Nick has nurtured our flowering plants back to life so that we have been able to enjoy some colour in the garden. I picked some of our flowers to cheer us up indoors. To our delight we have also found that our rhubarb plant, only one year old, continues to keep on giving.
September 26, 2020
September 23, 2020
Another favourite is homemade coleslaw and I had remembered to put the ingredients into the Sainsbury's basket.
This salad contained
Brought from France:
feta cheese cubed
a few black olives
From the UK:
hard boiled eggs
sliced leftover cold duck
sliced leftover cooked new potatoes
For the coleslaw
a chunk each of white and red hard cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, grated
a handful of sultanas
*I often add other ingredients if I have them in stock, such as shredded fennel, sliced celery, finely sliced spring onions, chopped chives or other fresh herbs, whole grain mustard, chopped walnuts.
All mixed together with just enough mayonnaise (from France) to bring it together, a dash of French mustard and a splash of white wine vinegar, plus salt and pepper.
Not a pickled onion in sight!! But I confess to adding a blob or two of Salad Cream.
September 18, 2020
September 12, 2020
½ tsp raspberry flavouring (optional)
300g fruit - I used apple, pear and strawberries but a mixture of stone fruit or berries would be fine.
Peel and core the apple and pear and chop into 1cm dice. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring. Wash and cut the strawberries into similar sized chunks.
Butter and base line a 20cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in. Beat in the vanilla and flavouring.
Sift in the flour and fold in, followed by the ground almonds. Put the chopped fruit into a sieve and drain off the lemon juice then add to the mixture and stir in.
Transfer to the tin and level the top. Bake for about an hour until done. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Cuts into 8-10 slices.
Thanks to the New Blogger system for writing a post I no longer seem to be able to update the "pages" section in the blog. Which is more than just a nuisance, having spent hours compiling it not very long ago. It's really, really annoying and I am close to giving up.
September 8, 2020
We have had several barbecues since we got to France six weeks ago, just because we can and because the opportunities for it are so rare in the UK - especially in September.
When we were kids we only ate outdoors if it was a family picnic. Then it would be sandwiches from a biscuit tin lined with greaseproof paper, buns from another, all washed down with flasks of tea or bottles of pop. No alcohol was involved unless we stopped at the pub on the way home; parents, aunts and uncles sipping respectively pints of beer and Babycham outside at wooden benches while kids and cousins waited in the car, satisfied with more pop and a bag of crisps. It was the 1950's and 60's and "al fresco" was a term we were yet to hear.
In my twenties I only ate outdoors if there was a barbecue. Munching crozzled sausages and burgers in buns before they got too cold, scarves and cardigans handy as the air grew chilly. I was 28 when I got my first British Visitor's Passport from the Post Office in order to go to Paris for a long weekend. That was the first time I actually ate a proper meal outdoors, served by waiters at a table on the pavement.
The vendage (grape harvest) has come early this year, starting as soon as the last week of August in some vineyards to the north of us. To our delight so has le brame - the rutting of the deer. A week ago we were finishing our meal outdoors, thinking of donning our jumpers, listening to the crickets and the foxes in the surrounding fields. It was a full moon and we heard the first call not long after the sun had gone down and the moon still rising. It's an unmistakable, deep and mournful mooing noise.
The very first time I heard it was a few years ago, on moving to our house in the middle of a field, the noise woke me up at about two in the morning. My first thought that there were no cows anywhere near us but soon more deer joined in, the noise coming from all sides, from every bit of forest surrounding us. It took me a few sleepy minutes to work out what it was. It went on for hours and we climbed out of the bedroom window in our pyjamas onto the roof of the well house to hear it properly and see the shadowy shape of a stag moving about in the moonlight. Magical stuff.
For this outdoor meal I rustled up a quick plum pie. A couple of days before I had baked in the oven some nectarines and a few odd plums of all colours that were left over and past their best, rather than throw them on the compost heap. I used a pack of ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry (pâte brisée) to line a deep Pyrex pie dish, spread the plums into it and topped it with a quick, all-in-one sponge made with 4ozs flour and 2 eggs. Delicious.