Thursday, December 24, 2009

BONNE ANNÉE December 2009

It is time to reflect on the year that has passed. It has been a good year for us.


Keith worked for DuVine Adventures (website) from April through October, working here in Burgundy and the Loire Valley.

He also found time to go to the "Semaine fédérale internationale de cyclotourisme" [literal translation: week federal international bike tour], which he thoroughly enjoyed. It was in north west region of France, Pas-de-Calais.

Keith has ridden over 10,000km this past year on his bike. Really something, yes?!

We had great weather this last summer and he was also able to get out and do a few camping trips between his work trips.

In June, we went down near Macon for a couple of days with our friend from London. Nice wine and beautiful scenery. Nice trip.

I went to Normandy region in July(west side of France)to visit a high school friend for a couple of days. Great visit with Diane and family. Let us not count the years we have known each other though! !

I went on a tour of Cluny with my Photo club in September. Very interesting.

All in all, we have stayed close to home and enjoyed the year completely. We have been busy with our hobbies (and Keith with work too). The summer weather was great and we were able to really enjoy the outdoors.

Month of December

As for this past month. Marie Therese somehow arranged for us to view the ceremonies at Clos de Vougeot on Decemeber 5th. It was a great surprise and a wonderful evening. I appreciate very much what she went through for us to see it. The Clos Vougeot has a Fete for St. Hubert (patron Saint of hunting). There is a ceremony in the courtyard before a grand dinner. The dinners at Clos Vougeot are renowned, (as is the price - and we just went for the ceremony in the courtyard, not the dinner). But it is a private affair and not open to the public.

After that we had a nice dinner with Marie Therese and Christian (at Messanges). Below are a few photos I took of the ceremony. You can see the hunting dogs (race St. Hubert, type of blood hound) in the photos too. The ceremony included the dogs and horns. There were three groups of horn players. They played several different hunting calls, each tune represents a different communication. At the end, all three groups played together. I have uploaded this ending video. The video is not real sharp, it was outside and dark. Also I believe the horns are ever so much better in person ( I love to hear the horns ).

Here is the connection to the video: click or if that doesn't work just click on this connection

Horn Players and Dogs rushing in
One group of Horn Players
Old Wine Press at Clos Vougeot

The genealogy/history club had its Exposition this month (Dec 12th to the 20th). It was the exposition of old post cards. It went over quite well. There were visitors every day, so it was a success. After helping with the set-up of the Exposition, I never got back to see it (see next paragraph).

We both got the flu this month. I had the vaccination for H1N1, but not the annual flu vaccination. Oh well, it was on my to do list. It shot us down pretty well for almost two weeks. It was not a good time to be house bound, just before the holidays. Consequently, not much got done. No Christmas decorations this year at all( but the positve side : I do not have to take anything down..yeah).

Then the weekend of the 20th, WINTER hit here in France, and Gevrey too. Cold wind from the north and snow. The temperature plummeted to about 5 degrees(that is cold). The total accumulation of snow was about 6 inches. Then on Monday Dec 22nd, the wind switched from the south. Most of the snow melted and was gone in one day.

Since we had been house bound for so many days, Keith suggested taking the train to Lyon for the day (on Tuesday). And so we went. It was a beautiful warm sunny day in Lyon (about 50 degrees). Lyon is a pretty city, especially the "old Lyon".

Keith played tour guide and we toured around to see some of the sites. It is amazing how fast the day passed. Below are some photos from Lyon(opening photo is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon), one of a silk shop that has weaving looms in the back. Some really beautiful scarfs and ties for sale too!! Note the photo of the tower is actually two photos put together. The tower is too tall to get in one photo while standing in a small courtyard. So I took two and put them togther.

We had a great day, but tiring. We hopped on the 4:20pm train to return home instead of the 5:20pm that we had planned (it is about 2 hours by train).

Mosaic in Lyon
Guignols (puppets) of Lyon Guignols started 1796 in Lyon
Old loom in Silk Shop
Red Tower of Lyon

Our Christmas Eve was here at home. We had some wild boar steaks (sanglier)and a nice bottle of red wine. On Christmas we went to Messanges and celebrated with Marie Therese, Christian, Marie Therese's father and sister. A wonderful dinner and a warm afternoon with friends.

Les pleurants en Amérique ! I have to tell you about the Dijon exhibit that is coming to the USA. The Beaux Arts Museum in Dijon is going to be under repair for the next three years. The one room will not be open to visitors. The "Pleurants"- Mourners are from around the tomb of "Jean sans Peur" (John without Fear -Duc of Burgundy). The museum has decided to put the Mourners on Tour. Go and see them, they come from right here in Dijon. Some of you on my list live in New York,Minneapolis or Dallas.

Infos pratiques :

• The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2 mars 2010–23 mai 2010)

• Saint Louis Art Museum (20 juin 2010–6 septembre 2010)

• Dallas Museum of Art (3 octobre 2010–2 janvier 2011)

• Minneapolis Institute of Arts (23 janvier 2011–17 avril 2011)

• Los Angeles County Museum of Art (8 mai 2011–31 juillet 2011)

• Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (21 août 2011–1er janvier 2012)

• Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (20 janvier 2012–15 avril 2012)

Recipe of the Month

Due to time, I am using a very easy recipe this month!!

It is a nice appetizer. 

Camembert Cheese Starters


  • Puff Pastry
  • Camembert
  • Pesto
  • Olive Oil


  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees
  2. Depending on the puff pastry, roll and cut into squares (3 inches by 3 inches). If rolled already, just cut.
  3. Cut Camembert into 1 inch cubes
  4. Place cheese cube in the middle of the pastry square
  5. Pull points together and pinch/seal the edges (make a small pyramid shape).
  6. Place on baking sheet with cooking paper (or grease sheet).
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, until pastry has browned
  8. Place each one on a serving plate.
  9. If pesto is thick, add a little oil.
  10. Swirl pesto around pastry on the plate.
  11. Serve and enjoy


Saturday, November 28, 2009

November 2009

November 2009

The month is almost over. I have started writing this on Thanksgiving Day, and I am thinking of family and friends.

The month started with a visit from a colleague of Keith’s from DuVine Adventures. He is French, but now lives in Switzerland. In the winter he is a ski instructor. He had postponed his trip here because something came up he had to do. He arrived on Monday, and the weather report for the next 3 days was rain! The week before had been sunny and gorgeous. They (Keith and Greg) did get out for a ride Tuesday morning before the rain started in earnest. Because of the rain, they had plenty of time to taste some wine too, so the couple of days were not an entire loss (he wanted to buy some wine).

My project for the months of November and December concerns one of my clubs. It all started on the first Monday of November. I had a meeting of my Genealogie/Histoire/et Patrimoine (genealogy/history and heritage) Club.

We are having an exposition of old post cards. The date is December 12th (what?? back up here, did I here that correctly... Dec 12th 2009?? , or is it 2010. That’s it, they must have said 2010. NON? It is Dec 12th 2009 !! oh my).

First they must choose the post cards to exhibit, than Susan will take the photos for the “today” comparison (oh wait, wait a minute...back up again, is my french bad or what tonight? First you have to pick the post cards, then, it is I, Susan, that you are talking about? OK c'est moi ...  and the date again, dit moi (tell me) is Dec. 12th, 2009???). Time frame seems a little short to me, and this is France, where almost everything seems to be at a slower pace!.

I finally got the photos (scanned photos of the post cards) mid last week (19th November). We had a couple of sunny days, and I was out taking as many photos as I could. You have to also know that this is Gevrey and the communes of Gevrey (32 other villages in the commune). Off in my little 106 Peugeot, and 150 km on the road later, I had some of the photos (I back tracked here and there, criss-crossed, zig-zagged...I was all over the place taking these photos).

I started with photos from the villages on the plain (river plain of the Saone River).

You have to also imagine, that I had to find these places. Oh I know where the villages are, but then I would park the car and walk around with a printout of the post card in my hand trying to find the building that matches what I have in my hand!! In the last hundred years, sometimes things change!

I really enjoyed it, I just wish we had more time to take better photos (ah this photos should be a late afternoon photo, but here I am, and it is 10am, it isn’t right for this photo.....tant pis [too bad], CLICK goes the camera).

It is difficult to match the photo at times; they must have had a different lens. The perspective is off. Maybe they used a wide-angle lens?? Who knows? So I take it as I see it. Also, monuments have moved, walls have been added, dormers added or subtracted, trees have grown..!!! 

After the photos have been taken, then I load all the photos onto the computer, do some Photoshop magic (lighten a few of those shadows), and crop the photo to a post card size. The photos taken on my camera (or any modern camera I presume)  are not the same size as a postcard.

Since this is how I spent my time this month, here are some of the photos with the post cards.

Post Card- St. Philibert
St Philibert today
Monument de Mort Gevrey (war memorial)
War Memorail today
Rue Gaizot Gevrey
Rue Gaizot Gevrey

Job is not entirely finished. Still have some more photos to go. I just offered to do Chambolle, and Joelle said there are more of Gevrey coming. WHEN!!! (I have just finished about 35 photos of Gevrey on Wed)!! And now there will be more. Joelle is going to do some of the other villages, Fixin, Brochon, Fixey, and Couchey.

I know we will be ready by the 12th of December, but there is a lot of work to do yet. So I will write a full report on the success of our exhibit at the end of December.

Keith, what has he been doing? Riding his bike every chance he gets. He has a goal for the year and is working towards that end. So if the sun is out, so is he. He has even been out on some questionable days. And of course he is out today as I write this journal. He did 116km yesterday. He is a riding fool, but he always feels better when he is riding regularly. It helps his back too, so there is no downside to it.

We have had a mild fall. We did have that one cold week in October, but that is all. The temperature is in the high 50’s or mid 60’s most of the time. I do prefer this mild fall when compared to what we had last year. Brrr it was cold last year at this same time.

We have recouped some of the water loss from our dry August and September. Not a good year for the mushrooms however. We only found a couple, and without rain, we did not bother to search for more. I do believe though that our winter weather may arrive soon.

I did not turn on the heat until Nov 1st. We had a couple nights that we had fires in the fireplace to warm the house (in October). And now, the nights are cold,we have one almost every night. However last week, we did have a few nights where it was too warm for a fire (the chimney will not draw if it is too warm outside).

The wine this year, especially the red, is another story. It is to be a GREAT year for wine from the Cote D'Or. Will it top 2005?  That forecast is just for the Cote-D’Or (Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune). The annual wine auction of Beaune that is held mid-November is the bell-weather of the wine market here (the wine auction for the Hospice de Beaune is one of the oldest wine auctions). Red wine price were up 31%. White not so much, but a good year too. The vignerons here are very happy this year. If you want to read Marie Therese’s Blog (in french) it is here:

Marie Therese and I were going to go to Beaune for the festivities that surround the auction. We have gone for the last few years. However it was pouring rain just before I was to leave for the train (Keith was in Bligny – with the car). So we called it off, it did not seem like a good day to walk around Beaune. Marie Therese said she would stop by later. By the time she arrived in the late afternoon, nothing but sunshine. Sometimes that is how it goes.

I am tossing in a photo that I took this last week. While I was out taking photos, I took these too. The photos are from the village of Noiron-sous-Gevrey. It is the Pont des Arvaux. The monks from Citeaux built a water system for their abbey (aqueduct system). This is part of the system.

The bridge was built by the monks of the Abbey Citeaux between 1212 and 1221.Once the abbey was established at Citeaux, the monks needed to build an aqueduct system for water. Water was diverted from the Sanfond to the Varaud. Then a 10 km channel or canal was built to carry water to Citeaux. This canal passes here in the photo, over the Varaud.

Pont des Arvaux
On Top of Pont- looking left.

See the water in the shadow in the channel -right side

Top looking right..the channel

Probably have bored you enough. I will stop writing about the Post Cards, and photos.and ...

We had friends for a Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday. There were just 4 of us this year. I did a simple dinner, much of it I could start on Saturday. The menu for the day was: sweet potato soup, turkey breast roulades (stuffed with wild mushrooms), mashed potatoes and green beans. It was a nice relaxing day. Our meal started about 1pm and finished around 5pm. We had good friends, food and wine. A wonderful combination for passing a nice afternoon. It was supposed to rain all day, but it cleared about 11am, and it was sunny the rest of the day.

We have another dinner at friends house this coming Sunday (Thanksgiving too). So on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day I prepared a Thanksgiving pizza. I had pottery in the morning and photo club in the evening, chores in the afternoon, so I fixed an easy dinner.

Thursday was a beautiful day here, I even did some lawn work. Got the lawn mower out and mowed down some flowers (perennials). I am woefully behind on getting the garden in shape for fall. Tant pis... I believe it may have been in the high 60’s. Rain is predicted for the next couple of days.

On to another subject, flu season. The Flu A or H1N1 is here too. In France, with socialized medicine, "invitations"  for the vaccine were sent out to all people meeting certain requirement. Also, your doctor can recommend you for a vaccine. But the controversy is the same here as it is in the USA (I presume this from reading the news). A fair number of people are not sure the vaccine is safe and will not get it. 

Here in our little corner, schools were closed last week because of an outbreak in the H1N1 flu. I have not seen a lot of masks yet on the streets, but it may come to that.

Because I have asthma, my invitation came in the mail. Guess I will go on Monday for my shot.

That is about all the news from over here.


Recipe of the Month

Sweet Potato Soup (so good ....)

This is a rich soup, so it is ideal as a starter for dinner. A small portion is sufficient.


  • 1 tablespoons butter 
  • 1/2  onion, chopped   
  • 1/2  pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1 small red potato peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Dash of ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2  cup of crème fraiche (or heavy cream) 
  • 1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper (white pepper) to taste


  1. Sauté the chopped onion in the butter slowly
  2. Add the sweet potato pieces and red potato pieces to boiling water
  3. Boil until tender, 10 to 15 minutes
  4. Drain the potatoes
  5. Add potatoes to sautéed onions 
  6. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth.
  7. Blend until smooth
  8. Add crème fraiche
  9. Blend and slowly add the other cup of broth. You want a nice thick soup consistency, so it is not necessary to add all of the broth.
  10. Add maple syrup and blend thoroughly
  11. TASTE and add salt and pepper as necessary (the amount depends on your taste, and the salt in the broth).


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


October sauntered in warm and sunny. Out came the shorts and sundresses as everyone found that summer had come back. The first week of October the temperature went up into the 80’s and we all enjoyed the sun. The french have an expression loosely translates to “profit by the day (sun...)”, or in American slang “ENJOY”.

Then we had a reality check. The second week the temperature plummeted. We had a few nights below freezing. The water in the birdbath was solid in the morning. Keith had a tour here in Burgundy that week, and had to provide warm snacks such as hot cider or hot chocolate for the clients. What a change in one week.

Now we are back to normal weather. It is in the 40’s at night and into 60’s during the days. I think on Sunday the 25th of Oct it was in the 70’s. We have started using the fireplace in the evenings. Heck during the cold week, one day I started the fire in the afternoon (have not turned on the heat yet).

Keith got the long range forecast on Saturday from the man who was digging a ditch (with a backhoe) at the railroad (Bligny). He told them over lunch that it would stay mild through the end of the year, however,the first of 2010 however was going to be very cold. We will see (fr: on verra) if his forecast has any truth in it.

After the freeze my garden was toast! With the warm weather I had hoped that maybe a few more things would ripen. Ah, some did. But the day after the freeze it was time to pull everything up and rescue the remaining tomatoes and peppers. The zucchini did not make it. I had a good run this summer with my garden, so no complaints.

The colors are muted this fall. We have had very dry weather since August, so the trees and/or the vines did not turn the rich golds of past years. Some of the leaves had turned brown at the start of September. So the landscape is filled with browns and a burnished gold. Every so often there is a maple tree that is showing off. There are not many maples here, so a maple tree does stand out in the forest (or crowd). And there are some trees that turn to a bright yellow. The color is vibrant against the brown. Not all is lost; the muted colors are pretty too. I just marvel at the scene in front of me when I turn a corner. Even after 8 years here, I still go “WOW” as I drive around. It is never tiring.

Fall Colors- The canal passing over the ravine
Fall on the Canal

One day Marie Therese and I went for a walk in Beaune. It was one of the beautiful days. I took some photos of the of Beaune and of Beaune rooftops. Burgundy is known for its’ colored roof tops, and I thought some of these photos were good examples. We walked around the old ramparts of Beaune, something I had not done for a couple of years. The ramparts in Beaune are street width with houses and trees.

House on the Ramparts
Beaune Colored Roofs

Beaune- More tiled roofs
Last Roof Shot -no colored tiles

On this last Sunday of October, Keith and I went to the little cheese place not too far from us. At the shop one can buy goat cheese. They raise the goats and make the cheese. This type of cheese is called “Fermier” (made on the farm). It is some of the best goat cheese I have ever tasted. Ohhhh, how creamy!! I can share the photo, but I can not pass along a taste to you. Wish I could. The yellow sign out front states that “HERE cheese fermier is for sale”. The white one with the black goats states “STOP Taste me”.

Fermier Sign
CHEESE (sorry about the glare)

We were on a road trip that day. The first stop was the cheese shop that happened to be open. Because they care for the goats and have to milk the goats too, the shop hours are “whenever”. Our actual destination was Pont d’Ouche. After we bought some cheese, we continued on toward Pont d'Ouche. In Pont d'Ouche, on the canal, is a place to berth ones canal boat. Bryony, an english woman, opened a shop (years ago) that sells some groceries (primarily to the boat people). She also has a room upstairs for a “book exchange”. Since many of the people on the canal are english, there are a lot of english books. She charges 1 euro per book. It works for me. Since she closes for the winter months, I had to get some books before the end of October. OK, they are not classics, but they are books to read in english, one does get desperate at times. Still I did not pick any books by Danielle Steele's, just not ny type.

Our photo club is having an Exposition Dec 2010 on the Clunisian sites. Of course I need a photo. Although our trip to Cluny was enjoyable and interesting, my photos are identical to hundreds of others. Nothing unique. So I had Keith take me to see the abbey ruins of St Vivant (It is not far, just about 10 miles, but it was a nice day to go out and explore a little). St. Vivant was once an abbey of Cluny. It is under reconstruction. It is on a hillside near Reulle Vergy. The ruins of the old Chateau de Vergy are on the other side of this same hill. We were approaching the site from the village of Curtil-Vergy. Curtil is getting sewers and is totally torn up. So finding the road was not easy. I thought we would walk, but Keith drove up the little narrow road!! It was not wide at all and went up at a steep angle. YIKES!!!! We made it, whew. I took lots of photos, but it is not really a pretty site, maybe in time.

Then I remembered something about Arcenant being a Cluny site too. So I went over there and took some photos of Arcenant. It is actually the church in Arcenant that belonged to Cluny. I have about 50 photos to sort through, here is just one example of the eglise at Arcenant.

St. Vivant
Church at Arcenant

France, each October, has a week of tasting (semaine de gout). It is always mid- October. There are lots of special events to this week. At the end of the tasting week, Marie Therese and I went to the Exposition in Nuits St. George. This year they had more Arts and Crafts than food. So much for tasting, darn. We did talk to the ferronier (blacksmith) for about 30 minutes. He invited us within his fenced demonstration area to get a close-up look at his work. He adds artistic touches to a lot of his work. Gold leaves decorate an iron gate... This photo is not great, but it is a commissioned piece he just finished.

Our local cheese shop, Gaugry always has a free tasting too, but we did not have time to make it there too (free tasting of about 6 cheeses, with bread and wine). Ah the french life.

All other things have been normal here. Keith worked the first two weeks of October. Now we are trying to settle back to our life without his work. Keith did some long rides last week (on his bike). This next week a friend is coming to stay a few days. He is looking to ride his bike and taste wine. I do not think that will be a chore for us to show him around.

The photo club had its monthly photo theme. For October it was sports. Everyone votes on their favorite photos (1,2 and 3), and then the photos are lined up and discussed. I did not make the top 3, but did well. I have added my photo of a horse jumping. For November the photo theme is "rouge" (red). I have been taking photos, have not picked one that I want to use yet.

The end of October (and for 10 days) is Dijon's Fete to food. The "La 79ème Foire internationale et gastronomique de Dijon " ( the 79th festival International and gastronomic of Dijon). It has about 500 exhibitors!! More on that next month if we go to it.

Recipe of the MONTH

A nice fall recipe.


Pear Clafouti (it is pear season)

  • 2 pears, peeled and cut into slices (no more than ½ inch wide)
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 cup crème fraîche ( or heavy cream)
  • 1/4 cup Amaretto
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt


1. After the pears have been sliced, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice over and turn so that they are covered (this prevents them from turning brown). Then before you put into the baking dish, dry with a paper towel.

2. Put the rest of the ingredients (starting with the crème fraîche) in a bowl or food processor.

3. Mix until well blended

4. Pour into a baking dish that holds about 8 cups (1 1/2 inch high) about 1/4 inch of batter. Bake for about 5 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and arrange the pears slices in the baking dish. Pour the remaining batter on top.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Watch the cooking time carefully. Every oven is different. The top should be brown and when a knife is put into the middle, it should come out clean. If you over cook, it can be dry.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cooking with a French Accent by Susan Veeser Klein

I wrote a cookbook (will wonders never cease). It was a fun experience.

I had a deadline of 6 weeks. It is not very long. Imagine, I cooked, tasted and adjusted and photographed all of these recipes in 6 weeks. So there may be a spelling error here or there (I did use spell check, however that is not always perfect either). I photographed each of the recipes, and I tossed in a few of Gevrey-Chambertin (where we live) as the lead to each section.

Most of the recipes in this book come from my experience here in France or Europe. I have revised recipes to my taste and also tried to make them simple to prepare. There are 39 recipes total, 64 pages in the book. Some of the recipes are simple. I wanted to have some recipes that highlighted the wonderful taste of vegetables.

By going into Blurb you can view the first 15 pages. The preview does take a little time to load.

If this does not work ...By going into Blurb you can view the first 15 pages. Click here on this address: Cooking with a French Accent . Then click on PREVIEW....the preview does take a little time to load.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


September 29, 2009

It is the month of September, and actually it is the last day.

What has happened here in Gevrey?

The month has been wonderful. I do not remember a month of September that has been this warm and dry. The weather has been beautiful.

Now after the weather report I will move on.

What has Keith done this month? HE MADE IT TO THE TOP OF MONT VENTOUX (on his touring bike).. I had written in a previous Blog (April's) that he tried the climb in April, but was stopped due to snow. Well last week there certainly was not any snow and he went to the top. YEAH. He did not have his photo taken at the top, but he took this photo.

Summit of Mont Ventoux 1910 M

Now, I will tell you about the vendanges (grape harvest). It has its’ own word in french. The word "vendanges" only refers to the grape harvest.

This is a significant event in this region or any region where wine is the principal business.

The date the harvest can start is posted (ban des vendanges). Each region is different of course due to the difference in climate. This custom goes back to the Middle Ages, and why not. Grapes have been grown here for over 1,000 years.

Before this (usually around July here in the Cote D’Or) the winemaker bottles wine that is ready and cleans all his equipment to get ready for the new harvest.

Then they wait, hoping for sunny days in August to increase the sugar in the grapes and pray that there are no major storms with hail. As the date of harvest nears, an analysis of the grapes is done to check the sugar and acid levels. Workers are hired (the vendangeurs) and the winegrower sets a date to start the harvest (within the ban).

Many grapes are picked by hand. The Grand Crus are certainly picked by hand (oh there may be one or two who use machines, but it is rare). Most Premier Crus are also picked by hand. Here in Gevrey, even village wine “Gevery-Chambertin”, and “Bourgogne Rouge” may be hand picked. There are winegrowers that strongly feel that machines ruin the grapes and are hard on the vines. There are others who look at the advantages of harvesting by machine, therefore each winegrower makes his/her own decision.

This year the ban was posted for the Cote for September 10th. Many winegrowers waited until the 12th (the weekend) to start.

And then IT starts. There are trucks and tractors everywhere. It is not a time to be in a hurry on the small french roads, with tractors and trucks continually going back and forth hauling grapes from the fields. There are even warning signs posted, “ATTENTION VENDANGES”. The hillside is dotted with trucks, tractors and vendangeurs. Did you know that the good grapes are the ones at the bottom?

I went out with a friend on a Sunday morning to take photos of the harvest. We started here in Gevrey at the vines that are Chambertin-Clos de Beze. This is the probably the most respected red wine from Gevrey and it is known worldwide. The variety grape here in Gevrey is Pinot Noir. That is the only grape grown. We took some photos in the early morning light and talked to the person who was sorting the grapes. He gave us some grapes to taste. They were sweet, juicy and our hands were covered in sticky syrup. The Pinot Noir grapes are small. It surprised me the first time I saw them.

Size of grapes- this is a regular size business card


After Gevrey, we went to the Clos de Vougeot, but the workers were coming in from the vines for a break. So we turned back in the direction of Gevrey and stopped in Chambolle-Musigny. Here there were lots of workers in the field. It was a sunny day, a wonderful day for a harvest. August had been generous with lots of sun, and the winegrowers are very happy with the potential of this years harvest. The workers are equally nice, even posing for photos. As we were taking photos, one group of vendangeurs finished with the harvest. When the vendangeurs are finished with the harvest, it is time for the paulée (the big party). They hop on the trucks and tractors, drive around honking the horn to signal that they are done. There is a small part of the custom that I was not aware of, prior to this beautiful Sunday morning. The truck was coming down the small vineyard road, honking and the occupants were standing in the back celebrating and shouting. Hmm now I know, they throw grape bunches at everyone (the rejected grapes). SMACK... I got one juicy sticky bunch right on my hand. It really explodes!!!!

I have photos here from our Sunday morning outing.

Vendanges Photos..CLICK

Or copy this address :

I took a video with my camera of the workers dumping grapes. I took it while my camera was set on high quality. Not sure how to upload. 21 seconds was going to take more than 5 hours. ANY HELP?? Write me a note at

At pottery last Thursday, Christine’s husband is a winegrower (Christine is the pottery instructor). She gave us some of the first juice to taste. Zowie... it was really sweet. The sugar content is very high this year, and the winegrowers very happy indeed.

On to other things. We got a composter. Last Sept 2008, Gevrey & Commune sent out a letter asking if we would be interested in buying a composter from the community if they bought in volume. We responded with a YES (actually OUI). Then in March we had to choose wood or plastic and pay for it. Finally in August we had a note that we could pick it up September 2nd. So Keith put it together, and we immediately put it to use. Now with the fall yard clean up, it is ¾ full. Also all my kitchen vegetable scraps go in too.

And yes, now it is the end of the garden season and I will have lots more to add to our composter. I am going to miss my garden. I so enjoyed going out for fresh tomatoes every day. And my basil came in really well this year, as did the and beans, carrots (an experiment this year) and of course tons of zucchini. My pumpkin plant did not bear any pumpkins though! My space is small, but I did have lots of good vegetables from the garden this year.

Three weeks ago, I went to get wine with Marie Therese. We went to Buxy as usual and then stopped at Rully . We tasted Jean-Claude Breliere’s 2008 Premier Cru Margotes, white wine. It is a winner. Have to put it away, but it is really a nice wine. Marie Therese already has some orders for it, and so we will have to return to pick some up this week.

On 27th of September the Photo club of Gevrey had an outing to visit Cluny. Maybe you remember that I mentioned that this year and next Cluny is celebrating its’ 1100 anniversary (it is usually stated that the Cluny was founded in 910, but some think it was actually 909). I will not provide a total history lesson here today. But I have to mention that it was the biggest church in the world, unfortunately not a lot survived (St Peter’s in Rome is the biggest church today) It started to fall in the 12th century (financial problems) and the Abbey in Cluny was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562.

The Photo Club of Gevrey has been asked by the Mayor of Gevrey to prepare an Exhibit of photos of Clunisian sites. So we had our road trip to visit the most famous of the Clunisian sites. All over Burgundy there are other churches and buildings (the chateau here in Gevrey is Clunisian).

We had to leave at 7:15am!! It is about 1h 50-minute drive, and the president of the club thought we should meet at 9am. Joelle and Herve picked me up (Keith is in the Loire Valley working). The weather could not have been better, it was a great day, long and tiring, but great nonetheless. I have some good and some bad photos. My “big” camera was acting up and the photos were dark, but a little Photoshop helped save some of them. I had my little one too, so all was not lost.

With the tour, there was a short 3D film to show the reconstructed model of the church. The size is really amazing actually mind blowing. The height of the ceiling, and the length of the church. I have included a photo of the reconstruction. Note the three towers, two survived and are in my photos .

A reconstruction - Red arrow= large tower,

green arrow me,just off photo area with a telephoto lens

Photo of the large tower
Standing in the Church- computer reconstrution

by large tower looking towards alter,

right isle with alter left

Towers looking up !

We ate lunch in Cluny as a group (Sunday lunch is a big meal), toured a little more, then we left to take photos of Brancion, a medieval city. It was a long, but fun day. Arrived back home at 7pm.

Brancion Chateau
Photo again of the Chateau from inside the village

So that ends the month.



Squash Soup-

This is an easy almost healthy recipe ( a little olive oil ). It is fall now, and the squash in the garden is ready. And this soup is so pretty too.

Use a small butternut. I can get a large squash cut, so I buy a quarter of a squash.


  • About 2 lbs of squash (not cooked), cut up in small pieces (about 2 inch chunks) and peel (remove seeds too)!!
  • 3 cups of chicken broth (make or buy or use the cubes) I have not tried vegetables broth, but I am sure it would work also.
  • 1 small white potato, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp minced fresh ginger (Really just a little. If you like strong ginger, make the soup with carrots)
  • chopped garlic (1 clove)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 TBS of olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Saute the chopped onion in a pan with the oil. Add the garlic
  2. Add the thyme and continue to cook another 2 minutes (the smell of the thyme is fantastic).
  3. Stir in the ginger
  4. Add the squash cubes and potato to the onions.
  5. Add 2 cups of broth and stir well.
  6. Simmer until the squash is tender (depends on the size of your chunks- maybe 15-20 minutes)
  7. Using a blender, or food processor blend it all together until smooth.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste (the amount of salt will depend on the salt in your chicken broth. Taste as you add)
  9. Return to pan and simmer until the soup is nice and thick.

That is all there is to it!! You could add some cream if you want , but I like it just as it is. I did just look up Jamie Oliver's recipe. Somewhat similar, he uses sage instead of thyme. That would be good too.

Let me know if you like it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009

August 30, 2009

Summer is almost over! Most of the schools will start this next Wednesday. I am always a little sad at the end of summer, knowing that short winter days are ahead. That said however, we did have some very hot days this past month. You have to remember too, that when it is 35 (95F) degrees here, there are a lot of places that are not air conditioned (including our house). So my morning routine starts about 6am. Open the doors (french patio doors), and put the fan in front of the door to bring in the cooler air. Check the temperature outside and in, to be sure it is cooler outside. Then when the temperature is equal (between 8 and 9 usually) close the house up completely. I can keep the house below 25C (80F) degrees on most days. Even though we have had little rain this last month, many of those hot days are also humid. You can see the haze when we look out the back door at the hills (the Cote). The wind from the south brings up a lot of moisture from the sea.


At the end of July I went with friends to an art show (Keith was working). It is just west of here in the valley of the Auxois (oh swă). Five villages join together for a weekend art show. Artists exhibit throughout each village. When you arrive in a village, you park the car and then search for the big yellow signs indicating an exhibit. The artwork is in all media and varies from excellent to..well, I will just say it is not to my liking.

We had a picnic with us that day and rested in a village park for lunch. It was an absolutely lovely sunny day.

I met them at their house in Fleurey, and found that they have a summer guest in the yard. Mr. Bunny was not too nervous and let me take his photo. I think he is rather cute.

Mr Bunny


Keith has only had a couple of tours this month. He also had a week (well 9 days) of biking. Each year the National Federation of Cyclisme sponsors a week of cycling in some region of France. This year is was Pas de Calais. Pas de Calais is northwest, on the English Channel. He signed up for tent camping. He left Friday morning and was to arrive there on Saturday. They all arrived in a small village called St. Omer, all 15,000 of them!!! Can you even imagine riding with 15,000 other cyclists? A different route from St Omer was planned for each day, Sunday through Sunday with prepared detailed maps. The riders did have 3 or 4 choices of routes that varied by kilometers. However, all 15,000 riders started out on the same route up to the first checkpoint. Keith said that first 20km was very slow going. The “gens de nord” [people from the north] as they are called have a tradition of giants that are used for all festivals. I presume that it is a village that makes and keeps their giants. Many giants were out and located along the routes each day for the riders to view. Keith did over 1,100 km for the week.

Ready to Go
Bikers on the cobblestones
Giant photo...not real clear though..sorry


I had a friend of my sisters come and stay for a couple of days. It was just “us girls”, Keith was away on his ride. I tried to show her as much of Cote D’Or that I could squeeze into the time we had. I love it here and I really do like being a tour guide too. We had a small tour of Dijon, then the next day a little west to Chateauneuf, a drive through villages, aperitif at Messanges (with Marie Therese), and a visit to the fromagerie (cheese store). And ah, while she was here, she introduced me to flat peaches. They are from the south of France and oh soooo good. It was an enjoyable couple of days.


Did some touring also this month. An old abbey was purchased a few years ago and the man has been doing renovations (Abbaye de Ste. Marguerite). This year he opened it for visits (of course there is a charge). Marie Therese and I went over to see it. She remembers when you could just go there and walk around. Then we I first went with her about 6 years ago, it was all fenced off. Changes and renovations on a place like this are very slow. He has renovated the old house (refectory) so he has a place to live. As with all the buildings it was in total ruins. He has also fixed up the dovecote, the water system and the caveau. Now he is starting on the church. To me it is so overwhelming, all the work that needs to be done and just one person, I do not think I would know where to begin! It was originally built at the end of the 11th century.


Abbaye de Ste. Marguerite

This last week Keith and I visited the Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin. We have lived here 8 years and had never taken the tour. It was built on a Roman site about 1015. It has endured many battles and reconstructions, and was probably constructed as a fortified chateau around 1100, with draw bridge and moat. There is not a lot of detailed information about the different phases of renovations. It once belonged to Cluny (Benedictine religious order), but a chapel or religious artifacts have not been found. It was an interesting tour however, and the chateau makes its own wine, so we had a wine tasting with the visit, can bad. It is privately owned with the family living in parts of the chateau, so the tour includes one main room, and then the medieval tower and rooms therein.

Chateau Gevrey-Chambertin

As always I have to mention the bakers vacation. It was all of August!! But now he is back and the truck stopped this morning (august 30th) in the front of our house. Good to have him back.

Baker Truck returns ;)


 We had a week with rain and sun, and Marie Therese and I went mushroom picking. The woods were full of Cepes. We gathered a couple of bags of mushroom (only a couple of chanterelles, zut). Since neither of us were sure of Cepes, one is able to take them to the pharmacy for identification. We gathered on Sunday, and the pharmacy here is closed until Monday afternoon. Alas, I left my mushrooms in the car, which was in the sun. By late Monday afternoon, in a closed plastic bag, well let’s just say I did not bother with the pharmacy. Marie Therese had checked with her pharmacy, and they were good mushrooms-oops. Next time.  Here are some photos of non-edible mushrooms. From that time on however, it has been very dry and therefore we have not tried to search for anymore.

Do not eat this one
Pretty, but not edible


The vendange (grape harvest) will probably start around the 10th of September. A little early, but if this sunny weather continues, it could be good. Of course it could rain the next 5 weeks!! More on that in September. If you want to read about a grape harvest there is a woman who is married to a frenchman and they live in the south of France.I read her articles from time to time, it is here;

French Word a Day


Genealogy & History Club will start next Monday on the 7th of September. Photo Club will start too next week, and this Thursday I will return to my pottery classes. French lessons should start toward the end of September. I almost feel like I am back in school, with everything starting up. Hmm, what paper and pens do I need to get to start this fall?


This last weekend and next weekend the village activities have also started. Instead of just an individual garage sale here, the whole village participates. The roads are closed and everyone cleans out their garage and attics (and cellars) and sets up a booth to sell their treasures.


Street sale

And so ends the month of August. I do have to add that my garden has been wonderful this summer. Oh the sweet tomatoes, and zucchini, and beans... there is something so satisfying about havesting and eating food from my own garden.


Recipes... this month I will not add a new recipe. You can view the first 15 pages of my book and copy any the recipes that you are able to see... it is from the salads and starters sections.

My book is at  under “Cooking with a French Accent”  or


Most of the recipes in this book come from my experience here in France or Europe. I have revised recipes to my taste and also tried to make them simple to prepare. There are 39 recipes total, 64 pages in the book. Some of the recipes are simple. I wanted to have some recipes that highlighted the wonderful taste of vegetables.

To go to book, click on PREVIEW
By Susan Veeser Klein