Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 2007

December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays Joyeux Noël

Christmas approaches, each day passing faster than the last. It is amazing why this holiday appears to sneak up on us, since the commercial places have been telling us about it since the end of October. Maybe since the decorations and advertisements start so early now (even here in France), we get immune and try to ignore the whole thing.

The American Christmas has slowly come to France. Houses now put up outside lights, even to the extent of some of the American houses (remember Chevy Chase and the Griswolds). Some villages now have house decoration contest. The crèche used to be and still is the preferred decoration in France, usually indoors. However those ambitious outdoor decorators have placed the crèche and Pere Noël together.

Maybe it is the lack of snow too that throws me completely off. From my Minnesota roots, Christmas meant snow on the ground. Up until this week we have had rather warm weather (high 40’s to low 50’s). The grass is still green; a rose bud is still trying to open. The sun is out now, but the temperatures are colder this week. The birdbath had some ice on it this morning. Will Mrs. Merle (european blackbird related to the american robin) try to take her bath today?, probably not.

I am going into Dijon today with Marie Therese. We are going to see the decorations and the Marché de Noël (Christmas Market). Have to see if I find anything.

December 20th

We went into Dijon on Saturday and I have never seen so many people on the streets of Dijon. It was one mass crowd of people. INCREDIBLE. Looking down the long stretch of Rue de Liberty, it was a carpet of moving people. The street was closed to motor traffic, so the sidewalks and street were completely covered with people! At the end of Rue Liberty, on the Place de Liberty, in front of the Ducal Palace, the Marché de Noël has been set up. There were a couple of booths that sold Russian things (amber jewelry, dolls, scarves...), a person who sold hand made knives, candles, food, pillows, silk scarves, Christmas ornaments, perfume, Santons (traditional crèche characters, animals from Province),and the list of things to sell within the booths goes on.

Christmas Stalls

Ducal Palace

At this time of year there are carolers walking around downtown singing. This year they are in red costumes. They do get your attention when walking down the street. Everything is decorated in the holiday spirit in town center: stores have put up decorations, and the city has gone all out too- there are green trees or flocked trees on the sidewalks and hanging lights all around and the atmosphere is truly festive. However, for me the crowds made it a little too much. I went back on a weekday and it was much, much better.

This week has been cold, very cold. Almost Minnesota cold, well not quite. It has been down to 20 degrees. The last two days we have had a very heavy frost, so although we have not had snow, everything is very white.

You look out and see the fog and the wonderful transformation of the vineyards covered with frost. Magical to see. I stand at the window and gaze out. No wind, so it is very quiet. Ah no snow, but alas a White Christmas after all.

Last Friday night we went to a chorale concert. It was the group I used to sing with, when I sang. It was a very good concert, and we enjoyed it completely. Pam had added "Jingle Bells", in english and a very fun arrangement. And of course, lots of old traditional songs, some in french and some in english. We were in the small church of Noiron-sous-Gevrey, it was a little cold, although the church did have heat! Those old stone churches do not heat up easily. We were invited to sing along to White Christmas (Noel Blanche), however it was in french.

We will be going over to our good friends for Christmas dinner, Marie Therese and her family. It will be a nice Christmas afternoon with fine wine, good food and close friends.

I will end here to today, more to write but I will save it for January or I will never get this out on the web.

Recipe this month

Vin Chaud (mulled wine)


  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine (vin rouge sec)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or honey)..add to your taste (sucre ou miel)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cannelle moulin)

  • 1 orange cut into slices (orange coupées en rondelles)

  • 1 lemon cut into slices (citron coupées en rondelles)

  • 6 whole cloves (girofles)

  • 4 cinnamon sticks (batons de cannelle)


    In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, combine wine, sugar and cinnamon and fruit. Heat on low heat for about 20 minutes or so until steaming. Careful not to let it boil. Good idea to warm your glasses with warm water before serving.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Novembre 2007

    November 2007

    Where should I start?

    I have to warn you that this month is about food and drink!

    Why not start at the very end of October, Halloween. It is not celebrated much here, and it seems less and less so each year. However, the children know the house of the “Americans”. Children that I have never seen before arrive at our door and in their best English say hello or even a few say “Trick or Treat”. And then they say Good Bye or Happy Halloween as they walk away. 

     November 1st is Toussaint (All Saints Day) and is a holiday here (I know that France has a separation of church and state too, but they did not give up these holidays, oh no, it is a day off work, so the logical step was taken and it remained a holiday). It is also the French equivalent of the American Memorial day. Mums are bought and placed on graves in cemeteries all over France. The mums they sell at this time of year are gorgeous. As I understand it, mums are for the cemetery and for gardens and for decoration. But one does not buy mums as a hostess present.

     As November came in, so did the gray and foggy days. We get days with fog days with mist or out and out rainy days. Oh where is that sun anyway! We have not done much in the garden yet due to the weather. The roses are still trying to bud, even after a rather cold week. Along with the change in the weather, one benefit is the tourists have practically disappeared. So the region is returned to those of us who actually live here. A certain "quiet time" has returned. 

    I had given you warning last month of the “Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon”. We went on a Tuesday around noon, and it was practically impossible to find a parking place. The first few parking lots were completely full. Where do all these people come from on a working day?

    Once inside, there are booths selling pate, cheese, wine, caviar, cookies, chocolate, champagne, sausages, bread, candies….and the list of vendors goes on. Then there are restaurants set-up between all of these booths. Restaurants that serve food from all over the world, but most are restaurants from the different regions of France. Of course it is made for the French palate (as we were assured by the hawker for the Indian restaurant), which means not spicy. Hot food is not part of the French cuisine. However, having said that, they do use peppers in the Pyrenees Basque region (mountains between France and Spain). 

    We looked at a few booths as we entered but Keith was starving. So we sat a Camargue restaurant and had taureau (the Camargue is a region in the south of France and on the Mediterranean Sea. Taureau is bull). 

    There were things on display other than food. I bought a ravioli press. You put the pasta on it, put a spoon full of filling in the indent and close, VIOLA, raviolis. Have not tried it yet. But there were booths and demonstrations for pots, pans, and of course even here in France -“it slices and dices”, and many other gadgets for the kitchen.

     I have included a few photos of the Foire (festival)

    BAR Cavier
    Restaurant Sausage anyone?
    Alsacian Restaurant ESCARGOT?

    Since this month seemed to center around food, I have to comment on the French cuisine. I now buy groceries every day (except Sunday when stores are closed). Fresh has taken on a different concept. You start to flow more with what is in season. This summer I got excited by some melons I saw at the market. It was early, and it was from Africa (food is marked where it comes from). I bought one! It was too early and there was no taste. One has to wait until the French melons come out and oh la la, what flavor. Live and learn.

    It is now fall and of course apples are in season. I took some apples that I had from our friends'trees and cut them up, added a little sugar, a little white wine and a sprig of thyme. What a delightful dessert.

    We do get hot house tomatoes and beans all winter, and those do not have much flavor. I much prefer my garden vegetables or those vegetables (legumes) directly from the Cote-d’Or. Fresh beets (betterave) are in season now and there is so much more flavor in a fresh beet then in canned beets! So my shopping and cooking habits have definitely changed. OK, I have to add that although buying vegetables (les legumes) as fresh as possible I do not mean to imply that I am now a health freak. The cuisine of this region is laced with butter, cream, and cheese. Oh well!! Maybe I will slowly change some of that too, one never knows.

     I went with Marie Therese to Nuits St. Georges for “Fete de Vin Bourru” . Bourru is the wine from the first fermentation. It still is somewhat like grape juice, but with a kick. We tasted the bourru and of course made the rounds and tasted some other wines. I bought some cheese from the Pyrenees. Nibble –drink, nibble-drink. Now you must remember that Marie Therese’s business is selling wine, so it is necessary to taste and find new wines. This was strictly business.

     This last weekend, I again joined up with Marie Therese and we went to Beaune

    It was the weekend of the Hospice de Beaune auction. I had never gone before. I thought that it was mainly about the wine auction. No, it is a whole weekend of festivities. There were booths everywhere selling food and wine. We watched a contest with 5 women. The prize went to the first person to uncork 20 bottles of wine (I think it was water actually- who would waste good wine on a contest). There were bands too and a parade (défilé).


    Hmmm..but what are they?

     Unfortunately, we went to the place for wine tasting and the line was very long (maybe 100 people ahead of us) and they only let in people when others exited. So we had to pass on the wine tasting. Again I must note that this was a trip for business reasons only! 

    I prepared a small Thanksgiving this year. I ordered the turkey 10 days in advanced. I ordered about 5 kilos (11 pounds) fermier (farm raised, not industrial). I ended up with 2 small turkeys (about 6 pounds each). They have the big turkey factories here too; turkey is a Christmas tradition. But the fermier turkeys are not raised to the extra large sizes. So I had the 2 small ones. I cooked both (really too much turkey) and the taste was wonderful. I will continue ordering small fermier turkeys in the future.

    I did a traditional mid-west Thanksgiving. There were 5 of us for dinner. I made turkey, mashed potatoes, wild rice casserole hot dish to Minnesotans), sweet potatoes (patate douce) without marshmallows, cranberry sauce (pinot noir cranberry sauce) and pumpkin and pecan pie. Guests arrived at about 12:30 and left about 6:30pm. There was no football, so we sat and ate and talked at the table the whole afternoon. I had stated that I would take pictures, but I was serving food, and talking and forgot the pictures! Mr. Turkey was good looking, you will just have to believe me.

     Now we start the season of Marché de Noel (Christmas market). A few years ago I had gone to the one in Strasbourg when Keith had a meeting there. Since this area has a strong German influence, the Marché de Noel is very large. Here in Dijon it has gotten smaller each year. I am not sure what they will have this year, but I will go and check it out.

     Since the weather has changed and it is a bit nippy, I will add the recipe for Beef Burgundy (Boeuf Bourgogne). I have to admit that I just throw this together, so I went out and found a similar recipe on the net and then made the changes that were more to my taste (I think I use more wine than any recipe on the net). I did this to get some idea of the measurements, since I do not use any. Remember you can flavor to your taste.

     Boeuf Bourgogne (Beef Burgundy)

     A great rich dish to serve on winter nights. This dish does not take long to prepare, but cooking it slow makes all the flavors blend together to form a wonderful sauce. You have to think that a peasant woman put this dish together long ago. She would throw everything into the pot, probably swing it over the fireplace coals and then continue with her chores. 

    20 minutes preparation 3 1/2 hours cooking 

  • 3 slices smoked bacon or about 6-7 ounces, (buy the extra thick slices of bacon and cut into match stick)
  • 1 lb boneless of beef cubes , cut into 2-3 inch squares
  • 2 TBS of olive oil (as needed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, thick sliced
  • 4 carrots cut in large sections (3 inches long)
  • 4-6 potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 beef broth cube
  • 1 bottle of red wine, such as pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon (should be the same grape variety that you will drink with the dinner- I do not feel that a superior wine is needed for cooking, but it should be drinkable wine)
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onions cut into large pieces
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme ( or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Worchester sauce

  • 1. Cook bacon in a heavy 4 qrt Dutch oven (or large pan with cover that is ovenproof- top should be tight fitting to minimize the loss of moisture)  

    2. Transfer bacon with slotted spoon to a medium bowl; set aside.  

    3. Add oil to the pan as needed. Brown meat with garlic, transferring it to the bowl  

    4. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.  

    5. Add mushrooms to drippings in pan; cook 3- 4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned, stirring frequently. 
    6. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with bacon and meat.  

    7. Return contents of the bowl with all the juices to pan; add onions, broth cube, ¾ of the bottle of wine, and thyme, bay leaves and rosemary. Stir in tomato paste. Meat should be covered completely. If not add some water to cover. 

    8. Add Worchester sauce 

    9. Add one of the carrots ( the carrot will add flavor to the sauce) 

    10. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low.  

    11. Cover; simmer 15 minutes.  

    12. Put in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours (should smell the herbs as they cook) –a slow cooker would work too. Maybe cook 5-6 hours in the slow cooker, I do not use one so not sure of the time 

    13. Check every hour to be sure meat is covered. Add the rest of the wine and then water as needed. 

    14. After 2 hours, add the rest of the carrots and potatoes 

    15. Return to oven for another hour 

    16. Combine flour and butter, mixing until smooth.  

    17. Stir into meat mixture to thicken the sauce.  

    18. Return to the oven for the last ½ hour.  

    19. Remove thyme sprigs, rosemary and bay leaves.  

    The main note for this dish is to cook slow. The flavors mix together and the meat becomes tender. The fat from the oil and bacon help keep the meat from drying out as it cooks, so do not cut out these ingredients. Boeuf bourgogne may be made 1 day ahead (up to #14). Add the carrots and potatoes when you put it in the oven the next day. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered (it tastes even better made ahead because it gives the flavors time to develop). I do not use a recipe when making this dish, so it varies time to time.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    October 2007

    I think I usually open and state that the month has passed by quickly. At times I feel like I am in some futuristic accelerator. I turn around and “whiz” the week has passed. I guess it may be a function of age! Or maybe it is just retirement (but that is age too, isn’t it), no stress and deadlines looming ahead.

    I do believe that now I have learned to “savor” the moment more than when I worked. I stop and smell the roses all the time; I stop in the woods and listen to the wind in the leaves; listen to the birds; listen to the acorns dropping; listen to the cuckoo bird; I stop and look out across the countryside when taking a walk and take a deep breath; look at a flower; look at a cloud; watch a child. All of these moments are special. Let’s not forget to observe them.

    But what have I done this month! Good question.

    Fall is gorgeous. I would say that the palette of color is muted when compared to places like Minnesota (or especially New England). There are not many maple trees here. How I remember the colors along the river with all the maples trees in a vivid explosion of color. But here, instead of yellow, we have burnished gold; instead of orange, we have more of a pumpkin orange; and instead of red, we have more of a maroon. But put altogether, it still paints a beautiful picture in the fall. And what we have here are hills (one must remember that a large portion of Minnesota is fairly flat). The farms around here have planted winter wheat or colza (rape seed) and the small shoots have come up in vibrant greens. So one sees a field of green with a hilly backdrop in the muted fall colors.

    The hillside here in Gevrey is called the Côte d’Or. Côte means slope or hillside, so translated it is “hillside of gold”. No one knows where the name comes from, however one theory is it is derived from the fall color. The vines turn gold or red, and it really is a “hillside of gold” in the fall. It is here only for an instant though, and then the leaves fall off.

    As October enters, so does the fog. The mornings are often thick with fog that may or may not burn off as the sun heats the day. It settles here in Gevrey, since it is a low spot along the Cote. The photo is out the back of our house. The vineyard is cloaked in fog.

    This year we had fog the first part of the month, but since it has not rained, we have not had the usual heavy fogs. We have had a lot of haze (brume in french). I have wanted to take photos of the countryside, but the brume has been too much for a good photo.

    Our friend from London came over the end of Sept for a few days. We had a nice visit, as always. Did some shopping, wine tasting, talking and eating. We went to a small restaurant just south of us in Vosne (pronounced vo na, long o short a). Keith and I had tried to go there a few times and found it closed. Heureusement (happily), it was open. Finally we had a chance to eat there, the food was very good. It is called La Toute Petite Auberge and is painted red so you cannot miss it driving down the main route south.

    October has a week to celebrate food, or actually tasting of food (gout = taste). And why not, this is France. The fromagerie close to us has an open house one Saturday a year, and it is always in the week of La Monde a la Table (the world at the table) or the Gout de France. They give you a plate with six different cheeses that they manufacture, some bread and something to drink (of course wine is one of the options).

    This last weekend and this weekend Nuits St. Georges has Foires (fairs). Last weekend I went and they had cheese, bread, oysters, sausage, chocolate and of course wine and beer too. Since we had a large lunch with our friends, we were too full to taste much. Many of the villes and villages had some kind of fete to celebrate the month of food. I am going again on Sunday to the Fete du Bourru in Nuits. Bourru is the slightly fermented juice from the first pressing of the grapes.

    As the end of October approaches, so does the big fete: La Foire International et Gastronomic de Dijon. It is about 10 days long, and is about food (some exhibitors on the upper floor sell items for the house). The invite guest this year is Lebanon. The ad states 500 + exhibitors. It is held in the convention center of Dijon. On the main floor there are vendors selling biscuits (cookies), vin (wine), cremant (sparkling wine), chocolat (chocolate), liqueurs and food. Then there are restaurants set up all over the floor. These restaurants usually specialize in food from some specific region of France. There is fondue or raclette (melted cheese over meats and potatoes) from the Alps, food from the islands, from Province…and the large restaurant serves food specialties from the guest country- Lebanon. But try to imagine at least 300 exhibitors on the main floor selling food or drink! I may take my camera and if I get a good photo include it in my next months Blog.

    I know I spend a lot of time talking about food, but it is part of the French culture. Food, fresh food is important. There is such a difference in taste of food when you use fresh ingredients. But maybe to understand a little more about French food culture, I have included a couple of days of the school menu. Children must go home for lunch (déjeuner) or eat lunch in the cafeteria(catine). There are no bag lunches.

      Monday Betteraves vinaigrette (beets with salad dressing)
      Carbonade de boeuf VBF (beef)

      Petits pois carottes (peas and carrots)

      Coulommiers (cheese-soft like brie)

      Liégeois chocolat (light chocolate pudding)

      Tuesday Salade verte sauce mimosa (salad))
      Paupiette de veau sauce graine de moutarde (piece of veal in mustard sauce)

      Yaourt arome (yogurt)

      Fruit frais (fresh fruit)

    This is a menu for grade school.

    I think part of the French culture is to eat a small amount of good food. As a whole,they do not Super-Size It. Even at a young age, you start with a balanced meal.

    Here in Burgundy, the cuisine is nothing but substantial. Recipes such as Burgundy Beef, Coq au Vin, Oeufs en Meurette, Escargot, Lapin a la Dijonaise are not light foods. Butter and cream (crème fraiche) are main ingredients in a lot of the recipes and th efood is rich. I do not think that these heavy fods are eaten daily. But what is the secret here (for lower heart problems).Maybe it is the serving size?, the exercise, the wine, no snacks, main meal at noon?? Probably all of them combined.

    October is also the month of hunting. It is the mushroom hunters in the woods and the game hunters in the fields (large game hunting starts in November). Tried to find those ever evasive Trompettes de Mort, but did not succeed They are small and dark and blend right in with the leaves on the ground. Also since it has been dry for the last few weeks, we have given up entirely. I did find other mushrooms though (not edible, or if they are, not great)..

    The weather this year has also produced an abundance of apples. Our friends have a few apples trees and so many apples that they had to prop the tree branches up this year. So we gathered of few of these large apples and I made some applesauce and apple butter. Today I will probably toss a few in a tart for Keith. We do not have good cave (or fruit cellar) in which to keep the apples through the winter. Tant pis (too bad). I also took a couple of the quinces. Have to see what I am going to make with these. I think a quince paste and use it with duck.

    Oh, since I have babbled so much on food, have to tell you about another restaurant that I tried. It was a “girls” lunch in Dijon. We went to Bollywood, and new Indian restaurant. The food was very good, however it was made for the French palate, not very hot. The curry had great mild curry flavor, not hot curry. The French palate does not include piment (hot spice or pepper).

    Keith has been working on his stained glass projects. He is making the second cupboard door for the kitchen, he made the front for the light over the mirror in the bathroom (not installed until we redo the bathroom) and one panel on a 4 sided tiffany lamp shade. Today is Saturday and most Saturdays in the fall/winter/spring he goes to Bligny to work on repair projects for the train.

    I have not been as busy, but am working on a new birdbath. I need to cut some of Keith’s glass for my flowers, so on Friday Keith gave me a glass cutting lesson. Sure is not as easy as it looks! Too hard and the glass will not break, too soft and the glass will not break, it has to be just right. I went through a few (OK lots) of cuts trying to get the right pressure. Today I am on my own and will try to cut a few pieces. This is just on the junk glass, I can not graduate to the good glass yet!

    Also back at it with the photo club. This months photo theme is "fall leaves". Have done up a couple photos, have to see how they print. We had a night photo session last week. Went to a couple of places to learn how to take night photos. My photos were not great, have to go over for another chance, but I learned alot. So many little things on a digital camera! My attempt is the opening photo, it is a church in Fixey (fees say) that is from the 10th century.

    I will close here for the month of October. The recipe for the month is Tart de Pomme (Apple Tart), see below

    Tarte au Pommes

    Brisee Pastry Crust:

    • 250 g. Flour
    • 125 g. Beurre non-salee (unsalted butter)
    • 1/8 tsp. Sel (salt)
    • 1 Tbsp. Sugar (NOTE: Only for sweet tartes.)
    • 1.5 Tbsp. Huile Tournesol (sunflower oil)
    • 1 7.5g Packet Sucre Vanille des Iles(vanilla flavored sugar)


    NOTE: Best, is to refrigerate dough 12 hours before rolling, but OK without

    Combine all ingredients in a bowl (sauf(except) water)

    Mix with hands, until uniform "crumbly" consistency

    Slowly add small amount of water (4-5 Tbsp), and mix well until it forms into ball

    NOTE: If dough becomes sticky Lightly dust work surface and dough with flour

    Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

    Roll out dough using flour if becomes sticky.When dough is desired thickness,
    loosely roll it around the rolling pin, and lay over tarte pan.

    Press dough into pan, and trim pan edges.

    Sprinkle 1 7.5 gr packet of Sucre Vanille des Iles over the pastry

    Apple Filling:


    • 9 Canadian gris apples
    • 4+ Tbsp. Beurre non-salee
    • 4+ Tbsp. Sugar
    • 3 Packets Sucre Vanille des Iles


    Peel, and slice apples into 1/8" slices

    Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in small saucepan over low heat.

    Add half of the sliced apples to the saucepan, and sprinkle 1 packet of Sucre
    Vanille over apples.
    Cook, covered, until you have a smooth compote (apple sauce).

    Spread the compote evenly over the base of the pastry.

    Arrange the slices to completely cover the pastry (Remember…… first we taste with our eyes!)

    Sprinkle 2 packets of Sucre Vanille, and 2+ Tbsp of Sucre over the apples

    Divide beurre into small morsels and arrange over the tarte


    In a preheated 200 degree oven for 1 hour. Watch until the top is golden brown.


    Thursday, September 27, 2007


    September 27th, 2007

    Here it is the 27th of September already. I have nothing to write, and lots to write (if only I can remember what it is I want to write).

    Automne (fall ) has come to Burgundy. Leaves are slowly turning, the vines have a gold cast and the Red Creeper is bright red on the walls, sides of houses, and our little fence out back. The vegetable garden is finished. September has been generous with its warm sun. The days have been glorious after a cool wet summer. The fall flowers have perked up and put out new flowers. The roses are simple gorgeous.

    I had cut down my lavender (end of August) and have let it dry.! About 10 days ago I decided it was time to separate the flowers from the stems. I do this by rolling it between my hands. I had the lavender on a large blue tarp and worked on it for a couple of hours out the back of the house by the kitchen door. It was a lovely sunny day. The scent of lavender was everywhere. The house was filled with the lovely smell, you could catch a whiff in every room. The smell lasted a few days. Wish it was a scratch and sniff photo.

    This month we took a couple of days and went to Brussels. It is just a few hours away by train (although one does have to change from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare de Nord in Paris). Brussels is known for its Art Nouveau. We went to the house designed by Horta, which is now a museum. It was wonderful ( I do not have any photos, photos were not allowed). The staircase, the windows, the mosaic floor, the stained glass is all carefully crafted in the utmost of Art Nouveau style.

    We also visited the art museum. The old art on exhibit was marvelous. Paintings from art history, live in front of me. The old dutch paintings have been cleaned and are not as dark as the ones I had studied.The museum has an extensive collection of Flemish painting, among them paintings by Brueghel and Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens We spent a morning there looking at all the paintings. The modern art section was interesting, but not as impressive as the old art, although I liked the sculpture by Moore.

    The Grand Place is also one of the big sites to see when in Brussels. The buildings all have different architecture and once housed the guilds. One evening while we wandered through the streets just looking at sites, we heard some classical music. Some Russian musicians were playing, but unfortunately we came at the end. Keith bought two CD's from them (the group is called Concerto Gruppo Moscow). They really were very good. One never knows what surprise is around the next corner.

    The couple of days in Brussels passed quickly and then we were home again.


    The vendange (grape harvest) is finished. It did start early this year (about 3 weeks) and finished quickly. I did some of my own grape testing and did not find the grapes as sweet as in the past. So I would say that 2007 may not be a great year. It will take a lot of work to make a good wine and the volume of wine will be way down. We will see what the preliminary reports will say in about 1 month. The grapes behind our house were picked by hand this year (they have been done by machine in the previous years). Right now the grapes are fermenting in large vats. As always, the village (or actually Gevrey is a "ville" -city) takes on scent of fermenting grapes. I do like it

    Our friend from London (Chris) came for some rest and recuperation. We tasted wine (one of her favorite pastimes), went shopping and out for a couple of walks. On Saturday we went to a favorite vigneron of ours in Rully (pronounced rue ee), Domaine Jean-Claude Breliere actually if you go to the website and click on the "Jetez un coup d'oiel..." (more or less "take a look at"), you will see my photo of his wine with cheese.

    As always Jean-Claude was very gracious and his wines very good. He also showed us his fermenting wine. We climbed a ladder to an upper platform so we would be able to see into the giant vats (sorry I forgot my camera!). He had three whites fermenting (the reds were past this stage). One had lots of foam on top, huge bubbles and covered in about one foot of foam. He said that when he arrived in the morning, it had foamed over and was all over the room. He spent the morning cleaning. Then he siphoned off some of the wine into another vat so it had room to continue fermenting with going over the top. They do not know why one does this and not another. It just happens. In the other two vats, all was well. The wine swirls and churns around and bubbles (just the right amount) all on its own. It was very interesting to watch. And the smell, standing right over these huge vats. It was delightful.

    On Sunday morning we went to a Gevrey Chambertin wine tasting. This time each year the office de tourisme offers a tour and tasting. Jackie Rigaux (local famous lecturer on the subject of wine) talked about the Grand Crus of Gevrey, starting with the Romans, then on to the Benedictines and then fast forward to today. After the lecture in the vineyards we walked back to the tourist office and we went inside to taste some wine (only Gevrey Chambertin wine). Pleasant start to the day.

    After lunch, Chris and I had a nice walk in the countryside. This is a nation of food gatherers, and true to custom, we saw many people out gathering walnuts (noix) while we were walking. This is a great year for walnuts as it is for apples (hmm walnut apple salad).

    The fall program that Gevrey sponsors is called the Music of Chambertin, and it includes several concerts during the month of September. We went one of the concerts in the village of Couchey (in the old church). The group that played is french and they call themselves "Or Notes Brass". The group has five members; 2 trumpets, 1 trombone,1 tuba, and 1 french horn. We really enjoyed the mix of music and thought that they were very talented. Would definitely go to hear them again if given the chance.

    After several weeks of rest and some therapy for a sore knee, Keith was back on his bike and rode in the Randonne de Grand Cru this month (about 180km). He is very happy to be able to ride once again (let me tell you- so am I, the 3 weeks he could not ride did not pass quickly...if you get my drift).

    My little potager (vegetable garden) has finished. The beans, tomatoes, zucchini have all turned brown and have drooped over onto the ground. We ate the one squash already. It had escaped the yard and was growing on the other side of the fence (vineyard side). So when the harvest started, it was knocked and the stem broken, so it was time to harvest.

    Since we had courgettes (zucchini) a plenty, I will add a courgette recette this month.

    Gratin Zucchini

  • 2 courgettes (zucchini) sliced

  • 3/4 (about) cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup cheese (swiss) rapee (grated)

  • Nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste

  • Put the sliced zucchini in a dish, cover with paper towel and put in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Drain any liquid off.

    Mix cream, egg, nutmeg to taste and cheese. Pour over the zucchini[note: the cream and egg mixture should cover the bottom of dish and coat the zucchini, but not bury the zucchini] and bake about 45 minutes at 360.   BON APPETITE

    Monday, August 27, 2007


    My thoughts have gone to family this weekend. I have been an amateur genealogist for a few years now.

    I find that where we come from is interesting. And it is the search that is part of the fun.

    Today I want to honor my mother's family. Her name was Rita Trudeau. Her parents were David Trudeau and Leontine Commeree Trudeau.

    David (b. 1885-Illinois) and Leontine (b. 1885-Illinois) had three children:

    • Rita b 8/19/1914 (married L Veeser) d. 10/19/1971

    • Carvil b. 8/25/1917               d. 4/3/1988

    • Hubert (known as Bitz) b. 2/27/1924 d. 08/27/2007

    I have included a photo of the three children: Carvil on the left, Rita and young Hubert on the right. Picture is probably around 1930-1932

    LINK to TRUDEAU/COMMEREE (mother's family)

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    August Things

    August 2007

    Once again the time passes by so swiftly. It does seem to speed up the older I get. I remember when I was young; 3 months of summer seemed to go on forever. It was wonderful.

    The grape harvest has been called (grape harvest is called Vendange). That means a grower can start any time now and harvest his/her grapes. It is very early this year, due to the unusually warm April we had this year. The vendagne in Gevrey will start around August 25th. Ads are in the paper for workers. The Vendange here in the Cote D’Or is usually around the 23rd of September. Hope we have nice weather. It is better for the grapes (not to mention the workers) if the weather is dry. If it rains, the grapes fill up on water, and of course that dilutes the flavor and the sugar value.

    Speaking of the weather, our summer has been rather cool!! We have had about 2 days of summer. Many days have had a high of 20 degrees (68 degrees F) and nights have been around 12 degrees (54 degrees). And we have had lots of rain.

    This past month I had a visitor in the kitchen! I turned and there was this large gray animal looking at me! It was a dormouse. I knew it was not a rat as I fled out of the kitchen, but was not sure what I had seen. I ran up the stairs and told Keith I thought we had a guinea pig in the kitchen! This is only the second dormouse I have every seen, and the first was a glimpse of one running away. They are rather cute, but they are rodents. I did not take a photo (too busy wondering what to do with a dormouse in the kitchen), and the photo I have included (on the blog site) is off the internet. My dormouse was gray, not tan. He did not want to leave, and when Keith finally got him out of the kitchen on to the patio, he closed the kitchen door. The little dormouse just sat there looking at us, and scratching at the door. How sad. We wondered if he was a pet on the loose. He did not seem to fear us at all. { side note; doors do not have screens here, so if the door is open any and all creatures can walk in, especially cats).

    Speaking of cats, we have one visit time to time. However we do not know what cat has come for a visit. On our stairs there is a small window that I leave open most of the summer (again no screens). In the morning, we have fresh cat prints on the window sill and stairs. We have never seen this cat, but know it visits now and then. We have concluded that one of our neighbors cats may miss last call for bed, and now has found a place to go.

    Changing the topic to photos, I needed a photo of a waterfall (cascade) for my photo club. So last weekend we went to the “End of the World” (Cirque de But de Monde). There was no doubt in my mind that there would be a waterfall, since we have had so much rain lately. It was certainly pretty. And now we have been to the END OF THE WORLD and back.

    I planted zucchini (courgette) this year! Two greens and two yellows (summer squash); and did they grow. So I have searched and found lots of recipes for zucchini. Zucchini curry is very good. Also works well in spaghetti sauce…and …..I also found a Chocolate Orange bread that was very good. I do not know if I can print it here( or if it copy righted), but the online address is at All Recipes here : If the link does not work, go to : and search for Chocolate Chip Orange Zucchini Bread ( I used a chocolate bar and had chunks rather than chips).

    Also last night I made a salad with zucchini.


    1. Slice Zucchini very thin with a mandolin (as thin as possible)

    2. Pour over a flavored vinaigrette ( I used olive oil and raspberry vinegar) -let sit with the vinaigrette about 30 minutes at least.

    3. Top with a cheese (maybe feta ) I used goat cheese

    4. And top it all off with a grilled sweet red pepper

    It is great salad, or at least we think so. Difficult to say what wine should go with it though. Wine and vinegar are difficult. Since it is summer, maybe just a rose.

    Keith and I have been busy with our projects too. Keith will be making the counter in the bathroom for our new sink. He has also been working on new kitchen cupboard doors. I have included a photo of the first door (on the Blog site). He has done the glass work and the door frame. One day, I may have new doors through out the kitchen.

    As for me, I finished the sink for the bathroom. I have also included a photo (on the Blog site), but it does not do it justice, sitting on my work table.

    Last weekend we had the annual (well second annual) Bligny picnic (the tourist train association). Everyone was to bring something to drink and a dessert. There were LOTS of desserts! I took the chocolate orange bread, bottle of wine, bottle of water and mustard (no mustard last year, so Keith wanted to be sure). JF (nickname pronounced Jeff) prepared beef kabobs and sausage on the grill and had bought (and brought) cartons of various salads. We had nice weather and a very nice evening. One of the newer members is a retiree (engineer for Hewlett Packard in Switzerland) has a summer house close to Bligny and an apartment in Dijon. His wife is an artist and is fixing up a art gallery in the summer house. We will have to visit it when it is ready. But he (Jean Claude) also bottled some wine just for the occasion. It had a photo of the Steam Train on the label.

    So that has been our summer so far. I think I have said enough for August! Hope you have enjoyed yours.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007


    Bread (du pain)

    I know that I have written about bread before. Never in the United States did bread take on such importance as it does here in our lives in France.

    August is the month of vacations in Europe. Everyone goes on vacation, most of France heads to the coast. This includes the local baker (boulanger).

    During most of the year, bread arrives practically at our front door. A delivery truck drives around and stops to sell bread, tarts, croissants… what a treat. This happens every day about 9:30am, except Wednesday.

    Then comes August when the baker takes 3 weeks of vacation (remember that the minimum vacation here is France is 5 weeks per year). I do not begrudge the baker his vacation, not at all. If you think of the hours that a baker works, up at 3am to start the daily bread, with a second baking in the afternoon and he does this 6 days a week.

    Now it is August 15th and our baker has been on vacation for 2 weeks already. I have had to buy bread most days at the grocer (not the best bread in the area). Marsonnay le Cote and Couchey have very good bakers, but then one must drive the 6km to get that bread, and we have done that. Bread is almost like wine, you taste it and evaluate it. Some is good and some is not. One does start to appreciate a good baker. Then there are bakers that make good bread, but the croissants, not the best. And of course the other way around, some bakers make wonderful croissants, but it is not good bread.

    Back to today. I have invited friends over for dinner (hopefully we can sit outside on the terrace for diner). It is a Jour de Fete (feast day or festival day). It is the day of the Assumption, if you are wondering. Have to remember that France does have the separation of church and state, but somehow they just could not give up all those additional days off work! So baker is on vacation, most grocers are closed… so the search for bread for diner is on. I sent Keith out for bread and he found some. Whew, dinner is saved.

    What is the menu for dinner?

    • Aperitif is champagne (remember that our champagne house is just 2 hours from here)
    • Starter (entré) is puffed pastry with fresh tomato slice and blue cheese, side salad of rocket (arugula)
    • Main course (very American) grilled steak – with epoisse cheese * melted on top..mmmm and a baked potato [* a burgundian cheese from the village Epoisse]
    • Cheese (fromage) course with Comté, Epoisse, Delice, and chevre
    • Dessert will be some sorbet (cassis) with some almond cookies

    That is all for this wonderful Jour de Fete, August 15, 2007. I will be dropping another note soon, because the vendage will be starting. It is very early this year.

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    July 16, 2007

    July 16, 2007 (finished July 23rd)

    The month of July has arrived and already it is mid month. We finally have some sun after weeks of rain. It has been warm and sunny now for 5 days. One might even say it has been hot.

    The first Sunday of July, Keith was riding his bike in the Vosges mountains (north east corner of France). It was a supported ride for the weekend; some 200 + km (remember that last month he was in the Alps).

    Wendy, Robert and I participated in the “Rallye de Charmes” of Gevrey Chambertin. We were given a sheet with 3 photos, 2 enigmas, 3 questions, and 4 villages where we had to report to the Maitre de Jeu (Master of the Game).

    Ø The 3 photos were taken in a list of 8 villages. I knew one right away; the others were not too hard. Two photos were lavoirs (what is a lavoir ?; it is village washing place. It is where one washed cloths. It is usually covered, and many have been restored). One was in Messanges where Marie Therese lives.

    Ø At the Maitre de Jeu we were given 4 clues to find the final answer. This was all with in walking distance of the Maitre. As an example “walk forward to the place of the crocodiles. The “Place” was La Costa.

    It took a little work… again trying to solve the puzzle in French.

    When we had the answer and presented it to the Maitre de Jeu, he would give us points and then got a clue for the Grand final enigma.

    If you solved the puzzle you were asked an additional 2 questions, and for each correct response, another clue for the Grand Enigma and more points.

    We solved our puzzles in the 4 villages and only missed one question. Hey, these were even French history questions to do with the particular village we were in at the time. The questions were always multiple choice. But do you know what other city Henry IV sacked after Curtil Vergy?? This is the one we missed by the way.

    Ø The 3 questions were not that hard, I had looked up one on the internet. It was the name of the beer from Fenay. So we had that done too.

    Ø Then all the little clues that we were given needed to be laid out and the puzzle solved. We had accumulated 11 of the twelve. Wendy worked on this while Robert and I worked on the last village problem. Since all the teams appeared to be running late, the Master of this all helped the teams put the clues in order (whew). Saved Wendy lots of time. We got back and solved this final enigma.

    Ø The other 2 engimas, we took a stab at, but missed. The only windmill that I knew of was in the village of Brochon, but there is one in Messanges too. I am only there a couple times each month and I never knew (clue was Don Quixote).

    We started at 10am, had lunch here in Gevrey (only 1 hour), and worked until 4:30pm (quitting time for the game). Our team came in second place. We won a dinner for 2 at Salon la Rue Chateau. It really was a fun day. And we were the foreigners. OK, we did not get the 2 enigmas correct, but you had to really know some nuances in French to get these. But second place is not bad.

    Last week, we had a Sunday lunch with our American friends, Wendy and Robert. They also invited Reine (Reine in french is queen). Reine is 71 years old and soon to be 72. She is about 5 feet tall and well rounded. Her hair is black with some gray and she pulls it back in a chignon. She adores her two American boys (Keith and Robert) who help her at all times. Keith calls her “petite Reine” and she laughs, almost giggles. It was a pleasant day, so we sat on the patio and talked, ate Robert’s cuisine from the Weber Grill (yes they have Webers here, but the briquettes are pricey), and drank fine wine. We talked about food and wine (always a topic of discussion in france) and politics, flowers, birds, and life in general. Reine is never at a loss for words and provides most of the conversation. There are times, Reine slips in a bawdy comment or two; sometimes I follow, sometimes I miss the nuance. But Keith or Wendy is always at the ready to enlighten Robert or me. Time passed quickly and soon it was 7:30. How can lunch take 7 ½ hours! It is part of the culture here, and of course the slower life we now lead. It is a great way to spend an afternoon.

    Now it is the Tour de France. It started July 7th this year in London. On the 12th and 13th the riders rode through parts of the Cote D’Or (a department of Burgundy). We went to Avallon on the 12th (Thursday) to watch it pass through town. We arrived early (10:30am) and I found a place that I wanted to be for photos. It was on a curve, so I thought the peleton would slow somewhat as they came around the corner. It was a very wide turn. We were behind some red and white barriers; these were only about 2 feet high. Avallon is only 39 km from Chablis. The race started in Chablis. The caravan de publicite did not come through until 12:05. So we waited. Keith strolled up and down and then back to me. Then we waited. We were not the only ones of course. Others were there and more kept arriving all the time. Then we waited. Unfortunately we did not think to bring chairs. Waited some more. About 11:30, some vans arrived selling souvenirs, of course. Keith said why buy now; wait to see what we get free. The gendarmes were there directing everything. Since it was on a curve, they tried to direct when people could cross the street. At 12:05 the caravan arrived. These are all the companies supporting the tour. They go through and toss out free gifts. We got a hat, eye glass cleaner, playing cards, key chain, misc other things. Those on the inside of the curve got bags full of loot. The publicite caravans were finished. Then we waited some more. The Tour came though at about 1:50pm!! Whoosh, and it is done. Even on the corner where they had to slow down a little, it only takes seconds for the peleton to pass. There were 3 riders out in front, but only by a few minutes. So in less than 5 minutes, the event we waited for 3 ½ hours, poof, was finished. I did get some photos, so I was happy. It is also the whole experience; the caravan, the riders, the crowd. Keith saw the Tour again on Friday. He was working on the tourist train that day at Bligny. So he went early (roads were closing at 9:30am) to help set up. Ives wanted all the engines out so the tourists could come by and see the trains. After all was in place and polished, Ives stoked the main engine (steam engine) with wet grass so it would have smoke coming out of the stack when the Tour passed (and the helicopters with cameras). There was one slight problem to this plan; the television coverage did not start until 2:30pm and the Tour passed through Bligny at 2:15pm. Not one photo of the train on TV. I tried all the stations here. This year for some reason, the coverage during the week is not starting until 2:30pm! Tant pis (too bad). Keith had a good view however and then they had a very crowded train for the tourists that afternoon.

    Much of our time has been filled working on our projects. Since the rain has stopped, I have tried to work on my mosaic. My atelier is in the covered part of the patio, but when it is windy and raining, it is not a dry place to work. Keith is working on some cabinets. He is building a new cabinet for the bathroom and also working on new door fronts for the kitchen. So we both spend some time in our respective workshops.

    Our garden has done well this year. Many of the plants seem to like the rain. The roses are fantastic. We have really worked at the roses, something that was so difficult in Minnesota is such a joy here. I never even cover the roses for winter. No need. Other flowers are doing well also. The lavender is great, but with the damp it is hard to decide when to cut it. I should this next week. But I also love to look at it. And the bees, we have so many different types of bees that visit our lavender. There must be some good lavender honey somewhere close. My little vegetable garden is OK. The cherry tomatoes are numerous, but I will not get many large tomatoes. The zucchini is fine (how many recipes are there for zucchini as a side dish?) and the yellow summer squash is doing well too. Have had dinners on the green beans, but I do not think I will get a squash this year. The cucumbers have just started. Should have some in 2 weeks. As for herbs, always some in my garden. This year the basil is not great, it does not appear to like rain and cool days. However I cannot believe the rosemary. It is turning into a bush. There is thyme, mint, parsley, sorrel, sage (also a bush) and lemon balm too. This last weekend we went to an exhibit in Semur-en-Auxois ( See muir-on-Oh swa – here in Burgundy the x is usually a s sound, and the last s is not pronounced). It is a very pretty city with some of the ramparts and towers still intact. They had some artists chairs displayed here and there around the city (chair made from a shopping cart, another with a Stop sign for the back….)

    After we stopped to see the end of the Tour (contre la montre “time trial”) at Marie Therese and Christian’s. We ended up staying for dinner. It was a warm evening and first we had aperitifs. Her father and Andre joined us for aperitifs… crackers, chips, and Cremant (cremant sparkling wine-cheap champagne). French rarely serve cheese as an aperitif. Cheese is a course in the dinner, after the main plate. Then Marie Therese made a wonderful omelet with the chanterelles she had just picked that afternoon.(mushrooms - in French they are girolles). This is the time of year, and with the rain, they are abundant in the wood It was a delightful end to a very nice day.

    Think I will stop here. Oh by the way, the pretty vineyard just beyond the backyard, the “mec” (guy) started cutting the vines with the tractor at 6:30am!!!!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    It is a beautiful morning. This past week the weather has been unstable. Hot, humid and waiting for the storm. It is so hard to judge weather here, we see it to the west, the dark black clouds, and then the storm just can not make it over those hills (the cote). There was a huge storm on Thursday evening, to the west, south and north of us. We only got 3 drops of rain. So Keith had to water the garden. The new rain barrel that collects water from the downspout works fairly well.

    Recently, I read a website on French words and thought I should throw a few into my journal. Today it is papillon (pronounced pap-ee –on , ie the French nasal “on”). Butterfly = papillon.

    Our garden (jardin) is full of flowers and there are butterflies everywhere. The lavender especially gets it’s share of butterflies and bees. How beautiful this time of year is. We love to sit out back on the terrace in the evenings and enjoy the garden and the view. We do think we are blessed at times like these. (butterfly in our lavender)

    The lilies are also in bloom. They flowered on June 4th. There is a saying here that the grape harvest (vendages) will be 90 days after the lily blooms. So it looks like an early harvest this year, the first week of September. Of course it all depends on the weather for the rest of the summer. But back to the Lily (lys), it has a very sweet smell. So the scent floats by time to time as we sit on the terrace sipping some wine. We have a rose on the trellis that has a very sweet smell and as it grows it will scent the terrace in the coming years. We have spent a few evenings at our table talking until past 10pm. The birds finally stop chirping and the bats (we have one or maybe two at the most) flitter to and fro looking for insects. It is the time of year when it is still light at 10pm. Oh the joys of having a terrace and few mosquitoes.

    Speaking of the harvest, I went walking with Marie Therese last week. I took a photo of the new grapes. They have just flowered and set the tiny “grapes” on their way. It is surprising to look at the buds and think that there will be grapes in 90 days. And it is the time of year for cherries too (cerises). The black cherries are abundant this year. Marie Therese gave us some and I made a tart for Keith. Then our friends from Perrigny called and asked me to come over and pick some cherries. So I picked a crate of cherries and I made another tart, some cherry chutney (oh was it good with pate), and froze a bag full (Keith was riding his bike). With all the cherries, everyone talks about making cherry clafoutis . Keith wondered how many Americans would know what a cherry clafoutis actually is? I thought of sending out a survey, but I never did, but I did tag a recipe at the end). When Marie Therese and I were walking last week, there were cherry trees near the vines that were dropping because they were so loaded with cherries. We helped ourselves to a few as we continued our walk. Cherry stained hands, mouth and for me, my shirt too!! What a treat.

    On the other hand, the wild asparagus was not that good this year. April had been dry and it may have been the reason. Marie Therese and I had each picked some for dinner one day, and we both concluded that it had no taste this year. Such a disappointment since it is all over in the woods and free.

    I have planted my garden as usual. There are always the herbs; but I add to that, tomatoes, green beans, yellow and green zucchini, cucumber and a squash. It is all looking very good. Should have some yellow zucchini next week. Tomatoes are on the vines, but it will be a while before they turn red.

    Keith has made a couple of cyclo/camping trips this last couple of weeks. The first, he went out on his own, south to the Morvan. Unfortunately, when he awoke the next morning, he was in a thick fog. He could not continue to go up into the hills with the fog, so he made his way home. Then the last weekend, he went on a supported ride in the Alps. He took the train to Valence, and then followed the course for 2 days in the mountains. At the end of June he has signed up for another in the Vouges. Seems to really like all that climbing.

    I continue with mosaic. Keith has been taking a course in stained glass windows, and Emmanuel (the instructor)gave me a tub full of glass scraps. As soon as I am done with my current project, I will make a mosaic with some of the glass. I have a project lined up, a simple picture frame.

    Back to the glass, I have sorted it all and put it into drawers. I now have a large stock of glass. As for my current projects: I just finished my birdbath. They do not have many birdbaths here in france, so I made one. Now I am working on my bathroom sink. It is going well, but oh so slow. Keith is designing the bathroom counter for the sink. He has planed and glued up the top, but he is still sketching designs in his book. The top is a thick piece of oak that will need to hold about 50-60 pounds of sink .

    It is time to reflect. We have been here 6 years this month (arrived June 2nd, 2001). Time has passed by so quickly. We are not finished with our adventure yet. There are still many times whent I drive through the country side and find myself still enchanted by the beauty. Or I walk around a ville or village and turn a corner, and it that gives me that wonderful thrill of a new discovery. I take thousands of pictures; I wish I could share more with you.

    Cherry Clafoutis 2 recipes- somewhat different

    NUMBER 1


  • 3 cups black cherries, pitted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch (cherry brandy) or Amaretto
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • PREPARATION oven at 350

    Put all the ingredients (except the cherries) in a bowl or food processor. Blend together until smooth.

    Put the cherries into a pan that is about 1 1/2 inches high and holds 8 cups (I use a quiche pan, but round cake pan would work also).

    Pour batter over the top.

    Cooking time 1/2 hour to 1 hour. Watch and when it starts to brown, start testing by inserting a knife in the center. When it pulls out clean, it is finished. Do not over cook, it will be dry.

    RECIPE 2


    • 1 pound fresh Bing cherries, pitted
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Kirsch (cherry brandy) or Amaretto
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


    In a small bowl, toss the pitted cherries with 2 teaspoons of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the kirsch. Set aside.

    Adjust an oven rack to the lowest shelf and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round Pyrex baking dish.

    Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the butter in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, cream the mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks and egg, 1 at a time, at 1-minute intervals, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low. Blend in the almond extract and the remaining 1/4 cup kirsch. The mixture will look curdled.

    Mix the flour and ground cloves and add all at once, scraping the sides of the bowl again. Increase the speed to medium low and mix until the batter is smooth, approximately 30 seconds longer. Take care not to overmix. The batter will have the consistency of thick cream.

    Place three-quarters of the cherries and their juices in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the batter over the fruit. Arrange the remaining fruit on top.

    Bake until the cake is golden brown and puffed, and a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

    Remove from the oven. Cool in the baking dish on a rack. Suggestion is to serve with ice cream?

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    May 19th, 2007

    The merry month of May. Not exactly. April drifted in with warm temperatures, smells of spring sauntered through the windows as flowers bloomed, butterflies floated from flower to flower…. THEN MAY. Temperatures dropped back to the 60’s and the rains began. Put the sweater back on and the shorts away. This month has been rather cool and lots of rain. Not always heavy rain, sometimes just drizzle, but what can you do outside when it drizzles day after day and is around 62 degrees. I should not complain too much, there was lots of concern over the low water levels (no rain the entire month of April). And then today is beautiful; blue sky with white puffy clouds. The elections ( the second round) were held on the first weekend of May. Voting here is on Sunday. There was a 85-86% turnout. Can you imagine that in the USA. Even my friend in England states it is something they can only dream about. Of course you all know the outcome by now. Mr Nicolas Sarkozy is now president. He took office on Wednesday (16th). He was elected on May 6th. So 10 days only from election to taking office. Already he has put together his cabinet. M Follin is the new Prime Minister. What do I know about it all. Not much. M Sarkozy is to the right politically. Some of the English press state that he is pro American. They never explain exactly what is meant by that statement. I do not think that M Chirac was at all anti-American. He had one disagreement with the US, and that was over the war in Iraq. Have no idea why he is “more” pro American. However I did here a snatch that was a comparison with Kennedy. M. Sarkozy is 52 years old, and has a young son who is only 10 years old. He goes out jogging (can’t even picture M Chirac out jogging) and tries to dress “more modern”. It is a great difference between the two men (Chirac and Sarkozy) in age and personalities. Right now I will reserve judgment and watch what happens in the next months. Started the month with a very busy weekend. Happily it has slowed down since then. On Friday, May 4th I helped set up for the Photo Club’s annual Photo Expo. That took a lot of time! To sort, and hang and number 65 photos! I left at 7pm that evening and promised to return in the morning to help finish the set up. And that I did, returned at 9am. People started coming a little after 10 am, the mayor arrived a little after 11am. True to form, cups of wine were put out with some snacks for the opening ceremony with the mayor. We were in the Cave of the community building.. a room with vaulted ceiling (we were in the basement). Really a nice long room. Upstairs there was a pottery exhibit. Marie Therese came over that afternoon for a visit (she wanted to see the exhibit). So we walked up to the community center (about 3km) and looked at the photos and pottery. That evening we had the Photo Club dinner. Luckily it is at the Bar/Restaurant just around the corner from us. They serve lunch Monday through Friday and dinners are only done for a group by prior request. We had a nice dinner that evening and we could stroll home. It had rained hard while we had dinner, but as we walked home there was only a drop here and there. Next morning up early because I was selling a few things at a Vide Grenier (“empty the attic”) over in Fleurey. Our friends live over in Fleurey and Robert belongs to their photoclub. This Vide Grenier was set up by the photo club. Wendy had lined up at 6am to reserve a place for us. The park where it was held is not far from their house. So I arrived and we set everything out for sale and marked our prices. We were fortunate that it was not a rainy day. People came through all day long. We stayed there until 6pm. I had mostly bits and bobs. Tried one of my garden stones, but it didn’t sell. One woman may have bought it, until she tried to pick it up. It is set into 1 ½ inch of cement! Nor did the picture we have of the loons sell. There are no loons in France. All in all it was a good day. Keith arrived on his bike in the late afternoon and helped to pack up. It was Robert’s birthday, so we had a glass of champagne and some cake and set off for home. The next morning, Monday, I was again back at the community center to help take down the exhibit. We took a walk one afternoon in the hills above Gevrey with the genealogy club. There is an old source up there (spring) and a old mill(well the ruins of the old mill). M Magnier led the group and talked about the farming that was done up there when he was a boy (he is about 80) and told of stories that he heard from his grandfather. He has the old Burgundian accent and it is hard for me to understand, but I had Keith along and he filled me in. After our walk M Magnier invited everyone over for a glass ( a coup or coup de verre) at his house. I am enjoying my two clubs and am now getting to know some people here in Gevrey. My French is not perfect, I understand more that I speak, but I am slowly getting there. Jumping in and getting involved really helps too. I have not been taking French classes lately. My professor had a hip replacement the first part of March. I do miss the classes. I did get a postcard from him this last week, and he is recuperating well. Don’t know if we will have classes during June or wait until next fall. My smalti (glass mosaic tiles from Venice) arrived this week. I am so excited. When the project is done I will send photos. Sure hope it goes well! This last week we decided to replenish our champagne supply. Wendy and Robert needed some too, so we thought we would go to our favorite champagne house (2 hours away) that gives us a discount for being loyal customers. We decided to leave about 11am and have a nice lunch before we went to taste champagne. And we did indeed have a very nice lunch. Food was wonderful. Then it was about 2:30pm so we left to go over to Chez Moutarde (champagne house). It was only about 15km from the restaurant. As we approached the village we noticed cars parked all along the country road. Hmm, what is going on today. Then there were more and more cars. Hmm. We had to cross a highway to go into the village, and there stood a man with a flag blocking the road. He was signaling us to the right for parking (in a farm field). We stopped and rolled down the window and told him we did not want to park. OK, how can we enter the village, we just want some champagne. “Well the village is blocked off today for the funeral.” Can we go around to the other side and enter, we are going to Chez Moutarde for some champagne. “Oh no, today is the funeral for M Moutarde. They are closed.” And so it goes. We visited a church in another village, Chaource. Over the centuries they have collected pieces of religious art. It is very interesting church. Today I saw in the paper the announcement for the 396th Fete de Bague. It is a festival that started in the middle ages and continues yet today. There is a horse race on the second weekend of the festival, and that is when the Bague is awarded (the ring). That is all I have to say today.

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    April 22, 2007

    Sunday, April 22, 2007 Today is the first round of the elections here in France. Brief explanation of the French elections. Any person who gets the required number of signatures can run in this first round. If one person happens to get over 51%, they are elected and it is finished. [This rarely happens. I think the last time was 1958.] So baring the majority sweep, there is the second round for the top two candidates the first part of May. Five years ago, everyone thought it would be Chirac and Jospin. The Jospin voters stayed home and VIOLA, Le Pen made it into the second round rather than Jospin. So I presume there may be a high voter turnout this year for the first round. Also France has a percent turnout far higher than the USA. It will probably be in the 60-70% range. The front runners are M. Sarkozy, Mme Royal and M. Bayrou and I guess with about 12% of the vote, Le Pen is there again. Le Pen is far right. Here the communist party runs, the green party, the labor party… there is no 2 party system like the US. Segoline Royal is a socialist. The other difference is the time frame. From the time they announce that they are candidates until the election, I think it is 6 months. There is no advertising on TV or Radio. On the news, all candidates are given equal time to speak, so this last 10 days, each one was presented on the News channels. That is all. There are a few posted pasted here and there on telephone poles, and also news articles in the newspaper is one or the other candidates visits locally. I will say that people here keep their politics closer to themselves. They may make a comment of outrage against a candidate, but seldom pontificate on their own views and political stance. It is a private subject I guess. I will say from my naïve point of view, I think Segoline Royal (as the first woman to run here in France) is a bit naïve also. She wants to spend lots of money to fix everything, and lower taxes. Also she has stumbled somewhat in world affair questions…but who knows? The paper states that there is a 40% undecided population. That is huge. So anything can happen today, maybe Le Pen will make the second round again after all!! Stay tuned.