Je voudrais manger

IMG_4105Well it’s wet and dreary in France at the moment and my mind has turned to thoughts of different eat treates that I would like to make.  Probably because this will pass the time when I can’t get out in the garden because it is so wet.  My husband would beg to differ though, as he has already begun the task of tackling the weeding and cut the grass.

So to the eat treates.  Now this is one that I can only make after Easter Sunday, as I gave up sugar for Lent.  Don’t tell anyone, but I am ashamed to say I did have 3 chocolate biscuits today:(

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Oh I love Bruschetta too and this recipe I can make now.  It reminds me of hot days and a trip we made into the mountains in Catalonia a few years back.  My son was only little and we took a trip to an old farm in the Spanish mountains and they served us bread with fresh garlic, tomatoes and mozzarella.  It was so simple but gorgeous.

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And this yummy jam I will only be able to make in the late summer. We have several varieties of fig trees now and hopefully a good crop of figs this year.

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Now i really am feeling peckish😜

Epiphany

imageIn the words of Marie-Antoinette “Let them eat cake”. On Monday 6th January many Christians celebrate epiphany which commemorates the first two occasions when the divinity of Jesus was shown. This was when the three kings (also known as the wise men or Magi) visited Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem, and then later As an adult when John the Baptist baptised him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasise the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism. In secular Britain it is the end of the Christmas festivities, the twelfth day of Christmas and time to take down the tree and decorations.

Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts and like other Christian celebrations, the church has used the time of an old pagan festival. Nearly 2000 Years before the birth of Christ the Egyptians celebrated the winter solstice around the 6th of January with a tribute to the Aeons or Neteru.

Now we are all aware that the French have not always been kind to their kings and queens but around this time in the 21st century people can be found slicing cake rather than necks.
imageFête des Rois
Here in the patisseries on or around the 6th January (the first Sunday in January) you will find a special ’gateaux’ to celebrate the Fête des Rois. This is the French tradition of serving a tart known as the ’galette des rois’ (sometimes ’gateau des rois’) According to tradition, the ‘galette des rois’, was to “draw the kings” to the Epiphany. According to tradition, the cake should be cut into as many slices as there are people around the table, plus 1 extra. This extra slice is called either, the ’part du Bon Dieu’ (God’s slice), the ’part de la Vierge’ (the Virgin Mary’s slice) or the ’part du pauvre’ (poor man’s slice) and should be offered to the first poor person that passes by. A little charm (une fève – originally a bean representing baby Jesus) is baked inside the galette, and whoever receives the fève is crowned king or queen for the day. It is the perfect opportunity to invite family and friends or maybe get together with those neighbours you’ve been dying to get to know!

During the French Revolution, the name was replaced with ‘Gâteau de l’Égalité’ (equality cake), because, as you can imagine, the word ‘king’ did not go down well!

Raymond Blanc’s recipe for a Galette des Rois (King’s Cake) to celebrate La Fête des Rois (Epiphany).

Ingredients
For the pastry:
400g all-butter puff pastry
1 egg yolk for glazing
For the Almond Cream:
75g unsalted butter at room temp
75g icing sugar
75g ground almonds
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 dry bean
Instructions
Roll out the puff pastry and cut out one base of 22cm, and another of 24cm. The base should be about ½cm thick. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.
In a large bowl whisk all ingredients for the almond cream together until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until the pastry has chilled one hour.
Place the bottom base (the smaller circle) onto a plate. Place the cream mixture in the middle and smooth into an even circle leaving a 4cm gap at the edge. Place your bean somewhere in the almond cream.
Brush some of the beaten egg yolk on that 4cm gap and drape the pastry top onto the almond cream. Press down gently to get rid of air and seal the edges by pressing down.
Chill in fridge one hour.
Place a baking sheet into the oven and heat to 375F.
After it has chilled an hour, remove the galette and trim the edge with a sharp knife.
Crimp the edge if you want. Use a knife or fork.. up to you.
Brush galette with beaten egg yolk.
Gently score a spiral pattern with the blunt side of a knife in the top of the pastry making sure not to go all the way through.
Transfer to your hot baking sheet and bake 45 minutes.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving in slices.

Pâques en France 2013

Plum tree cutting

Plum tree cutting

Arrived at Le Petit Coquelicot on Friday 28th March at about 4pm after delays on the tunnel meant we only had a couple of hours sleep at the hotel in Rouen. We were all very tired and still are.
The house has wintered really well and there were only a few wood lice to dyson up.  There’s a little condensation too but other than that it’s as we left it in October.  Unpacking was once again quite a task as I had made purchases back in the UK destined for France.

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk

Garden obelisk from UK

Plum tree is growing

Plum tree is growing

Then it happened, when we decided to go to the toilet we realised that we have the same problem as last year with the fekafoss not pumping properly. We have, however, discovered that there is a toilet in the village. This may be our saving grace.

Willow tree cutting

Willow tree cutting

Saturday was therefore spent deliberating what to do about the toilet, checking out portaloos and doing the shopping at Leclerc. I then made homity pie and plum crumble. We were planning to get out and about, in particular the Chateaux de Duras is open, but it was tipping down with rain, so will be leaving these touristy things to a better day.  Lundi de paques was the vide grenier at St Sernin.

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Eclectic mix at vide grenier

Old tin bath tub ideal for Bella!

I purchased a lovely silver bracelet that commemorates a trip to Paris.  Will need to add this one to French Finds! We also came across a strange structure in the village, what do you think this is?

St Sernin-what is it?

St Sernin-what is it?

Pardon my French

Dents du bonheur / Dents de la chance

Lauren Hutton
Lauren Hutton

This means the gap between your two front teeth.  Dentists call it diastema.

In France it is seen to be a very attractive thing to have and they wouldn’t dream of closing this gap as they see it as being lucky.  Hence these phrases.   Curtesy of french.about.com

Figs no more plus toilet troubles!!

 Back at Le Petit Coquelicot on Saturday 27th October. 

Up very early at the Premier Inn in Liverpool to get to John Lennon Airport for our 6.40 Ryan Air flight to Bergerac.  Grandma is with us and we had an early breakfast and then walked to the Airport which is about 500 yards away from the hotel.  I have a very close friend staying at our house in England, looking after all the animals, so we are good to go!

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

The Yellow Submarine at John Lennon Airport

Landed in Bergerac, earlier than Ryan Air scheduled, and it was cold.  Very cold.

Arrived at the house having had a quick look around Bergerac, which looked lovely, I definitely want to go there again.  Looks like it would be a spectacular place to investigate in the sunshine.  When we got to the house, after a couple of us went to the toilet it was clear that we had toilet trouble.  The water began to rise and you know that always means trouble.  

After a lot of hard work by my hubby we finally could see the Fekafoss lid, which is the pump that is installed to pump all the house waste/water to the local sewer. 

Fekafoss lid

Fekafoss lid

Meanwhile Grandma and I headed off to one of the last local vide greniers in Ste Foy La Grande, where I found a very tatty mirror that I gave the French shabby chic look to when we got back.  What do you think?  Not sure what to put in it though.

Painted French mirror

We also now have transplanted 4 plumb trees in the front garden. 

Transplanted plum trees

Transplanted plum trees

So we shall see whether or not they survive.  I’ve also created a little nursery of tree cuttings from the local area. 

Tree cuttings

Tree cuttings

To my utter shock and horror, somebody!!! has chopped down the beautiful fig tree that stood on the edge of our garden.  Why oh why would you want to do such a thing I really do not know.  In fact it has freaked me out somewhat.  The figs were to die for.  See earlier post.  I am now determined to fill my garden with fig trees.  Just you wait, you chopper down of beautiful fig tree!

I have checked the Internet for info on taking fig tree cuttings and found this thread curtesy of www.botanicalgarden.ubc

” In the spring before the tree leafs out, cut a 12 inch long piece of branch up to 3/4 of an inch thick. Bury it all except the last bud on top. It will root itself quite easily and grow vigorously throughout the summer.”

Two meetings with architects about the proposed extension have left us in a bit of no mans land at the moment.  Not always quick to make decisions we will have to take this one home and mull it over during the winter.

Anyway today, although the weather is not that good, we are heading out to Bordeaux.  Meriadeck shopping centre is central and has a car park.  Not sure whether shopping in Bordeaux is a good idea but the main aim is to go to the cinema and see the new James Bond film “Skyfall”.

Skyfall

Skyfall

And there lies a tale of the famous shoes.  Grandmas shoes went missing for sixth months and they turn up in a Hollywood blockbuster, the new James Bond film “Skyfall” worn by James’ and M’s arch enemy in the film Raoul Silva. 

skyfall-Javier Bardem

skyfall-Javier Bardem

And here are Grandma’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Like Raoul, she’s not allowed laces either, you understand!!!! Tee Hee.

Grandmas Kappa trainers

Grandmas Kappa trainers

I always like cooking when we are in France and while there this time, I cooked a mean Homity Pie, though I say so myself.  This is a good old English recipe that I came across in my Cranks recipe book years ago.  If you read the recipe book, there’s lots of specific amounts of ingredients but the way I make it is with no weighing or measuring at all.  Here goes!  Nice lot of potatoes, peeled and then boiled.  While they’re doing I make pastry, in this case with plain flour and just butter.  Loads of red onions, garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan.  Make sure not to burn.  Then drain the potatoes, no need to be too careful, add to the frying pan, together with lots of fresh parsley, grated chedder cheese (yes you can get this in France now), salt, pepper and a slurp of milk.  Place the pastry in a large oven proof dish and then add the ingredients from the frying pan.  Place in the oven (200 degree) for about 20 minutes.  Hey presto!

Homity Pie

Homity Pie

To finish we had the most gorgeous French pastry from a lovely little shop in the local town.  Yummy!

French pastry

French pastry

To change the subject quite dramatically, I must also talk about the dazzeling array of crysanthymums around at the moment and how I finally came to realise what they were used for.  In France La Toussaint or All Saint’s Day is a Catholic festival celebrated every year on 1st November. 

La Toussant is the day when all the Saints are honoured by the Catholic church. The following day is Le Jour des Morts (All Soul’s Day), when people pray for the souls of the dead. La Toussant is a national holiday and children are off school for two-weeks (half term).  La Toussaint is celebrated by decorating the graves of loved ones with chrysanthemums, the flowers associated with death.  The cemeteries are awash with flowers.  In fact I first noticed that the flower shops and supermarkets were awash with these types of gawdy flowers.  Very bright and clashing colours.  I prefer paler coloured flowers like lillies but here are some pictures of our village church which, I have to say, looked so alive with colour.

Village church

Village church

The church in our village

Anyway we are back in Blighty now and I’m just finishing off this blog.  Weather is awful here, so I sometimes cheer myself up with a look at what it’s like in Bergerac via the webcam Not always a good idea though but I’ll keep looking.