Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mosaic Monday # 5. what to do with courgettes

What to do with courgettes is the title of one of my boards on Pinterest.
Created as a place to keep track of amazing recipes it never fails to inspire me when faced with the annual glut of courgettes from my potager.

During the last week, or so, not only have I pinned even more delicious dishes to make but now friends of mine are sending me pins that they have found to add to the board.
After I begged nay pleaded asked nicely, my dear friend H shared her own recipe for a chocolate zucchini cake which I had to try.
A classic bake indeed, then I kind of went off piste and tweaked the glaze, exchanging the orange icing drizzle for a decadent ghirardelli dark chocolate chip ganache.

Talk about death by chocolate!

One of my summer "traditions" is to make some sort of pickle/relish/chutney with produce from my garden and so, on what was probably the hottest day of summer 2016, I selected two new recipes from my board to help me deal with these monsters.

Both were simple (if a little time consuming) to make and they taste exceedingly good.
I'll be taking a couple of jars to give to my sister in the UK when we get together for afternoon tea very soon.

Do you ever take a look inside your fridge and find loads of dairy products just waiting to be eaten before their "use by" date?
A few days ago I uncovered a bag of mozzarella, a pack of strong English cheddar and a tub of ricotta lurking in mine.
A quick search of my WTDWC board revealed Summer Bounty Zucchini Tart which sounded just the ticket so I defrosted a pack of pâte feuilletée and made this.

Clicking on any of the highlighted links will take you either to my WTDWC board or to the websites of the very generous food bloggers who provided these fabulous dishes for everyone to share.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Mosaic Monday # 4. National Stud, Normandy

Last Sunday morning we paid an impromptu visit to the National Stud in Saint-Lô, (Pôle Hippique - Haras National de Saint-Lô) as it was the penultimate day of the annual Normandy Horse Show.

There are two National Studs in Normandy, the one in Saint-Lô was built by order of Emperor Napoleon in 1806 and is dedicated to breeding French warm bloods (Selle Francais), Percherons and the Normand Cob.

We'd arrived before the show jumping had begun so decided to take a look in the stable yard instead.

Having driven by the Haras many times but never stopping to take a look around inside I was excited to have the chance to see behind the scenes as it were..

After peeking into the stables, (I love the aroma of horses & hay) we wandered over to the nearby show rings, passing grooms leading dams and foals back inside.

As we approached we could see foals (sport horses, Cob Normand and ponies) lining up to be put through their paces in front of several judges and a large crowd of discerning breeders and professional horse owners.

The foals, all potential future champions, were there to be classified by the judges prior to being offered for sale at the trade show the following day.

On August 10th 2016 the French Equestrian Team clinched team gold in Eventing at the Olympic Equestrian Venue at Deodoro Park, Rio. Team Great Britain who had held on to gold since 1996, took silver.
Eventing, the first of three equestrian sports in the Olympics, tests riders on dressage, an outdoor cross country course and finally show jumping.
One member of the French team, Astier Nicolas on Piaf de B'Néville, (an original Selle Français horse born in the Manche, Normandie) also took silver in the individual event.

I wonder if any of these beauties will one day have a place in the French Olympic Eventing Team?
Have you enjoyed watching the Olympics this summer? What was your favourite event?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Mosaic Monday # 3. Chateau de Bridoire.

I've been reliably informed that there are 1001 chateaux in the Perigord region of the Dordogne but despite our best efforts we only managed to see 3 of the them on our trip there last month.

The Chateau de Bridoire is a little jewel of a castle, close to Monbazillac, hidden away in the middle of fields and vineyards which stretch as far as the eye can see.

It is steeped in History, with a capital H!

If only these walls could talk.

Originally a fortress built in the 12th century it was home to several families; the Maurilhacs, the Roqueforts, the Aubeterres and the Bridoires.

In 1337 England and France began what has come to be known as The Hundred Years War.
Basically the English were fighting for possession of the Duchy of Aquitaine and also desired the Crown of France but naturellement the French weren't about to hand over either of them.

History buffs click here for a  more detailed explanation!
The Chateau de Bridoire was occupied by both armies, at different times during The Hundred Years War as first one and then the other triumphed, much damage was caused during the fighting.

During a short hiatus the future King of France, Henri of Navarre, visited Bridoire as the guest of his close friend Blaise Pardaillan on July 30, 1576.

In the early 18th c Bridoire came into the possession of the Souillac family.

100 years later it became, through marriage, the property of the Foucauld de Lardimalie family who began a major restoration.

In the Eastern tower the Marquis de Fourcauld installed a private chapel and whilst staying with the family Charles de Foucauld, a cousin, was known to have celebrated several divine services there.

In 1938 the chateau was sold to the Lecher family who kept it until 1978.
In that year a rather dubious company based in Senegal purchased the castle for the eldest son of Bokassa, self-proclaimed emperor of Central Africa.
Two years later the castle was completely abandoned!

Looters and vandals roamed through the once elegant rooms, removing and destroying architectural features, such as doors and windows, until very little of the interior remained.

It took 22 years for the Association for the Protection of Bridoire to finally expropriate the castle from the Senegalese company and get it classified as a Historial Monument Castle.
It was then sold in 2011 to the current owners, the Guyot family, for 700,000€.
They began a massive restoration calling upon the talents of craftsmen and women and hard work of many volunteers.

Although there is still much work to be done they opened the chateau to visitors just seven months later on July 1st 2012.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Mosaic Monday # 2. Home grown is best.

Welcome to Mosaic Monday #2, thanks to everyone who participated last week for sharing beautiful mosaics and lots of mosaic making expertise.
Looking through your comments I saw that like me you mostly like to use Picasa and PicMonkey although some of you are a bit wary of the chimp!
Riitta is new to mosaic making, she's using Fotor for Mac and queried if Picasa or PicMonkey work with Apple.
A quick google search later and I think the answer's yes. Riitta, if you decide to try them out do let us know.
Other, new to me, app's mentioned were iPiccy; Fotojet; pixirexpress; pizap and photocollage on iPad.
I've not strayed far from home for my collection of mosaics this week.

clouds captured on our Sunday walk

despite heavy rain this week the potager is looking good.
clockwise from top left
flat leaf parsley; stripy courgettes; mixed salads; dwarf yellow haricot beans; courgette flowers; rosemary & lettuces.

the field next door got some new occupants this week when three heavily pregnant heifers appeared,
the last time a calf was born in there Farmer Neighbour told me "c'est un erreur"!
maybe this year there'll be 3 erreuers?
their "field mates" can only look on bemusedly from the adjoining field.
we met the two cream coloured mums in the last photo on our walk yesterday and very contented they looked too.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Mosaic Monday # 1

Welcome one and all to my first Mosaic Monday Linky party!

Little did I know back in September 2009 when I joined MM's host Mary @ The little Red House, with a very basic mosaic of Quimper faience items, that almost 7 years later I would taking over the reins from Judith @ Lavender Cottage.

My very first mosaic, obviously I hadn't yet learned that less is more!

Mosaic Monday has always been one of my favourite places to stop in blogland and I'm so happy to be able to be it's new host.

My second mosaic featured scenes from my beloved Hilton Head Island.
Still too crowded!

The above mosaics were created using Picasa which offers 6 mosaic templates - Picture pile; Automatic fill; Frame; Grid; Contact sheet and Multiple exposure all of them are very easy to use, perfect for a beginner.

Mosaic #3 featured even more Quimper,
the more the merrier!

By week four I had begun to take inspiration from some of the other Mosaic Monday participants and created this one using photographs taken at a local Brocante fair.

I used four large photographs and played around with frames and borders
for week 4.
Since 2009 I've added Picasa and Picmonkey apps to my repertoire although I find that I play with use Picmonkey the most.
Be warned you can waste  spend a lot of time with the Picmonkey.

I used PhotoScape to create this simple collage

then played around with it using Picmonkey

How about you, dear reader, do you have a favourite app, tips or advice you'd care to share with me and any mosaic newbies who might be thinking of joining Mosaic Monday for the first time today?

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Five On Friday - Chateau des Milandes.

Five On Friday hosted by Amy @ Love Made My Home has become one of my favourite places to spend time in blogland.
This week for my five a short story about Josephine Baker, a famous African American entertainer who burst into the limelight in Paris during the 1920's, plus photographs of one of the most interesting of the Perigord's 1001 Chateaux.

Chateau des Milandes.
The romantic Chateau des Milandes was built in 1489 by Francois de Caumont, Lord of Castelnaud,  for his wife who was discontented with life buried away in the feudal fortress of the town.
It was their home until 1535 and then inherited by Jacques Nompart de Caumont, the "Duc de la Force", a trusted and loyal servant of Henri IV.
After his death the chateau was abandoned and neglected until the French Revolution of 1789.

The chateau's fortunes improved when it was purchased by a wealthy industrialist in 1900.
Mr. Claverie, the new owner, added gothic influences such as highly carved balustrades, terraces and gargoyles to the chateau's façade. He also installed a water reservoir in the square tower.
His influence extended to the surrounding gardens and following a popular trend of the time he planted magnificent magnolia trees which still flourish to this day.

After his death in 1932 the chateau was sold to a local doctor.
During a visit to the Perigord in 1937 Josephine Baker discovered the chateau and became the tenant of what she called her "Sleeping Beauty Castle" before finally purchasing it ten years later.
Before our visit to the chateau I already knew some of JB's fascinating history from a biography written by Lynn Harvey, "Naked at the Feast"  has a semi permanent place in the pile of books on my bedside table and I dip into it often.

The Labarre family, present owners of the chateau, have accumulated an amazing amount of memorabilia covering Josephine Baker's career as a Music Hall entertainer.
There are many collections on display throughout the chateau, especially in the Music Room and Grand Salon. They include sheet music, hundreds of photographs, letters, theatre programs, costumes and movie posters spanning 50 years.
Of special interest was the exhibit devoted to a different side of her character - her involvement with the French Resistance during WWII when she was recruited to the Counter Intelligence Service.
In the 1950's, in an attempt to combat racism, Josephine and her then husband Jo Bouillon created a Global Village at Milandes.
Together they adopted 12 children from different ethic backgrounds, 10 boys and 2 girls.
She called them her "Rainbow Tribe".
The children all attended the local school as well as being privately tutored in their own language at Milandes.
A bedroom on an upper floor of the chateau has been restored to show how it may have looked when her first adopted son Akio, who was originally from Korea, slept there.

I've only exterior shots of the chateau for my five as sadly cameras are not allowed inside but if you'd like to see some of the exhibits I've described click on the links to the Chateau des Milandes website included within the post.