diet

Rainbow carrots with orange flower honey sauce..and rainbow chickens.

Vegetables are part of our every day healthy diet, right? Five portions of different fruit and veggies every day. Yes, that is what we are advised here in France. I try my best to adhere to that..in any case, we love fruit and we love our vegetables. On the menu here are thus some carrots of all colours served with Greek yoghurt and a sauce flavoured with orange flower water.

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rainbow carrots recette

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Serve the carrots warm in fall and winter as a starter on individaul plates.
  • Serve cold with salad leaves in summer.
  • The sauce can be kept in the fridge for about two weeks.
  • Add orange juice to the sauce with the vinegar and reduce to a syrup.
  • Use an orange flower honey if possible, but otherwise a wildflower honey can work too.

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..parsnips can serve as “white carrots”..

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..when using young and organic carrots, it isn’t necessary to peel, only wash and use..

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*recipe adapted from “Les légumes de Monsieur Wilkinson; Matt Wilkinson.

Like the carrots, my chickens are rainbow coloured too. And I adore them, no doubt about that. Every day is a story that unfolds before me from the morning to the evenings when silence dawns finally on the chicken coop.

..keeping an eye on the cooking in the barn kitchen…

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..aren’t I pretty with all my colours..?

chickens

..I am the epitome of elegance, in case you haven’t noticed..

chickens porcelaine

..life looks interesting from up here..

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..Where are those hens again..!

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..Don’t mess with our corner..!

chickens

à la prochaine fois

Ronelle


Salmon, apple and dill amuse bouche…and a touch of green.

The regulars here on Myfrenchkitchen will by now know how much I love an apéro(apéritif), or amuse bouche, or the spanish tapas.. On weekends it is standard practice in our home to have a glass of wine before dinner with an apéro. I hope one day in heaven there will be some apéros awaiting me on weekends- that and good coffee-or else I will take my business elsewhere…

As all the regulars will alos know, is that everything on Myfrenchkitchen is simple, as these salmon amuses bouches clearly show. The only requisite is “l’envie”, the desire to make it and enjoy it.

apple salmoin amuse bouche 04-10-2013 12-50-19 2462x2106 La Recette:

  1. Cut 140 g smoked salmon into thin strips, about 2cm wide. If possible, use wild salmon, which is much stronger in flavour. If you have your own gravlax that you made, all the better. Wash and cut green 1 large Granny Smith apple(unpeeled) into matchtsticks. Drizzle liberally with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  2. Wash a few branches of fresh dill.
  3. Roll about 5 matchsticks of apple and a tiny branch of dill in a strip of salmon.
  4. Arrange on a platter, sprinkle with freshly milled pepper and decorate with lemon slices, dill flowers and serve with cold white wine, rosé, sparkling wine or champagne.
  5. One large Granny Smith apple and 140g smoked salmon (4 slices) make about 14 amuse bouche.Provide for 3 – 4 helpings per person if it is the only apéritif served.

Serves 3-4 people.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use fresh fennel or fresh chertvil instead of dill.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream or crème fraìche when rolling the salmon.
  • Serve with a bowl of mayonniase or crème fraîche as an accompanying dip.
  • Use other fruits in season and use smoked ham instead of salmon.

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Since we are in the greens today…the hydrangeas are beautiful at the moment with nuances of green and salmon. Two Granny smith apples complete the picture in the barn.

green hydrangeas and apples 04-10-2013 13-46-16 3132x3157

..Green is one of the colours I love for setting tables outside. And blue. And red. And of course white. And ochre. Well, for that matter, all colours! I have a few things here at Coin Perdu which we often use for dining on the terrace in summer: rustic green rimmed glasses, old bottles, green fun plates, green banana lreaf bowls, green pottery bowls..

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..Some small wild apples live in harmony with berries and egglantine rosehips..

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..the birds don’t shy away from digging into the small wild apples..

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..and neither do the horses..

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..when going through my artwork in search of painted apples, I realized I have almost nothing. I had to rectify that immediately with a sketch. Green is a difficult colour. So many shades of it in nature. The challenge lies in creating your own green from yellows and blues with touches of reds and purples. That way you get much richer and interesting greens than the greens directly from the tube.

apples aqua

..à bientôt!.

Ronelle


Summer peach soup with red berries..and Provence

In midsummer, when the sun is blazing hot and the cigales are singing away, we don’t have much desire for eating, except for indulging in ice cream. A cold simmer peach soup is perfect for those days and brings a bit of welcome change to the ice cream menu.

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La recette:

  1. Bring to the boil 1 liter of water with 1 vanilla pod, 200 g sugar and the rind of 1 lemon. Remove from the heat, add a handful of fresh mint leaves and set aside to cool.
  2. Peel and cut 6 peaches of your choice into slices.
  3. Add to the warm syrup and leave to cool down completely before storing in the fridge for about 4 hours to infuse.
  4. Serve cold in glasses or bowls and add a handful of fresh red berries of your choice to the soup(optional).
  5. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 people.

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • I used a mixture of white and yellow peaches.
  • Macerate the berries with some sugar before adding to the soup, since they may be too sour for the soup.
  • Add the berries on a little kebab/cocktail stick and stick into the soup, to eat separately.
  • Leave the berries if so desired.
  • Replace the mint with lemon verbena for something different.
  • Serve in frozen glasses for an icy effect.

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The signature of Provence is its white limestone..in the countryside, the hills,  in the built walls, the drywalls, the houses, the pavings ,  the flowerbeds, the villages… Some of them new and some weathered handsomely by the mistral  and rains of centuries.

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I love an atmospheric window..

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Clearly seen in this image below, is the different types of stone used, maybe at different times by different craftsmen.

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Just look at that stone…beautiful non?..

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A  stone staircase between these beautiful stone walls, going up and up and up…

Provence 2013 27-06-2013 18-27-23 3139x4349A typical Provencal door..

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A flowerbed by a front door, typical in the small villages with no gardens..

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Lovely shutters and vigne vierge creeper..

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Sedum growing on the rooftiles..totally content in the heat, like me…

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Holly hocks…an old world flower and one of my favorites..

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Gay colour in an ochre coloured flower container..

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Bonnieux is known for its brocantes..

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..which overlooks the valley..

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A window peeking from above a fig tree..Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-30-09 3212x4619

Lavenders on the windowsill..

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A cloche against a perfect Provencal sky…Provence 2013 29-06-2013 11-46-17 3238x3877And lastly,  a sunset goodbye …

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So, with these images it is back to reality here at Coin Perdu, where summer is in full swing..and I don’t want it to end!

à la prochaine

Ronelle


Salmon, potato and mussel salad..and a contribution to pie-ography

Nothing makes a better salad than leftovers.During spring, when all attention is focused on the garden and restoration work on the house, all sorts of salads with leftover meats and fish and vegetables make life so much easier. It is also a time when I stock my pantry heavier than usual with some interesting condiments to add zest to the salads without spending hours in the kitchen in the evenings. It is typically additions like sundried tomatoes, ready made pestos and tapenades, marinated mussels and oysters, canned sardines and anchovies, mackerels, beans and split peas.

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For this easy peezy, light and delicious salad, I used the left over salmon and steamed potatoes from the previous evening’s dinner and turned it into a salad with all sorts of other goodies coming from the pantry and the fridge. I served it with toasted pita bread and  a cream and dill sauce. What can I say…“cetait un régal tout simple”!

Salmon, potato and mussel salad.

  1. Heat some leftover salmon(flaked) and potatoes(cut into chunks). Add some chopped spring onions and a handful of currants.
  2. Arrange a mix of fresh salad leaves and herbs on a large platter.
  3. Sprinkle with nuts and marinated mussels and sliced marinated tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
  4. Make a cream sauce of a finely chopped small shallot, handful of chopped dill, a cup of cream or créme fraîche and a TBS of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon juice.
  5. Top with the warm(not hot) salmon mix. Sprinkle with chopped dill.
  6. Serve immediately with pita breads or a country bread and some extra sauce on the side.

Une pincée de sel:

  • Use a good mixture of herb salad leaves.
  • Use mushrooms instead of the fish, if you don’t like fish.
  • When using chicken, replace the dill int eh sauce with basil pesto or freshly sliced basil.

A contribution to Pie•ography..

Last year I’ve been asked by the creative Jo Packham, creator of Where women cook, to contribute, along with 38 other women, a recipe to her book, Pie•ography. The project was to create a pie which best described each author and write a short biography along with it. I found it quite a challenge, because talking about myself isn’t something I am comfortable with. Nothing wrong with revealing a little bite here and a little pinch there, but sitting down and directly saying: “..and so, his is who I am…”  – THAT is tough. BUT…I finally got something on paper and created my pie..so I can tap myslef on the shoulder and say ;..“not too bad, Ronelle, not too bad at all..!”

For fun, I listed 30 tongue in cheek- things you don’t know about me. Read at the bottom if you’re interested.

pieography

Thank you to Jo for inviting me to join in..it is a great book and I am honoured to be in the company of highly talented and educated and ambitious women in this book, of whom Jo is of course one. Her creativity is never ending. for me it was a fun and exciting  project to be part of!

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pieography0003

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30 things you don’t know about me:

  1. My worst characteristic is impatience.
  2. My best one is enthusiasm.
  3. I can lift my one eyebrow and drop the other at the same time.
  4. My ankles are rather thick
  5. My feet are quite cute.
  6. I used to trust people easily.
  7. I now put my trust rather in animals.
  8. I am impulsive and it gets me into trouble.
  9. I don’t fit into my wedding dress any more, but it doesn’t bother me.
  10. I  don’t fit into my bathing suit and that bothers me.
  11. I still want to do parachute jumping, but I hate flying.
  12. I don’t like sharing the licking bowl when baking.
  13. I hate washing dishes. I also hate stacking the dishwasher. I see no light.
  14. My mom used to say my bladder is situated just under my eyes. It takes very little to make me cry.
  15. I laugh easily and loudly.
  16. I have perfected the puppy eye flutter. Mon chéri is completely defenseless against it.
  17. I hate conflict of any kind.
  18. I don’t believe the truth has to be told at any cost. Sometimes the truth serves no purpose..
  19. I have a great sense of humour. It is my life line.
  20. I love to learn, but I hate to be taught.
  21. I don’t mind making a fool of myself, but I don’t like to be made a fool of by others.
  22. It only takes one glass of wine to have me make a fool of myself.
  23. I  don’t answer a telephone.
  24. I am a coffee snob.
  25. I have two experiences in my past which I can’t forgive and forget. They still influence my self image to this day.
  26. I am a nomad, I have to move on every few years.
  27. Autumn makes me  sad.
  28. When I am upset I get into bed and cover my head.
  29. I am a Leo.
  30. The sun is my oxygen.

You can find the recipe and how I worked my way to it here.

Pi•ography  can be ordered from Amazon.com.

If you want more information, don’t hesitate to contact me(details in my sidebar)

So, until next time…

Amusez vous bien et soyez sage sage!

(Have fun and stay out of trouble!)

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


Herb and mango salad..and diet truths.

I think the time has come for some good ole healthy eating. I always that little “click” before I can step forward into action.. Maybe sniffing a delicious mango was that “click”… or was it the belt of my jeans that needed a different hole. Whatever. A click is a click and can’t be ignored! Let’s do it! This simple salad is chock full of vitamins and fiber and very few calories.

Recipe:

  1. Cleaned 1 mango and sliced it into juliennes.
  2. Cleaned 1 handful of mange tout and sliced it on the diagonal into juliennes.
  3. Wash 1 handful of mint leaves and Italian parsley leaves and break into a bowl.
  4. Cut 1 large spring onions on the diagonal into strips and add to the herb leaves. Add a handful of haricot mungo sprouts, the mango slices and the mange tout strips to the salad.  Add 1 lemon grass stick, harder outside removed and finely chopped to the salad.  Mix lightly with your fingers.
  5. Drizzle the salad with some olive oil, a bit of nuoc nam sauce, lemon juice, chopped fresh ginger and a  teaspoon of acacia honey anf season with salt and pepper.
  6. Finish off with a sprinkling of dry roasted almonds and lastly black sesame seeds.

Those who bask in summer at the moment, will enjoy the salad as is, but for us in the North, it is probably a little too cold.  So I enjoy it with a big pot of green tea. You can always drink a tisane(herbal/flower infusion). Along with the salad it will be great for digestion.

…walk, walk and walk..

…load up on fruits and vegetables…

…eat more  fish..

  • drink enough water every day…about 6 to 8 glasses.
  • eat smaller and varied portions.
  • have an extra light hand on the salt, sugars, butters and creams.
  • Cut off fat from your meat.
  • when and if choosing bread, then choose whole wheat…whole wheat rice, grains, lentils, wild rice, quinoa..
  • and….

…laugh…

And lastly something I received from a friend.  I don’t know where it originated and some of you might already know it…but here it is, hope it cracks you up like it did me..

“The Bathing Suit (by a middle-age woman unknown).

When I was a child in the 1950s, the bathing suit for the mature figure
was-boned, trussed and reinforced, not so much sewn as engineered.  They
were built to hold back and uplift, and they did a good job.

Today’s stretch fabrics are designed for the prepubescent girl with a
figure carved from a potato chip.

The mature woman has a choice, she can either go up front to the
maternity department and try on a floral suit with a skirt, coming away
looking like a hippopotamus that escaped from Disney’s Fantasia, or she
can wander around every run-of-the-mill department store trying to make
a sensible choice from what amounts to a designer range of fluorescent
rubber bands.

What choice did I have?  I wandered around, made my sensible choice and
entered the chamber of horrors known as the fitting room.  The first
thing I noticed was the extraord ina ry tensile strength of the stretch
material.
The
Lycra used in bathing costumes was developed, I believe, by NASA to
launch small rockets from a slingshot, which gives the added bonus that
if you manage to actually lever yourself into one, you would be
protected from shark attacks.  Any shark taking a swipe at your passing
midriff would immediately suffer whiplash.

I fought my way into the bathing suit, but as I twanged the shoulder
strap in place I gasped in horror, my boobs had disappeared!

Eventually, I found one boob cowering under my left armpit.  It took a
while to find the other.  At last I located it flattened beside my
seventh rib.
The problem is that modern bathing suits have no bra cups.  The mature
woman is meant to wear her boobs spread across her chest like a speed
bump.  I realigned my speed bump and lurched toward the mirror to take a
full view assessment.  The bathing suit fitted all right, but
unfortunately it only fitted those bits of me willing to stay inside it.
The rest of me oozed out rebelliously from top, bottom and sides.  I
looked like a lump of Playdoh wearing undersized cling wrap.

    As I tried to work out where all those extra bits had come from, the
prepubescent sales girl popped her head through the curtain, “Oh, there
you are,” she said, admiring the bathing suit.  I replied that I wasn’t
so sure and asked what else she had to show me.

    I tried on a cream crinkled one that made me look like a lump of
masking tape, and a floral two-piece that gave the appearance of an
oversized napkin in a serving ring.

I struggled into a pair of leopard-skin bathers with ragged frills and
came out looking like Tarzan’s Jane, pregnant with triplets and having a
rough day.

I tried on a black number with a midriff and looked like a jellyfish in
mourning.

I tried on a bright pink pair with such a high cut leg I thought I would
have to wax my eyebrows to wear them.

Finally, I found a suit that fitted, it was a two-piece affair with a
shorts-style bottom and a loose blouse-type top.  It was cheap,
comfortable, and bulge-friendly, so I bought it.

My ridiculous search had a successful outcome, I figured.

When I got it home, I found a label that read, “Material might become
transparent in water.”

So, if you happen to be on the beach or near any other body of water
this year and I’m there too, I’ll be the one in cut-off jeans and a
T-shirt!

You’d better be laughing or rolling on the floor by this time.  Life
isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain, with
or without a bathing suit!”

Until next time,

from the middle aged, dieting, but laughing diva.


Ambiance 22/10: Spaghetti squash with three-tomato-sauce..and autumn flavour.

Spaghetti squash makes for an quite an interesting meal…served with a homemade tomato sauce, or with  oven baked tomatoes.   Especially great for those who want to cut down on carbohydrates…and calories..

 

Suggestions:

  • Don’t overcook the squash, or else it won’t shred off in strands, but be mushy.
  • The squash can alos be cooked in the microwave oven – prick all over with a knife and microwave for about 15 minutes or more until the skin is tender but not soft. (whole squash of about 1 kg)
  • The squash on its own is fairly tasteless and bland, so take care to make your tomatoes/sauce flavorful.
  • Instead of oven baked tomatoes, a tomato sauce can be made by sauteing some onions, adding chooped tomatoes and reducing at low heat until thick anad flavorful. Season with salt and pepper, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and add shredded basil leaves.
  • Chopped olives and parmesan cheese can be added when serving the dish.
  • Marinate tomatoes are tomatoes that have been dried in the oven until semi dry and still holds juice. It must be refrigerated and doesn’t keep as long as dried tomatoes, but is much more flavorful.
  • This spaghetti with sauce can be served as an accompaniment to any kind of fish.

 

♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

I don’t do a lot of fall decoration, but I do like a little pumpkin and some fresh autumn fruit here and there. Some leaves… Nothing very whoo haa. Just a little something. A little autumn flavor brought inside.

Normalement je ne fais pas trop de décoration d’automne, à l’exception d’une courge çà et là. J’aime aussi les fruits saisonnales en abondances , comme des poires, de jolies pommes de saison et n’oublie pas de délicieux coings! Et bien sur, les belles feuilles mortes, que je ramasse quotidiennement partout sur mon passage, remplacent les bouquets de fleurs estivales. Je ne fais rien en grande pompe, mais tout ça donne juste un petit gout d’automne dans la maison et ses alentours.

..autumn leaves in white vase..

Flowers get replaced by autmn leaves and greenery, picked up on walks by the Loire..in vases, in bowls.

..autumn leaves..

White pumpkins make for attractive decor everywhere in the house. place some small ones on a stack of books, or on top of some dried moss, stack them in urns and pots…

..sandpot with pumpkins...and old books with pumpkins..

Their shapes and smooth whiteness harmonize well with the rustic texture of outside walls and pots, urns and wooden surfaces.

...urn with pumpkins..

Outside they can stand quietly beside a pot planted with white cyclamen. Or even inside keeping a vase of drying hydrangeas company. Alongside apples, they seduce us with color and form. A still life.., there.., to admire and enjoy the quietness of autumn.

..autumn decor..

♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

..bon week-end!..

Ronelle

 


Cucumber and kiwi tartine and sprouting some seeds.

Sprouting seeds is so easy. Healthy. Available to everybody. If you have a kitchen, you can have some sprouted seeds. Wonderful to use in salads and on sandwiches and it can serve as edible decoration on summer soups.

VF: Les graines germinées sont très faciles à faire. Tout le monde peut y arriver. Si on a une cuisine, si petite soit- elle, on peut toujours trouver un coin pour un germoir. C’est sain, délicieux en salade ainsi que sur une tartine et même comme une décoration comestible sur une soupe froide.

Suggestions:

  • Shave your cucumber in thin strips with a potato peeler.
  • Use also other vegetables, like carrot strips, courgette strips or fennel  and combine with thin apple slices or pear slices.
  • When using pear or apple, consider using a soft blue cheese.
  • Use a real country style bread, with a hard crust and soft interior, giving you that nutty taste. Please don’t eat those “plastic bread loaves” which just have no taste or flavor or texture!
  • Use some nuts and accompanying oil to finish off your sandwich.
  • the vegetables can first be made into a little salad, sprinkled lightly with your favorite vinaigrette and spooned on to some sliced country bread.
  • Serve with an ice cold dry rosé wine.

…moutarde blanche et roquette(white mustard seeds and rocket)…

Tips for sprouting seeds:

  1. Rinse the seeds/grains under cold water and leave to stand for an hour or three, depending on the size and type of seeds.
  2. Rinse again and  spread in a sprouter or in a glass jar, covered with muslin.
  3. Rinse  the seeds/grains twice a day and even more on hot days.
  4. Leave in a dark corner, or in direct light if you want your seeds to turn green. Seeds left in the dark will be crunchier than those exposed to light.
  5. Use a special sprouter for seeds/grains which has a gel when it gets wet…mustard seeds, rocket, lambs lettuce…
  6. Spread your grains which form a gel onto some wet cottonwool if you don’t have a special sprouter.
  7. It takes from about 3 days to 10 days to have grains ready for your use.
  8. When the grains are ready, remove them from the tray, dry on a piece of toweling and store in the fridge.
  9. My favorites – trefle rouge, radis noir, cressonnette, oignon, chou rouge, moutarde, broccoli, adzuki
  10. Some sites to read for sprouting your own  grains:  Natur santé,  Handy pantry sproutingPrimal seeds.

…the containers also vary from affordable to glamorous and expensive. But even plain can fruit bottles turned on their side will do the trick…fill them with about 2 TBSP of seeds, rinse, cover with muslin and turn onto its side...

…tréfle rouge..

…some are just plain difficult and I don’t even bother with them any more…like beetroot seeds. I’ve tried every which way, but can only succeed in sprouting 5 seeds out of a whole handful…and I DO have a pretty green finger…!

…some seeds sprout faster than others. Transfer those quick sprouting one to a container in the fridge and start fresh with new seeds. That way there will always be a variety of seeds for your salads in the fridge…

..une boîte a graines pour donner l’inspiration..

Amusez vous bien avec votre germoir, quelques graines, un peu d’inspiration et beaucoup d’enthousiasme!

…à la prochaine…


Asparagus with poppy vinaigrette and a confused chicken.

I always keep in mind something a great chef once told me:  “Asparagus are at their best until June 22″. This is my perfect excuse to luxuriate in  asparagus morning noon and night. By June 22 I then cross the finish line and can’t look an asparagus straight on. But for now, I am still running the course!

Suggestions:

  • Instead of making a vinaigrette…simple drizzle the asparagus with some oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt an pepper just before serving.
  • Add a little bundel of sprouted seeds for some crunch and good health.
  • Use some green beans instead of aspaaragus.
  • The same can be done with purple or white asparagus, but be sure to cook them long enough to avoid struggling with stringy asparagus.
  • Green asparagus don’t need to be peeled, only break them at the ends(they will break easily at the most vulnerable point)  and rinse.
  • Boil them in only enough water to cover the end parts  and halfway up the asparagus. The top leafy parts must cook in the steam of the water, or else you will eb stick with mushy asparagus or without any tops.
  • Don’t overcook asparagus, they need to by JUST tender and still have some bite.
  • Serve them immediately if served on their own. If served in a salad, they can stand a while.
  • this recipe could be finished off with a perfectly  poached egg on top of the asparagus, my ultimate favorite way of enjoying asparagus!
  • Use nigella seeds or mustard seeds or poppy seeds instead of the black lava crystals(from Hawaii) and sprinkle only a little fleur de sel.

I fly violently out of bed, hit my hand hard agains the bedside table,  instantly feeling the pain in tears. Simultaneoulsy the two cats screech off the bed, run into each other and dive for cover. A shrill squawk just outside the window,  like that of a disorientated rooster, have us all in shock. In a haze of pain and confusion, I make it down the stairs, all the while fearing my chickens are hurt; my two eight weeks old poulettes,  who conversate in dainty chirping twitters, much like young débutantes giggling on their first public appearance. Very girly. Very excited.

Ah non! There it goes again! The false shriek. We soar down the last two stairs, anxious to see what affaire is stirring outside.

There they are. Petronella and Stephanie. Happily sitting on my chair in the shade of the big umbrella. Ecstatic to see me, they storm closer in a flurry of chirps and feathers,  look eagerly  into my eyes and wait for our usual intelligent conversations.

But first I pour a strong morning coffee, just to suddenly hear a blasting shriek again, right behind me.  The cats dart off  to safety leaving me standing there alone and barefoot in my pyjamas, hand bruised and aching, staring dumbfounded at  my two grinning poulettes…could it be that I have a gay chicken….or have I been duped?


…à la prochaine!…


Strawberry soup with balsamic and the red tulip.

I am leaving for Oslo, Norway tomorrow. I decided to put up an old post before I leave which I had on Africantapestry two years ago. A little story. A sketch.

To accompany the  ongoing saga of the soon-in-bloom-tulip,  as well as the gardening folie that has me firmly in its hystyerical grip, I made a strawberry soup with the very first strawberries of the season. Not yet tasting of summer and sun though…! But who cares…! Using them in a summer/spring soup with added balsamic vinegar and handsfull of mint and pepper and rose water, is a great way to satisfy that ferocious desire for summer fruits.

Flinging soil and seedlings around in the garden (here  in the northern hemisphere!) and serving early strawberries on our plates and sometimes even catching a warm glimpse of the sun…what more can we wish for?

Suggestions:

  • Add red berries like raspberries, blackberries,  blueberries…
  • Serve with a sprinkling of freshly milled black pepper.
  • Use a handmixer instead of fork to break up the strawberries.
  • Use Maroccan mint if you can find, which have a stronger flavour than ordinary garden mint.
  • Or use some lemon verbena instead in high summer.
  • Serve chilled on hot summer days, but at room temperature early in the season.
  • Serve along with a slice of lemon poppyseed cake as accompaniment, or a herbed shortbread.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a lot of mint!
  • Use stevia, which is a herb sweetener, instead of sugar or honey.

…the red tulip…


“Like last year, this single red tulip once again made its appearance in my all white and blue  garden. And like last year, I accept it and welcome it. It has become quite a game and I’m amused by the tulip’s proudness and dedication to defeat me. It reminds me of a guy I once knew at university who wouldn’t give up either.

He was madly in love with me, completely, head over heels..and yes, he was sort of cute too, I thought at that stage. I was staying in a hostel for girls on campus, fourth floor out of six, overlooking beautifully tended campus gardens. And he was staying in a hostel for boys, way off, on the other side of the campus. That’s how it was those days. No men allowed in the girls’ hostels and vice versa, which made for very exciting experiences! Except of course, for visiting hours in the lounge downstairs.

Very regularly, he would show up at my hostel, long after visiting hours, on nights when the moon was showing off in the sky and the stars were sparkling impatiently with anticipation. With his guitar and a red rose and his best friend, I would be charmed with unashamedly beautiful love songs from the garden under my window. Their strong, deep melodious voices, trained from years of singing, had every girl hanging out their windows along with me, losing ourselves in the charm and romance of “old world courting” from down below.  Beautiful beautiful brown eyes, would always be on the list of songs and their voices would fade away in the distance with Goodnight ladies. My red rose, always stolen from an overflowing garden somewhere, would be left on the windowsill downstairs at the front door, for the hostel had already firmly been locked up for the night.

And so it happened that he got caught one night while stealing my red rose. He unfortunately chose the garden of the Professor of engineering, with whom he was very well acquainted…! He was allowed the rose, but had to work the Professor’s compost heap for two weekends. For a while, it was slow on the rose-serenading-scene and we all missed it..all the ladies, that is. Then one night there he was again, with a stolen red rose and guitar and his best friend. The cute guy I once knew. And who I still know. He is my husband.

…fini…


Celeriac salad with pears and pomegranate and a special parcel.

A refreshing salad..full of crunch and texture…a delight on the taste buds with the soft sweetness of the pears and the tart exploding sweetness of the pomegranate seeds. Fitting for a special parcel…

Suggestions:

  • Red cabbage ribbons can be added for more colour.
  • Add the pomegranate seeds last if you want you salad to be “unstained”.
  • A yoghurt dressing with lemon and honey is great too.
  • If you want a more “sustainable ” salad, add some coarsely grated hard  cheese of your choice.
  • Good with fish.
  • Can be served on its own as a starter or accompaniment as a side.
  • A good salad for losing weight  and/or detox.

Some days are sometimes unexpectedly special. Like a Tuesday when the post lady knocks on your door and with a broad smile hands you a parcel: “Voilá! Toujours Noël!” (still christmas for you!)

A lovely surprise from the extraordinary Monique at A la table de Nana. After opening up the very well wrapped outer box and fixing my eyes upon the beautiful first layer, I found myself working softer and more delicate with each unwrapping;  lingering, feathering and stroking my fingers deliberately over each wrapping, wonder what hides underneath, trying to prolong the seconds to minutes, enjoying the feeling of excitement and yielding to the pleasure of feeling special.

…opening up onto creative bookmarks and cards...

…then a next surprise…

…even more delicate and beautifully wrapped…

…so many unfolding surprises in such a small box…

…a notebook, beautiful chcolate transfers, even more beautiful cookie transfers…

Few things in life give us that warmth around the heart than caring, attention, a spontaneous compliment…a little act of some kind making you feel special. This little parcel did exactly that. It had something of everything…

…a little bit of romance, a touch of personal creativity, a hint of refinement, a sprinkling of originality, a taste of beauty…finished off with drizzlings of warmth and  presented with care and delicate attention…

Have you sent a small parcel to someone? Wrapped with care and attention to small détail, adding a little note here and a chocolate there, a smile, a giggle, a wish…not a Christmas gift. Not a birthday gift. Just something to say someone else is special. No? So…let’s just do it!

Trucs et astuces de nos grands-mères:

To substitute for crème fraîche to make whipped cream, beat an egg white to meringue phase(stiff) and add in 1 teaspoon of melted butter.


Lentil salad with apples and red onion and a vitamin boost.

We all know our list of vitamins and minerals, but it is especially in this stretch of witer here in the North, that we need to dig it out again and check our daily nutrient intake. Like so many people in the North, I am also overcome by a bad fatigue. So I am turning to nutrients even more to boost my energy and morale. Anti-fatigue foods. Like lentils and apples and kiwis, loaded with vitamin C. And many short walks during the day.  It is the getting out, getting the metabolism going and feeling the cold, which revives the mind and the body.

Suggestions:

  • Make enough lentils for a salad the next day to take to work for lunch.
  • cook lentils until tender, but still with a bite.
  • See how to make a bouquet garni at Velouté de topinambours.(Jerusalem artichokes)
  • Add walnuts for some protein.
  • Use kiwis for vitamin C and add pumpkin seeds for crunch.
  • Use the lentils warm in winter for a feeling of comfort and cold in summer for coolness.
  • soak the red onion in luke warm water for 5 minutes to remove some of the pungency.
  • Use whole grain rice if you don’t like lentils.

Tips to fight fatigue

Choose food containing vitamin C, which is the main energy stimulating vitamin. It is active in the production of energy in the cells, it protects the cells agains free radicals and it assists in the absorption of iron and calcium.

Vitamin E diminishes the feeling of fatigue. Along with vitamin C and A, it acts against free radicals and protects agains the effect of pollution.

Vit B group facilitates the transformation of proteins into energy, they regulate mood and intellectual energy and they improve the absorption of iron, assists with carrying oxygen in the blood.

Foods high in vitamin C: kiwi, parsley, cassis, raw red pepper, chercil, watercress, citrus fruits…

Vitmain B1(thiamine): liver, whole grains, seafood…

Vitamin B2(Riboflavin): REd meat, poultry(dark meats)dark green lefy vegetables…

Vit B3(Niacin): Liver, poultry, seafood, seed and nuts…

Vitamin B6(Piridoxine): Meat, fish poultry,legumes,  spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas…

Vitamin B12(cyanocobalamin): oysters, sardines, tuna, turkey chicken, eggs…

Some of the most important minerals to fight fatigue, would be selenium, iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Calcium: Dairy products, dark green vegetables, sardines with bones…

Magnesium:  dark chocolate, almonds, dried beans, walnuts, wholegrain rice, lentils, dark green vegetables, meat, fish poultry, nuts…

Potassium: Meat, fruits, legumes…

Selenium: fish, organ meats, grains…

Good foods to fight fatigue: lentils, brown rice, fennel, sweet potatoes, endives, fish, chicken, petit pois, cauliflower, apples, dates, papaja, citrus fruit, berries…

This is by no means a complete list or complete information on nutrients. There are many complete health books on the subject…this is only an inspiration to get reaquainted with our daily nutrients to give us a boost during the dark and cold days of winter.

Drink eight glasses of water per day. Cut out milk products and wheat to avoid all sorts of allergies. Cut out cafeine and all sodas. Take regular walks during the day and do some exercize. Turn the heating inside your house a little lower during the day, which forces to body to work harder at energizeing itself. Move more during the day, get up often from behind the desk and take a walk, instead of keeping water by your desk, get up and go fetch a glass of water, do some stretching, open the window and breathe in the cold fresh air…

Bibliography: Live longer cookbook – Reader’s digest; New optimum nutrition bible – Patrick holford; La Methode Montignac – Michel Montignac; Ma cuisine anti-fatigue – Marie Borrel; Total health program  – Dr. Mercola; Eating well for optimum health – Andrew Weil, MD.

Be sure to drop in at Kalyn’s kitchen, where you will always find a healthy recipe with fresh ingredients, great ideas loaded with nutrients but light on the hips and with appetizing photos.

Trucs et astuce de grands-meres:

Throw your used coffee grains on youir plants in the garden, it is a good fertilizer for plants.



Green vegetable quinoa with saffron sauce.(Quinoa aux légumes vertes et sauce au safran)

I have many weaknesses and they all depend on time of year or time of week or kind of mood. I’m not talking character weaknesses, of which I have so many, I could create a whole new population! I’m talking about those weaknesses that make you jittery in the knees. Like a handsome guy passing you on the  street( ladies..!), or a stunning woman smiling at you(for the men..!!), or that pair of shoes in the window whispering: “buy mee, buy mee…” all the while next to you, you see the man in your life droolingly staring at that iphone in the window next door.

…classic and romantic

white and grey vintage feminin

Weaknesses. As I said,I have many. But not in the line of clothes or make-up, or even kitchen gadgets. Maybe perfume? But my knees do go jello when I see old linen.  Silver. Glasses. Old etchings. OLd books! Old postcards. Old tableware. Old kitchen towls. Tablecloths.  I’d better stop. At the moment I am the  napkin phase. I love eating with a fabric napkin. Old, new, classic, contemporary, embroidered, monogrammed, linen, cotton, colourful, white..

…old and wintery…

with stories moving into winter

summer romance In summer we are loud and modern bright,  fun and frivolous with our summer tables. In winter I turn to old and classic, warm, heavier storytelling table ware. And the napkins of course, have to play along…whites and soft greys, dark aubergines and burgundies. Here at the dawn to autumn, I have grown a bit bored with all the summer napkins we used, so I got seduced this morning into indulging in a few new autumn-spirited napkins, which I couldn’t wait to use with dinner!

And no, I don’t spend a lot of money on a napkin. I have a rule as to what I’ll pay for a napkin and I never cross that african bush line. To buy expensive everyday napkins , would be obscene. And thus far I could find pretty, elegant, stylish, fun, wintery…every kind of napkin I desire, within my set budget boundaries.  Of course there are beautiful ones far above my rule script, but I would have to leave the price tag on so people would see it and then be too intimidated to wipe their mouths and so the napkins would remain forever unused.  If you have the time and a sewing machine, it becomes even cheaper and your choice of fabric is endless. But another rule when making your own(of course to be broken if you so wish, that is why there are rules..?) is to keep the napkin simple, easy washable and of a natural fabric like cotton. Leave the trimmings like buttons and boughs for your cushions. Napkins should be simple. Unadorned.

elegance

No, I don’t do any napkin folding. No swans, or donkeys, or rabbits or candles swooning next to my plate. No flowery creations suiciding over wine glass rims. Just simply folded(with the monogram or the embroidery on top, if any), or rolled and stuck into a napkin ring.

And NO STAINS!! Therefore you have the trusted old soap- and- soak trick, letting it dry in the sun. Treat your stains as soon as possible and DON’T EVER iron on a stain.

So. You’re thinking: “Fabric napkins! Urgghh! Work!!” Maybe. Or not? Isn’t it the washing machine who washes it? Or even the washing services? OK,  yeah yeah yeah, it still needs to be ironed, but isn’t all the trouble a small sacrifice compared to the delight of having a lovely napkin beside your plate? western american

So. How about an inspiring napkin drawer? Napkins neatly folded. Some maybe rolled and tied into a bundle with an oh, so pretty ribbon. And on the side in the drawer, interesting napking rings in a small basket, bowl,  old tin, or pretty covered little box(that your creative self decorated at almost no cost!)Any fragrant herbs for repellant as well as perfuming? You wouldn’t want a guest, or yourself, bringing a musty, dusty smelling napkin to his/her mouth, that area right under the nose?

After spending time and energy and thought into preparing a meal, you owe it to yourself and to the food to present it at the best table you can create. It is called respect. For yourself, and your hard work, your guests  and for the food you prepared.

…an inspiring napkin drawer makes for inspiring tablesetting. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It only has to be inventive and creative….

lining the drawer with cotton towl inspiration in the drawer

…now let’s eat!…

Vegetable quinoa with saffron sauce(quinoa aux legumes et sauce au saffran.)

Green vegetable quinoa with saffron sauce

Suggestions:

  • This is eaten like a risotto…only with quinoa, but use arborio rice and you can have a green vegetable risotto.
  • Subsitute half of the boiling water with dry white wine.
  • Any green vegetables can be used, or other for that matter.
  • If on a diet, don’t mix the réme frâiche with the vetables, but serve it on the side, as I did in the photo, but still do toss the vegetables with some olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice and seasoning.
  • Top off with some tasted almonds or some sunflowerseeds for crunch.
  • Play around, and don’t skimp on the vegetables!

…shelled beans & peas…

shelled beans, peas & parmiggiano


Scorpion fish with citrus salad(Rascasse aux agrumes)

Sun and summer are  still plentiful here in Montlouis. On arriving home, we opened the gates to a jungle of green. . Mosquitoes in the switched off fountain. Boxwood in pots dried and sad. Rosebushes hanging heavy with hips, spiderwebs in every corner, dust swirling around in the streams of sun light. Mail overflowing. Advertisements strewn over the entrance…does it sound familiar?

…bienvenue chez nous!…

chez van wyk

…entrez!…

fenetre chez nous 2 fenetre chez nous

fenetre chez nous 1 view to the loire

Back bending and hopeful we dug in. Into the garden. Into the house. Scraping, digging, pruning  shoveling. We drank water by the liters and turned to icy cold colas. We washed and rinsed, dusted and coughed, groaned and polished. Not to mention attacking the washing machine with vigour and gratitude! I forgot how to set the time on my microwave oven and wondered if I still needed it? I listened to the murmur of my dishwasher and wondered how on ever I got by for 5 months without! I now once agin appreciate my comfy and (for me), simple but luxurious kitchen and delighted in putting together a meal of fish and citrus fruit. Then we indulged in our dinner under the parasol, hearing the fountain, smelling the September bloom of jasmin, dreaming and planning for this second half of 2009.

…indulgement…

Citrus Scorpion fish

Citrus scorpion fish filets 1

Suggestions:

  • Scorpion fish is really delicious  and reminds somewhat of lobster flesh. But of course any fish can be used for this recipe and the method of cooking can be adapted as well. If on a diet and you want to stay away from sauteing, then go for poaching, or even roasting in the oven. Just make sure NOT to overcook the fish filets. In any case, fish should ALWAYS be done quickly, because a little standing time cooks the fish even further. Nothing is more off- putting than rubbered fish!! Another note on fish…do your guests the honour and favour, by  removing ALL the fish bones…the reason why many people shy away from fish!
  • Don’t raise the eyebrows for the amount of lemon segments…it really flavours the dish and it isn’t noticeable as..”eeuww…lemon!”
  • For a suggestion on  how a citrus fruit is segmented you can seethe slide show in a previous post here:  Citrus and carrot salad – how to segment an orange.
  • the orange flower water enhances the salad and it is a good idea to have it in your pantry as a few drops enhances many a dish. To harmonize with the citrus and orange flower flavour, the addition of a citrus honey would be perfect, but a flower honey is nice too, which is what I used. Try not to use acacia, since it competes with the orange flower water.
  • And lastly…DO have fun when cooking! Remember, cooking is all about Try, Test and Taste!!

…letting it marinate…

marinating the citrus salad 9-8-2009 4-17-59

Montlouis is situated on the banks of the wild, untamed Loire river in Touraine, 10 minutes from Tours, and on the route touristique…wines, chateaux, promenades, photograph tours and the special troglodytes of Touraines, where many people adore living in the caves. We also have 3 caves at the back in our property, going into the cliff. But more on that and les troglodytes and its lifestyles  next time. For now, a taste of la vie quotidienne d’une Montlouisienne(moi!)!

…je vous prèsente  Montlouis…

Approaching Montlouis

…then you turn right, then go up the hill, then.. then…

famous landmark of Montlouisup the hill to Montlouis

In the photo at the top left can be seen…an enormous bunch of grapes! Which at some stage was lit at night and it was a fountain, but now it only serves as the land mark of our little town. It forms part of every direction giving to deliveries and strangers and visitors:  “…et puis on va tout droit, et puis on tombe sur une horrible grappe de raisin, et puis on tourne à droite et puis….(then you go straight, then you will see a huge ugly bunch of grapes right next to the Loire, then you turn right up the hill, then…”)

Turning at this bunch of grapes takes you up a steep hill to la centre ville, where cars play second fiddle to walking and cycling, shopping and chatting.

…centre ville…

riding bicycle staircase

…walking and shopping…

centre ville hand in hand

It is a busy little town with festivals going on throughout the year..brocantes et vide greniers, jazz festivals in September, tomato festival at the chateau bourdaisiere in September, garden festival in april, bread festvals, wine festivals, food festvals, fresh market every Thursday. We have the jour de Loire, with all activities and actions circling around the river Loire. And just as we think  by the end of the year that the festivals are over, along comes the Christmas market, and we eat again, chat again, drink and buy wine again, shop for that star for le sapin noël

…religion, homes and war..

Montlouis church Madame Martin aux enfants de Montlouis

…need directions?…

Montlouis collage 9-9-2009 11-36-05 AM

Life is a hustle and bustle at Montlouis, while the Loire just nonchalantly continues snaking forward – silently  in summer and filling up with winterrains to a passionate and powerful flood..

Voilà a short introduction to the place we call home. There is more to come in follow ups- the festivals, the people of Montlouis, interviews with les vignerons(winemakers) and their pleasures, artists of the area, the caves and their history and all kinds of food, fun and flair! A bientôt!

…la Loire en septembre…

la loire from the top of the hill

…sunset in September…

sunset in September 3


Cold tomato and orange soup

Yesterday we had rain here at Coin Perdu in Corréze, where we are restoring our mountain home. So last night asked for something soupy. Because we are temporarily living in the barn for the next year or two, I don’t have an oven, only a stove. So a soup is quite easy. And quick. I am always joyful when hearing the word quick.

…cold tomato and orange soup…

tomato soup 2

cold tomato soup recipe.bmp

…summer says outside…

relaxing after the jobgreen plate


Cold cucumber and kiwi soup

I’ve never been a big fan of cucumber. I find them rather tasteless and watery. But it is those exact reasons that make them a perfect base for a cold summer soup. I use cucumber with different herbs, or combined with other fruits or vegetables to make a light soup, especially on a warm summers afternoon or dinner. In this case I used kiwi, an excellent source of vitamin C.

…cold cucumber and kiwi soup…

cold Cucumber and kiwi salad.bmp

It may seem very “light” for a meal on its own, but we are eating way too much and our portions are way too big. This is an ample meal, if seved with some grilled seafood, like shrimps or langoustine tails, then followed by a cheese platter and a crusty grain bread and finished off with a seasonal dessert, or even only fruit.

It is custom in our house to eat “3 courses”. Now doesn’t that sound pretentious! But in fact, it is actually only “one course” that we serve seperately in 3 stages, or even more! A salad would serve as a starter, in it’s own bowl or plate, then followed up with maybe a fish/meat and a small vegetable, like a cherry tomato or two, or a bundle of french string beans tied with some tasty ham,  and afterwards maybe a slice of 2 cheeses  with baguette and finish off lastly with some dessert like a fruit, or joghurt.  A small espresso. Maybe a chocolate. That’s it.

Another rule of thumb is: When you start light, you can go heavier OR start heavy and go lighter. And try to keep the portions small, served on small plates!  That way, each serving gets centre stage, each flavour is appreciated on its own – no fighting flavours and colours all on one plate. With all the money you save on buying smaller quantities of food, you can invest in some interesting plates, making meals attractive and appealing. The stomach(and brain) is also cheated into thinking he has been given a five course meal, so the feeling of satiety and satisfaction is still rich! Serve the food on plates each individually as well, so you don’t get seduced into second helpings when the bowls stare longingly at you on the table,  right in front of you! Men are usually resistant to get up to serve themselves and women are embaressed to have everybody see them get up for MORE FOOD!

So. Let’s eat less. Smaller portions. Around a table. Attractive table ware. Colourful. Light. Lets’ talk about our food. About its colours. The tastes and smells and flavours, textures. Let’s enjoy it and rise from the table, still having room and energy left for a brisk walk.

…the sunflower; Micheln 3 star restaurant…

sunflowers 2sunflowers 3sunflowers 9sunflowers 7



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