Tuesday 31 May 2011

Cutting silage in Normandy.

The white building in the background is La Mairie
with the village hall behind it.
Last week the lanes around our home here in the Normandy countryside were resonating to the sounds and smells of silage cutting.

The fields surrounding us all have different owners but when it comes to silage cutting the farming community works together and all the tractors and trailers that are available are thrown at the task.

Noticed the branch which is being
 used to prop the gate open?
Earlier in the week the grass had been cut, a couple of days later the farmer came and turned the cut grass over into neat rows.

Little & Large
Four vehicles were involved, the very large tractor with the chute just keeps on rolling up and down the field, a smaller tractor with trailer attached drives alongside, keeping pace.

Mind my wall!

When one trailer is full up the driver takes the silage back to the farmyard and the next tractor/trailer takes over.

Here comes Marc!
The whole field was picked up in about 30 minutes, what a team.

Senior Partner & Fleur keep a watchful eye.
Usually, when this field has been cut, we can expect to see cows brought in to graze during the summer months, I'll let you know when they arrive.

Monday 30 May 2011

Bloomin' lovely!

Stately yellow iris
It's Monday so we're off to Marys little red house for Mosaic Monday, do click on the link to visit Mary and see beautiful mosaics from around the globe.

My favourite rose.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Friday 27 May 2011

Chez Denise, a Parisian brasserie - with Anthony Bourdain.

Last year the Senior Partner and I spent a long weekend in the City of Lights and I blogged afterwards about a wonderful tea room that we discovered in the Marais, click here if you missed it.

One place I didn't tell you about then but am going to share with you now is Chez Denise (La Tour de Montlhéry), 5  rue prouvaires.
Close to the site of the old Les Halles, in the 1st Arrondissement, Chez Denise is one of the last surviving brasseries from the days before Les Halles was relocated.

We had seen an episode of Anthony Bourdains "No Reservations" on TV and thought it looked very interesting.
Well, it turns out that ordinary mortals who aren't TV chefs do have to have a reservation for dinner at Chez Denise, so I made a reservation for our last evening in Paris.
Click here to see a clip of AB @ Chez Denise on YouTube and you'll see why we had to dine here too.
For starters we shared the terrine du chef and frisee aux croutons, followed by gigot d'agneau des flageolets for the SP, I ordered the saumon braise sauce moutarde.

The waiters in traditional black and white uniforms were friendly and the service excellent, the food was wonderful.
The tables are set very closely together which means that even if you arrive as a couple for a  "diner a deux" by the end of the evening you will certainly have met your fellow diners sitting either side of you.

You may perhaps have tasted the food they ordered, may probably know them well enough to have exchanged recommendations of other places to dine, things to see in Paris and even swap business cards!
It's a very unique place, indeed.
Anthony Bourdains home base restaurant, in New York City, is the Brasserie Les Halles and is featured in the opening credits of "No Reservations".
Click here to visit their website.
I wonder if any of you already know either Chez Denise or the Brasseries Les Halles and have dined there?
Do let me know if you have, it would be great to compare notes.

Anita is hosting a "Paris - Simply Irresistible" party
on Saturday 28th May.
She designed this cute button for the occasion, isn't it gorgeous?
Click on the link or on the sidebar button
 to discover many more reasons
 why we all think that
Paris is Simply Irresistible!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Chilled lettuce and potato soup.

Beautiful red and green lettuces,
 no matter how I try to space out the plantings
there's always a glut at certain times of the year.

I picked two large green ones
 added an onion, chives and a handful of scrubbed new potatoes.
In a large soup pot I sweated off the diced onion and potato,
  the washed and shredded lettuce and chopped chives,
 then cooked it all together until the lettuce wilted.
Then added 2 litres of hot chicken stock before
cooking for another 20 minutes, on a low heat, until the potato was soft.
After seasoning to taste, the ingredients were allowed to cool
 before blending thoroughly.
 I also added 4 large serving spoonsful of creme fraiche at this stage
and then chilled the soup in the fridge.
As it was such a hot day
I decided it would be nice to have lunch in the garden
 and so I set a small table for two, by the wisteria.

I picked wild flowers
 from the grassy banks along the side of the lane.
Comfrey, cow parsley and purple clover and placed them in a large glass pitcher.
Two tall glasses of iced peach tea, a baguette
 eh voilà! déjeuner en plein air.

Friday 20 May 2011

A Very English May Day Tradition - Dilwyn Village Show.

This year we celebrated the May Day holiday by visiting the Dilwyn Village Show which took place in Fields Place Meadow.

We really enjoyed watching the shows in the main arena, especially the "Paws For Thought" dog display team (click here to see more about them) and also the Birds of Prey Falconry show.

The vintage and classic car show was a big draw, the old farm tractors were very popular.

We browsed the craft tent and tasted samples from local food and drink producers, bought lots of second hand books and finally ended up in the WI (Womens Institute) tea tent for sandwiches, tea and home made cake.

After lunch we wandered over to watch the young riders taking part in the horse show, very Jilly Cooper with a touch of Thelwell (the unofficial artist of the British countryside) thrown in for good measure!
If you don't know Thelwell's cartoons click here to see why he was so well loved.
Later that afternoon we bagged ringside seats on the grass, Senior Partner fetched a blanket from the car so we wouldn't get damp, to watch the Companion Dog show.

These were the categories:
Pedigree Classes as defined by the Kennel Club
1 Any Variety Gundog Dog or Bitch
2 Any Variety Hound Dog or Bitch
3 Any Variety Pastoral/Working Dog or Bitch
4 Any Variety Toy and Utility Dog or Bitch
5 Any Variety Terrier Dog or Bitch
6 Any Variety Open Dog or Bitch
7 Any Variety Veteran Dog or Bitch (7 years and over)
8 Any Variety Puppy Dog or Bitch (aged 6 to 12 months)
Rosettes for Best in Show from classes 1- 8, Reserve Best in Show
Best Puppy in Show and Reserve Best Puppy in Show
After the Kennel Club business was over it was time for the Novelty Classes
9 Local Class: Best Dog or Bitch living within 5 mile radius of show
10 Best Crossbred Dog or Bitch
11 Dog or Bitch with the ‘waggiest’ tail
12 Handsomest Dog
13 Prettiest Bitch
14 Best veteran Dog or Bitch (non-pedigree) aged 7 years or over
15 Best Dog or Bitch handled by a child 6-12 years
It was so much fun watching the dogs and their owners prance around the show ring and I could tell that if we had not left Ben & Fleur at home the SP would have been in that ring showing of M'selle Fleur and probably bringing home one or two rosettes.
Of course my Ben would have easily won classes 11 and 12!
It was a wonderful day out and has started me dreaming about returning "home" to Herefordshire one day.

Joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays and
Mary @the little red house for Mosaic Monday.
Click on these links or on the sidebar buttons to join the fun.

Monday 16 May 2011

An English Cream Tea.

Whilst in the UK last week I was able to indulge and I really mean indulge (my ever expanding waistline can testify to that fact) in two of my very favourite English things to do.
My very favourite thing to do is take afternoon tea in quintessentially English teashops and my absolute favourite afternoon tea is to be found in the tearoom of a National Trust property.
There you will find the most wonderful English Cream Teas, such as the one pictured here which we enjoyed after touring Berrington Hall, near Leominster, Herefordshire.

Coming a close second, to a cream tea, is browsing through one of the "Charity" shops that line the high streets of every town we visited.
I think that Ross on Wye has the most!
What was I looking for I hear you ask?
As my dear friend Kate would answer "old pots".

Kate doesn't understand my fascination with antique/vintage china and faience, but she happily shopped with me and even found the bargain of the trip in the Sue Ryder shop in Ledbury.
More about that soon.
A little while ago I bought some mismatched china on ebay.co.uk and had them delivered to Kate's home.

When she brought me the box to open at Little Quebb it was like Christmas morning.
The cup and saucer are Royal Albert English Bone China, decor: Lavender Rose and the plate, which doesn't match but I feel with it's lavender ribbon detail complements them, is by Aynsley.

The Asiatic Pheasant red and white transferware creamer produced by Enoch Wedgwood was a French ebay purchase earlier this year, and is the perfect foil for a small posy of old fashioned roses from our garden.

This afternoon I couldn't resist creating an English Cream Tea vignette to share with you all and will be linking this post to the Tea parties listed below.

A home made scone slathered with
 thick double cream and red fruit jam.

Lady Katherines Tea Time Tuesday
Tuesday Tea For Two @ The Plumed Pen
Teacup Tuesday with Martha & Terri
Teatime Tuesday @ Rose Chinz Cottage
Petite Hermine's Sunday Linky Party

I've not joined in with any of these before but they all seem like lovely ladies so why not pop in and have a cuppa with them too?
Just click on the links above.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Meeting Martha from Lines From Linderhof.

The ornamental gardens at Little Quebb Farm.
Shortly before we left for our two week visit to the UK I received an email from Martha, you may know her blog -  Lines From Linderhof.

Martha mentioned that she and her husband Jim had been visiting Normandy earlier that week, I thought "now she tells me"!
If I had known I could have easily driven to the coast to meet up with them.
Little Quebb Farmhouse

All was not lost however as Martha went on to to tell me that they were spending a few weeks in the Cotswolds, not very far away from where the Senior Partner and I had rented a holiday cottage.
A tranquil place to sit
outside our back door.

Emails flew back and forth and finally we had a plan to meet at the Bear & Ragged Staff Country Pub in Bransford, Warwickshire for a traditional Sunday Lunch.
Bear and Ragged Staff

Almost equidistant from both of our places, it proved to be an excellent choice and I highly recommend the puddings.
Kansas meets Normandy at last!

Needless to say Martha and her husband Jim are delightful and the time just flew by as we got to know each other better.
Lunch was enjoyed by all

Check out Marthas blog Lines From Linderhof to read how much these two Anglophiles are enjoying "living" in the UK.
All too soon it was time to say farewell and make our way back to our cottages.
Us to The Granary at Little Quebb Farm, Eardisley Herefordshire and M&J to Blue Row Cottage in Swerford, Oxfordshire.
The Granary our
Home Away From Home

Bye Martha, hope to see you again one day!
Au revoir!
Joining the Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays
with this very Traditional English Sunday Experience!

Friday 13 May 2011

Paula Deen Celebrity Cook - Along

Lynn at Happier Than A Pig In Mud is hosting a "Celebrity Cook - Along" on the 15th with non other than our favourite Southern Chef Paula Deen.
Lynn quotes Paula from her cookbook "It ain't all about the cooking":
I never call myself a chef, never went to chef school... I'm a cook.
Learned at my Grandmomma's stove.
But I can cook honey, cook rings around all those tall-white-hatted chefs.

Lynn has suggested that we recreate one of Paula's appetizer dishes and so I thought what could be nicer on a warm, spring evening than Paula's "Salmon Dip"?

Chunked salmon mixed with mayonnaise, diced onions, fresh parsley and something called "Silly Salt"!

Being me, I had to tweak the recipe a little bit.
To a big serving spoon full of Hellmans Light Mayo I added the same quantity of creme fraiche and a large, salad onion (diced small).
I mixed these ingredients with chopped smoked salmon slices and since "Silly Salt" was not to be found in my pantry added Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning (1), to taste.
Onto a simple white platter I tumbled freshly picked mesclun salad from the potager, then piled the salmon dip onto the mixed leaves and decorated the dish with chives, from my herb garden.

To garnish the dish, I added slices of cool green avocado and cucumber (peeled and de-seeded), before sprinkling Piri Piri (2) from a height, (of course) over it all.

Baguette slices, lightly toasted under the grill, and peppery Italian EVOO (sorry, wrong celebrity chef!), with a large glass of RUNAMOK Australian Chardonnay (3) and our appetizer platter was complete.

According to Paula this appetizer will serve 4 - 6.
However, as soon as the photoshoot was over, the Senior Partner & I ate it for supper.
It was a big success and definitely a dish I will do again when family and friends come to visit in June.

1) A friend from Dallas got me hooked on Cavender's a few years ago, it's a great spice mix to have in the cupboard and always does what it says on the tin. I usually bring 2 or 3 tubs back with me from HHI every year.
2) Portugeuse PIRI PIRI is a finely ground mix of hot peppers from Africa, South America and China. We learned to love it on our last trip to Lisbon and is another must have spice for us.
3) RUNAMOK (our vin de table) does not really make you run amok (well, it might if you drink too much of it).
It is, to quote the wine label:
a deliciously refreshing combination of tropical and citrus fruit flavours, with a fragrant hint of sweet vanilla - oak and a soft, rounded finish.
bon appétit.