Autumn with chestnuts, walnuts and prunes.

Autumn is the most melancholic time of year for me. It is also the most beautiful. Every time, when I drive off the road in my efforts to admire the colours, I think this year is the most beautiful I have seen. Then comes the next autumn and the same thoughts go through my mind. As well as driving off the road.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.

All over the villages in France, les fêtes d’automne are celebrating with enthusiasm ..well…autumn. With stalls of food and bric and bracs, dancing in the streets and musicians sounding with loud self confidence their sometimes false chords into the air. But who cares! Everybody is having fun.

Fete de la chataigne3One such a fete was la fête de chataigne at Beynat, close to home. An atmosphere of vivacity reigned..for me in any case.  Everything was there; Trophies for the best chestnut harvest. Traditional artisans who made their sabots and combed their wool, embroidered their linens and wove their baskets the old fashioned way. By hand, of course.You could buy roasted chestnuts, apples by the crate, walnuts, nutcrackers(of which I bought one, simply because I am too lame to say no!) the meal of the day was home made boudin(blood sausage) with…frites. The French love their frites at markets. The usual crepe a la nutella was ever popular.

Fete de la chataigne1 Fete de la chataigne

I have to admit that I love to go to all these markets, and fairs and fêtes and foires and brocantes. I love browsing and tasting, having coffee(but of course!) I love the atmosphere of exuberance and fun, touching stuff, turning it upside down. I love the smells of food finding its way to my nose. I love the excitement of finding a tiny something for a tiny price; a pot of home made confiture, a piece of sauccisson with walnuts(my favorite), or an old coffee cup or two…simply just for remembering a great morning.

chestnuts, walnuts and prunes for autumn.-005

So, did I buy a tiny something for a tiny price. Oh yes I did! Chestnuts.  For this delicious accompaniment. I ‘m not a big fan of chestnuts, but this dish is divine. I can eat it by the spoonful. It only consists of chestnuts, walnuts and prunes. Some butter(salted) and some chicken stock, or if you prefer, vegetable stock, in which case, it is completely vegetarian. The most fascinating aspect of this dish is that it is autumn at its best. It smells and looks and tastes like forest. OK, you might  need a little imagination and heaps of enthusiasm, but autumn is short. Enjoy it.

La recette:

  1. A handful of cleaned, cooked chestnuts. (It is much easier to buy the vacuum packed cleaned and cooked ones, just ready for use. It is quite an ordeal to clean and cook them. I will show how in a next post for this one is already starting to resemble a marathon.)
  2. A handful of prunes, seeds removed.
  3. A handful of walnuts, removed from the shells with the help of your fancy nutcracker.
  4. A big knob of butter
  5. A drizzle of  olive oil.
  6. A TBSP honey.
  7. Fresh thyme, milled black pepper and mixed spices.
  8. About 1 full cup of chicken stock(or vegetable stock for vegetarians)

Heat the olive oil and salted butter in a frying pan. Add the chestnuts, prunes, mixed spices, milled pepper and fresh thyme (stripped from the stems). Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the walnuts, honey and the chicken stock to the mixture. Leave to gently simmer on low heat just until the juices turned to a thick sauce. Remove from the heat. Serve with roasted chicken, rabbit or venison.

Serves 4 people as accompaniment.

cooking 2014

à bientot


Beetroot cappuccino…and November in reds.

A beetroot velouté, or creamy beetroot soup, is apart from delicious, also beautiful. Served as a starter in the way of a cappuccino, is a beautiful way to kick off an autumn or winter dinner. It is actually a good idea to always eta  small starter of soup with any home is healthy and helps fill one and so prevents over eating.

Ronelle's food-beetroot cappuccino

beetroot cappuccino recipe

Pincée de sel:

  • Younger beetroots give a deeper colour, are sweeter and softer. If possible, use small beets.
  • Raw beets cab be replaced by ready cooked vacuum packed beets.
  • add different spices for a more wintery touch…cardamom seeds, star anis, cinnamon, croriander – add together in a small muslin bag so it can be removed afterwards.
  • To make froth with a machine: whisk a small amount(about 150 ml) milk in a high microwave proof) container. whisk vigorously until it starts foaming. Place in the microwave immediately. Heat the milk while keeping your eye on the milk all the time. The froth will start to rise high. Remove from the microwave and scoop the froth from the milk.
  • Use vegetable stock to make it a vegetarian soup.
  • A scoop of créme fraìche, or a scoop of whipped cream can be used, which will make the soup creamier and heavier.
  • Ideal for a starter.

Ronelle's photography-beetroot-001    Ronelle's photography-beetroot-005

…and November in reds.

The artist in my appreciates November as the most beautiful month in the year. It is the most challenging and gratifing time of the year for painting, photographing, hunting for mushrooms in the woods, watching the leaves turn form green to yellow to red to purple to brown and finally float to the ground. No other season gives us this fast forward motion action of change in nature and it passes before your eyes from one minute to another.

…The stinky mushroom, Anthurus d’archer in bright autumn/winter red…

Ronelle's photography -mushroom anthurus d'archer vigne vierge with its leaves turning red in autumn and a artistic spiderweb blinking in the morning light..


ronelle's photography- autumn light

..foliage of vigne vierge, the attractive seedheads of Cleramtis vitalba, and stinging nettle in their natural environment..


Ronelle's photography - fall colours red


..the stunning reds of hydrangea leaves in November..



ronelle's photography - autumn reds


..Ivy hugging a fallen vigne vierge red leaf..

Ronelle's photography - autumn color red

à al prochaine fois




October scenes in the garden.

A big hello to all! I took a break, longer than intended, but summer kept me busy in several ways. As is the habit with summer, it is over before you know it and October sets in with all kinds of challenges: digging for warmer clothes….rain, bulb planting, cleaning garden tools to store away, facing weeds that have grown undisturbed, working vegetables from the “potager“, picking up walnuts and rushing to get to the chestnuts before the squirrels do.

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I love the fall colours of the hydrangeas…the blues turn to greens and the pinks and whites turn to an old, faded pink. The Maroccan mint is still a deep green which peeps through the pinks of the hydrangeas.

Octobercollage 1I never clean up too much…have always loved the difference in seasons…the rain and fallen leaves and twigs, the weeds, fried flowers and seeds…they all add to the atmosphere of autumn.

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After the rain.

A bottle of wine forgotten outside….

October scenes 2981x3673Raindrops on some roses still blooming…

October scenes 3415x2735Rosehips living happily alongside Nepeta…

October scenes 3540x2865Rain crystals on rose petals…

October scenes 3585x2770Fresh water for all the animals..

October scenes 4928x3264Droplets hanging on cafe chairs..

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The “potager” delivered a bounty of vegetables this year and is still going strong even though the weeds are flourishing right there along with the vegetables.

October collage 2Beautiful light shimmering through changing vine leaves..

October scenes 2962x4015Stinging nettle needing no encouragement in flowering..

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A yellow rose in the yellow garden..

October scenes 2821x3049Cleaning up is not a favorite passtime of mine. I love to make a mess..and I love to have someone else doing the cleaning up. Unfortunately, I am that “someone else”… Evidences of unfinished spring work still staring me incriminatingly in the face.

October collage 3

The mornings stay darker longer and the evenings turn darker candles and chandeliers and lanterns make for atmospheric evenings, which is what autumn and winter should be about, after all.

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Our windows are in and I revel in the reflections!

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Reading asks for blankets…

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Bright yellow nasturtiums in the yellow and orange garden add a blast of sunshine to cloudy days.

October scenes 4089x3079Apart form the beautiful colours of autumn which is so obvious, many other scenes of October beauty can also be found in: the disarray of garden chairs, a chicken hiding in a flowerbed, walnuts bursting, a dilapidated rattan chair for the chickens, an enamel jug, a garden tap, a garden cloche…

October collage 5

Work in a garden is never ending, no matter which season. And beauty in a garden is never ending, no matter which season.

October scenes 2942x4218And when the day is done, but the work is not, the beauty of it all is to kick out the boots, put up those feet and relax…!

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…à la prochaine!..


Rainbow carrots with orange flower honey sauce..and rainbow chickens.

Vegetables are part of our every day healthy diet, right? Five portions of different fruit and veggies every day. Yes, that is what we are advised here in France. I try my best to adhere to any case, we love fruit and we love our vegetables. On the menu here are thus some carrots of all colours served with Greek yoghurt and a sauce flavoured with orange flower water.

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rainbow carrots recette

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Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Serve the carrots warm in fall and winter as a starter on individaul plates.
  • Serve cold with salad leaves in summer.
  • The sauce can be kept in the fridge for about two weeks.
  • Add orange juice to the sauce with the vinegar and reduce to a syrup.
  • Use an orange flower honey if possible, but otherwise a wildflower honey can work too.

rainbow carrots 28-10-2013 12-28-13 3156x2528

..parsnips can serve as “white carrots”..

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..when using young and organic carrots, it isn’t necessary to peel, only wash and use..

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*recipe adapted from “Les légumes de Monsieur Wilkinson; Matt Wilkinson.

Like the carrots, my chickens are rainbow coloured too. And I adore them, no doubt about that. Every day is a story that unfolds before me from the morning to the evenings when silence dawns finally on the chicken coop.

..keeping an eye on the cooking in the barn kitchen…

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..aren’t I pretty with all my colours..?


..I am the epitome of elegance, in case you haven’t noticed..

chickens porcelaine looks interesting from up here..

one cray chicken 06-06-2013 09-18-46 4522x3198

..Where are those hens again..!

chickens porcelaine 04-01-2013 15-23-39 3273x2853

..Don’t mess with our corner..!


à la prochaine fois