Ambiance

“In the shade of the walnut tree” featured in a magazine.

I wrote an article for LEEF, an Afrikaans magazine in SA, about our life here in France. Their February summer issue was devoted to all things French and I was asked to do a contribution. I called it “In the shade of the walnut tree”. This is our favorite spot in summer time where we enjoy our apéros and amuses bouches, long lazy lunches and philosophical discussions.

leef 10001-001So…for the Afrikaans readers out there; the February issue of LEEF magazine is still available on the shelves. For my English and other readers I will soon translate the article into English and post it here.

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In the meantime, here in the French countryside we are enveloped in the blankets of winter with misty days, rain, and cloudy skies.  It makes for an ambiance filled season and we all enjoy gathering in the bistros around cups of coffee or chocolat chauds. Those more daring go for a glass of Ricard. We talk about the cold and the rain congested soil and what we’re having for dinner. Nestled in the misty hills, the chimneys have trails of smoke. The kitchens smell of les potages, soupes et veloutés and long sauce bourguignons.  Our animals are safely sheltered in the stables while the fields are left bare  for regrowth. We are cocooning.

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Correze country side

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à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle


Beginning of a new chapter.

These past 3 weeks were spent entirely on packing up our Loire home. We wrapped and packed, and stored and transported furniture, cartons. We sorted, threw away, gave away and tried to keep only what we really love and need. It felt great to lighten the load, both in terms of material stuff and mind stuff. Never do I want to own so much stuff again. Since living here in the barn at Coin Perdu with the bare necessities, I have come to realize with how little we can actually be comfortable. I think in this modern age we live with far too much unnecessary “stuff”.

When we locked the door behind us of our Loire home to get into the truck with the last few things on its way to coin Perdu, I took a walk through my garden. I absolutely loved my little “jardin de curé”. I worked so hard in that garden, changing it every so often and I loved every minute of it. I am posting a few images…I have so many, not possible to show them all and of course they will have much more meaning for me, but I hope you can see a little of the joy I’ve experienced in my Loire garden.

…a typical “Tourangelle maison” on the banks of the Loire river.”

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…for my first birthday in our Loire house 12 years ago, mon chéri gave me a “garguile” from the chateau de Chauvigny, which we converted into a fountain..  garden 2008 1520x1884

..I adored the Loire house’s windows. I couldn’t wait for summers to keep them open morning noon and night..

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We only closed the “volets” at night when sleeping..sometimes…

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..and flowerpots on the windowsills…what else!..

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..the “garguile” peeked through white climbing iceberg roses, close by “un olivier” in a pot..

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..on the terrace – urn planted with boxwood..

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..the “jardin de curé” was filled with everything I loved..and still love. Originally I tried to stick to white and blue, but as always, what we plan what eventually realizes aren’t the same…most of the time it turns out better..

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..corners are a favorite of mine..whether in the gardne, the house, the fields…

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..I adored my atelier! I will definitely miss it. It was the old stables of the hopuse which mon chéri turned ito the atelier for me, complete with fireplace, keeeping the old beams and features of the stables intact..To the left of the collage down below, is my galery, which was one of the old caves we turned into my galery.

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..during summers, we pragmatically lived outside in the garden..

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I hope you enjoyed this trip through the garden during 12 years of living in our Loire home. . I hope you’ll join me in writing our new chapter here at Coin Perdu.

I will soon start posting recipes again, as soon as I can get some order in the chaos here . Bear with me..!

I wish you all a great 2014!

à bientôt

Ronelle


Joyeux Noël 2013!

This year we have only but un petit Noël. We are in the process of moving home and want to be finished by end of December. Typical. Waiting until the last minute to get a lot of things done. And so Noël will have to stand over to next year when I will make up for it in our new home here at Coin Perdu(hopefully restored and liveable by that time..)

To have at least some Christmas spirit in our current barn/home, I put up a branch with some decorations which weren’t packed away too deep. The result is a very rustic tree…and what do you know..without planning it, it turned into a story tree! I am now very chuffed with our impromptu story tree!

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“One day…in a forest far, far in the cold North, was a large forest where the animals roamed gay and free. It was a magical world, undisturbed and quiet, with soft snowflakes sifting gently to the ground and covering the landscape in a coat of white glitter. There were  three quaint little houses with strawberry red walls. Birds were visiting freely, dropping letters through the windows of the three strawberry houses, where  Pére Noël and his elves would sort and read them; while laughing, singing and dancing and working. Then one silent night , the reindeer broke through the darkness with bells and glitter and song,  a hearty laugh echoed through the forest as Pére Noël waved his hand to his family, on his way through a sky of shooting stars to deliver happiness and joy to an outside world.”

..the forest was filled with birds and ice and mosss and lichens..

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…and the elves worked while they danced and sung merry songs..

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..the reindeer were ready, waiting…

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Three quaint houses with strawberry red walls..

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..and the skies were bright with shooting stars..

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May you all,  on that dark night when the stars will be extra bright and you hear a hearty laugh,  receive countless gifts of happiness and joy!!

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Joyeux Noël

Ronelle


Ambiance – Paris

I’m say ciao ciao to you for I’m driving up to Paris for a few days. The weather looks promising with sunshine an I hope to do a lot of reading and sketching in my most favorite corner in Paris..le Jardin du Luxembourg. Maybe mon chéri will join me for lunch there where he can play a game of chess, while I cut up the cheese and baguette…

I leave you with one of my many images of L’eiffel...the little game I play with the Eiffel tower…always a salut on arrival and always a salut on leaving.

..Paris..

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And just to keep you busy this week…one of my favorite movies -la vie à la campagne film, because that is where I will always come back to; la campagne.

..Le passager d’été..

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Carpaccio de courgette..and summer evenings.

Our potager is bursting with courgettes and we can’t keep up with eating them. With vegetables one doesn’t have to do much in summer, the vegetables are good just on their own. Which is why any  salad or carpaccio is a good idea.

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Recette:

  1. Cut 4 small to medium courgettes into thin slices. Layer onto a plate and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil and leave aside for 30 minutes to marinate.
  2. To serve: Divide the slices among 4 plates by spreading them evenly on each plate. Drizzle with some more olive oil and lemon juice, a teaspoon of sundried tomato paste, and a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Season with fleur de sel and freshly milled black pepper.  Add some olives of your choice, shavings of Parmesan cheese and finish off with rocket/arugula  leaves.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use green pesto instead of the tomato paste.
  • Add dry roasted pine nuts.
  • Use small black Greek olives.
  • Add chopped sundried tomatoes or semi-oven roasted tomatoes.
  • Use crumbled goats cheese instead of Parmesan cheese.

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Summer evenings at Coin Perdu

Our evenings are spent around the fire..we start off with a glass of icy cold rosé while the fire is lit and we munch on a little apéritif, a must to keep my legs from going jello from the wine. It is something quick and easy..fresh cherry tomatoes from the garden, baguette slices with some sliced sauccisson of the region, or melted Camembert over the fire with baguette slices, or fresh radishes with salt(a big favorite!).

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In the meantime, while the fire is coming on,  mon chéri still fiddles with some activities around the garden, like mowing the lawn, feeding apples to the horses who are allowed late afternoons to graze on the lawns, cleaning the fountain orother small tasks around the house.

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I am mostly sunken  deep into an Adirondeck by the fire in the shade of the tilleul tree. My feet are up and I have a book in my hand. It is my favorite time of the day and I savor every minute. War will break loose if someone expects me to do anything else than reading my book, sipping my rosé and enjoying the early evening ambiance. At that hour am in my zone and refuse to be disturbed.

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After dinner, we linger as late as we can around the fire. As the coals burn away and the horizon turns dark, we start moving away from the fire, lazy and slowly. It is time to call it a day.

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**And some summer music for these summer evenings…

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

Enjoy!!

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


Friday Ambiance

Je vous souhaite un trés bon weekend..

Have a great weekend with, or without friends, but definitely  with good food and a good book and some exercise, like gardening!

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Next week’s post is all about the washing day. A chore we either hate..or love. If you want to be inspired to do laundry, then remember to stop by. If you want to affirm your dislike for washing..then stop by too! If you want to know what I think about washing..then be sure to stop by!

I will also be making a spring petit pois and stinging nettle soup, picked right here in our meadows at Coin Perdu (with gloves of course!) Will it be good I wonder?

..a laundry day..

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à la semaine prochaine!

Ronelle


Walnut tart …and a marché aux plantes(plant market) at Curemonte.

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I decided to make a walnut tart, even though it is actually an autumn dish which we make when our walnuts are harvested after summer. But here, we eat it throughout the year, because we love it. Tout simple. That’s it.

Coming home from the marché aux plantes in Curemonte last week, with my confiture de noix and my chutneys and oils and vinegars and dandelion syrup under my arm, I thought it would be appropriate to make a walnut tart to accompany this reportage on the plant day at Curemonte. I’ve never made a walnut tart myself and it is only recently that I started eating it. I never thought it could be something special, until that one day that I took a slice at a friend’s house. It was delicious and it still is. It tastes like autumn. It is a rather heavy tart (which makes sense for fall and winter comfort), so I make it in a small tart tin, to have small slices…a good idea in any case for all tarts and cakes and goodies!

Our walnut trees are always late off the mark. They start off late in spring with these nice “flowers”, which are then rapidly followed by the leaves. With 4 huge trees, we always have a large supply of walnuts, perfect for Noël.

..tarte aux noix (walnut tart)..

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La recette:

*Pastry base: Recipe here.   Bake the pastry shell blind( without filling, but filled with dry baking beans to weigh down the pastry). Bake at 200 ° C for about 10 minutes. Remove the beans.

*Walnut filling:

  1. Crush 200 g walnuts, but not completely into powder. Keep some whole for decoration.
  2. Whisk 2 eggs and 70 g brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add 1 tsp vanilla essence, 50 ml TBSP strong black coffee, 2 TBSP flour and 150 créme fraîche ( or thick cream). Mix gently together.
  4. Pour into the baked pastry shell and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with skewer and the tart is done when the skewer is removed clean when piercing the tart.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 1 TBSP of walnut liqueur.
  6. Leave to cool, decorate with dusted icing sugar and some whole walnuts and serve with some créme fraîche or whipped cream.

Serves 6 people

Une pincée de sel:

  • The brown sugar and coffee gives a nice dark colour to the filling; but the coffee can be omitted if desired.
  • For a winter tart, try adding some spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or cacao instead of coffee.
  • Pecan nuts can be used instead.
  • Keep the portions small as it is a rich and heavy tart.
  • Make extra pasty for the base and keep in the freezer for another tart.

…defrosting the pastry for the base..

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...spring walnut branches..

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Marché aux plantes à Curemonte

Curemonte is a quaint little village, 10 minutes drive from us. This past week saw the annual marché aux plantes (plant market) at Curemonte, an occasion I look forward to every year. Not only do they have plants, but also food, artwork  and some bric a brac..a vide grenier. Everything sold and presented, is local. The bread is made locally, the beer is from the local brasserie, the plants and vegetables are local, the bees and honey, the walnut delicacies and walnut tarts are made locally , the wine is local and the vide grenier and brocante are from les Curemontais themselves.

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I love the country side, whether it is a French one or an American one or and English one. I prefer the ambiance and laid back ambiance of les campagnards, country folk..of which I am one of course. Strolling the small streets, peeking around each corner, stroking the dilapidated doors and windows, enjoying the laisser faire gardens( gardens just seem to happen by themselves, relaxed..). the world just comes to a standstill in the countryside where chatting to your neighbour is still a pleasure, almost an obligation and something that can even happen on the road, simply expecting traffic behind to wait..everybody waits. Beauty is all around you, simple, nothing is ostentatious. Glamor has no place in the countryside. Nature isn’t glamorous. It is simple. Honest. sometimes hard and challenging. Always beautiful. I thus hope I pass a bit of the beauty of Curemonte and its marché aux plantes on to you by these images.

curemonte collage 4 5120x4096..and plenty of food for hungry visitors; 8 euros for a plateau repas, which consisted of a glass of rosé wine, rillettes with bread for a starter, steak frites and cheese to finish..so simple, but so delicious in the atmosphere of camaraderie with people joining in at the long tables..

curemonte collage 2 5120x3544…a plate or a table, a bowl or a tea towel..just browse..

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..I found my bonheur(happiness)..

bol 1 4419x3076..and a lot of strolling

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..fascination comes in the form of dilapidated doors and shutters, railings, gates-my fettish..

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..à l’année prochaine..salut!(until next year, cheerio!)

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I hope you enjoyed this day with me in the French country side! I of course loved every minute of it and I relived it all by sharing it here with you.

until very soon( à trés bientôt!)

Ronelle

Ron


Easy and quick caramel squares..and December chronicles 3: Backstage.

Don’t you just love it when a recipe says in its first line..easy and quick? I definitely do! With these last three daily  posts, I had to think of very quick and easy but still delicious recipes and it being a time of nostalgia, this little recipe came to mind…It is not a stunner, but still a delicious little snack. It is even easy enough for young children to make….keeping them busy during the upcoming holidays.

My sister made this treat regularly so many years ago when she was living in her tiny apartement during university years. I loved visiting her on weekends with my parents, sure in the knowledge that this delicacy would be waiting in her fridge.  It is sort of one of those treats that was part of a certain era and then disappeared. It was great for students to make on their desks in their rooms, without the need for cooking facilities.

You need only 2 ingredients: 2 packets of butter biscuits and a can of caramelized condensed milk. If you live in SA or a country which has “tennis biscuits”, then that is exactly what you will use. It has a slight coconut taste and it absorbs the caramel nicely to go all tasty soft and flavorful. Here I used le grand petit beurre from St. Michel, which is a nice square shaped biscuit. I also used  confiture de lait by Bonne Maman (what will we do here in France without Bonne Maman?).

  1. Place two biscuits next to each other on a sheet of baking paper.
  2. Spread the caramelized condensed milk thickly over both biscuits.
  3. Place two more biscuits on top of the caramel layer.
  4. Continue until you have about 9 to 10 layers of biscuits.
  5. Close up tightly with the baking paper and wrap tightly(without crushing the biscuits!) in  tin foil.
  6. Leave overnight.
  7. Will keep about a week or even longer in an airtight container in the fridge.
  8. Cut in slices and serve with a coffee or tea.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Try using nutella instead of caramelized condensed milk.
  • The longer it stand, the better the flavor and softer the biscuits become.

caramel squares_ collage

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Backstage. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that “fun” behind the scenes. But, I am unfortunately not Jacky Chan, so my behind the scenes will probably only have significance for me and no one else. It is a bit like the friend who comes back with  photos from Russia, taken with his expensive Canon and ten lenses, and entertains you with great enthusiasm to his hundreds of touristy cathedrals and fountains and bridges and museums, while your jaw aches from biting back your yawning. But just maybe seeing a bit of my backstage scenes, will have you run to your photos to remember your own backstage times with loved ones.

We are always in our total number represented in the kitchen, stretching over one another, reaching over heads for a tool, tasting, licking, nibbling, fighting. It is amazing the busyness only 4 people can cause in a kitchen..

These are truly precious memories..

Not everything that came out of the kitchen was that big a success, but that didn’t matter in the least..we made our flops together, that is what counts.

Even guests had to pitch in, and they did it with enthusiasm… for that reason I have plenty of tabliers(aprons).

One thing to be found in practically all our scenes, is the opening of oysters. It is the task of mon chéri. I will probably lose all my fingers, because I have never opened an oyster! and mon chéri and our youngest daughter always have to get into a dish cloth fight..in the kitchen!

We normally start off our evening of Réveillon with some vin chaud et apéritifs in the living room. then we start warming up and finish off our menu and seat ourselves at the table where an amuse bouche is awaiting us. I always have something ready at the table when guests seat themselves..it adds to the expectation and while everybody start eating their amuse bouche and have their wine poured and just simply settle at the table, it gives me the time to finish off the starter. Our entrée(starter) is plated in the kitchen.

After the starter, we bring the plat principal(main course) arranged on a large platter to the table, where we keep it warm over a flame. It is normally fish and a vegetable accompaniment, all arranged on one platter. We follow that up with a cheese board..

..and end of course our dinner with la piéce de résistance….le dessert! Byt that time, we are close to midnight,; which is the time we pass around our gifts. But before that, we go for a late pre-midnight walk..or rahter that is what we used top do in the Loire house – we went for a walk by the Loire, just to walk down some calories. On arriving back home, we warm ourselves by the fireplace,  make coffee and start opening up gifts..slowly, deliberately, lingering on each moment.

Christmas day followed about the same pattern, except that we ate earlier and afterwards we walked up to the DVD store and rented a DVD while we had coffee and chocolates a and fell asleep before halfway through the movie..

Thank you for sharing this trip down memory lane with me. If nothing else, I hope it took you on your own roads back, remember with tenderness all the good and I hope it inspires you to make many new memories this December and note them down, either in words or in pictures.

Merci et à bientôt!

Ronelle


Vin chaud..and Decembers past, chronicles I: trees

Vin chaud definitely has its place in our home during the winter months..which haven’t shown up yet..but I will be ready! It infuses the home with wonderful December flavors and cupping your hand around the glass, sipping slowly, truly brings it home. even in the Southern hemisphere it can be enjoyed for a summer December evening, especially outside; or taken to the beach on a moonlit evening, or by the barbie fire..it can only be good..or better than good..?

Pincée de sel:

  • Serve the mulled wine warm to hot.
  • Peel the orange very thin, so only get the outer skin and not the white which tends to add bitterness.
  • Add or remove spices as your taste dictates.
  • Start with less sugar , you can always add more later if needed.
  • The flavors develop with standing..leave to stand at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.
  • Always pour the hot liquid onto a spoon into glass to prevent cracking.
  • Cut the orange slices into quarters and remove the skin when adding to each glass..it is easier to drink without having an enormous slice of orange suddenly spilling the wine all over your chin! And the small quarters can be eaten after the glass is emptied, wonderfully gorged with the spiced wine.

When I packed up our Loire home in Montlouis a little while back, I came across our photo albums which stretch over years and years. I saw all Christmases past and was excited to realize that I captured them ALL on film or digital. My Christmas photos date back 26 years, to that very first year we became a family. Except for 2003, every Christmas the last 26 years  is on film or digital…the preparations, the decor, our tree and our dinners. Unfortunately my photo albums are in storage, so I can’t show those Christmases.  Maybe next year.

Our tradition had always been to decorate our tree on 1 December… we have a nice dinner by a candle we light every evening with dinner for the whole of December; in gratitude, remembering friends and family and for the love we have for one another. This has never changed, even now that our nest is empty. Our tradition also demands a different tree each year. Some years it was a live tree, some years a fake one, others were handmade, some were dry branches, it depended on the year’s flavor.

I have collected quite a few pieces over the years and I always kept in mind that we have 2 daughters who will one day have to share these decorations, so I saw to it that each of them will have the same of everything..a memory of Christmases in their childhood home. I hope it will give them and their children big pleasure one day to hang these little  decorations on their own trees.

So, here we are; last week of November, but because I love Noël…and because I paged through albums…and because I am a sucker for sentiment and memories…and because we are starting a new chapter in our book of life stories… I want to share snippets of our Christmases-past until Saturday night, when we will see our  2012 tree up and candle lit for December 2012.  ***************************************************

Noël 2004:

This year was the first year we had a dry branch, which had become a favorite in our home. We used only white decorations: a white rose in small vases(which were still unavailable and I had to bribe a florist to sell me some of hers). Large bells and fabric angels completed our tree and a group of snowmen around the base of the tree…oh yes  of course, faerie lights!

To continue the white theme, I added white coloured chocolates and cookies on the table..not a good idea!

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Noël 2005:

This year’s tree was supposed to be an “angel” tree. I added some quotes I wrote on handmade paper, which we still use today..

Some détail on the angels and their quotes..

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Noël 2006:

A traditional tree was our choice for this year. I added some old postcards and voilà a very full tree.

..and some détail..small balck and white photographs of our family in small silver frames..still used today. and the cutest little pink angel cards I found in an antique store in Paris.

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Noël 2007:

Dry branches in une vieille jarre, decorated in silver, grey and white. I added rusted wired hearts and crosses. This year’s tree was a bitloaded and  chaotic, but even that is OK, a good memory, because there were always a lot of hands helping, decorating, adding!

..a little détail corner I loved..

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Noël 2008:

Once again, an all white tree, but more modern with large balls of white cotton wool depicting snow and the cutest poilar bears, white baubles and small mirrors catching reflections. Even though it is a fake tree and the whole tree had a modern look, I was very happy with our tree..

..a favorite corner with old books..“La chatte, by Colette”. I somehow always have to add books to the tree..it goes hand in hand, doesn’t it..books and Christmas trees..

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Noël 2009:

This tree is my all time favorite tree..I loved this year’s tree! Fresh moss from my garden in Montlouis, the tree from the Loire, the dry hydrangeas were directly from the garden too..and books, books, books!

..my two favorite crosses that I found in Helsinki..

.a détail corner with silver baubles and grey felt reindeer, also a favorite decoration..

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Noël 2010:

This was one of only two years that we bought a tree..It was also the second time that I felt very very sad at the en of Christmas, when the tree was so dry and triste and it matched my tristesse. I really didn’t like the feeling of taking down decorations from a sad tree.. But while it was there…it was trasitional and pretty.

..with more traditional red and green and gold decorations..

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Noël 2011:

And finally, our first tree from last year at Coin Perdu. We have moved on. Montlouis is in the past. This tree came from our forest and I had our eldest daughter who helped me in searching for it and dragging it back home. The Noël agains the wall was quickly put together by things I found lying around and I added a few stars and mushrooms. I wanted to tell a story with this tree, because it is a tree depicting life here at Coin Perdu..the deer, the forest, the owls..

…these two owl represent the family of owls who loved in the barn and are now in the woods, because we now live in the barn..temporarily!

..and a favorite corner from last year’s tree..

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  •  And to add some new music to your December repertoire...Bach, fifteen classical holiday favorites. Beautiful to listen to, even though it isn’t December and Christmas yet. They can all be found on Deezer if you prefer to listen there..
  • Continuing tomorrow: Quick fleur de sel grissini…and Decembers past, chronicles 11: table decor.

More photos can be seen in my gallery on the sidebar, Joyeux Noël.

à demain alors!

Ronelle


Red cabbage with plums and beetroot..and Beaujolais wines amidst hues of red.

I initially thought I would post a recipe for “du vin chaud” (mulkled wine), to celebrate the last of my fall colour posts. But then I “fell” upon this recipe..red cabbage..beetroot…apples…pork fillet..and it won me over. So here I give you the  voluptuous, dark reds of beetroot and purple cooked cabbage, lazy late-fall plums instead of apples and a juicy, tender pork fillet.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used late season red plums, but use apples if you prefer.
  • Use cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar if you use apples.
  • Add a handful of dry  Gobi berries.
  • Avoid cooking the cabbage to death… remove from the heat when it still has a bite, because it continues cooking, reaching the perfect stage while standing a bit.
  • Also good with veal.
  • If you are vegetarian,  the pork can be replaced by large roasted or stuffed mushrooms, or fish fillets.
  • Can also accompany a frittata or boiled eggs.

Recipe adapted from “Filet mignon de porc, chou poêlé; des recettes pour reçevoir; le grand livre Hachette.”

Yesterday was  Beaujolais Thursday, the day when new Beaujolais and le vin primeur of the season are sold worldwide.  It is tradition in our house to have a meal somewhere with a glass of Beaujolais. It is a day I always look forward to and this year was no different. It is also the last post of my autumn color inspiration and I can’t think of a better way to end it than to toast the wine reds of nature with a young Beaujolais 2012..

..Tchin tchin..!

And so, with a touch of sadness  I say good bye to the splendour of fall. It is time to move on.

à trés bientôt!

Ronelle


Rustic pumpkin tart with onions and goats cheese.. and autumn gives us umber and sienna.

Autumn asks for rustic food. Because some days are sunny and mild, meals can still be enjoyed outside and as such a homey, rustic meal can add warmth and cosiness. A rustic meal also falls in step with the colours of the season, as the pumpkin tart shows. So what can be better than being right in the spirit of the season!

***Errata: 3. PASTRY: .. “Use a bit MORE water if too dry and add more flour if needed…”

Une pincée de sel:

  • Sweet potatoes are just as good instead of pumpkin..treat the sweet potatoes the same way.
  • Use wholewheat flour instead of plain flour.
  • Drizzle some herb honey over the pumpkin just before serving, or caramelize the pumpkin with some honey.
  • Make individual servings of tartlets instead of one large tart.
  • Use leeks instead of red onion.

..ingredients..

..and autumn gives us umber and sienna..

When I think of winter  think of black and white, grey, mystery, design.. Spring makes me think of flowery pinks, blues, lavenders, whites..In summer it is the exuberance of reds and yellows,  that come to mind…  Autumn gives us siennas and umbers, rich, embracing us with its warmth. I always think that it is the season for artists.

I wish you a lovely artist’s season!

à bientôt

Ronelle


Quince crumble with orange and ginger..and bistrot flavor.

Quinces are bistro food…either in the form of jams and jellies or simmering on the stove for a compote or in the oven as a side dish. In season, freshly picked from the garden, on the market, they are on all the bistro menus for as long as the season lasts. And a crumble says it all. Comfort, warmth, flavor, senses, laughter, friends, cosiness, delicious.. a few words to capture a quince…and  a bistrot.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Boil the seeds and inner core along with the dice of quince – it flavors the mixture ant thickens the syrup.
  • Replace the ginger with cinnamon if you don’t like ginger.
  • Make smaller ramequins of crumble and serve as part of a plate of three dessert.
  • Use apple with quince.

..whipped cream, slice of orange and a ramequin of crumble..

..ingredients..

..Bistro flavor..

Life is a ratatouille, a blanquette, a bourguignon. It is a tartelette, a crumble, a millefeuille… life is a bistrot. No Michelin star restaurant, or any well known chef or trendy novelty or brocante can capture French life like le bistro. It is the place  we  go for our lunch or dinner because it feels like home. It is the place we go for our café, because that is where our friends are.

..bistrot at Coin Perdu..

We depend on the chef of le bistro to entice us with le plat du jour, or better yet, le menu du jour, where we sit back with a carafe of house wine and wait for our entrée et plat, or plat et dessert. The menu for the day mostly consists of either a starter and main course OR main course and dessert. Of course written on the blackboard, since the menu of the day follows the season! So never trust a bistrot without a blackboard!

.. plat du jour at Coin Perdu…

Bistrot life is just in my blood I guess. I love my coffee and croissant. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Pierrot gourmand. I love the simple French home kitchen where life is about family, friends and food. Around a bistrot table, discussion is always about the food. Of course other subjects are touched, but the food is always an obvious point of discussion…”is it delicious, or not so good today? Too much salt on the salmon? Too little butter in the sauce? Is the housewine good with the bourguignon? Is this year’s November Beaujolais better than last year..?”

..also called café des artistes..

I love the typically bistrot serviette, which speaks of the simplicity, but warmth of the French home kitchen. Simplicity doesn’t mean uninteresting or plain or boring, on the contrary. The French kitchen is filled with the exiting freshness of each season, whether it is in setting the table or making a soup or serving a Paris-brest. Frou-frou is left to the stage at Moulin rouge..in the bistro kitchen the soul is naked and simple..honest and true.

..des serviettes de mon bistrot..

I love La place, where a bistrot is always nestled between tables and chairs, people and fountains, pigeons and dogs of all colors. It is a place where the placid passing by of the morning makes way for the clutter of knives and forks, the clinking of glasses and loud chatter of happy eaters at midday.

..and outside we’ll find la place du café..

Some of my most favorite Bistrot books, which I know almost by heart from reading them again and again. They can be found on amazon.fr.

..Esprit bistrot..

..”Lotte de Bretagne piquée au chorizo, risotto façon paella”-Bruno Doucet à La Regalade

et bistro L’Ami Jean..

..Bistrots de chefs à Paris..

..Cyril Bourlois – bistrot  Aux vieux comptoir..

..Simplement bistrot- Yves Camdeborde..

..La tarte fine aux pommes – Yves Camdeborde

..Bistrot; autour et avec les recettes du Paul Bert – Bertrand Auboyneau et François Siumon..

..l’cailler du bistrot et une serveuse..

..Un café à la campagne – Christophe Lefébure..

..to the left: Chez Baudy à Giverny, where American artists gathered at the turn of the XIX and XXth centuriesto be in the presence of Monet..and ancient cafés to the right..


Ambiance – Champignons d’Octobre.

Armed with my camera and macro lens, my boots and hat, I headed for the woods.

Goal?

But…champignons of course!!

..my favorite hat..

Note: I’m not a mushroom expert, except when it comes to eating them, in which case I do have a strong opinion. So I may be wrong in my classification of these mushrooms. It is very difficult to identify them, since some are so close in appearance and character. See the end of the post for the sources I tapped into. The photos are of course my own.

..Entoloma lividum - toxic, under leaves

.. Hypholoma fasciculare – a poisonous mushroom, very common, grows on dead wood..

..Polypore feutré (Inonotus cuticularis)- a parasite that live on the damaged parts of live trees..

..armillaria gallica – toxic, grows on dead branches and leaves

..dacrymyces microsporus -grows on dead branches and tree trunks..

..Clavaire etroite – common on dead leaves and rotting wood..

..Russules Maculée – common under leaves on alcalic soil..

Sources:

I will soon  have to go back into the woods, because I haven’ captured even half of what is still out there; And some of my photos didn’t turn out good enough which I’ll have to redo. So, until such time…

♥ don’t eat mushrooms which haven’t been identified by an expert..

♥ keep unidentified mushrooms apart for the others..

♥ clean your hands after touching a strange mushroom..

♥ don’t forget your camera..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


French Pierrot Gourmand bonbons et sucettes(lollipops)

Et voila…M Pierrot Gourmand, as promised!

We love our apéro (apéritif) before dinner. It can be many things and always quick and easy. Only with visitors do I try to do something more “travaillé” more elaborate. But most of the time it will be fresh tomatoes with some mozzarella, or a bowl of home marinated olives, or melted Camembert and baguette slices, or carrot sticks with vinaigrette dip, or brushcetta… These little tomato cocktails are very popular. Fresh from our tomato vines, they are dipped in caramel and in poppy seed and stuck into Pierrot and served with cold Provencal Rosé wine on the patio while Mon Chéri prepares his fire for our dinner… this is of course in summer where one can’t be anywhere else but outside!

Suggestions:

  • Dip the caramelized tips into any finish of your choice: dessicated coconut for a tropical touch; toasted seame seeds, finely chopped basil, or mixed fresh herbs; gremola; chopped dried tomatoes flakes, milled peppercorns, chopped nuts of your choice…
  • Don’t make the caramel too dark or else it will taste burnt.
  • Use wooden lollipop sticks for an authentic feel or use toothpicks and serve on wooden beard.
  • Serve with cold white or Rosé wines along with a bowl of torn and seasoned buffalo mozzarella pieces.

The birth of Pierrot Gourmand:

At the end of the XIXth century, the famous actor Debourreau created and played his own pantomime on the melody of  “Au clair de  la lune“. The personage Pierrot inspired Adolphe Willette, an artist to create a poetic Pierrot. He was referred to as “le Pierrot de Montmartre“. In 1892 Monsieur Everard of Everard and Herbert industries gave birth to a marquette of Pierrot sitting on the moon, offering bonbons to children.  And so Pierrot Gourmand was born.

The first lollipop was invented by Everard in 1924, made of barley sugar, fruit flavors, cola and caramel and shaped in the form of a spear head. The milky caramel was the first flavor on the market. Up until today Pierrot Gourmand lollipops still exist in both the round and original spear head shape.  With a production of over 2000 tons of candy per year, the fifties was regarded as the golden years for Pierrot Gourmand. Today it is part of the Agro-industriel-andros group, well known for its Andros jams and juices.

More reading on Pierrot gourmand:

* Adolphe Willett, the Pierrot of Montmartre.

*   “Souvenirs d’une p’tite Parisienne“.

Pierrot Gourmand, un siècle de création sucrée », Cherche Midi Editeur

..à bientôt mes amis!..

Ronelle


A pause and a promise.

I have been inactive here for a while now and it seems it will last a while longer before I’ll return to normal activity on Myfrenchkitchen.

So, while I’m taking my repos, I leave you with the promise to return, as soon as I can, with a post on cher Pierrot Gourmand, (as promised already a while back) along with some nice ideas and recipes for sweet and salty sucettes.! In the meantime, enjoy his sweet smiling face and sweet colorful sucettes , welcoming all children and even adults at les boulangeries, les tabacs, les supermarches, les bars… he is part of an age old tradition and culture in France and one can’t slip by life without the company of Pierrot.

à très bientõt!

Ronelle


Ambiance – Art et Décoration magazines and books.

I am preparing a post on Pierrot Gourmand, our very popular and well known “clown” associated with lollipops and ‘bonbons’ here. While I am/was busy writing and making lollipops and driving everywhere to photograph Pierrot and his lollipops all over town, I ran into a book which found it’s way(all on its own, believe me) into my basket(that one that fills up far too quickly in a book store…!). Jardins a vivre, from Art et Décoration. Since my post on “cher Pierrot” is taking quite long,  I thought I would share some images of this book and of two others,  with you in the meantime. I don’t know if they are available in English, because it is books based on the magazine, Art et Décoration, a French magazine I’ve been buying for more than 16 years, on and off. Apart from my most favorite magazine Campagne Décoration, which was born in 2000 and of which I haven’t missed a single issue since 2001, Art et Décoration is the magazine I’ve been buying the longest, albeit sporadically…browse through it in the store and then decide if it has enough tips to own it. But more about Décoration Campagne later, let’s talk about Art et Décoration for now.

The latest trend for magazines is to capture their articles and particularly the images into hard bound  pretty coffee table books. Art et Décoration did exactly that. Very nice books to browse, have on your coffee table or fall asleep with!

So, let’s indulge in some of the magnificent images from the three following books:

1. Jardins à vivre;  Karine Villame, Collectif; Massin

..a rustic shower by the pool..

crédits photograpiques: B. Boigontier

…a rustic garden gate…

crédits photographiques: A Réty

..a water feature with an oeil de boeuf..

crédits photographiques: P. Smith

*******************************************************

Recevoir; Art et decoration; Massin

…entertaining in the garden under the “tonnelle”…

Crédites photographiques: B. boigontier.

…open kitchen with a “piano  La Cornue“…

Crédits photographiques: B. Boigontier

…entertaining on the terrace…

Crédit photographique: B. Boigontier

****************************************************************

Maisons de famille,  Karine Lalbatry; Massin

I love the chapter on the “marquises” over the doors. Just a little protection from the rain without having a whole veranda or entrance.

crédit photographique : O. Hallot

..bathroom with “paniers” for storage…

crédit photographique: C Erwin

..simply decorated bedroom with clean lines…

crédit photographique: P. Binet

…courtyard with old stables turned into bedrooms…

crédit photographique: P. Smith

………………

I hope you enjoyed this short tour with me.

Other books from Art et décoration:

*Recup & brocante; Karine Villame, Collectif; Massin.

*Maisons de Provence; Art et Decoration; Massin

Until we meet next time with a succette(lollipop) and Pierrot Gourmand!

Ronelle


Comment problems on WordPress and images to lift my spirit!

Apparently there has been some changes on WordPress concerning their comments and now I have problems whereas I never before had ANY problems! All comments are now asked to sign in with a WordPress account or Facebook or Twitter or Gravar accounts to be able to comment!I apologize for this ridiculous problem. I have no solution at the moment. All I can suggest, is that you click the LIKE button if you are unable to leave a comment, or send me an email to rvanwykatfreedotfr. Hopefully WordPress will realize that this change is a huge mistake! I have always boasted with WordPress being a GREAT host, I even changed from Blogger a few years back and never regretted one minute. I am not a whiner/ranter, but at the moment I am not a happy camper…

I would like to know how severe this problem is…if you have a moment to spare, please leave me a comment…just say “test without WP” so I can know that you were able to comment without a WordPress account. If not possible, please send me an email to rvanwykatfreedotfr.  Thank you and pleeaase don’t leave me…I SO love all your little stories, whether in an email reply or comment or Facebook/Twitter…I always love it!

I’m indulging in a few of my older images, which will hopefully lift my spirit and I hope you enjoy!

..bathroom curtains..

..reflections..

..door to atelier..

..garden tools..

..laurier..

..rusty milk can..

..urn..

..ray of light..

..garden chair..

..à bientôt

Ronelle


Ambiance – Old bonbon jars.

I think the majority of people will never have enough storage space in the kitchen. I am no different. I’m also a firm believer of “out of sight, out of use” which means everything in my kitchen is in plain sight, ready for the taking. You can see some images of our Loire home kitchen here). But it means mean that  a lot of stuff can lie around in every nook and corner. And that of course…I hate too! It is always those small “tools” lying around in drawers that work on my nerves. So I prop them in old glass jars that I bought at the brocante, at the same time functional and nice to look at. The same goes for old apothecary jars, which I can unfortunately not show, since they are stored at the Loire house in Motlouis. They are SO beautiful!!you can see one filled with old porcelain pieces I pick up(bottom right image) These are old bonbon jars can now also be bought new, as reproductions from recycled glass, with the words engraved...bonbons, café, chocolats. Imagine how nice they would look on your shelves filled with petits gateaux over Christmas time, chocolats at Valentine or Oeufs de Pâques eggs during Easter? Any other sturdy glass jar can work too, just figure it big enough so you don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar!

..old glass bonbon jars and an old apothecary jar(the bottom right picture, left jar on the shelf)..

*Because it is still winter and too cold to hold a book …a movie with which you can cuddle up completely covered by blankets…Rabbit hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart and directed by john Cameron Mitchell (2010). The story of a couple coming to terms with the loss of their son.

…Rabbit hole…

…bon weekend…

..from the bonbon girl..


Ambiance – love on line 12.

Her name is Leyin. I am Julien. For  6 years we were together until she left me, 7 weeks ago. If you will allow me, I will share this story of love and passion with you, a piece a day, for as long as my faith keeps up or  until she comes back to this line 12, which she takes regularly. My wish? To touch her, move her and at the same time, bring some beauty to this world of the Paris metro.

For this Valentine weekend ambiance, I want to share this Paris metro love story with you.

Chéri called me last week one day, early morning, from Paris. “I miss you and I just quickly want to tell you how much I love you. Later, during  the weekend I found out what stirred his emotions on that early morning. He found a letter on his seat on the metro, line 12, the one he takes to work every day. It is a love letter from Julien to his lost love Leyin. It is written with passion and sadness and a hope that she’ll take line 12 again, find his words of love dedicated to her and be so touched by it that she returns to him. He ends his letter with a poem and a request that the letter not be destroyed, but left on the seat where you found it, as it is more than just a letter…it is a symbol of love.

So…I know many will immediately think this is a hoax, scam…or a joke…or anything else, except honest and real. Maybe it isn’t real. Maybe it is a joke. Or a scam. But then, in my opinion, it is a positive one. One that leaves you with a smile and a twinkle in the eye…a dream…. and one that has your husband of 30 years  call you early morning to quickly tell you that he loves you. THAT is honest and real.

Have a passionate Valentine weekend!

from the hopeless romantic!

Updated Saturday, 11 February. This reply showed up  in my comment box…

“Hello,

I am the author of the papers for Leyin on line 12.
It’s not a hoax or something like that.
It’s real, it’s our story, and I hope she will come back.

It’s funny. You’re the second english spoken people who think it could be not real.
I’ve received reactions on my mail (darling_jf@yahoo.fr), and all reactions in french don’t enven think about a hoax, joke… For french people, it sounds like it is , a romantic way to find again my love.

The paper you show is the number 7. I finished the week on friday with the number 11.

Thank you very much for your interest. With many good vibrations, I think we (leyin and me) will be soon together.

Sorry for my english.

Darlin JF

11/02/2012 at 13:0″

**I’m so happy to hear from Julien and so this is for him...let’s ALL hope and wish together that he’ll find this love!!


Ambiance – a French name or two.

Some of our villages have some real tongue twister names here in the Correze countryside. Just because it is weekend, I’m leaving you with one or two to struggle with and see if you can figure out their pronunciation. When you’re done, put up your hand and I’ll pass on the advanced challenge..

I’m also a kind person, so to lift your spirit after all the hard work at practicing your French…a great movie with some great actors;  Julie Andrews, who will always be one of my favorites, Colin firth OF COURSE…now whose legs don’t go jello by the delicious sight of this cute man?? Mine certainly do! The only one, I have to say frankly I’m no fan of, is Jeanne Tripplehorn, but fortunately the rest of the cast makes up for her . Be warned, it is British humor and if you don’t like British… well, then rather go for Terminator!

..and on this French/British  note I wish you a very pleasant weekend, my dears…

à la prochaine fois

 from a freezing cold barn in Correze!


Ambiance – doormat for a trivet

There are no rules in this world. Ok, maybe a few. In the kitchen it is no different. Not even fun is imposed on us by a rule. Is cooking in your kitchen on a Wednesday evening fun, when you are tired and would rather have someone make you a sandwich? Yes?  Well, not for me. There are those times that cooking is just not fun. But that isn’t what I want to talk about. Maybe next time.

I’m telling you there aren’t any rules constraining us to use a vase for flowers. Or a chair for sitting. Or a kettle for boiling water. Or a doormat for wiping our feet.

..mint in a kettle…

Feel free to use a metal doormat for a large trivet next to the stove. Easy and handy for a heavy pot to lift from stove to trivet an large enough for more than one pat and pretty enough to please the eye in the kitchen.

No rules. Only freedom. Imagination. Guts.  Do you have it?

…trivet alias doormat…

Have a rebellious weekend!

à bientôt

from  Ronelle alias la revolusioniste


Ambiance – a coffee corner

Some old silver finds from brocantes which I put together and use for coffee and tea…(one of those small trophies is mine, which I received for athletics years ago…you didn’t know that!)

..my tiny athletics trophy for a Hellebore flower..

…café crème teaspoons in a sugar bowl…

…demi tasse teaspoons in a trophy…

…coffee things in old brocante silver…

à bientôt!

from my coffee corner!


Ambiance 6/1/12

It is epiphany weekend and here in France we have  “les galettes des rois” tempting us around every corner! I almost gave in, but I held my ground firmly and walked past.

Safely here at home, I can now proudly boast about my steadfast self discipline! After a season of nibbling on all the festive foods, I want to get back on track with healthy eating. Doesn’t that sound quite boring? NOTE TO SELF: Keep the healthy eating exciting! Tall order, since I have become a bit lazy in the cooking department. Proof…I haven’t even baked a galette this this year! But that is no problem. I have links up this lazy sleeve!

First: My own galette des rois from last year…oops…not last year, but 2010!

How did a year pass without me knowing about it?

Ronelle’s (that’s me..)galette des rois

And here is Monique’s galette des rois:

and Chriesi’s galette des rois:

So this is what dictionary.com has to say about epiphany:

“epiphany

   [ih-pif-uh-nee]

noun, plural -nies.

  • 1. ( initial capital letter ) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
  • 2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
  • 3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
  • 4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.”

I hope your weekend will be filled with all the meanings of the word epiphany; eat a galette on 6 January, experience a pleasant appearance, receive that sudden insight we all need so desperately, and present your epiphany by means of a piece of work…maybe by baking a galette, even if only this once in your life?

Enjoy the weekend, stay warm in the north, stay out of the sun in the south,  eat “healthy”, and enjoy your epiphany.

“Epiphany”. I have to say it again.

“Epiphany“.

Such a nice word.

ciao ciao!

Epiphanic epiphanist.


A sweet mustard sauce…and the end of 2011.

This is a very popular recipe from “Winning recipes from Huisgenoot wenresepte” a great south African recipe book. I can’t imagine a south African household without this recipe. I make it only at end of the year as a dip with some warm cocktail sausages or some shaved green beans, since it is a bit too sweet for me to use with a meal. It is very quick and easy and ideal for that last minute “bring something to eat along”. Even the French, who guard their mustard with sacré dignité, stumble over their principles for more than one dip into the sweet mustard bowl! Hope you enjoy it.

Suggestions:

  • Be sure to use white vinegar, or else the mustard sauce will be coloured an unappetizing dark colour.
  • Serve as a dip with warm cocktail sausages, or cold slices of meat or add to sliced green beans as an accompaniment.

…and some last days of 2011

Before I get into the stream of the new year’s living…I greet you with a last view on the end of the 2011. (Don’t worry, this will be the last post about ME!!)

I promise the next posts will not be about me but be more exciting for you all…some book researches, some give-aways, some restaurant reviews, some courses, some kitchen stories, some tips and tools, some new foods on the market, some how-to’s, some travel stories around food, some visits to French homes, some visits to boulangeries and bucheries and chocolateries…and more!

But for now…saying goodbye to 2011 with images of time spent STILL at coin Perdu..

..gathering moss for our Christmas eve dinner with my daughter’s mate, Sponge Bob tagging along…

..some tête de moine cheese..?

…and enjoying some champagne and oysters on our walks in the forest..

..oysters with a mango vinaigrette..

..a set table for Christmas eve- resembling our forest with its owls and birds and wild heather, moss..

..a courgette and smoked espuma as amuse bouche for Christmas eve..

..christmas day table resmebled the stream running through our forest, with pebbles, the ever present owls, some winter snow, ice crystals hanging from branches, birds and the silver stream with the moonlight reflecting by means of tiny tealights and candles..

…grey moss and stars surrounding the moon and stream and pebbles…can you hear the water trickling..?

…and Sponge Bob brought along some sparkles for our starter of scallops with a parsley sauce and chanterelles mushrooms…!

..reveling in the colours and moons of Jupiter..

..a winter ascending moon and evening star at twilight(Venus)..

..and of course sun sleeping…!

..lots of riding..

..some whispering..

..and trotting..

..early morning training..

..isn’t this beautiful…man and his horse..?

..moving as one..

May we all ride into this new year as one with our dreams and ideals, our goals, our principles, beliefs and hopes..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


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