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.



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.