Posts tagged “summer

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..

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..and around the fire, every evening..

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

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..fruit and fruit and fruit..

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..alcohol free mojito, especially for me..

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

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..tomatoes from the potager for dinner..

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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..

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“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..

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

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..Roquefort..

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..Gaitchi, Gubi and her fillette Dumêla..

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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..

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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.

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Recette:

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

Pincée de fleur de sel:

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

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Summer evenings at Coin Perdu

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

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

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

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

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**And some summer music for these summer evenings…

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

Enjoy!!

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


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

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

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

Salmon, potato and mussel salad.

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

Une pincée de sel:

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

A contribution to Pie•ography..

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

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

pieography

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

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30 things you don’t know about me:

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

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

Pi•ography  can be ordered from Amazon.com.

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

So, until next time…

Amusez vous bien et soyez sage sage!

(Have fun and stay out of trouble!)

Ronelle


Papillons d’ete(summer butterflies) and a wedding.

I have been like these butterflies the last few weeks…fluttering left, right and center! Our eldest daughter’s wedding is a week from today and I’m in top gear, working to get everything done. Truth be told, up until now most of the organizing had been done by the two themselves. My work only really started these last few weeks and being true to my very bad self, I left everything until the very last minute, which now means a mean scuffling of  feet to be on top of things. But I’m almost there…on top of things!

..Inachis Io(Paon du jour) Peacock butterfly..


..Mellicta athalia..

Every now and then I get distracted by my animals or the garden…the flowers, the vegetables and my potager, a coffee…before finding my rhythm again to move along with wedding stuff. One such a pleasant distraction was the seductive butterflies in my summer garden.

.. le petit nacré (Issoria lathonia) ..

..Iphiclides podalirius – scarse swallowtail (le flambé)..

..la belle dame (Vanessa cardui)..

..(papillons satyrinae (satyre)..

..Colias alfacariensis (Fluoré)..

..papillon feuille..

A last sip of cool and calm Provencal Rosé at sunset with mon chéri before friend and family start arriving from tomorrow onfor the wedding. And so with these images of my summer butterflies here at Coin Perdu and two cold glasses of Rosé, I leave you until I resurface after the wedding!

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


Gaspacho! with crisp Iberian ham and a walk in Brive la Gaillarde, Corréze.

Yesterday was hot. Very very hot. I thought I was going to melt. Here in the southwest of France we are “au niveua 2 du canicule” (level 2 heatwave). In Paris everybody is in water…by the Eiffel, in die seine, in the fountains. We are drinking water by the tons, the ice cream shelves shelves are empty. We are thirsty and hot and sticky. We are like limp fish. But it isn’t the worst heat I’ve known, so I don’t complain..pretty soon it will be dark European winter days and I will miss this heat.

In the meantime, there are many ways to keep cool. One of them of course is eating cool meals…like sipping cold gazpacho!

Une petite pensée:

  • I don’t add bread to the gazpacho, but I love to serve it with croutons sprinkled on top. Omit the croutons and mix some country bread together with the vegetable mix.
  • Serve with vegetables cut into small dice(cucumber, peppers, spring onions)
  • Serve with a cocktail stick of goats cheese, cherry tomato, basil leaf.
  • Serve topped with a spoonful of scraped iced tomato juice.
  • Use a celery branch to stir.
  • Add cubes of ice in each glass
  • Serve in rustic Spanish glasses for the best effect.

A visit to Brive la Gaillarde..Les rues, des petits chemins, un bistro, la collegiale St. MArtin, lesboputis(quilts), l’architecturte et les fontaines..voilà Brive la Gaillarde a Corréze.

From an overheated Vallée de la Dordogne…à bientôt!

Ronelle


Frittata à la “Mon Chéri”..and a late summer “potager” (veggie garden).

Sunday was a real “Dimanche à la campagne” at Coin Perdu. Our children from Toulouse  visited the weekend, the sun was shining, we stopped working on our house for the day and we had a great brunch outside under the Tilleul tree. What made it really perfect was that Mon Chéri made lunch! I just sat in the shade, sipped my Rosè and enjoyed the company of the people I love. This frittata/tortilla/ omelette is the brainchild of Mon Chéri and it changes every time he makes it which course is typical of a frittata…you use whatever is available and to your liking!

..frittata/tortilla/omelette on the barbecue..

..the assistant earns her lunch..

..la recette..

Une petite pensée:

  • Make a frittata to empty the fridge at the end of a month.
  • Normally a frittata is done on the stove and placed under a grill for a few minutes before serving. I is firm enough to cut into slices.
  • If you want it creamier, add a TBSP of crème fraîche just after you’ve added the eggs and stir .
  • Always add a sprinkling of freshly cut herbs before serving for a fresh appeal.
  • Place your frittata under the grill for a few minutes to have it puff up, melt the cheese if added and brown nicely.
  • To make it vegetarian, omit the left over meat.
  • Be creative with your frittata.
  • Serve with fresh green salad, toast or country bread and fruit.

..dèjeuner à la campagne..

Our potager here at Coin Perdu is a bit empty at the moment. (You can see a little of the evolution of the potager the last 2 years on my Coin Perdu-blog: Moving forward and A garden in the making.)

But back to the moment: ..the strawberries try desperately to produce one last crop… I sure did something wrong, because my garlic went to seed and is even smaller than when I planted them!… I lost all my newly planted carrots by simple neglect unfortunately (I didn’t water them…too lazy?)…my basil dried up too, but I still have some new leaves pushing, so I’m not completely hopeless!…My onions are all dug up…my young leeks look a bit frail…

..an empty late summer potager..

But on the other hand…my maize (corn) looks beautiful, although few…my pumpkin is coming along beautifully and already have little pumpkins all over…I am in love with all my grey foliaged herbs like the Absinthe(Artemisia absinthium), the santolinas, the grey potent curry plants..

..absinthe, french marigolds, tomatoes, maize, pumpkin herbs..

My artichokes are late, but I’m happy, even though I have only one plant carrying buds…next year I will have plenty of artichokes..enough to leave for flowering and enough for eating!…

..artichokes..

One thing I don’t fail at, is growing beets…deliciously sweet, small and big, the young leaves delicious in salads. We have feasted this season on fresh beets and I’ve just planted some more and I’m already picking the leaves for colour in my salads – of course beets are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but I pretend they are very difficult and I’m just soo good!…

..young beetroot peeping through the lavender..

A lovely green view on my potager..I have to add that this photo was taken just after some hard work, like weeding and digging-in horse manure(with the help of sweet Mon chéri of course) and pruning and all the labour a potager asks for…but still… quite pretty with the bright tansy and gay French marigolfds, the cloches and yellow pots, tomato forest… heh?…

..bright yellows for a potager..

Now just look at my maize (admitting again in a whisper that Mon Chéri sees to it being watered…?). In France maize is not eaten “corn on the cob” wise. On the contrary, it is seen as animal food and frowned upon as human food..but once they try it our way..on the BBQ.. with butter and fleur de sel..they are converted!…

..maize(corn on the cob)..

Of course I have camomile, as everubody does…how can one not have Camomile…such an easy growing, abundant and gratifying herb! Don’t trust the marker…nothing is what it seems here at Coin Perdu…

rosemary…oops non, camomile..

Aha…the tomatoes – last year I was conscientious and my tomatoes were properly staked and all the necessary pinching and mulching were religiously done and they were beautiful! This year, it is more of a tomato war with cherries and grapes and rondes and ovals fighting for air and power and it is an ordeal to harvest, but when we succeed, we have nice sweet abundant crops; I’ll be perfect again next year!…

..tomatoes..

As said…I love the santolinas…the greens and the greys…mixed with lavender, I can dwell there for hours. Hopefully I’ll have a whole field of mixed santolinas and lavenders next year – it all comes down to efficient planning?…

..beautiful santolina..

The visitors are bountiful and it rewards the hard work of gardening without pesticides! This young lady goes by the pretty name of le Nacré de la ronce(Brenthis daphné)…

..Nacre de la ronce..

Without planning it, my potager developed and grew towards the yellows. And I love it! Yellows, oranges, greens, whites and grey. Beautiful. But only in my garden. and only in the potager. The rest stays all white. And definitely not on my body! Look at these cheeky marigolds, bursting with energy!… and they get picked when they start to wilt, the petals are dried and used in salads..Nothing goes to waste .

..French marigolds..

Salads. A potager isn’t a potager without its salads. A leaf here and a leaf there, a handful f tomatoes, a basil leaf, a beetroot leaf … voilà, a salad for lunch….

salads (feuille de chène)

I’m one of those crazy gardeners… I am greedy, I plant too much, I plant too close together, I sow too many seeds… And so I planted far too many courgettes for our household and we ended up having these giants…pretty to look at,  not as tasty as the young sweet courgettes though. But I always reason that life must be pretty too, not only practical and sensible, and that same reasoning goes for a potager…pretty has its place too in a potager. So here they are, my pretty giants!…

..pretty giants..

I hope you enjoyed walking with me through my potager at the end of the summer…almost.

A potager is hard work…all that weeding, the watering, the planting and seeding, the harsh summer sun, fighting the slugs and the deer, the rabbits and snails……it IS  hard work and I am fa..aar from being the most effective gardener. Around us, everything grows and wanders like it wishes(animals included, people included) and when the worms devour my artichokes, I break into an instant fit and man and animal flees, but then calm down and casually start over again. We pretty much believe in laisser faire, so you will never see perfection around here, but I believe that it is a stress free way of gardening. What is a few weeds after all? And insects do more good than harm, and if the snails feed on your salads, just plant a few more.. or plant some sorrel to keep them away from your salad(snails adore sorrel)..or cover the soil with broken eggshells, or ash from the barbecue…live and let live..

OK. I have to shower and clean my nails and go find my gloves, which stayed behind somewhere in the potager…

Happy gardening!

Ronelle


French Pierrot Gourmand bonbons et sucettes(lollipops)

Et voila…M Pierrot Gourmand, as promised!

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

Suggestions:

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

The birth of Pierrot Gourmand:

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

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

More reading on Pierrot gourmand:

* Adolphe Willett, the Pierrot of Montmartre.

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

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

..à bientôt mes amis!..

Ronelle


Weekly photo challenge – summer.

Summer is…

…kayaking down the Dordogne..


Tropical fruit salad… and Hawai’i chronicles 1 – the hula.

When I was in Hawa’i I searched everywhere for a nice tropical dessert with local fruits, but all in vain. Probably because of a lack of fruits in season? Back here at home, I still want a fruit salad, so I made this salad Not completely a tropical one, but with some well known fruits. Next time I’ll make a real tropical salad with lesser know fruits and give my verdict.

  1. Cut some tropical fruits of your choice into brunoise(small cubes). I used mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, kumquat, pomegranate, green Granny smith apple.
  2. Use fruits that  are ripe, but still firm, so that you don’t end up with a soggy fruit salad…awful!
  3. Cover the apple with lemon juice to prevent coloring.
  4. Don’t use banana, it is too strong and overpowering for a fruit salad.
  5. Use a tiny melon ball scoop for the papaya to add some difference in shapes. I also cut the pineapple in little triangles.
  6. Keep the fruits separate and mix lightly just before serving, OR set in layers in a pretty glass.
  7. Make a syrup of 4 passion fruit pulp, 1 TSP of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Let it boil down to a syrupy consistency and pour over the salad just before serving.
  8. Serve with a small scoop of lemon sorbet. (recipe following in a next issue)
  9. Decorate with some fresh flowers or a little umbrella for fun, lime strips, or add mint leaves or small basil leaves.
  10. Serve cold, but NOT so cold that you can’t taste the fruit!

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Hawai’i is always a good place to unwind, even if you just do nothing, which is exactly what I did this time around. Reading by the pool, watching people(one of my favorite pastimes) while  imagining their stories. On one such a day, this lovely Hawaiian woman gave some Hula lessons and of course I don’t have the same pretty hips for swaying along, but I could at least capture some nice hips!

The Hula is not just pretty hip swaying, but tells a story. With the hands and arms and face, a tale is mimicked with sensuality and sensitivity.  One does get involved and captured  and can’t help but wish more stories were told this romantic way.

I was too far away to hear this story, but I imagine it could be something like this:

“The goddess Pele, who owns the sea and oceans and the mountains, saw that Hiania who lost a child, was absorbed by sadness. Hiania hid from the world and her tears filled the rivers. Pele cares passionately for her children of the islands and she heaved the winds and stirred the waves with a message to Haina.

“Cry no more“, she said.

Look up to the sun and see your child in the skies. He is smiling upon you and asking you to set free your sadness and prepare your womb to receive the child the winds will bring you.

Hiania looked up and saw the smile of her son. She gave her sadness to the mountain who took it deep into the earth to feed its fire and she was set free to wait with anticipation upon her keiki (little one).

Until next time and with swaying hips(in private!),

 Mahalo !

Ronelle


White bean salad with anchovies and Muscat grapes…and remembering a garden by the Loire.

Very few people enjoy white beans. I’m actually not one of those few. But a salad…that’s something I always enjoy, and with bean salad, it is no different. Not a cold salad though. Slightly warm.  And not a mushy one either. Fresh and crispy. That’s how I like all my salads. Try it, you might like it too.

Suggestions:

There can be so much playing around with this recipe:

  • Use a mixture of white and red beans.
  • Do yourself a favor and use either the fresh pods or dry beans from the organic store, but not the canned beans…there is just no comparison between beans freshly cooked…just, just tender with still some bite…and those overcooked, bleak, mushy, floury canned stuff.
  • Keep the colors and flavors in your recipe simple.
  • Add other grapes of your preference, or try figs, which are also in season now.
  • Use chervil along with the parsley, which will compliment the anchovies.
  • The anchovies can be left out or replaced by another fish like sardines.
  • Use red onion for its sweetness.
  • Add some freshly grated ginger for extra piquancy and flavor, in which case one would leave out the chervil.
  • This little salad can be used as an aperitif, which is very “tendance” at the moment – serve a helping on pretty spoons with a cold wine, or serve on a small toast triangle, or in a verrine(small glass), or serve in a bowl with slices of baguette so each person can serve him/herself.
  • Add the grapes cold and just before serving, so as to have nice crisp and cool contrast with room temperature.

Here at the end of summer, I am remembering a garden by the Loire. One I haven’t seen in almost 6 months. A garden I miss for its beauty. Its tranquility. Its animal life. For the many memories it gave birth to.

I remember the hard work, shaping something from nothing. I remember the many mistakes made. But  mostly I remember the small but significant successes. The bounty in flower and foliage, the madness of rambunctious herbs, the unforgiving heat of summer sun, the many surprises and no less , the stubborn, but amusing persistence of the weeds. This all shaped my garden, gave it a rich and full life… gave me a rich and full life… season after season.

I remember being too ambitious. Having too little space and planting far too much. I My little garden turned into a forest by the end of summer…the roquette sweeping through the pebbles, the fennels reaching for the skies, the lavenders dancing wild sambas in the beds, the Pierre de Ronsard  climbing rose playing out a Sleeping Beauty fairytale. The boxwoods’ constant demand for pruning, the long shoots everywhere, the new shoots everywhere, the dead heads waiting paitiently…

I remember how the garden could change as often as I can change my mind. Each seasons’ corners were plentiful and changed from one year to the next. Or even more. There was a corner for reflection, for morning coffee,  one for sipping a coolness in midday. There was  room to bask in the sun and of course a spot chosen somewhere for the meal of the evening. And how romantic were these summer evenings in this garden by the Loire, accompanied by the heady fragrances of  jasmines and roses, lavenders and lilies! These lazy dinners lasted long into the night, lit up by candles and lanterns, handmade especially for me by a lover.

I remember how different this love affair with my little garden was to what I have now here at Coin Perdu, where our eyes follow the fall of the sun every evening to far beyond the horizon. It flames up the skies and we are woken up much later by the brightness of a moon and a starlit sky. In the garden by the Loire,  sunsets were rare, cut off early evenings by the shadows of the cliffs and the welcome coolness of the caves. The small garden enfolded our evenings in a soft dusk pashmina,  a warm embrace of  familiarity and comfort. We lit up our candles and made fires in the summer kitchen. With herbs from the garden we stuffed meats and marinated vegetables. Our summer days began and ended in this little garden.

We lived and worked close together in this tiny “jardin de curé”...the cats, the chickens, the people…we all crowded in the summer cave, or in the working “cave” or in my “ atelier“…purring on cushions, lounging on daybeds, playing guitar, listening to music, reading, talking deep talks, speaking deep thoughts, painting, eating, sleeping…

It was nice.

No. It was magical.

It was mine.

This tiny garden by the Loire.


Stuffed courgette flowers..and painting in Provence.

My courgette is taking over my potager here at Coin Perdu…beautiful and healthy with enormous bright green leaves and underneath those cheeky yellow flowers peeking through. The male flowers are starting to fall of and I’m picking them up and drying them to use as dried flowers for sprinkling over my salads…my latest craze; if you keep still long enough, I sprinkle you with dried flowers

The female courgettes are the only ones carrying fruit and I’ve picked some of both to stuff with a crab filling. Both male and female flowers are edible. If ever you can get hold of some courgette flowers…they are absolutely divine, from another world and savored slowly and deliberately…well, I’m a lady, I can’t say what I really think, but you’ll know what I mean when once you’ve enjoyed one!


Suggestions:

  • Serve the flowers stuffed, without steaming.
  • OR make a batter of some flour and add some fizzy water, mix until a thick cream . Dip the courgette flowers wth filling into the batter until coated and deep fry quickly, one by one, turning each once once. Remove, drain and serve sprinkled with fleur de sel and a few drops of lemon juice, or a light yoghurt/mint sauce (natural yoghurt, chopped mint, seasoning, lemon juice..)Make your own filling by choosing ingredients you like and by mixing flavor which compliment each other. Keep it light.
  • Serve on a bed of mixed salad leaves with a vinaigrette.

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Myfenchkitchen is off to Provence for a week of painting with 3 artist buddies. We’ll be staying in the Vaucluse home of well known painter of Postcards from Provence, Julian Merrow Smith and his wife Ruth Philips, while they will be in England where Ruth will be playing cello at the Garsington festival. We even have our own blog, Four go painting in Provence and you’re invited to follow us every step of the way on this trip if you’re interested in seeing all our adventures…which of course will be mostly painting…and eating…and painting again…and then visiting the markets and painting them …and eating…and having some wine perhaps and eating again… or is it painting…in any case, a lot of everything! you can read a little more on my art blog too: Africantapestry is off to Provence for a crazy painting experience!

I’m leaving on Sunday for a week..the other three artist buddies, Katherine, Sarah and Robyn will be there for 3 weeks. unfortunately I have some exciting obligations to tend to here at Coin Perdu, which I’ll share with you once I’m back! So don’t go away…keep well and in the meantime…keep those pots sizzling!

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Countrybread with panfried strawberries and basil…and apron fun!

Can we ever get enough of strawberries? Of course not! Right off the vine, directly out of the basket, sliced with cream, sorbet, panacotta, tarts, salads…every which way. And as a lunch with fresh country bread, goats cheese  and basil? Simply delicious.

Suggestions:

  • The strawberries can be used fresh instead of sautéed, o cut and marinated in some white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Add a bit of olive oil to the marinade and use as a vinaigrette.
  • Use some soft cottage cheese instead of the goats cheese with freshly chopped chives and basil the and salt and pepper mixed into the cottage cheese.
  • Omit the cheese completely and make a sandwich of fresh strawberries, basil, chopped chives and add a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Another version could be to top the bread with strawberries and lastly add some goats cheese, put under the gril for two to three minutes and add the basil and a drizzle of honey just before serving.
  • Use other sliced fruit in season instead of the strawberries.

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We stopped our restoration here at Coin Perdu for a day of fun. With aprons. And three delightful, playful models. They chopped and chirped, giggled and grated, peeled and pestered,  mocked and mixed, all the while performing with an apron chosen from the heap. So.. can an apron be fun? Judge for yourself…

 

I grew up seeing my mother in her apron every day. While she was doing her morning’s work; the washing, ironing, cleaning, kitchen work, she faithfully wore her apron. And after lunch, it would be removed until dinner time, when preparing dinner and cleaning up would demand an apron again.

Unlike those days, when aprons at home were more of a necessity to protect the small wardrobe of clothes, we have a multitude of aprons today for adding to that special ambiance of an occasion or activity. It partially serves to also  show our domain of expertise as well as our our fun loving side. But some habits haven’t changes over the years…the butcher still wears his butcher’s apron/outfit, the boulanger(baker) is still clearly recognized by his apron, the fishmonger wears his proudly, the blacksmith is never without his leather aprons, the “garcon” serving your “panache” at the bar wears his with French  flair… an apron is there for our barbecues and for our kitchens , our gardens,  for playgrounds, yes, it is fun equally for men, women and children.

So, do you have a fun loving side…?


à bientôt

Ronelle



Ginger broccoli salad…and edible flowers.

A salad is something that can be eaten at any time…mealtimes or snack times and even those times you feel like eating out of boredom. Go for a salad. It is safe. It is my ultimate favorite dish, summer through winter.

In our home we are always stocked to the brim with ingredients for a salad. Vegetables, greens, leaves, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, cheeses, flowers and herbs, essential oils, but even more so… an interesting vinaigrette and little “addition” to prevent a salad from becoming boring.

This time… a salad with broccoli and preserved ginger, a pungent ginger vinaigrette and a scattering of dried edible flowers for some interest.

Suggestions:

  • Use a mix of broccoli and cauliflowers florets.
  • Use broccolini instead of broccoli.
  • Omit the ginger and use a firm fruit in season. Use some juice or pulp of the same fruit in the vinaigrette.
  • Try different herbal/flower teas or infusions as a base for a vinaigrette.
  • Use fresh flowers instead of dry dried ones.
  • Add some fried bacon pieces or thin strips of pancetta for a salty addition.
  • Serve the broccoli still warm for a salad with more substance and sprinkle the dried flowers just before serving.
  • Marinate the broccoli in the vinaigrette for 15-30 minutes before serving at room temperature.

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…and edible flowers:

Nothing can be easier than making your own dried flowers to use in vinaigrette, salads, and sauces and any other food decoration, with only one rule to keep in mind: make sure the flowers are edible! sometimes the leaves can be used, but not the flowers or vice versa. Make sure you’re not allergic to some flower or pollen. Don’t use flowers from florists which may  be sprayed with pesticides. Your own garden or nature is the place to gather your flowers. Whether you’re in summer or winter, you can always find some flowers around you to use in your foods and of course, so much the better, because you DO eat seasonal don’t you?

We all use herbs in our salads, dried and fresh and they are familiar to us. A few lesser known flowers for a vinaigrette are marigolds, lawn daisies, dandelions, pansies, clover, hibiscus, cornflower, mallow, zinnia, tulips, phlox, day lilies, begonia, gardenia, lilacs, magnolias, fuchsias…

and of course, the well known violets, nasturtiums, borage, lavender, sages, sunflowers,roses, camomile, marguerites, geraniums, honeysuckle, poppies, courgette…

I’m showing a few that I’m drying now which are in season:

I pick my flowers when I dead head them…snip off the drying ones. Pick them during midday, wash them, let dry.  I then use a scissors to cut the flowers off right behind the petals, as to keep only the softer tips of the petals. I mostly use only the petals of the flowers to dry, except for the small lawn daisy which looks very cute scattered on a salad or sorbet. To keep its daisy shape, I let them dry face down with a little pressure to keep them open . The harder and tougher stems aren’t always enjoyable in a salad or sauce, so make sure all hard stems are removed.  Spread the petals on a large tray, covered with a absorbing paper or kitchen towel. Leave in a dark, cool and dry place. The petals dry very quickly and can then be stored separately in small glass containers to use on different occasions and with different dishes. Store in cool dark spot.

…lawn daisy (paquerette)

…pansies(pensees)

…dandelions(pissenlit)…

…marigold(souci)…

…clover(trefle)…

When you’re not in the mood for drying your own flowers, you can run off to the organic store or any herbalist where you will find interesting tea infusions and herbal infusions which you can buy.

…hibiscus…

…mallow(mauve)…

…cornflower(bleuet)

à la prochaine!

Ronelle


Sorrel and rocket cappuccino..and the chicken chronicles II.

When something is in abundance, we should make use of it…like the sorrel in my garden, which is growing profusely. Not to mention the rocket, which is close to taking over the garden. Combine the two in an early atumn soup, sprinkle with some pistachios and cut some baguette to accompany.

Suggestions:

  • Spinach and basil leaves can be used instead of the sorrel and rocket.
  • The green peas are added for a green color…don’t boil the peas so they lose their green colour.
  • Potatoes can be added for a more consistent soup.
  • Be sure to sauté the sorrel beforehand in a bit of oil to prevent a sour taste to the soup.
  • Use a cuppaccino frother to make milk froth for a light version, or use whipped cream instead.
  • My way of making a creamy milk froth: Use cold, half fat milk. pour up to the marked level of the frother and froth until creamy. warm in the microvwave until the froth rises to the top. (Keep an eye on it, it haapens very quickly).Remove from the microwave and stir with a metal spoon until the mixture is nice and creamy.Spoon onto your soup(or coffee). The froth will hold its shap for quite a long time. For a cold soup, omit the heating.
  • This soup is delicious warm or cold.

…bon appetit!…

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…while the soup is busy simmering… an update on the chicken chronicles...

I mentioned in a previous post: Asparagus with poppy vinaigrette and a confused chicken, that the one hen turned out to be a rooster, which forced me to give them to a friend living on a farm.  It broke my heart to see them go and I especially missed Petronella, the rooster terribly, with his wonderfully cockey attitude! But they are happy  where they are now and Petronella can crow to “his” heart’s delight without worrying about neighbours. Here they can be seen as cute tiny chicks…A simple salad and special corners.

After a while I got two new chickens…Tartelette and Omelette.  Two Pekin bantam little chickens in the colour of Touraine…a soft grey, called “porcelaine“. They soon filled the sad corners of my heart…isn’t it amazing how much love we have to give? They are two adorable little featherfooted friends and I couldn’t ask for better chatterboxes to bring fun and laughter to my days!

Early mornings begin with joghurt. Healthy chicken food the rest of the day and a gouter(snack) late afternoon is  their favorite joghurt again, some grated coconut and a few shreds of salami…yeah yeah…I know… chickens know nothing about joghurt and coconut…, but then I also think these  two chickens don’t know they are chickens!

Where Tokala and Ayiani(my two beautifully chic cats)ignore me for the better half of the day to live their royal life, Tartelette and Omelette are just too eager to follow in my every  fresh footstep, to entertain and be entertained all the way. They fiddle around under my easel in my atelier during the day, groom and massage their feathers by my feet  and slip into the kitchen when I’m not looking to nestle in “their” corner for a nap, while looking at me with flirty eyes and charmingly tilted heads, begging to be allowed to stay…now tell me…how can I refuse such seduction?

…à la prochaine!

Ronelle


Bruschetta with tomato…and a day at Montsoreau brocante.

We will always have to eat. Even if it is just something quick and simple. A bruschetta is just that. Quick and simple.

I cut a baguette into slices, spooned some tomato paste on top with a slice of cemembert cheese,  and lastly added a slice of semi dried tomato in olive oil and freshy shredded basil. Place onto a grill for a few seconds and serve with freshly milled pepper and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

Last year, when we arrived back home, I wrote about my little village Montlouis sur Loire in this post:  Scorpion fish with citrus salad.  We are now back again from our time in correze and this morning I took my camera and sketching stuff and headed for our bigger town Tours, a place I really love for its architecture and green parks, tree lanes, fresh markets and yes,  its shops and people. I wanted to show what I see. But it  started raining. I ran for cover and enjoyed a coffee and croissant while waiting for the skies to clear. When that didn’t happen, I bought a cake and on impulse decided to drive to Montsoreau where there is a “puce”(fleamarket) on today. It is a quaint little village on the Loire and it just feels like holiday being there. The spirit today was one of holiday indeed. The clouds made room for the sun, which had me take out my purse way more than initially planned.

…a large platter…

…old prints…

…my weak spot – story plates, and tasses de cafés

…les puces de montsoreau…

…à la prochaine!..

Ronelle


Salmon rolls with roasted red pepper and ricotta…and a street barbeque by the Loire

Summer is a wonderful time to try new recipes. Not to cook. But simply to put together. Myabe a bit of cooking. But only a little. It is too hot and time is too precious to spend in front of a stove. These little rolls are something new to try and it involves no cooking. Delicious and refreshing cold.  Serve either on its own with a drizzle of thick balsamic reduction, or enjoy as a summer lunch with a salad and some wholesome bread.

VF: L’été est parfaite pour s’amuser avec des nouvelles recettes vite et facile à assembler. On cuisine pas. Il fait trop chaud à la cuisinière et il y a trop de choses à faire… Bon d’accord. Peut-être un tout petit peu. Mais c’est tout.  Ces rouleaux de saumon fumé sont intéressants, faciles et vite à faire. Ils sont délicieux froid et servis comme ils sont, avec un filet de réduction de balsamique sur l’assiette òu en salade accompagnée avec un bon pain rustique.

Suggestions:

  • The rolls can be made small like in the recipe, or bigger by leaving the salmon slices uncut. In this case rolling would be a bit easier and the rolls can be cut carefully afterwards ibnto two slices. If you want neat rolls, cut off the ends with a very sharp knife. I prefer a more rustic look.
  • Spread the ricotta cheese on the red pepper for easier spreading  and top then with the spinach leaves.
  • The red pepper can be chopped finely and mixed in with the ricotta cheese for a different version.
  • Prioscutt, basill leaves and roasted oven tomatoes could be an interesting substitute for the red pepper and spinach leaves, giving a more Italian ambiance.
  • Serve two rolls of salmon rolls per person on a plate with a drizzling of thick reduced balsamic syrup, as in the photo.

Our street kicked off the holidays with our yearly bbq across our homes, on the banks of the Loire. A sunny Saturday. A Smoke from the bbq. Set tables. Fresh flowers. Pique-nique baskets. And happy neighbors. Perfect.

Notre rue à commencée cette été dans un esprit de festival. Un barbecue aux bords de la Loire. Un Samedi bien ensoleillé avec une trainée de fumée  qui conduit vers le ciel. Des fleurs gaies. Des paniers éparpillées partout, l’évidence de pique-nique. Et les gents bienheureux. Un midi parfait.


As always, we enjoy our three course. Starting off with some aperitif and a petillante and icy cold rosé wines. We had different kind of cakes, abig favorite in France for an apritif with a sparkling wine. Cake with sauteed leeks and artichokes, cake with goats cheese and tomato.

Et bien entendu, nous nous régalons toujours en commencer avec une petite apéritif et une pétillante de la région. Très froid bien sur.Sur la table était un bon choix de différentes cakes salés; un cake aux poireaux et artichauts…un cake a la tomate et au fromage de chèvre.

..around the aperitif table(autour l’aperitif)…

…the pique nique baskets speak of heavy loads(les paniers de pique-nique)…

…what could possibly hide under that wrapping?(que cache au dessous)…

…someimtes keeping an eye on the pique-nique baskets(garder un œil sur les paniers)…

…baguettes and wine – couldn’t do without!(pas sans baguettes et du vin)..

…choosing seating(òu s’installer à table)...

…but first – time for some conversation among pretty ladies and heavy discussions(des jolies femmes et sérieuses discussions)

…and a far off call while the fire is stretching high(un appel et le feu)…

…and the smoke is a sign of good things to come(la fumée des promesses)

…like this( de ca)…

…and this(et ca)

…and while we wait for those good things from the smoke, we start with our starters…salads and baguette!(salades et baguettes pour entrées en attendant de la viande)…

…everybody is happy(le monde est content)

…and silence sets over the long table(et la silence arrive à la table)

…while we taste and share, discuss and delight(lorsqu’on goute et partage, discute et se régale)

…far from done, we get to our cheeses(loin d’être terminé, on attack les fromages)...

…and clafoutis…of apricots and cherries, and peaches(et ensuite, un clafoutis de pêche.. et d’abricot.. et de cerise)…

…and after our coffee and chocolates, the Loire reclaims its silence once again, the only proof of an afternoon of laughter and good food and happy relionships are  some summer blooms picked from a garden in the street by the Loire…

…Et quand on a terminé nos cafés et chocolats et la Loire règne à nouveau en silence,  il ne reste comme preuve d’un après-midi de bons repas, de bonnes relations, et de joie,  que quelques fleurs d’un jardin de notre rue.



Red berries sorbet and Rue Scellerie in Tours.

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

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


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

Suggestions:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Bon weekend et à la prochaine!


Cucumber and kiwi tartine and sprouting some seeds.

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

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

Suggestions:

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

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

Tips for sprouting seeds:

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

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

…tréfle rouge..

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

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

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

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

…à la prochaine…


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

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

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



Suggestions:

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

VF:

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

…un brunch d’été…

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

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

…rustic romance for a brunch…

Choose a corner in the garden.

On cherche un coin dans le jardin.

…a view on summer…

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

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

…pétunias in trays and all things garden…

…serving corners…

…umbreallas at the ready…

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

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

..knee blankets and flowers do go together…

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

…garden tools and a warming fire…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…passez une bonne été et à la prochaine!…


Grilled Charentaise melon and la joliesse(beauty).

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

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

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

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

…fini…


Suggestions:

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

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

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

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

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


…les roses rouges pour l’amour…

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

…la grande portail

…les roses roses et rouges et une abeille…

un croix au carrefour…

…deux chaises autour d’une rose…

…la route monte a Puy d’Arnac…

… les vieux murs habillés par des roses delicates…

…la rose blanche et l’immatriculation…

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

…à la prochaine…


Lemon cake and writing our stories.

Summer delivers an abundance of wonderful moments. One such a moment is enjoying a cake or tart with tea late afternoon. Outside, under the walnut tree. There was a time that I baked a cake or tart every Friday afternoon for the weekend. Everybody was very impressed with this tradition, believing it would never end, but as the girls grew older and finally left home, so did the cake and tarts on Friday leave too. A pity. Change isn’t always a good thing, I say. Now everybody has to wait for a whim on my side to have a cake on Friday. Yesterday was a whim day. Unfortunately I’m alone at home and me alone with cake is bad news for the hips. So I called a friend this morning. “Come pick up a whim cake“, I said… “You may never get this lucky again“..

Suggestions:

  • Use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of lemon juice.
  • Add some grated lemon/orange rind to the mixture.
  • Top with some icing sugar of your choice, or serve without. I prefer without, since icing sugar makes it too sweet for me.
  • Decorate with fresh edible flowers.
  • The cake is even more flavorful the next day.
  • Use for dessert: break into pieces and serve, topped with strawberries, whipped cream and a berry coulis, OR serve with warm caramelized peaches and crème frâiche.

We all have stories to tell. Our own stories. The ones we are living each day. Stories with all the seasonings that make for a good read. It has sadness and happiness,  heroes and villains.  It has drama and suspense and it unfolds into unforeseen endings. We write “The end”, sign our name and start a new story.

We write on instinct, improvise while waiting for life to dictate the next chapter,  to channel our decisions and choices. Sometimes we plan ahead and witness  as it changes and adapts on the page, perhaps  taking a direction better than we originally envisioned. Sometimes writers’ block gets in the way – we stop and get trapped in I- don’t- know- how-to-live. Those are the times we need to let go and allow life to formulate its own phrases.  And every so often we get mixed up and confused with which story we are living and the past and future become the present.

Our life manuscripts are raw, unedited, original. Often unfinished,  with no ending. In a time where authors don’t write “The End”  anymore, the door is always open to the sequel.  We chew over our own lives. We brood over the last page which leaves only questions and an uncertainty about where the story is heading…can it continue to an end which all mankind is looking for; happiness….  contentment…a reassurance that all is well…that all will be well with our lives tomorrow…?

And so we continue writing because we exist. In search of recognition. Because we want to live a bestseller. And our bookshelves become filled with rows and rows of drafts and manuscripts, fresh starts and sequels…completed works; our stories…and somewhere in one of them will be an ending that assures us that all will be well. It will be our bestseller.


…the end..


Strawberry soup with balsamic and the red tulip.

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

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

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

Suggestions:

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

…the red tulip…


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

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

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

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

…fini…


Scorpion fish with citrus salad(Rascasse aux agrumes)

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

…bienvenue chez nous!…

chez van wyk

…entrez!…

fenetre chez nous 2 fenetre chez nous

fenetre chez nous 1 view to the loire

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

…indulgement…

Citrus Scorpion fish

Citrus scorpion fish filets 1

Suggestions:

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

…letting it marinate…

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

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

…je vous prèsente  Montlouis…

Approaching Montlouis

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

famous landmark of Montlouisup the hill to Montlouis

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

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

…centre ville…

riding bicycle staircase

…walking and shopping…

centre ville hand in hand

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

…religion, homes and war..

Montlouis church Madame Martin aux enfants de Montlouis

…need directions?…

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

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

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

…la Loire en septembre…

la loire from the top of the hill

…sunset in September…

sunset in September 3


Back to my french kitchen..in Montlouis

After almost five months here in the still undiscovered, secret countryside of Corréze, we are heading back home to Montlouis sur Loire. I will be exchanging my Corréze kitchen for my Montlouis kitchen!

…a barn kitchen in Puy d’Arnac…

a working kitchen

…Montlouis kitchen…

new kitchen 1

We’re locking up Coin Perdu for the winter:

Setting aside the wheelbarrows and cement mixers. starting the work Emptying the pantry in the Corréze kitchen corner. Stripping the beds of linen. Storing books and magazines away from humidity. Packing my art stuff. Taking my art stuff off the walls. A last sweep.

le boss finishing up A last grand créme at the brasserie Les voyageurs at Beaulie where the charming Cecile always brightens my day with a smile.

A last stroll to our little bench to throw a last glance across the valley.

One more photo. Packing Tokala and Aiyani in our peugeot bleu.

Shutting la porte de la grange.

Au revoir notre petit Coin Perdu!

…our corner in Corréze…

water in le pescher 5fences of correze 8

fences of correze 7bells of nonards 2

…lovely Cecile at Les voyageurs

Cecile a Les voyageursbrasserie Les voyageurs

May the owls be kept warm once again in the barn for this winter, may les vaches roam content on our hils, may les buses continue circuling the skies, may les chevreuils graze undisturbed down by the poplars and may the wild flowers welcome us bright and jovial on our return in the spring.

…working or fiddling

work or watching working or fiddling

…birthdays…

relaxing with a cidre dinner under the stars

digging in with the handsWe enjoyed  two birthdays, many sunsets and starry skies. We had good friends visiting us, staying with us in the barn. We had a surprise visit from good friends in South Africa.  We got to know our neighbors, Jean Pierre and Michéle and Yvonne, 86 years old and along with her chickens, as fit as a fiddle! We became regulars at the bar in Beaulieu, enjoyed  icy cold péche melba on hot afternoons, sipped aperitif at 17:00 along with all the other regulars.our own ruines

We did lots of hard work:  Turned the barn into a living home. Turned the old homestead into a construction site with ladders and cement and beams and trucks.  There were tears and frustration. Arguments. Difference of opinions. Anger, irritation, misunderstandings. We had blisters and bruises and still have. We rushed off to emergency with a slashed open head, got stitched up and continued working. But we also went for long strolls in the forest, nibbled on peaches and oranges.

…Liandri & Marinell…dreaming?…

dreaming perhaps 5-9-2009 8-23-10 PMtime for dreamining too 5-9-2009 8-35-07 PM

We became part of the heart beat of Corréze and we are going home, replenished and with vivid memories, patiently awaiting spring to restart it all over again. Of course! Can’t wait!

…a last glance…

le petit banc 9-4-2009 4-19-46 PM



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