Sunday 21 December 2008

Putting the potager to sleep

Well, it's almost Christmas and one of the last chores to do before the holidays begin was to batten down the hatches so to speak in the potager. All that is left in there growing are some herbs and 4 celeriac plants which we will surely finish off soon.
S the G has done a great job of covering the beds with thick black plastic sheeting to keep the soil warmish and keep the weeds to a minimum.
Fingers crossed, when the weather starts to warm up next Spring, we will have a good start for the new plantings.
I have enjoyed working in and eating from the potager so much more this year than ever before, due mostly to the new layout and the fact that S the G has been around to do the nasty heavy stuff.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Click to play Joyeux Fetes
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Discovering Smilebox

Early in October I began to scrap book a memory book for my sister Kathryn's 40th Birthday.
It was a very steep learning curve but so much fun.
Yesterday I discovered smilebox, what a treat! It's about to take my creations to a whole other level.
Watch this space for more postings from smilebox, meanwhile check out the first one that I made as a souvenir of my Lancaster County trip in October, with my great pal Diane.
Click to play Fall Road Trip
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Wednesday 26 November 2008

Where did the time go?

I cannot believe that it has been over 2 months since last I blogged!!

What have I been doing you might well ask?


In September I flew to the States to visit friends in Dallas, TX for a few days before travelling with them to Philadelphia for the Quimper Club International's annual meeting. The photo is of several fellow Quimper nuts outside the Betsy Ross House (she of the first flag) in Philly.
We all had a great time, the organisers did a fabulous job of arranging tours & museum visits and I saw more original artwork there than I have ever seen in my life before.

Afterwards my friend Diane & I had a mini adventure in Lancaster County, PA visiting with an Amish family and generally having a great time.

Sunday 31 August 2008

Harvest time

I can't believe how quickly August has flown by.

We have been enjoying the fruits of my labour (o.k. S the G did some too!!) all month long, here are a few pix to show off our produce!

The potatoes have been a resounding success, we're eating fresh tomatoes & salad everyday and the courgette casserole is on the menu every week.

The beans just keep on coming so there's been plenty of activity in the blanching & freezing departments too.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Potager update

We are well and truly enjoying a bumper crop of vegetables much to my surprise!!

The new (to us) yellow beans are wonderful, so soft & creamy.
As is usually the case I have far too many to eat all at once, so I have been busy blanching & freezing them and also handing them out to all & sundry.

The tomatoes are doing well after a slow start although I'm hoping there will still be some green ones left so I can try a recipe from the Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe cook book soon.

The same cook book has a great recipe for "summer squash casserole" which I have made twice with some extra large (ok, I forgot to pick them in time) round zucchini. My other half who always maintains that he hates courgettes loves the casserole and wants it on the menu as often as possible. Go figure!

a bientot

Monday 21 July 2008

Poule d'eau

About 3 years ago we were lucky enough to have a pair of poule d'eau or as we know them moorhens take up residence on the pond in the back garden, next to the potager.

Each year they have produced offspring which are always cute to watch as they learn to swim and grow at an alarmimg rate.

This year however there were no baby moorhens in June although the adult birds were still coming to the back door every morning to be fed.

Imagine my delight therefore on Saturday evening, as I watered the vegetables, to discover the very proud male moorhen strutting around the potager squawking away to announce the arrival of his chicks.

Mama was sitting proudly on the far bank as tiny little balls of black fluff scurried hither and yon, testing the water, before rushing back to safety and burrowing beneath her wing.

Taking a photograph to share has not been easy, they're still camera shy, even papa went under the surface as I snapped but I did manage to capture one fluff ball for you to see.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Potager produce

All things in the potager are flourishing and we are enjoying freshly picked vegetables and salad everyday.

Yesterdays supper included chou fleur & courgettes and tonight I'll serve the first tiny new potatoes which I dug up less than 15 minutes ago.

Bon appetit

Saturday 5 July 2008

Beetroot Bonanza

This is the first year that I have grown beetroot, I bought the young plantlets from a vendor at the local market in Le Molay Littry so can't claim all the glory but am pleased as punch with the results.

The first ones I harvested were cooked simply - skin on, tops cut off and then peeled & sliced, we ate them cold with ham & cheese but this week feeling a little more adventurous I made beet soup adapted from a Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe which I found in a magazine.


Flushed with success I've bought some beetroot seeds and hope to grow my own plantlets for a second crop.

Bon weekend a tout


Wednesday 2 July 2008

Drama but not a crisis!

Breakfast preparations came to an abrupt halt at 07.45 am today when as I briefly glanced out of the open door I saw our cocker spaniel, Ben, struggling but failing (!) to climb out of the pond in our front garden!
He must have walked around this pond at least 5 times a day since he came to live at the Presbytere (almost 8 years ago) and this was the first time he had ever taken a dip.

I don't know who received the bigger shock him or me, or maybe it was my other half, Roger, as I screamed "Ben's fallen in the pond".

Now, this pond isn't an attractive feature in the garden, the only thing pretty about it is that it's pretty yucky, so when I finally yanked Ben out of there he was in a very digusting state, not what you want to deal with just before your petit dejeuner.

I'll spare you the details, suffice it to say we gave him a very thorough bath using the outside garden hose & masses of doggy shampoo.

Roger then dried him off using my hairdryer until he resembled his former self.

The pix show just what Ben thought of that.Hope you're day get's off to a better start than ours

a bientot


Thursday 12 June 2008

9/11 Exhibit at the Peace Memorial in Caen

Last weekend we visited the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen to view the 9/11 exhibit which opened on the 6th June 2008 to coincide with the D Day Landing Anniversary.

It was very moving and I have created a Kodak Gallery to show the photographs which I took of the exhibit.

If you wish to see it email me for a link to the site.

a bientot

Tuesday 3 June 2008

and after

So here's what the potager looks like now.

Potager before

The weather this past week has been appalling!!
Thunderstorms on Wednesday took out our internet connection so life was even quieter than usual.
Between the showers I continued to work in the potager which is coming along in leaps and bounds.
These pix were taken before anything was planted, it looks a lot different now.
a bientot

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Plant nursery

The weather is still playing fast & loose and making planting decisions difficult. I'm going to wait for warmer days before the tomato plants go out but I've several runner bean seedlings planted now, the yellow & green haricots have broken soil and yesterday we had baby spinach leaves from the garden in our dinner salad.

S the G was here today working on the lawns, the gardens have never looked so good before!!

The pic shows my potted seedlings in front of the house, enjoying the sunshine.

a bientot

Sunday 18 May 2008

Baby Calves

Around this time of the year Marc, a local farmer, turns one of the fields in the lane into a "maternity ward" for his herd of Normandie cows to give birth.

I went out a few days ago to try and photograph them but they preferred the shade of the large oak, however I did manage to get one yearling to pose for the camera.

Bonne dimanche

Saturday 10 May 2008

Potager Update

The weather this week has been variable, hot & sunny days followed by rainy nights. Ideal planting weather, so I now have 2 rows each of haricot vert & jeune, mixed salad leaves, spinach, 12 betrave and 6 chou fleur plants in the soil.
The runner bean supports are up, the seedlings are now about 8 inches high and they will be going in, in the next few days.

We visited another new garden centre yesterday and came away with pretty geraniums for the pots at the front of the house, more compost and 2 blueberry bushes. I have long wanted to grow my own blueberries, they are always in short supply and expensive to buy in the supermarket and blueberry just happens to be my favourite type of muffin. I bought Myrtille Patriot & Myrtille Blue Crop as the RHS website tells me that the yield will be higher with 2 different species able to cross pollinate. We shall see!!

The picture shows Sean the Gardener putting the finishing touches to the low fence surrounding the central plot.

Bon weekend

Saturday 3 May 2008

The Potting Shed

The potting shed is a great place to be when it's raining and you can't get into the garden to work.
The various seedlings and small plants are thriving in one of our more usable "dependences", it's certainly not as pretty as some potting sheds but it serves all my needs.
Yesterday was warm so I finished planting the potatoes and also put in a row of spinach beet seeds which will come up alongside the spuds.
The starter lettuces that I got at the market last week are doing well and soon we'll be having fresh salad from the potager in the pretty bowl which I found at the vide grenier on Thursday.

In the meantime I think you'll enjoy this

a bientot

Thursday 1 May 2008

1er Mai - May Day Holiday

May Day - Ascension Day -La Fête du Travail (Labor Day) also La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley) marks the unofficial start to the flea market season.

Chineurs (bargain hunters) of all ages descend on small towns and villages all over France to find a must have item, hidden treasure or piece of junk to add to a collection.
We had two vide-greniers (literal translation: empty attics), flea markets to choose from this morning in local villages: Tournières and Trévières.
We set off first for Tournieres but were disappointed to find that the foire there had been rescheduled for next Thursday, 8th May - WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945; Fête du huitième mai ) and another public holiday.
Off then to Trévières, arriving well after the start but still hopefull despite passing quite a few folk leaving with bags under their arms.
The foire was the usual mix of vendors, tables laden with hand me down childrens clothing, toys, games & videos; garden tools & plants; old car parts & farm implements; pots, pictures & china; postcards & posters.
Sadly, no Quimper faience this time but I did discover a very pretty ceramic salad bowl with servers and a leaf shaped, hand painted Limoges footed dish (both brand new) hidden beneath a table. After a little discussion (no haggling today) I came away with both, price €11, a bargain!!
On our way home we shopped at the tiny general store in La Folie and bought a crusty baguette, a creamy camembert & tiny vine tomatoes for lunch and a small pot of Muguet to celebrate.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Tuesday morning

Cold & damp on the dog walk this morning so I decided to spend the morning being a domestic goddess in the kitchen.

Simple comfort food was called for so first off I prepared banana walnut muffins, a personal favourite, to go with our coffee for elevenses and then a cauliflower cheese with crispy topping dish for lunch.

Muffin recipe:

10 oz/280 g plain flour

1tsp/5ml baking powder; ditto bicarb soda; and half a tsp salt

3 large very ripe bananas, about 1lb/450g

3oz/85g granulated sugar

1 large egg, beaten with a fork

2 floz/60ml milk; 3 fl oz/90ml corn oil

3oz/85g walnuts chopped

ditto chocolate chips

Mix first 3 dry ingredients together, mash the bananas & add wet ingredients, stir until just combined. Add walnuts & choc chips.

Spoon into muffin cases & bake in pre heated oven, 400 f/200 c for 20 - 25 mins

If you have a favourite muffin recipe please share!!

bon appetit


Thursday 24 April 2008

Creating a new potager.

When we bought this house I inherited a vegetable garden and for a number of years I've been happy just pottering around and growing salad, beans, peas, courgettes etc. in quite a slapdash manner I must say!
This Spring, however, I'm trying to be a little more structured and so have had Sean (my new gardener) create 3 long beds dissected by a pair of paths using wood pavers
Today at the weekly market in Le Molay Littry I bought the first plants to go in the new potager. 4 sorts of salad; courgettes; tomatoes; cauliflower (chou fleur, so much prettier in French); beetroot (betterave); celeri and seed potatoes.
There will also be a section with herbs: parsley; coriander; rosmarin; wild garlic; basil; sage and mint (but in pots to contain the roots which would take over the whole place if planted in the soil).
In the potting shed I already have spinach; pumpkin and runner bean seedlings sprouting and when the soil has warmed up a little more I shall plant haricort vert and for the first time haricot jeune seeds straight into the prepared beds.
My bedside reading now is a gardening magazine and I'll welcome any tips that you feel will help with mynew project.
Check back for more info and hopefully, pix of my progress over the coming weeks.