“Under the Tower” – by Debbie Ambrous

I admit that I am infatuated with France.

Keeper of “A French Opportunity” and perhaps more to come …

My friends say I must have French bloodlines, with the shadow of castle towers in my background and a previous pathway of ancient cobblestones.

South Alabama blood flows slowly in my veins, with the shadow of the giant Opp, Alabama water tower looming in my past, not castle towers or the Eiffel Tower! My pathway was strewn with sawdust from Daddy’s cabinet shop, not centuries-old stones in a historic lane.  I love it all just the same!  While Daddy’s saws were buzzing and whirling my imagination was soaring to foreign, exotic, enticing parts of the world.  My feet touched many of those places, but the one that seems most like a second home to me is France…

Read the rest of the story and see more pictures on    www.SouthernFriedFrench.com

I have the privilege of appearing this week as a guest writer on the beautiful website created by Lynn McBride.  Lynn, the fortunate lady, lives in a castle in France!  When she lived in the U.S. she was regional magazine editor for Meredith Publishing (Better Homes & Gardens and Traditional Home). She currently writes for magazines in the U.S. and UK.  Need I say more?  See for yourself at her lovely website, especially while she has me on her page.  Don’t forget to leave a comment while you are over there enjoying yourself.  Ya’ll come back!

One Potato, Two Potatoes – by Debbie Ambrous

Bacon is sizzling.  One potato, two potatoes, maybe more in the oven…  Through La Florista’s door into the kitchen where Chef Jim cooks delicious dishes, I will share a recipe or two.  The recipes were finds, one copied from an old magazine at the doctor’s office and the other rescued from a magazine discarded into the trash at the edge of a beautiful, tropical, leafy lane in Coconut Grove when I rambled by on my turquoise bicycle.

Pommes Chef Jim
From our kitchen to yours

Pommes Chef Jim

3 med. Russet potatoes scrubbed

3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup shredded Parmesan or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (2 1/2 oz.)

Sea salt

1 – Preheat oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit

2 – Cut potatoes with a mandoline or very sharp knife into 1/8 inch thick slices

3 – Coat an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet with 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil.  Start in center of the pan, lay potato slices in circles, overlapping slices.  Add more oil on top and arrange another layer in circles.  Continue with this layering and then sprinkle half the cheese and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Repeat layers with and the remaining cheese and ½ teaspoon salt over top layer.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.  After each layer, use spatula to press down on potatoes.

4 – Heat skillet on medium high.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes and then transfer to oven and roast 20 minutes.

5 – Carefully remove pan from oven and place lid on top.   Tilt pan and drain excess oil, then flip pan over to release potato cake onto lid.  Carefully slide potato cake into pan with browned side up.

6 – Roast 20 to 25 minutes longer.  Drain excess fat again if necessary.  Slide potato cake onto serving plate.  Cut into wedges to serve.

Symbol of hospitality centerpiece for Chef Jim’s tasty meal. The small fabric-covered apples, stuffed with cotton, flew from France across the Atlantic to me as a gift from my friend Louise.

The dinner plate is Gien, bought in France on my solo trip some years ago. The napkin ring is from Ecuador. Don’t you just love the little girl with her lamb? That’s another beautiful story to tell.

Papa Jim’s Warm Potato – Crispy Bacon Salad

3 lb medium boiling potatoes, scrubbed

3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

¼ lb bacon (5 slices)

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

–         Cover potatoes generously with cold salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 3 quarts water) in a pot and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain potatoes.

–         When potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, peel and cut into 1-inch pieces, then toss with vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl.

–         Cook bacon in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until crisp.  Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving fat in skillet.

–         Add ¼ cup of hot bacon fat to potatoes and toss.  Coarsely crumble bacon on top, then add chives and salt and pepper to taste and toss.

(This recipe is almost always a winner!)

Papa Jim’s Warm Potato – Crispy Bacon Salad
Displayed on a “trash find” from Coconut Grove – an old piano stool with a broken leg – Jim repaired it and now it’s at home in Alabama, nice enough for my amateur photo shoot.

Chicken is grilling on the France Pictures and Storytelling page.  It’s mouthwatering.  Don’t lick the page, but Click over to see.

A few recipes, more laughter and some tears are in “A French Opportunity”
You can find your copy on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. Kindle version is available in LIVING COLOR.



“Opp Fest” – by Debbie Ambrous

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this, but so much has happened that I put it aside.  Considering the way my mind operates, I thought I had better tell you soon or I’d forget it!  Jim and I went to Opp Fest, our town’s cool festival with antique cars, homemade cakes, country & gospel music, crafts, ice cream, T-shirts and colorful gourds.

But first we had to get out of our driveway!  Sounds simple enough, yet I always settle into the car and realize I forgot something.  Door opens.  Get the camera.  Door slams.  Door opens again. Get a water bottle.  Door slams.   Yes, it could happen even again.  I’m sure you are cool, collected, organized and not like this.  Right? 


So we were backing up, and suddenly Jim unfastened his seatbelt and started digging into his pants pocket.  I didn’t hear the phone ring, but he was yanking it out in total frustration.  He said, “My camera phone is clicking away, taking pictures.”  I laughed and said, “At least it’s only pictures of the inside of your pocket.  Some of my Florida girlfriends with ample bosoms keep their phones tucked inside their Victoria Secret bras.  No camera malfunctions that I know about.”  Jim shoved his phone toward my Guess sweatshirt, and I waved him off with both arms and flying words. Red-faced and out of breath I said, “You can keep your lunatic phone on your side of the car.  I am not your Verizon Vixen!”  He said it was my idea in the first place, suggesting a new parking spot for his phone.  I looked around to see if the neighbors saw our silly struggling in the car when Jim backed our Jeep clown-mobile on to the street. I told Jim I wondered what on earth they would think.  He said, “Who? Billy Ray? He would cheer me on with both arms waving in the air.”  I set him straight saying, “Noo! I meant the preacher’s sweet wife next door.  She probably thinks we are crazy enough already.” 


We parked downtown and walked to Main Street, me with my camera slung from my neck and Jim with his camera clicking in his pants taking pictures of George Washington’s face on the quarter rolling around in the lint.

Can’t you see this purple car tooling along past the lavender fields in France? Wonder if the “City of Opportunity” would consider adding Bordeaux to the sign post? And … No! There is no Verizon on the horizon in my Guess sweatshirt!


After we rambled past all of the tables Jim said, “You could set up a table next year and sell your book.”  I told him, “We could probably make more money if you set up a table and sold boiled peanuts!”  Who knows?  I might be there next year.  Look for me and check on Jim’s pants pocket.  Come back to Opp Fest next year.  It’s great fun!

I lost Jim and then found him looking this bad machine over.






Accordions would be playing at a festival in France, but I have a hunch they would love this musical group also.

Homemade cakes and pies! Who can resist?

Jim says the AUBURN UNIVERSITY T-shirts come first!

I’m an “Equal Opportunity Blogger” so here’s the ALABAMA t-shirts! They may even hold a cell phone??

Children’s artwork…So CUTE!



Come back next year. I plan to be there with Jim. Maybe Jim will have a new cellphone!

Enter your e-mail address above for a free subscription to this blog.

Visit the France Storytelling and pictures page for beautiful pictures of France, and take a look at many of the other posts.  I would love to hear from you and know your favorite.

Read about Opp, Alabama, my home town and France in “A French Opportunity” available at the AMAZON website including the KINDLE version plus the Barnes and  Noble website.

I love reading your comments. I’m working on the blog to improve it, so I welcome feedback.  Let me hear from you.  Ya’ll come back now!