Monday, March 3, 2014

Slow Living Essentials - February 2014

la moraine d'Argentiere - cross country ski track
March 1st - St Davids Day
February has been a snowy month.  In general it always is but this year even more so.  By mid month I was getting seriously fed up of the stuff and the constant heavy snow filled skies that accompanied it.  But this last week or so, to the delight of the tourists and locals alike, the weather has been playing ball - heavy snow fall in the night and blue skies and sunshine in the day time.  Now thats better!!
So it with lifted spirits that I'm joining in with Christine for Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 Link up.

We've pretty much depleted everything from the garden (with the exception of jams and chutneys) so I've been turning to store bough to make this fantastic Butternut Squash Casserole, featured the last issue of Taproot magazine.  It's so adaptable - this particular time I added some left over spinach.

I also tried my hand at gluten free bread with a store bough mix that was so foul even the fowl wouldn't touch it!
We have a great organic supermarket down the valley which stocks a varied array of products but it has a very limited choice of flours. Thus i'm having difficulty getting my hands on the raw ingredients to make my own homemade gluten free bread.  The solution, you might be thinking, is the internet, but here's the problem with that...

... heavy goods traffic!  It's polluting our pure alpine air.  And it's only by choosing what we buy that we can ever hope to have some control over this flow of traffic.  The Mont Blanc Tunnel goes from Chamonix, France to Courmayer in Italy, and, as it's name implies, passes under, the Mont Blanc mountain range (you need crampons and ice-axes to go over it!).  It's mighty handy for popping over the border for a cup of very fine tasting coffee, but also for criss-crossing Europe with strawberries grown in southern spain and enjoyed in the alps at the height of winter!!!
While I'm up here on my soap box let me give you another example of utter stupidity - potatoes that are grown in Belgium are brought to France to be peeled and cut into french fries before returning 'home ' to be consumed!!  So, the hidden cost of buying things on-line for me is that I increase this already saturated traffic problem.
A protest march was organized at the beginning of the month to draw public attention to the problem, and I proudly carried a banner along side my father-in-law, my son's school teacher and about a 1000 concerned others.  The local Mayer is actively engaged in the combat as are most of the Doctors from the entire region, and many alternatives to decrease the heavy goods traffic have been proposed, so fingers crossed that the powers that be are listening.  If they are not we may have to get LOUD!

For this last month I've been busy with a Mystery KAL, while the boys have been playing with paper and wood

Despite recently buying a freezer with the intention of grocery shopping only every two weeks I'm sill only managing 7-10 days without a trip to the shops.
Still don't have the sense to prepare double helpings of meals to freeze either!  I really need to work on this one as in the long run it will save me time in the kitchen.

Organic or Local? - that is the question.  Local organic is the solution but unfortunately, rarely an option. With the need to reduce the goods traffic in the valley I've been buying local (ish).  The red flag with white cross means that the produce is from the Savoie region - we are in the Haute Savoie.  It's most definitely not a guarantee of organic goods but is often promoted as 'reasonable agriculture' - meaning as little pesticide as possible has been used.

Finally converted Richard to home made deodorant!!   After putting it to the cross-county ski-ing sweaty test he reported back that it 'really does work'!!

Managed to keep two basil plants alive all winter (so far), they are still producing leaves but they don't have much of a smell.  Didn't have the same success with a  Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree Kit -  couldn't get a single seed to sprout?

A few changes at the Chamonix Ladies Book Club - from this month on, not only will we be exchanging books but collectively reading the same book.  The chosen novel for march is Animal Farm.  I'm not a fan of dystopian tales but I think I will give it a go all the same.

Celebrated my birthday at a local hotel with Richard and the boys.  Tino visited the desert buffet more times than was healthy before wiping his chocolaty chops in the table cloth!!!

birthday gifts from my loved ones - Thank you all.
Richard's planning this winter has afforded him much more time with the family, so we've enjoyed lunch dates, ski outings and my firm favorite - sunday morning pancakes.
even more tasty when hubby makes them!
March 1st - St Davids Day - ski-ing at Les Choselets
sunny afternoons
How was your month?


  1. Happy belated birthday, Emma! Loving those red clogs.
    I hear you on the local or organic. So frustrating when it doesn't coincide. And since changing eating habits, there are certain things I think should be included in my diet but have so many 'food miles' attached to them that it becomes unreasonable. I love the passion of your town on this issue - people unite!

    I read animal farm last year as my daughter was studying if for school - I found it very readable and enjoyed the cleverness woven through it. Have a lovely month! :)

  2. Local or organic is a quandary I find myself in often. We don't have the pollution problems here, but I know that in order for goods to reach us it is creating those problems elsewhere. Food miles is a difficult one, I often look at the food I bring home from shopping and wonder if I could improve on this and consider more foods than just the fresh ones.

    I read Animal Farm for O Level English, think it was O rather than A! Along with Brave New World, like all books I read for study it ruined it for me and I had no desire to read any other books by these authors. Perhaps if I read it again now I would feel differently. Hope you enjoy it!

  3. I had quite a chuckle over your son wiping his chocolate mouth on the table cloth. Your home looks warm and cosy in spite of all the snow. Your first pic is really breathtaking too. Have a good March.

  4. Happy be-lated birthday! The pollution problem sounds miserable. I hope they get it under control. When the farmer's spray their crops around my home, with their nasty chemicals, I can't go outside, nor put laundry on the line. The air is so awful. I too wonder about local vs. organic. Local is not always grown without chemicals, and that is a huge factor for us. I often buy the organic at the store instead. I have to drive 2 1/2 hours to buy organic, whole wheat pasta too. It is good too.

  5. I remember a comedian commenting that he had tried gluten free bread and saying, "You know what it needs? Gluten!".

    Your ski photo is great - my daughter's school ski trip has just been cancelled for the second time because it is too cold - temps in the -30s again today. This winter has gone on long enough..

  6. Happy belated birthday! That snow is beautiful, we don't get snow here except on distant mountain tops and then a light dusting that lasts a few days.

  7. Happy belated birthday! Love the red clogs. I feel for you with the gluten free bread. When my daughter was first diagnosed 14 years ago with coeliac disease I tried making bread for her and it was revolting! I kept trying but nothing worked. She mostly eats a commercially made bread that is passable. I have just bought a new book on artisan breads and there is a section on gluten free so I am really hoping at long last we will be able to make some nice bread. Love the first and last photo :) Have a great March.

  8. Hi Emma, our bulk food group had discussions about whether we should make local or organic our priority. We decided local was of huge importance and we would buy organic whenever we could as a second priority. I love that so many in your area care about the issue. Sometimes I think the majority of people near me haven't realised we have an issue with global warming!! Just shop till you drop!

  9. Happy Birthday! I love these posts. Wishing you a good month of March!

  10. Happy Birthday a bit late. Love this post, so filled with family love.

  11. Glad you had a good Birthday -and many more we hope - awesome pictures, always enjoy catching up with you - Thanks!