Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Harvest

Two of my lovlies had already flow the 'patch' before I had time to do a little family portrait, (another is still thriving in a pile of manure!) but I've heard from a reliable source that they have finished up as soup, which if you ask me is quite a fine ending for a pumpkin!   This year however, as my recolt has been so plentyful I'm going to have myself some fun trying out a few of these delights.

  The question is, with what shall we start?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Garden - all gone pear shapped!

Well not really...this lone cucumber is looking a bit like a pear but the rest of the garden is rather more pumpkin shaped!   I've never really had much success in the pumpkin department but this year they are popping up here, there and everywhere - big ones too...

...don't know how much this one is weighing in at but at the last check it was measuring 102cm around it's middle.  By North American standards it's well, pretty standard, but by my wee 'european' garden standards it's a MONSTER!
I'm calling these two the twins, and they live on the edge of one of the compost heaps,

this beauty is shamelessly flaunting herself just out of reach of the ladies, while her sibling prefers a safer spot around the back of the house with a friend.

And this little cutie is all snug in the middle of the Bee Mat!

 I love waiting to see what the garden will produce, all the different colours, shapes and sizes,

even the chickens like to vary things from time to time, but although they play around with size and colour they always seem to stick to the same shape - haven't had a square egg yet!

What's still growing in your garden this september?

Monday, August 3, 2015


Finally getting some Kale to grow!  This is the third lot I've planted, the other two got 'attacked'.  It's in a window box so that I can bring it inside at the first sign of trouble but I think it really needs to be planted into something deeper - like the ground.
The dwarf beans are doing nicely, when they're not getting smushed by Ringo.  We've had a few harvests already -  so delicious and tender.

There's lots of swiss chard, new potatoes and courgettes on the menu at the moment, and we are looking forward to runner beans, beetroot, pumpkin, cauliflowers, to name but a few, a little later on in the season.

I've been bring a little of the outside in this week too: two litres of rhubarb, ginger & mint syrup, rhubarb & ginger jam, red currant gelée and spicy tomato chutney (tomatoes from local market). And I need to get out and pick the black currents soon before the birds and the deer eat them all.

Whilst I took the boys biking this little lot was left stewing in the slow cooker in some basil passata, and with some fresh eggs it made a delicious 'homegrown' summer supper!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Peg centerpiece

I have a very low threshold when it comes to heat, and boy has it been hot here this summer!  So during the day I have been inciting the kids to stay inside with sunny day activities.
I remember doing this one with Rémi when he was much younger, so when Tino recently dragged out the craft box I was very happy to find a packet of pegs hidden deep inside.

The dogs were being very patient with us while we crafted, so whilst waiting for the paint to dry we took them both for a little dip.  The poor things, can you imagine wearing a fur coat all summer!

Juno is Ringo's sister and we look after her from time to time when her humans are out of town.  Not only is she a different colour to her brother but she has a completely different personality - Ringo is very laid back and Juno is, well, MAD as a hatter!

But she's great fun and Ringo and the kids love having her for sleepovers!

Then it was back to work putting all the pegs together.   I think I may need to go over things with my glue gun as I don't think the craft glue we used will hold things together very long, but so long as nobody touches it things will be fine!

At 9pm it was finally cool enough to go on the trampoline. Not really the best before bedtime activity!

This afternoon they have put up a lemonade stand out on the road.    Business is a little slack to say the least and they have already had a drive-by visit from the local 'police municipale'.  I stayed well hidden behind the curtains and they managed to sweet talk their way out of being shut down all on their own!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yarn Along - You win some, you loose some....

Been playing Russian roulette with a ball of yarn...that wee scrap of brown was all I had left to finish the second, yes I lost the game.
Ended up ripping out the first foot and then stripping the both feet, and you know what? - I like being a looser!

I think they're way more fun this way!

Not too sure what happened with the light in the second picture, the colours in the top one are much more true to life. 
I used the sock pattern from Fair Isle Style but just changed the motif to prancing horses from Scandinavian Knitting Designs- (and stripped the feet!!)

It's still scorching here.  We're having to use tap water now for the garden as the outside barrels are bone dry.   It's way to hot to do anything out doors apart from nipping out to grab some bits and bobs for meals, so surprisingly for this time of year I'm getting quite a bit of knitting done.   Making steady progress on my Barn Sweater.  So far this pattern is very easy to follow, I've finished the raglan shaping so it should be plain sailing from here on in.

We braved the boiling sun yesterday and hiked up to the Lac de Catogne (2200m).  The kids brought their swimming trunks as they had every intention of having a dip,  whilst on the other hand, us 'unprepared' adults  took advantage of the solitude and jumped in in our undies!!
Reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome pretty interesting on the whole.  The author claims that psychological  disorders, such as autism, dyslexia, are directly linked to the health of our gut, and that the correct diet can cure them.  She puts forward a very convincing argument but seems to have an extremely damming opinion of vegans which kinda spoils the book for me a little.

What's on your needles and night stand this week?
Linking up with Ginny for today's Yarn Along.

Ringo - Lac de Catogne

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Garden Pests...

Woke up to these 'little' beauties snacking on my salads last week!  There were nine of them in total, and despite their big feet and chomping chops they did less damage than the invisible pest that keeps eating my kale!

Not sure where they came from or where they went afterwards, 'tis a bit of a mystery.

Richard heard on the radio yesterday that the best time to water the garden is between midnight and 4am!  So this morning, there he was bright and early (not 4am btw) doing the necessary, with his little garden helper in hot pursuit.  It's scorching hot here at the moment, I've never experienced a summer like this before,  I'm suffering and I'm not the only one.  The poor dog got totally over heated yesterday and vomited everywhere whilst we were out.  We slept with the front door wide open last night so he could come and go as he pleased and this morning we found him sleeping outside.

The garden is general is looking pretty good.  I've totally lost my gardening mojo lately but luckily my f.i.l is around to pick up the slack!  We haven't planted anything new this year, just the same ol' same ol'.
We already harvested lots of strawberries, lettuce, rhubarb, spinach and a few new potatoes (teeny tiny ones but we couldn't hold out any longer).
Still to come, that is if the Kale monster doesn't decide to change it's diet, are runner beans, dwarf beans, beetroot, swiss chard, onions, broccoli, courgette, leeks, radish, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, pumpkins, red & black currents and plums.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

"take five" knead bread

No pictures of "takes 1,2,3 & 4" as you've seen one cowpat you've seem them all, right!  This super easy - so simple a four year old can make it - bread caused this 40(ish) woman a lot of grief!

The first four attempts tasted great, they just looked flat.  At first I followed the original Jim Lahey recipe but my dough was very runny - not sure I correctly gauged 1 5/8 cup of liquid as I don't have a 5/8 increment on my measuring cup. Other sites give 1 1/2 cups of water and even 375ml, which was way to much! Given that this bread is commonly hailed as fool proof, I began to trouble shoot - staring from where I'm at!  1020m (3346ft) above sea level which in the realms of culinary alchemy often calls for  some small modifications to established recipes.  In this case less rising time and oddly enough less liquid.  After researching bread making at altitude - 3000ft and over - it would appear that often more liquid is necessary.  Also I'm not quite sure the flour we have here in France is the same as in the US, we don't have 'all purpose flour' which seems to be common place stateside.  Here our flours are mainly classed by number - 55 for cakes and biscuits, 65 for white bread, with the numbers gradually increasing 80, 110, 130 for wholemeal.   I settled on two cups of 65 and one cup 110, for 1/4 tsp instant yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt for just a little less than 1 1/3 cup water.  10 hours for the first rising and 1 1/2 for the second.

I'm now happy enough with the result.  I think next time if I carefully place the dough in my dutch oven rather than just 'plopping' it in, I might just get the perfect round shape I so desire!

On the up side I've had a few first time success's in the kitchen, which helped temper the bread 'hicups':

Lemon & Mint Syrup

Left Over Oatmeal Muffins
'Nut-emma' - hazelnut/chocolate spread

'Nutella' is making the headlines in France right now after Ségoléne Royal - the environmental minister - trashed the product claiming that it contained very few nuts and lots of saturated fat and emulsifiers (you don't say!).  Her claims don't sit well with 54% of the french population, who believe she is wrong to site one particular product as 'un-healthy'.   Personally I've never bought the stuff 'cause it tastes like grease and my kids don't like it.  They do like, however, the homemade version - which contains LOTS of nuts, cacao powder, maple syrup and a little water.

So what's cookin in your kitchen lately?
Have you tried the No knead Bread experience?