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
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.
- 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