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Life's Lesson N°11: Gratin Dauphinois and The Mind-Body Dilemma


 
My husband announced (rudely) the day after Easter brunch, “I’m cooking next year for Easter.” I guess his delicate French soul had just about enough of my American cooking considering for Easter brunch my caregiver and I made Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Eggs Benedict Casserole and a Potato Bacon Cheese Casserole. My husband is definitely American Casserole “fini.”

My excuse was “I did it for Grace” which is pretty much my excuse for everything. If my baby wants American food, my baby will get American food because that’s the kind of mother I am. However, in all fairness, we will go back to a French menu of roasted lamb with herbs, haricots blancs and the little potato purée next year… Out of respect. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I now live in France and not the grand ol’ United States of ‘merica.

 My husband comes from a very traditional French family from the French Alps, the Haute Savoie region. They are known for a very famous dish called Gratin Dauphinois. My husband’s family makes this special dish as easily as I pour a bowl of Cap’n Crunch cereal. Let me tell you something, it is so delicious that it is sinful and all of us should have it in our repertoire. Think scalloped potatoes with class.

I found a great blog called French for Foodies, and the author, Rachel Bajada, wrote a wonderful piece about Gratin Dauphinois that you should all check out HERE. The article gives you a great history about which cream from the cow is used for Gratin Dauphinois and even how potatoes were introduced to the French (from Americans I might add, you’re welcome). A very interesting read!

 
 


Now, I am not an expert in Gratin Dauphinois, but my husband is and so is his mother, so here are some of their secrets to a perfect Gratin Dauphinois. I just want to state, for the record, that they were very reluctant to give up these secrets…

Use Bintje potatoes

Slice the potatoes very thin… Like a euro coin

Butter the dish but do not add butter

Use three fours crème fraîche to one fourth milk

Do not precook the potatoes

Don’t forget to salt-and-pepper each layer and add nutmeg to each layer

Cook the entire dish slowly, slowly, slowly

Stop asking so many questions (this last bit wasn’t so much said to me as it was implied)                                                                                               

David’s mother also said that people can also add cheese, garlic, herbs and/or ham.

Okay, now let’s look at some recipes…


 

 



 

Voilà! Gratin Dauphinois mastered!
 *Something you don’t know about me? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a spaz. I worry about everything, I overthink everything and I also internalize everything. I will not let things “just be.” Everything affects me and I feel like I must do something about everything. I don’t let things slide as evident in my Instagram war a couple of weeks ago. Even though I’m a super happy person, I’m also a very stressful person… Sometimes that’s just the nature of the game. I have always, always thought that my nature has something to do with my illness. My self-diagnosis was proven correct lately as I came across a book by a brilliant doctor, Dr. John E. Sarno, titled The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mind-Body Disorders. Dr. John Sarno believes that, “The interaction between the generally reasonable, rational, ethical, moral conscious mind and the repressed feelings of emotional pain, hurt, sadness, and anger characteristic of the unconscious mind appears to be the basis for mindbody disorders.”

 
While I’m not sure if my symptoms are completely “psychosomatic” because I think that’s taking it a little bit too far but I do think that my genetics compounded with severe stress brought about my illness. What’s interesting though is that I also think that my positive attitude has kept the illness from killing me so far. Regardless, I think his book is definitely worth a read. The brain is a mighty mighty organ and the most complex, having the power, in my opinion, to do good or evil. If you want to purchase and read the book, click HERE. Let me know what you think… Let’s open a dialogue. Oh my God, did I just start a book club?

33 comments:

  1. oh my gosh, I could eat the entire platter....gooey yummy yum....eat it all and hide in my cozy bed with blackout lining....again, I am so like you said, over think....lately it's causing me to be sleepless, the days peel too fast to recoup....and now a book about this....with zero support system....maybe the book will be supportive for me......xo

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  2. What does David think of your new cat?! Lolz...

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  3. I love this post! I love all your posts!
    This sounds delicious! The only thing I liked about Switzerland (except the beauty)
    (3 of my grandchildren lived there for 8 years!!); was some yummy potato thing that reminds me a little of this!

    I asked a friend why I didn't like Switzerland! My friend answered :" the problem with Switzerland is the Swiss!!" I am afraid so.....but that crunch potato thing sent me into ecstasy! Know the name???

    You may just send me back to cooking!!!!

    XXOO

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    1. I think you are talking about Rosti? Yum!! 😋

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    2. EXACTLY!!!! YUM IS RIGHT!

      BRAVA!

      I WISH THERE WERE A PLACE I COULD HAVE IT!

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  4. You and me with our mind- body disorders. Being a stress case can be so exhausting. Getting out of my own head is impossible. I definitely think that your positive attitude breeds positive health. It's a gift that helps not only you, but so many of us. Thanks, Ellie. XOXO

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    1. I am glad I am not the only one...

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  5. Elle......we all need you so badly.....you have to "stick around"! I ordered that new book! Here is what I think! (I the farthest thing from a scientist or a doctor. I think you had nothing to do whatever with your fucking horrific illness.....it is just the fucking horrific luck of the "drw"

    and what do I know? Nothing. What I do know is that is the only two times I have ever used those words. And that is the truth! I never use that word. It is the only word that worked right there....and I may have said this before. I may say it again......also@

    You are one of my favorite people......so you need to stay with us......unless you don't want to!

    Ella (my daughter whom you know......here in Montecito; turned 45 on April 2!

    So much love to you. and you have so many cards coming!!

    La Contessa did it all!!!!

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    1. DID NOTHING IF THEY DONOT ARRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!BUT THANKS MADAME P!
      I have to tell you APRIL 2, was my parents wedding anniversary!!!Another thing we have in common!
      XO

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  6. My beautiful Ellie, I am not a massive fan of roller-coasters. But reading here can be a bit like riding on (a really nice) one as only you can zoom from the joys of comfort food right on up to the mind-body union with nary a loop dee loop in between.

    Here is my question: is this book readable or will my eyes glaze over like a Honey Baked Ham after the first paragraph? I am certainly interested though because I ab-so-lutely agree with the concept. I think a lot of us have heard about the root of disease being dis-ease. And as for you? Hellz yes do I agree that your attitude is keeping you strong. Seriously, who needs a complicated deal with Iran when we can just tap into you for energy? ;) I aaalsoo think, actually am pretty certain, the fact that you have thousands of people all over the world praying for you and/or sending you Love and Good Energy is important as well but that is a whole other kit n'caboodle.

    Feel free to mail me any leftovers from the Americano Brunch directly. I would give one of my remaining eye teeth (long story) for any of those dishes and you know it!
    Bisous,
    Heather

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  7. I love potatoes in any form, especially Gratin Dauphinois---but I have become super allergic to them (as in run fast when I even catch a glimpse). So I will vicariously love your recipes and the photos. As for mind body.....have been working on this for a long time. Thought I had it just about conquered, but this was not to be as I just ended up in hospital with a stress (plus other stuff) induced illness. Oh, well, there is always tomorrow to work on me..such a journey. Your wonderful blog inspires me daily. xoxo Mary

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  8. Ellie, I agree the mind is an extremely powerful thing but if it really works that way then who's to say you couldn't have destressed yourself out of illness, too? You couldn't possibly have caused your ilness, in my humble opinion, and I hope you know that stressy though you may be, it is NOT your fault that you have ALS. Having said all of that, the mind-body connection is fascinating and I'm going now to check out the book. Oh, and Potatoes Dauphinoise? A special fav here! Merci for the recipes, and the tips!

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  9. I've been re-reading Sarno's first two books during the past couple of weeks. I agree totally with your assessment--the man's on-target, but goes a bit too far. I discovered Mind Over Back Pain many years ago and that was the first time a physician or anyone explained how personality, stress, and toxins can create such havoc. Just knowing that helped me cope better with my lessening back pain. Now I need Sarno's insights for Fibro (?)!symptoms. Great referral.

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  10. Ellie this book looks very enlightening...I am getting it right away. Your attitude has definitely helped you (trust Dr. Karena) The gratin oh my goodness, my favorite and the creamier the potatoes with a nice crust on top. perfection. Your Easter brunch sounds delish though!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Nathaniel Galka

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  11. oooh I've never heard of this! Although the recipe is pretty similar to my scalloped potatoes, which have garnered a few complaints for not being "normal". Sorry but waterlogged mushy potato medallions don't do it for me. I also go heavy on the thyme and garlic and shallots in the cream sauce and I marinate the potato slices in white wine which gives them a lot of tang.
    I completely believe you are as well as you are because of your attitude. Is that all of it? Probably not, but I think it plays a much larger role than it usually gets credit for. one of my big goals this year was simply to think more positively and though that meant chipping through a thick layer of cynicism and skepticism, I've really felt so much better for it. It just isn't always easy when your brain is wired to be kind of a snarky asshole. So sometimes it takes me a second to formulate a kinder thought. Like I no longer wish for my ex to drive off a cliff in his stupid car. Now I am able to sit back, look at the big picture, and find peace in the fact that he is going bald. Clearly I've reached enlightenment.

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  12. A Book Club indeed!What a brilliant idea............as for the husband saying what he said mine would have said it at the Easter table.They are set in their ways........these European Boys.Mine started days before........what are you cooking for Easter?Why don't you talk to my sister!!!I did the lamb thing and YOUR Watercress soup to start!!!Delicious.........then there was more stuff but no potatoes this year...............these look Divine.
    The little Banksy is back with me..........snuggled in my arm asleep after eating oatmeal and alfalfa.I don't think I will give him back this time!!!!XOXO

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  13. Hi Ellie, so want to eat Gratin Dauphinois but getting chubby sitting on this darn computer...I also so wished to send you a Happy Birthday card with a surprise from across the pond, Florida, yet I have no earthly idea what address to mail you something. I think about this all the time. I would love too! xoxo

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  14. I have several friends and family who have auto-immune challenges including MS, and those with a holistic mind-body perspective and generally positive attitude seem to know their own truth and are supported for it. I support yours.

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  15. The Frito Pies a while back maybe sent David over the edge for this Easter ! Smooch , A

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  16. Hi Ellie,
    I think your instincts about the mind directing the body's well-being are right on. Please take a look at this reiki/aka dua YouTube video - like you said, to continue the discussion. It's an application of what you're talking about. By the way, any time I share a link with you (like that Blue Butterflies and Me blogpost referral awhile back) , I have no personal connection to it. I'm not selling anything although you might like to follow my liked videos list on YouTube - www.youtube.com/user/ElizabethBWord. I very much enjoy sharing healing energy with my friends. That's all. Plus, somehow I am learning about my own blindspots through reading you. Or else I wouldn't keep coming back for more. That's my gut instinct anyway.
    Your soul is so alive, alive, alive.
    Love you,
    Elizabeth Word
    See Reiki and Aka Dua YouTube video:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki2Bxh9fS7M

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  17. I am almost afraid to read the book. I need one on how to handle my stress.....not find out the damage I am doing. I will though make that potato dish! Thanks.

    I look forward to every post from you that shows up in my inbox. Heather sent me your way....and I am so happy she did. Praying for you in Texas...Janey

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  18. Stress is a terrible thing! You my dear need to do whatever, whatever and I mean WHATEVER makes you feel better!

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  19. I WISH my husband would make dinner. You’re so lucky to have a private Haute-Savoie chef that makes Gratin Dauphinois AND Tarte aux Pommes! I once made Wolfgang Puck’s recipe and loved it. He rubs garlic on the bottom of the gratin dish.

    I’m a big believer in healing the mind, body, emotional & spiritual bodies as a path toward Wholeness, and having the mind and body become allies in the effort. I’ll read the book. I noticed there’s a Kickstarter documentary in production called, “All the Rage: A film about Dr. Sarno, Emotions & Healing”…ready in 2016. Somewhere it said that unconscious rage occurs in some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, the perfectionists and people-pleasers. Whatever the case, healing the emotional body is key. What I liked about your last (book club?) recommendation, “The Healing Codes”, is that it provided a simple technique for getting to that hard-to-reach place where “known and unknown negative images, unhealthy beliefs and destructive cellular memories” exist. No mental gymnastics or dissecting of the problem required, just a little faith and trust in a higher power.

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  20. Hi Ellie, love me some potatoes! Thank you to Davids family for sharing the tips:) I agree with you about mind/body connection. After our home sustained a devastating propane explosion, in which I came out in shambles, my brain and body were a mess. Thankfully I had been a life long meditator and committed further to that practice. After 3 years the doctors all said I was as good as I would get, and I decided otherwise. After 7 years I just had a major break through in memory capability!!! Until last month I had no idea what was behind cupboard doors and drawers, so finding things in my own kitchen was somewhat difficult. It was like my brain "re-booted" and I suddenly am able to know what is in what drawer, and in my minds eye I know what it all looks like. Before, I was constantly surprised by what I had. After the accident I decided to be delighted at what I found instead of beating myself up for not remembering. I very much believe that as I processed stress, it gave my brain the opportunity to heal. I know that you are here as our faithful friend enriching our lives because of your attitude . Will get that book. Thank youxob

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    1. First of all Brenda, I am always worried that my house is going to blow up from a propane explosion. Like it is a legitimate fear for me. I don't know why. I'm so sorry that it actually happened to you. That's horrible. I'm going to need more details. Sometimes doctors and medication can only do so much. Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands and it looks like you did. I think it's great that you decided to be delighted by what was behind your cupboards. It's like Christmas every day! You are awesome. XOXO Ellie

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  21. Ellie! Your home will NEVER blow up, because you do not have the last name Murphy! and you have a cute French husband named David and I don't;) I should have kept my maiden name, damn! Details...hhmmmm...just that our new home was being renovated and even though we moved in, the kitchen was still under construction. Short story, a dimwit as a gas fitter almost cost me my life. Thankfully, our dog was restless (I believe he sensed the propane) and I had our daughter take him for a walk. Godsend, she was not in the house, just me. I was drawn to a burnt out light bulb on the other side of the room which had been flickering at me for a couple of hours. I was up on a ladder, examined the bulb, proclaimed it in tact, and just as I thought to myself that to be peculiar, the explosion occurred. Had I been anywhere else in the house I would have been killed or impaled with glass. So here I am, re-booting and healing right along with you. Ever since then, my guardian angel visits me...hotel rooms, restaurants and in our homes. Lights flickering upon my arrival...I am delighted, just as I am when I see your blog in my inbox:) xob

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    1. That is an incredible story. Animals are so perceptive and I totally believe your dog knew what he was doing. A house blew up here (in Columbus) a few weeks ago from a faulty gas line. A mailman was delivering and smelled something and called 911. As the gas company was pulling up to inspect, the house blew up. Luckily the family was out of town and no neighbors were hurt either. So sorry you had such a terrible ordeal but so happy it turned out the way it did. And congratulations on your commitment to your recovery and your memory breakthrough!

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    2. Thank you Stephen:) I agree, Callaghan (named after Morley), sensed the propane as it is heavier and pools low, whereas natural gas is lighter and has an odour attached to it. I am constantly amazed at the body's ability to heal. xob ps...always love your banter!

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  22. WHAT A MAGNIFICENT PERSON YOU ARE! YOUR HOUSE BLEW UP BECAUSE OF A STUPID GAS PERSON. STUPED GAS PEOPLE ARE HAZARDS ALL OF THE WORLD!

    I AM SO GLAD YOUR DAUGHTER AND YOUR DOG WERE OUT OF THE HOUSE.....PROPANE (I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT IT.....WE DON['T HAVE IT HERE IN HOUSES); AND "NATURAL GAS" HAS AN ADDED SMELL SO ONE IS WARNED!

    I THINK THAT "GUARDIAN ANGEL" (WHO SAVED YOUR LIFE) MIGHT BE YOUR MOTHER, OR GRANNY! (WHOMEVER "WENT UP"!!) MY EXRESSION FOR "LEAVING LIFE AS WE KNOW IT!!"

    WHAT A STORY FROM BRENDA! YIKES!

    3 HOUSES IN NEW YORK CITY EXPLODED A FEW WEEKS AGO! GAS IS A SCARY THING!

    WHAT A LOVELY THING THAT YOU HAVE INSPIRED HER........(AND ALL OF US....I MEAN IT....ALL OF US) SO MUCH!!

    XXOO

    PENNY

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  23. HEY, BRENDA! WAIT TILL YOU GET OLD! STUFF JUST FLOATS OUT OF YOUR BRAIN! I SAY "IT'S LIKE A BIRD.....IT FLIES OUT.....AND THEN IT FLIES RIGHT BACK IN!!" OR MAYBE SOON.....I HOPE IT DOES!

    WE HAVE HAD A BEWICK'S WREN NEST IN MY ROOM WHERE IS SPEND MOST OF MY TIME; AND SHE WAS BACK TODAY WITH HER RECENTLY HATCHED BABIES!

    SHE FLIES IN AND OUT....BECAUSE SHE KNOWS ME! SHE PERCHES A FOOT AWAY FROM MY FACE! SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!

    SJE REMINDS ME OF MY MEMORY! A BEWICK'S WREN! THAT IS ALL GOOD!!!

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  24. WHAT AN EXQUISITE THING! ELLIE! AREN'T YOU PROUD???

    PENNY

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    1. Penny, you are a riot! Thank you for your comments. I often wonder who is protecting me. Ellie brings together a wonderful group of people. xob

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    2. Just think about the person you felt the most love from.....(doesn't have to be a relative ) That is it! It came to you immediately! Bingo! (and don't feel guilty if it isn't a relative!!) That is your guardian angel.....there is no doubt that he/she was there and sent your child and dog out....and you were in the only place that was kinda safe. Sheesh! what an experience! Lordy!

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