December 21st was Winter Solstice, December 25th is Christmas and Hanukkah was December 10-18th. It is a season for celebration, reflection and gratitude no matter your faith or beliefs. And of all years, this season brings the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, also called the Christmas Star.
It is a time to reflect as we have changed this year, we work differently, we celebrate differently, and thus hopefully taken time to reflect on what is truly important. There is a silver lining and nuggets of kindness in this past year, so just maybe this Christmas Star will allow you to be grateful, embrace some of the good that has come of all this change, and celebrate the season your unique individual way!
We have been given the gift of having our voices heard by voting, which has been hard-earned by women, people of color, and those at 18 who went of to war and originally did not have a say. Please exercise your right to vote in the elections!
I just took a long weekend to Reno to see some friends and my son. Time there is often spent having great dinners. I love to cook and it gives me an opportunity to try out some new recipes on my friends. This time I grabbed the Better Homes & Gardens magazine that was sitting in our office with a fabulous cherry cobbler on the front cover and made a couple of the cherry recipes from the July issue, just in time for the 4th!
The Cherry Caprese Salad with Burrata on page 92 and it was a big hit and Barbs, my friend’s mother, is the best cook ever. She shared some good tips and helped a lot. I served it with marinated fresh shrimp courtesy of my neighbor from Osprey Seafood, where I can place an order and pick it up down the street, leaving my check in the box (he knows where I live) and served it with a mango jalapeño salsa. The next night I attempted the cobbler and it turned out amazing. The recipe asks to brown the butter and then freeze and grate it into the dough. I thought it was more work, but the brown butter makes the biscuit. Brown butter makes everything better!
Wishing you a Happy 4th of July spent with friends, family, and some wonderful food. (text or email me if you want the recipes)
On Fridays, I will be giving away a $25 gift card for local small businesses via a trivia drawing! All correct answers will go into a bucket, and I will draw out a winner. This will be posted on my Instagram and Facebook sites. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to interview the owners of these small businesses.
This week’s drawing will go to Brioche de Paris (see original blog). I had the opportunity to chat with the owner Wissem Kheriji, who opened his doors in September 2019. I asked what inspired him to open a French-style boulangerie? While his cousin, a chef, who had a culinary school in Paris was visiting, Wissem would show him around and they would stop to get coffee and pastries. His cousin was complaining that nothing was good by French standards (and if you have ever been to a Boulangerie in France, you understand why!). He thought Wissem should open a French boulangerie in the East Bay. His suggestion turned into reality. Wissem’s cousin is now his partner and his other cousin – who is also a chef from France – is the chef at Brioche de Paris, with a focus on the quality of the food!
Wissem graduated with a degree in Accounting, did a three-month internship, and found he hated being behind a desk. Thus, deciding to follow his passion, he got certified as a fitness trainer – Kheriji Kat Fitness. One of the hardest things he has ever done was to juggle two business. He eventually gave away his 34 fitness clients to focus on getting this business started and was gradually adding some clients back in when COVID-19 and sheltering in place hit.
Life Lessons/Upside: Working from 4 a.m. – 9 p.m. can put a strain on relationships. The shelter in place has slowed things down and required more time at home and an opportunity to reconnect. It also gave him time to slow down and rethink how to approach the business. His wife was doing all the accounting and also had another job. Now, it is time to hire an outside accountant.
I find it interesting that Wissem’s accounting background actually came into play in starting up a small business. My takeaway from this is that you should follow your passions and you never know how your background and experiences will be useful.
He believes he can weather through this time, and has become very involved with our community, helping first responders and promoting business in Walnut Creek. So let’s give back and frequent Brioche de Paris and any other of your favorite local small businesses. Don’t forget to play in the Trivia Quiz on Friday to win that gift card!