mid-August already?

musings from Southwest France...

August 19th 2021

I’m writing this newsletter from Nérac where I’ve been for 3 weeks - headed home in a few days. I’m still a little bit in shock that we actually made it here at all - earlier on in the year it didn’t look like it was going to be possible - we weren’t supposed to be fully vaccinated until mid-August (timelines, thankfully, shifted by a couple of months), there was the question of strict quarantine and then hotel quarantine on return to Canada (this requirement was removed for fully vaccinated travellers presenting a negative PCR test quite recently) and then there was the question of whether we could actually get into France (they started opening their borders to countries outside the EU in July). Somehow, impossibly, everything fell into place and well, here we are!

HOW is it mid-August?

It honestly seems like JUST yesterday I was closing my laptop on my last classes for the 2020-21 school year and here we are with just a few weeks left of summer holidays. And yes, here we are staring down another school year. Vaccinated but apart from that, at least in Ontario, we are looking at another school year masked (my students are too young to receive the vaccine), cohorted and distanced. I remember thinking a year ago that we were *this close* to vaccines and a more normal life and that honestly seems like 5 years ago now. But even though a lot has changed in a year, it hasn’t changed enough to go back to that normal. But, as a good friend says, “onwards!” I mean, it can ONLY get better from here, right? (right?). In the meantime, I’m soaking in the last few days of being in France (and steeling myself for the trip home!), feeling VERY lucky to be able to travel this summer.

I’m writing a new book!

With her signature clarity and charm, Mardi takes us through a dozen terrific recipes for sweet and lovely French-style after-school snacks. They’re all meant to be made by kids, but there aren’t any age limits when it comes to enjoying them – everyone will want them!  

- Dorie Greenspan,  bestselling author of Baking with Dorie, Everyday Dorie and Around my French Table

Yep, that’s right! After saying I was “one and done”, I’m embarking on a different journey to publish my second book!

French Food for Everyone is a follow up to the best-selling In the French kitchen with kids and was inspired by the students in my online cooking classes in 2020 and 2021, when Covid restrictions forced us to pivot things like cooking classes to online platforms. Although I’ve known all along that French food is really much simpler to make than many people believe (so easy even kids can make “fancy” French dishes!), over the course of a year’s worth of online classes, I was even more encouraged by the great success my students were having with my recipes. After a few months, one of my students remarked on the “recipe book” they had created from the online class recipes and I realised that I had enough recipes for another cookbook. However, instead of going the traditional publishing route this time, I am releasing the book one chapter at a time so you can get cooking and baking sooner! I hope you love this new, more accessible format! 

French Food for Everyone: le goûter (after-school snacks) releases August 31st as a Kindle book or a print on-demand book (and I might offer an option of a signed hard copy - still figuring things out!). Stay tuned because the link to pre-order will be live VERY SOON!

cooking class update

As I gear up for the new school year, I’m also looking at my cooking class schedule. In-person classes are still a ways away for me (you’ll be the first to know when they come back!) but I am working on some exciting online classes for the fall and will be releasing those details soon (again, you’ll be the first to know!).

In the meantime….

August online cooking classes

In celebration (?) of back-to-school, I’m hosting a class all about “le goûter” (after-school snacks and subject of the first chapter of my latest book) on Wednesday August 25th at 3pm EDT for Context Travel. Click here for details and to book!

I also have a “Menu du Jour” class on Sunday August 29th at 11.30am EDT that you can sign up for! Use the code NEWSLETTERSUBSCRIBER for 15% off ticket prices! In this class, you’ll learn to make Vichyssoise (Chilled Leek and Potato Soup), Roasted Tomato QuicheTarte Fine aux Pommes (Apple Tart). Click here for details and to book!

you might have missed

It’s still blueberry season in many parts of the world! If that is the case for you, you need to make this recipe - Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free, to boot!).

Click here for the recipe (and bonus “how to” video!).

Paid subscriptions this month received the recipe for these delightful blueberry crumbles…

Want in on the paid subscriber bonuses (at least one exclusive recipe a month plus 1-2 other posts)?

summer reads

Something a little bit serious, something a little bit light - I’ve been flip-flopping this summer between these types of book. Here are two recent favourites!

Read my review of The Paris Library here.

Read my review of New Girl in Little Cove here.

links you might like


What’s the difference between parchment and waxed paper? via Leite’s Culinaria. Um, a lot.

All the butter: how chefs are transforming the world’s greatest spread via The Guardian. “Once neglected in favour of supposedly healthier products or mass-produced substitutes, butter is back, and better than ever, thanks to chefs who are adding bone marrow, chocolate and churning their own.”

The constant re-invention of “no-recipe recipes” via Eater. As someone who researches French recipes a lot (written in French as opposed to just French food recipes), I am familiar with recipes that are “light on instruction and heavy on assumed knowledge.” Do you prefer detailed recipes or do you wing it more often than not?


These common household items have mind-blowing hidden features via Trendy Matter. I don’t know about “mind blowing” but there are certainly a few things in here that I didn’t know about…. (the “57” on a glass ketchup bottle????)

Please don’t wear your outdoor shoes inside my home via Food 52. As someone who grew up in a country that doesn’t “do” outdoor and indoor shoes, I still sometimes forget about this. The pandemic has meant I haven’t been inside any homes for the past 18 months so it’s a bit of a moot point but an interesting read with some nice “indoor” shoe options!

The 40 hour work week is, in fact, life via The New York Times. An interesting take on work-life balance.


Ina Garten is your food travel agent via Leite’s Culinaria. Do you plan travel around what you’re going to eat and where? We do!

Why France’s well-travelled grapes conquered the world via The Guardian. Who knew that some grapes “travel” better than others? Wait, I guess Mr Neil does LOL!

There is holiday hell and then there is self-catering via The Guardian. Um. Just WOW. Rachel Cooke has obviously never stayed at maison de la fontaine. “There’s always a folder, though reading it lends no clarity to anything, whether you’re talking about local attractions, jigsaws or where to put the recycling.” (we have ALL this info in the (bilingual) guest book and more).

The 5 biggest lessons these families learned when they moved abroad via Cubby. Includes insight from my friend Ann Mah, currently living in Hanoi with her husband and 7, nearly 8, year-old daughter.


(a couple of interesting articles about the pandemic (if you can still stomach reading about it!)

Vaccine etiquette: A guide to politely navigating this new phase of the pandemic via The New York Times. Can you ask someone if they have been vaccinated? How do you set personal comfort boundaries (particularly with people who have lived a different pandemic experience - maybe more or less restricted)? So many questions in these (yep, I’m gonna say it) unprecedented times!

People of the pandemic: The French teacher who became a lockdown YouTube star via France 24. A feelgood story about finding the silver lining of the pandemic.

buy my (first) book!

“One of the best ways to have fun and bond with young people is to cook with them as partners. Kids are inherently creative; the smell and taste of the dishes produced will stay with them permanently. In the French Kitchen with Kids, a thorough, well-organized, approachable and friendly cookbook, will take your child on a delectable culinary voyage leading to a lifetime of lasting memories.”

– Jacques Pépin

buy my book here

rent our holiday home in south-west France!

Can’t you just picture yourself here?

Our charming house in Nérac, halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse in the heart of Gascony is available to rent if you're able to travel there!

read more and book your stay

Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

Mardi xo