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.
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.
*Join me now for a typical summer’s washing day here at Coin Perdu.
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…
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.
Blue skies and warm weather, bright sun…perfect washing days…!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Now tell me you don’t have the desire to go hang out some washing?
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.
- Boil some pasta of your choice to al dente and keep aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Grate 2 or 3 carrots and mix lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice and a drizzle of flowered honey.
- Assemble the salad by adding the warm onion mixture to the pasta; Season with salt and pepper, leom juice and olive oil.
- Top with the cool, fresh carrot salad, sprinkle dry roasted pine nuts and drizzle with the carrot juices.
- 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.
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…
..young tilleul leaves with golden greens, brown greens and ochres..
..a young olive branch in olive greens and earth green..
..and my favorite green in the garden is Sennelier grey – the santolinas, some lavendins, curry plants, stachys, armoises, ballotas, convolvulus(image below), cérastiums…
..and lastly the lovely dark rich greens of ceanothes with its overflowing purple flowers..
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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!
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..my favorite ciste in flower..
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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!
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…
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.