fruit

Apple cake..and “le marché des douceurs à Montlouis s/L”.

Our youngest daughter loves apple-anything and she started baking this cake when she was only knee high. It is from The Australian woman’s weekly home librabry – Cakes and slices. We’ve changed it only  a little . The recipe directs to cut apples in quarters and then cut 3/4 trhough in slices and then press into the dough. It gives a beautiful cake, but makes the slices too big(to include apples in each slice) so we cut the apples in slices and spread them through out the cake, which gives a less attractive cake, BUT much more moist and of course delicious!

PS: forgive the bad photo..I was being pushed on with the photo, because my daughter didn’t want the cake cold…and after all, she DID bake the cake..!


Suggestions.

  • Pears could be used instead of apples.
  • Instead of inserting the apples slices all over the top of the cake, the apples can be cut into courters and then sliced only 3/4 way through. Press into the cake at the edges. I gives a prettier cake, but the slices won’t be spread through out the cake.
  • Gelatin powder can be used…1 tsp.
  • Best when served slightly warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on the side…or my ever trusting naughty crème fraîche!
  • It can be stored for two to three days.

Last weekend, Montlouis held its yearly, autumn “marché des douceurs. A lot of eating and drinking, socializing and selling marks the day and if one arrives home hungry you have only yourself to blame!

Le week-end dernier etait le marché des douceurs en centre ville de notre petit village si sympa, avec des rencontres de  Montlouisiens si sympa. C’est la fête automnale annuelle et on y mange et on y boire. On discute dans les rues, on vends et on achète .   Si, après tout ca, on rentre à la maison sans un sourire ou encore affamé… eh bien, c’est pas à cause d’un manque de  la nourriture ou un manque de divertissement!

...local organic vegetables...

..directions to Montlouis..

..en vélo..

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..poduits Basques..

..crépe au nutella..

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...fondants chocolats, macarons and nougats from Tours...

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...fun for the kiddies...

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la fameuse Géline de Touraine

..la barbe à papa..

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..tumbling flowers..

..menu de la loire à 15 euros..

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...the fish from les Animalis...

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..."M le fermier" and his vegetable "sculptures"...

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

…à la prochaine…

Ronelle


Red berries sorbet and Rue Scellerie in Tours.

In the extreme heat we are experiencing, a sorbet is more refreshing than ice cream… and my favourite…red berries. Combined with some poached summer peaches and a scoop of vanilla/peach ice cream and topped with some chantilly… a peche melba to die for. But for now, only a scoop of sorbet with a min leaf. This is a popular sorbet found at La patisserie de Madame Cheftel in rue Scellerie in Tours. Delicious.

VF: Dans l’extrême chaleur qu’on subi maintenant en France, il n’y a pas mieux qu’un sorbet…fait maison en plus. Un sorbet aux fruits rouges. Pour un dessert somptueux, on fait des pêches pochées, ajoute une glace vanille ou même de la pêche, une boule de sorbet et on sert avec un nuage de chantilly. Et voilà, un délicieux pêche melba! Mais pour l’instant, restons à une boule de sorbet aux fruits rouges, décorée avec un feuille de la menthe. Délicieux!


Recipe from Ice cream and iced desserts(Le grand livre des glaces) – Joanna Farrow & Sara Lewis.

Suggestions:

  • Use other fruit…strawberries, peaches(remove skin), apricots(remove skin)…winter fruits like pear(peeled) combined with a little white  sauterne wine. (Don’t add too much alcohol or else your sorbet won’t freeze.)
  • Add some peaches to the red berries for a more intense flavor.
  • Add some finely chopped mint leaves for a fresh flavor.
  • Stirring the sorbet every now and then when making it by hand, helps break up the ice crystals to give a smoother, creamier sorbet.
  • during the warm summer days, keep the ice cream maker out of heat or warm air when making the sorbet, it will help  your ice cream/sorbet reaching the iced staged quicker.

Rue Scellerie is one of my favorite streets in Tours. It walks up to the cathedral where I always make a stop and it passes by my favourite patisserie de Madame Cheftel. It has antique stores, book stores, our Grand Theatre, exclusive boutiques, a toy shop with GORGEOUS toys – a far cry from toys are us! Of course a chocolaterie, one or two salons de thé, an art galery, a park with a fountain and it ends at the cathedral.

VF: Rue Scellerie est une de mes préférées a Tours. Je prends si  fréquemment la route, fais un arrêt à la pâtisserie de la charmante Madame Cheftel pour un thé et un petit gâteau et continue ma vadrouille, passe les boutiques exclusives, un mignon magasin de jeux d’enfants, un chocolaterie, une galerie des arts, prend une repose auprès de la fontaine dans le parc, et finis à la Cathédrale de Tours.


…our Grand Theatre, dates from about 1794, was destroyed by a fire in 1883. Everything was burnt down to the ground except for four walls. In 1889 the doors were opened again, just to be closed by the world war I in 1914 and then again for world war II and reopened again in 1939, after the war(le grand Theatre d,epoque de 1700, ferme pour les deux guerres du monde et réouvert dans 1939)...

…a street filled with  old book stores(pleine de librairies)

…and antique stores… and brocantes(antiquités et brocantes)…

…and a scary old lady in her VERY old ancienne book store, not taking nonsense from anyone and I always first peep through the window to see if she is out, before I enter(une vieille dame d’une nature un peu effrayante dans  une librairie ancienne, et avant d’entrer dans sa librairie, je jète un œil pour vérifier qu’elle n’est pas présente!))…

…a little store with an adorable proprietesse who has lovely old curtains made from old fabric and who doesn’t want to sell her bicycle(un magasin avec  des rideaux faits de vieille tissu et un vélo pas à vendre, dommage)

…shops with old medals and coins for the men and old jewellery for the ladies(des magasin au goût des homme et ceux-là avec des bijoux pour plaire aux  femmes.

…tea and cake at Madame Cheftel’s Patisserie – having her shop for already 29 years and always greeting one with her chic short hair, wearing her black apron, her wide smile and a little joke at the ready…how can we not stop by and indulge in her delicacies(un goûter chez Madame Cheftel qui a son pâtisserie déjà 29 ans et elle est toujours charmante, chaleureuse, souriante avec un air chic aux cheveux courtes et elle court partout en tablier noir, folle d’énergie)


…which already wink at you in her window display(les gourmandises nous séduisent en vitrine)


…and then off to browse again the  every-4th- sunday-brocante in rue scellerie; small and intimate, but with an interesting find every time among all the(et voilà la brocante de chaque quatrième Dimanche, très agréeable malgré le petit nombre des exposants) …

…stuff – displayed on the ground, or sometimes not so stable tops(on fouille par terre, sur les tables bancale)…

…but always inviting one to lean in for that closer peak(on regarde de prés) …

…or to simply just walk and say hi to the brocanteurs, who endure bitter cold, hoping optimistically they will make a sale(on discute avec les brocanteurs, qui endurent parfois des températures sévères avec l’optimisme d’en faire au moins une vente ou deux)  …

Bon weekend et à la prochaine!


A summer apricot soup amuse bouche and une fête d’été!

An apricot soup says SUMMER! in so many ways.In its bright yellow color we find the warmth of mid summer days. The flavor has us  smelling the shadows of big overhanging tree branches…that afternoon nap after the pic-nique. And the taste…the taste that makes us hear les cigales in the heat of the day, see les guêpes hoovering over all the sweet delicacies of our al fresco meals… So. If you’re in the mood for a little summer heat and holiday…take to an apricot soup, close your eyes and see yourself  stretched out in the fields, chewing on a grass sprig, dozing off  with a heavy summer laze and then just lose yourself in being the happiest soul walking this earth!

*Une petite soupe d’abricot est indispensable pour l’été. Sa couleur nous donne la chaleur des journées dorées. Dans son saveur on sent les ombres des rameaux d’un grand noyer et on a envie de  s’allonger et fermer les yeux pour un petit moment magique. Et le goût…le goût nous donne l’impression d’entendre les cigales, de voir les guêpes qui dérangent la tranquilité d’un repas al fresco. Alors. Goûtons cette petite soupe et laissons notre imaginaire nous transporter vers un champ où on s’allonge dans l’herbe et nos pensées disparaissent dans les nuages de rêves et de bonheur.



Suggestions:

  • Try this also with soft ripe peaches.
  • Use a rose wine instead of a white.
  • for a completely vegetarian dish, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
  • Serve with a fresh traditional baguette, topped with some melted camembert cheese.

VF:

  • Substituez avec des pèches.
  • Remplacez le vin blanc par une rosé.
  • Pour la version végétarienne, replacer le bouillon de poulet par un bouillon de légumes.
  • Servez accompagnée d’une baguette ancienne et son camembert fondu.

…un brunch d’été…

With two weeks left before the summer holidays, it is now or never to have a fete d’ete with all our friends before they all take off with their straw hats  and tanning lotions. Let’s make it special. Make it fun. Make it beautiful and dreamy. Summer. Gay with color. Inviting.

*Dans deux semaines on arrive au début de vacances d’été. Il reste donc qu’un petit bout de temps pour se régaler une toute dernière fois avec nos amies, avant qu’on prenne la route, armée de nos crèmes solaires et les espadrilles! Allé! Faisons une fête spéciale. Gracieuse. Chaleureuse.  Merveilleusement habillée avec les couleurs gaies de l’été.

…rustic romance for a brunch…

Choose a corner in the garden.

On cherche un coin dans le jardin.

…a view on summer…

Go overboard on flowers and plants. Don’t spend money on buying flowers. Pick all kinds of greenery and even herbs and don’t overlook the beauty of weeds all around you. Ask a friend for trimmings which are happening now to pump new life into plants. Buy some seedlings or summer plants instead that can be planted afterward in the garden. They come at cheap prices everywhere now and buy them in trays. Set the trays as is on your tables and in your serving corners. Tie some rafia or some sisal around for a ristic garden look. And don’t forget to send a few plants in a cute container home with your friends, which they can plant in a pot or their own garden. And DON”T do what I did….have so much fun that you forget to give each friend her plants at going home time!

*Il y’a un choix exubérant de  fleurs et  de plantes. Ne dépensez pas d’argent sur les fleurs en commerce. Elles sont libres et abondantes tout autour de nous. Pensez aux herbes, aux feuillages, même les mauvaises herbes qui poussent sans cesse avec une beauté plus subtile. Surtout on a des voisins et des amis qui font une nettoyage de saison en ce moment, donnant une nouvelle vie saisonnier au jardin. Passez par la jardinerie et achetez des barquettes de fleurs d’été, qui peut servir pour la décoration de table et  comme cadeaux pour nos invités, voir plantée dans leurs propres coins du jardin.

…pétunias in trays and all things garden…

…serving corners…

…umbreallas at the ready…

Have some colorful umbrellas close by for that urgent run in that rain to the bathroom! And in the same thinking frame…remember some suncream for those who prefer sitting in the sunny side, have an ecofriendly trap for the “gueppes” so you can  lunch in peace and provide lots of cool water if you are lucky to have a blasting hot summers day, but if not…a cozy little throw can provide some body heat if your day is cool and cloudy like we had on Friday!

*N’oubliez pas les jolies parapluies pour les courses sous la pluie ou pour se rendre à la maison. Et pourquoi pas une crème solaire pour ceux qui adorent s’installer en plein soleil. Une piège bio pour les omniprésentes guêpes sera un petit geste attentionné. Voir dans le cas d’une canicule, l’eau fraîche à boire nous éviterons de tomber dans un sommeil impolie. Pourtant, dans mon cas ce Vendredi dernier…cette scenario était impossible, car on est ici en France toujours capturé dans l’âge de glace!

..knee blankets and flowers do go together…

…cherries, freshly picked from a friends garden, a garden hat and pretty flower…

…garden tools and a warming fire…

Have your guests bring their favorite dish to the table. We had delicious quiches and gorgeous salads, which I hope to bring to you soon with the permission of my friends, we finished with magnificent  cheese a friend got fresh from the market earlier the morning and we feasted on local rose’s and homemade moelleux wine with our strawberry soup.

*Les amies apprécient toujours contribuer à la table, n’hésitez pas à demander une bonne quiche ou une salade gourmande, comme elles sont faites pour notre brunch. Puis, on a terminé le brunch avec du fromage du marché, une soupe de fraises pour un dessert et ce festin était accompagné par une bonnes rosé d’Evres et un moelleux fait maison par ma gentille voisine Claudine!

A fete d’ete indeed. More than that. An uplifiting 5 hours spent with lovely ladies, funny ladies, creative ladies. Friends. Summer. Good food. And so traditionally french,  we tasted, examined, commented, complimented, changed the recipe, suggested alternative ingredients, discussed accompanying wines, and simply savored each helping. 

*Voila une vraie fete! En fait, beaucoup plus que ça. C’était quelques 5 heures passées dans la compagnie de femmes très sympas, drôles et créatives. Les amies. L’été. Une bonne table. Et comme la tradition dicte toujours en France, nous avons goûté et fait des propositions de différentes  ingrédients. On a testée, examinée, changée les recettes, discutée les vins comme des pros… bref…un après-midi savoureux et chaleureux!

Then we said our goodbyes and gave our “bisous” with promises of outings to chateaux…and a lunch.. To show gardens…and a lunch. To walks around town…and a lunch. To hiking trails…and a lunch. To painting days…and a lunch. to music concerts…and a lunch. The moral of the story? We have to seize the moment.
So c’mon! Deck the garden, load the table with fresh produce! Call up your friends! Chill the wine! Life is short…grab onto it with in a fork in the one hand and a joie de vivre in the other!

*Nous avons faites nos bisous avec de sacrées promesses de se réunir en visites des châteaux…et un lunch. Des promenades en ville…et un lunch. Des rencontres Van goghe-esques…et un lunch. Les concerts musiques…et un lunch. Alors. On comprend qu’une chose. Il faut profiter de chaque moment!

Allez! appelons nos amies!Ouvrons le portail! Faisons le marché! Décapitons le champagne! La vie passe trop vite…profitons-en avec une fourchette et un joie de vivre triomphant!

…passez une bonne été et à la prochaine!…


Grilled Charentaise melon and la joliesse(beauty).

The Charentaise melon is coming in, sweet and bright. Treat yourself to one half, cut up, drizzled with maybe some caramel syrup and sprinkle with lavender, put on the grill, your loving husband so tenderly lit up for your plump fruit and once again…as always here on Myfrenchkitchen….indulge with a spoon and shameless delight!

VF: Le melon Charentaise arrive sur les marchés, radieux et douce. Pourquoi pas se régaler avec peut-être un sirop de caramel, quelque fleurs de lavande et puis on demande à notre amour d’allumer un feu et de griller ce petit melon coupé en deux tendrement, jusqu’a ce qu’il se caramelise. Et comme toujours ici à Myfrenchkitchen, on se régale scandaleusement!

  • Cut a melon in half, scoop out the seeds and turn upside down on the grill. Grill over medium coals until nicely caramelized.

  • Turn over and pour in some sauce of your choice…I used maple syrup.
  • Leave over warm colas for a while to get soft and have the syrup infuse the melon.
  • Add the chopped rosemary and leave another few minutes.
  • Remove to pretty plates, serve with a dollop of cream or ice cream and enjoy warm.

…fini…


Suggestions:

  • I used maple syrup…sue also honey, or a proper caramel sauce.
  • Enjoy while still warm.
  • It can also be grilled in the oven, or inside grill.
  • Serve with ice cream, corresponding with your flavour… a vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, or lavender ice cream with lavender petals, or mint ice cream with chopped fresh mint.
  • For a less sweeter version, use cream or crème frâiche.

I have someone dear in my life who is experiencing terrible pain at the moment. When the rain passed this morning and the world glittered under the Correze sun, I thought of her and her courageous words: “I want to appreciate everything even more than before“, which is hardly possible, since she already appreciates life with every fiber of her being. But her words stick to me as I drive along the road here in Puy d’Arnac, forcing me to look at every nook and appreciate the obvious beauty all around.

J’ai une chère ami qui endure beaucoup de douleur en ce moment. Ce matin, j’ai parcouru la route de Puy d’arnac avec les mots courageux de mon ami resonnants dans ma tête: “Je désire apprecier toutes les choses plus qu’avant”.. Je peux témoigner qu’elle le fait déja. Mais cette phrase m’interpelle toujours. Elle me force à regarder et observer chaque petit coin et apprécier la beauté abondante qui m’entoure.

May her pain and the pain of all those who experience whatever hurt at this moment,  subside,  so the beauty can become alive again. And may we, who have less pain, appreciate everything even more than before.

Je veux bien que tout sa douleur et même les douleurs des autres, peu importe la douleur, s’efface, pour que la beauté vive encore. En plus, il faut que nous, qui sommes épargnés de la souffrance, tentions aussi d’apprécier toutes les choses plus qu’avant.


…les roses rouges pour l’amour…

Now is the time for exuberant roses and Puy d’Arnac isn’t shy to show off her splendor. All the way down the hill, the roses drape themselves around the crosses which can be found on every corner of a crossroad, against old walls and staircases, in doorways…where there is a nook , there is a rose. And where there is a rose there is beauty.

…la grande portail

…les roses roses et rouges et une abeille…

un croix au carrefour…

…deux chaises autour d’une rose…

…la route monte a Puy d’Arnac…

… les vieux murs habillés par des roses delicates…

…la rose blanche et l’immatriculation…

Have a lovely weekend and remember to appreciate the obvious beauty around us and look in closer to find the less obvious.

…à la prochaine…


Pan sauteed summer fruit and the charming character of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne.

The summer fruits are winking at the markets, enticing us with their plump “rondeurs” and their rosy cheeks. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, dark velvety red cherries, flirty strawberries and mischievous blueberries and raspberries, blackberries and all kinds of beady berries. The best way of course is to enjoy the summer fruits right from the tree, picking with one hand and eating with the other. Or buy the red cheeked nectarine at the market stand and have the juices run down the palm of your hand right there while you pay Monsieur his few centimes. But should he complain about your bad manners and sticky money,  you can place your peaches elegantly in your basket and hurry home, take out your pan, cut up your summer fruits, call your friend and tell her/him to come over with some creme fraiche and quickly pan sautée your cut fruit in a caramelized vanilla syrup. Sit down under the walnut tree with your friend and scoop up a spoonful of fruit with a dollop of cream and imagine what paradise must be like.

Pan sautéed summer fruits

  • Melt some butter in a big pan, add some sugar and melt over low heat. Add a good serving of white balsamic vinegar to the syrup.
  • Clean summer fruits of your choice: peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries…
  • Remove the seeds and cut the bigger peaches, nectarines  and apricots into quarters. Leave the strawberries and other berries whole. Remove the seeds of the cherries.

  • Add the harder fruits like the peaches and apricots tot the butter mixture. Simmer gently in the syrup for a few minutes.Add the rest of the fruit, keeping some berries aside to add fresh just before serving.
  • Stir over the heat for a few minutes more.

  • Add a handful of torn basil leaves and fresh mint.
  • Pour into serving bowls and serve while warm with ice cream or cream on the side.

Suggestions:

  • Any mixture of fruits can be used.
  • Vary the sizes of the fruits for interest in texture and visual appeal.
  • Don’t overcook the fruit…keep it still with some crunch.
  • Serve while still slightly warm.
  • Collect interesting small pans to serve outside.
  • It can easily be prepared on the barbecue.
  • Add vanilla seeds scraped from a vanilla pod and some fresh thyme for variation.

…Beaulieu-sur -Dordogne is a beautiful medieval town on the banks of the Dordogne river, situated in la vallée de la Dordogne in Corréze…

Even though we fall under the commune of Puy d’Arnac here at Coin Perdu, our mountain home,  Beaulieu sur Dordogne is the village where we do our shopping…the marché, a morning cafe créme with croissants. It is also where Hartman regularly stops at Point P with his remorque to fill up on building material. Les Monsieurs just take out the book, have him sign and off he goes, back to Coin Perdu where the work is waiting. I might linger longer…have a coffee at Les voyageurs, chat with Cecile, walk around with my sketchbook and camera, buy strawberries and salad at the marché and pop in at the Antiquités.

…hôtel de ville…


…baron de Marbot Marcellin…

…une boulangerie et une boucherie – two places no french town can do without…

…la place du marché…

where the Antiquités draws me in every time with its beautiful things of yesteryear…

…la bôite a lettre et l’eau potable – for those thirsty moments and the ever important letter or postcard  to post…

…if’ like me, you love anything architectural, all these beautiful old lintels above the doors will keep you spell bounded, in awe of the craftsmanship and detail…

…and still more…

…few things can be as fascinating as watching people, making up stories about them, wondering about their hopes and dreams and then turn around to wonder about our own…

… never a dull moment when it comes to a little humor and interest…

…and beauty is always present…

…in the charm of old stone and wood, pretty lace and an unpretentious flower…

If ever you might be passing through our special area of Corréze, turn off at Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, give me a call and drop in for un petit noir at our Coin Perdu, only 10 minutes away… where the world really comes to a standstill and like Peter Pan, we live extracts of life we never thought possible.

…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…


Crystallized orange strips and mothers and daughters.

When thinking of mothers and daughters, I think of  oranges and coffee. Oranges recall childhood days with my mother and coffee recalls intimate talks with my daughters. SO. Let’s first pour ourselves a coffee with a snack while we ready ourselves for stepping into the relationships of mothers and their daughters.

As young girl, my mother regularly peeled an orange and then broke it in half, one half for me, the other for her…and another orange…peel…one half for me…one half for her…It continued this way even after I have become a mother myself. So I decided these sugared orange strips would be a fitting accompaniment to the endless cups of coffee and girl talk I have had(and still have) with my daughters over the years.

Suggestions:

  • Let the peel  strips cool down in the syrup before dipping them in the sugar.
  • They can be dipped in melted chocolate instead(or as well)
  • Store them in a cool and dry place.
  • Use as decorations on cakes or desserts.
  • Use also lemon and grape fruit peel
  • Try and use biological fruit.
  • Always wash and dry the fruit before using.

I came across a lovely book which was the trigger for these pondering thoughts: Histoire des mères et filles, by Gabrielle Houbre. (The history of mothers and daughters) (Editions de la Martinière). It covers social paradoxes, intimate journals, choosing husbands, the role of the grandmother, motherhood judged by the law and the public, and beautiful images, paintings and drawings.  I enjoyed the history of this special relationship through the decades, comparing it with what we have today in our contemporary world, seeing how much it had changed, yet how much it is still the same..

Histoires des mères et filles.

…alice in wonderland, 1879, (george dunlop leslie)…

“…God, You who can do everything, give me the strength to make my family happy, You can do with me as You wish, I belong to You. You know how hard I work: keep me from evil, and save me from mine. Mother! Mother! Please come to me. Speak to me! I am suffering!…” Laure Frémont, 17 years old, Journal, Besancon.

  1. left: edith kingdon gould et sa fille marjorie, 1903(Théodore mace)…
  2. right: mme collas et sa fille gisélle, 1903 (théobald chartran)…

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  1. left: c’est ma fille monsieur”(it is my daughter, sir)…
  2. right: chagrin d’amour, 1908 (ferdinand von reznicek) – “don’t be so unhappy from love, my child, it will ruin your complexion!!”

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

“Je t’embrasse ma chérie, de tout mon coeur. Mais ne perds pas ton temps! Les consignes, les punitions, les réprimandes, les bouderies, les rancunes, tout ca c’est du temps gâché. La vie est si courte…De tout mon coeur je suis Ta Maman et ton amie, Colette”. (I embrace you my darling, with all my heart. Don’t waste your time!  all the instructions, the punishments, the reprimands, moods and resentments are a waste of time. Life is so short…With all my heart I am your mother and your friend, Colette.) Letters from Colette to her daughter, 1916-1953)

  1. left: Mme Vigée-Lebrun et sa fille Jeanne Lucie Louise dite Julie, 1789(Elizabeht Vigée-Lebrun)…
  2. right: Soins tyranniques, 1840 (Frédéric Bouchot) ” – ” Chère enfant, tu es en âge de te marier, l’agitation de ton esprit, tes émotions inquètes et vagues; tout m’annonce que ton coeur s’éanouit…J’ai fait pour toi le choix d’un èpoux qui te rendras[sic] heureuse”(dear child, you are of age to be married, your agitation, your nervousness, your emotional spirit; all tells me that your heart is blooming…I made a choice of husband for you who will make [sic]you happy).

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

As for my own two daughters …each phase was wonderful. Sometimes hard and sometimes tiring, difficult and challenging. But still wonderful. I think I learnt more from them than I taught them in these past  22 and 24 years. I learnt acceptance, patience(a lot!). I learnt about honesty, humility, I learnt that hope is a neccessary part of each day. I learnt that you can’t have daughters without a sense of humour. I learnt to understand, or at least to make an affort to understand. I learnt to be strong when I wanted to be weak. I learnt to move on when I wanted to rest. I learnt about history and chemistry and architecture and tennis and biology and sex education. I learnt about broken hearts and tantrums and slammed doors and locked away journals.  I learnt that gentlesness goes a far way. I learn that too much kindness can lead to disappointment. I learnt that discipline gives security. I learnt that giving love is more rewarding than receiving. I learnt that no sadness or hurt or disappointment can break this love.

…mère et filles…

Now, as they have become young women, I look onto them with pride and love. I can’t do it any other way. Is it perfect…our mother/daughter relationship? Far from! I irritate them. They work on my nerves. They mess up my kitchen. Thjey find me”high maintenance”. They make pasta this way. I make mine that way. I ask too many questions, they tell me too little.  They don’t make their beds. I make mine too perfect. I yell at them.  They ignore me. They get angry with me.  I get upset with them…..is it perfect? This relationship of ours? Of course it is! It is as it should be! They have become individuals.  They have grown into human beings…funny, witty(sometimes too much!), intelligent(every now and then!) , caring, wise(sometimes?), cute, understanding, accepting…Time has forced us all to grow into human beings. We are friends. But first and foremost, we are mère et fille.

…fini…




A classic crêpe recipe and feasting the Mardi Gras way.

Today is Mardi gras. 16 Fevrier. According to Catholic tradition, it is the last day of indulging in the “fat of the land” before taking on the fasting of the 40 days to Pacques(Easter). It is celebrated by crazy feasting, carnivals…so, in the fun spirit of Mardi gras…let’s feast and carnival today, for tomorrow the world ends!

And the way to do it…crêpes of course. Every which way you want it. Stacked, rolled, folded in parcels, folded in triangles, aumoniéres, flambéed, caked, salty, sweet, natural…you name it.

My husband’s favourite crêpe is sprinkled with softly flavoured cinnamon sugar, drizzled with lemon juice and rolled. He folds it double and whops it into his mouth, crunching on the still crackling sugar, while he starts sprinkling and rolling the next one.

We have a good friend who spreads his crêpe with butter, sprinkles liberally with sugar, folds it into a little parcel to entrap the butter and there you go…warm, melted butter and sugar…. every bite.

Then there are those individuals more deliberate. I am one. Open up the crêpe on a plate, very warm, spread a loaded knife with nutella over one half, fold over and then again to form a triangle, pick it up ever so dainty with your hands and then with closed eyes, dig those teeth into the crêpe, all the while feeling the warm chocolate trickling down your fingers. Pure heaven.

Suggestions:

  • I always use 2 eggs for 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and 20g of butter. It makes it easy to multiply for big batches of crêpes.
  • I use water instead of milk for lighter crêpes, that way I can eat one extra!
  • The baking soda adds to a ligher crêpe.
  • Leave the batter to stand and “develop” a while…like a good relationship.
  • Don’t keep the crêpes warm over hot water or on astove, it dries out with heat. Keep the crêpes close by your baking process and turn the stack often to keep warm. If necessary they can be quickly reheated in small batches if too  cold.
  • Don’t sprinkle with sugar just after baking, unless you want syrupy crêpes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar individually when eating for crunch.
  • DO make some oopsedaisies…and enjoy them while baking!!
  • When using Nutella, warm a little in the microwave to soften for easier spreading.

Of course there are many ways to indulge when feasting on a crêpe: drizzlings of canadian maple syrup and sprinkled with chopped nuts; mountain honey;  a scoop of vanilla ice cream with dark decadent chocolate sauce…

Or how about some caramelized fruit – crêpe Suzette with flambéed oranges; apples and currants  with a hint of cinnamon, lemon juice and oven roasted almonds, drizzled with a trickle of thick balsamic syrup, red berries with créme frâiche; tropical caramelized mango with passionfruit; banana with caramel sauce and fleur de sel… endless possibilities!

Don’t forget the salty fillings;  smoked salmon, drizzled with lemon juice and mixed with capers and some chopped spring onions or chioves, parsley or dill,  and served with a greek tzatziki made from fromage blanc, lemon juice and  cucumber and finshed off with a sprinkling of lump eggs.

Or my favourite…spinach sauteed with onion and thyme, sprinkled with freshly grated nutmeg, s touch of lemon juice and a generous helping of créme frâiche and lastly sprinkled with crumbled goats cheese…

But crépes are not only about the filling and eating. On days like Mardi gras, when the world is a little crazy, baking crêpes should be a little crazy too. A little flopping and flipping, whirling and twirling and of course, countless oopsedaisies!!

And so, as this day ends… and our tummies call to a halt… and the craziness turns to mellowness… only one thing remains…..

Trucs & astuces de nos grands-méres:

To remove a rust stain…rub the stain with the pulp of a lemon and iron afterwards with a hot iron.

May the following forty days be light and healthy and when we eat again at Easter, may it not be Mardi Gras crêpes…


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.



Tarte fine aux pommes and a peek into a french home in Tours.

Why do Decembers ignite this uncontrollable desire for all things dessert? Just to have the hips show every inch of this desire flagrantly off in January.

It is a crisis. But in some crises the best thing to do is…have some dessert. Some apple tartlets. They are truly quick and easy and utterly delicious and very homey. They’re not fancy, rather rustic and no one will be offended if you pick one up by hand. They are meant to be enjoyed with a friend or someone you care about. And leave the plate with tartlets in the middle for a second helping.  One won’t be enough. Oh, and leave one secretly for yourself for tonight, when all is quiet and asleep.

So the hips in January will be even rounder. But that is OK. At least it will give us something to talk and write about in January!

…ingredients for tarte fine aux pommes

*Suggestions:

  • Choose an apple with a bit of sourness like a Granny smith.
  • The puff pastry can be replaced with another pastry of your choice.
  • Other fruit like pears, figs, peaches, apricots can be used.
  • It you find the top isn’t caramelized enough after baking, then sprinkle with a little brown sugar and caramelize quickly under a hot grill and keep your eye on it.
  • You can make the size of the tartlets as big or small as you like or even a single big tart.
  • Sage leaves are a good substitute for thyme.
  • Try sprinkling a tiny bit of  fleur de sel with vanilla over the top just before baking.
  • Can be enjoyed as dessert with an accompanying scoop of ice cream or créme frâiche, or as a late afternoon snack with tea, a goûter, as we call it in France.

…joanne’s home in Tours…

Joanne's home in Tours 2

My friend Joanne,  allowed me into her home with my camera a while ago. She lives in the centre of Tours, where it takes a few minutes and you can serve up a fresh baguette and croissant for breakfast. With a basket and some walking shoes, you can browse the market just around the corner from her to have fresh veggies on the table at dinnertime. Just down the road from her lives a musician whose melancholic saxophone melodies vagabond down the quiet street. Life is tranquil and beautiful in her home. It reflects the stillness of her character, yet reveals the brilliant colours of her spirited and optimistic nature. Always trying to see the bright side, always ready for a new project, enthusiastic about life with a strong belief that every minute counts. She loves good food and it is just a pleasure inviting her over for a meal and seeing her obvious joy in appreciating what is put in front of her.

Joanne's home in Tours 1

Joanne's garden in tours 3 Joanne's garden in Tours 4

* astuce de grand-mére:

truc et astuces de nos grand-méres

* Boil some vinegar on the stove for a few minutes to eliminate unpleasant kitchen odours.


Cheese platter and a tablecloth with a story

I sometimes serve individual cheese platters for the cheese course after the plat principal. I find it is easier to serve cheese this way, than having a heavy cheese board or platter going around at the table with each person having to find a place to rest the platter and cut his cheese. Along with the individual portions, I keep the platter close by, for those who want an extra helping and so the cheeses and their names can be seen.

…plat du fromage…

..st, marcellin, corsu vecchiu, tete de moine, morbier, fourme d’ambert, mango, kiwi and quince paté…

cheese plate

Suggestions:

  1. Serve small helpings of diced fruit in season along with your cheese. It is optional. In France you will very rarely be served some fruit with your cheese, but I find that most people enjoy a hint of fruit on the cheese plate, eevn if only for its uplifting colour!
  2. DON”T forget a good red wine!
  3. I prefer to serve simply une baguette tradition with the cheese, simply becasue the slices are small and crusty and aren’t overwhelmingly heavy and is just perfect with any cheese.
  4. NO butter!
  5. NO crackers!
  6. Honey is also a good accompaniment to some cheeses as well as a quince paté.
  7. Serve a variety of cheese – start from a hard cheese, a soft and creamy one, a blue cheese and a goat’s cheese as basis and add to that maybe an unknown cheese or exotic or an artisan cheese, or your favourite.
  8. Round cheeses are normally sliced from the middle outwards. Triagular cheeses are easiest to lay flat and sliced from the thin end upward to the thickest. A pyramid is sliced from the top to the bottom.
  9. Serve a tete de moine (the frilly cheese in the photo below) on the shaving board(if you have one), as it always pleases the guests to shave  some for themselves.
  10. You can serve thse individual cheese platters as a starter, or as  a small  aperitif before the meal, but then skip the cheese course after the main dish.

…tete de moine, pouligny st pierre, st. marcellin,  fourme d’ambert, morbier, corsu vecchiu, …

cheese platter 1

* I can’t walk past anything that has a story. I own broken cups, and burnt linen and chewed up books and mildewed paintings – all because they have  stories behind them. My wooden floorboards still  have patches of old paint drippings. I left part of a wall unpainted, because we discovered abeautiful old frieze. I refuse to replace the old glass of some of our windows with double glaze, because it is still the original glass and you can see the tiny bubbles and other defects.

…chewed up old medicine journals and letters, dug up from our garden…

..porcelaine pieces dug up from our garden in Montlouis sur Loire…

And so I have this beautiful  antique linen tablecloth with its complete set of napkins, whih I only bought because  it made me cry. It belonged to an old lady, who grew up in a typical bourgouise family. She received beautiful lines for her trousseau as a young girl, one of which was this set of table linen. She used it for her fromal dinners and one evening when entertaining guests, one napkin was dropped on the floor, the family dog got hold of it and chewed it to get to the meat juices  on the napkin. So the elegant old Madame gently washed the napkin by hand, repaired it with needle and thread by hand, ironed it and placed it back with the set. When she got old alone, she went to an old age home, but had no children to pass her linens on to. So she gave it up to be sold. I was heartbroken when hearing this sad tale and couldn’t leave the brocante without it. I trust it is the truth, because I know Madame aux Brocantes, who specializes in old linens, very  well. She always keeps some things aside for me, especially when they have a story behind them.

…tablecloth with a story

Each time I set my table with this beautiful linen set, I fold the chewed up serviette for myself.  I think of  old Madame and hope she looks onto me from wherever she is, with happiness.

* Always interested in how people lived in all ages, I recently got this cute calendrier for 2010, not for the calender but for the content, which holds tips and tales from days gone by.  Some are real good advice and some make you giggle…for you to decide which!

…astuce de grand-mére:

truc et astuces de nos grand-méres

*For whiter teeth – dip your finger in olive oil, rub it against your teeth and keep it for several minutes in your mouth before rinsing, OR, rub a sage leaf against your teeth once a week.


Pears in red wine and a wine harvest.

Pears in red wine. Always a winner in our house during the winter and especially over the festive season. In this recipe I used a cabernet sauvignon, but I have also used a (moelleux) sweet white wine before like a Montlouis moelleux or a semi sweet, which is just as delicious. Decorate the pears in red wine with some edible gold leaf and the pears in white wine with spun sugar. A post on how to make spun sugar will follow soon – before Christmas!

Pears in red wine

Why not gather all your wine corks and display them in pretty empty containers somewhere. Always a good talking point and especially the men like to dig and see the wines that passed through. I also colletct the wine cases, hoping I can get hold of enough to convert them into drawers and kitchen tops and units for Coin Perdu, our house in Corréze. They also make nice storage space in the pantry, can be used in the wine “cave”, the cats sleep in the empty ones and some even carry small twigs for lighting fires in my atelier.

winecorks 4 winecorks 1

wine cases 1 winecorks 6

In October we had one day of grape picking at the vinyeards of our friends Vincent and Tania Careme. The domaine vincent Careme is a bio vinyeard where no chemicals are used, wild herbs and weeds are allowed to proliferate, adding to the health of the grapes and picking is still done by hand. They have a traditional Saturday  during grape harvesting in Octobre, when all their friends and family get togetherfor a day of grape picking, press the grapes, feasting on a  huge lunch, continue picking afterwards, pressing again and finishing off with some more eating. We were all dead tired, but what fun we had, one of which was a grape fight when everybody started getting tired and sticky towards the evening. Here are some pictures of the Saturday at Domaine Vincent Careme.

…starting off early morning…

vendange-in the vineyard 2

…moving forward…

…up and down…

vendange-pickers

…picking carefully…

…emptying the bucket…

vendange 23

…into the remorque

vendange-vider

…almost full…

vendange-grapes

…taking a break…

vendange 19

…something for the thirst…

…healthy vinyeards…

vendange-vignoble 1

…at the cellar…

vendange 56

…onto the press…

vendange 58

…cleaning up…

vendange 65

…resting…

vendnage 86

…late afternoon fatigue…

vendange-late afternoon fatigue

…going home…

vendange-finished

Soon to be followed: More about the wines of Vincent and Tania, their wine cellar in the typical “caves” of Touraine, a sculpteur doing his artwork in one of their caves and the many pleasure(and hard work) of daily life at Domaine Vincent Careme.


Red berry crumble and old wishes(Crumble fruits rouges à l’eau de rose et voeux anciens

Except for a scoop of ice cream from the fridge, I don’t think there is a quicker, easier and more delicious dessert than a crumble.

red berry crumble

I grew up with crumble in my mother’s house. Usually an apple crumble, made in her usual pyrex glass baking dish and she served it with fresh cream scooped from the full cream milk my father brought home from the farm every other day.

Crumbles have changed a little face today, being now made with all kinds of fruit, topped with all kinds of different toppings, either sweet or salty, served from a big dish or  as individually petite servings. It is popular with old and young and equally at home at the family table or finishing off an elegant meal.

…frozen berries whole year long…

fruit rouges picard frozen fruit roughes

I especially favour red berris for a crumble. I love the colour and I love the sweet/tartiness of the berries and now that we can have berries available the whole year in frozen form, I could’nt be happier. I don’t feel guilty for eating berries frozen out of season, for the simple reason that they are so healthy and low in sugars, and they add some welcome colour towards the end of winter when the root vegetables and bleak winter foods start getting a bit difficult to swallow down.

…slowly and deliberately…

red berry crumble 2

red berry crumble with rose water

Suggestions:

  • With a bag or two of frozen red berries in the freezer you have dessert at the tip of your spoon whole year. *Add beaten egg whites and some whipped cream and refrigerate for a feather light mousse. *Defrost in the firdge and add to a salad. *Mix to a puree and add to a vinaigrette. *Make a coulis for ice cream or a chutney for foie gras or roasted duck. *Bake a muffin on a sunday morning. *Simply saute with a bit of honey in a pan and spoon over french toast. *Make a sorbet to lift a heavy winter casserole. *Spoon over joghurt for an evening snack. *Simply defrost to room temperature and nibble on a handful. Any more ideas?

…old wishes…

une tasse ancienne

When I was born all those years ago, a neighbour further down our street came over to see the newborn baby, me.  She congratulated my parents and gave my mother this little cup and saucer with the wish that when I turn 21 one day, I should drink from this cup, and with it all the good wishes and happiness she wishes for me in life. So. I turned 21 and I did drink tea from this cup and I am a happy person!  I own this little cup today and it got damaged with all our moving around, but I carefully glued it all together and low and behold, it still holds a cup of tea without leaking…. and even in that I find solace. Our lives aren’t perfect either, but we can be happy and content, by opening up to it. Not that I dedicate my happiness to the drinking from the cup, but symbolically it means to me that every good wish we receive will eventually help fill our cup. Given of course that the wishes are really meant and not only empty words!

I love this little cup and saucer and have started carrying on the tradition.  This specific cup and saucer is promised to a little six year old girl named Karla, who will one day have her tea poured into this imperfect, but beautiful and unleaking cup. I have in the meantime started collecting my own special little anitique cups and saucers to pass onto my grandchildren one day and other new born babies who come into my life. My wish will also be that their cup be filled with happiness.

…ongoing tradition…

les tasses anciennes

LASTLY:  An update on the spices of Zlamushka:

Similar posts you might  be interested in :

painperdu papillote with saffron pineapples Strawberry meringues


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


Papaya pineapple salad

June in France in special. Beautiful. Evenings are soothing and invitingly lingering.

Start off a dinner (or a lunch) with a cool fresh papaya pineapple salad, drizzled with a mirrin and rice vinegar vinaigrette.

…pineapple and papaya salad

Pineapple and papaya salad

…dinner on a june evening…

june dinner in the garden


“Pain perdu” with red berries – painting the canvas

Today was a romantic day. A soft rain was misting over the Loire, colouring the light to a translucent gray. It was a monochrome painting, a grisaille, an underpainting preparing the canvas for colour. Much like art. It was a day of tones and values. The shadows were deep, the lights were light, the air was soft, feathered. A day of dimension whithout hues.

And so I took out the colour palette and started painting. A spattering of bright reds and luscious velvety burgundies, a drop of sensual translucent syrup. A dollop of stark white cream…a highlight…a shadow. Making food is preparing the canvas. Serving food is painting the canvas. Eating is appreciating the art.

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pain-perdu

…grisaille…

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Pineapple carpaccio with saffron syrup and pine nuts.


I had a crazy craving for pineapple yesterday, so I went on a hunt and found the sweet Victoria from South Africa, the big green andwatery pineapple produced in  Costa Rica, coming from Miami, Florida????…. and lastly the heavy, bland one from the Ivory coast. First painting them(and in the meantime eating some), I afterwards made a carpaccio from the small , sweet Victoria, which has a beautiful dark yellow colour and an intense flavour.

…Pineapple carpaccio with saffron syrup and pine nuts

  1. Take a pineapple of your choice(I prefer the small dark yellow Victoria), peel and cut into thin slices.
  2. Arrange on dessert plates.
  3. In the meantime, bring a 1/2 cup of water to the boil, add 1/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of saffron threads, juice of half a lemon and zest of a lemon. (Be careful fro too much saffron, it is very powerful. Two to three strings on 1/2 cup water is plenty) Reduce until syrupy, about 15 minutes. If you want a thicker syrup, simmer for longer.
  4. Leave aside to cool down.
  5. Dry roast a handful of pine nuts in a pan, leave to cool.
  6. Spoon some juice over the pineapple slices, decorate with some pineapple leaves and sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts.

One Victoria pineapple serves 2 people

…Gigi…


“Papillote” with saffron-pineapples.

I can’t imagine who wants to side step dessert…!

I’m a dessert person, however small it may be. Just don’t heap up my plate with mountainous triangles of cheesecake! A dessert is the ending to a good meal, as a small starter is the beginning… just like a story. A meal is story telling after all. Like any good story, it needs an attention grasping first sentence to create anticipation.  And it needs a creative ending to make the reader sit back with a sigh of contentment and contemplate the delight of escaping in dreams and living and being…

A small, light dessert, mostly with some kind of fruit does exactly that for me.  With an espresso afterwards. Maybe a chocolate as well. A sensual experience. Then I too can sit back and contemplate the delight of living, breathing and eating….

Papillote with saffron-pineapples and raspberries.

  • To prepare one papillote: cut a rectangle of baking paper about 40cm long. Fold the two long lengths over to the middle, overlapping by 3 cm and press folds in the paper. Fold the two short sides over to the middle and press folds in the paper. When you open up your paper, you will clearly see the folds of the little rectangle in the middle of your paper. That is where you filling will go.
  • Filling: A handfull of pineapple chunks, cut to your desired size.
  • A few raspberries.
  • Grated lime rind
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Fresh passion fruit pulp
  • Honey
  • A few strands of saffron.
  1. Fold your papillotes and place them, opened up, on a baking sheet.
  2. Place in the middle of each papillote some pineapple and raspberries. Sprinkle with a strand or two of saffron. Drizzle with some lime juice and honey and top with passion fruit pulp.
  3. Close the papillote by folding the long ends over the filling, overlapping on top. Take each short end on the side of the filling and twist to opposite sides like a candy wrapper. Fan open up the wrapper ends to make attractive twists.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 210 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool. Place the papillotes on individual plates, pull open the overlapping tops and serve slightly warm with Bulgarian joghurt on the side.

     …hummingbird hawkmoth…

This is an entry for weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by A Scientist in the kitchen.

 


Strawberry tartlets for an award.

I received The Yummy blog Award from the elegant and talented Jennifer at Vegeyum a few days ago. So I thought I would bake Jennifer a cake, a typical South African way of showing appreciation. I grew up with my mother constantly baking a cake of  some kind for a someone of some kind to say a thank you of some kind. It made everybody happy. My mother was happy, because she loved doing it, the receiver was happy of course and the people in close vicinity were happy, since everybody got to share in the gift.

So I baked her a cake, a strawberry tart.

I like simple. And that goes for desserts too. Well, actually, according to various opinions, I can rather complicate life, but let’s say then I try to keep it simple. I tried to make a simple strawberry tartlet, with just a tiny twist… The first attempt was a failure in terms of presentation, but it tasted not too bad. Or so my audience said..

Cookie crumb base: Mix about 12 speculoos, crumbled, with 40 g of melted butter. With the aide of cooking rings, shape into round bases and set aside in the fridge.

Lime cream:

  • 250ml milk
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 60 g sugar
  • juice of half a lime
  • 35 g Maizena
  • 25 g butter
  1. Heat the milk and lime zest and leave aside to infuse.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy
  3. Stir the maizena into the lime juice and add to the egg yolks.
  4. Slowly add the warm milk through a sieve, while whisking. Return to the heat and cook over low heat until thick, while constantly stirring. 
  5. Remove from the heat, add the butter, cover with cling film and leave aside to cool down and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Serving suggestion:

Remove the cookie crumb bases from the fridge. Fill up with the cold lime cream and top with strawberries, finely sliced. Remove the rings carefully.  Finish off with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Serve with a red berry coulis. (optional) And now this is where I failed. My lime cream was too runny and I couldn’t use the rings, so I escaped out of my predicament with the help of some tartlet pans…

The second attempt was made with meringue, which is quick and simple, but it wasn’t what I was looking for either. I’m not too crazy about meringues. The audience was happy again though…

Meringue:

  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 ml salt
  • 125 ml castor sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  1. Heat the oven to 120 degr. C. Line a baking sheet with Bakewell paper.
  2. Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in a clean, dry glass bowl or better yet, copper bowl,
  3. Beat on high speed until firm.
  4. Add 2 high spoon fulls of sugar to the mixture and beat again until stiff and glossy.
  5. Fold in the rest of the sugar.
  6. Shape big spoon fulls of meringue onte the baking sheet, depending on how big you want your little tartlets, shaping a hole in the centre.
  7. Sprinkle some sugar over the top, allow to stand for about 3 minutes to give the sugar chance to melt(adds a crystallized appearance to the meringues)
  8. Bake for about 20 minute, cover with a sheet of peper and bake another 40 minute. Switch off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven, to dry out completely.

Strawberries: Wash and cut a handful of strawberries into quarters. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar, a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar, some grated lemon zest.

Fresh whipped cream with a packet of stabilizer added to keep the cream firm. Joghurt can be added to make lighter.

Serving suggestion: Place a meringue on each individual plate. Fill with a scoop of whipped creme, arrange some strawberries on top and drizzle some of the juice of the strawberries over the top. Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped pistachio nuts and mint and a drizzle of thick balsamic syrup(optional).

The third attempt was probably more what I was looking for and it actually delighted my taste buds, like all strawberry tartlets do! Voila!! My most favourite dessert…for now.

Pate sablée:

  • 125 g castor sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 250 g flour
  • 125 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  1. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix with the sugar.
  2. Sift the flour onto the work surface and work the butter through with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a hole in the centre of the flour mixture and break the egg open into the centre. Add the sugar.
  4. Mix the ingredients lightly together with the fingertips, until a dough forms. Knead lightly with the palm of the hand to shape into a ball. cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour in the fridge.

Cream filling: Mix together 200 g of mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons of Bulgarian joghurt. Add some lemon mint chiffonade. Leave to infuse.

Strawberries: Wash, cut and sprinkle lightly with rose water.

Serving suggestion:

  1. Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes for your tartlet pans. Cover the bases with bakewell paper and add beans(blind baking), leave in the fridge for a few minutes.
  2. Prick lightly with fork and bake blind at 200 degr. C for about 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 3 minutes until golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, remove the shells from the tartlet pans.
  4. Fill with prepared cream, add washed and cut strawberries.
  5. Warm some jam of your choice, add a few drops of rose water and glaze the tartlets.
  6. Decorate with fresh or crystallized untreated rose petals.

While making this strawberry tart, it so happened that I stayed very true to my original statement of Myfrenchkitchen, which says something like this: “Life in a kitchen is an everyday audition and here I telltale of my surrender to the failures, the successes, the hitches and pleasures……that life in a kitchen forks out.”

Thank you for honouring me with this award Jennifer.

The Yummy Blog award was first conceptualized by Roopa of Kitchen Treats. Hi dear readers/fellow bloggers, I am starting an award category called “Yummy Blog ! ” where the blog with most yummy recipes/photos will get the award. The person who receives the award should display the “Yummy Blog !” logo on their blog and also the meaning of the award which is “Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos” The receiver should also quote their favorite yummy-licious :) dessert(s) that they have ever prepared/eaten. Dont restrict yourself to any dessert, chocolate bars also welcome:). Also the receiver should pass on the award to four other bloggers who’s blog they find “yummy” and let them know about the rules:)
I am now passing this on to:

  •  Jeanne at Cooksister, who always has me pinned to her writing and images and recipes and bucketsful of zest for life!
  • Lucy at Kitchen notebook, whose stories and food experiences are so vividly  shared with us, it is a magical carpet ride every time I visit there!
  • Ann and Jack at Redacted recipes, who can make a kitchen spin with action between the two of them, always fun, always exciting!
  • Hilda at Dhanggitskitchen, who has me running to my camera, completely fired up with inspiration, every time I leave there…she has some photography secret I would love to discover!
  • See also my link list for more inspirational work.

And lastly, if you have the time, please see my friend’s daugther Claire’s thesis project on designing a cooking station. This is her final year in design and she would like some public input before her final presentation, so feel free to comment.


Ice cream versus salad

Ice cream versus salad

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How I love painting. And tennis. And I do love my garden, my house. Shopping. What else. Oh yes, and I love eating! Good food, healthy food, bad food, ordinary food, new food, traditional food, adventurous food…all food.

I am sitting here right now, licking a huge Magnum ice cream. A double caramel! Sweet and nerve rackingly rich, deliciously creamy, luscious, sticky, voluptuous and sensual…and far too small. While I am indulging in my ice cream I have a healthy menu for you, a great one for a long, lingering lunch on a hot summers afternoon around a huge table with great friends!

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To start off: make a tomato mozzarella salad, using nice small vine tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella torn into bite size pieces… stuff some in your mouth while you’re at it. Tear some basil leaves and lastly, sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and mill some fresh pepper and then add a sprinkling of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes.To finish off, mix gently with your hands and then lick off those fingers, serve on a pretty plate and enjoy with crusty bread.

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For the main meal you dig your beautiful platter out of the back of the cupboard, give it a rinse and then fill it with…crispy green leaves of your choice, mesclun, spinach, rocket and other herbs and don’t forget somecrunchy red cabbage sliced finely for great color and crunch….

In the middle you stack some cooked quinoa, first sauteed in coconut oil with some red onions and then cooked until just done.

On top of that, beet cut into chunks, hand fulls of organic grated carrot and around the rim, little bundles of steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or parma ham. And finish off with a little sweetness; a handful of golden raisins and pumpkin seeds and a Calamata olive or two. I like some green peppercorns sprinkled too. Finish off with a vinaigrette of your choice, some more crusty bread, a bottle of good Rose and you’re off to hear all the Oohs and Aahs from your hungry, anticipating guests waiting at the table! And do enter with flare…why else have you gone to so much trouble!

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Dessert. No can’t do without dessert. To keep to the theme of health, you take lots and lots of strawberries…do the usual, and cut them roughly into chunks. Using a large fork, you crush them until pulpy but not to a puree. Then you add a large handful of chopped mint, which you ventured into your garden for early morning, with your hat and herbs scissors and gloves…and of course you pulled out some weeds while you were there. OK, the mint..you add this generous handful of mint to your strawberries and follow up with some balsamic vinegar and if you like your strawberries a bit sweeter, add some honey. Just before you put this beautiful dessert in the fridge, take a big spoonful to taste…you should be able to just sigh with pleasure, if not, then start over. Serve it in some beautiful glasses where its beauty can be seen. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, drizzle with some honey, a swirl of syrupy reduced balsamic vinegar, a dash of milled black pepper and of course, a small mint leaf…and please, don’t plant a tree!

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So, off I go to fetch another Magnum…enjoy your lunch!


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