Sunday, 16 September 2018

Mosaic Monday #101 - a case of deja vu

I was up in my attic craft room/office last Friday morning prepping blog posts, as you do, when the Senior Partner yelled (it's a big house) up the staircase "We've got another visitor - I'm off to the farm"!
Grabbing my iPhone I ran (walked steadily) down three flights of stairs to see who it was.
Surprise, surprise.
Remember the heifer that jumped the fence two weeks ago to munch on our lawn?
Well, she was back.
A little while later "the Farmer" and his cowman arrived to assess the situation.
A walk of the perimeter revealed just one place where she could have jumped the fence this time and the decision was taken to return her to the field via the same route.
She didn't want to leave as you can see in the mosaic below.
Meanwhile her herd mates took notes.
???Question for you???
I recently changed the hours of MM to offer the chance of linking up on Sunday rather than on Tuesday. From what I've seen so far that doesn't seem to suit your schedules as much as I hoped it would. So, my question to all MM'ers is shall we go back to Monday 7.00 am to Tuesday 7.00 pm (French time) or stay with the new timetable?
Either way works for me so please let me know which you'd prefer.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 100 - playing with my food

These past few days I've spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen attempting to turn the fruit which we received from GN last week into something temptingly edible.
What to do with grapes, I asked myself. Grape jam/jelly came the answer from
I had a packet of jam making sugar in the pantry so thought I'd give it a try, cooked the grapes as directed and drained the juice. Grape juice, sugar and lemon juice boiled together until setting point reached.
Well, that didn't work.
The result could best be described as a very sweet grape coulis.
Here's a link to the recipe.
grape jelly
Let me know if it works for you!
Next I made a tarte tatin using those lovely looking red apples and a recipe from Raymond Blanc.
The end result didn't look very much like the photograph on the website but it did taste good served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Not to be defeated I tweaked an apple crumble recipe that appeared on my FB page one morning, using walnuts in place of pecans and baking the mixture in several small dishes instead of one large one.
My thinking being that I could freeze some of them for another time instead of having to throw half of a large one away because, after all, we are only two people with normal appetites and the dog won't eat sweets.
As with the tart tatin it wasn't a pretty pudding but it was edible.
Thinking about it later I decided that it was probably the dark muscovado sugar that turned both desserts such a dark, unappetising colour.
My final attempt at using up the apples was a success!
If only I'd thought to turn all the apples into apple sauce I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and effort.

I did think twice about blogging my less than perfect culinary concoctions this week but one thing I do know is that even though not everything in life turns out the way we would like it to it doesn't mean that we can't have fun in the process!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Mosaic Monday # 99 - bucolic Normandy

According to the Meteo Autumn officially began on September 1st and certainly here in Normandy we are beginning to notice some changes.
Although the weather is still dry there is a definite chill in the air in the early mornings and quite often there's fragrant wood smoke on the breeze as folk start to light cosy log fires and wood burning stoves in the evening.
As I went to make a cup of tea one afternoon recently I got quite a shock when I looked out of the window and saw a cow happily munching away on the lawn that last year replaced my vegetable garden.

Earlier in the day the farmer who's cows graze the fields surrounding our home had transferred some to another field and apparently after they left this one decided to go walkabout. The SP drove up to the farm to let him know that we had an escapee in the garden and he swiftly arrived with a couple of helpers to escort the heifer back to where she belonged.
I did video the procession as they headed back to the field but sadly it has since been deleted from my phone, the next morning I saw that she was back with her friends looking none the worse for her adventure.
Our generous neighbour called round on Thursday afternoon bringing with him masses of juicy red grapes from the vines in his garden. 
As a thank you I gave him a jar of the plum and preserved lemon chutney which I'd made the previous week.
Trying to explain to a non English speaking Frenchman just what chutney is was extremely difficult.
"You can eat it with cheese," I said. "Quoi?" he replied.
"It's good with curries", I said. "Quoi?" was again the response.
"Cuisine Indienne" I replied. "Je n'aime pas le curry" he stated!
At this point the SP interjected with the suggestion that he buy some English cheddar cheese at the supermarche and make a sandwich!
You can imagine how well that suggestion was received.
The GN (generous neighbour) then asked if I wanted any apples this year and no sooner had I said "Oui" he promptly drove back across the lane to his house, returning with a very big bag of them.
This time I had a better "swap" to barter with - a large bottle of pommeau, an apple aperitif, produced by a farmer friend of ours.
"C'est pommeau Normand?" the GN inquired, "Mais oui, bien sûr" was my reply, no further explanation was required!

As Keats once said...……………..
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; 
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Mosaic Monday # 98 - a generous neighbour

We have a very generous neighbour, I've mentioned him before, who has some wonderful fruit trees in his garden.
August is the month when he picks the plums and a few days ago the Senior Partner returned from a walk with M'selle F with a box containing some of this year's harvest.

This is the second year that we've been lucky enough to share his garden's bounty, last year I made several jars of plum jam.
This year I got busy in the kitchen and turned them into plum and preserved lemon chutney, plum compote and a delicious pudding of plum crumble.
Here's a link to the BBC good food website where you'll find the recipe for the chutney.
Like most chutneys the flavours will deepen and mature with time if you can hold off eating it that is!
We were in a hurry to try it so I served some chutney and a cooling mint and cucumber raita as condiments to the chicken curry which the SP made for dinner earlier this week.
A favourite "afters" from my childhood, plum crumble and custard is also a comforting "once in a blue moon" grown up dessert too.
What's your favourite dessert? Do you still hanker after a childhood favourite or do you have a more sophisticated palate?
I'd love to hear what delights your taste buds and satisfies your sweet tooth, I'm thinking that chocolate/ice cream will be involved for quite a few!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Mosaic Monday # 97 - Chateau de Terre Neuve in the Vendee.

During our trip to the Dordogne and the Vendee in June we heard about the privately owned Chateau de Terre Neuve, open to visitors at certain times of the year and so decided to make a small detour to see if we could take a tour.
Classed as an Historical Monument of France the Chateau is situated on the outskirts of the town of Fontenay-le-Comte, a town once described by the Renaissance king  Francois 1st as "the fountain and source of beautiful minds".
We were in luck as we were the only people visiting that morning and so had the services of the tour guide all to ourselves.
An plaque above the entrance is engraved with a verse written by Nicolas Rapin.
Winds, blow at all seasons
Sweet air upon this house
That neither fever nor plague
Nor the evils of excess.
Desire, quarrel or trial
Should trouble those that live here.
Here's a five minute potted history of the Chateau.
The architect Jean Morrison was commissioned in the late 1590's to construct an imposing residence for the poet Nicolas Rapin. 
A true Renaissance man Rapin wrote poems in Greek and Latin as well as French.
He was also, amongst many other things, a magistrate; a soldier; high provost of the constabulary of France and a companion to Henry IV on campaigns during the French Wars of Religion.
At Arques in 1589 against Charles of Lorraine and again at Ivry, Normandy against the Duc de Mayenne in 1590.

Nicolas Rapin was the father of nine children none of whom survived him so sadly when he died in 1608 the Chateau fell into neglect before being bought by Lazarite missionaries.
In the early 19th century the Chateau was purchased by the Comte de Vasse, mayor of Fontenay-le-Comte and deputy of the Vendee.

His descendant, the artist Octave de Rochbrune, dedicated over 50 years to the transformation of the Chateau adding magnificent architectural and sculptural details and filling the interiors with museum quality furniture, paintings and objects.
In the Museum this painting covers one wall and the doorway inset into it,
did you notice the door handle?

Some of these were acquired from the Chateau de Chambord which is still to this day a jewel in the crown of the Loire Valley.

Octave de Rochbrune was a master engraver producing an incredible 492 copperplates during his lifetime.

Octave's daughter Elisabeth married Count Raoul de Fontenioux in 1877 and their descendants continue to reside in the Chateau lovingly maintaining it for future generations to enjoy.
Of course the Chateau is a also a home and so all though we were able to visit the private rooms downstairs taking photos wasn't allowed.

However, I was able to photograph some of the other rooms of the Chateau, also in the Museum space above the gift shop and of course the Chateau's exterior.
During the Terre Neuve Festival in June this year the Chateau played host to 5 open air theatre performances, you can see the stage being built in this photo.
Chateau de Terre Neuve website.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Mosaic Monday # 96 - life lately

Two weeks ago the temperature in Normandy reached a blistering 30*C (98*F) making it the hottest summer that we've experienced here since we arrived in 1996.
The lawns are scorched and my hydrangeas wilt a little bit more every day.
Although I've not read anything regarding a hosepipe ban in Calvados this year there was one in place in 2017, my garden pot plants are surviving on waste water from the kitchen sink.
To top it all off M'selle Fleur got a bad case of the "itchy scratchies" a,k,a heat rash.
Usually the Senior Partner would use the hosepipe/shampoo in the garden method to relieve her itches with the foreseeable result of all three of us getting drenched and hot and bothered at the same time.
This year instead we called upon the services of the Mobile Toilettage lady.

M'selle F was not best pleased but it was far less stressful for us. Unfortunately the itchiness doesn't seem any better but she sure smells nice!
Yesterday I took this photo of the cows in the field next door, looks like summer just might be over now.
You may have noticed that after 2 years I've tweaked Mosaic Monday's opening hours to fit better with my schedule and hopefully yours too.
We're open now from Sunday 11.00 a.m. to Monday 11.00 p.m. French time.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Mosaic Monday # 95 - how time flies when you're having fun

Last week, 1st August to be precise, I celebrated two years as host of Mosaic Monday and let me say what a great time I've had doing it.
Feeling slightly nostalgic I took a little look back at the previous 94 MM posts (ninety four!) and totally enjoyed revisiting the past 24 months. Time really does fly when you're having fun.
BTW, if I've written 94 MM posts that could mean that you have too!
One thing I quickly realised was that I blog quite a bit about food, travel, family, travel, Normandy and a bit more travel!
I picked a few out at random to share with you today, if you'd like to read the original post just click the highlighted link.

Autumn in the garden

Flowers and cheese 

Touring Agreco Farm

Easy Like a Sunday Morning

Church of Saint Nicholas Kato Paphos

It's all about family

so then this happened

Thanks for travelling with me on my Mosaic Monday journey, each week my visits to your blogs take me all over the world seeing places and things I will possibly never experience for myself and all from the comfort of an easy chair.