Courgette tart with feta…and a potager.

The courgettes are overflowing in the potager and we eat it every way we can, this time around as a courgette tart. I love salty tarts and this tart is right up my alley. I always have puff pastry in my freezer, so while the puff pastry defrosts, I make the preparation and the tart is assembled as soon as the courgettes have cooled down. It is really a no-fuss tart and it can be adapted to suit every taste. I hope you like it enough to try it.

Pinch of salt:

  • Add goats cheese instead of feta cheese.
  • Add slices of tomato to your preparation.
  • Oven roast the courgettes for a different taste.
  • Add pine nuts to your preparation.
  • The tart can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat at 200 degr C for 10 minutes.
  • The tart can be frozen for later use.

Our potager is my husband’s kingdom. A potager is a lot of work and maintenance, so every morning he is out there, cleaning, planting, weeding or just paying attention. We have had some good rains lately, so the potager is green and lush and looking good, which means the weeds are looking good too. The following photos tell the story of life in a potager.

Oats and coconut cookies and a christmas tree.

These old fashioned cookies are from my childhood. My mom believed they were healthy so we ate them throughout the year. They are simple to make and delicious to eat. Everybody loves them.

Oats and coconut cookies

  • 1 c butter
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 c flour
  • 4 c oats
  • 3 c dessicated coconut
  • 11/2 c sugar
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease a baking tin, 30x35cm with butter and and line with brown paper.
  3. Mix the flour, oats, coconut, sugar and salt.
  4. Melt the butter and sugar . Add the milk and bicarbote of soda.
  5. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Press the mixture into the greased baking tin and bake for about 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cut into squares while warm and leave to cool beofre removing the squares from the baking tin.

Christmas in our house starts on 1 December. We play some christmas music while decorating the tree and finish off with a nice dinner en famille.

Life in a barn

In the previous post I did a show and tell on our Loire home from which it was time a couple of years ago to move on and exchange the Loire valley for the Dordogne valley.

All those who have done some restoration on a house will know the toll it can take on mind and body. Repainting a wall is easy, restoring a whole house by lifting beams, removing floors, adding windows and doors…not easy. But the satisfaction on completing a difficult task  is enoug inspiration to continue. In the meantime, while knackering away at the restoration of the old stone farmhouse, we needed to sleep, eat and bathe, probably in that order. We are lucky in that we have several barns on the farm and so one of them became our home for the next 7 years. At first it was only during summer holidays and 2years later it became permanent home.

Living in the barn 2016-024

In between working on the house, we equipped the barn for easier living. A stove, a kitchen sink, cooking tools,  table…we are a family who love our food.. what is a space without some bling? A chandelier or two were hung from the make-do insulated “ceiling”. A wood burning stove provided heat in winters. We had an elegant shower made from an old tin tub we found in the barn and we used an old wagon wheel rim for the shower curtain. From an old wooden ladder we constructed a frame for a bathroom sink , also found in the old house.And yes, running hot water! We even had a bit of privacy by constructing a screen from two wooden doors from the old house., hiding a little dressing room behind it. Madame Pompadour in stylish attire,  kept guard by the bathroom/shower/dressing room.

Living in the barn 2016

Below is a view on the dressing room behind the two doors, forming the screen for privacy..Living in the barn 2016-004

Unfortunately  la toilette stayed outside, a good 200 meters away, which is fine on good days, but got a little complicated on cold and wet wintry days. Today, 7 years later, we can recall some funny stories around our outside toilette which by the way, was brought up to modern standards without the wasps and stacks of newspaper.

Our very first night in the barn in 2008…just a sweep with a broom, a bed for us and our girls and a dinner by candlelight.

However many little luxuries we had in the barn, life was  basic and challenging and we lived with the minimum to which we adapted fairly easily. Today I am convinced more than ever that the human race is spoiled and we live in luxury far beyond necessity. I can honestly say we didn’t miss television for those first years, we ate great food on only a wood burning stove/coal stove. We bought fresh produce every day in small quantities for years until we got a fridge a few years later. We washed dishes by hand in a tin bowl for many of those 7 years.  I soaked our washing every night, rinsed the next day and hung out on the clothes line…I honestly admit though; that was a backbreaking task and far from  adventurous! .

The first few years were bare and adventurous. The barn with its high roof was open and windy with the normal inhabitants you find in old stone walls and we shared the barn with an owl family, who lived there long before us and they weren’t eager to give up their loft for a few humans.

Our barn home in its early years: Drapes of old linens found at brocantes to hide the back part of the barn. A couch or two, cooking corner and always wild flowers. I loved those first years!

The beginning of barn life.. view on the shower corner-20

Of course, at some point,true to human nature, we, or shall I admit…I  longed for more comfort.. So the barn started filling up up with cabinets and armoires and commodes and all my art stuff, brought over from the Loire home. I got tired of living out of a suitcase so the dressing room was invented. We started inviting some friends over, so we needed more than 4 cups and plates.

Living in the barn 2016-017

My art corner took up almost half of the barn, which I enjoyed..living and sleeping and working all in one spot. This concept is carried over into our house we are restoring.

 

Windows and doors got dressed up a little…our souls do need to see some beauty around us..?

Living in the barn 2016-014

Living in the barn 2016-013

Living in the barn 2016-010

These 7 years  we had a barn for a home is one of the most precious periods of my life and an experience that I will never forget. It is a book full of stories, one that I might write someday, even if only for my family who can relate and will remember all these tales.Living in the barn 2016-007Living in the barn 2016-005

To be continued….

Until next time

Ronelle

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