Sunday, December 28, 2008



It is Dec 28th [here in France] and I am adding my calendar. My Christmas note is below this posting.

If interested in my 2009 calendar go to the following site [it is Google's Picassa albums site that I use for photos]. You should be able to print a 8 by 10 from the site?! if you should want...

or maybe the links here will work?

Calendar 2009 Dec 10, 2008 by Sue - Photos by Susan Klein

Calendar 2009 [just click on calendar]

OR a SLIDESHOW of the 12 months

Just click on the arrow to start.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


December 2008

Merry Christmas

I had all these ideas of what to write about for this month. However I think I will stick to Christmas as my theme.

First I want to add some old family photos, a little nostalgia. That is part of Christmas, isn't it? Family, friends, memories, and reindeer who know to fly and santa and ....

These are old photos from the L.E.Veeser family album.
Doll House abt 1946- My sisters
Veeser Children abt 1952 -I am the youngest

Now to present times, and our life in France.

How is Christmas different in France?

Not as many houses decorate with outdoor lights out as they do in the US.

Christmas trees are not as traditional here, more often a crèche is set up, not a tree. Note that the Christmas tree (O' Tanenbaum) is a German tradition. Have to add a photo of my little tree this year. I took off in a different direction!!

However, the northeast corner (Alsace), where the German Christmas influence is seen: businesses, houses, streets... are decorated. The Alsacian region also still keeps Marché de Noel (Christmas market), which is very German.

What is the Marché de Noel you ask? Little “cabin” stands are set up outdoors and merchants sell all sorts of things for Christmas. There are candles, pottery, scarves, mittens, knives, wooden bowls, glass ware, paintings, toys, sausage, cheese, chocolate, wine, .... and the list goes on.

Here in Dijon, this year I think it was down to about 10 little cabins, mostly selling food. It just is not as big here. I think the small village of Eguisheim has more stands than Dijon!!

On Christmas Eve, there is a traditional meal called Réveillon. You should see what some of the suggested menus are for Réveillon. Three, four 5 course meals with scallops, and foie grasand ...Not for the faint of heart. I was told that Réveillon is the family gathering, and Christmas day is family and friends.

So where does this take us. I needed a little Christmas fix. It was cloudy here, and foggy and not very Christmassy in my opinion. So Keith suggested we go to the Alsace and take in the Marché de Noel at Colmar and at the same time buy some wine (Riesling for the sauerkraut and sausage dinners he loves so much).

We set out in the fog on Tuesday Dec 18th. It takes about 3 hours by the tollway. [This particular autoroute is always busy as it is the main north south route on the east side of France. Lots of trucks use it also to avoid the Alps.] As we passed through the Jura mountains, it was the very picture of winter/Christmas. There was new snow on the ground in the higher mountain area(road was good though) and the trees were covered with the heavy wet snow and the ground was all white. In the distance you could see the village with the church steeple rising above all the houses. How picturesque! However we were on the autoroute and one could not stop to take photos.

We arrived in Eguisheim (beautiful village about 7km from Colmar) around 3:30pm and took a room at the Auberge Alsacian (see photo of the front of the hotel).

Then we headed across the street to Domaine Gruss to buy some wine. We have been there several times before and they are always very welcoming. As we started our tasting with Cremant de Alsace, 3 people from Switzerland arrived to buy some wine also. Madame Gruss told some stories and we tasted their fine Alsacian wine and compared notes with the Swiss. Monsieur Gruss arrived and served some wine too and told his latest tale about trying to buy some property in Eguisheim. Then the fils (son) arrived, Andre, and took over the wine tasting. It was almost 6pm when we left, having put in our order to be picked up in the morning.

We did not think to make dinner reservations, this was after all a Tuesday night in the winter, not tourist season. Oops! We went to the hotel restaurant at about 8pm, only to find it full. Hmm, now back up to the room and get our coats, hats, scarves and gloves, for it was chilly out side. Photo has a couple of snow flakes.

The hotel next door said the restaurant was closed (looked like a private Christmas party in progress). We turned and started to roam the streets and VIOLA, down a side street Keith found an open restaurant, the Auberge Ramparts.

We were seated in the back room where is was nice and warm.

Keith loves sauerkraut and ham, and found it immediately on the menu. I took the special,Beckenhof, which is a very traditional alsatian ham/beef/lamb layered with potatoes. It was mostly ham and potatoes, but very good too.

Half way through dinner a large group was seated in the room with us. They were in a very Christmas mood and asked everyone to join in with them singing Christmas carols (in french of course). The other table next to us (Belgians) joined in too. The vigneron (winemaker)with the large group served us some of his Gewurztraminer Tardive. This is a sweet after dinner wine. He asked where we were from and Keith said we were Americans living in Burgundy. Surprise surprises, most of the people at the table were from Dijon.

All in all, just by chance we had a very pleasurable evening. We were told that we should go to the fete (festival) in St Appo (suburb of Dijon) on Dec 27th. The vigneron from Alsace will be there with his wine and oysters.

On Wednesday morning, we picked up our wine. Madame graciously offered us more wine to taste, but it was 9:30 in the morning (!!), and we were going to be on the road.

We went into Colmar (town of about 70,000 to 85,000 counting surounding area). It is beautiful at any time, and at Christmas very special. We walked around the old city for a couple of hours, taking in the Christmas market and the exhibits artisinal (artesian). I really did get an effusion of Christmas, so I want to share it with you through a couple photos.

Christmas Stand
Colmar Decorations - backside of stand
More Colmar
Leaving the Alsace Mountains in mist

As for Christmas day, we are going to Marie Therese and Christian’s house.

Before I sign off, I have to add a photo of some of my pottery. I enjoy my workshops on Thursday mornings, and I am actually making some pieces. More on it next month.



CHOCOLATE CAKE (Gateau Chocolat)

This recipe is taken from French Word-A-Day- (Michèle-France's chocolate cake).

It is a french chocolate cake recipe. As always, I tampered with this recipe. I added orange chocolate as noted below. It was wonderful. It is a moist, rich and very chocolaty dessert. This is not a diet dessert, oh my no, it is far from it. But it is the holiday season.


  • 125 grams butter
  • 200 grams dark chocolate ( I used 100grams Lindt’s 85% dark chocolate and 100 grams of Lindt’s orange chocolate)
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 4 or 5 eggs (I used 5 eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon flour (can add two or three--up to seven!) I used two spoons of flour.
  • Preparation

    1. Melt the butter and chocolate using a "bain-marie" (one saucepan placed in another saucepan, the lower one holding water). Tip: adding three tablespoons of cocoa powder to the butter/chocolate mixture will make the cake even richer.(I added the cocoa of course).

    2. Combine sugar and eggs. Stir in butter and chocolate mixture (cooled). Add flour.

    3. Pour into a cake pan and cook for 20 minutes at 180°C (350°F).

    4. I sprinkled sliced roasted almonds and powdered sugar on top. Just a little to decorate.

    Saturday, November 22, 2008


    Happy Thanksgiving

    November 2008

    This month has been interesting. I'll start with the 23rd of November and then I'll go back to the 1st of November. Sunday the 23rd we celebrated Thanksgiving. I was able to buy an 11 pound turkey (they do not grow huge turkeys here like they do in the USA). Whole turkeys are part of a Christmas tradition here,so at this time of year it is best to order a turkey 2 weeks to 10 days a head of time. I was very happy with the turkey that I bought (he is on the table in the photo). He still had a few feathers on him, but that is not a big problem. We had all the traditional food along with our turkey; mashed potatoes, squash au gratin, stuffing, wild rice, gravy, cranberries.... I even made sweet potato pie (I can get sweet potatoes, but pumpkin is not easy to find)and pecan pie. We spent from noon to 6pm - there is no football to watch, so dinner lasts longer. We had a very nice afternoon with friends, where it was warm inside although there were snow flakes in the air outside.

    Now back to the beginning, November 1st. There was a birthday party for Christophe in Clemencey [Christophe runs the Ecurie des Combes Rouges (horse stables). I have mentioned the stables before; it is where Marie Therese keeps her horse Ohtar]. We were invited, but Keith was still on his trip. So I went. It started at noon on Saturday. The diner was served in the “Club House”. The club house is a room under the main house and it is used as an office/get together room. It also has a table, a couch and a wood stove. The clubhouse was decorated for the birthday dinner and his mother was preparing the food for diner. We all were greeted with glass of Cremant de Bourgogne (sparkling wine) and snacks: gougeres, knacks, chips, ... and chinese snack mix!?

    Probably about 1:30 everyone sat down for the diner. We started with terrine (homemade- I would like the recipe). Two very large casserole (or terrine) dishes were brought out. I always eat terrine with mustard and cornichons (small pickles). I was told I was becoming very french indeed. Oh, it was very good. With this we had a white wine, aligote.

    Then some salad, after which there was Pot au Feu (or pot roast). A very decorated, very large terrine held the vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and leeks). I have never seen one this large. It was the size of a roasting pan, but it was ceramic. There were two large bowls of meat which were passed around family style. With the pot-au-feu, we had red wine, a bourgogne pinot noir.

    For the cheese course, we had fromage blanc.

    Then dessert, those who kept horses at the stables had brought desserts, so we had a choice of around 6 different desserts. Cake, chocolate cake (very dense and very chocolaty), pastry filled with cream, and beignets.... What can I say, we were all full. Someone put on the music and some of us did the twist and rock and roll. Exercise was needed at this point. In this small room, there were 20 some people, and about 5 dogs. It was a great time.

    I did not stay late, I wanted to drive at a reasonable time. Since I had stopped drinking early, I did not want to stay and start up again. The drive home from Clemencey is on small country roads (and I do mean small, not like american roads). So I left at about 6pm, having spent a delightful afternoon with friends.

    November 4th with the election is an historical point in US history. The news people (I have CNN here) were stating this is one of the moments that people will say “I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news”. And so it goes. I must say that the french people are happy with the outcome. It was a big topic here just before the elections, and everyone would ask me what I thought would happen. Our paper the Bien Public from Dijon, which only reports local news, had 3 days running with the first half of the front page dedicated to the US elections. Monday had a half page photo of Obama with “WILL THEY DARE?”, on Tuesday a half front page with both of the candidates and on Wed of course the results. The TV news was similarly occupied by the elections. On Sunday night, the major french station TF1, canceled the news that runs 8pm to 8:40pm and had an US election special report. My friend from London said the British news too was all about the american elections. She had never seen so much reporting for the USA elections.

    Moving on to other topics. Keith finished his trip on November 7th. This trip was from St Legere north to Dijon. However due to the rain the first week and the flooding of the Saone river, they only got as far as Chalon-sur-Saone. All navigation further north was closed. They were to go up to St.-Jean-de-Losne (pronounced as St Jon de Loan-ya) on the Saone river and then back onto the Burgundy canal up to Dijon. So things were quickly re-arranged and all went well. The travelers were very happy with the trip. With buses rerouted, all the day trips continued as planned, although the journey from one place to another was slightly altered.

    This was the last trip for the boat Abercrombie. The company OATS is closing down the Burgundy canal tour. With the dollar down (as it was this last year) and the ratio of staff to clients, I guess the profit margin was not good enough.

    As stated above,the month started with rain. There were floods on the Saone and the Loire in the Burgundy region. Rain at this time of year is not unusual however, although this was excessive. It was chilly too. One morning when I opened the shutters (volets), it smelled like a winter day; that cold fresh snow smell. All we had though was some frost that morning.

    After the first week, the weather improved again. The temperature returned to about 55-60 F during the day and about 45-50 at night. I do like this gentler climate we have here in Gevrey, I noticed that in Minnesota it is already snowing. That said, with all those years in Minnesota, it is difficult to see Christmas decorations out everywhere when it is still warm. My mind does not comprehend that Christmas is approaching when the weather is more like September or October. [update nov 22- today we had some white flakes in the sky. So we are going to get winter a little early. Major snow east of france].

    Went mushroom hunting again. I love to walk around here in the countryside. This time we did not go into the woods, but walked in the scrub areas on top of the hills. Here in the scrub area, holly grows all over. In the long wet grasses one can find a mushroom called mousserons d’autome. We found a large bag full that day. But the scenery was more important to me. It was a fairly clear day, with some haze on the horizon towards the Saone valley. We could see the Jura mountains, and they looked closer than usual. Marie Therese said that when the mountains looked magnified like that, it means rain is coming. And sure enough it rained the next day. We were on the plateau above Chambolle. I took a photo of the cliffs of Chambolle while we were there.

    Fall is slowly giving way to winter. Many trees have lost their leaves. Some are hanging on tightly to those golden leaves. All the vines are bare too. With fall comes the clipping of the vines and burning of these clipped branches. So along with misty rain, and fog there is smoke from the vineyards. To us now, the smoke and the smell are part of our winters here.

    It is also time to change the flowers. I think I have mentioned the Ville Fleurir (flowering city) here in France. They take great pride in the flower displays. Now the August / September flowers have been removed and the planters filled with mums or pansies. The mums are so colorful and vibrant.

    The weekend, November 14th,15th, and 16th was the annual fete in Beaune. On this weekend is the big auction de Hospice de Beaune. It is the bell weather for the price of this years wine harvest. The auction is on Sunday. > However, Beaune turns out a big celebration. There are booths all through out the center of Beaune selling almost anything you can imagine. Many are dedicated to food; cheese, sausage, terrines, bread, cookies, chocolate ... Others are selling crafts such as pottery or paintings or hand made cloths or knits or loomed wool or .... There are bands (we saw 3) walking up and down the streets to entertain, and one big recital in the main hall. There is also a wine tasting, but it cost 24 euros, so did not go there.

    Instead we went and bought a glass of wine.

    There was also a cork-pulling contest. There are 10 bottles filled with water and then corked. The first contestant to pull out the 10 corks is the winner. Ah, guess who decided to enter this contest? Oh no, not me, but Marie Therese did. She came in 3rd unfortunately, but still won a bottle of wine. All in a days fun.

    On Monday the 17th, we went down to the Domaine Jean Claude Breliere in Rully (some of you have been there). It was a sunny day and it is about 40 minutes from here. Anna Breliere was talking about the miracle of wine. How you start in the spring and tend the vines and worry all season for good weather, then pick the grapes and then make wine. She was talking with such passion about their lives, and of wine making. Jean Claude wants to move towards a more “biologique” approach, using fewer insecticides. It is not an easy transition to make, but one has to start sometime. As we talked we also tasted their wines (the 2007 whites and 2006 reds). We spent a delightful 2 hours with them.

    Keith is out for a bike ride, and on nice days, I still try to ride my bike to the Super U for groceries.

    My Thursdays are busy with pottery in the morning and photo club in the evening. I do enjoy my hobbies. However I worked on the wheel the other day for about 2 ½ hours and my arms have a few sore muscles. I was having trouble centering the clay and it takes a lot of strength to bring it all into the center. I guess the old saying, “no pain , no gain”.

    That is the closing for this month (I am not going to mention the horrible market situation)!!!!

    Recipe of the month

    DIJON Vinaigrette: (8 servings)

    NOTE: All ingredients must be a room temperature Make vinaigrette immediately before serving.


    • 2 Tbsp. Mustard
    • 1/4 tsp Salt
    • 1/4 - 1/2 c. Oil (I use olive oil)
    • 1 Tbsp. Vinegar


    Add the oil in small quantities to the mustard/salt, stirring constantly (5-10 min) Stir, stir, stir……. Add oil, add oil, add oil……. Mixture will begin to thicken, "plump-up”, and that is when you are finished. Now add vinaigre just till the point where the consistency becomes more fluid.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Moments in History

    Here in France it is just after 5am..

    At 5am my time, the polls closed in the US and Obama was announced as the clear winner..

    This is an important moment in history.

    YES, WE CAN !


    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Octobre 2008

    October 2008

    October has been a good month and a bad month; a cold month and a warm month; a month that has had some real extremes.

    The seasons are definitely changing. Brrrrrr. The winter fog has arrived, and misty days along with it. My morning bicycle trips to the store are less and less. Then just when you shiver a little, there are a few days of Indian summer (Eté indian).

    The Cote was extremely d’Or this fall; that is the region called the Cote D’Or (side of gold) was covered in vines of gold and red (gold-vermilion). On sunny days it was beautiful. I must say that my photo does not do it justice.

    Keith accepted another trip for OATs (overseas adventure tours). He left on Monday the 25th and will return on Nov 7th. The clients, 19 this trip, arrived Tuesday morning, the 26th. He said the group was primarily from Rhode Island and many knew each other.

    This is not the prettiest or the warmest time of year for a trip on the canal. On Thursday the 30th, they were bused from Lyon to the boat at St-Léger. Wednesday in Lyon they had some snow flakes in the air (I saw blue sky in Paris).

    It is foggy this time of year, so seeing the sites could be rather difficult. Keith said they seemed to be having a great time in spite of the fog/snow/rain.

    I presume this is the last tour of the year. The tourist canals (such as the Burgundy canal) shut down over winter. There have been articles in the paper on the canals this last year asking the question “ how long will the government pay to maintain these tourist canals”. There are some waterways in France that are still used for commercial transportation, but the Burgundy canal not one of them. Maybe some cargo, but it is primarily used for tourists or recreation. A few people actually live on the canals full time in their boats (of course the size varies, but there are some that have move floor space than our house).

    In Pouilly-en-Auxois there is a canal tunnel that was a great engineering feat in 1832. Thought I would throw some history at you. [ site is in english]

    The final part of the construction of the Burgundy canal was the complicated and impressive tunnel, which is at the summit. This tunnel is 3.333 kilometres long in a straight line, you must remember that at these times 90% of the work was manual. At its deepest section there is 48 metres of land above the tunnel. The building of the tunnel began in 1826 and was terminated in 1832, the work was very difficult and dangerous, and quite a few workers lost their lives during the digging. The tunnel is ventilated by 32 wells, which climb to the surface; they were also used to assist in excavating the earth during the digging. The tunnels were added to the construction after a few years of operation, after it was realized that the pollution generated by the steal boat tug was dangerous.

    This last month I found my first trompette de la mort( latin-Craterellus cornucopoides) in the woods. These are tiny black mushrooms that really blend into the fallen leaves. OK, so there were just 3 tiny mushrooms, not enough for an omelet even, but I found them, really.

    There is a week in October that is to celebrate taste. There are events during the week all over France. This year I went with Wendy to Auxey Duress. The winegrowers in this village have an open house for tasting their wine each year. It was a beautiful Saturday morning when we left for our trip south. It is about 45 minutes south. We went in the morning so the village would not be too crowded. We found a great parking spot and set out with the village map provided. We tasted wine at six different caves. There was a lot of good wine, however I was looking for a very good wine for Marie Therese to add to her selection (she could not go with us that day). I did not find a that very good wine (she already offers some of the wines I tasted, and I thought that the ones she had were better). I bought only 2 bottles of one wine I did like, a St-Romain (maybe for Thanksgiving). I did take a photo however.

    About mid October Gevrey hosted the annual Clunisian conference. To end it, they had a concert open to the public in the village church (L'EGLISE SAINT AIGNAN). There is a choir in the area called Laostic. They sing baroque music. So imagine this, you are sitting in a church built in the 9th century(Ok so it has been rebuilt here and there, but ignore that point for now). It is a small stone church. It is semi dark. There are about 12 women in the front of the church. The men approach from the back with candles, chanting. The chant goes back and forth between the men and women, as the men slowly advance to the front to join the women.

    The repertoire of music for this concert was church music from the Cluny period (but of course). Marie Therese and Christian went with us to the concert and we had dinner here after. I have to add that there was great confusion about the starting time of the concert, and then to add to it, some of the singers were late. So the concert started about 50 minutes after the time I had been given. C’est la vie.

    I started pottery again. The course is here in Gevrey. She is a very good instructor. Now if only I could throw a pot!! I want to really learn how to work the wheel. It is a fun class; there are 6 of us in it right now. It is on Thursday mornings.

    This fall I am continuing with the photo club and the genealogy club too. Everything is here in Gevrey. I like that. Last week in photo club we were learning how to take studio photos. It would be fun to set up the studio and have some time alone working on photos. In a class situation, each person takes a turn.... but it is interesting. As for the model, we had a mannequin head instead of a model.

    While Keith is away.... I went to Paris on the 29th with Marie Therese. We had planned this trip for months, but with schedules and train rates, it just did not happen (The cost on the train varies all the time, and can be very expensive to go in the morning when business people go. I found that the rate varied as much as 70 euros one way.). So finally we went, we were both open and I found some good rates. Early morning rise, and out the door to Paris. It was so foggy that morning we saw little beyond 50 feet from the train window for much of the trip.

    Our train did come to a full stop because a hunting dog was on the tracks. Poor dog was lost I presume. One can tell it is a hunting dog because they add a florescent collar to dogs when they are hunting. And there it was, a florescent orange collar. Sure hope he found his way home (the train did not hit the dog, I did see it as we pulled away, sniffing happily and wagging its tail).

    Back to Paris, we had a nice day. The fog started to lift about noon and we actually had a blue sky for part of the afternoon. We did stop at the Petite Palais where there was a glass exhibit (vases and such by such artists as Galle) and a photo exhibit.

    I also found this fabulous kitchen store. It is shelves upon shelves and pigeon holes here and there with all the things a professional chef would need. It is all high quality, but the place is just packed with all these goodies. The shelves are wooden and are old. The shop is over 200 years old,and probably has not changed one bit. The isles were very narrow. Here is a site that has acouple of good photos (you have to take his article with a grain of salt..., but the photos are great. It was not difficult to figure out the pricing system! ).

    Just to note, the American Embassy had cement barriers and then metal fence barriers with gendarmes all over the place. I tried to ask what was going on, but I presume they were not a liberty to say anything. The gendarme shrugged.

    We walked a lot, from the Gare Lyon to the Place de Concorde and then some. Luckily it was a nice day.

    Novembre 1st there is a party for Christophe’s birthday. He is the young man with the horse stables in Clemencey. I have been invited. Have to add notes in November about the party.

    That sums up this month. Now we move into November. Any predictions for Tuesday?


    It is fall and the apples are in the store. This is an easy and healthy recipe for all to enjoy


    (for 2 people)

  • 1 large apple such as Gala, peeled, cored and cut into about ½ inch cubes
  • 4 figs cut into cubes
  • 1 pear, peeled and cut into cubes (depends on size)
  • 1/3 cup raisons
  • Vanilla bean -cut open and add seeds
  • 2 Tbs sugar ( this all depends on the sweetness of the fruit). Careful not to add too much, let the fruit add most of the sweet flavor. Start with less and taste.
  • Toss everything in a pan. To start, you need to add a little liquid, about ¼ cup. You can add apple juice, pear juice, or half water-half white wine.

    Cover pan and put on stove top with low heat. Watch carefully and cook until the fruit is soft, but still in cubes. Serve warm. It is that simple.

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Septembre 2008

    Here it is October 4th and I have yet finished writing my September Journal. I am looking at this piece of paper(computer) and wondering if one can have writers block when one is not a writer. So I must get on with it and put pen to paper, or actually, fingers to the keyboard.

    It has been a busy time.

    On the 6th of September, Christophe at Clemancey (Ecuries des Combes Rouge) had a horse show. Unfortunately, it was not a very pretty day. In spite of the clouds and a little spritz of rain, the show went on. The horses did dresage (to music) and jumping. Marie Therese had both horses in the show, Ohtar and Susette. There was also a small Icelandic horse. It is funny watching him run with the short little legs.

    September horse show Jumping

    Then we had company. Keith's cousin Ginny and friend Diane came for a visit. We tried to show some of our life here in the Cote D'Or. We toured Dijon (and the market), a little church if Fixey (pronounced fee-say) that is about 1000 years old, or at least part of it is. Also a small church in Bagnot known for it's frescos, including fresco's of the devils. Although this site is french, there are some good photos [ ]. The frescos are from 1484...amazing. We toured Citeaux, an abbey started by the Saint Robert of Molesme in 1098, following the rules of St. Benedict. Only a couple of the old buildings remain, many torn down through the centuries, ending with the revolution 1791 when the government took it over. There is the obligatory souvenir shop, but they were out of cheese that day, the monks make a great cheese!!

    Also we went to Beaune and visited the Hôtel-Dieu (I think I have mentioned this before, but if you want more info, check here; (  ) and then Bligny to see the trains.

    On Friday night, I had tickets for a concert in the church of Chambolle. Each September, Gevrey has featured concerts (Festival de Musique de Chambertin) and wine tastings.This was one of the many concerts, featuring baroque music. After this concert there was a wine tasting featuring the wines of Chambolle-Musigny. I thought it was a good combination.

    We had a great time visiting with the two of them. So much to do and so little time.

    Keith and I went to Ireland for a week. Overall, we had NO RAIN. Amazing for Ireland, and from what we were told, amazing for this year. Apparently it has rained all year.

    The first couple days were in Dublin. We walked from one end of the city to the other taking in the sites. We saw Trinity College (unfortunately there was a long line at the library for the book of Kells, so we did not wait to see it -next time), St. Stephan's park, and the Temple Bar precinct... Tired we went back to the hotel, had dinner and went to bed.

    Christ Church Dublin Pub

    Second day, we took in the post office (1916 rebellion), Dublin Castle and C. Beatty Library. The Beatty Library has a very interesting collection of manuscripts, oriental costumes, collection of Korans and Egyptian papyrus that is very old indeed(1200 BC). Stunning collection. We also walked over to the Christ Church Cathedral and St Patricks, but since both charged to go into the church, we declined.

    That day we ate a "Carvery" lunch. It was 10 euros, and the plate was full. I had pork, and then they added 2 kinds of potatoes and vegetables!!! A little sluggish after a lunch like that, we just walked around slowly looking taking in Dublin. Late afternoon we went to Phoenix park and rented bikes. It said in the tour book that this park is double the size of Central Park in New York. It is huge. We rode around for an hour, and saw only part of the park. It is a real treasure, and hey, the bike rental was only 5 euros.

    The next off to Waterford. We got into Waterford and had a late lunch. Then we managed to catch the walking tour that was enjoyable. That evening we had a fabulous dinner in an Indian restaurant. The next day was Sunday, and bright and sunny. Most places are closed on Sunday. First the Waterford Crystal Factory tour, which does not close. It was interesting, and of course one could buy crystal from the large store after the tour. We ate lunch and then we took the bus to Tramore, about a 30 minute ride down to the ocean. Tramore is likened to Coney island, but it was fairly tame since the season is over. Families were out enjoyed the beach and a few brave souls were actually in the water (although the water did feel warm). We ended the afternoon in a pub having a beer and watching the end of a football (soccer) game with a huge crowd, and then the bus ride back to Waterford.

    Cutting Glass Duplicate of the NY New Year's Ball
    Tramore Beach

    We looked through the tourist book and picked Kilkenny as the next destination. We took the train (about 1 hour) and arrived in Kilkenny just before noon. Little did we know that Kilkenny was hosting the “Ploughing Championship”. All rooms were booked!! We checked at the tourist office also, and were told the same, but thought we should check one B&B up by the train station. VIOLA, they had a cancellation, and we had a bed for one night. It was a lovely place and only about 1/2km into the city center. Kilkenny is a lovely city, and we wish we had had time to explore more. We did sign up for the walking tour and found it very interesting. The man giving the tour had his Phd in history. Kilkenny is also known for its black limestone, and is called the marble city.

    Alas, since there were no rooms for the next night, we were off once again in the morning. We headed back to Dublin this time.

    Keith went for a bike ride that afternoon (back to Phoenix park) and I went back to the city center.

    On our last day, we took the “Dart” (commuter train) out to the Howth peninsula north of Dublin. This was the cloudiest day we had. Howth is a fishing village. We did our share of walking, however there was not that much to see. It was nice to be on the ocean again.

    We did run into one local saying. We were asked, "Are you doing OK now", to which we replied "yes we are fine". It took a couple of times, and we finally realized that saying is used to ask, "Can I help you"?. That cleared up, we got your beers faster.

    They say that the Guinness is better in Irleland, and Keith agrees.

    I have not even finished looking at my photos of Ireland, but I have included a few. I have many to go through yet, it takes time.

    That about sums up our tour of Ireland. We had a good time, but just to let you know, Ireland is one of the most expensive European countries!

    On returning home, we had another Gevery-Chambertin concert on Saturday night. This was in the church at Fixin. Thierry Caens and his brother Jean Pierre were the leading players, however it was not limited to them. Thierry plays the trumpet and Jean Pierre plays the sax, and they were accompanied by trombones, french horns, oboes, piano, harpsichord, violin, bass... and the list goes on. It was delightful. The 2 hours went fast. The sound in the church, since it is small, was very good. We enjoyed the evening immensely.

    This last week, Marie Therese and I went into the woods for mushrooms. It has been dry here, so I did not expect much. However, I found my first trompette de morte (also called black chanterelle, horn of plenty and trumpet of death). OK, they were very small, and did not really provide enough for a good dinner. We actually did see lots of mushrooms, very few (almost none) were edible. Next time we should find more, it rained yesterday.

    VENDANGE... harvest of grapes. It started around the 23rd in our area, and is mostly finished. How will it be this year? We had tried a grape when Ginny was here, and they were not as sweet as previous years. Did the extra 10 days of sun help? The first big tasting is in November when there is the wine sale for the Hospice de Beaune. This year most of the grapes in back of our house were picked by machine. They did this on Thursday. One third of the field (south end) was picked by hand.

    And today, Keith is riding his bike and I may go mushroom hunting

    Recipe for the Month 

    Gougères (very Burgundian hors d'ouevres)


    • 3/4 cup flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheese Emmental,Gruyère, or Swiss


    1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
    2. 2. Sift together flour, salt.
    3. 3. Bring water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add dry ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until well-blended and mixture starts pulling away from the sides of the pan (approximately 1 minute).
    4. 4. Cook mixture on low heat for 2 minutes, beating constantly. Remove from heat.
    5. 5. Beat eggs together in a small bowl. Then gradually add eggs, one tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture. Beat thoroughly after each addition. Dough should be smooth and shiny.
    6. 6. Mix-in the cheese.
    7. 7. Drop dough on a greased baking sheet, one tablespoon at a time.
    8. 8. Bake until browned, 20-25 minutes.
    9. 9. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm

    Sunday, August 31, 2008

    August 2008

    August 31, 2008

    August is over. It has not been a typical August here however. It is usually our hottest month and somewhat dry. This year the temp has rarely been over 75 degrees, and it was not dry at all the first half. So cool and damp. Ah but this last week has been beautiful. Sunny and not too warm, just perfect.

    I started a new regime a few weeks ago. I am riding my bike to the Super U (grocery store). It is about 2km to the store. Last Saturday I started out at 9:00am (store opens at 9:00am), and there I was going down the Avenue la Gare with two other mamies (slang for grandmother or any woman of a certain age). We all pedaled our way to the store. I know 4km is not much, but it better than nothing. This morning I did a bit longer tour. There is little traffic early on a Sunday morning. I had in mind to ride through the vineyard on this side of the highway, but it was already closed early this morning for some event (the road I wanted to use also passes the stade (stadium), so I assume that the event was there at the stadium. So I pedaled the other direction over to the Super U, across the highway into Brochon, and I returned to Gevrey on the old "Route de Tacot" .

    What is that? Tacot was/ is the name generic name given to the small railroad that went between the small villages. It was not part of the government rail system. It existed the latter half of the 19th century to the 1930’s. There was one that went from Dijon to Beaune. Le "Tacot" fait 2 aller-retour par jour entre Dijon et Beaune. Le voyage dure près de 4 h. The Tacot made two round trips each day between Dijon and Beaune. The trip took near 4 hours.

    Some of the routes have been paved (like the one I used this morning), others are paths through the woods, such as the one from Gevrey to Curley. This route went through pine woods, through one tunnel (combe Grisard between Gevrey-Chambertin and Curley) and climbed to the plateau (474 m altitude – Gevrey is about 220 m). It is now a walking trail.

    The tunnel in the Combe Grisard
    Old station in Dijon

    This month I have been taking photos. That is where I have spent most of my time. This would be for the Photo Club, the "jeu de ete" (summer game) that I explained last month. I do have some photos that I really like. Also I have taken photos of churches for the same reason.

    Street in Village

    History 101 - Julius Ceasar defeated the Gauls here in 52 BC

    Argilly Note: both are small villages

    Keith took another camping trip this last week. He camped up in the Champagne region. He was gone for 3 days and did a total of 300km. This will probably be the last trip of the season. Then he did another ride yesterday for a total of over 400km this last week. He loves that new bike too.

    Speaking of Champagne, I went with Marie Therese to the champagne region. She needed some champagne for a customer. Keith and I have a "carte de fidelité" at this champagne house, so we get a discount of 22%. We tasted a little (just a little, really) and then both of us purchased some champagne (you have to realize that a bottle of good quality champagne cost about 14.50 euros). I bought a few half bottles this time. Last night it was warm and we had dinner on the patio. About 9:30 we opened the half-bottle and had a wonderful glass of champagne for our dessert. As the sky went from twilight to dark, we sipped on our glasses and enjoyed the rest of the evening . Ahhh....

    Since the weather has been nice we have had a few picnics. We pack up a nice lunch and head off in some direction, find or table or spread the blanket and enjoy a lunch in the country. A couple of weeks ago we went to Alesia. Keith had the bike on top of the car, so he road back. I went on to Flavigny and walked around taking photos and then returned home. A very pleasant Sunday.

    I think I have talked about Clemencey before. That is where Marie Therese keeps her horse Ohtar. On Sept 7th, Christophe is having a small fete. The horses will do some dresage and jumping. So I will have some photos from there for next month. But here are a couple of shots.

    Icelandic horse

    Oh so french....

    This week with the dry weather, I thought it time to start to harvest some of the lavendar. The bees were not in total agreement however. That aside, I got out the electric trimmer and cut away. I cut about half and then had a change of heart towards the bees and left the rest for them for another week. My neighbor was outside, so I stopped and talked to her for a awhile. It was getting late and it was time to clean up. I grabbed the trimmer..not by the regular handle, but the handle that when grsped turns on the trimmer...and the cord fell and I cut the cord. I knew the consequence of this. Oh dear, and Keith out camping somewhere. I looked at the fuse box (yes a fuse box) and thought I had better clean up and get fuses before the stores close at 7pm. Took a shower and reached for the hair dryer... oops that is not going to work. So with wet hair I went out and bought a parcel of fuses in varying sizes. Then I set to work to try to identify what fuse I had blown. Eureka, some turn red and there it was. I replaced two actually. Then I turned the breaker and NOTHING !!! Went over everything once more and nothing again. Finally broke down and went to the neigbors house and asked for help. I take it that Jacques may have been in the shower, he was not available. However, Marion showed me there box and that the one swithed had to be turned to the right -Yep did that - and the other pushed up so it showed RED. Showed red, not green?!? That was the problem. I had it on green -green for GO. Went home and pushed up the little switch to red, and VIOLA, I had electricity once more. Whew.

    Later in the month of September, we are going to Ireland for a few days. I found a deal that I could not pass up, so booked a trip. Of course you will see photos and I will write all about it next month. Right now we have no real plans. We fly into Dublin. That is as far as I have gone on making any plans. We have talked about going south of Dublin along the coast to Wexford and Waterford. We will see what we do.

    Recipe for the month

    Picnic Loaf (must make 24 hours in advance)


    To grill-

  • § 1 small eggplant)
  • § 1 zucchini)
  • § Sweet onion large)
  • § 1 jar grilled red pepper (drained))
  • § 1 small jar of tapenade)
  • § Basil pesto)
  • § Cheese ( I have used pre-sliced Port Salut with herbs)-Sliced fairly thin)
  • Vinaigrette

  • § 3 TBS olive oil)
  • § 1 TBS vinegar)
  • § 1 large tsp of mustard)
  • § 1 finely chopped shallot)
  • § 1 minced garlic)
  • § 1 round or oblong loaf of bread (NOT SLICED)
  • Procedure

    1. 1. Cut off top of bread, put aside the top
    2. 2. Remove inside of bread making a hollow bowl.
    3. 3. Brush inside with vinaigrette
    4. 4. Add a layer of tapenade and pesto to the bottom of the bowl and the inside of the cap
    5. 5. Peel and slice (1/4 inch thick) onion, zucchini and egg plant
    6. 6. Brush with vinaigrette and place on grill
    7. 7. watch carefully and turn when slightly browned
    8. 8. If excess oil, place on paper towel when finished.
    9. 9. While all the vegetables are still hot, put a layer of eggplant, then cheese, red pepper, zucchini, onion. Repeat is possible. You put this together when the vegetables are hot to warm, to slightly warm or melt the cheese-just a little.
    10. 10. Put on top, wrap and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours with a heavy weight on top(I use full wine bottles).

    To serve: with round bread, cut into wedges like you would a pie. With an oblong, cut off end and then serve in slices.

    Makes a great picnic sandwich or use for an outdoor BBQ.

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    JULY 2008

    July 23 2008

    I went to look for my July letter in my file, I was sure I had started one. But alas, there was nothing to be found. Couldn’t be that I just forgot, could it? Or maybe the computer ate my journal (we do not have a dog).

    We have been enjoying the summer so far.

    My photo club has a summer game. A theme or rather a project has been presented to us: a method to make us take photos over the summer break. As if that were a problem. It is called “Jeu de Ete” (summer game). This year we are to take photos of anything we want, and then make a diporama (slide-show) to be presented this fall at club meetings. I thought and thought ....and thought some more. Since we do not go anywhere in the summer, how could I compete with some grand vacations to exotic places with beautiful photos. So I finally came up with my idea. It is not earth shaking; it is just “Vacation in the Cote D’Or”. It will be presented by a garden gnome (nain de jardin) I have given him a temporary name of Herman. I want a non-french name, so any ideas? Send them to me. It is NAME that gnome time! ( )

    HERMAN Herman in Beaune

    It was not easy to find Herman. I finally found him in a place called Cadeau-rama. He was cheap. Keith and I went into a couple of garden centers and looked, but neither of us wanted to ask if they had any {“you want what? “ –OK so I think it would be a little embarrassing to ask for a garden gnome. Sorry if I offend any garden gnome lovers *). The problem will be what to do with him after his movie career. I have included a photo of Herman on the Blog site. All the photos have to be taken this summer. Makes the project a little harder. Better get out there and take some photos. * there is a group in France called “Free the Garden Gnomes” [Liberation de Nains de Jardin]

    Ah yes, the gas prices. The pinch is felt here too. I guess I do not have great sympathy for my fellow Americans who are shocked at $4.00 per gallon. Looking at my gas log, we hit that in 2005. Most of the cars here have always been on the small side due to prices of gas. However, the appearance of the gas-guzzler arrived about 2 years ago; the large 4x4 that get about 6 miles to the gallon. Our prices are up here too, so not sure what these people will do with these cars as we go forward.

    The biggest complainers are the truckers and agricultures. Their livelihoods depend on gas. Through the month of June there have been many protests. They had blocked the refiners so no gas could be delivered. Luckily it did not affect us here. There was also operation called “Le Escargot” (the snail). One day I went to northeast Dijon to shop and used the Rocade (a 4 lane highway that goes around the east side of the city). Going south there were about 20 semi trucks going about 20 kilometers per hour blocking both lanes of traffic. Very slow. Traffic was backed-upped for miles. Escargot!!

    Keith finished a second trip the first week in July. All went well again. He does not want another trip this summer. They have offered one the end of Oct, I am not sure he is going to take it. It is up to him.

    The good news about this job, he bought himself a new bike (the total reason for taking this job). For those that are into bikes, it is a Orbea. It is a road bike and he has taken little forays around the Cote D’Or since he got it a couple weeks ago.

    July 6th was once again the Ralleye de Charmes, in Gevrey. Keith, Robert and I played the game this year (Wendy was in the states). There are 22 villages in the canton de Gevrey and it is within these villages.

    This Ralleye involves;

    Step one: identifying the 5 photos from the list of 8 villages

    Step two: in 3 villages there is the Master of the Game (Maitre de Jeu). You stop in the village and find the Maitre and then answer 2 questions. This year it was a taste test, how fun.

    First was to identify the two fruits in the pain d’epice (kind of a spice cake here in Burgundy) – this was in the village of Chambolle-Musigny.(the fruits were zest of lemon and black currents[cassis]).

    Second was to identify 3 cheeses - this was in Gevrey, [Ami de Chambertin, Epoisse, and Soumartin]

    Third to identify 3 wines- in Brochon..We new the names of the 3 wines (Bourgogne, Gevrey Chambertin and Cote de Nuits), but we had to decide which was which.

    Step three: to solve 3 enigmas and therefore find the blue stake with the number for the combination lock.

    We did fairly well, but did not win this year. We did get a bottle of wine, but not a big prize.

    The ralleye really takes most of the day. I think Robert said we drove about 100km. This year (unlike last year) there were lots of people in the contest. The weather was not the best, it rained off and on all day. We had a good time however, but we really wanted to win (whine). It is a great way to learn more about the immediate area. Did you know the pain d’epice came from China (we didn’t)!

    Keith went out on his touring bike for a couple days of biking and camping. Can’t imagine what his bike weighs fully loaded with all his gear!! Some hills, no mountains this time.

    I have out hunting for mushrooms with Marie Therese. We have found chanterelles both times we have been out. They are good mushrooms It has not rained now for several days, so no point looking for them this week.

    I love the garden here. Roses grow like weeds. It is so easy when you do not have to dig and hole and bury them like we did in Minnesota. And the lavender, it is a little out of control. I had no idea it would get that big. As for my potager (vegetable garden), the tomatoes are coming along nicely. I do not think I will get much zucchini (courgettes) this year, they have some blue spots on the leaves...probably not a good sign. Planted green beans and squash also, and have had some beans already. And the cucumber (just one so far) was great. I think I use some of my herbs almost every day.

    Our House Bee: Where is the honey

    We had to get a new refrigerator last week. The old one just gave up. When the wine is warm, something is wrong (it was at 55 degrees). So we went to look for a new one. We have a space that it had to fit into, so we were very limited in our choices by size. But the refrigerators here in France come with a wine rack. What a civilized idea. Isn’t much of surprise I suppose. The rack hangs from a shelf and holds 4 bottles of wine. I kind of like the idea. Here in France the big side by side refrigerator/ freezer is called “frigo American”.

    We have taken advantage of the weather lately. Last week we went to La Montagne de Trois Croix for a picnic, and today we set off north west with a picnic. I wanted to take photos of the source of the river Seine. It is not far from here. It was originally a Roman temple site to the diety Sequana. Under Napolean III, the statue that is there now was put in place.

    "sculpteur dijonnais Auban qui réalisa cette nouvelle statue, immaculée, qui évoque la déesse Sequana." [Scuplture of Dijon, Auban, created the new statue, which evoques the goddess Sequana] . Aren't you glad you stick around for these little pieces of information.

    Picnic Site Source of the River Seine

    We have also made a few tours of the craft shows that are all around right now. I have a couple of photos, but I have added this one of tatting.

    Tatting- Can you imagine!

    Of course it is the TOUR DE FRANCE right now. Still some riders caught doping again this year. It is too bad. How will it end this year. A lot will be determined on Saturday when the riders have the Time Trial. Saestre is in yellow, can he stay there? He is usually good in a time trial, but anything can happen. It did not come close to us this year, so we did not go to view any stages. Maybe next year.

    On to the last item. I complained about the bathroom, wrote about redecorating, and also whined about the work involved. But it is almost finished. For those that have any interest, I have added the photos to the Internet –the before and after photos.

    Never in my life did I think I would use the color orange.

    I think I have run out of things to say for this month.

    Recipe for the month

    Dijon Pain d’Epice, or spiced honey cake. This variation on a northern European gingerbread recipe first came to Burgundy in 1369 with the court of Margaret, Countess of Flanders, when she married Philip the Bold. The original Flemish recipe was modified to Burgundy tastes by using only wheat flour instead of rye, and adding anise seed to the honey-sweetened batter.Pain d’épice is a common snack for children as well as a trendy ingredient in Burgundy menus. The spicy cake can serve as a base for desserts, with poached pears or in charlottes. Thinly sliced and toasted, it’s good layered with cherries or cassis berries and pastry cream.

    PAIN D'EPICE AU MIEL has many variations - here are 2)


    ( Pour les doses, utiliser un pot de yaourt) to measure , use the yogurt container Butter and flour bread pans

    Mélanger: (MIX)

    • 2 pots de lait tiède (2 containers of warm milk )
    • + 2 pots de miel liquide (2 containers of liquid honey )
    • + 2 pots de sucre en poudre (2 containers of powder sugar )
    • + 5 pots de farine (2 containers of flour )
    • + 2 oeufs (2 eggs )
    • + 1 cuillère a café de bicarbonate de soude (1 tsp baking soda )

    Parfum au choix (choice of flavors ) zeste d'orange ou 1 cuillère a café d'anis vert ou 1 cuillère a café de cannelle ou fruit confits

    (zest of orange or 1 tsp of green anis or 1 tsp of cinnamon or candied fruit )

    Bien battre au fouet et cuire au four préchauffe a 150° : (mix well cook in a preheated oven at 150 Celsius (about 300F )

    1. 15 minutes pour les petits sujets ( 15 minutes for small pans - banana bread type pans)
    2. ou 20 minutes pour les grand ( 20 minutes for medium pans) ou
    3. 1 h a 1h30 pour les gros pains ( 1 hour to 1h 30 min for Large pans)



    • 25 cl de lait ( milk )
    • 100 gr de beurre ( butter)
    • 500 gr de miel de bonne qualité ( honey )
    • 500 gr de farine ( flour )
    • 30 gr de cassonade ( natural sugar )
    • 1 c. café de bicarbonate. ( 1 tsp baking soda )
    • 60 gr d'écorces d'orange confite.( candied zest of orange )
    • 1 c. café de cannelle ( 1 tsp cinnamon )
    • ½ c. café de grains d'anis ( ½ tsp anis )
    • 2 pincées d'épices type cumin et gingembre ( 2 pinches of cumin or ginger )
    • 30 gr d'amandes effilées (sliced almonds )
    • ½ c. café de gingembre en poudre. ( 1/2 tsp ginger )
    • 1c. soupe d'eau de fleur d'oranger.( 1 tbs orange water )
    • ½ c. café de sel ( 1/2 tsp salt )

    Préchauffer le four th. 5 ( 150°C) Preheat the oven abt 300 degrees


    1. Chauffer le lait. ( warm the milk )
    2. Faire dissoudre le miel liquide hors feu. ( take off the heat and dissolve the honey in the milk )
    3. Remettre à feu doux et ajouter le beurre pour le faire fondre. ( put back on the heat and add the butter until it melts)
    4. Dans un saladier, mélanger la farine, le bicarbonate, les épices, les écorces d'oranges. ( in a bowl mix the flour, soda , spices and candied orange )
    5. Ajouter le mélange lait, miel et beurre. Eviter les grumeaux. ( combine with milk, stir until no lumps )
    6. Mettre dans un moule à cake beurré et fariné. Saupoudrer d'amandes effilées.( butter and flour a pan... add the mixture and sprinkle in the almonds )
    7. Faire un sillon dans le sens de la longueur. ( make a groove the length of the batter )
    8. Mettre 1h15 au moins au four. ( cook for less than 1h 15minutes )Vérifier la cuisson avec la pointe d'un couteau ( test if done with a knife )