Saturday, August 16, 2014

If you go down to the woods today...

... you might find some mushrooms!!  I did and I wasn't even looking for them!!!  I'd long since resigned myself to the fact that all the secret mushrooms spots here were to remain eternally secret to me, seventeen years of living in this valley and never found one. Until today that is...

... two 'cepes' and five 'chanrelles'!!
Combined with what the garden had to offer we had ourselves quite a feast this evening - Croute Savoyard and salad.

There's no particular recipe for a Croute - every family has their own depending on what's in the pantry.  It's one of those fantastically frugal dishes, originally made with stale bits and bobs - dry bread dipped in white wine to soften it up, the 'Croute' (the hard rind of a piece of cheese), the end bits of ham etc all covered in cream and baked in the oven.  For mine I added my 'two cepes and five chantrelles', some left over potatoes, an egg and a sliced tomato.

My own secret mushroom spot, I almost feel like a local!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fruit glorious fruit - Mirabelle

Tiny and sweet, in a 'boozy' pie (as a friend called it), a mixed fruit tart, jam or simply left on the table for nibbles, this years Mirabelle are delicious and bountiful.

For the August Chamonix Ladies Book Club meeting (pot luck buffet) I used the following pie recipe...

Pastry case 
800g of pitted Mirabelles (any plums would do)
1 egg
120g sugar
100g slivered almonds
65g melted butter
100ml 'eau de vie de prune' (this is basically a distilled clear alcohol made from plums but grappa could be used as a substitute or just leave it out altogether!)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and bake blind the pastry case for 5 mins
Put the fruit into the pastry case and cook for a further 15 mins
Mix the sugar, egg, butter, almonds and alcohol (I used only a small shot glass full)
Cook for 20 mins or until golden

the bouquet was for Sylvie, this months book club host
... for the kids I substituted the alcohol and slivered almonds for wild raspberries, rhubarb and powdered almonds...

... and a simple plum jam was turned into something a little special with the addition of a few spoons of lavender honey.

Oh how the garden is good to us!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 - July

There a change of destination for this months Slow Living Essentials Monthly Nine.  After creating and running the monthly link-up since 2012,  Christine has passed the baton to Linda at Green Haven


Lots of jamming going on: strawberry freezer jam, blackcurrant jam, red current jelly, red & blackcurrant jelly and apricot & strawberry curd.  Also been brewing up some infused vinegars - clove & garlic and raspberry. Have found that Rémi's hockey kit drying rack is great for herbs and have some lovely mint, sage and oregano drying out in the garage for use this winter.  I'm finally going to give soap making a whirl so have a batch of dried calendula flowers macerating in sunflower oil to put in my blend.

Despite the abundant rain we've been having (apparently the wettest July since 1965) the garden is blooming.
It's lovely to pop out there every day, even if it's just to pick some lettuce and gather a few eggs

summer herbal tea mix - mint, borage, lavender, raspberry + leaf, black-currant leaf and nettle
Potatoes, carrots, leeks, courgette, pumpkin & butternut squash, kale, cabbage, onions, garlic, gherkins, peas, green beans, rhubarb, plums, red & black-currants, parsley, sage, rosemary, chives, mint, oregano, edible salad flowers, swiss chard, corn, sunflowers and calendula.  See my recent garden post here.

OCM - Oil Cleaning Method!  for someone with quite oily skin this has been something of a revelation.  Simply rub the oil of your choice - I've been using a sunflower/castor oil mix - on your face in place of soap or other cleanser, and rinse off with warm to hot water.  Nothing else.  I was a bit wary at first as it didn't feel like I was getting all the oil off, but come next morning, my skin feels wonderful.  The great thing with oil is a little goes a long way, so this method is very economical.  No plastic bottles to recycle every few weeks either.

Turned this rarely worn dress into a tunic by cutting the frill off.  I rather liked it as a dress but it tended to blow up and reveal my underwear to the world.  Now I can wear it over jeans where as before it was a tad too long. 

Not a lot going on the knitting/crochet front at the moment, but I was inspired by Rémi's wood burning to have a go myself.  I think I shall make a few more as Christmas present (with a nice pot of jam).


Quite by chance, while watching a hockey game, I got to chatting with a friend who told me his dyslexic nephew had been helped with some kind of physiotherapy.  He was a bit sketchy on the details so I called our physio and she gave me the number of a qualified Kinesiologist here in Chamonix.  It's hard to sum it all up in one short paragraph but the idea behind Brain Gym, as it is also known, is to stimulate both sides of the brain and get them working more efficiently together.  It's not a cure for dyslexia by any means but I'm convinced that any yoga/workout, for whatever part of the body, can only be beneficial.

I'm afraid I come up a bit short here this month!

A short holiday in Montsapey at summer house belonging to Richard's dad's family.  The house has quite an interesting story that deserves a post in it's self - which it is going to get just as soon as I locate some old pictures.

Despite the soggy weather July get a thumbs up from us...

... and how was your July?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Le Jardin...

It's raining again!
Le jardin is looking so green and bushy, must be the days and nights and days and nights of rain we've been having!  Yesterday things cleared up a little, we even put sun cream on a one point, so I grabbed my camera to take a few pics of what's 'growing' on...

It may look a bit wild and untamed but it's really all quite orderly, with most things in neat little rows!

swiss chard, courgettes and leeks
corn, carrots, beans and potatoes
beetroot & carrots
Apart from the peas, which started rotting, nothing seems to have suffered from the 'monsoon'!  I was slightly worried about the potatoes so we dug a few up to see, and they are doing fine - just a bit small for the moment.

I planted some borage next to my courgette plants to protect them from slugs, unfortunately it doesn't work on garden pests of the furry kind!

mirabelle plums
black currants
I was even so bold as to make some sun tea - herbs and fruit brewed all day in the sun and left in the fridge over night - for a refreshing hot summers day drink. Unfortunately it's wet and cold again today!

And how does your garden grow this summer?
Is the weather causing you worry too?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Hiking in the Alps

We chose the first hike of the season wisely - the traverse Plan Praz (2000m) - La Flégère (1877m).  Not too many ups and not to many downs, and along with the kids and puppy we brought along m.i.l - who maintains that a traverse is meant to be flat - nothing here is flat!!!

No complains though from the wee chaps or Ringo...

It was a fairly overcast day, great for hiking as it meant we didn't get to hot.  However for those of us wearing fur coats it still got pretty warm at times...

... ah! that's better

At 12 noon everything stops for lunch - hiking is the only time when Richard concedes that a sandwich can pass as meal!!!  M.i.l  does sandwiches the 'french' way - bringing along great hunks of bread, paté and cheese, which is great provided you don't forget to bring a knife!

To top of a great day, Tino made us dinner - fish and eye shaped fish cakes -umm delicious!

Vivre les Montagnes!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yarn Along - Latte Baby Coat

After realizing rather late in the day that Rémi's speech therapist was starting her maternity leave a few weeks earlier than I had calculated, I finished this Latte Baby Coat in the nick of time, blocking it thursday evening to be gifted at his 8.30 am appointment on friday morning.

Had a few tense moments with the basket weave stitch, which pulled like mad, scrunching up the front sides horribly, but thankfully once wetted and blocked they settled into place.

Rémi gave her a beautiful little gift too - a small trinket box that he had decorated with a Rosace.

I liked this yarn so much that I went back and bought some more, I think it will make great wrist warmers.

Keeping me up into the wee small hours at the moment is Life and Limb - A True Story of Tragedy and Survival Against the Odds (Jamie Andrew). In 1999 two British climber spent 5 nights on the exposed ridge of Les Droites in Chamonix after being caught out in a freak storm.  Only one of them returned and he suffered the loss of both hands and his both legs below the knees.  I was already living here when this tragedy took place but don't remember it happening, ironically I only learnt of the accident years later after buying the book from a charity stand at a farmers market in Wales!

Having a few blogger problems at the moment - that is when I can actually get an internet connection.  Up until now I was receiving up dates of all the blogs I follow, now however all I'm getting is one update from which ever blog posted most recently!
Confused as ever by technology!!!

Linking-up with Ginny for Yarn Along this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I wish I could tell you that this was a family recipe, handed down through generations of hard working women, but it's not!

I just cut it off the back of packet of almond essence.  I've tried many Clafoutis recipes before but they all just came out tasting like scrambled egg with cherries.  This one, however, tastes divine.

750g  cherries
150g sugar (I used 100 only)
2 eggs
50g plain flour
50g powdered almonds
1 teaspoon of almond essence
20 cl milk (I used cows milk but I'm sure any sort would work)

1 Wash and pit the cherries, add 50g of sugar.
2 Heat the oven to 150°C
3 Mix the eggs, rest of the sugar, flour, almonds, essence, milk and any juice from the cherries
4 Butter a pie pan and sprinkle with two tbsp of sugar, pour in the cherries rolling them in the sugar
5 Pour the egg mixture over the fruit and cook until golden
6 Sprinkle with vanilla sugar (optional)

I have fond memories of picking cherries with  for Gaby, Richard's grand-father.  He would rig up some homemade scaffolding consisting of old chairs, stools, rotten planks and ladders made from old hockey sticks and order me up the tree, in a near suicide misson, to pick his fruit - each of which came with it's own maggot! Sadly Gaby is not longer with us so I have long since abandoned this dangerous past-time in favor of store bought cherries.  I've also invested in a 'dénoyauteur de ceries' which my trusty sous-chef is more than happy to use.

My m.i.l came back from holiday this morning with kilo's of delicious cherries, that she got for a snip of the price I paid for mine here, and gifted me a big bowl full.  I think I will turn them into pie filling and jam - not forgetting to keep a few back for our breakfast smoothies!

kale,spinach and strawberries from the garden - happy dance!
What do you do with your cherries?