Tag Archives: Spring

not Zzzzing, Bzzzing

24 Mar

buzzing

I feel like I’ve emerged from a big sleep.

But I haven’t been sleeping.

I haven’t been nodding off, I’ve been just temporarily out of action.

My mind though, has been in overdrive and whirring and whirring.  It’s been having a huge time, chock full of stuff – crap, weird stuff, joy, confusion, peace, weird stuff – buzzing like the beautiful bumblebees around me in the garden right now.

image

But as Spring gets into its step, I am starting too as well.  I can get up, get out, bloody well brushing off the dirt from the last scrape.  The mind is buzzing and ready to clear out the crap.

image from 'Old Tom's Holiday', by Leigh Hobbs,  ABC Books, 2002

felt something like this…

Just one of those little chunks of life that reminds you (again) that it’s good to have life (again).

Please don’t chuck.  I’m sorry for the harp music, the chubby little cherubs and the waffle – sounds like I’ve lost it (again), but I mean it.

And stuff it, they’re flying right above me now with the bumblebees.

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a sprung Spring, part 2… Purple reigns!

26 Apr

It’s still Springing – so here’s some more Spring pics for you from around the Minervois… (I just wish I could put all the incredible smells on this page too)

Purple reigns!

Lilas and lilas

Lilas and lilas

glycine1

spring 4

bernard

L'Arbre de Judee (Judas Tree)

L’Arbre de Judee (Judas Tree)

spring 1

the plane (plataine) trees are budding

the plane (platane) trees are budding

and so are the vines (buds can be called 'bourgeons')

and so are the vines (buds can be called ‘bourgeons’)

glycine house

glycine house2

market man

Spring market day

market legs

market legs

market friends

market friends

lilas manon 2

and then a little evening promenade...

and then a little evening promenade…

almost a picnic at hanging rock!

almost a picnic at hanging rock

spring walk 1

spring walk 2

Mamy Jeanne’s Jardiniere de Legumes

18 Apr
Spring vegetables waiting for the chop

Spring vegetables waiting for the chop

I’ve just cooked and devoured the first ‘Jardiere’ of the season.  I normally follow Mamy Jeanne’s recipe (listed below in this post), but hang on a minute!  I’ve just found in the collection, a version by the lovely Francoise Bernard!…

'Les Recettes Faciles' (easy Recipes) by Francoise Bernard, Librairie Hachette, 1965

‘Les Recettes Faciles’ (easy Recipes) by Francoise Bernard, Librairie Hachette, 1965

Francoise Bernard's version

Francoise Bernard’s version

Here’s Mamy Jeanne’s version from an older post…

Bon appetit.

pea

It’s the season of peas.  How delicious and sweet they are – served in the pods as a nibble during the aperitif, or boiled or steamed.  I grew up with my fair share of them – Mum always hid them in the mashed potato –  and I loved them like that even if ‘green’ was a no-go zone at the time.  But I must say that the peas we ate were more of the frozen in a bag variety (feeding a family takes a lot of shelling I now realise).  Now it’s a delight to find so many fresh peas around at the markets and Lilas and I’ve had a great time sitting amongst the rows of vineyards (Benjamin uses them as a ‘green fertiliser’) picking and eating them.

Lilas shelling peas for Mum

Lilas shelling peas with her mum

A couple of years ago, my parents-in-law brought Mamy Jeanne with them to stay at our place (Mamy Jeanne is Benjamin’s maternal grandmother and ever since my arrival in France has been a huge support – even when my French was non-existant and communication was conveyed by gestures).  Not one to sit around and enjoy  being waited on , Mamy wanted to help contribute to the numerous family reunions we were having that week and prepare a few of her favourite Spring dishes from over the years.  And we’re talking a few Springtimes here – Mamy is 90 and also been known to wield a ping-pong bat in games against the great-grandchildren.

Mamy Jacqueline et Mamy Jeanne

I just love this photo of the two Mamys: Here is Mamy Jeanne on the right and Mamy Jacqueline on the left. Tres stylish femmes!

Jardiniere de Legumes

Jardiniere de Legumes

So I took Mamy to the local market and she was very keen to buy up on the peas.  She wanted to show me how to make a Jardiniere de Legumes (as one of my husband’s favourite dishes, it was almost a family duty to add this to the repertoire) and I was very eager to hover over the stove as she did it.

When the peas are abundant in Spring and you have the arrival of the other ‘legumes nouveaux’ (new vegetables), this dish is served on many French tables.  It’s extremely easy, colourful and healthy. We had some Australian friends to stay recently and with a couple of vegetarians amongst them, it was a perfect meal.

Mamy Jeanne’s Jardiniere de Legumes

(please note that quantities are approximate – I vary them, depending on how it looks in the pot)

 

ingredients:

10 or so lettuce leaves (any type of green salad leaf)

10 carrots

10 potatoes

6 turnips

4 onions – or about 8-10 new baby onions

367 432 peas (that’s what it seems like – but make it about 800g, unshelled)

bay leaves

fresh thyme

butter, olive oil

salt, pepper

salted pork (this is optional – depending on how you feel and if there any any vegos)

 

method:

First I like to fry the onion in a good chunk of butter and olive oil until almost golden as I enjoy the sweetness (and easier for hubby to digest).

(I read a recipe where a women likes to caramelize a bit of sugar in her pot first, but I really don’t think you need to when the new vegetables are so sweet and fresh)

Once onion is done, add the salad leaves and stir well until leaves are floppy.  If using pork, add now too.

            Then add the carrots, potatoes, turnips, all cut into random, small chunks (some like to perfectly dice each vegetable but I think this looks too neat!), and herbs.

            Add water to the pot, until vegetables are just covered, close lid and simmer after boiling for about one hour – or until vegetables are to your liking (the French have a reputation for very well-cooked vegetables, something unheard of in the Asian-focused cuisine so popular in Australia!)

Remember to add the shelled peas about half-an hour into the cooking time.  I don’t like to add them from the beginning as they can get mushy.

 

Serve on its own or as an accompaniment to veal, pork or chicken, with a big pot of French mustard on the side.

served up

served up

a sprung Spring

18 Apr
wild irises in our hamlet

wild irises, thyme, jonquilles in our hamlet

The first lilas, the first irises, daisy chains made of ‘paquerettes’…

paquerettes and dandlieons 2013

iris 2

iris 3

wisteria 2013

our school held it's first of two 'Marche aux Fleurs'

our school held it’s first of two ‘Marche aux Fleurs’ in the village square

watching the sales

…careful observation of the flower sales

a surprise bunch for the Aussie shelia

a surprise bunch for the Aussie sheila

It’s 26 degrees, Spring is beautiful and I’ve just made my first ‘Jardiniere‘ of the season.

Look out for Mamy Jeanne’s recipe in the following post…

Spring has sprung

30 May
bouquet de bruno

Bruno’s freshly picked bunch from Caunes – check out the size of those irises!

It’s so warm here right now and after all the rain we had in the last couple of weeks –

a wet wet road

gloomy and grey – but we needed it

– the landscape has switched into overdrive with growth and colour.  The vineyards are looking very happy with their new leaves and once again, as far as the eye can see in the Minervois, the vision is GREEN!

vines with Pyrenees in background

vineyards on the route to  school with the Pyrenees in the background

vineyards across from our house

the vineyards across the road from the house

‘I love this time of year!’ I can hear Benjamin saying this at least 100 times a Spring – for the last 15 Springs.   Like I’ve said, it’s quite something to experience the onset of Spring in France.  So much excitement and promise after all that cold!  Such a contrast – something I never fully appreciated in Adelaide’s mild climate.

Yes, Spring has well and truly sprung and I want to share some of the sights around here with you.

blossom in cafe courtyard

fallen blossom in a courtyard cafe (actually this was in Angouleme)

a few geraniums in the window anyone?…

poppies - and vineyards - as far as the eye can see

poppies – and vineyards – as far as the eye can see

lilas in poppies and a poppy person!

Lilas (‘ lilac’ in English) in poppies – and a poppy person!  Until the school’s day trip, I never knew they existed! Never too old…

swans at home

a couple of swans arrived at home

beside the canal du midi carcassonne

coming into Carcassonne

Lady at Zaza

the weather is so lovely, it’s time for rose again

lilas watching the tractor today

watching the tractor turning over the soil today

lilas and her flowers

a hand-picked bunch for the dance teacher this afternoon

Spring collage!

oui, oui it’s flower mayhem here!  I’ve been going a bit bonkers with the bouquets

Poppies and broom everywhere!

21 May
poppies in the Minervois

Poppies in the Minervois

While I’m on talking about wildflowers, I thought I’d share these pics of the poppies (‘coquelicots’) and broom (‘genets’), in full bloom here, that never fail to delight me.

The roads and vineyards are all lined with these these gorgeous flowers and their strong red and yellow tones.  And the smell of the broom  is just incredible!

I hadn’t really appreciated the season of Spring until now, living here in France.  The contrast of each season is quite dramatic and very different to my hometown of Adelaide. After the cold and harshness of winter (am I glad that we have central heating – something unheard of for me in Oz!) nature in Spring just bursts to life with colour and energy.   Even the locals seem to get excited and step up a notch in energy.

Maybe it’s also living in the countryside that allows me to appreciate all this magic and colour.

genet is one of my favourite smells in Spring

magnificent 'Genet' - Broom

poppies again

poppies growing amongst the dry stone walls

poppies lining the road to the next village

route to the neighbouring village with the Montagnes Noir behind

a capitelle in the MInervois

an old capitelle (stone hut)

poppies and sky

...and poppies

poppies along the road again

poppies and broom

poppies and wall... again!

poppies, vineyard

poppies in front of a wine cellar

a Minervois wine cellar

beautiful broom

beautiful broom

happy birthday auntie mil

blossom dearies, everywhere!

28 Feb

Brrr it’s still chilly, but the countryside is beautiful with all this blossom!   The Minervois is dotted with these beautiful trees and in the sun-filled afternoons, their relief amongst the landscape provides for the most magnificent views.

Putting your nose right into the flower, the smell is of intense honey.  Benjamin thinks they smell of beeswax.  He’s right.  If I close my eyes and sniff, I’m propelled straight into an old shop full of antiques!

It’s all too tempting…  I just had to pick some for home!

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