Monday, December 31, 2012

Dec 2012

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Night at Eguisheim

Soon another year will be finished and the world did not end on the 21st.

I started  this month off in Fixin ( pronounced fee-san), just a few kilometers from Gevrey (dec 1st). Throughout the village wine makers had open house (Portes Ouverts) and an art show by the talented people of Fixin. A friend arranged for some members of the Photo Club to meet and take a small tour. She was showing some of her photos.
This was on a Saturday and Keith (like usual) was in Bligny working on the trains. Friends picked me up here in Gevrey. We arrived before the appointed time, so we had time to taste some wine not on our "tour". Our first wine at Domaine Molin. Kieth and I had been here before. We tasted some wonderful reds, but had to be cautious with swallowing because there was more on tour ( oh the heck with that, I was not driving). The second place was interesting. The woman talked about being a woman in the wine business. She thought it was difficult competing against the men, even with buyers from the USA. She also talked about making wine in the traditional way. We enjoyed the chat with her, but liked the first wine at D. Molin more.
Then up to the social center in the park called Noisot. This is where our Photo Club group was to meet and where our friend had her photos exhibited. She had some wonderful photos on display.

Domaine de la Pettiere
After looking at the photos, our next stop on the tour was Domaine de la Perrière. It is next to the parc Noisot, near the top of the hill in Fixin. It was built by the monks of Citeaux in 1142 (more info here if interested: Domaine-de-la-Perriere).

They have preserved the old wine press.. the year 1142

How old do you  think these bottles are!!
Some old and prestigious wine is stored here. Had to taste that wine, they even had a tasting of their wine that costs 50€ per bottle! Getting wires crossed, the 3 of us missed the next stop and went directly to the last place on the tour. More wine tasting and more art...forgot to mention that the local art was exhibited at each winery. I know it may sound like a lot wine, but you really are getting very little in a glass ( of course that depends on the person pouring the wine) There is the "crachoir" ( spittoon) and you toss or spit wine into it. One only savors and swallows  the very good ones.

During the month I went for other walks and some mushroom hunting, but will not bore you with more mushroom photos. For the first part of the month, we had cold, foggy, rainy weather. Then suddenly it changed. It has been above average temperatures for the last 10 days. Took a photo of a dandelion in bloom, it was over 60° that day. They are still in bloom...31st of December. Can you believe it!!
However because of the gloom, did not get out a lot to do much hiking. Marie Therese and I went down to Buxy to get some wine for her business, and a little Crémant for me too. Keith and I went down to see Jean-Claude in Rully for wine and a chat.

Just before Christmas, Keith and I went to Colmar and Eguisheim in the Alsace. Christmas customs here in Burgundy are not at all like the USA. Some people do decorate the house with lights, but very few. The villages put up some lights and some decorations too. But still not the same. So if you want more of the USA Christmas atmosphere, head up to Alsace. The German influence is huge (since the border changed a few times) and so it has more of the essence of an USA Christmas. However this year with the warm weather, it was a little different than last time we went and there was snow onthe ground.
We started in Colmar and wandered around to see the Christmas market. Later in the afternoon we went to Eguisheim where we were staying the night. They had a small Christmas market too.
Streets of Colmar
Hard to see the lavender decoration the building

Found some gingerbread men here, and Keith found a fruit cake called berawecka. He was so happy to find it, something he remembers having as a child (I am not a fruit cake person!!). We had a nice dinner, Keith going all out Alsatian food- ham hock, sauerkraut and potatoes! I should have taken a photo of that plate!
But we always enjoy our trip to Alsace. The villages are beautiful in the summer with flowers everywhere, almost like a movie set.

Keith on the hunt for berawecka

More than just gingerbread men is all gingerbread!
Need some Christmas decorations?
Pretzels or " Bretzels" are a hit in the Alsace

A log was light for some warmth at the market

Christmas came and went so fast. All of a sudden, it was a couple days until Christmas!!! yikes....and now it is over. We had dinner(at noon) with Maire Therese like we have in past years. We ate and drank and were merry! So much food, and very good food, and as always some excellent wine. Apertifs (including a little foie gras...mnn), wild smoked salmon ( not my favorite, but everyone else loves it), paté en croute (paté in a crust), wild boar(sanglier), cheese and dessert...[explode...].But all of this is over at least 5 hour period. It was a warm and sunny day. Who knew it would be like that when I got my idea for dessert. Chocolate cup filled with nougat semifreddo. I did panic a little on how to transport this in 50 degree weather. But it went well. Used ice packs , and all survived the 20 minute drive.
My dessert..cup is white and dark chocolate ( white just for looks)
and the inside filled with nougat semifreddo

So here is to a new year....2013. I am making my list of New Years resolutions, what are yours?


Nougat semifreddo
I will pass on the semifreddo recipe I found on the internet. If you search, there are many. This one did not have milk or cream...and it is so easy and really good.

250g/ 9 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 eggs, separated (and beat the egg whites firm)
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g/3½oz crunchy nougat, chopped by hand

Preparation method
Separate the eggs.
Put the yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until fluffy.
Add the mascarpone and keep beating.
Add the chopped nougat.
Fold in the egg whites beaten firm.
Coat a rectangular mould or small individual ones with parchment paper or cling film.
Pour the mixture in the mould or small individual ones.
Freeze for several hours before serving.
Tip the ice cream onto a serving dish and decorate with coffee beans and /or crushed hazelnuts.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November 2012

            NOVEMBER 2012

This month has not been remarkable, but nonetheless, it seems to have passed quickly. Suddenly it is the end. I know 30 days has Sept, April , June and November. Guess I was hoping for one more day…but there just isn’t one (OK so it is actually Dec 1).

The annual sale of wine was mi-November (152nd Hospices de Beaune wine auction). The red wine sales were up by 73%...a huge increase. Does that mean that the wine for 2012 is that much better.  Well, probably no, this year the sale had a few more Asians, and they were bidding high. They will realize in a few years that they do not need to push the price that high. Hey, but in the meantime, it is great for our economy here in the Cote D’Or. We will see what it does for us to buy a bottle. Yes the harvest of 2012 will cost more because the harvest was cut by 50% due to bad grapes. But the price per bottle will not be 73% higher than last year.
Beaune creates a festival weekend around this sale (Hospice de Beuane). I took the train to Beaune and met Marie Therese. The train was packed! People were standing and squashed in like a subway at rush hour. Thankfully it was only a 20 minute ride!
Once in Beaune, we found it equally crowded, but amused ourselves in spite of the crowds. There are always bands strolling through the streets, and lots of venders selling sausage, cheese, wine, champagne, truffles, cookies, oysters….and the list goes on.

There was also a cork pulling contest. 20 bottles (filled with water) were placed in front of the contestants. Who could pull the 20 corks first....and the winner is MT 

One of the bands in crazy costumes

Another band walking the streets 

Cork pulling contest

Been out in the woods a few times walking, enjoying the calm, and taking photos of mushrooms. I am trying to learn more, but it is not an easy subject. So many mushrooms to learn about. What shape is the cap, then to check on the gills[color,shape,type of connection to cap].....the list is endless in the points needed to make a good identification.
 I still go by Keith's little poem:
There are old mycologists,
 there are bold mycologists,
but there are not any OLD, BOLD mycologists

Don't eat what you do not know!

I think the little chocolate brown mushrooms are Cortinarius

This little one has a brown cap and bluish stem and gills
Ramaria aurea -I think. Very pretty mushroom

Calm of the woods -late November

Finished with the mushroom talk, before I loose everyone. THis is another story with a happy ending. Way back in the year 2000, my family sold our father's place in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. The place was called Blackbird Island. That last year I went down to the beach and dug up some clay. I put this clay in a bag and moved it all the way here to France. Keith was digging in the garage last summer and found the box that had my bag. He said it was time to do something. So he hammered away to break it down into dust. I consulted with Christine (where I take pottery), and she told me after I had a fine powder, then put it through a sieve. After that, add water to make a water slip. Put this in a tray and wait for the water to evaporate. I followed these directions carefully and ended up with a course clay (sandy). We tried a little ball in the kiln, and VOILA, it worked. So I made a flower pot and a plate. Family take note, these are from Blackbird. I think I left a big enough clue for identification.

Blackbird Island plate

Blackbird Island flower or herb pot
I think I will close now with my recipe.

Red Wine Sauce

I was curious about rich red wine sauce. I had been thinking about Beef Wellington and how to make the sauce that went with it. I did not drive head first into Beef wellington, just the sauce this month. Not sure I can even duplicate it, but it was wonderful. Keith said it was the best sauce he ever tasted!!

1 bottle of Pinot Noir
1 garlic crushed
1 bouquet garnie
1 small onion chopped in chunks
1 or 1 1/2 cubes beef broth ( yes I cheated using a cube)
1 TBS vegetable oil
2-3 tsp of butter
Possible need for a cube or two of sugar
1 heap of patience

1. Saute the onion for a couple minutes and then add the garlic
2. Add the wine -whole bottle
3. Add the herbs
4. turn the heat way down and reduce by half
5. Strain the wine and return the wine to the pan
6. Taste...add one cube of beef broth ( at this point my sauce had a hard edge...not sure how good the wine was- so I added one cube of brown natural sugar
7. Reduce slowly
8 Taste every so often for the flavor.
9 You should end up with about 1/3 cup of thick rich wine (syrup consistancy). Add the butter 1 tsp at a time.

Is it worth it...yes!   Drizzled on a plate and a nice tenderloin on it is great. Please let me know if you try it and like it (or not).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



I have started up again.

It is fall here, with ice on the birdbath in the morning. Still is was a sunny day.
Until the freeze this last weekend, the Côte D'Or was living up to its golden reputation. It was splendid.
Cabotte de Couchey

Golden Vines- church tower of Fixey

The grape harvest this year, I am sure you have been waiting for this news ;). It was a strange season, with lots of rain early in the season, then dry dry dry. Here locally, it was said that the grapes were sweet, but not a lot of juice. Also locally (on the Côte de Nuit), many vignerons lost about half of their crop (grapes dried up on the vines). So for those vignerons who sort the grapes carefully, the wine should be good, the the price high since there will be a very limited quantity. More later on the subject at the end of November when the first reports start to arrive.

Been in the woods walking and gathering mushrooms. Trying to learn a little about mushrooms, but it is a vast subject. Starting with the basics. A person in my Flora and Fauna group has been a member of the mycology group in Dijon for 15 years, and is leading us on a few forays and helping to identify our finds.
What a collection!

Did not adjust the color...I will have to ask MT if they were any good

Also for the Flora and Fauna group, we took a great hike near Fleurey-sur-Ouche. Wrote up the report of this hike ( well actually MT wrote up the report, I added photos), however it is in French. If you want to look anyway at the photos, here is the connection.
Sentier de Fleurey: HERE     You have to scroll down, first page is blank for whatever reason!!

Our english friend came for a visit. As usual, we tasted some wine. She drives from england via the ferry of course, so she can take wine back for herself and friends. There was an exhibit in Nuits Saint Georges about the scents found in white and red wines. So we tried our noses out, just like everyone else.
Put your nose up to the opening and smell...umm red fruit, very fragrant

We went our for dinner our last night, at a little restaurant not too far, and I ordered the Lasagna Coq au Vin...oh my, it was wonderful. It had the pasta, with the Coq au Vin chicken in between and then the reduce (and thick) sauce all around. Was it ever good.
It was a delightful evening out.
Also while she was here, it was the fall concert time. Each fall we have the "Musique of Chambertin", several concerts in the villages around Gevrey. We went to a brass band concert. It was in a small church, and luckily we were in the front ( I was told the sound got lost at the back of the church). It was superb. Have to work on re-creating that one.

While walking around with Chris, also did some window shopping. Just thought I would toss in these photos.
Sweet tooth??

Or more a cheese person?
Keith and I did get away, just the two of us. We visited a friend of Keith's, former colleague from the bike tours. He lives in the north west region of Italy, Piedmont. What a beautiful place! We needed that little get away.
View from the bedroom 

One of the neighboring hill tops

Of course there are hills...Pied = foot and Mont = Mountains. Yikes, up and down the little narrow roads! We had taken a train and then rented a car so we could get around. On the return trip, we found out that we were on a BUS, not the train! But it was not bad. Can not walk around like you can in a train, but the route was beautiful, up and over a section of the Alps. And it was about 20 minutes shorter by bus (only one stop in the 4 hour trip while the train stops more often and has a short layover at Chambrey). It is not that far as the crow files, about 300 miles, but it is the route through the mountains that is the challenge  Preferred the bus over the car, but the roads were wide since the trip followed the major highway (toll roads).

Have to add another photo. Found Saint Rita in an Italian Church. My mother's name was Rita, but I never knew that there was a Saint Rita...guess the Italians did.

Keith and I took a little stroll around Gevrey one day. A knew sculpture was added in front of the Chateau. The château had been given to the monks of Cluny, so the commissioned statue is a monk. But the other guy!!

The owner of the château had died this year, and the château has been sold. Such an uproar here. It was sold to a Chinese man. Our heritage sold to a Chinese man!! Chris heard it reported on the London news! However at this point he has hired a local architect firm and is going to have the château restored. This is a long and slow process. The architect gave a tour of the château on the "Weekend of Heritage". I went ( went to the 8am tour because I thought it was the best chance to get in since it was early, and I was right...people were turned away at the later tours-only about 30 per tour). It was very interesting, I had had a previous tour concerning the history, but this was a tour explaining all of the architectural changes through the centuries (château was started in the 11th century).
We also passed a vineyard.

This last week we had our chimney taken out and a Jotul woodstove put in. The woodstove is great and it really heats the house well. However, the wall behind the chimney was ruined. They ( the contractors putting in the woodstove) thought we probably had a leak in the stovepipe that allowed moisture and some soot to was the moisture that ruined the wall. So while we are thinking about our options, here it what it look like right now.

Our floor tile is white, with some grey, new stove is we have looked at tile so far (which is I think we will end up...but what color?). Keith wants to look at stone too.
Any ideas from out there? And here we thought we could just paint it the burgundy color to match what we had!!!

This next Tuesday is Election Tuesday. Most of you know that I am more to the left and this year as 4 years ago I am supporting Obama. I have voted already. I will not get on a soap box, you have all made your decisions already. In one week we will know.

That is all for this month.


Beef Roll-ups or Italian Steak rolls
This started as a healthy recipe I found, and then adjusted a little! Oops, I added some calories. A little futzy to make, but very good.

1 small zucchini grated
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped fine
1 carrot grated
1 one or 2 garlic cloves
6 small mushrooms chopped fine

1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley

6 tenderized beef round steak ( I used a thin beef cut from here, then marinaded it in yoghurt for about 1 hour , pounded it out with a meat hammer to get a bigger surface and a thin 1/4 inch piece of beef)
      [about 2 pounds]
1 16 oz spaghetti sauce
 4 oz of unsmoked bacon chopped fine
6 teaspoons tapenade

1. Mix zucchini, red pepper, onion, carrot garlic, mushrooms, cheese and parsley (first 8 ingredients). Season with salt and pepper.
2. Lay out a piece of beef and "butter" with a teaspoon of tapenade
3. Take some of the vegetable mixture -about 1/4 cup- and place at one end and roll up the meat around the filling. Tie the roll with two pieces of string. Continue until all six have been rolled.
3. Saute the bacon lightly, just warm up-do not fry
4. Put the bacon in the bottom of a casserole dish.
5. Place the beef rolls on top
7 Pour the spaghetti sauce over the top.
8. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours at 275°.
Check midway to be sure that there is enough moisture. Do not add unless absolutely necessary. When finished the tomato sauce should have reduced and thickened into a rich sauce.


A pause for reflection
Dennis in the back, Vicki on the left, Cecile on the right, and Baby Susie in front

To live in hearts we leave behind , Is not to die.

Blackbird Queen....always
Vicki Ann Veeser Shay

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 2012

Looking towards Villars-Fontaine
June 2012
This month will be short and I will be taking a couple months off from this Blog.
I will start again in the fall.

As usual, I have been out in the woods here and there and looking for wild flowers. The bounty has been plenty this past month, and not just flowers.

Went in search of wild orchids at the beginning of the month. And yes, we found lots. The hillside was covered, but the photo I had did not do it justice, so I did not include the hillside photo! But there are a couple photos of the orchids.
As we neared the tip of Mont Myon, I took this shot


White wild orchid

A friend called and asked if we wanted some black cherries ( did I write this last month too)?
Anyway Keith went over and picked cherries. Oh so good.
Made a claflouti and froze some for a future tart.

Marie Therese's sister moved her horse to a new stable (ecurie) just outside of the village Remilly-en-Montagne. It is a very pretty village set up high on a hill. A storm was brewing, but we were still in the sun, so the black clouds of the photo do not stand out. Luckily we returned from up in the pasture with the horses, said our goodbyes and were in the car when the storm hit. For about 5 minutes, it was very difficult to see the road!
Looking at the approaching storm

A little time with the horses
Went to look for girolles in the woods. In english the mushroom is called chanterelles. With the damp weather, and now the sun and heat...they are all over. Nice walk in the woods on a hot day too.
Long bread basket full of girolles. Now I have to clean them!
We were in the woods that is above Chambolle. Here on the plateau, the grain is almost ready for harvest.
Grain almost ready above Chambolle
I will end this month with a photo of our neighbors cat. For some reason, he went out of a window to explore our roof (we have a velux window in the bathroom).
I am not including a recipe either. I will start that again in the fall.