From Touraine to Corréze…and a spring salad with asparagus and quail eggs..

We have finally reached a stage in the renovation of our farmhouse that we could move in.  We have temporarily lived in the barn for almost 7 years. So it is understandable that this was, and still is, a big occasion. The work is still plentiful, but it is absolutely wonderful being in our house! It floods with natural  light and I fall asleep at night with the stars in my eyes.

tulips at dusk

A sunny spring salad is just the thing to initiate this story of ours from the move from Tours, to our life in the barn to finally our chapter which begins now in our house.

Spring salad 2016

la recette:

A spring salad of which I don’t have to give a recipe for. Just choose from the magnitude of spring vegetables available and assemble in individual plates with a nice vinaigrette.In my salad:

  1. Place a handful of young salad leaves in individual plates.
  2. Blanche some asparagus until JUST tender but still with bite.(drop in boiling water for about 3 minutes, remove and stop the cooking by placing the asparagus in cold water).
  3. Wash and clean  baby carrots, chop the spring onions, boil 5 quail eggs per person for 2 minutes, remove from heat and leave in boiling water for another minute. Place immediately in cold water. Remove the shells and add to the salad.
  4. Cut stale bread in small cubes, sprinkle with olive oil and chopped herbs and oven roast until golden.
  5. Make an anchoide (recipe here) and add spoonfuls to the salad.
  6. Assemble the salad and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel and milled pepper.
  7. Serve with chunks of rustic country bread.

la loire from the top of the hill

In Tours we lived right on the banks of the Loire with lovely views from our house onto the river. I loved the river and I loved our house.

The house was old and in constant need of attention and repair. If it wasn’t a leaking roof, it was a leaking pipe. We repaired the fireplaces; just to start working on the wooden floors. We tore off meters of wallpaper an then discovered moisture in the walls. It continued non-stop. But nonetheless, the memories are only good ones.

memoris of the loire house

I remember: Our cats, my first chickens, the swallows that came back to the caves every year, the history of the house that we dug up in the caves.Germinating seeds

I remember: The many cooking workshops that finally led to starting Myfrenchkitchen.

cooking workshop

La Loire was the first thing we saw when we opened up our shutters every morning and the last thing we saw when closing up our shutters for the night.The river followed the cycle of the moons and we followed the cycles of the river.

I remember: We walked along the river with a morning coffee in hand, cycled the small footpaths and pique-niqued with champagne..We threw skipping stones on the surface and canoed downstream. We watched the birds leave for winter and come back in spring to nest on the islands. I sketched and painted by the river more than I can count.

Memories of la Loir

Sometimes our plans and goals change completely and sometimes those changes turn out to be far better than our original plans. One day we decided to get a tiny cabin in the mountains. We ended up in the green hills of Correze, la vallée de la Dordogne, on the border of Quercy.  We ended up with land and animals and woods. We ended up with an 1860’s stone house which needed impressive renovation. A dramatic change from our original little cabin in the mountains.

coin perdu week

But once again… I love our hills. I love our house. And so the story began, from Touraine to Corréze.

To be continued…

coq.NEF

à la prochaine

Ronell

 

Ambiance – Old bonbon jars.

I think the majority of people will never have enough storage space in the kitchen. I am no different. I’m also a firm believer of “out of sight, out of use” which means everything in my kitchen is in plain sight, ready for the taking. You can see some images of our Loire home kitchen here). But it means mean that  a lot of stuff can lie around in every nook and corner. And that of course…I hate too! It is always those small “tools” lying around in drawers that work on my nerves. So I prop them in old glass jars that I bought at the brocante, at the same time functional and nice to look at. The same goes for old apothecary jars, which I can unfortunately not show, since they are stored at the Loire house in Motlouis. They are SO beautiful!!you can see one filled with old porcelain pieces I pick up(bottom right image) These are old bonbon jars can now also be bought new, as reproductions from recycled glass, with the words engraved...bonbons, café, chocolats. Imagine how nice they would look on your shelves filled with petits gateaux over Christmas time, chocolats at Valentine or Oeufs de Pâques eggs during Easter? Any other sturdy glass jar can work too, just figure it big enough so you don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar!

..old glass bonbon jars and an old apothecary jar(the bottom right picture, left jar on the shelf)..

*Because it is still winter and too cold to hold a book …a movie with which you can cuddle up completely covered by blankets…Rabbit hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart and directed by john Cameron Mitchell (2010). The story of a couple coming to terms with the loss of their son.

…Rabbit hole…

…bon weekend…

..from the bonbon girl..

Ambiance – doormat for a trivet

There are no rules in this world. Ok, maybe a few. In the kitchen it is no different. Not even fun is imposed on us by a rule. Is cooking in your kitchen on a Wednesday evening fun, when you are tired and would rather have someone make you a sandwich? Yes?  Well, not for me. There are those times that cooking is just not fun. But that isn’t what I want to talk about. Maybe next time.

I’m telling you there aren’t any rules constraining us to use a vase for flowers. Or a chair for sitting. Or a kettle for boiling water. Or a doormat for wiping our feet.

..mint in a kettle…

Feel free to use a metal doormat for a large trivet next to the stove. Easy and handy for a heavy pot to lift from stove to trivet an large enough for more than one pat and pretty enough to please the eye in the kitchen.

No rules. Only freedom. Imagination. Guts.  Do you have it?

…trivet alias doormat…

Have a rebellious weekend!

à bientôt

from  Ronelle alias la revolusioniste

Red lentil, carrot and pancetta soup.. and a garden in February.

Garden work starts around February. It is trimming of the roses and lavenders and planting fruit trees and just general cleaning up of the garden. As it is still cold even though it is is uplifiting to fiddle in the garden, a nice thing to come back to inside the house, is a warm soup! This soup is one of the nicest lentil soups, in my mind…unpureed, thick and great with the subtle flavor of the fried pancetta ham.  It is very quick and easy and very tasty. It even beats the lentil/red pepper soup I usually make.

  1. Heat some olive oil in a big casserole pot. Fry 10 slices of pancetta, torn into pieces. Add 2 chopped shallots, 3 sticks of chopped celery, 2 diced carrots. Cook together for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add about 200g of red lentils along with 3 cups of vegetable stock.
  3. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes over gentle  heat until the lentils and carrots are tender.
  4. Remove from the heat and add one TBSP of tomato paste and some lemon juice to taste.
  5. Season with salt and freshly milled pepper.
  6. fisnish off with some freshly chopped parsley leaves.
  7. Serve warm.

Serves 4 people

Suggestions:

  • The soup can be served as a starter if you have a light meal.
  • Use smoked bacon instead of pancetta.
  • Add 2 chopped tomatoes for a more watery  soup.
  • Add more stock or less, depending on how thick you want your soup.
  • Stir in a TBSP of cream at the end for a heavier, creamier soup.
  • The parsley can be replaced by freshly chopped coriander.
  • The soup is even better the day after.

***************************************************************************************

The month in a year that I like the least, is January. I’m an ostrich and I hide my head, hoping no one will see me. Or I’m a bear, hybernating and I’m mean when disturbed. But I’m also the seed lying and waiting to push through the cold and the wet soil and bloom in the first rays of  sunshine. When February hits, I’m usually back among the living, with a strong desire to be outdoors. We have had some beautiful days in February and the garden is winking at me. When wandering through the February garden, there are small delights which makes a colorless Tourangelle  garden in February beautiful in its own way.

“L’hiver, c’est la saison du recueillement de la terre, son temps de méditation, de préparation.” – Lionel biosseau (winter is the time for the earth to meditate and prepare itself.)


All things cold and wintry, with emtpy potager cloches  and emtpy watering cans, a dry lemon verbena whcih awaits some sun to push its leaves and 2 pretty pebbles from La Loire to add some ambiance in this “jardin en Fevrier”.

The rosehips are starting to show signs of weariness and fatigue, the monnaie du pape and dry hydrangeas are delicate in their white paper thin petals and in stark contarst with the dark berries of the “gloire de versailles”- Cyanothus.

The buddleia already has new growth on its woody stems, the hellebores are flowering in white clumps close to the dark wet soil, while the faithful Italian Arum sees to lush green vegetation in the garden, perfect to pick and stick into a vase along with a hellebore flower.


The rouge gorges et charbonnieres et mesanges charbonnieres feed happily on the fruit balls and seed bowl hanging under the arch and the chickens enjoy the freshly turned over soil.


A lot of green moss on the terrace and stairs and around pots, while the rustic old chains that my husband so patiently aged for me, just gains more charm as the winter turns into spring.

Upturned terracotta pots everwhere in the garden, for protection and for housing/hybernating of “friendly” insects like the Forficule(earwig).

And of course…leaves and leaves and leaves!

Few things compare to enjoying that first  drink outside and munching on some clementines, even though you have to jump up and down to keep warm!

The gargoule fountain is quiet, as are several corners in the garden.

Next time I’ll tell about my seeding and planting process in my brand new potager(vegetable garden) at Coin Perdu, our farm in Correze,  the espalier of fruit trees I plan and just life in general in a March garden. We’ll be going to Coin Perdu more and more from now on, so much of the garden stories will happen there, where everything is still bare and new and in the raw!

a la prochaine fois!

Ronelle