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a happy new year

31 Dec
Aussie Xmas Tour

An Aussie Xmas Tour…

We’re about to greet the new year and I want to shout out a G’day from stinking hot Adelaide.

Don’t be fooled by the home-made version of our tree for this year… we’re not in gay Calamiac, we’re down here in Oz.  And on the eve of Christmas, our family’s old tree, after 40 years, decided to hang up its boots – so Lilas and I put together a ‘Xmas Tour’!  It’s a wonder what you can find in a shed full of old boxes…

And I must say it’s thanks to you, Mum, that we have a ‘tree’ this year.  Much to my objections, you put up this tower, festooned with ribbons as part of the decorations for our post-elopement-wedding party.  Did I squirm! – wondering what the Frenchies would think… But it was a hit, and thanks to you, it’s come out in full glory again.

Bonnes Fetes and Happy Days for 2014…

IMG_3856 IMG_3926 IMG_4062

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picking

11 Oct
Ambroise emptying 'la hotte'

Ambroise emptying ‘la hotte’

Picking at last.

There’s been stops and starts… and now it’s all GO to get the grapes in.

We’re harvesting three weeks later than previous years, but it’s shaping up to be a pretty good ‘recolte’ … there’s a charged atmosphere and smiles all round.

I’ll fill you in on this harvest over a few posts, but here’s a selection of pics from today, in and out of our village.

(you may note some ‘fx’ in the images – my dear old camera is on the blink so what you see are the results of lumping around with a clunky electronic rectangle)

woke to to the noise of the harvester outside the kitchen window

woke to to the noise of the harvester outside the kitchen window

tent-picking

tent-picking

checking out the noise... a tractor cruising down the driveway

checking out the noise… a tractor cruising down the driveway

picking 1

pick cal1

here comes the sun

cal pick3

empty 2

empty 3

empty 4

cal 7

house on the prairie

pick cal 2Meanwhile, back in the village…

ca 4

chat arnaud

clearing out remains of the ‘pressoir’ (press)

ca 3

the Vigneron having a spray

the Vigneron having a spray

...and the ladies are still out checking the 'raisins'

…and the ladies are still out checking the ‘raisins’

 

“The Frenchman”

26 Sep
you may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk?  I do. Two fyi's... the bathing belle with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger - and there are two VIPs in the midst...

You may be thinking I have a fondness for the older French folk? I do.
And two fyi’s… the bathing beau with the Aussie flag is actually French and happens to be our ex-fishmonger… and there are some VPo VIPs in the midst…

Ah Frenchie men. Rummaging through my mum’s cookbooks back in Adelaide this Summer, I spied this gem with a wonderful text on – The Frenchman.

The Browns, Cora, Rose  and Bob, "The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France," Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

The Browns – Cora, Rose and Bob, “The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France,” Arco Publishers Limited, 1956

continental cookery book text

“…sanctified seriousness, …a rubbing of hands and tummy”

1956. To quote the Browns (Cora, Rose and Bob):

                                        “The Frenchman is informal enough at his plain morning cafe au lait with a brioche or croissant, newspaper and cigaret, but

                                          he approaches both lunch and dinner with sanctified seriousness, a rubbing of hands and tummy, crackling and tucking in of napkins,        

                                          anticipatory peeping under dish covers.  At table nothing must interfere with his enjoyment,

                                          the slightest interruption is resented and no visitor would presume to butt in on this devout ritual…”  (p.277, The Four-in-One Book of Continental Cookery, 1956)

1956.  Not much has changed.

Roti de Porc au Lait (Roast Milk Pork) …tonight!

25 Sep

LOVED this dish tonight!  I know I’ve put this recipe up earlier this year, but had to share it again… with the “NEW”photos!

The nights are cooler, Benji is now in harvest swing and it’s time to cook up some warm, slow-cooked meals…  Bon app.

delicious 'Porc au Lait'

delicious ‘Porc au Lait’

I was on the phone to Mum and Dad last week and mentioned that I’d just cooked up some Milk Pork – ‘Porc au Lait’ – for the next day’s dinner.  It’s funny, these conversations about food are always totally out of whack with our time zones.  It was 11pm my time and 8.30am the following morning, their time.  Normally it’s me cleaning up the breakfast dishes as Dad explains with excitement what he’s got on the stove for dinner.

I’ve never served them Porc au Lait but I know they’d love it.  It ticks all our family’s favourite food boxes:  MEAT, lots of sauce, herbs, garlic and the required ‘three veg’ – and it is easy to prepare.  It’s one of those old-fashioned French dishes that is simply delicious comfort food.  My husband and mother-in-law showed me how to cook this years ago and I can’t count how many times I’ve prepared it since.  We had the poker men for dinner + a few UK visitors and it went down a treat with the new ‘Boulevard Napoleon‘ wines – white and red.

the empties:  the Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris white and a few reds...

the empties: the Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris white and a few reds…

had to show you these beautifully coloured carrots - they actually gave the milk sauce an almost mauve tint by the end

had to show you these beautifully coloured carrots – they actually gave the milk sauce an almost mauve tint by the end

After the meat has been cooking for awhile in the milk, drop the vegies and parsley in

After the meat has been cooking for awhile in the milk, drop the vegies and parsley in

amples of milk sauce...

amples of milk sauce…

...to serve with this tender juicy meat.  The butcher told me the pork roll was 'parsleyed' ('persille') - I thought he meant stuffed with parsley, but he laughed and corrected me - no, it is the lines of fat running through the piece , 'marbled' as we might say.  Even the Vigneron hadn't heard of this!

…to serve with this incredibly juicy meat. The butcher told me the pork roll was ‘parsleyed’ (‘persille’) – I thought he meant stuffed with parsley, but he laughed and corrected me – it actually refers the lines of fat running through the piece , ‘marbled’ as we might say. Even the Vigneron hadn’t heard of this term, so I was proud to bestow some francais on him.

Roti de Porc au Lait

serves 6-8

ingredients:

1.5kg roll of roasting pork – preferably of shoulder (fillet is drier and less fat, don’t want that)

1 litre full cream milk

2 large onions, sliced

6 carrots, cut into in large chunks

8 potatoes, as above

8 small turnips, as above

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 sprigs fresh thyme

bunch fresh sage (about 10-12 leaves)

2 sprigs rosemary

oil, butter

salt, pepper

method:

Fry up the onions in heavy cast iron pot with a big chunk of butter (30-40g) and a little olive oil, until golden.

Add the roll of pork and brown on each side over medium -high heat.

When the meat is almost all browned, add the garlic and salt, pepper to taste.  I find garlic burns very easily, so I add it near the end of the browning.

Pour over the milk (meat should be 3/4 covered, if not add more ) and add the herbs.

Cover with lid and let simmer for an hour.

Add the carrots and turnips and keep simmering for another hour.

Add potatoes and keep simmering until they are tender.

Serve with lashings of dijon mustard on the side and a big white or red wine!

N.B.  If this is prepared the night before eating, I don’t add any of the vegetables until the next day.

And.  I cook this for a few hours, the longer the better.  I like it when the meat falls apart.  A lot of recipes cook it for less though, and you keep the form of the pork roll and then slice it.  As the French would say, ‘as you want’…

harvest is coming

19 Sep

la liv panneau

…any day now.

Benji’s hovering over the grapes, ready to pick what will be a very late harvest… it’s about three weeks later than previous years.

And he has a (very enthusiastic) little helper, checking on sugar levels.

lilas checking grapes

Greetings…

9 Jun
Paris postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' - 'Place de la Republique'

old Paris postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ – ‘Place de la Republique’

Up early this morning and dashed out to a village ‘vide-grenier’…  it’s a type of garage sale, but instead of just one household selling their wares on the street, it’s a whole village full!   If you’ve never been to one, they are just brilliant and full of potential treasure – and trash (as many would say!).

I’ve got to say I’m a little hooked and it’s one of those rare mornings where I’m ready to spring out of bed at 6am.  There’s even get a slight adrenaline rush as I jostle for a car park close to the sectioned-off streets and head towards the first stand displaying its wares.  I’m on a mission –  my purse is heavy with coins and my chest is literally bursting with excitement.  Sicko, you might say.  But really!  Vide-greniers (this translates as ’empty the attic’) offer all sorts of wonderful objects. And hey it’s in France, so for me that makes it totally exotic (mind you, being far from home, kangaroos and gums are also completely exotic for me now).  It’s not everyday you can buy the old scribbled-in picture books from the elderly monsieur’s childhood collection, or the 60s flowery frock from Madame’s hand-me -downs.  I’ve even picked up a whopping Le Creuset cast iron pot  for 8 Euros (now this find was in the half-dark it was so early and I had a torch!).   Mmmn, a post on vide grenier treasures will follow!

These ‘village garage sales’ are held on weekends (Sunday is the big day for our region)and start from around 8am, with people beginning to pack up around 4pm.  But if you want to find the ‘better’ stuff and real bargains, it’s best to head out as early as 7am (ie 8 Euro cookpot) – the time where you’ll rub shoulders with the ‘professionals’ already out for the hunt.

Here’s a few pics of some local vide greniers to whet the appetite for some…

vg 8

aaargh!!! this is a sight that sends me CRAZY

vg 2

vg 1

vg 10-11

vg 9

vide grenier 7

vg 7

I just loved this lady’s pricing for her old linen

vg 12

Lilas’ already an old hand at these things

vg 5

…that’s her with the Viewfinder

Today the weather has been pretty dire, so I headed out early and came home early (it has been raining much of this weekend – not something we’re needing when it is already difficult to access the vineyards by tractor, we’re hoping the forecast for heat for this week dries everything up).

I came home with a few postcards amongst my finds.

Goutez nos olives

This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?!  Woh!

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today's

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today’s

But have a look at these beauties…

'Babyface'

‘Babyface’

'Rond Point'

‘Rond Point’ (the guy on the far right side is to blame for this purchase)

...not much to be said

…not much to be said

guitar chick

You go girl, stroke those strings…

st eloi

this guy’s a fave

frenchie loveeers

check those fellas (mounds of muscle)

…and on the above theme,

...love an old recipe postcard

…love an old recipe postcard

But I do love a pretty card too.

sailboat postcard

another old Paris postcard:  'Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite'

another old Paris postcard: ‘Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite’

Lost in the Charente

6 May

Have been lost in the Charente, getting down with quality ‘in-law‘ time.

Will report back soon.

Hallelujah. A train station in France that offers an alternative to all those lumping stairs

Hallelujah. A train station in France that offers an alternative to all those lumping stairs

controlleur

a quick ‘clope’ (fag)

gare de Saintes

2CV charente

fishing

angeac sign

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