Thursday, December 30, 2010

Decembre 30 2010

Dec 28 2010   

Dec 19th (OK I need a haircut)
Happy New Year

It is almost the end of the month, and end of the year. If I do not get my act together here, it will be 2011 before this is done.
It is the time for reflection of the past year and time for those new resolutions.
We have passed through a good year. I was happy to see some of my family with my trip to the USA.

Before I go on with the month of December, I have to go back to the end of October. I forgot to mention last month that Keith went to Italy for an end of the season “soiree” with his colleagues from the tour company. They went to Acqui Terme, a small village north of Genoa or just south of Asti. One of the guides for the company also has a vineyard and his parents have a Bed and Breakfast. They ate and road bikes and told stories. He had a great time. Keith thought it was a beautiful area and would like to go back (with me of course).
Here is a photo that he took.

Acqui Terme

Now onto December.... First a brief weather report, just to bore you.  We have had snow this month. Two big snow “storms”. It does not snow a lot here, so 2 inches here should be compared to about 6 inches in Minnesota. The first accumulation ended up being about 5 inches. Trains were late, school buses for the Cote D’Or were cancelled, and other regular buses were late or cancelled...the place was in chaos. Keith was going into Dijon. The train was not running so they had a bus instead. It took over an hour instead of the 10 minute trip by train.
You have to add to this equation that Dijon is totally torn up right now; why ?..because they are working to put in a tram system. We just got another little blast of snow just before Christmas. There really was not much snow, but it had rained for 4 days prior, and then the temperature plummeted and Mother Nature added a few inches of snow on top. Roads again were a mess. We have had a cold spell, with the temperature all the way down to about 10 degrees. Brrrr that is cold. We left Minnesota to get away from cold and snow. So that is the weather report, and enough of that.

The week before Christmas on Dec 19th, I had an invitation for a concert and cocktails from the Mayor’s office. I had worked on the Cluny Expos, and this was a thank you. This was actually through the Photo Club. The club could invite 5 extra people (other than president...). I had taken photos at the chateau and had two photos in the Expo. The History Club had the same, but the president said she could not pick just 5 from the 20 some people that worked really hard. Who to choose and who to leave out!

The concert was by a local group called the Laostics. They sing medieval and baroque music, usually a cappella. For this concert they added some medieval and baroque instruments. The singing was still mostly a cappella, and then there were a few songs just for the instruments. This concert was in the old church St Aignan which is from the 11th century (they had actually turned on some heat before the concert). It was an excellent 2 hour concert. The singing and the musicians playing the instruments were all absolutely brilliant. I just used my little camera, and inside photos are not the greatest (or nighttime either), but here are two photos 1) of the chorale group and 2) of a couple of the instruments.

Laostics in St Aignan 11th century church

Instruments- I pushed the lighting so you could see the instruments

I have to remark here on a french custom. Maybe I have mentioned it before, maybe not. At all of the concerts; small, large, amateurs, professionals, they introduce each piece with an explanation. Depending on the person, it may be short or can be very long explanation!

The concert was open to anyone, and it was free. As part of the group that was invited, we had reserved seats in the front. Wow, how nice and privileged.
After the concert there was a reception. Hors d’oeuvres were served, along with red wine from Gevrey, white wine from Marsonnay and juice or water. Then cheese was served (there is a fromagerie right here in the neighborhood) and after that, bite size desserts. It was a wonderful evening. I am starting to feel that I belong to this village.

A few days before Christmas, Keith and I took the train to Strasbourg. Strasbourg is located in the Alsace in the north east section of France. It calls itself the Capital of Christmas. Our train was stopped on the way up in the Jura because of rocks on the tracks. Yes rocks had fallen off the cliffs and on to the tracks. We were only delayed 30 minutes, as there were no boulders that damaged the tracks. We were resting on a narrow shelf that is wide enough for two track lines, and below us about 50 feet was the Doub river. Since we have had a lot of snow and or rain, it was a raging river. I tried not to let my imagination get away from me and imaging the worse.

We arrived in Strasbourg in the rain. We did spend 3 nights there and toured the city and the Christmas markets and ate Alsacian food (see this month’s recipe). It rained on and off, but it did not pour, so we made our way around the city. It is a pretty place, but I think if we go back it will be in the warm weather.

Strasbourg- Petite France


Strasbourg Christmas Market 

Strasbourg-     COOKIES


Street in Strasbourg -name look familiar?

Christmas was wonderful, as always. We had noon diner with Marie Therese, Christian, her father and sister. The trip over was a little dicey because of the ice and snow, but we made it without a porblem. We shared a excellent meal with some great wine. We finally left (because of the weather) at 5:30. I hope you had a nice Christmas too.
My History Club has been busy putting out the 3rd edition of its Gazette and a small book from our exposition. The book is limited, because we had permission only to use some of the documents in our Expo, not for reprint.
We have also been working on how to archive all of the information that we have accumulated. Joelle’s house is not the long term solution.

Photo Club will have an Expo in May, theme is trees. I hope to find a good tree photo.

We finally bought a new computer. We held our breath every time we started the old one. And turning it on or off took anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. This one will be faster; however there are a few bugs. The new one has only a USB connection for the keyboard. So without an option, we plugged in the french keyboard. The a and the q are swapped, as one example. You know how often you use the a?  Lot of little differences, but slowly I will get there. Also having some problems with my PhotoShop. Hope that works out soon. My genealogy program set up without a hitch…YEAH.
Good news, it did load in English, however it converts some things to french, and we have not figured that out yet.

Keith is fine too. He is trying to get his last 120km in on his bike to reach his annual goal of 10,000. With the wretched weather, he has not been able to ride much the last two months. So he has only today the 30th and tomorrow the 31st left. Bon chance mon amour.


Alsacian Baeckhoeffe
This may look difficult, but it is not. It is just a stew. You marinade the meat, and then the next day put it all in the pot. I have eaten a few variations. One that I had was like a stew with lots of juices or sauce; the other had all the liquid cooked out, so there are just the potatoes layered with the meat. I preferred this method, as it is a little different. I will try to achieve this on Saturday January 1st. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL…
NOTE JAN 2, 2011 : I made this recipe for the 1st of Jan. It lacked a little something. I have looked at a few more recipes, and it appears that two things should be changed.
1. Use meat with some fat. I used lean meat.
2. Many recipes add a pigs foot... could help. Common here, maybe a little harder to find in the USA
3. Maybe a little beef broth

 For Marinade:             
  • 2 onions, sliced   
  • 2 carrots, sliced            
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped          
  • 2 bay leaves         
  • 1 sprig thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme   
  • 3 cups dry white wine (preferably Alsacian Riesling)

Marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS  More:         
  • 1 pound beef chuck roast, choice grade, cut into 3-inch cubes         
  • 1 pound boneless pork butt, trimmed and cut into 3-inch cubes       
  • 1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, choice grade, trimmed and cut into 3-inch cubes     
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (or other waxy potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices         
  • 3 leeks sliced in small circles
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste             

For Pastry Seal (optional : This is the traditional method. If you have a tight cover, first put aluminum foil over casserole. Then put on the lid. Press the foil tightly to the sides of the casserole dish to make a extra tight seal).              
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour         
  • 5 tablespoons water     
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil   

 TO PREPARE MEAT AND MARINADE: Combine the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add all the meats and toss gently. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.   
TO PREPARE VEGETABLES: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and lightly oil a large ovenproof casserole) with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the casserole with half of the potato slices. Remove the meats and vegetables for the marinade and reserve the marinade. Arrange the mixed meat over the potatoes, and then place the vegetables in a layer over the meat. Cover with a layer of the remaining potato slices and pour the marinade over them. Add enough additional white wine or water to just cover the top of the potatoes. Place the lid on the casserole.           
TO PREPARE PASTRY SEAL: Mix together the flour, water, and olive oil in a mixing bowl, and form into a rope shape long enough to wrap around the rim of the casserole. Press the dough onto the rim of the casserole. Place the lid on top of the dough and press to seal completely (this seal will prevent any of the cooking liquid form evaporating).            
TO COOK: Place the casserole in the oven and cook for about 3-1/2 hours. Remove the casserole and serve.

1 comment:

  1. If PhotoShop keeps giving you issues, try Adobe Elements. I get a daily post from a professional photographer, and he claims almost everyone, even pros, could get by with the less expensive program. Amazon sells it for about $80, compared to $700 for PS.

    Hope your weather improves. Relatives in England are struggling with snow this season too. We've had almost daily snow and the high today is supposed to be 10F. The tropics are calling...