A simple salad and special corners.

I’ve been here at Coin Perdu for the last few weeks, only made a quick stop back at our Loire home in Montlouis. When working here, there is no time for making interesting meals. We are too tired in the evening. But it is just great when we can call it a day at around 18:00,  light the fire and sit back with a glass of red wine, a small bowl of sliced sauccisson and as I said so many times already, watch the sun set. The cats play around us in the long grass, the chicks fiddle around and under my chair and life is just perfect at that hour. Then we’ll put something on the BBQ and make a salad like the one you see here. Because I serve my vinaigrette on the side,  the salad is still fresh enough the next day for lunch with some crusty bread, freshly baked and bought from our local boulangerie. So,  although I don’t have anything exciting to offer in terms of an inventive recipe, I do hope you get inspired to sit back with a glass of good red wine at a your secret corner where the sunset brings you inspiration and sighs of satisfaction.

This salad is simply a mixture of fresh salad leaves, a handful of dried goji berries, a grated carrot, a handful of sprouted red cabbage sprouts(from my own kitchen and which I’ll write about soon, as previously promised) and some dry roasted almonds. A drizzling of lemon juice with lemon slices added to the salad, some olive oil and and a sprinkling of salt and milled pepper rounds off this salad. the next day I add some smoked salmon, or some smoked ham or pancetta or even tuna or smoked mackerel to give it more substance. Enjoy it with tomatoes on the vine(served separately, I don’t like tomatoes in a green salad, but of course you can add it to your salad) . I enjoy picking the tomatoes off the vine and popping them in my mouth. Much like you would strawberries for dessert!

My chicks, Petronella and Stephanie have already worked their way firmly into a corner of my heart! They are nothing exotic, only ordinary petites roussettes, but they are absolutely adorable! Along with Tokala and Ayiani, they travel to and fro with us in their chateau(a bigger one by now!)

…in their “chateau, enjoying freedom and giving us the full monty…

…sketching them takes quick looking and fiddleless lines…

We all have our special little corners. Those in our heads; the ones that can be our refuge and prison at the same time. But we also have those corners around us, which we run to for some quiet time. Alone time. A place where we can think and dream and imagine. A place where we can be sad or happy. A place which we decide to share or keep to ourselves. A little bench with a view, or in the park, a rock by the shore, a tree stump in the forest.  A chair by the window. On the rim of a fountain.

I have mine too. Several. Corners I run to where I can come to a standstill, find the calmness inside me, search for directions or answers. I have  such a corner at Coin Perdu, our mountain home in Correze. A bench with a view. I share it with Hartman.  Sometimes I sit and dream silently. I start my early morning there and I end my day there. In the morning it wakens my spirit and in the evening it soothes my soul.

In Montlouis I have a few places I call my secret corners. In my garden. A nook where the first morning rays hit the old stable wall. I have the cats for company. A cup of coffee. We talk and plan the day. I scratch their bellies and they give me loving purs. This secret garden corner I share happily with Tokala and Ayiani. We greet our welcome to the day.

Then there is the Loire. Beautiful corners to share. Or be alone. Different choices on different days.  All special. All familiar. My favorite is just a short walk from the house. Short enough so my cup of coffee doesn’t get cold from a far walk. I see people strolling, wagging tailed dogs, children throwing pebbles in the river, I see my gate, logs floating by in the river, geese taking a rest in the shade of overhanging trees, I see Hartman approaching in search of me. It is a place where I feel the harmony between nature and man.

My silent corner is in the eglise of Montlouis. Up on the hill. Where the doors are always open, free for anyone to enter. I tread softly when I enter, not disturb the silence. The silence of the peaceful interior and the silence of my own mood. This is a place I stop frequently when I walk uphill to the market, or to the boulangerie or just because I need to go to my secret corner. This is where I want to be alone. Quiet. I find calm in the light that plays through the stained glass windows. The statues and pillars that observe unobtrusively.  The cold of the old stone that makes me sensitive to emotions and feelings. I feel sad and happy. . I light a candle for all my gratitude  and memories.

Special corners. To share or to keep secret.

Duo de chocolate and December ambiance 2009

Time again for some  December ambiance!

After putting up our tree we enjoy a candle lit dinner with music and good wishes for the season. It has been our family tradition for many years to put up our tree on the first day if December and light a candle every night for the whole month of December for someone  – people who aren’t with us any more, people who are still with us…This year is no exception. We finish our evening with a small and light dessert. A white chocolate panacotta and dark chocolate mousse – a combination of light dark chocolate mousse and the contrasting white panacotta with smoother texture.  The mousse is the only chocolate mousse I’ll ever make and it comes from the collection of chocolate desserts from Pierre Hermes. I’ve been making it for years and haven’t yet come across any better, any lighter, any more delicious! the panacotta is simple and classic with some white chocolate added.


  • Don’t overwork any mousse! Always stir gently until just mixed.
  • Never boil chocolate, melt at gentle heat in the microwave or over simmering water until just melted. It melts from the inside outwards, so ti will still hold its shape, but the inside will already be melted. Stir often.
  • Use older egg whites for better lightness(as well as nicer meringeus).
  • Use egg whites at room temperature.
  • Mix egg whites into the chocolate mixture as follows: Scoop a third of the beaten egg whites into the chcolate and whisk to make the mixture lighter and easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Fold in the egg whites with a big whisk in a figure eight shape, without whisking. Fold in until JUST mixed. don’t overwork!
  • A mousse gets heavier the longer it stands. I usually serve a mousse within a day. Of course it can be eaten afterwards, but it is more creamier and has lost that lightness that is so typical of a mousse.
  • Decorate with some chcolate petals or sprinkle some golden flakes over the top.

I took my husband and his saw down to the Loire and we came back with with some tree brances covered with moss. It was to be our tree for this year. I enjoy a live tree, and this year was one made fom some dried brances from our own river across the road. It always feels special to go and pick up some branches by the Loire, come back home, stick them into a garden urn and hang them with decorations and fairy lights.

See previous years are at First day of December and December ambiance 2008 with cinnamon dumplings

…noël 2009…

…reading and looking…

…some glitter…

…moss from the garden and old postcards…

…just some prettiness…

…colour from dried hydrangeas…

…christmas dinner from 2008…

…Tokala and Ayiani in the snow…

…la neige au bord de la loire…

…la loire and two of us…

… chocolat chaud devant la cheminée…

* Trucs et astuces de grand-mères.

* To ice a cake easier – dilute a bit of smooth apricot jam(without chunks of fruit) with a little water, warm, add a noisette of butter and cover the cake before covering with icing.

Tomato salad on Friday.

It is weekend..almost. Time for winding down, letting go, stretching out the body and mind, reading that book you only get to read on weekends, riding that bike you only get to ride on Sundays, visit with friends you only get to do on Saturdays. It is time to do some cooking and fiddling in the kitchen, try new recipes, indulge in trusted ones and most of all…it is time to flirt with the markets and grab up the in season products; plump, healthy and inviting. Like tomatoes of all kinds. Coming into season in September…here in Feance in any case. And elsewhere…maybe the strawberries are rocking in?

You have to love seasonal. You have to love tomatoes. And don’t you just love a weekend?

Have a good weekend!

…tomato mozzarella salad…

tomato mozzarella salad

From Ice cream versus salad:  *make a tomato mozzarella salad, using nice small vine tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella torn into bite size pieces… stuff some in your mouth while you’re at it. Tear some basil leaves and lastly, sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and mill some fresh pepper and then add a sprinkling of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes.To finish off, mix gently with your hands and then lick off those fingers, serve on a pretty plate and enjoy with crusty bread.

tomato mozz salad 2tomato basket

…friday sunset…

Friday sunset


See this as a WARNING post!



pencil on paper

I fell for a scam today…almost!

We have been thinking about getting a little Jack Russel, since we’ve read Jock of the Bushveld years ago. Only still thinking about it.

Two days ago we saw, quite by accident, an ad on the internet for a Jack Russel puppy who was to be given away, due to circumstances. What made us look closer, was that it was in Monceau sur Dordogne, which is just around the corner from Puy d’Arnac and we could easily drop in to have a look at Doggy. .

So we answered.

Got an email back from Almari Dubelle, saying how pleased she was to receive our interest. She went on lovingly to describe her circumstances and last night I replied back, asking some questions, demanding the little femelle, suggesting we will come and have a look next week when we are in Correze etc, etc, etc… ending off by saying how much we look forward to seeing the doggy and I even attached some photos to show that the doggy will live in cared- for surroundings, go hiking with us, play with our cats and goodness knows what fun more!! So, off the mail wnet to Almari Dubelle in Monceau sur Dordogne!

About 30 minutes later, I get an abrupt and rude email back, without a thank you or any decent manner, no answer to any of my qustions, only retorting that the dog is sort of already in transit! I STILL believed everything is cosher, even felt bad for probably making her assume we are taking the dog!

So I thought: “Oh, well, we DO want a doggy, Well accept it and love it, seeing she went through all the trouble, PAYING for the transit and all.”  I was just so grateful it wasn’t the  rude Almari Dubelle in transit I’d have to accept!

So. This morning EARLY I get an email from the transportservice:  airlinestransport@ymail.com, saying the dog will be delivered at our house this afternoon at 15:00, but they are waiting for the receipt of transfer of 85 euros to:a Hermann Gandaho in Porto novo, Belin and the dog would arrive from Melanie Pieschot. They even advised me to say the transfer is for a friend, which would make my  taxes cheaper!

“How very kind!” I thought!

By now you can start laughing, because I did indeed storm off to the post office , completed a mandat western union, paid the 85 euros and 13 euros postal taxes and the electronic transfer happened immediatelybefore my eyes.

And just there, clarity struck my mind as fierce as the lightning on late afternoons in Corréze. I immediately realized this was a hoax. In the course of a second everything flashed through my mind, much like I think your whole life would flash before your eyes in your last minute on earth..

Everything about this whole affaire suddenly made sense…the emails, the weird requests, the even weirder behaviour…everything fell into place.  I immediately asked my adorable agent at the post office to stop it. Too late. But because we were so quick on it, we were able to block it and OF COURSE I called back my extremely-friendly- dog- owner-donor at +22993057106, telling him to go ahead and deliver the puppy, we are anxiously waiting! So he demanded me to immediately scan and send the receipt, they need the account number to complet the paperwork? Really? We would then have our doggy by the afternoon. Really? (I can afford to be smirky now…I’m not stupid after all…sic)

I told him affectionately…we were good friends by now, remember….that I will personally hand the receipt to the agent dropping off doggy this afternoon. Mr Agent can even have a coffee, while we quickly  email the details, doggy can have a whee and if all is in order, Mr Agent can leave and doggy can stay behind at his/her new home and everybody will be happy!

Well. His stories got longer and the explanations complicated as to why it can’t work that way.  That was that. He didn’t get his money. We didn’t get Doggy.  Hartman took me for a coffee and I bought ink cartridges for the printer.

On arriving  home, I ran upstairs to check these emails of the last two days, not willing yet to let it go. Did some searching on the images and links of the so-called transport company  and found the images were somewhere downloaded from “Loisir et Sport” , the text and titles were taken from “liensutiles”(both of which you can google) and several other sites which were used in this “probably photoshopped document”.

I am very low this evening. Sad about nog having our Jack Russel, angry with myself for being SO gullible and stupid. But my biggest sadness and disappointmentare are in this world and the fact that people like this exist AND they get away with what they do. I almost let them get away with it.

So what does this all say about Internet? I ‘m not sure.

One thing is for sure. For me personally, this happened to make me more careful about how I use the Oh, so handy Internet! I was always careful and wary of it. But then, slowly and  surely I started loosening up and getting slack..

Well, I’m back to being the secret agent, keeping myself to myself and watching it with an inspective eye. .

My last word is one of warning. Laugh at me, mock me, ridicule me  for being SO gullible and naive and ignorant, but when you’re done….watch your step around the Internet!!