorite favorite favorite experience was at a little bistrot called Au Bon Coin, located at 49 rue des Cloys, Mairie du 18e, Paris, France. We had been in Paris just two days. We were finally getting over our jet lag and feeling a little more normal. We walked a few minutes from our little rented flat and decided to try it for lunch. It was crowded. We found a table at the back and sat down. We waited, sipping water, for menus that never came. I tried to translate the menu that was scrawled on the wall. But, even after taking 12 years of French (a long time ago), there was a lot missing from my vocabulary. The server came over and we ordered what the guy next to us was eating, with glasses of vin rouge (red wine). It looked like some sort of beef with potatoes and green beans. Seemed safe enough. It was the best meal (we went back 3 more times and ate the same thing). My goal for 2014 is to attempt to duplicate it. They may have other things on their menu, but I don’t care. I only want this. (Tim tried the Boeuf Bourguignon once. It was good too.) The beef was pink, pretty rare, but so tender and delicious. The potatoes were exactly as amazing as they’d looked. Crispy and so piping hot that I burned my mouth in my need to eat them all as quickly as possible. I need to have them in my life on a regular basis. (They might be the thing, food-wise, that I miss the second most about Paris.) The green beans weren’t the star, but they were good enough. I guess you need something to bring the meal back down to earth.

But, the food wasn’t the only reason we loved that meal. The man sitting next to us started talking to us. Eventually ending up at our table (we were at a table for 4 – note, don’t do this if you are only 2, and want to continue your meal just the two of you, they will seat someone beside you). The server said (in French), “Don’t worry. He’s nice.” and plopped his plate down next to Tim. So we continued our conversation, noticing that the older woman, who’d come in with her dog, was paying attention to us. She joined in on the conversation. I think we sat there for an hour with them, with me trying desperately to understand them and remember anything that sounded like French to say in response (while silently cursing my lack of motivation during the hours and hours of French classes that I’d taken in school!). Anytime anyone asks us about our favorite experience in Paris, this is what we tell them. Au Bon Coin is what we consider “our place” in Paris.




Our second favorite restaurant was another little bistrot‚ just around the corner from home, called Le Brio, located at 216 rue Marcadet, 75018 Paris, France. We made friends here too, this time with the server. A sweet college student who took the time to explain the entire menu to us in English. We ate here a number of times and spent hours at their tables with our books, chatting, watching people, and eating a lot.

Our last, including our last evening in Paris we ate here. I tried the croque monsieur and we finished off the evening with some delicious chocolate cake and champagne. This place that we would see every night as we walked home from the metro felt like home.



There was another meal that was simply incredible. It was at a café by the marché aux puces (flea market) that we went to. We didn’t have the opportunity to go a second time, but it was one of the best meals that we had in Paris. The café is called Café Le Paul Bert and is located at 20, Rue Paul Bert 93400 Saint Ouen, France. Our entire meal can be seen in that little cast iron pot. It’s chicken with the creamiest, most delicious rice, and the softest carrots imaginable. I need to discover their secret. I may have eaten (almost) the entire serving. You know when something is so good that you really shouldn’t stop even though you know you should? Yeah, that happened here. But, since we would almost always walk again after a meal, I don’t remember feeling overly full. Winner.


There were a number of other noteworthy meals and experiences that took place around food.

I discovered is that I do not like pâté.


I do, however, never tire of soupe a l’oignon (French onion soup). I can’t remember how many different places we tried it. Some places make it with dehydrated onions, some put the bread and cheese on the side, some make it with so much cheese there’s a huge plomp of it at the bottom of the bowl. Most were good, one or two were great. I think my favorite was at a café next to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore (although I’ll admit I felt a little sick after, maybe because it was so incredibly rich… but it was worth it).


We tried many crème brûlées. They were all surprisingly different from one another. Some thick, some more of a crème anglaise, some with a super crunchy layer of brûléed sugar. You almost can’t go wrong here.


We were told that we had to, at some point, try the nutella crèpes. We were wandering around one evening and found a street vender with this simple treat and ate it for dinner as we strolled down Rue Cler.


We made coffee at home some mornings and drank it while eating croissants, baguettes with beurre, or pain au chocolate. But, it wasn’t nearly as good as the café‚ crèmes that we drank at the cafés. We never once ordered a regular cup of coffee. I’m not even sure if you can. If you order a café, you get a tiny cup of espresso. Who knows. C’est un mystére.


I had two burgers in Paris. I’ll admit, I needed a burger and frites. Buuut, they were not from McDonalds. 😉 And, they were very good. In fact, I ate frites quite a few times. The Parisians sure know how to fry a potato.



I sometimes have a hard time buying something at a restaurant that I can make at home. Since I have successfully made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon twice, I have no need to pay someone else to do it. But, that didn’t stop me. I mean, I was in Paris. What’s more Parisian than that (besides baguettes and many other things)?!


The one place that we didn’t eat that I was really disappointed to miss out on was Les Deux Magots. I’d read about Julia Child eating there in My Life in France and really wanted to eat there too. It was closed for renovations. Sigh. Oh well, guess we will just have to go back.


Now that I’m absolutely starving for all the foods I can’t have, I’m going to go make some popcorn for dinner.

Baguettes are on my to do list this week. It’s a must. I need some bread and butter.

Part two of our Paris adventure will continue next week.




December 2013



Rachel Reviews: Quenelle

Written by , Posted in Reviews, Thoughts


Quenelle_4780RTSmI have a problem with some aspects of LA living. One of them is that I don’t find it acceptable that it’s even close to 80 degrees F in December. I know that many people disagree. I’m entitled to my opinion.

However, one benefit to having a warm day in December: I can go eat ice cream with my friend Jo, of Waterfall Creative.


We went to one of my new favorites: Quenelle. Quenelle, meet everybody. Everybody, meet Quenelle.

If you need to stop reading right now to go get a treat, I understand.


Here’s what I like about Quenelle: the owner was there. He seems like an easy-going, relaxed guy. He served us our ice cream. He made sure we had the right flavors (after many samples), explaining that they give so many samples because they want to be sure the customer gets their perfect flavor. It worked for me.


I went in planning to order the Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows (one of their many dairy-free flavors). It sounded yummy and tasted great (I couldn’t tell it was dairy-free, it was creamy and delicious). But, I thought I should try a couple others just in case… Strawberry Shortcake (whoa, yum!) and Crème Brûlée (oh wow!!)… I still got the Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows, but I couldn’t resist a scoop of the Crème Brûlée, which was definitely the winner. It had ribbons of caramel throughout. I almost shouted each time I got a mouthful of that amazing, chewy goodness. I’m a sucker for caramel.


It’s a little shop (but cute and quaint), so plan to get your ice cream and take a stroll down Magnolia Blvd. They only take cash, but somehow that just adds to the charm. It feels like a place straight out of the “good old days” when things were homemade and there was pride in the quality of a product.


Tim loves ice cream, so I had to bring him a treat. I chose the Bourbon Eggnog (as he totally hearts both) and I had to make him try the Crème Brûlée… He enjoyed while I sat next to him, hoping for a bite, but not wanting to ask. He offered me one. What a nice guy. I could go for another scoop today. Especially since I’m having a bit of a disconnect in my brain, thinking about creamy, dreamy ice cream, but smelling the beans that are cooking for tomorrow’s Chili.

Happy Eating!


(Photos of me taken by Joanna of Waterfall Creative. All other photos taken by me.)



November 2012



Roasted Fennel Mac and My Little Cooking Show Turns 1- Episode 45

Written by , Posted in A Cooking Show with Rachel O, Abundant Harvest Organics, Cheese, Dinner, Fruit, Kid-Friendly, Main Dishes, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Roasting, Sides, This Week's Feast, Thoughts, Vegetables, Vegetarian

This week marks a year since A Cooking Show with Rachel O made its debut into the world of culinary entertainment (or whatever you want to call it). Armed with my Minestrone Soup recipe and a lot of excitement, I began. Now, a year later, I’ve learned a lot, eaten a lot… I’m not sure which I’ve done more of… I’ve also burned myself, pinched my hand, scared the dog with my horn thingey (that was today), dropped tons of food on the floor, eaten lots of veggies, laughed a lot, knocked the iPad/second camera off the counter‚ pronounced things incorrectly, learned how to cook new things, invented dishes I’ve loved, made a few things I wasn’t absolutely crazy about, learned some more, ate some more, chopped about a million veggies, and developed a new found respect for those who wash dishes and/or edit video for a living. Neither is my favorite part of the job (although one is definitely more favorite), but both are necessary.

My favorite part of the job… favorites actually: Chopping food, the smell of Bari‘s olive oil, the smell of garlic when it hits a hot pan, photographing food, editing my photos, the inspiration that comes when I open the box of Abundant Harvest Organics produce, planning a menu, writing furiously so I don’t forget the recipe idea that popped into my brain, hearing Husband exclaim “MMMMMMMMMmmmm” after taking his first bite (it happened with this meal!), watching the dog pretend not to watch us eat because he too would like a bite, laughing at myself, eating amazing organic produce, working with a company I respect, sharing my love for food with you… I could go on for hours. I feel truly blessed to do what I do.

Thank you for being a part of that. Thanks for watching, for reading, for commenting, for telling me that you liked a recipe. It means so much to me. I create these dishes, write about these foods, share my ideas because I think they taste good. But, I also share them because I want you to enjoy them just as much as I do. I hope this is happening.

I also hope you like Mac and Cheese as much as I do. We can still be friends if you don’t, but it is one of my favorite go-to/comfort/quick meals. I know it’s tempting on a tired night to grab a box of the really quick stuff. I’m not judging if you do. I’ve done it. Buuuut, I’ve also discovered that homemade Mac and Cheese is almost as fast. Really! You have to wait for the water to boil regardless. So while you’re standing in the kitchen, starving, staring at the water, willing it to boil, trying to keep from eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon, grab some milk, olive oil, salt, pepper, and flour, grate some cheese and make a simple sauce. If you have a few more minutes, roast some fennel and add it to some sautéed onion and garlic. It’s a good idea.

I didn’t think I liked fennel. Then I roasted it. Roasting is the key to making almost any vegetable a thousand times better (even though I usually like them just the way they are! Here’s how: Buy olive oil (personally, I like Bari‘s). Turn on oven. Combine olive oil with halved fennel. 350F. Done. Boom. Roasted. Good right?!

Now it’s your turn. Have fun!

Happy Eating!

Roasted Fennel Mac
Recipe Type: Main, Pasta, Dinner, Oven, Stove Top
Author: Rachel Oberg – De Ma Cuisine
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4
When fennel is roasted it becomes sweet and slightly caramelized. It’s paired with pears and Gruyère and added to traditional Mac and Cheese to dress it up.
  • 1/2 to 1 C onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved
  • 3-4 T plus 1 t olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 to 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C cheese (combination of Gruyère and Parmesan), grated (1/4 C reserved for topping)
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/4 C cream
  • 1/2 to 1 C milk
  • 1/2 to 1 C vegetable stock
  • 1/4 C pasta water
  • 2 C pasta
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced (for topping)
  1. Drizzle fennel with 1 t olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes (or until fennel is tender).
  2. Cook pasta.
  3. Heat pan over medium heat. Add 2 T oil. When oil is hot, add onion, carrot, and a pinch of salt. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. When fennel is done, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Chop. Add to pan with veggies.
  5. Move veggies to one side. Add 1-2 T more oil. When it’s hot, whisk in 2 T flour, cook 30-60 seconds. Slowly, a little bit at a time, whisk in milk, stock, cream, and pasta water. Let it thicken a little after each addition of more liquid. Add pasta water. Cook until just before it boils.
  6. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, apple cider vinegar, and pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  7. Toss pasta with sauce. Top with thinly sliced pear, and top pear with cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted.


This episode is sponsored by:

Abundant Harvest Organics

Bari Olive Oil Company

Waterfall Creative

Molly Jenson