Posts tagged “French countryside

Baguette aux fruits rouges et jambon de Parme(baguette with red berries and Pama ham)..and a sign for every shop.

It happens to all of us: that day when the house is empty but the people hungry. If you have a baguette at hand(like all French homes do), some kind of fruit, like red berries(which you should have, because they are packed with health benefits!) and some ham somewhere( if you dig deep enough, I’m sure you’ll find a substitute!)…well, then you have a meal and a great one at that. Good enough for a snack or a lunch or a brunch or a light dinner.

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I am not giving any formal recipe for this baguette aux fruits rouges, it is all up to you own imagination. see the pincée de fleur des sel for some guidelines..

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use baguettes and cut in half so you have a solid “base” which helps prevent the bread from going soggy.
  • I used a cheese with walnuts as a spread , added the red berries of my choice, drizzled with olive oil maple syrup and a little lemon juice, topped with thin slices of parma ham and grilled quickly  in the oven for a minute or two.  Serve warm with extra chopped walnuts and maple syrup.
  • Serve with a green salad if preferred.

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blueberries, black currants, red gooseberreis, raspberries, blackberries

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..a sign for every shop..

board signs 1959x2011I am sure  you marvel at all the interesting sign shops wherever you go. Well, me too! The most exciting ones to the most boring ones. sometimes a boring one will actually push me to enter, just to have me praise my perception of the shop being as uninteresting as its sign. Or maybe to prove myself wrong and that I might just find some treasure…

Whichever way, a sign outside a shop lures us inside. And yes, there has surely also been the disappointment in a store’s interior  with a charming sign flirting outside. Still, we enter a store with expectation after looking up and seeing its sign…

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Some are  brightly colored, tongue in cheek, funny… will they invite you in?

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Some are not very indicative of what its store is all about, but that could be good tactics…

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Some are regional and they have to really be original to stand out..

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Some plays on our desire to remember the past…

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Some  very elegant …

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And those with a personal name has you want to discover more…

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then there are those you have no clue what might await inside but you love what the name represents…

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And there are those for special customers…

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And some are so often hidden in lovely greenery, it comes with the profession…

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Proof goes to show…hidden in the foliage…

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Sometimes though, high and clearly marked in old script..!

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And then there are the handmade ones to suit every occasion…(so by the way, this was mine many years ago with an exhibition in my gallery at home)

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Mine again…in the atelier…just to distinguish between the art studio and  the “pretty”art  exhibition!

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Originality abounds!

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In the wine area a multitude of signs direct you to the multiple domains and cellars and wine shops. This is the grande grappe de raisin just opposite from where we lived and was always a beacon.

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These following ones were all in close proximity when we lived in Montlouis sur Loire.

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Cave of course meaning in this case wine cellar….the bunch of grapes is there to make sure you don’t arrive with your climbing gear.

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An oringal way of luting passers by to a wine cellar and regional products.

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With this sign I had a personal affair….right behind it is a parking where I always went through to get into the main road. this sighn always blocked my view to check for oncoming traffic, so I had to get out and move it back as you see it standing now, got back into my car, checked my left and rights and into the traffic I went. Not quietly and patiently, but rather doorslamming and sighing and armslinging and a lot of ZUT, ZUT, ZUT! It happened every day for  the whole time we lived there. It is just one of those things. Instead of going over to the cellar  and fixing it, I just moved the thing each time with a French attitude. I miss it.

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These cute board signs are just simply fun.

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“I Invite you in to dine and wine, don’t mind my strict  appearance!”

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At the boucherie in Beaulieu you can even buy salads…

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With all these signs, I always sign a salut to you

à bientôt

Ronelle


Tarte rustique aux nectarines(rustic nectarine tart).. et le jardin de “Ronelle”

We have harvested some delicious nectarines from our newly planted nectarine tree. Our first apricots and cherries were stolen by someone..I will have to take stronger measurements against the feathered folk next year…

This rustic tart is prepared in a jiff, bakes 40 minutes, just enough time to get the coffee ready, clean up and call everybody to the table under the old oak tree.

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La recette;

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use other fruits like apricots, or apples, pears, peaches, plums…
  • Use pine nuts or pistachios instead of almonds.
  • Be careful not to use too strong a honey like lavender honey which will completely overpower the tart.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of créme fraiche, or a dollop of ice cream on hot days.
  • When the flesh of the nectarines stick to the seed, place the nectarine on its stem side and cut a cheek on each wide side of the nectarine from top to bottom, close to the seed. Cut each cheek in half to get neat quarters. Cut off the rest of the flesh on each narrow side of the seed which already resembles en quarter.

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Yesterday  it was time for the new mother hens and their chicks to be upgraded to the chicken coop. When the chicks are born, I always take them and mamans from the chicken coop and keep them aside  in a basket with me where I know they are safe and I get to enjoy the chicks more as well. Every moring they are taken outside and the flap lifted and they scurry out, happy to see light(and me, I hope) and every evening they move into their beds themselves, I close the flap and bring them inside. After a three weeks or so, when the chicks are strong enough and they start walking with the rest of the flock, I walk them to the chicken coop late afternoons, have them investigate and integrate en find their spot among the others. This takes a few evenings, because the rankings have now been disturbed in the poulailler and new ones have to be established. Never a dull moment.

..les deux mamans et leurs petits poussins..

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..la poulailler “secondaire” ou elles partent en “vacances” (the holiday home where they spend their vacation)…

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..le gardien devant la poulailler (guarding the chicken coop)..

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In “le jardin de Ronelle” everything is a bit wild in July. The weeds win me over a bit, the lawns need constant mowing and trimming and deadheading drag behind. The chicks appear and begs for attention, the rabbits multiply and eat my salads… the tomatoes are growing like Jack’s beanstalk and we can keep up with the abundance of courgettes! Not to forget my constant desire to plant more and change again and again.

..les lapins n’attendent pas une invitation, elles sont trop à l’aise déja(the rabbits don’t await an invitation , thye just make themselves at home)..

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 At times like these, I just sit back and start focusing on the corners and little details that work together to make a garden. Some small corners and moments that give me pleasure. They tell a story in their own way.

..mais mignons quand même (but so cute)…

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.Quelques morceaux de porcelaine voisinent un pelargonium odorant dans la mini serre ( old pieces of porcelain next to a scented géranium in a mini greenhouse)..

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..les chaises et les lanternes (chairs and lanterns)…

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..mon chéri picking some nectarines..

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..J’adore mes pelargoniums odorants sur la table ( I love my scented geraniums on our outdorro table)..

 

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Ice cream is a big favorite in our home. Usually I have my one or two scoops in a little bowl and mon chéri takes over the rest of the contaziner. As you see here, Carte d’or being very popular here. Apparently Carte d’Or saw the light in 1978 in France with only 5 flavors and their latest flavors arr absolutely just to die for..I am close to not handing over the container to mon chéri! See Carte d’Or here.

..et surtout la glace!..

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..mes agapanthes bleue..

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 ..dipladania blanc et les lavandes à l’arriére plan ( dipladenia agains a backdrop of lavenders)..

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 ..L’heure de siésta!

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 ..un verre de vin, une magazine et la tranquilité (a glass of wine a magazine and calm)..

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à la prochaine fois

Ronelle

 


Tartine aux Courgettes …and “les jardins de Colette”.

When your potager starts exploding with courgettes, it is time to come up with all sorts of ways to eat those courgettes without getting bored. But even so, by the end of summer, I feel like a courgette and can’t even look at one, let alone eat it. Courgettes are more flavorful when they are young and nothing needs to be added to give them moire flavor. These tartines can be served s a starter, a lunch with a salad, or as an apéro before dinner..and come to think of it, why not pack it for a pique-nique?

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La recette:

tartines aux courgettes 4857x4415 4857x4415Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Add some goat’s cheese or feta cheese to the tartines.
  • Leave the toasts and serve as a tagliatelle pasta, topped with a fillet of fish of your choice and a salad.
  • Make croutons instead of toasts and add along with the grilled courgettes to a salad. Top with dry roasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese and a mustard vinaigrette.

 

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Les jardins de Colette is a large botanical garden at the foot of the chateau Castel-novel, where the French writer Colette lived with her 2nd husband Henry de Jouvenel and her daughter Bel-Gazou. The gardens were created in 2008 and depict her tumultuous life which centered around her insatiable desire for creating. You will surely know her for her novels Chéri in 1920 and of course Gigi from 1944, upon which the musical film was based and in which Leslie Caron played Gigi. Colette’s real name was actually Sidonie-Gabrielle , her last name/surname being Colette. But I’m her to show you the garden dedicated to her…so, to read about Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, you can pick and choose a site on Google.

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Some trinkets in the store…and I found their little truck quite cute…and a rose named after Colette in 1995…

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…Veronique flowers in abundance in the garden of her childhood in Bourgogne…and bees in abundance….

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..le jardin de Rozven in Bretagne was bought by her friend, Missy, in 1910  and for 10 years afterwards Colette and her family still spent their summers at Rozven.

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…a potager, part of remembering her childhood..

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..a labyrinth in the shape of a papillon,  where kiddies are told stories while finding their way to the end..

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..some annuals planted in the jardin de Saint- Sauveur-en -Puisaye  in Bourgogne...

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..an english garden..”aussi libre qu’elle”..as free in spirit as she was…

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…a little refuge for insects..

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Colette with her brother in childhood…

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…her love for animals clearly comes across in her books..

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..la coccinelle and le papillon..les amis du jardin!

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In the Correze gardin at Castel-Novel a little cabane/gloriettes was constructed from willow branches..

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..The olive trees and lavenders from the Provence garden..

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..a bit of freshness with a canal of water and fountain..

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In the rose garden her favorite rose can be found…Cuisse de Nymphe

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..as well as one of my favorites...Honore de Balzac…

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And lastly, a lane of tilleuls trees to remind of her last years spent in Paris, where her windows opened onto the gardens of the palais Royal…

 

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With something cool to drink, we finished this tour through the gardens of Colette and it was time to return to reality. I felt a vibrant kinship with her and her creativity, her desire to live to the full, her love for nature and animals and maybe one day I can retrace  her steps to really experience what her life was like…

à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle


Grilled tomato and goats cheese squares..and Bretagne(Brittany) in June

We are outside. Non stop. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. The days are wonderfully warm, sunny. The cigales are crazily announcing summer in the meadows. I am crazily happy.

Taking our meals outside in summer is a given. Preparing it outside is a given too. These tomato and goats cheese apéros ( appetizers)do it both ways. It is prepared by the barbeque fire. It is grilled on the fire. It is eaten by the fire. An ice cold dry rosé wine and life is crazily wonderful.

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tomato and goats cheese squares

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use feta cheese instead of goat’s cheese.
  • Use feuille de brick, if available, which is not as thin and delicate as phyllo pastry.
  • Add some flaked fish of your choice or add a sardine, in which case you can use dill or coriander instead of basil.
  • Use other herbs of your choice..
  • Leave out the tomato and add fresh spinach leaves and dry roasted pine nuts for a more Greek flavour.
  • To serve as something sweet with coffee after  barbeque…roll chocolates, chopped nuts of your choice and a mint leaf  in the pastry sheets, treat the same way on the coals and enjoy with coffee around the fire.

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Place at an appropriate distance above the coals on a grill.

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Brush with a home made rosemary brush and olive oil.

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We visited friends in Bretagne and were treated in typical Breton fashion to a wealth of cuisine Bretonne. Seafoods galore, vegetables, notably carrottes Nantaises( of which I have planted in my potager), crépes and galettes, sablés, far breton, quatre quart, kouign amann, cidre, beignets, butter, butter, butter… It is truly a good thing we don’t live in  Bretagne for I would have rolled instead of walked. Fortunately, we did a lot of walking to fight the calories. I invite you now on some of our promenades around Rennes and the seaside villages of Tharon and Pornic.

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Promenades en mer…boat trips.

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The port of Pornic is quaint and with the perfect summer weather we had, the whole world crept out of their shells comme les escargots de leurs coquilles(like snails from their shells).

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Le blanc du nil is a well known chain store in the French seaside villages. They sell only white cotton and linen clothes and I love it for the prices and the loose summer dresses, shirts and slacks and skirts. And of course the all white look makes you feel cool and light. And a little chic too…

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The walkway was filled with people, basking in summer sun, seeking out some dappled shade and licking dripping ice creams. We did too.

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A lonesome Canna lily adding some charm to an ordinary signpost indicating the way to the hotel de Ville of Pornic.

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Back in Tharon, it was time for eating again, something we did too much of , but  enjoyed so much! The boulangerie Tharonnaise is comfortably just a walk down the road where one doesn’t mind queuing for all the bakes delicacies I mentioned above.

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One of those wonderful delicious sinful and dangerous cakes, is the kouign amann, for which Bretagne is known for. I DO plan on baking it, sharing it with you, I REALLY DO! But only after I lost the 3 kg I picked up after eating it in Bretagne! Typical Ronelle style, one slice was not enough…It is literally a butter cake and a little challenging on the making-side: made  with bread dough and folded like puff pastry with loads of butter and sugar which, during the baking process, gives you a devilishly, deliciously, flaked caramelized cake.

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One of our outings was also just down the road…a regular vide grenier in Tharon. As you can see below..one man’s junk becomes another man’s fortune. We found some fortunes there too…

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Of course we visited the beach with its colourful cabanes which mostly belong to the inhabitants of Tharon and gets unlocked every season to let out the sunscreens and chairs and umbrellas and beachballs…

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As  is shown below…the beach umbrella and bags and towels and  kiddies were let out of the colourful cabanes.. well, maybe not the kiddies…

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A close up..

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A lunch  of langoustines, and lemon mayonnaise with  baguettes from la boulangerie and accompanied by a crisp white wine.

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In Rennes the géraniums on the windowsills paraded shamelessly  in their beauty and gaiety.

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We had a schedule to follow in Rennes, a to-do list that kept us on a quick run. Nonetheless we found the time for a pit stop in the centre ville to have un café créme et un allongé, while we drooled at seeing the bar à crépe which was just opening its doors early morning. Next time.

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Centre ville  in Rennes.

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Hope you had fun on this promenade. And I hope you on your turn drooled at the tomato and goat’s cheese apéro’s. Maybe enough to make them. I should probably have given you an exciting recipe from Bretagne, as the post asks for….but what are rules made for, if not to be broken? I greet you as always….

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…à la prochaine fois…

Ronelle


A laundry day in June.

I am busy doing a lot of laundry the last few days. It is sunny and hot. Like last year, the same time, all the winter linens are washed and dried in the sun and stored away with cedar pieces of wood, lavender sachets and old pieces of savon de Marseilles. The summer linge lavé (washed natrual linen)  is taken out, rinsed and dried and folded for a fresh summer smell, summer feel and summer ambiance. I love sleeping on linge lavé in summer…it is light and cool.

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I wrote about my laundry day last year on my Coin Perdu blog. I am re posting it here and I hope you enjoy reading it, while I escape the heat and sun a bit  with a cold and refreshing glass of diabolo grenadine ( 1 part grenadine syrup with 3 parts limonade)

“Whether we love it or hate it, it needs to be done. Laundry. Washing. Some of us are lucky enough to just fill the laundry basket and someone else does the washing. And the ironing. Some of us do it all ourselves. I am one of those. Partly by choice and partly by force.

Laundry isn’t one of my favorite chores..but isn’t that why they are called chores? Anyway, a chore needs doing and in our house, it comes down to me. Whenever I think back on the washing days in my Maman’s house, I remember them as fun days.  But I have come far enough in life to know that memories are tainted. Maybe Maman also did the washing simply because she had no choice either. There is little bit of a romance to doing washing in summer. Who doesn’t reach for the camera when driving through the country side and seeing washing on long lines drying in the breeze. Or laundry hanging over fences. Or even on chairs or poles. Where there is a ray of sunlight, there you’ll find washing.

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*Join me now for a  typical summer’s washing day here at Coin Perdu.

 

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I don’t have a laundry room..yet…and it will be quite a while before I do have ma petite buanderie. In the image below is the barn which will be converted into a laundry room. I am already dreaming of that day…a huge farm table on which I can do my folding… a deep porcelain sink for washing and rinsing and soaking… an old armoire(cupboard) for equipment and products…a window to let in light and a large sill to set out crumbs for the birds and always have an enamel jug with flowers…drying lines across the ceiling, working with pulleys, like the olden days(for winter time), large old baskets, enamel bowls and jugs for soaking, poaring…some old bric and brac for ambiance, just because it is pretty…oh..to dream…

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We all know that feeling of getting into bed at night, sliding your body inbetween crisp linen sheets, smelling of sun and  wild herbs. Exactly the reason why I don’t iron my sheets in summer. I might iron the foldback at the top which has a monogram or lace. And the way to do it? Turn the sheet wrong side up and place a double folded towel under the monogram. Place a damp cotton fabric on the top of the monogram and iron so that the right side of the monogram sinks into the towel, seeing to a nice embossed monogram. It also prevents the iron from damaging the yarn/thread in the long run. Fold your linens ans store in a cupboard or shelf along with some cedar balls and some dried lavender if you wish. I also place pieces of soap in the corners of all our closets/armoires/ cupboards…you know, those last pieces of the soap we don’t use. I don’t like perfumed sachets.

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Blue skies and warm weather, bright sun…perfect washing days…!

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I love the smell of fresh, natural non perfumed soaps. The Marseilles soaps are wonderful, as is the “Pierre des Landes”, an artisan soap which works for just about everything. To soak my mother’s old doilies and all white cloths which has stains, I grate some savon de Marseille into a bowl of water, leave the pieces to soak and rise. Or I spread thickly soaped pieces out in the sun to remove the stains. It is the perfect way to remove stains without using any chemical stuff, since the sun is a natural whitener. when it has dried, I rinse the pieces in clean water and spread out to dry.

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Beware..not just any soap marked Savon de Marseille is the real thing! Le véritable Savon de Marseille needs to consist of a  minimum of  72% pure olive oil and 28% sodium carbonate.  Many other savons de marseille also have other oils as well as some animal fats added.

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Whenever I have a stain on a sheet or tablecloth,  I rub the stain with savon de Marseille(or whichever natural soap you use) and hang it over two lines so the sun gets to bleach out the stain..see no need for stain removers! It works, really  it does. Of course, if you use coloured linens and clothing, you have to fall back on the stain remover, for the sun will bleach spots on your fabric. Dark fabrics are hung in the shade to prevent fading. They don’t need sun, only a bit of heat..and fresh air!

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In winter, when I don’t have the beautiful blue skies as in the image below, I have my linens washed and ironed at the blanchisserie, where they are washed and ironed on large rollers.. some day I hope to visit our local blanchisserie with my camera and do a post on how they treat the old linens..it is so interesting. After all, they have been doing it for centuries; taking care of the different textile; linen, or cotton or mixtures, hemp, flax.. They also take good care of the monograms and lace and hand embroideries that go along with antique linens and tablecloths, serviettes. But that is all for next winter..I am now basking in summer linens!

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Well..come to think of it…it might be that I actually enjoy doing washing. In summer. For I am doing it exactly the way Maman did! My washing needs to be neatly hung. All the socks together, pinned on the toe. The T-shirts hangs over the line at the chest and are pinned under the sleeves..no stretching from hanging from the pins. The shirts opened up and pinned at the side seams at the bottom. Dresses are hung on hangers, lingerie are pinned on the top at the side seams. Everything has to be grouped together and hung straight..I hate loops and droops. Dish towels and pillow cases..straight, no drooping! That is how my Maman did it.

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Now tell me you don’t have the desire to go hang out some washing?

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à bientôt

Ronelle


Wild asparagus risotto with lemon and sage..and pulling off the road.

I have a few risotto recipes that I adore. One is made with sweet potato, another with saffron, yet another with wild mushrooms and then…asparagus. In this case I used wild asparagus with a  very short season, but delicious while they last.

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La recette:

  1. Asparagus, lemon and sage:
  2. Sauté the asparagus for only 3 – 4 minutes,  in a large pan with olive oil, lemon wedges,  a sprinkling of white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove and keep aside. they should still be crunchy. Saute the lemon wedges a bit longer to caramelize.
  3. Heat enough olive oil in a small frying pan to cover the base.
  4. Add some sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
  5. Risotto:
  6. Sauté 1 chopped shallot in a little olive oil. Add about 1 cup of arborio or carnarolli rice and sauté for another 3 minutes top release the nutty flavors of risotto rice.
  7. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1TBSP of white balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add about 500ml of hot vegetable stock, ladle by ladle to the risotto, stirring all the while over medium high heat.
  8. Chop a few leaves of fresh sage in thin ribbons and add to the risotto.
  9. Taste the risotto…the rice should still have some bite and not be mushed to a porridge.
  10. Add 1 TBSP of créme fraiche, 1 knob of butter and 2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese and the grated rind of 1 lemon. Turn off the heat and stir through.
  11. Taste for seasoning.
  12. Serve immediately – spoon the risotto onto individual plates. top with the asparagus en finish off with the crisp oil fried sage leaves.
  13. Sere with extra Parmesan on the side.

Serves about 4 people.

Suggestions:

  • Use garden asparagus or string beans instead of wild asparagus.
  • Combine with tarragon instead of sage.
  • Leave out the creme fraiche and use a soft goats cheese instead.
  • Leave out the creme fraiche and sprinkle with  crumbled feta cheese just before serving.
  • The risotto should be creamy and not dry at all.

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When the bumps on the road get too disconcerting, I always pull off the road, switch off the engine, empty my mind and drift off to that world where I know giggles and laughter are plentiful.  And smiles. That place where we run off to when life is too blue and we want it more colourful. They are our private corners where we deal with these road bumps in our own unique ways so we can be able to turn the ignition key and continue on the bumpy roads. I thought I would share some of the things I run to for a smile or a hearty laugh or a tickling giggle.

  1. I adore that first coffee of the morning.It turns me inside out with happiness.
  2. I love watching someone enjoying a meal with gusto and joy(and good manners of course), someone who has a visible appreciation for the goodness of good quality products and for the preparation that goes  into a meal.
  3. I love people who can fold double with laughter,  enjoying laughing so much you can hear it right in the pit of their stomach! It is contagious and I might not know what the laughter is about, but I have to join in, just for the sake of the joy it brings.
  4. I love that good sharp which some people have. Not jokes. Jokes are flat and boring. Wit is something completely different. It is an art. That ability to be able to catch a moment and react to it with just the perfect touch of irony and humor.
  5. I love the smell of horses…their sweat, their manes, the oil on their skin..
  6.  I love playing tennis; running for every ball, sweating, groaning like a pro,  stretching, running, sliding…all of it..
  7. I love my chickens’ eager trot-run when they see cheese in my hand, it makes me burst out in spontaneous laughter.
  8. I love watching the geese’s rhythmic swaying from behind.
  9. I adore our apéros at sunset. If heaven doesn’t have that, I don’t want to go there…
  10. I love swimming..not lengths or any fashionable style, but splashing and diving and twirling and drowning… like a dolphin. I just love being in the water.
  11. I love waking up early morning to blue skies and sunshine..I can  just burst with happiness.
  12. I love the smell of oil paints on my palette.
  13. I love a scalp massage when I go to the hairdresser.
  14. I love walking barefoot.
  15. I love walking in the rain.
  16. I love walking in my garden endlessly throughout the day, hoping I’ll see something new every time.
  17. I love having coffee and croissant with mon chéri in town and we talk about everything and anything, especially since he is a man of few words.
  18. I love my perfumes..I splash it on when I go to dinner, when I go to town, when I go to bed or when I go work in the garden. M favorite, you ask? But Coco , eau de perfum, Chanel of course.
  19. I love burying my face and kissing the soft belly of my cat Ayiani…she grabs my head gently with her paws and it makes me giggle with pleasure…although I have had the occasional scratch of her fury when she’s not in the mood…
  20. I adore my bed and I adore slipping into crisp linen smelling of sunshine. I fall asleep with a content smile.

I hoe I have touched some of your soft spots or at least made you pull off the road to find your private world where laughter and giggles abound!

…my favorite perfume; Coco, from Chanel…

(for more sketches of perfumes, see my art blog Africantapestry)

perfume 4

à a prochaine fois

Ronelle


Spring salad with asparagus, and spring “greens”.

Spring is a month of greens. From sprouting to adult leaf and branch. From bud to flower. From seed to fruit. It bursts with health and it begs for salads. Green asparagus is at its peak at the moment and will only last one more month before it comes to rest for  whole year. Assemble your salads. Feast on your asparagus. There are no limits to pure goodness.

Asparagus and potato salad. 3255x2850

La recette:

  1. Boil some pasta of your choice to al dente and keep aside.
  2. Clean and cut an onion into slices. Sauté in a pan with some olive oil.  Add 3 or 4 small potatoes cut into rings, cover and cook over low heat until soft.
  3. Rinse some asparagus. Rinse some pois gourmande. Steam together until just tender. Add to the onions  and mix lightly. Add freshly chopped herbs of  your choice…basil is nice.
  4. Grate 2 or 3 carrots and mix lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice and a drizzle of flowered honey.
  5. Assemble the salad by adding the warm onion mixture to the pasta; Season with salt and pepper, leom juice and olive oil.
  6. Top with the cool, fresh carrot salad, sprinkle dry roasted pine nuts and drizzle with the carrot juices.
  7. Serve a good mayonnaise and baguette on the side.

Pincée de sel:

  • Sauté the asparagus beforehand in olive oil, herbs and lemon butter and then add to the pasta…tastier.
  • Use other vegetables like spring peas, or beans.
  • Keep the variety of vegetables to a minimum to avoid a confusion of flavours.
  • Omit the potatoes and add a meat of your choice, like chicken. add more sauce in that case to avoid a dry salad.
  • Omit the carrot salad and use grated beetroot instead with a pungent vinaigrette which goes well with the potaoes and pasta.

Asparagus and potato salad. 3909x3169

 

Spring greens come in many shades (and tastes as well). For now, we will stick to the shades and tones. for this excercise I stuck to pure greens straight from the tube., painting some ribbons of greens on paper and walking around in the garden, trying to match the colour on the paper to the greens I can find in the garden.

Another fun project would be to do it with food…matching greens to what one can find in the fridge. Or doing it with summer yellows, reds, aubergines.  Colour makes the world go round…at least for me.

Maybe in the next post I’ll set a spring green table..;paint some greens on paper ribbons and try to find matching greens for the table.

..grass green chives…

spring greens. 1975x2400

..young plums..

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..young tilleul leaves with golden greens, brown greens and ochres..

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..a young olive branch in olive greens and earth green..

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..and my favorite green in the garden is Sennelier grey – the santolinas, some lavendins, curry plants, stachys, armoises, ballotas, convolvulus(image below), cérastiums…

spring greens. 3010x2558

 

..and lastly the lovely dark rich greens of ceanothes with its overflowing purple flowers..

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à plus!

Ronelle


Apologies for resending of old post.

I apologize for the resending of my old post . It has been a problem for quite a while now, and NOT of my doing. The problem is in the hands of the WordPress team, I hope they can help me soon. Unfortunately I cannot turn off the feed, for then the problem can’t be found and it will return the moment I activate it again. So for the moment, please be patient along with me. I have already lost many subscribers because of this, which I am sad about. But I can only say again… I m really sorry for the inconvenience!

UPDATE!

*NB: I can’t seem to resolve the email problem. It lies with Feedburner and for the life of me, I can’t reach them to get any help. So I have decided to cancel the Feedburner feeds and move over to WordPress email notification and feeds. If you are interested in still receiving email updates from Myfrenchkitchen, subscribe to the WordPress email button top right in my sidebar. You don’t need to have an account with WordPress. I will still leave the Feedburner update running for a while and then deactivate it completely. I apologize for the inconvenience, but hope you will still feel up to joining me for the ride.

..my favorite ciste in flower..

Ciste 3654x2721

Remember!!! If you want to immediately get rid of those darned emails, just unsubscribe to your current feedburner email and sign up for  new email notification top right in my sidebar.

 


Yoghurt cake …and a scientific baker.

A yoghurt cake…infallible and so easy even your young children can bake it! Everything gets measured with the one yoghurt pot, perfect for someone like me who hates dishes!

joghurt cake 3138x2639

La recette:

 

yogurt cake recipe 4802x6090-001

Pincée de sel:

  • Choose either the syrup OR the icing
  • One cup of joghurt = 125 g.
  • Use as a dessert when you’ve added a syrup to your cake and serve with whipped cream and caramelized or fresh  orange slices. (Caramelize orange slices in pan on stove with some sugar and a little butter/orange juice)
  • Use lemon juice in place of orange juice.
  • Separate the egg whites , beat until stiff and fold in last for a lighter cake.
  • A thin slice of cake goes a long way…

joghurt cake 3814x2816

I have mentioned before that I always baked a cake or a tart for the weekend, way back when the girls were small. I was quite good at it too…made interesting treats for the weekends…tried new recipes, concocted my own all the while having tiny hands mixing and whisking Since then, life has changed completely, like it does with years passing by. Now it is only mon chéri and me and I have become quite useless at baking..much to the distress of mon chéri! The last few weeks I tried some new recipes, tried concocting my own like old times, but being good at baking back then doesn’t apply any more…. three times I failed miserably lately.

I couldn’t get the first cake to bake through completely..however long I let it bake! After a while I gave up and removed the cake, just to cut it and find that it tasted horribly  of egg. With egg whites and beaten egg yolks with sugar and a filling of créme patissiére which is basically eggs and sugar..it turned into a  “a sweet eggish cake” and I had difficulty swallowing it. Apart from it not being a great recipe (in my humble non-expert opinion), I was also clumsy, so between all the other possibilities, I naturally messed up somewhere. But then, the recipe guided me with all those eggs…so naturally I crossed out this recipe with a “Don”t try again” -note.

The second cake was totally my own incompetence….but I will only admit that in front of a firing squad.  Just maybe I took too many shortcuts, which every decent baker knows, results in catastrophic outcomes. There is a reason why you need so much raising agent for X amount of flour. There is a reason for beating the egg whites, or creaming yolks and sugar, or adding soft butter and not melted butter. It is a science and I, who ironically enough have a science background, took shortcuts. so logically the results were exactly the same as you would find by shortcutting in a lab…nothing works and you come close to blowing up the lab…in this case, the cake. But since there was no firing squad, I blamed the recipe and crossed it off as “Terrible recipe”‘...sounds familiar right?

My third cake burnt into oblivion. Crossed off…“Horrible recipe”!

And so I arrived at the yoghurt cake for this weekend. Taken from the book Le Petit Larousse -Pattissier(it even has a pretty picture of the cake), I decided I would follow the recipe step by step, leaving no window for error.  Armed with my reading glasses, I wiped my working surface clean. I took out all my ingredients, placed them orderly in front of me.Deliberately slowing down my usual hasty pace. I placed my bowls in ranging order on the counter. I cracked my eggs in a different little bowl before adding to a bigger one, to prevent cunning egg shell pieces surprising me later.  I rubbed my hands in excitement and started off with step one of the recipe. Done. Step two. Done. Step three. Done. This is  so easy! Done. But then it started going wrong. Stupidly I added mirin instead of sunflower oil to my preparation. The bottles look very similar as do the colours! And I added the orange juice, meant for the syrup much later, to my preparation as well.  Zut! Zut! It was supposed to be easy! Only one solution.  Throw out and restart? Yes. I can’t suck at baking forever and blame the recipe! This time I attacked this recipe like I attack my tennis games. My own way.At my own natural pace, with my own shots, doing what and how I do it best. Yet, still withing the rules of the game. The science of baking. And voilà, so it came that we have a cake for this weekend, however a bit rustic and unrefined it may be and not at all like the pretty decorated and styled picture in the book…

Finally? Yes, it is truly an easy and delicious little cake and quick enough, if you get it right first time round…

Mon chéri is a happy man. And I am a proud baker. And there is still cake left, because a thin slice goes a long way.

Joghurt cake 4062x2987

…à bientôt…

Ronelle

 


Apologies for the reposting…again!!

Again I have to apologize for something that I am not guilty of. My last post has again been re emailed to my subscribers…I can understand your irritation with it…that is exactly how I felt this morning discovering it. I am trying my utmost best to fix it, but no one seems to want to take responsibility for the problem.

I hope the next two images I attach will make up a little bit for the inconvenience…while I try kicking this glitch in its “behind”!

…Ciboulette has a new “poussin“…we call her Celery. She just appeared one day and unfortunately she is the only one…so far…

Ciboulette et Celery 2268x1891

..Ayiani is in bed..her favorite place on a cold rainy day, of which we do suddenly have a lot of again…

Aiyani 1 3168x2288

…with only one eye opening lazily…

Aiyani 2 4369x3066

Thank you for your patience and understanding and until soon

Ronelle


Anchoïade ( anchovy cream)..and hopes of spring.

*It seems my previous post of January  has been re-emailed to my subscribers last night..It is a mystery….I promise it is not of my doing and I have no idea how it could have happened. I have never emailed a post twice, but  I apologize and I trust all my regular readers know me by now and would have realized that it was a glitch.

An anchoïade(anchovy cream) is a big favorite of mine…that and aïoli (garlic cream). In summer it is frequently on our tables, served as an apéro with a cold glass of rosé wine.

anchoiade 2823x2257

 

Anchoïade (anchovy cream)

  1. Everything is made to taste…
  2. Use 100g of anchovy fillets in olive oil, or marinated in wine.
  3. Place it in a mortar and pestle, or in a mixer/handmixer.
  4. Add about 10 capers, 1 large garlic clove with the inner core removed, 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar, 1 tsp Provencal herbs and milled pepper.
  5. Mix together while slowly adding olive oil until it turns to a nice, firm paste.
  6. Taste and add a little more white wine or capers or herbs.
  7. Serve with crusty bread or vegetables as starter or an amuse bouche.

Suggestions:

  • Add a small tsp of sundried tomato paste to the anchoïade.
  • Add a few black seeded olives when grinding or mixing the anchoïade.
  • Add the olive slowly, like you would do for mayonnaise to prevent the oil from seeping out later and the paste becoming runny and oily.
  • Keeps in the fridge for 5 days.
  • Make it the previous day to allow the flavours to develop.
  • Using fresh anchovies can be done, but I find it a hassle to remove all the very fine bones.

anchoiade 1 3066x2858

I have been occupied by other things this first part of the year, one of which was moving home and finding place for everything that needs storage until our house is finished here at Coin Perdu. Every nook in the barn is filled with something which needed to be “stored”. I have never been so challenged in finding a spot for everything. I can proudly announce that I have indeed found a resting place for everything, from a chair to a pillow case. Just in case you are wondering if we can still move about, I give you a shot of our kitchen corner in the barn where we were busy preparing a dinner for 10 people a while ago. So yes, we even still have room for a table and 10 guests in the barn.

barn kirchen 4928x3264

 

In the meantime, spring has crept up on us. the days are longer, the sun is bright and warm, nature is exploding in colour and I am glowing with contentment. winter is behind me. even if we still have colder days, I revel in the fact that I am in spring and summer for the wonderful months to come!

 ..my borage never stopped flowering this winter, a sign of our unusual, mild winter…

Printemps 2014 3850x2572

 

..Working in March with many teabreaks in the sun..

Printemps  work  014 3755x3178 3755x3178

..and a tea break always leads to a nap..

Printemps work 2014 3471x2868

..the first paperwhites, perfect in beauty..

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..the cyanothes, waiting to explode in blue flowers..

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..happy chickens as company…

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..Jack Frost with its clouds of blue forget me not- flowers..

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..Viburnum..

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..Iberis..

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..Plum blossoms..

Printemps 2014 4084x3193

..Lilas..

Printemps 2014 2268x2348

à la prochaine fois

Ronelle

 


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

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

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

Nonards 2563x1895.NEF

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

chocolat

Correze country side

Puy d'Arnac Charlone 2582x1563.NEF

cafe 3039x2014.NEF

à la prochaine fois!

Ronelle


Beginning of a new chapter.

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

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

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

garden 2008  2000x3008. Loire home

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

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

garden 2008 1819x2544

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

Garden 2008 1964x2534

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

garden 2008 2048x1536-001

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

Garden 2008 2048x1536

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

garden 2008 1817x1530

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

garden 2008 2048x1536-004

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

garden 2008 2610x1982

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

garden 2008 5120x5120. art studio

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

garden 2008 2822x1994

garden 2008 3008x2000

garden 2008 3008x2000-001

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

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

I wish you all a great 2014!

à bientôt

Ronelle


Joyeux Noël 2013!

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

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

noël 2013  3386x3066-001

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

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

noël 2013  3336x3092-001

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

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..the reindeer were ready, waiting…

Noel 2013 4044x3239

Three quaint houses with strawberry red walls..

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

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

noël 2013  4410x3244-001

Joyeux Noël

Ronelle


Paris coffee-sandcookies( petits sablés de Paris au café)

Since childhood I have loved my mother’s coffee cookies. We always baked them for Christmas. These little sablés are good too and much less work than the real old coffee cookie Maman used to make. And..they come with a Parisian flavour! What could be better? Come Noël, we will revert back to Maman’s old fashioned Christmas coffee cookie.

sablés au café 09-11-2013 15-46-038

La recette:

petits sablés de Paris recette-001Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Keep some sablés single, without being sandwiched together. They will be crispier and perfect for dipping into some coffee or tea.
  • Replace the ground almonds with plain flour if you so prefer.
  • Instead of the TBSP of strong coffee, add a TBSP of instant coffee powder if you have it available.
  • Replace the coffee in the icing sugar with some milk and flavour with vanilla essence for a contrast in flavours, or add cacao to taste for a mocca cookie.
  • The icing sugar can be added to a cookie simply with a knife but a piping bag makes for a neat filling.

sablés au café 4 09-11-2013 13-32-056

The dough on the pastry mat. Be sure to always work with flour under your pastry to prevent sticking.

sablés au café 3 09-11-2013 13-46-059

Using a piping bag makes for neat cookies, but still with a home made feel..and of course taste!

sablés au café 2 09-11-2013 15-22-051

Une Parisienne

la parisienne  29-10-2010 12-23-55 1502x2148My Parisian umbrella always goes with me to Paris. A little bit of a cliché it is, but I love it. It depicts a typical Parisian street scene in winter(of course). a year or so back, I had my beautiful friend pose for me with the umbrella. She is the epitome of Parisian elegance, even though she doesn’t live there anymore.

la parisienne 2 29-10-2010 12-24-08 1621x2173

So, with these petits sablés and une ravissante Parisienne, peeking from behind her umbrella, I hope I could give you just  a little taste of Paris for today.

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


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.

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 16-17-034

rainbow carrots recette

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 12-24-13 3963x3234

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.

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 12-28-13 3156x2528

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

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 12-33-19 3111x2249

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

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 12-37-27 3918x3016

*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…

summer 2013 25-08-2013 18-41-23 3421x3218

..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..

one cray chicken 06-06-2013 09-18-46 4522x3198

..Where are those hens again..!

chickens porcelaine 04-01-2013 15-23-39 3273x2853

..Don’t mess with our corner..!

chickens

à la prochaine fois

Ronelle


Scottish shortbread.(Sablés ecossais)

I love sablés. with coffee or tea or on their own. You can’t go wrong with having sablés in your pantry/cookie tin. These round Scottish shortbread bring back happy memories, especially baked in these rounds and broken into triangles. Hope you like them too..

sablés écossais &

sablés écossais recette

Pincée de sel:

  • It can also be baked as squares, by rolling/pressing into a rectangular pan and cut into squares.
  • Piercing with a fork is tradition.
  • Try adding fresh thyme leaves or the tiny flowers(no hard stems) to the dough before rolling.
  • Try adding lavender flowers to the dough. (Be careful, as lavender can be very powerful.

..pinching a scolloped edge with the fingers, piercing with a fork and scoring into segments..

sablés écossais 2

..sprinkle with castor sugar..

sablés écossais 3

Recipe adapted from Cuisiner! 280 recettes: Larousse

A great film for other movie lovers like me…even though it isn’t weekend yet. Keep this film in mind. I am not sure whether it is available in English or with  subtitles, but it is truly a great film with great acting, great script, great directing.

..La source des femmes..

2013-10-23

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


Rustic apples in puff pastry(bourdelots aux pommes)..and l’hotel de ville.

Autumn is the time of year we eat rustic food. Finish are the dainty salads and light desserts..we now go for rustic, unadorned meals. Apples are in abundance and it will be a shame to allow the time to pass and not use them to their full. I saw these apples in pastry somewhere in a magazine and I only remember they were called by the melodious name of Bourdelots and it looked much prettier than mine. I made them just on feeling, and I can’t imagine the magazine version being tastier, because they are so delicious with the puff pastry and brown sugar and apricot jam…and don’t they look pretty rustic too..(good excuse, n’est pas)?

..Rustic apples in puff pastry..

bourdilots de pomme 17-10-2013 15-56-56 3461x2904

La Recette:

  1. Clean and peel 4 apples, remove the inner core and drizzle with lemon juice.
  2. Unroll a sheet of puff pastry, cut into quarters. Place 4 quarters on a baking paper on a baking sheet.
  3. Place an apple on each quarter. Fill the apples with a teaspoon of apricot jam, a knob of butter and sproinkle with brown sugar.
  4. Wrap the pastry around the apples and brush with beaten egg.
  5. If you have puff pastry left, cut strips and stick it around the apples from top to bottom.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Reheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  8. Remove the apples from the fridge, brush again with beaten egg. Sprinkle again with brown sugar.
  9. Place on sprigs of rosemary  and bake in the hot oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for another 25 minutes.
  10. If the apples get too dark on top, cover with brown paper.
  11. Serve warm, or at room temperature with a big dollop of whooped cream or a scoop of créme fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

bourdilots aux pommes 3 17-10-2013 12-28-05 4004x3000

bourdilots aux pommes 3 17-10-2013 12-42-28 3689x3147

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Bring the dough right up to the edge of the apples which will ensure that the apples are covered more fully with pastry.
  • In order for puff pastry to rise high and crispy, the dough must be cold and baked in a hot oven for the first 10- 15 minutes.
  • Serve the apples as a side dish with a meat roast, like pork or venison.
  • Fill the apples with spices of your choice or with dried fruit like raisins and nuts.

bourdilots aux pommes 3 17-10-2013 12-53-54 3633x2980

The mairie or hotel de ville is an important part of every city, town and village in France. It can be as tiny as a hamlet, but it will have a mairie and an eglise. The hotel de ville is usually bigger and houses the  mairie and houses several administration departments. But they both hop-use the office of the mayor of a town and the administration offices as well as an école of the commune. So it is no strange sight to see kiddies run around at lunchtime in part of the grounds of the mairie.

The mairies of the campagne has nothing to do with the elaborate and grand hotels de ville of the cities, like Paris or Tours, Lyon. Some are so small, you even pass by it without knowing.

les hotels de villes - Beaulieu 1

..the mairie in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne..

les hotels de villes - Beaulieu 2

..with its administration offices around the corner..

les hotels de villes - Beaulieu 3

..the little hotel de ville in Bétaille, just alongside he main road through the village..

les hotels de villes - Bétaille &

..the very typical stone hotel de ville of Biars-sur-Cere, with its lovely surroundings,dressed each season in different vegetation..

les hotels de villes - Biars sur Cere 2

..le mairie of Biars sur Cere.

les hotels de villes -Biars sur Cere 1

..the mairie is still wearing its summer ballgown and pretty soon, with Toussaint at 1 November, it will change to Fall Chrysanthemes..

les hotels de villes - Puy d'Arnac  4928x3264 3832x2924

..In Bretenoux, the hotel de ville is obscured by lovely trees..

les hotels de villes - Bretenoux 1

..and right opposite it, is the traditional memorial of the soldiers who fought in the war..

les hotels de villes - Bretenoux 2

..the quaint, typically Corrézien mairie of Le Pescher where our eldest got married..

les hotels de villes - Le Pescher 1

..and next to it, the mémorial of Le Pescher..

les hotels de villes - Le Pescher 2

..the mairie of Marcillac la Croze is one of those you pass by without knowing..it sits up on a hill, all alone. The day I looked for this mairie I drove up to its pretty eglise, full of history and asked a gentleman who was raking the  leaves, where I could find the mairie. We got caught up in a 30 minute conversation. I had to cut the motor of the car after a while, because he just couldn’t stop talking..

les hotels de villes - Marcillac la Croze

..Of course I can’t leave our own sweet village of Puy d’Arnac behind. Our mairie has recently had a makeover and is now a chic gathering point in the village where the mayor has her offices and I often have to drop in for keys for  the garbage points or documents or this or that..

  les hotels de villes - Puy d'Arnac

..and right next to the mairie, its école

les hotels de villes - Puy d'Arnac 2

..in Vayrac, the hotel de ville is huge with a big spacious place in front of it..

les hotels de villes -Vayrac 1

..and to the side, village life continues..

les hotels de villes - Vayrac 2

..Altillac has a beautiful building and I pass it almost every day to buy baguette and cheese..The pride of India trees  in front complement the building so beautiful in high summer…I always slow down and admire this mairie.. les hotels de villes -Altillac 1

..the mairie of la Chapelle aux Saints, is really out in la campagne and stands all alone among green fields..

les hotels de villes - la Chapelle aux saints 4

This is a prehistoric area, a very important sightseeing site in our area and the mairie forms part of the site..the ecole is at the back of the mairie..

   les mairies les mairies1

There is still so much to show and so much to be said about the hotel de ville in France and every town’s mairie is special.. Once you have found a town’s hotel de ville, you have also found its centre ville. I will certainly explore and show more at a later stage. These ones are all in a radius of 20 minutes from home. And like the hotels de villes, there are also the fascinating eglises, which I’ll save for another time.

So, with the theme of hotel de ville and French admin , I want to share the Marseillaise, sung by my favorite artist…Edith of course! We celebrated her life in PAris, as she died 50 years ago this October. I just LOVE her..and the song – I sing along with her just as loud as she does! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lu3eSNi__4w#t=33

..à la prochaine fois..

Ronelle


Mendiants à la fleur de sel..et l’ atelier chocolat.

Mendiants are so quick to make and over the festive times coming soon, are a handy snack to serve with coffee. IN France the habit in a bar, mostly, not everywhere, is to serve a petit biscuit or chocolat along with the coffee. Towards the end of the year it changes to something special, like a petit meringue, or une truffe au chocolat. Why not a mendiant, topped with dried fruit and nuts of your choice?

mendiants aux fleur de sel 15-10-2013 12-19-56 2801x2795

Wikipedia says:  “A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelites. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds, fruit peels and other items.”

Larousse says: The mendiant order imposed poverty on the the mendiants(beggars) and they were dependent on donations for their upkeep. They were allowed to get some kind of income as long as they abstained from any benefits from the church.

..mendiants à la fleur de sel..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-21-55 4034x2820

La recette:

  1. Break 400 g dark chocolate in pieces. Add to a bowl(or top part of double boiler) on a pot of hot water.
  2. Temper the chocolate ( see below under Tempering chocolate).
  3. Keeping the chocolate at 32° C, drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a baking sheet covered with bakewell paper. Sprinkle very sparsely with some fleur de sel and leave aside for about 10 minutes for the chocolate to settle.
  4. Use dried fruit and nuts of your choice and top by gently pressing it onto the mendiants. (I used dried strawberries, almonds, pistachio nuts, dried papaya strips and hazelnuts).

..my all favorite eating chocolate is dark Lindt chocolate à fleur de sel(left) and in the kitchen I use Lindt dark cooking chocolate 70% cacao and mix it with a cheaper Lindt cooking chocolate(ratio 3/4 – 1/4)..

mendiants

1. Tempering chocolate:

Tempering chocolate gives you chocolate which is beautifully smooth with a gloss and is used when you are “decorating” with chocolate or florentines, or mendiants or making filled cups. When making truffles, it isn’t necessary, because truffles mostly get rolled in cacao afterwards.

  • Using a thermometer, melt the chocolate until  50 – 55°C, while stirring all the while with a spatula.
  • Remove from the heat and cool the chocolate to 28 – 29°C, stirring all the while.
  • Reheat again to 30-32°C and remove from the heat, taking care, because it heats very quick. If it heats above this temperature, it will make white streaks and you will have to start from the beginning.
  • Keep the temperature at 30 -32°C while working.
  • The left over chocolate can be stored and at a later time tempered again and reused.
  • The chocolate chips don’t give such a good result.

..tempered chocolate..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-42-06 3380x2804

In the top photograph,  the chocolate is tempered which shows the rich gloss and smoothness. The bottom photograph clearly shows the white, dull and milky appearance of untempered chocolate.

..untempered chocolate, simply melted..

atelier chocolat 25-10-2012 11-59-23 2397x2026 

Whip some cream and serve it in the little cup along with a strawberry or raspberry or a fruit mousse or light chocolate mousse. Place it with your main dessert  on a dessert plate for some added interest. Or why not serve it with a late afternoon coffee as a “goutêr“? If it has a quaint rose pattern like in the photo, it can be turned over and your guests break through the chocolate to get to the surprise filling.

2. Chocolate decoration.

  • Use a home made cone – Place a piece of bakewell paper on a tray and draw your design on the paper. Fold a rectangle of bakewell paper into a cone, fill with melted chocolate and draw onto your design. Leave aside to cool completely of place in the fridge in warm weather. When the chocolate designs have settled, remove gently and store in an airtight container with bakewell paper between the chocolate decorations. Use of ice cream or whipped cream or serve on a hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of froth.
  • Making chocolate moulds/cups – use the brush shown below  and paint one layer of chocolate inside the moulds. Refrigerate and paint another. Continue until you have painted 3 coats. Remove gently and store in an airtight container.

..to make chocolate decorations, I use the home made paper cone(left,  line 1),  the little brown container is useless, for it sucks air and make spurts of chocolate as you can see (line 2), the spoons are very handy and make nice linework(3 & 4),  the only drawback is that they don’t take too much chocolate at a time so your designs have to be small, but they are excellent in making swoops of chocolate on the dessert plate.

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-31-21 3195x3124

..This is a perfect brush to paint the cup moulds inside with chocolate…

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 11-32-03 2956x2216

..To end this short atelier chocolat(to know more you’ll have to come to my cooking classes), voici la Tour Eiffel, all in tempered chocolate…will I eat it? Definitely not today!..

atelier chocolat 15-10-2013 12-54-39 2339x2940

I bought this cute little book in Paris called, Retour à Paris: les mêmes lieux photographiés d’un siècle à l’autre, by Daniél Quesney. So until next time I’m leaving you with this view of the Eiffel over the Seine, a 100 years apart. Isn’t it wonderful…how I would love to be able travel back to “La belle époque!

..”voies George Pompidou, 16eme arrondissement. On quai du Pont du Jour, the Eiffel tower still carves out its slice of the sky, but the riverboat concertzs of old have have now given way to expressway automobile traffic”..

2013-10-161..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Panfried quince(coings sautés)..et le jardin du Luxembourg.

It is now time for quince, pears, apples..all the lovely fruits of autumn with their heady fragrances when baked or panfried or poached. With added spices or without, they are wonderful as desserts and even better as accompaniment to venison and the heavier winter red meats. Serving it with a duck breast is something I love to do: Sauté the quince in a pan with butter and sugar, remove, add the juices of the panfried duck and reduce with some red wine, serve with the cooked duck slices and the quince on the side and a pain de campagne to sweep up the juices on the plate.. eh oui, we do love that! Doesn’t it sound delicious?

panfried quince 12-10-2013 12-30-28 3075x2625

La recette:

  1. Wash 2 large quinces and cut in quarters. Peel(optional) and remove the seeds. Cut each quarter again in half.
  2. In a large pan, melt a large knob of butter and about 3/4 cup sugar and some lemon juice to taste. Add the quince and pan fry for about 10 minutes or until the quinces are tender and caramelized. Remove the quinces from the pan heat before they fall apart and keep aside.
  3. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of red wine to the caramelized quince juice and reduce for about 5-10 minutes. Add the quince slices back to the wine sauce and keep warm until needed.
  4. Serve as accompaniment with venison or duck breast or pan fried foie gras.

coing sauté

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use apples or pear instead of quince.
  • Add spices like star aniseed, or a cinnamon stick or juniper berries..
  • Use honey of your preference instead of sugar.
  • These quince can also  be baked in the oven  at 180 degrees C until the quince are tender.
  • Serve as a dessert with a dollop of thick cream or créme fraîche.
  • Use the pan fried quince for tarte tatin or use and make a topping for a crumble.

quince 1 12-10-2013 11-50-024

Well, back from Paris; t’was a quick there and back, but that is how I have to do Paris now with all the animals waiting back here at Coin Perdu. Not that I complain because that is exactly the way I like it. Paris is wonderful, but after a week my head hurts. All is well when you don’t have parcels and bags and cameras and bottles of water and it isn’t raining and you have enough money to be taxied around. But a week of city life is more than enough – enough shoving and pushing on buses and le métro, slipping on wet métro stairs, struggling through narrow métro gateways with parcels and umbrellas, enough garlic odours on the métro from the stranger breathing in your neck and spitting his chatting into his portable above your head.

BUT…thankfully Paris is also filled with stories and a rich history and incredible beauty and there is always a good seat and (albeit expensive) coffee at the next corner. Great lunch meals at bistros, which is cheaper and sometimes better than dinners. Great places(squares) where you can eat your sandwich jambon and read your book(given it doesn’t rain). And of course, there is always le jardin du Luxembourg.

..le jardin du Luxembourg with the Eiffel tower in the background..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 11-33-31 1766x1289

..Monsieur is out with his little sailboat..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 11-16-52 1905x1268

*Did you know…?

total surface of le jardin du Luxembourg:      about 23 hectares

  • ornamental lakes:    2 800 m²
  • lawns:                         5 400 m²
  • Shrub beds               17 700 m²
  • flower beds                6 000 m²
  • interior perimeter:       2km
  • Trees forming lanes:  2 200
  • trees forming shade:     740
  • shrubs:                         35 000

(source: Sénat.fr)

..the garden is still dressed in summer attire with géraniums in the pots and will soon be replaced by the habitual chrysanthémes..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-25-56 1677x1325

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-21-37 1936x1462

..le jardin colours later in  autumn with the gay Chrysanthémes..(images from November 2009)

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-29-07 2587x1895

..Luxembourg pigeons basking in the November light..

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-28-25 1881x2417

..le palais in November with its security guard an elegant backdrop to they sunny yellow chrysanthémes..

luxembourg 2009 19-11-2009 16-21-01 1631x2252

..les chaises ..- I have always been fascinated by the chairs in le jardin and I am keeping my eyes wide open to find some for my own garden..love them, don’t you?

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-50-13 1795x1345

..sketchbook exchange: my theme for the sketchbook exchange in 2008 was the chairs of le jardin du Luxembourg..see more here of our exchange Flying pictures

Luxembourg 7-29-2008 11-17-00 AM

..la buvette des Marinonnettes..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-56-28 1825x1309

..le Pavillon de la Fontaine..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-24-12 2048x1536

..Don’t forget to look upwards every now and then..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-36-20 1385x1616

 

..and for thirst and directions, always some help..

Parys Oktober 2013

..after a morning spent walking, reading, watching people, watching school kiddies run relay around the fountain, witnessing a great game of tennis, drinking coffee at le Pavillon de la fontaine, doing some tai chi with other Parisiens, I said goodbye to le jardin and left by the gate of Medici..

Paris jardin du Luxembourg 09-10-2013 10-26-55 1744x1256

*Read more about le jardin du Luxembourg: (they can all be translated)

..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Ambiance – Paris

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

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

..Paris..

Paris  Seine 12-10-2012 12-27-00 1388x1267

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

..Le passager d’été..

2013-10-07

 


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.

apple matchsticks 04-10-2013 11-13-33 3644x2914

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..

green crockery 04-10-2013 15-18-59 3467x3122

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

wild apples 04-10-2013 13-39-08 3994x3030

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

wild apples 04-10-2013 13-42-19 3152x2817

..and neither do the horses..

horses 20 28-08-2013 19-17-26 3923x3127

..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


A Flashback to summer.

We have been cheated a bit out of spring and summer here in France this year, but we have had our week or two of beautiful, perfect hot weather! When looking back, it was all good, however short. I am lucky enough to have my birthday in summer and we had the most beautiful evening, spent around our bistro table with friends and family. It was special.

..birthday around a bistro table..

anniv 1 17-08-2013 20-46-40 3008x2000

anniv 32 17-08-2013 20-32-29 1956x2783

summer 2013 17-08-2013 20-47-27 1974x2710

..and around the fire, every evening..

Anniv 11 17-08-2013 20-37-21 1926x2668

..the sound of running water, every day..

Anniv 13 17-08-2013 20-42-07 1996x2968

..fruit and fruit and fruit..

Brochettes de fruits 14-06-2013 21-23-39 2659x2482 - Copie

..alcohol free mojito, especially for me..

mojito 14-06-2013 20-29-49 1617x1378 - Copie

..always an apéro with our glass of wine, in this case stuffed cherry tomatoes with ricotta and herbs..

stuffed cherry tomatoes 16-05-2013 18-49-29 2685x3271 - Copie

..tomatoes from the potager for dinner..

tomate & 23-08-2013 20-16-19 2998x3165

As far as automne goes..the leaves haven’t coloured yet and the days are still sunny and warm, with slight winds, clouds are rolling by fast in the blue skies and the waters of the streams are still, awaiting the first rainfalls.

But before I start sounding like Thursday’s weatherman..

Welcome back to Myfrenchkitchen! I’ve had a busy summer and September was spent doing only art every day, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I posted my art when I had time and if you are interested you can see some posts on Africantapestry. It was a great month for me , trying different methods and mediums, searching for new directions. I did a lot of plein air painting, just practiced techniques in the evenings, making terrible messes( on the canvas and my clothes!), but I enjoyed every minute!

..three houses, oil on linen..

Three roofs. 24-09-2013 15-42-59 3974x2859

“A big thank you to everybody who supported me and especially Monique, who was there with me EVERY day, in spite of her busy schedule. Your encouragement and support throughout the month…I can’t express how much that meant to me! Please drop in at La table de Nana and catch up on her beautiful posts of this past summer…just an inspiring place to visit!! When I am down, I visit Monique at La table de Nana..”

..young chicks..

chicks 08-06-2013 11-08-03 4106x3081

..Gubi and the geese, Aglaé and Sidonie..

summer 2013 21-09-2013 09-06-49 4471x3203

..Roquefort..

summer 2013 25-08-2013 18-41-23 3421x3218

..Gaitchi, Gubi and her fillette Dumêla..

horses 14 28-08-2013 19-13-39 4801x3228

So. With these images of our sweet animals ,  I say goodbye! to summer and its fun and hi there! to fall and its splendour. Even on my Pinterest page, I have gone “autumn”, so inspired by the decorating for fall, the colour of the sunsets, the champignons, apples and acorns, the deep and atmospheric colour of nature just waiting to explode.

..spider webs on an early September morning..

spiderwebs of automne 21-09-2013 09-39-10 3588x2858

spiderwebs of automne 21-09-2013 09-44-50 2568x2883

à trés bientôt

Ronelle


Carpaccio de courgette..and summer evenings.

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

Carpaccio de courgettes 12-08-2013 15-57-026

Recette:

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

Pincée de fleur de sel:

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

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

Summer evenings at Coin Perdu

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

summer evening 2 09-05-2013 20-29-044

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

summer evening 1 16-05-2013 20-12-31 4928x3264

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

summer evening 3 09-05-2013 20-54-23 3380x3137

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

summer evening 4 08-03-2013 19-48-52 4527x3264

**And some summer music for these summer evenings…

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

Enjoy!!

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


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