Mini cakes “Nantais”..and some spring impressions for Easter.

When I think of spring and Easter, I think of Easter eggs(of course!), roasted lamb, asparagus and petits pois, daffodils, blossoms, new born animals playing on green prairies with yellow dandelions. A beautiful time of year.  For this Easter, we will enjoy some oeufs cocotte, salads, some oven roasted rosemary lamb  and we will probably finish our day with a mini Nantais cake. Made to stand for 2 days, its flavour just gets better and better. It can also be baked as one big cake, but a change is always good, so I made it into individual mini cakes.

Gateau Nantais(recipe from PATISSIER, le Petit Larousse)

La recette.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas 6, 356°F).
  2. Grease a cake tin(20cm diameter), or mini cake molds of your choice.
  3. Beat together 125g soft butter, 125 g castor sugar and 100g ground almonds until creamy.
  4. Add 3 eggs, one at a time. Beat until well mixed.
  5. Add 40g flour, 2 TBSP of apricot jam and 50ml of rum. Mix until the mixture is light and fluffy
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased cake tin of the mini tin. Bake in oven for 40 -50 minutes for the large cake tin, or 30-40 minutes for the mini cakes. If the surface gets too dark, cover with a sheet of tin foil or brown paper. Test with a skewer which need to be dry when pulled out.
  7. Prepare the icing: Mix together 50ml rum with 100g icing sugar. Pour over the cakes and serve.

Serve 6 people

Pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Bake the cake about 2 days for a more flavourful cake.
  • Replace the rum with lemon juice of 1 lemon if you don’t want alcohol.
  • Replace the rum in the icing sugar with a few drops of lemon juice.

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Spring impressions

The garden is far from finished – I walk around with a knee brace after hurting it with a fall, the days are filled with rain the ground is soaked…so working is not very apparent. At least the bulbs planted in fall have no problems showing off their splendour. So.. to accompany this Easter posting, here are some images from the garden beginning April.

..Bienvenue dans mon jardin à Pacques..

Garden 20151..Early morning light..

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..A bed of daffodils, tulips and muscaris..

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..No need to encourage the chickens to go play outside!..

Tulips for Easter-007 Tulips for Easter-008 Tulips for Easter-009 Tulips for Easter-011

..Two chicks, only 3 days old..

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..daffodils waiting to flower..

tulipes-001..A mix of daffodils, fancy pansies, borage and the last of the Hellebores flowering..

Garden 2015

Ronelles art-watercolor-flower paintings-white tulip

..Have a lovely Easter time..

Ronelle

Goodbye to an old friend..

This morning I said goodbye to a trusted old friend. We lived through the worst of times and through the best of times. She was a pillar and only now do I realize just how much she meant to me. When everybody else left , she stayed, ever willing to listen, giving without ever wanting something in return. Oh true, sometimes she drove me nuts! But when I needed her, she was there.

We spent a lifetime together. She was there when we raised our children in Tours, driving them to school every morning, picking them late afternoons on the dark winterdays. she knew the way to the trainstation where I dropped mon chéri off every morning and picked him up every evening. She kept me company while waiting at the deserted station in early morning hours when he had to stay late in Paris for meetings.  She knows every chateau in the Loire valley by heart.  We went to Venice for a quick 2 days holiday with the family. To Milan, to Verona. We drove to the north of France, to the South, to the ocean in the west,  to the mountains for the snow. We did plein air painting together and still have the oil paint stains to show for it. She is witness to many of my art failures, but also to my successes, carrying paintings to galleries and exhibits. She drove us to the emergency with cut open heads and arms and migraine attacks.

When we bought our Loire house, she was the one who helped us faithfully restore it. Without complaining, she patiently helped loading and transporting bags of plaster and cement and planks and ceilings and tiles and gravel without ever complaining.

One of our favorite pastimes was brocante browsing and she loved it as much as I. She kept me on the right track, making me rethink unnecessary purchases. Isn’t it too heavy, or too big…is it worth paying extra for delivery..?

There were many occasions where she got me safely to the vet with my beloved little chicken, Omelette, who was almost devoured by the dogs, my  lamb Marie-Meringue, who ate poisonous weeds.. our cats, who were poisoned..she never laughed or mocked me for going hysterical about a half eaten chicken which I want ed to save. She understood my fears, my tears, my anger. she witnessed them all, silently, without judgement. She was happy when I was happy and she was strong when I was weak.

She moved house for us and our daughters..to universities in Toulouse and then to Caen, and then to Paris and again to Toulouse and then to Corréze. Hooked up with remorques and loaded to the roof and beyond.

She came with us to Coin Perdu and continued being the friend she had always been. Here she became my best friend. We did everything together, sliding through the winter snowed-in roads, driving endlessly up and down for tools and material for the restoring the house. She was there for the marriage of our daughter. She drove to pick up guests at the airport, drop them off, take them sigh-seeing, transported chairs and food and clothes and people and  flowers.

Then one day she didn’t perform as usual. Her movements were heavy, lethargic, tired. But she still gave it her all. We pampered her with a day at the spa, but it was clear that she felt worn. Tired. We took shorter trips to have her rest more, to make it easier on her tired limbs.

And finally this morning I said goodbye to her. A better friend I could not have asked for. Our Peugeot 307, 12 years,  350 000 km.

saying goodbye to a good friend 1

à bientôt

Ronelle

Old French story plates.

I call them story plates. Those who follow this site will know how much I love stories and storytelling. We all do, I’m sure. Why else would we read book after book, watch movies, read biographies, buy art..they all tell stories and we each interpret them in our own way. We see our own lives twisted in the words and images. Some of us are just more of a sucker for sentiment than others. I am one of those.

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These little plates that I find at the brocantes make me laugh, sometimes they are very simple, a poem, a line, a title, sometimes  razor sharp in irony, but they are always true to depicting the experiences and life of the moment, which is what makes a story, which is what history is made of, and which explains why a later generation is so taken with “old” and “antique” and “vintage”,  history and the ever popular French brocante.

I would like to share some of these story plates with you. Each time I use a plate, I laugh again at the story, even though I know them all by heart! They are every day plates and I am amazed at how I can sometimes be lifted up on a dreary day by just using one of these story plates.

N° 6, Mme Angot’s daughter: A later, more “modern” story plate:

storyplates13-001

N° 12, En voyage: My first plate, bought many years ago,tells the joke/funny story of an old, distinguished gentleman taking the train and pulling the alarm, which had the train stop and all the police swarming to the train. Ever so innocent, he asked them why they stopped the train? He was sleeping and then took a bath and rang the alarm(bell) for some towels..!

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N° 5, Mauvaise farce (bad jokes): The story plates are usually in series and numbered in the series. This is the series about bad jokes… placing a bucket of water on a half opened door …

storyplates 2N° 11, Les déjeuners comiques(funny meals): This is my favorite little plate. it is so cunning! This one is titled Le déjeuner economique (cheap lunch).

storyplates 7-001N° 9, Rigolades(laughs): Then there are those plates which have the most beautiful borders, like this one and the following green plates. The little story is very simple. This series is called .

storyplates 9-001N° 4,  Les sports: I adore the border of this plate,it is so elegant. This series depict sports and of course ice skating on the frozen European lakes was a big pastime for men and women..I loved the clothes of the women of times gone by.. I just wonder how they got around on those skates…the way I fall definitely demands some trousers!

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Amusez vous bien en lisant ces petites histores et à bientôt!

Ronelle