My husband raves about this butternut squash soup.
It has more ingredients than a typical butternut squash soup recipe, but I had such great reviews, I think they are all worth adding! Click here to see my recipe for a Thanksgiving Turkey.
Need a “How To Guide” to host your own Thanksgiving in Paris? I’ve got you covered with my article “How to Host an American Thanksgiving in Paris.” There you’ll find lists of stores, recipes for all the dishes, and tips on managing your French guests’ culture shock.
For now, here is the absolutely exquisite butternut squash soup recipe!
This soup is delicious. I served it for Thanksgiving and my guests loved it. My husband was thrilled that I enough for lots of leftovers. I think the toppings make the soup even better.
1 carrot, peeled, cored and diced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Optional: heavy cream, coconut milk, potatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking pan with parchment paper. You may use two baking pans if necessary.
Core and peel the granny smith apple and the carrot. Chop both into large 1″ chunks then drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt, pepper, minced fresh garlic and dashes of curry powder. Spread out on the parchment.
Halve the butternut squash, drizzle with olive oil and spread evenly with fingers. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced fresh garlic and dashes of curry powder, and then flip face down on the parchment in one single layer with the carrot and apple.
Bake in the oven until tender, about 40-50 minutes. Halfway through baking, turn all the apple and carrot pieces. If using two pans, alternate pan locations at this time to cook evenly.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Chop and cook the 6 shallots and 2 sprigs of finely chopped fresh thyme until the shallots are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Scoop the meat of the squash from the hard shell into the pot. Add to the pot: the carrot, apple, 6 cups of stock, 4 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Puree the soup using an immersion blender, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
(Optional: Add 1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk if desired. For a thicker soup, you can also cook it with some peeled potatoes. I didn’t add any of this, and we loved it as is.)
Garnish with freshly chopped chives and briefly roasted pine nuts.
This recipe is truly my own. I used 8 different recipes to come up with this one!
The French are surprised to learn I voted by mail.
They have two options for voting while abroad: going to the local French embassy in the country where you are staying or naming another French person to go to your precinct in your place.
For Americans abroad it’s a bit more complicated.
All US elections are, of course, state-run, so the embassy isn’t much help as it’s a federal entity. They did offer some voter assistance, but you can’t simply go there and cast your vote.
Although voting from abroad isn’t easy, I was – and always will be – determined to do it.
I was brought up in a rather patriotic family.
They taught me that it was important to give back to the community and the country that we lived in. There were volunteer firemen, Marines, nurses, Girl Scout and Boy Scout leaders, judges, politicians, police officers… My aging but lively grandmother gave back by driving other elderly people to their doctors appointments and to the grocery store.
I had a sense that we all had a part to play in making the country function well, and being an engaged citizen meant giving back in some way, reading the news, and always voting.
Once an American citizen, always an American citizen!
When I went home this summer to visit family and friends, one family member shrugged off my comment about voting, saying, “Well, you’re French now.” It felt like she was saying, you don’t belong here now: you’re not one of us. While this comment didn’t feel particularly good, it’s also totally wrong.
I’m not French, and moving abroad doesn’t relinquish me of my citizenship – or my strong attachment to my home country.
As we say in the US, I’m proud to be American. I’m grateful for the privileged experiences I’ve had as a result of being born there, and it will always be “home.”
And no matter where I am in the world…
I will always feel like I need to give back to my country, and especially to vote in every local, state and federal election that I can.
So, here I am in France during a vibrant and critically important US presidential election. (Aren’t they all!)
The voting pressure was everywhere, and it started early.
Back in January I started to see Facebook and Instagram ads published by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) saying “Americans can vote from here… and here…” shown with images of gorgeous mountain ranges and the Eiffel Tower.
The American women’s group I belong to had voting assistance information in every email newsletter and in multiple posts each month in their private Facebook group. They even coordinated workshops to help you figure out how to vote in your state.
The US Embassy also sent out regular email reminders about voting from abroad, and offered tips to ensure citizens were educated about their rights and the assistance available to them.
For my non-US readers, there are three ways to vote in the US: on Election Day in person in your registered precinct, during specially designated “early voting” days – also in person in your registered precinct, or by absentee ballot. Early voting wasn’t an option while I was home in August, since it doesn’t usually start until October. So my only option to vote this year was by absentee ballot.
With all of these reminders, I made a point to ensure in advance that I would be able to vote.
In June I checked the FVAP website and then followed the instructions on the Maryland State Board of Elections website, which essentially required I re-register to vote. The whole process was online and facilitated by my pre-existing drivers license registration. While filling out these online forms there was an option to request an absentee ballot.
I selected this option but since I never received a confirmation by email or by post, I didn’t trust that it had actually happened.
I repeated the process in July, but again received no confirmation that I would receive an absentee ballot.
So, while I was in the US in August I called the Board of Elections, and they confirmed that I would be sent an email at the end of September. Phew!
I received the email exactly as scheduled and it gave me instructions to log onto their website. From there I verified my identity and had the option to download a PDF with my unique ballot. In some states it’s possible to cast your ballot online, but Maryland doesn’t permit that at this time.
In the PDF, there were several pages of instructions, one specifically explaining how to address the envelope, one for the ballot, and one for the signature page. I heard that in some states, the envelope page is actually pre-stamped for you, and you just cut it out and glue it together as an envelope. Maryland didn’t go quite that far.
To mail it, you have several options: regular post, overnight with companies like DHL or FedEx, or via the Embassy. For the third option, your envelope must have US postage on it.
I decided to simply mail it with international postage. It felt risky, because there have been rare times when mail my husband sent to the US from France didn’t make it and was returned to him.
But Maryland is clever.
Their online system allows you to log back in to check that your ballot was received. So, I figured that if my ballot didn’t register on their website by mid-October, I would pay for overnight shipping to get my ballot to the US in time for the election. The waiting began…
And when I checked the site: Success! I had voted!
I may be more than 3,000 miles away…
But my love for my country won’t fade. Voting isn’t just my right, it’s a responsibility, and an importantly critical way to give back to the country that gave me so much.
Croissants are one of the classic French foods known around the world for their buttery flakey deliciousness. But one would assume that the best croissants come from Paris, right?
Does Paris have the best croissants in France?
It may come as a surprise, but Paris bakeries do not always serve high quality baked goods. There are quite a few places in Paris that sell the equivalent of a American grocery-store baked low-quality frozen-thawed-baked baguette. In Paris!!
Even asking for “une tradition” doesn’t really ensure you’re going to get a super delicious baguette, because the quality of the flour can change, the amount and type of leavening may vary, etc.
The same can be true for croissants, pain-au-chocolat (or as Panera Bread calls them, “chocolate pastries”), and those fancy French desserts macarons (not to be confused with the coconut macaroon!). The point is, there is a LOT of variety in all these pastries, and it’s not easy to know where to find the best bakeries in Paris.
Their list, written in French, seems like a great starting point for a weekend of croissant-eating. I love the idea of exploring Paris via the food, so I think I will try to hit each of these places over the next few months.
A map of the best croissants in Paris
I’m a huge fan of using Google Maps to keep track of the places I want to visit, and I’m slowly getting better at making maps. If you’ve looked at my Map of Paris shops that are Zero-Waste-Ethical-Eco-Friendly, then you may know that Google doesn’t make it easy to see the addresses. This map is better!
This map of the best croissants in Paris includes addresses, cost of their croissant (in March 2018), their website, and the arrondissement the shop is in.
Other formats of this list of best croissants in Paris
I’ve had her list of shops for over a year now, but for some reason I couldn’t get to more than a few of them. Pushing myself to be more conscious about my purchases, I decided to spend the time and make myself a map. Well, that turned into a huge project, and something that seemed I could share with others.
If you’re very interested in this topic, please scroll down to learn more about my choices in creating the map, the limitations of such a map, and other French and English zero waste resources! I also welcome your comments and participations! You can use the comment form below or send me a private message on my contact page.
Without further ado, here’s my map of zero waste, organic, fair trade, and unpackaged shops and resources in Paris!How to use the map:
You can turn on and off different layers! That way it’s less overwhelming. Just click on the door icon in the top left corner of the dark grey bar at the top of the map and then scroll down to de-select the categories you don’t want to see.
To see a bigger version: click on the funny rectangle shape in the top right of the dark grey bar at the top of the map.
There is a legend for the icons! Scroll down this blog post to view a legend with an explanation of what the colored icons mean.
Each shop has a short description, an address and a link. When you click on an icon, you should see the full name and a brief description of the shop in the display window.
Save it to your phone. (1) If you are using your phone to view this post, simply click on this link to open the Google Map. In that case, by opening it on your phone, you will have automatically added it to the maps list in your Google Maps smartphone application. (To find it again, press on those three horizontal bars in the search field, choose “My Places” and then “My Maps.”) Please contact me if you have trouble! (2) If you are on a device with a larger screen, in the map below, you can click the star next to the word “France” in the top grey bar to save the map to your own Google Maps profile. Then you can access it on the Google Maps smartphone App on your phone when you travel.
Food (Local, Seasonal, Organic, and/or Bulk)
Local, Seasonal Food Shops
Open Air Organic Only Market Stalls (ALL of the stalls sell organic food)
Open Air Market Stalls (some stalls may have local and/or organic food)
Bulk Grocers (Often have a lot of organic products. Food, personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, etc.)
Organic Grocers (Food, personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, etc.)
Indoor Market Stalls (some stalls may have local and/or organic food)
New Products: zero-waste supplies, sustainable goods, fair trade, etc.
100% Fair Trade Shops
Bicycles (there are many many other bicycle shops, so this element of the map needs to be expanded).
Garden and Flowers Supply Shops *not necessarily organic or local!
Organic Baby and Children’s clothes, toys and accessories.
Organic and fair trade clothing
Sewing and Fabric Shops
Shops: Zero Waste Supplies, Unpackaged Goods
Weekly Art Markets
Personal Care Shops & Natural Remedies
Personal Care Shops (either with organic products and/or eco-friendly packaging)
Herbalists & Natural Remedies
This is a non-exhaustive list of zero waste, organic and unpackaged stores. There are many more shops than are on this map, and I welcome your additions! (Business owners, see below for details.)
It’s especially difficult to keep a map like this up to date, because new stores open every day and others close. You’ll find the same to be true for the other maps and directories I mention below. Please forgive me if things have changed, and please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below or on my contact page.
This list is not perfect. There are quite a few I’m sure I’ve missed, and I don’t include restaurants, organic bakers, the myriad of tea shops, or most of the makers-workshops in Paris, for example. (At least not yet!)
Then there’s the question of organic, but not-bulk. I have mixed feelings about including some of the organic personal care shops, because they aren’t necessarily zero waste or using environmentally friendly packaging. And what about the wine shops that sell biodynamic wine in single-use bottles? I’ve included some, but they are certainly not “zero waste” in the pure sense of the term.
An anglophone zero-waste starting point. As far as I can tell, this map is more “complete” than the other English options out there, because it includes clothing, linens, non-cleaning related home supplies, repair stores and a few other shops and services that help build a zero-waste lifestyle. However, my map is nowhere near as good as a couple of excellent French apps I’ve listed below.
The technology isn’t perfect. While Google Maps is an excellent tool, when adding each of the shops to the map, the addresses weren’t automatically included in the Google Maps smartphone App, so when you attempt to get directions to a store from the Google Maps App, it might require you to do a separate search for the name of the store! It’s a flaw that would take ~20 hours to fix for the entirety of the locations on the map.
Other Resources to Find Ethical, Sustainable and Zero Waste Stores in Paris:
Zero Waste Home’s international bulk locator map: The Paris data is a bit out of date, but Bea is very responsive to adding shops! Though, her list is limited because she doesn’t include clothing, linens, bike workshops or other non-food and non-cleaning supplies.
QQF.fr map and shop locator app: I love this app because it includes organic, free trade, ethical and bulk shopping options. It has great descriptions of what you can find if you visit the store. It’s easy to use and has the most extensive list of related shops of all of the options I was able to find. *IN FRENCH
Green Raid map and Yes We Can smartphone app: This is my second-favorite map & app because the information is so good and the map is easy to use. It’s a little funny, because the map includes places like gardens and art installations called “space invaders.” It’s not quite as easy to use as QQF, but it’s close. *IN FRENCH
Pres de Chez Nous map: This is a great map with a lot of different types of businesses, and it’s fairly easy to use. *IN FRENCH
Le Marché Citoyen’s map: Like the Green Raid map, it has good information and lots of organic bakers, however the map itself is a little frustrating to use because of the way the coders designed certain features. *IN FRENCH
ConsoVrac’s bulk store app: The app is easy to use, and I love the geo-localization feature, but there isn’t always a description of what the stores sell. This renders the app almost useless unfortunately. *IN FRENCH
Zero Waste Paris’s collaborative map: I love this idea of a collaborative map, and the information is mostly up to date, but the platform that hosts the map is incredibly frustrating to use. Zero Waste Paris is a wealth of information about going zero waste in Paris. *IN FRENCH
Geeking out about maps
If you are a little geeky and can read French, and you want to look at even more zero waste maps, this Google doc has a whole list of maps throughout France. It was created by the folks who made the collaborative Zero Waste Paris map linked above. I found this really interesting to look at as I prepared my own map for English-speakers.
Vous êtes propriétaire d’un magasin à Paris et vous voudrez que votre magasin soit représenté sur cette carte pour les anglophones?
Je serai contente d’ajouter les entreprises bio, éthique, et zéro déchets qui existent à Paris. N’hésitez-pas de m’écrire un message avec un lien vers votre site web ou votre page Facebook. Si vous avez une préférence pour la catégorie dans laquelle je mets votre magasin, vous pouvez également me l’indiquer dans votre message. Vous pouvez cliquer ici pour accéder au formulaire pour me contacter. Je répondrai très vite par courriel! Vous pouvez m’écrire en français ou en anglais ou en espagnol. (Si nécessaire, en allemand ou en italien aussi car mon mari les parle couramment!)
Living a zero-waste lifestyle seems impossible. I read Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home around maybe 2011, and at the time I thought she was an OCD person who had nothing better to do with her time than can tomatoes and unravel silk shirts for dental floss.
Have you seen the people claiming to have only one mason jar of trash for a full year?!? Considering all the packaging that comes with yogurt or cheese or lightbulbs, it has seemed totally unreachable to live a plastic-free, packaging-free life! I gave up before I had even begun and gave the book away before moving to Paris.
While living a organic, non-toxic, zero waste lifestyle is very good for our health, it only makes a moderate impact on the environment. (Leading a vegan life, however makes a fairly substantial positive impact on the planet.)
Real and fake efforts to save the environment
Spending a fortune on ecologically friendly home care products and organic food, or making all of these products yourself like Bea Johnson, is called “conscious consumerism” and it’s what a lot of zero waste advocates say will help our climate crisis.
However, one of these low-waste bloggers recently titled an article, “Conscious consumerism is a lie.” In it Alden Wicker explains that buying eco-friendly products and reducing one’s waste are just ways to feel better about ourselves and in reality they make only a minuscule impact on reducing global warming.
Conscious consumerism drains our bank accounts and our political will, diverts our attention away from the true powerbrokers, and focuses our energy instead on petty corporate scandals and fights over the moral superiority of vegans.
So if you really care about the environment, climb on out of your upcycled wooden chair and get yourself to a town hall meeting. -Alden Wicker
Alden Wicker wrote another brilliant article about the challenges of individual climate action and ended it with a passionate and very moving declaration of why she’s not giving up. She’s going to continue to live her zero waste lifestyle, aiming for ethically sourced and low-toxin products.
As I mentioned back in January, I’m really interested in this, and mostly for the health impact of reducing toxins. I’d like to reduce my plastic use and consumption, choose personal care and home cleaning supplies with no toxins, and buy organic products to eliminate my intake of pesticides. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the first steps to adopting this lifestyle.
On the hike towards this lifestyle, I’m about 3 miles behind her, breathless with aching calves and sore feet. I have some catching up to do…
Here are the essentials tips for a non-toxic, zero waste, ethical and sustainable lifestyle as far as I understand them right now:
If I’ve missed any of the very basic elements of conscious consumerism, please let me know and I’ll add them!
Zero carbon footprint through conscious consumerism:
Stop buying newly manufactured products at all.
Use what you’ve got.
Have fewer things.
Buy food that’s in season and locally grown.
Grow your own food.
Eliminate beef and cow-based dairy from your diet. (Or go vegan!)
Invest in the Circular Economy:
Buy second hand clothing, home décor, furniture and kitchen items.
Learn to cook! Avoid disposables and single serving containers. Ask for meals “for here” even when they are to-go, in order to get less packaging.
Use the reusables mentioned above (under Circular Economy).
Buy things locally rather than from Amazon or any company that requires shipping.
Non-toxic means zero plastic everywhere for all things.
Stainless steel, recycled paper, bamboo, linen and hemp are all sustainable materials. Cotton requires a lot of pesticides and water to grow, but if it is organic and ethically sourced, it is healthier for you than plastic! (It’s important to note that BPA-free plastic does not mean non-toxic.)
Silicone is ok for absolutely necessary products, like baby bottle nipples.
Iron the wrinkled paper that comes in shipping containers and make a notebook from it. Go beyond recycling to re-USE-ing.
Go to a Repair Cafe with your broken electronics and clothing.
Darn your socks, patch holes in clothes, and if you can’t DIY, a good tailor can do it for you! Shoe cobblers are excellent at repairing shoes.
Here are even more impactful decisions you can take to help curb global warming, going beyond conscious consumerism:
Don’t have any children, get rid of your car (walk, bike or travel with public transportation), never travel by airplane (overseas international travel by boat only), become a vegan, retrofit your home with energy efficient options, use only renewable energy, get rid of your refrigerator (Here’s a short video on living without a fridge here, just click “not now” if you’re not signed in. The language is French, but you can watch and totally understand the basic elements of the approach.), get rid of your air conditioner and clothes dryer.
As I learn more about the health and environmental impacts of my own choices, I have learned to rely on others who do a bit more digging into the science of things and have more experience with zero waste and sustainable lifestyles.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson is the mother of all zero waste living. She has simple recipes for home cleaning products, personal care products and food stuffs we typically buy (like mustard). She has a bulk store locator app.
Trash is for Tossers by Lauren Singer is a great resource for how to live a zero waste lifestyle. She’s accumulated only one mason jar of trash over 3 years. She is the owner of the Simply Co, which makes non-toxic laundry detergent, and she also just opened up a shop in Brooklyn, NYC with zero waste supplies.
Eco Cult by Alden Wicker is a very frank blog that gives a strong dose of the harsh reality with excellent tips and suggestions.
What do you think? Will you try out any of these tips? Leave me a comment below!
This was a recent grocery haul: I used reusable grocery bags and reusable vegetable bags, and tried to buy things not-in-plastic as much as possible, but this is a long way from Zero Waste. Also, having refused to increase my food budget, I wasn’t willing to get the unpackaged organic alternatives. I now see my food budget as an investment in my own health, so I see organics in my future…
Some links in this post are affiliate links which means I could earn a couple of pennies if you buy something from those links. All the money goes to pay for the BonjourAdventure website hosting fees (fingers crossed I’ll someday move into a positive cash flow…).