Thursday 30 June 2016

Five on Friday - Works of Art

This week for Amy's Five on Friday meme I'd like to share with you four paintings and a church altar statue carved from wood that dates to the early 1700's.
They are just some of the beautiful works of art which made me catch my breath and stop to stare in wonder during our visit to the Hungarian National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galéria), Budapest in May.
I'm calling this "sorting apples " because foolishly I didn't make a note of the artists name (I think he was Hungarian) or the title of the painting.

The young woman appears to be tired but also resigned to her task as the man staggers in with yet more apples to sort.

Giovanni Antonia Canal (Canaletto) "The Lock at Dolo" 1763

Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) "Virgin and Child with Saint Paul" ca 1540.

I could have looked at this picture all afternoon.

# 4.
Csok Istvan "Do this in Memory of Me" 1890.

I like to study how artists paint the hands of their subjects, this young girls hands clutching the scarf fascinated me.

Early 18th c Hungarian Sculpture. "Saint Notburga"

Once again I was attracted to the hands, the right one was badly damaged but the left has remained virtually unscathed.
I couldn't help but think of all the prayers she had listened to over the centuries, or wonder how many had been answered.

Joining Amy @ Love Made My home for

Barbara @ Coastal Ripples for Paint Monthly

Sunday 26 June 2016

Mosaic Monday

June is usually the month when the famous Barfleur mussels find their way onto restaurant and cafe menus and great glistening piles of tumbling silvery black molluscs can be seen on market stalls and supermarket seafood stands.
But not this year.
"Every year the fishermen of Cotentin (Manche) find many dead mussels. In March 2016, during a survey, none were alive. Fishing is cancelled."
(Source: "Normandici")
Catastrophe! No moules this year from Normandy.

moules et frites July 2015
It's become a bit of a tradition that we always eat moules et frites on my birthday and I thought that it wouldn't be possible this year because fishing had been cancelled.
Ever the optimist the SP thought we might find moules on the menu in Grandcamp Maisy and he was right.
They weren't from Barfleur but they were French.
I think they came from Brittany.
They were o.k.
It's the thought that counts.

Joining Judith @ Lavender Dreamer for Mosaic Monday.
After 2 years of doing a fantastic job hosting MM
Judith will be stepping down next month,
We all hope that a new host will be in place very soon.

Mosaic Monday

Thursday 23 June 2016

Five on Friday

Friday has waltzed around again making me feel quite dizzy after a week spent -

1 - having the house turned upside down by chimney sweeps and wood burning stove installers

2 - putting the sitting room back in order after the fire in April

3 - dodging the rain to work in the garden

4 - celebrating a birthday (mine)

5 - watching this years herd of heifers getting used to being outdoors in the field next door

Sharing these snapshots of life in Normandy with Amy @ Love Made My Home.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Five on Friday

Friday's come around again in the blink of an eye, time to join Amy @ Love Made My Home for her Five on Friday gathering which is fast becoming my favourite blog party.
My Foodie Five this week are......................

#1 Dining in.

When the Senior Partner came back from buying our daily bread last Friday morning he brought with him a bag of luscious dark red cherries.
My first thought was I'll make a "clafoutis aux cerises" for dessert tonight.
My clafoutis is loosely based on a recipe in Patricia Wells cook book "At Home in Provence" which I've had for donkey's years.
I've made cherry clafoutis many times and it always goes down well.
Here's the how to info.
Wash the cherries (about 1kg) leave the stones in for added flavour but remember to watch out for them later!
Preheat your oven to 220 °C.
Put the cherries into a baking dish, add a good glug of a sweet eau de vie such as Kirsch for added cherry ness (I didn't have Kirsch last week so used a sweet Marsala wine instead, the almond flavour went well with the cherries) and 2 tbsp. of white granulated sugar.
Put the dish into the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Whisk two large eggs with 100g sugar until frothy, add 6 tbsps. of crème fraiche or double cream whichever you happen to have in the fridge and the same amount of full fat milk.
Remove the dish from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 180 °C, drain the cherries reserve the juice for later and let the cherries cool slightly.
Pour the batter over the cherries and bake until golden in colour with no wobble, approx. 20/25 minutes.
Serves 8 but I usually halve recipes for eight since there's just the two of us.

Allow the clafoutis to cool a little then sprinkle icing sugar over the top, grill on a very high heat for about 2 minutes to caramelise the top. I left mine in a bit too long which is why it's so dark!
Serve warm with ice cream or cream. If you like you can also pour the reserved juice over for an extra hit of cherry ness. Yum!

2# Dining out.

On Saturday we drove over to Grandcamp Maisy on the coast for lunch at La Marée .
The restaurant is just opposite the harbour where there's always something to see, fishing boats going to and fro bringing in the fresh catch and the occasional tourist boat heading out to the landing beaches.

We both chose the 2 course Menu Terroir.
The entrée included slices of smoked salmon, a salmon tartare timbale and egg mimosa.
This was followed by - a piece of perfectly cooked cod resting on a bed of finely diced ratatouille.
Instead of dessert we shared a plate of "Les Trois Normandes"  Normandy's famous Camembert, Livarot and Pont-L'Evêque cheeses.
The wine, a gold award winning Graves Blanc, was recommended by our waitress and complemented the food perfectly.

#3 Picnic time.

Did you know that on the 18th June folks all around the world will be celebrating International Picnic Day?
My lovely friend Sarah, who's blog Hyacinths For The Soul is truly beautiful, reminded me of that fact recently and suggested that I join in the fun by sharing once again my "Teddy Bears Picnic" post from 2009.
I'll do that tomorrow but in the meantime here's a sneak peek of some of my bears enjoying themselves in the garden.

#4 Picnic Food - outdoors.

Chilled cucumber and avocado soup is perfect for a picnic, so easy to make and so easy to take along using some of our favourite jam jars to transport/serve the soup in.

Peel and dice one large cucumber (leave seeds in and reserve some dice for decoration) and one very ripe avocado - tip into your blender, add a quarter cup of chopped cilantro or parsley, a finely chopped jalapeno pepper, ditto one spring onion, zest and juice of half a lemon, s & p to taste, one cup plain yoghurt and one of cold water.
Blitz until smooth (ish).
Pour into jam jars, add a sprig of cilantro/parsley and a few of the reserved cucumber dice for decoration, put the lids on the jars and keep chilled in the fridge until it's time to head off on your picnic.

#5 Picnic food - indoors.

After an afternoon spent working in the garden a "fridge picnic" is the quickest way to get food on a plate and us back on the sofa watching Euro 2016.
Personally, I'd much rather be watching the Great British Sewing Bee.
Just saying.

Melon and prosciutto are a favourite aperitivo/canapes combo here in France, I'm sure households all over the country will be enjoying them during Euro 2016.
I added chunks of torn up mozzarella and halved cherry tomatoes over a mesclun of mâche (lambs lettuce), roquette (rocket/arugula) and basil leaves.
A few twists of black pepper, a pinch of Fleur de Sel de Guérande,  a drizzle of olive oil and the salad was done.
The only cooking I had to do was grill a few slices of baguette then rub the deliciously charred surfaces with a peeled garlic clove.
So easy to put together and delicious too, add a large glass of chilled white wine and you've got a perfect couch picnic.
Do you have plans to go on a picnic tomorrow?
Indoors or out?
I'd love to hear what you'll pack in your basket.

Follow the link to see who else is joining Amy today.

bon weekend

Thursday 9 June 2016

Five on Friday

Well, it looks like summer has arrived at last.
Despite a damp start to the week the temperature is rising daily.
Time to join Amy @ Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.
My Five this week -
My potting table, a corner of the garage that is all mine!
A box of mixed petunias to liven up some pots and two new additions to the herb garden, flat leaf and curly parsley.

I also potted up some more courgette plants and brought a pot of sweet peas outside to harden off before planting out.
I never throw away a piece of Quimper faience if I can help it, no matter how cracked and chipped it may be.
This battered old bowl features a lady from Normandy wearing traditional costume although you can't see her for all the seed packets jumbled in there.
Lots of mixed varieties of salad leaves.

Wildflowers, picked whilst out walking Fleur, freshen up an old, chippy white enamel jug and bowl and make working outdoors even more of a joy.


My herb garden is thriving after all the rain, the chives are flourishing and attracting bees which I love.

Menthe Marocaine - my new favourite aromatic herb. There are so many varieties to choose from, this one is delicious and we've been enjoying the je ne sais quoi it brings to cocktails and salad dressings.
Some mint plants I've had in the past have taken over the potager. I'm keeping this one pot bound for now.

Wind chimes.

A souvenir of one of our many visits to Savannah, the wind chimes hang from a damson tree growing beside the potager.

This week cucumbers and radishes seem to be the legumes de jour at the local markets.

A simple dressing of crème fraiche, dill, garlic & chopped red onion combined with chunks of cucumber and thinly sliced radishes was yummy.

Last night I made a cucumber, spring onion, mint and radish salad, the dressing ingredients were extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, white wine vinegar spiced up with a couple of shakes of dried piri piri flakes for a bit of a kick. Delicious!

I served the salad with slices of Lorraine Pascale's crème fraiche quiche.
I couldn't find the recipe on line to share with you so if you'd like to make it yourself you might have to buy the book!

Thursday 2 June 2016

Five On Friday - flowers in the rain

It's been a wet old week here in Normandy, any gardening that had to be done was managed between the rain showers wearing unglamorous wellington boots and my ancient, seen better days, Barbour jacket.

Feeling a bit like Julie Andrews I was able to capture "raindrops on roses" when I did finally venture out with my camera.
To my delight this beauty is by my kitchen door and makes me smile every time I pass by.

The decades old wisteria, that was growing rampantly across the garden when we came here 20 years ago, continues to thrill with it's heavy flowers and heady scent.

Orange and pink tinged honeysuckle and apricot coloured climbing roses grow up through the Virginia creeper and bring colour to the front of the Presbytere, bursting through the relentless green to find the light.

A hot pink rhododendron rescued from the reject corner at the Jardin d'Elle garden centre six years ago has also benefitted greatly from the damp days.

Hoping the sun comes out this weekend...........

Joining Amy @ Love Made My Home
for her weekly meme
Five On Friday.