Friday, December 23, 2011

Dec 2011

Dec 2010 Strasbourg...The white "moon" may be a rain drop

Happy Holidays

This is indeed a Merry Christmas for us.

Towards the end of October, the doctor had found a tumor on Keith's kidney. Two days later he had an appointment with the head of the department of Urology at the University hospital. Surgery was scheduled to remove Keith's right kidney on the 21st of November. It was a malignant tumor. Our emotions have been up and down and all over the place, as you can imagine, and it was all happening so fast.
He had the surgery, and we were assured that all went well. It was complicated and took 4 hours, but they said they got it all. Keith was in the hospital for one week, the care was excellent. He has been home three weeks and recovering. A bit impatient at times, and not happy by all the rain we have been getting ( not as easy for his little walk each day).
Today he had a return appointment. They removed all of the tumor (and all of the right kidney too). It had not metastasized, which is good. Today we were told that there is no reason for further treatment (yeah), just follow-up scans and blood tests. He will be followed closely.
So, I have been here taking care of Keith, and have not taken many photos, or done much else. I did go for a walk one day and took photos of some of the businesses near the train station. This is to document Gevrey, and not very interesting photos to post.
We did have a day of snow, Dec 19th. I woke up and all was white. Today it is raining again!

Dawn (aube) on the 19th of Dec-backyard
Why is it so dark?

As the sun shown on the Côte -again backyard. The sun did come out on the 19th!

As far as a Blog goes, it has been fairly boring month to write about.

I have to write about the show last night. It was young children in a cooking competition. There were 8 children to start. The first challenge: they all had the same box of ingredients, which included fois gras. They had to cook the fois gras and plate it, with the use of any of the other ingredients in their box. They all knew what to do!! Incredible. Two 11 year olds were finalist, a boy and a girl. They had to cook a dinner for 10 people with venison as the main ingredient.. The dinners prepared and plated by these two 11 year olds were amazing! They had the look of a Michelin three star restaurant! The little girl made cannelles with her mashed potatoes (using two spoons, make in the form of an oval) And the jury was blown away with the quality of the cooking. So I am certain that the future is there for France to continue to have outstanding cooking in the future.

Been making some soups for lunch though. So for this months recipe, lentil soup, quick and easy. Not really 3 star, but quick and easy.

Have a great holiday season.

Recipe of the month
Lentil Soup ( very easy-vegetarian or not)
  • 8 oz prepared lentil
  • 1 onion-chopped fine
  • 1 cube of broth (1 cup) chicken or vegetable
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • optional- cubed ham
I can buy lentils in a can that have carrots added, but not much else.
You can use dry lentils too, then add one carrot diced small (to cook fast)

  1. Saute onion in the oil
  2. Add the lentils
  3. Add the broth
  4. Cook for 5 minutes ( if using dry lentils, add a little more broth and cook for 30 minutes)
  5. If you add ham, add it at the end and warm another minute.
That is all. It is healthy and hardy winter soup in minutes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Gevrey-Vines and the Côte (the vines of Clos de St Jacques)
Short Blog this month. I had started this note on hosting a dinner a few weeks ago, and that is going to be it for this month. There are other photos at the bottom too.

Having guests to dinner
Although there are informal dinners, most dinners here follow a more formal path.
Sharing food with friends is more than a 30 minute sit down.

To prepare a meal, first I make up my menu. What to serve for hors d'oeuvres, entree, principle plate, cheese course and dessert. Either plan the food and then the wine, or plan the wine and then the food. It must be a good marriage of the wine and food.

Now the shopping. I shop differently too. We do not have a butcher here in Gevrey, so I do buy my meat from the grocer. We do have a once a week market, so I could buy it there if having dinner on a Friday night. That said, I prefer to buy my vegetables in the market or at a store that specializes in fresh vegetables. Always local and always in season.
Cheese from the cheese store, wine from a good winery ( although it is probably been purchased at another time and is in our cave), and fresh bread from the bakery ( and which bakery is also important). So I make the rounds.
This is so different from my shopping in the US. One stop shop, and I bought everything. I had started to use Whole Foods when we lived in Minneapolis, they had a good cheese selection, and of course a good selection of other fresh food. And of course coming from Minnesota, wine always had to be bought at the Liquor Store.
Here one shop-stop is also possible, the big grocer has everything, including wine. But the quality is better at the bakery for instance than at the Super Marché ( here it is the Super U). Although it is a little more time spent making the rounds, I am satisfied with the quality and enjoy doing it.
The cultural importance of food is so different here. Not large quantities, but it is the quality that is so highly rated. Of course there are bad restaurants and bad cooks, no different than anywhere else. But food is so much part of the social experience. Lunches or dinners with friends can last anywhere from " hours to 12 hours( it is the large lunch that can last 12 hours).
I have taken photos this month, of fog (we had two weeks of nothing but  FOG) and of sun and of villages. I am leaving it here with the photos to follow.

Château of Gevrey in the fog with the vines

Church in the fog

Building in Nuits St.Georges. Taken from the car
 while I waited for the red light. Kind of fun...

Near Villars Fountaine the FOG


Beaune, taken again from the car(blurred foreground)..workers in the vines

Sunny day at last, and mushrooms all over

house in gevrey...original was sharp? why isn't this one?

Sunny fall day, vines of Gevrey

Same day, more vines

Gevrey in the late afternoon

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 2011


It is a cloudy grey day here in Gevrey. Just had a little mist fall around lunch time. Last night was the time to turn the clocks back one hour. It will take a day or so to change my internal clock. I can easily go through the house and put all of our clocks to the right time, but it takes a little more to change my head.

Not a lot to say this month, but plenty busy. I took photos, so more of the story in photos than words.
Entrance to the spring
My History/Heritage club ( Histoire et Patrimoine) picked another spring (source) to clean this year. It is located in the Combe Lavaux which is nowt a nature reserve. So we had to wait for the right time to go in and tramp around, so we would not kill certain plants that bloom in the summer. Two of the employees that work for the Reserve came with us. The entrance was totally overgrown with vines.  Actually there are two entrances. The first path was overgrown also. Then you arrive at a circular clearing, that is full of water in the summer. Since it had been dry during the month of September, it had grass and was muddy.
We were told to start at the first entrance and clear a path 2 meters wide. There were about 12 of us, plus the two young men in charge of our group. When this was cleared, we started on the path to the spring.
We worked steady for about 3 hours. Hacking away, cutting, and hauling all of the debris out to the truck.
The spring path
After we finished clearing it out ( we started at 9am) we went over to the hunters cabin for our lunch (picnic). Everyone brought food and something extra to share. So in good french style we started with some Crémant and apertifs ( I made a "cake"-french apertif with ham and olives and cheese)...and there were gougeres and other snacks. Then we sat down to lunch with our sandwiches and all  of the salads that had been prepared and were passed around, and of Then on to the cheese plate with bread and a nice Gevrey-Chambertin rouge, and then followed by many, many desserts ( apple tart, chocolate tart, chocolate cake, caramel chocolate tart, and some healthy clementines too)!!! A typical french picnic.

The muddy clearing

I returned home at 4 in the afternoon. I was tired, full to the brim, and very content. It was a fun day, even though it started to rain during lunch, we were nice and dry and having a good time.

Everyone working
Finally see the spring

Here it is DRY as a bone
One Sunday morning Dijon was having a different marché (market). It was to be produce directly from the farm. I decided to go in and see what they had to offer. I probably have mentioned that Dijon is under construction for the new tramway (to be finished the end of 2012). Below is a photo of the main road from the train station into Dijon. What a mess. Impossible to drive in Dijon, and not that easy to walk!!
all torn up for the new tram- train station at the end of the road
The market was OK, but small. Lots and lots of cheese, but we had some cheese at home. I was looking for fruits and vegetables, and unfortunately they did not have any.  But I walked around and took some photos as usual . I like horses. The horses in the photo are horses from the Auxois (oh swah- burgundian "x" is pronounced more like an "s"). Look at the size of those feet!!

Mosaic on the Post Office building 
I have always liked the post office building, and on this day I had my little camera with the zoom. I took a photo of the mosaic. Isn't he interesting. Remember the coq (rooster) is the symbol of France.

Art Nouveau
And next to the post office is a Art Deco or Art Nouveau building I have always liked. It is interesting to walk around on a Sunday morning because there is hardly anyone around. 

Again back to my club, we had a meeting about some changes that are going to be made on the Place de Chateau. So I snapped a couple of photos. Gorgeous fall day and I wanted to take advantage of the color and light.
Church in Gevrey
I am trying to get a photo of the interior of the church in Fixin, but it has been locked. So I took this photo of the church and it's bell tower. Note the great tiled roof in real Burgundian style.
St Martin in Fixin
That same Sunday I went to a recital in Magny lès Villers with Marie Thérèse. A woman from the area has studied opera and was putting on this recital...a debut of sorts. She has a strong voice, and maybe not ready for the Met yet, but surprisingly good. I was not sure what to expect, but ended up very pleased. She sang some of the opera favorites too. Small petite woman with a strong voice. The recital was in the small church of the village.
Panel at the front of the church
This last Sunday Keith thought we should go to Flavigny (where Chocolat was filmed). They were having a flea market and more. It was a spectacular day, so why not! Hmm, one reason, the crowds. Lots of other people had the same idea as us. The road leading into the village has no turnoffs. Traffic came almost to a stand still about 3 km from the village. No other choice but to sit and slowly move along at a snails pace. Some people pulled over and walked. They kept about even with our car and even gained a little. Parking was in a field outside of the village. We walked in only to find that the village was full of visitors...not much of a surprise after seeing the field full of cars...oh well. I took a few photos, and then we left for a nice drive through the countryside and home (Flavigny is about 1 hour from Gevrey).
Color of the village

some entertainment
looking at Flavigny from a distance
And what has Keith been up too. His has been restoring an old bicycle. He believes it is about 100 years old.
He took it out for a short ride the other day, now that it has wheels. However, this old bike has no brakes!!
Great job...isn't it. Looks spiffy

Happy Halloween

Recipe of the Month

I am going to cheat a little here. Since I mentioned preparing “cake”, I am going to repeat my recipe for cake. It is sooo..oo good though. Although I love to put lots and lots of things into my cake, it does make it hard to cut into slices. If I want to have nice slices, I cut back on all the added goodies ( i.e olives, peppers, ham…). You have to leave enough batter around to have clean cut slices. So pack it up and deal with it, or cut back by almost half.

• 4 eggs
• 1 2/3 cups plain white flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3/4 cup cream or crème fraîche
• 1 1/2 cups pitted green olives or pitted black olives (chopped or whole)
• 1 1/2 cups gruyère or emmental cheese, grated, cubed or combination ( i.e.: 1 cup grated and 1 cup cut in cubes )
• 2 oz of chopped ham
• Salt & pepper 
1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. In a bowl beat the eggs until pale yellow and frothy.
3. Stir in flour, baking powder, olive oil, melted butter, and milk.
4. Chop the ham, cube the cheese and slice the olives.
5. Stir in ham, cheese, olives, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Pour into greased bread tin, loaf tin or cake pan (11 x 4 inches would be a good size).
7. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown. (check with knife, insert and done when knife comes out clean)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sept 2011

Here it is the end of Sept. As always I have procrastinated once again, and I find myself at the last day of the month without a word on the page.

But it has been a good month. Actually the weather has been more July like than the actual July we had here in the Côte-D'Or! It has been about 25 degrees this last week with warm summer-like evenings (about 77°F). Ah how long can this last!
It is also very dry. Not so good, but I am sure the next few months will find a way to correct this problem. October can be a very wet month.

The vendanges (harvest) started about the 5th of Sept here in our area. That is about 2-3 weeks early. The week was grey with heavy skies, threatening the vendanges day after day, but in the end there was very little rain.
When to start the vendanges is the serious question.
Workers have to hired, but the grapes have to be at their peek. Each winemaker is busy checking his grapes, tasting the grapes and having the grapes analysed at the lab for the sugar, acid (and other things too). And then, the decision is made, and the vendanges starts.
Vines just before harvest

Leaves had started to turn on some vines

Here in the midst of the wine area, the vendanges is a major event. It, in a sense, takes over the village. The vandageurs ( workers) arrive, the grocer stocks huge quantities of food (large cans of vegetables, very large sausages, large giant size pates,...), and a flurry of activity takes over for the next week to 10 days. Parking is difficult with all the extra cars parked everywhere throughtout the villages. There is tractor or truck traffic (trucks loaded with grapes) at every intersection, and the vineyards are crawling with workers.

This year the grapes will need to be sorted carefully if the winemaker wants a good wine. There was a lot of mold on the grapes, and that means less grapes for the wine making. Some were healthy and hardy and others not. You can see the difference in the two photos.
Good grapes

Grapes covered in mold

 Because the weather was gloomy and the harvest difficult, I did not take many photos of this years vendanges. Better to stay out of the way. Although I took a few photos in upper Gevrey, and the others were from my kitchen window.
Picking grapes by hand is not easy on the back!

Vines even in this little patch, are hand picked

Tractor passes down the line to to get the boxes of picked grapes

Had time this month to go for a few walks in the woods. Early in the month we searched for mushrooms. With the dry weather the forest floor was dusty, and there were no edible mushrooms in the woods. Then we had a little rain and went out again to look for chanterelles (called girolles here). VOILA...we found them. Had a couple of nice dinners with chanterelles and had enough to put a few into the freezer.
Oops, not a mushroom, it's a snail

Pretty little mushroom, but not edible

Ah yes, a whole basket of chanterelles...

I always enjoy walking in the woods. It is cool in the hot weather and calm, and the colors are extraordinary. There is a quiet beauty to it all.
And down we go... near Reulle-Vergy

Flipper leading the way, near Chevannes

Of course there are lots of spider webs here and there, and when off the path looking for mushrooms, you run into them. I take a stick at times and wave it in front of me, until Flipper the dog decides he wants to play with my stick. He wins of course, so what, there are plenty of other sticks for me on the ground.
Outstanding in the field

Everyone has to come and see what is going on...

Nice view - church near Reulle is visible on the distant hill

A walk in vineyards of Gevrey (Here starts CHAMBERTIN)

Vineyards of Gevrey

All my fall activities have started once again. French class on Tuesday mornings, pottery on Thursday morning  Photo Club Thursday night and History Club (the main group meets only once a month, but the committees meet as often as necessary for the work that needs to get done).
Our theme this year in the Photo Club ( for our annual Expo May 2012) is 3. Trying to get my head around two photos with 3. The theme is based on the fact that the club is 33 years old, therefore two photos with 3. So three trees, three flowers, three wine glasses...

In the history /patrimoine ( heritage) group, I have been taking photos of a couple of the villages. The idea is to document the village as it is today. Some photos will be pretty, others will be a photo of the street, telephone wires and all. Also trying to document what I would call a curiosity, a little point of interest. You start to see a village a little differently when you search out little details. It is an enjoyable project.
Chevannes- After the harvest, note vines are taller in the Haute Côte.
Note the dust cloud from A tractor

Late summer poppies

Chevannes with the church tower

Ancient relief on a house in Messanges

Dovecote and old oven in Messanges

Old house in Messanges

Dry wall around a garden -Messanges


Vines in the Haute-Côte after harvest

Church tower in Chevannes- beautiful tiled roof

Keith has been busy. He has been sanding down our shutters and putting a new coat of varnish on all. In between he tried to ride his bike.
Then he work a private tour for a week and went to the Nebraska to visit his parents. He just returned and is trying to get back into this timezone.
It is fall now, and he will start going to Bligny-sur-Ouche to work on the trains. Winter is repair time, and they get together to work almost every Saturday to work on the poor old engines.

Fall is also the time for the Musique de Chambertin. I only went to one concert this fall(although there are many to choose from), it was with Thierry Caens. He plays the trumpet and he is also the Artistic Director. The concert was at Clos-Vougeot, and he played with an accordionist. It started early, so we had a light dinner at MT's before, outside in the warm late afternoon. Then off to the concert.
Clos de Vougeot

The concert room was crowded and we were in the last row. I really enjoyed the evening, Th. Caens is a very talented trumpet player. For an encore they played Flight of the Bumblebee. WOW.. I had never heard this played on a trumpet before and it was truly amazing.

I think that about ends this month. Keith has gone out for a ride, and I am here finishing this Blog. Not much more is going to happen.

Recipe of the Month
Last night I threw together a great salad. I decided it was good enough to share with you.
It was a hot day, and the dinner I had planned was a little heavy. A looked around, and I thought of this salad. Pears are coming into season now, so it is a good time. And it is so easy.

Spinach and Pear Salad
For 2 people ( or 4 if a small side)

  • ·       2 ripe pears ( I used poire Willaims)
  • ·       About 4 ounces of baby spinach
  • ·       6 Walnuts chopped
  • ·       3 oz blue cheese (Roquefort ), crumbled
  • ·       ½ cup olive oil
  • ·       1/8 cup white Balsamic vinegar 
  • ·       1/8 cup walnut flavored vinegar
  • ·       1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ·      2 tsp sugar
  •        Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  • 1.     Prepare the vinaigrette

Place vinegar, sugar and mustard together and blend completely
Add the oil a little at a time while whipping the mixture until all the oil has been added and you have a thick vinaigrette. Check and add salt ( remember the cheese is salty too)
  • 2.       .Put the spinach in a bowl
  • 3.       Peel and cut up the pear and place on top of spinach
  • 4.       Sprinkle with chopped walnuts
  • 5.       Add the crumbled cheese
  • 6.       With peppermill, add some fresh pepper
  • 7.       Pour over most of the vinaigrette
  • 8.       Toss and if more dressing is needed, add now and toss again.

So easy…let me know if you like it.