Thursday, 19 April 2012

Well Being, Well Intentioned, Well I never !!

Our creative year took off with a surge of energy as the wonderful and serene Alexia Fachon and the equally fabulous Murielle Naigeon brought their own style of vitality to Les Cerisiers last weekend. Our guests destressed through yoga in the barn, re-energised with a healthy, tasty eating programme and took the pure air on several local walks. Everyone left with a healthy glow both inside and out.

There are very few things that I find fault with here in this idyllic world, but I did get a little cross a few weeks back when the checkout girl in Carrefour forgot to ask for our fidelity card. I was quite put out when I was told there was nothing that could be done to rectify the loss of a quite considerable amount of points on a couple of hundred euros worth of shopping. I hastily filled in my complaints card and left it at the service counter never expecting to have a response. Within two days, however, the store manager rang to apologise and say there was a voucher waiting for us next time we shopped.

A week later and we were invited to participate in a customer round table focussing on till-(wo)manship. A basket full of pastries and another with strawberries as large as tennis balls awaited us and a dozen other 'table ronde' participants in the Carrefour conference room. Teas, coffees and juices were served and we were also treated to a large slab of their speciality cake Trianon. Yum. We discussed our favourite aisles (cheese, and cat food - for the variety) and those we were less impressed with (world food, kitchen ware) and had a thoroughly enjoyable time of it. As we left we were presented with a large bag of Carrefour groceries (see above) which has kept us going a week. Well done Carrefour - we think your intentions are admirable.
The chickens seem to have settled in nicely and are doing a fine job of keeping the weeds down and supplying us with nutrient rich manure. However, we have now been faced with broodiness from our girl Plum which seems to have upset the apple cart (or should that be egg box) somewhat. Not quite a Les Cerisiers record but we came home to a fairly large egg and a minute 'wind' egg yesterday. Isn't nature funny at times?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Making hay...

Sorry to be so terribly British but the weather really is the topic of the moment. Who can believe this on going heat wave (can you have an Indian Spring?) No central heating needed for several weeks and when I look back at the snow drops gathered just a few short weeks back, these forebearers of warmer weather and a life lived once more out of doors, seem oddly passé.

Today I've returned to my foraging habits (never say no to free food) and, having stumbled across an old recipe from Lady Ridley (not sure where I got this from but, I can assure you, it was not hand delivered) I decided to give it a go.

Lady Ridley's Nettle Soup
1 lb potatoes
½ lb young nettles
2 oz butter
1½ pts chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt & black pepper
4 tablespoons sour cream


Cook the peeled, chopped potatoes for 10 mins in salted water. Drain.
Wash & chop coarsely the nettles (Only pick the new, young tops,using gloves!)
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the nettles and stew gently for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.
When all is soft, cool slightly & purée in a blender, adding seasoning and the sour cream.

One tip I will add, when harvesting from lanes and gardens, if the ingredients smell like cat pee - theres a reason for this...

This good weather has also brought the walkers out en mass. Every village has a walk or two that is particular to their commune and Sunday mornings are now happily spent deciding which one to go on. The Marche de perce neige (snow drop walk) is our villages' walk and kicks off the season the first sunday in March. Last year I only managed three walks so I'm aiming to beat that record. So far Mireille (lovely neighbour) and I have walked 10k around Montmelard and Trambly (more like trembly by time se got back) and tomorrow we're heading over to one of the well known wine villages here abouts- Viré. As the walks are usually themed, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a glass or two of their finest will pass my lips at some point. The 'snacks' are always a high point as illustrated. 

OK, soups all finished and I've got a couple of willing friends (guinea pigs) to give it a go. Thumbs up for the soup and the home mage rolls - and another lunch out doors.