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 )