the gentle bucolic ramblings of an English rose, blooming in rural Normandy

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Very easy peasy apple cobbler

I'm sure that, like me, you have discovered all sorts of recipes from bloggers worldwide.
Some of the ones we try don't work for us or aren't to our taste, others go into our repertoire tout suite!
I recently was introduced through facebook to Marie's blog "The English Kitchen" by my blogging pal, Jenny.
Marie is a Canadian who lives in the UK where for the past twelve years she has been cooking up a storm debunking the myth that English food is bland, one recipe at a time.
Each time I visit I want to try that day's recipe and the one I want to share with you today is my version of her easy cherry cobbler.
Click here for a link to Marie's recipe, there's a printable version available too.
It really did seem ridiculously easy to make but not having a can of sour cherries in my larder I had to look around for some other fruit to use instead.
Enter the SP clutching the last of the apples and pears from our espaliered trees et voila, very easy peasy apple cobbler was on the menu.

Now, Marie does warn that this pud won't win any prizes for it's good looks but who cares? What if it's a little rough and ready looking.
Ladies and gents let me tell you this is the most divine tasting dessert/afters/pud that I have tasted in many a long day.
It takes comfort food not only to the next level but to infinity and beyond!

Think I might be exaggerating ever so slightly?

Well, why not make it this weekend for your family and let me know if I'm not right.
This is a recipe that you'll go to over and over again, I know I shall.

Preheat your oven to 200*C/ 400*F/ gas mark 7.

1lb cooking apples peeled, cored and sliced
140g (1 cup) plain flour
2 slightly heaped tsp baking powder
245g sugar divided (1 1/4 cup) (plus extra for poaching the apples if using)
225ml milk (1 cup)
pinch salt
125g butter, melted.

Poach the sliced apples in a saucepan with a little sugar & water until softened but not mushy, allow to cool a little. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 cup/200g sugar, milk & salt. Pour the melted butter into a 2 litre baking dish, pour the batter into the dish then add the fruit. Don't mix! Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and bake for about 30 minutes until the pud is golden brown on top and the juices are bubbling.
Marie dusted her cobbler with icing sugar after it had cooled a little but I couldn't wait to taste mine so omitted that step and served it a la mode - vanilla ice cream with a little double cream poured over it so that it freezes slightly and cracks when you dip in the spoon!

Serves 4 if they're hungry, 6 if they're not.
In the unlikely event that there is any cobbler left over (!) gently warm it through in the microwave, it'll still knock your socks off the next day.

Linking this post to Foodie Friday
hosted by
Gollum (aka Michael Lee West)
@  Rattlebridge Farm

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mosaic Monday

Between us my sister, Kathryn, and I must have taken hundreds of photographs around the Villa Ephrussi  Rothschild and it's gardens so I created some mosaics of just a few more of them for you to enjoy.

Although Beatrice Ephrussi -Rothschild appears to have led a charmed life as the indulged daughter of Baron de Rothschild, there is (as is almost always the case) another side to her story. At age 19 she married a man much older than herself, Maurice Ephrussi.

He was a friend of her parents, an inveterate gambler his debts in 1904 totaled more than 12 million gold francs, the equivalent of 30 million euros today.

Early on in the marriage Beatrice caught a grave illness from Maurice which left her unable to bear children. They separated after being married for 21 years.
When her father died a year later she inherited a fortune which enabled her to build the beautiful Villa in Saint- Jean -Cap - Ferrat.
(Background information from our tour guide and the villa ephrussi website).

Joining Judith @Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday
Mosaic Monday

Friday, 10 October 2014

Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens.

Sorry for the long absence everybody, the SP & I have been away on an extended trip to England and Scotland (pix & stories to come) and I have neglected my blogging duties for far too long.

A large Sevres vase is the centerpiece of this flowerbed, part of the celebrated Sevres Garden

With sister Kathryn, Cap Ferrat, September 2014
Today I'm going to be sharing with you the delights of the amazing Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat which I visited last month whilst in Nice for the QCI annual meeting.

The villa was the winter residence of Beatrice Rothschild who built the house after her separation from her husband Mr Ephrussi in 1904, and on the death of her father Baron Rothschild one year later.

Beatrice was extremely rich and spared no expense in the creation of the villa, she was able to afford anything she wanted and furnished the house accordingly. 

Painted wall panels in the Directoire bedroom

With it's triple aspect windows looking out over the gardens and towards the sea, furnished with both French and Italian pieces and a Meissen chandelier the nicest bedroom on the first floor was reserved for Beatrice's guests

Guest bedroom

An upstairs inner hallway looking out onto the gardens

Russian icon
Each of the bedrooms had it's own bathroom, she also installed many new fangled inventions such as a telephone, a lift and central heating!

When it came to designing the gardens, and there are nine of them (click here to learn more), she called her servants together and made them into a living garden dressed as trees and holding long swathes of fabric to represent rivers and ponds, pathways and flowerbeds.

As the servants moved around the grounds Beatrice was able to picture the garden exactly as she wished it to be before instructing famous landscape designers to create it for her.

A view of the Spanish garden

Looking into the Florentine garden
Many varieties of cacti are at home in the Exotic Garden
Kathryn in the Florentine Garden

A view of the Sevres Garden from the first floor balcony of Villa Ephrussi Rothschild
The view out across Cap Ferrat from the Rose Garden
Joining Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound
for Pink Saturday.

Click on the link to see who else is in the Pink this week.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Shadow Shot Sunday in Provence

the view from the hotel B4 Plaza's roof terrace
across the beautiful Jardin Albert 1er to vieux Nice town
I recently spent six wonderful days attending the Quimper Club International's annual meeting in Nice on the Cote D'Azur, my sister Kathryn came along too which made the trip even more amazing.
Once I've sorted through my photographs I'll tell you about some of the things that we did and the gorgeous places we visited.
But for now I just have two shadow captures to share.
The first one was taken in the jam making area of the Confiserie Florian des Gorges du Loup during our guided tour last Friday.

jars of citrus jam ready to be transported to the store
This shot was taken through the open window looking down on the swift flowing river that runs alongside the Confiserie down the gorge to the sea.

sharing these Provencal shadows also with 
Gemma for Scenic Weekends
and everyone joining in 

bon dimanche a tous

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Plum Crazy in August

We've had a better than usual crop of plums this year more than enough to eat straight from the tree, as 1 of our daily 5 and to indulge my love of baking.

Angela Hartnett's Plum & Almond Tart with it's delicious frangipane filling was easy to make.
I found that it made enough pastry and frangipane for two tart's so as I had plenty of plums I made one for afternoon tea and one for the freezer, for us to enjoy later.

Plums and almonds were made for each other and this homely plum crumble was delicious. A perfect pud for a cold wet evening.

The weather this month has been dreadful and the comfort foods of our childhood are what we turn to as the afternoons get shorter and the shadows lengthen.

 It's Fall y'all.

Linking this post to Mosaic Monday #3
which is now being hosted by 
Judith @ Lavender Cottage 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Touring Blogland

Recently my dear friend Sarah invited me to join her on the Blogland Tour and featured me on her blog @Hyacinths For The Soul. 
Sarah and I have been friends since meeting at the Quimper Collectors Club’s second annual gathering in Washington D.C. in 2000. 

Sarah and I had a great day antiquing in Bayeux
when she & her husband came to visit in 2011.
As collectors of French faience in particular the pottery produced in the town of Quimper, Brittany, we always enjoy getting together with other Q collectors. I for one am counting down the days until we meet again next month in Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera.

plage Beau Rivage, Nice, France.
(photo from internet)
As part of the tour Sarah gave me 4 questions to answer.

What am I working on right now?

First of all with my Quimper Club Secretary’s hat on I’m working on preparing a report to present at the meeting next month. 
Mark Twain once said “there are two types of speakers, those that are nervous and those that are liars”. I know which type I am, addressing an audience is not something I am very comfortable with doing. Luckily I only have some statistics relating to the membership to report, so I think I’ll be o.k. 

Around the Presbytere I’m working on keeping everything “show home” ready as we never know when the Immobilier/ estate agent might call to arrange to bring a client over to view the house. 

My precious “me time” is spent in my attic craft room and it seems that lately I've been scrapping vacation memories.

L. Tulum, Mexico 1998
R. South Beach, HHI 2012
Some of my most recent pages.

L. Kos, Greece, 2013
R. HHI again with Dad & Joyce, 1992
How does my work differ from others in this genre?

Such a good question, but I’m not really sure that it does. I do have certain things that I like to include on my scrapbook pages, whether I’m following a sketch or a set of criteria set down in a challenge. I usually draw doodle a couple of lines around the edges to frame the layout. Tags! Almost every layout has to include tags wherever possible and I love to pile on embellishments in clusters and layers. These are my “signatures” I guess.

Why do I write or create what I do?

The simple answer is that I started my blog to share our life in Normandy. Our beautiful home, which we fell in love with the first time we saw it, is in a very small rural hamlet and there’s not a lot to do here if you’re not a farmer! 
In 2008 when I first started blogging I had no idea if anyone would be interested in my ramblings but just started chatting as if to a friend and went on from there.

 ice cream sundae, anyone?
I write about my garden, especially the potager, our pets, my husband, our little trips around the area and those to more faraway places. Blogging and scrap booking are the perfect hobbies for me.

How does your writing process actually work?

I always have my camera close by and anything such as my latest read, a beautiful sunrise, a bee on a lavender bush, a dog looking cute, white fluffy clouds or a new recipe can easily find its way onto the page. It’s almost always the photograph that dictates the post and inspires my words.
Lettuce soup, better than gazpacho!
Enough about me.

Time to introduce you to two ladies whose talents lie in quite a different direction to mine, you'll soon see why.
Lorrie @ Fabric, Paper & Thread is a blogging friend of many years who lives in Victoria, BC, Canada. 
On her blog you will find links to her Etsy store and Craftsy page where she says " I love to sew and create in a variety of mediums. Sewing, embroidery, paper crafts - you name it, I've probably tried it. But I always come back to my love of fabric and sewing! "

Another very talented lady is Sue @ I Sew Quilts
Sue and I met through the Quimper Club when we both attended the 2001 annual meeting in Quimper, Brittany. At that time she ran a very successful store aptly named “The Pumpkin Patch”. Sue’s blog is a feast for the eye, not only does she share with us the projects that she is currently working on but takes us travelling around the UK and the US, to the many museums and quilt shows that she visits with her quilting friends.

I’d like to thank Sarah for inviting me on the tour and you, too, for your company today. 

Please do visit Lorrie and Sue 
on Monday, the 18th August 
for the next sequence of the Blog Land Tour.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Personal Photo Challenge - August. Animals.

Despite having my camera with me wherever I went last month I encountered just four types of animals.
Dogs, M'mselle Fleur our beautiful German Shepherd is always nearby and has featured on this blog many times. We often see horses in the fields when out for a walk. Sheep.......I know! I can hear you saying "not sheep again".
And, of course Normandy cows.

Our home is almost completely surrounded by cows.

They have taken up residence in the fields to the left, to the right and behind us.

I took these photographs through the open bedroom window and then played with them in Picmonkey.
A gentle bucolic scene that I never tire of.
bon weekend a tous.

hosted by Donna @ Cottage Days and Journeys.