Sunday, December 22, 2013


It is the end of December. Another year has passed.

I, or we (Keith is just downstairs), want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

With Christmas just around the corner, I will tell you a few things about a French Christmas. The night before Christmas (Veille de Noël)  is the time many families celebrate Réveillon. I believe traditionally it was the meal after midnight Mass. But now it is a family dinner on Christmas Eve.

To continue with "food" as my train of thought, the stores here are packed with all kinds of chocolates, different sizes, flavors and packaging magic. It is an amazing display of chocolate. I try to stay clear, walk through this part of the store real fast.
Let us now move on. Next are all the special coolers that have been added to the aisle in the stores, and these are filled with all types and choices for Foie Gras. Do you want the liver to prepare yourself? or do you prefer it prepared and in a pretty package. Cooked or not cooked, season or no or goose? mousse or solid? Whew...
And moving down the aisle, we arrive at the oysters! Did you know there are several types of oysters? and then it is important where they come from..
And of course wine and champagne everywhere....
Oh the culinary dilemma at this time of year!!! And yes, it is a season of great culinary delights and calories and cholesterol do not exist. That is the magic of Christmas, right?

Unfortunately for poor Keith, I am not an oyster person, so I do not buy them!!  Maybe for New Years.

We will celebrate Christmas with Marie Thérèse and family, as usual. I am preparing the same dessert as I did last year, the chocolate cups filled with nougat semi-freddo ( a little white chocolat for decoration).

As for news this last month, it has been a slow month. We had some extraordinary frost, several days of build up. I did not get out to take a lot of photos, but here are a few.
tree in our side yard

Back fence and frosty vines

Evening in Gevrey -Fog and frost on all the vines

Frosty tree in Gevrey
Our Tacot exposition went well, as reported in November. Here is a photo that was taken on opening day.
Photo was taken for the local newspaper
Keith has been working at Bligny repairing trains like he always does on Saturdays in the winter. He really enjoys his Saturdays with the "guys" (mecs). He has only been out on his bike a few times, with all the fog, days to ride have not been frequent.

Since it is Christmas, Pére Noël is popping up all over the place!! Here is a photo from Messanges.
Some of you have met Pére Noël while visiting Messanges.

I will stop here with a wish to all for Happy Holidays.

Recipe of the Month

Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambée  
This is an Alsatian dish. Very easy and very good. Give it a try. It is a little rich! Keith really enjoyed it the other night!

  • Pizza crust-(cookie sheet rectangle)
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 6 oz lardons ( thick bacon sliced into match sticks)
  • 1 onion -sliced
  1. Saute onion and add lardons to cook
  2. Roll out the pizza crust
  3. Prebake until it just starts to turn color
  4. Mix cream cheese with the creme fraiche
  5. Remove crust from oven
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture
  7. Add the onion and lardon mixture on top
  8. Return to oven until hot (10 minutes)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Trompette des Morts or Black chanterelle
I know this is a day late (no longer November, but it is Dec 1st), but so it goes sometimes. Today is chilly to say the least, just above freezing.
It has been a busy month here.

The first of the month I went into the woods for a walk and to look for mushrooms. We found and filled large bag of Trompette des Morts (cantharellus cornucopioides). This is a sought after mushroom of late fall, very good to eat and difficult to find. The bag was set on the ground temporarily, when along came Flipper (the dog) who thought it was a great time to play. He grabbed the bag and started to run. Oh what joy when everyone joined in chasing him!! He finally stopped when the bag was completely empty. We recovered some, but given the wide berth of the chase, we did not get many. But at least Flipper was happy and thought we all had such fun.

Mid month Keith and I went south to the Beaujolais region. There is a restaurant there that has a Michelin star. Madame Chagny had owned and run this restaurant for 40 years. Here is the Michelin note on the restaurant: "Enough of elegant decor and fashionable society! This regional institution, which has been run by Mme Chagny for over 40 years, has done away with luxury in order to better discover the flavours of an authentic and well-prepared local cuisine." So she gave up the second star in favor of good cooking and no bling. Unfortunately her health was not good, and she sold the place this last July. The restaurant still had good reviews, and good it was. Keith went for the menu of the day!! 
It started with the;
Amuse bouche: silky squash soup and little toasts and a gourgere
Entre: Escargots
Fish course: Sandre filet (like walleye)
Meat course: beef tenderloin and scallop potatoes (almost the same as-but sooo good)
Cheese course: various cheeses ( a large platter is brought to the table, and you choose what you want 
Dessert: He took the sorbet
Can you imagine all that food...and oh yes, some small pastries (friandise) at the end!! wouf!!
I did not go there!! I had some oeufs en meurette and pigeon.

The Beaujolais region is very hilly (yikes) with small roads with drop offs (I have a little problem with roads that have drop offs)! The leaves had turned, they were probably prettier the week before we were there. I took photos, but we had cloudy, rainy weather, and some were from the moving car.
Fleurie (oh for the sun..)

trompe l'oeil in Fleurie 

Photo from the car..Beaujolais region

Another photo from the car

Château - also from the car
hmmm Keith did not stop for me to take my photos!
We also stopped in Tournus the next day on the way home. Interesting city, however many little shops were closed for the season. A beautiful church in Tournus, St Philibert. This is an early 11th century church with a mosaic from about the 12th century. It is built in the Burgundian Romanesque style. Worth the visit.

Building behind the church-Tournus
The courtyard of the abbey

St Philibert church tower

Some of the fresco still on the ceiling- imagine the whole church painted inside

Large stone pillars of the church...this is
before the flying buttress

One of the astrological mosaics (only a couple left-others have been destroyed)
After our little trip, we had a mid-month surprise!! It only lasted the one day however.
From the bedroom window!

THE CAR!! Not familiar with this anymore!
We had a small Thanksgiving. Marie Thérèse and Christian and Tom (who worked with Keith and has moved to France) came over for dinner. Very typical Thanksgiving. I ordered a farm raised turkey(not industrial) and got a huge 5.5 kilo turkey (that is 12lbs). Here in france, at times you have to a little plucking, a few feathers left behind! (Hmm, what would some Americans think if the turkey came with some feathers still attached?) Mr Turkey was very good, and lots of leftovers.

This month, the 30th of November and December 1st is the Exposition of the Tacot. I have written about this small train in previous months. I worked on putting the interviews into a film; there were about 10 people interviewed and filmed on their memories of the Tacot. We also have a hiking trail that goes over parts of the route, lots of old post cards, and actual pieces of the rail for sale. As of yesterday it has been a big success. Have not stopped by yet today.
about 6 inch piece of the actual rail, cut, cleaned, edges rounded, numbered and varnished.

We had 72 pieces cut from a 9 meter rail

Train and depot hand built -Typical train depot

It is the start of the Christmas season. Here in Burgundy, Christmas is a little different. They have a marché de Noël (Christmas market) in Dijon, but each year it is smaller.  Here, the celebration is more emphasis on the réveillon (Christmas eve dinner). Of course all the children now know about Saint Nicolas. But still it is not as commercial as the US. Many of the traditions in the US ( Christmas tree for example) are a more German. If we go to the Alsace, we see a little more of the Christmas that is more familiar. Some people put up Christmas lights here, but not everyone. Christmas trees are sold here, but not every house has one. It is just a different atmosphere, and a little hard to describe the differences. The Christmas lights of our ville of Gevrey were turned on this week.


I doubt this is very french. I have a slow cooker called a mijoter. The slow cooker is not big here yet, most would just use the oven. I finally found one a one and use it every so often. This Sunday, Dec 1st, with the Expo, I threw it all into the slow cooker and hoped for the best.

Pork (tenderloin or chops)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper
2 large TBS of mild paprika
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste

Toss it all into the slow cooker. Let it cook about 8 hours or according to the directions of your slow cooker.
C'est tout ( that is all)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 2013

Octobre 2013
Back of your house across the golden vines
 (house with the dormer)
The days are shorter and the sun is moving to the southern sky. The leaves are turning to fall colors of yellow, gold and muted orange. We do not have many maple trees here, so fiery red/orange colors are all but absent in the forest.
The vineyards are golden with patches of red and the birds are flocking, hundreds or thousands flying (dancing ) in unison over the vines at the back of our house. Fall has arrived in the Cote-D'Or.
We had frost one morning, other than that, we have had some beautiful summer like days. Other days have been grey or foggy.

The vendange (grape harvest ) is finished. Now the grapes are fermenting in large vats and the village takes on the scent of young wine. It is little wonder that we are plagued by fruit flies every year at this time. The little flies enter the house in droves around sunset. I did not close the windows in time the other day and had to get out the vacuum. What else can you do when each window is covered with a hundred fruit flies.

This month we have had visitors. First an ex-student of Keith's, now a colleague, came for a visit. He is a professor at a University in New Zealand. He has a joint project with a University in Paris. Keith had gone to Paris for a couple of days to work with him the first week in October. Then when his wife flew into Paris, they came for a visit. That is when my stove gave up (see paragraph further down). Luckily we had a gorgeous day, and even had lunch on the back patio. Burgundy put its best foot forward.

Not as luckily with the second visit. My niece and great nephew arrived for a visit. So excited to see them. My nephew is 18 and really appreciated that drinking wine is legal here at 18 years. Although the weather was not at its best (cloudy and grey), I wanted to show them parts of my world. We did a cheese tasting at the fromagerie, a short tour of Gevrey, watched the vendangeurs (grape harvesters) from the comfort of our patio, went to Dijon for market day and a brief tour, went to a concert at Clos du Vougeot, learned about wine and champagne and tasted wine and Crémant at the Imaginarium at Nuits Saint Georges, visited Beaune and tasted wine, tasted wine at Meursault (hmm is there a pattern here), tossed in a couple of hikes to see the views, and dinner at MT's that ended on a grand note with a great wine. A nice evening with our friends.
But alas, the two of them left on the late night train for Venice. Sooo enjoyed their visit.  (PS The clumsy aunt almost ruined the vacation time by spraining/breaking a couple of toes...but let's not go there!!!)
Château Gevrey-Chambertin
Old door - Gevrey
Grape harvest almost in our backyard
the cutters put grapes in the containers and the two
guys right and left pick up the containers and
put them on the tractor.

On the cliffs...( WHOA - a little close to the edge !!)

old bottles in the cave at Beaune

Château du Clos de Vougeot- concert Sunday night

The concert at the Château du Clos de Vougeot by JEAN-JACQUES MILTEAU and MANU GAlVIN was a "duo harmonica et guitare". Jean-Jacques Milteau was amazing on the harmonica. They played mostly blues musique. This was part of the fall music program called the Musique de Chambertin, and it was the last concert (Oct 6th) of this years season.

My oven went on the blink just before guests arrived. I think the computer got all mixed up. It would work for a while and everything would look great, then when I went back, the oven was almost cold and the quiche was not cooked! Keith put the quiche on the grill and it did finish cooking, but I would not advise it as the best way to cook quiche. The oven would give some heat for an undetermined amount of time (less than 30 minutes). With Katie and Nicholas here, I used the slow cooker and the pressure cooker!!
The oven totally gave up this week, so we needed to buy a new one. With dark evenings now, cooking outside on the grill is difficult if not almost impossible (did it Saturday night to finish cooking part of our dinner)!! Keith installed the new one on Sunday, and it works. YIPEE

Around the house things are progressing. Here is a new photo of the front yard. It is not as lush as the photo suggests, but it is filling in nicely. I have had to cut it twice, and if the weather continues like it has, I may need to cut again before winter sets in.
Front yard
We keep looking at the yard trying to decide what to do next spring.

Inside the house, things in the living room are moving along too. We gave up on the idea that we could hire someone...since we tried and it has been a year of promises, but no show! So Keith has started to undertake the task!! The wall board is up, and we ordered the stone for the wall and have it sitting in the front hall. It will go on the wall in the next few days. After all that is done, there is striping all the wall paper and re-papering the walls! Yikes I hate this type of work! And the dust right now, please no visitors! the house is one dusty mess!!!!! Hopefully I can post the stove with stone behind it next month?!
Furring strips up on the wall

Special heat resistant wall board is up
 (believe me, it will not stay pink)
As always, there are the walks in the woods. The mushrooms are up and some are pretty to see, and others are edible. So I have been taking photos of the woods, the dogs and the mushrooms.
The two dogs playing in the woods

This is a Lactaire. See how the liquid pours out of it.
 Most are not edible, but the orange color is pretty.
And with the fall season, this year the vineyards are pretty. Sometimes we get a beautiful fall and other times the vines turn brown and drab!  I have added some fall photos at FLICKR.  I have posted a couple photos below, but for more, try this connection. Fall Photos.  I like my panoramic photo.
If this "Fall Photo" connection does not work, there is a connection below this months Blog.
looking down on the vineyards of Gevrey-Grand Cru

Fall leaf...most are yellow, some turn red

I took this with my telephoto from my backyard. The tree was
covered in birds and they were very noisy. You can sort of make out
the outline of birds on the top of the tree.
Keith has been going to Bligny, and now that the tourist season is over, it is time for repairs. They had an english crew come in to work on the trains boilers. Keith was over there a few week days to help with the translation. Boilers are fixed and passed inspection.

That is the month of October. HAPPY HALLOWEEN

post note on has been tried, but it did not rise to the level of the USA. Hard to find pumpkins again, although I could for a few years. There is some candy, but most events for Halloween are for the children at the social center or at the schools. Probably better this way....

Recipe of the Month

Stuffed green chilies
I saw a recipe similar to this on an Italian cooking show. This is my version of the recipe. It is a late summer or fall recipe when the ingredients are fresh.

For 4 people
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • 1 large tomato
  • 4 long green chilies (mild - called "cornu" here -horn)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup mild cheese grated (swiss, guyere ...)
  • 4 TBS parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Chop the tomato, zucchini, and onion ( about 3/8 inch cubes for tomato and zucchini)
  2. Sauté onion in a little olive oil until clear ( medium heat, do not caramelize )
  3. Add zucchini and continue to sauté for 5 minutes
  4. Add tomato and stir and remove from heat –cool slightly
  5. Boil water and add the green chili that has been cut in half the long way - leave in the boiling water about 4 minutes
  6. Add the cheese to the slightly cooled zucchini tomato mixture
  7. Put the green chilies in a baking dish
  8. Divide the mixture up and fill all 4 halves equally
  9. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese
  10. Bake 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes without cover (aluminum foil)

la saison d'automne

Gevrey panoramicBack of our house-from the vineyard sideGevreyGevrey - old quarryGevreyGevrey
Cellier des Dîmes GevreyGevreyClos Saint Jacques , GevreyLast grapes after the harvestdew on the berriesVillage of Fixin
Fixinvines and village of FixinFixinReds of FixinFixinFixin

la saison d'automne, a set on Flickr.

Fall season in Gevrey-Chambertin and Fixin.
Photos of the vineyards.
This year it is golden.