Saturday, December 27, 2014

It will soon be 2015. Guess that makes me a year older too(zut).

We went to the Alsace (northeast of here) for a "Christmas fix" and wine. Everything is so decorated at this time of year.  Alsace celebrates Saint Nicolas (6 dec) and not Pere Noël. The influence for Christmas is more germanic than french in the region. Just a little note, Strasbourg has had a Christmas market (Marché de Noël) since 1590.
The weather was warm, so there was no snow this year. Here are a few photos of Eguisheim, one the prettiest villages in France. In the summer, there are flowers everywhere.
Our hotel, waited for a car to leave, then this one pulled
in, so I gave up and took a photo

Walking down the main street- le Grand rue

Winemakers place

Plaza with church behind -Pope Leo IX (1002 - 1054)
was born here, so statue of Leo IX

Stork nest on top of church bell tower
The Alsace is known for its' storks(i.e. in the
summer, they migrate south for winter)

Nativity scene

Another winemaker

Part of the Christmas market (Marché de Noël)

Other half of the market- fountain still running
since it was warm

Market at twilight time

Very Christmasy stall with wreaths, santas, dolls...

Want a wooden tree?

Store next to the market

Same store, need Alsacienne pottery?
Pretzels (Bretzels) are big in the Alsace. Vin chaud is mulled wine

We stopped at this stall in the market to buy some sausage
(dry sausage is called saucisson)
and some cheese (sorry I left my purse in the photo)
Very good saucisson and cheese. In fact we
bought some foie gras saucisson...
We only stayed one night. It is about 3 hour drive to Eguisheim. Usually, we arrive in the afternoon, then go to Domaine Gruss for a wine tasting, buy wine, then across the street to the hotel, have dinner and leave the next morning (with our wine). Keith loves an Alsacienne dinner with Riesling, and we like Domaine Gruss.
Alsacienne wine is not as sweet as the German versions. Most of the white wines are drier.

Speaking of wine, for those of you who like french wines. The prices on some Bordeaux wines is down (this is not wine from the big names, but some of the regular Bordeaux wines). So Keith has been experimenting. How low can we go in price and still have a drinkable, agreeable wine? We have been down to 3€ (one we had below 3€ was not so good). Tonight we had a nice St Emillion that was about 5.50€. It was quite nice. We have done this with Burgundy wines too, and 3€ is about the limit there too. Just thought I would toss that note in.

We had a very nice Christmas at chez Hoquet. This year,  we had wild boar. It was delicious. We started with fish and salad as the entre (entre here is the starter course- entrance to main course), then wild boar with mashed potatoes and an incredible sauce, followed by the cheese course and then dessert! WHEW...Of course some very fine wine was served with each course. You eat slow and talk and relax. Dinner like this takes a few hours, not minutes!!
I did not think to get out my camera until later, so here is a photo of the cheese!
Need I say more...
One member of chez Hoquet had not been invited to sit at the table.
although he did score a few scraps later!
As always, we passed a pleasant afternoon, eating, drinking and enjoying our friends.

We have had such a warm fall. Not a lot of rain and many days in December were between 45°-55°. Some foggy, but warm. Well, that finally changed and we started to get a few nights below freezing (0° Celsius).  This morning (27 dec) everything was white and -1° C.  I got up a little after 7am, and of course the sun was not up yet. Everything had a pink glow. Hard to capture in a photo, but I tried anyway. By sunrise it was raining, and now there is very little snow on the ground.  Photo out the backdoor, actually through the door, I was not going to open the door with the wind blowing!

It was a softer pink, but because of lighting (or lack thereof)
it comes out a little more in the sepia tones. Should level
the horizon!!

Recipe  of the  Month
My truffles

These are so good. Bit fussy to make, but not that hard. A melon baller makes it a lot easier. Get creative and use other flavoring, or roll in nuts or sprinkles or...

Creamy inside

  •  ¼ cup butter
  •  3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  •  2 Tablespoons orange liquor (or other flavoring) -I used 3 TBS orange juice
  •  1 teaspoon orange zest
  •   4 ounces chocolate semi sweet (chopped)
Coating outside
  •  4 ounces chocolate semi sweet (chopped)
  •  1 Tablespoon oil or butter


  1.  Melt butter in sauce pan
  2. Add cream and bring to a boil while stirring
  3. Take off the burner
  4. Stir in chocolate and orange liquor and zest
  5. Stir until smooth
  6. Cover with film and put in the refrigerator until cool and firm
  7. Have a cup of boiled water ready, the melon baller and a cookie sheet covered with Parchment Paper
  8. Dip melon baller in hot water then into chocolate for a nice ball shape. Place on paper. Continue  until chocolate is all gone (dip in hot water each and every time)
  9. Put cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
  10.  Just before taking the chocolate balls out of the freezer, melt the chocolate for the outside coating in a bain marie. Add oil  and stir well until very smooth
  11. When chocolate is melted, with two forks, dip ball in chocolate and then return to paper. Dip each one in the chocolate, careful to cover totally. Work quickly so ball does not melt.
  12.  Leave until totally cooled and hard on the outside..takes a little while-do not panic. You could put in the refrigerator to hurry the process.
ALL DONE… now eat one to be sure it is good!


This is a sauce used with potatoes. Much like sour cream and chives, but this is even better. Hmm, could be the fat content in the recipe (ya think)!! Also, it does not have the sour taste that sour cream has. Fromage blanc is not sour. We had this while in Alsace with potatoes browned in butter (now had bad is that for the health!). We both flipped over it, it was so very good. It is often put on baked potatoes too. Then of course, notice the ham on the plate in the photo I added.

It may be hard to make in the USA, unless you can get the Fromage Blanc. Not sure the greek yogurt would work as well. Notice from the photo how thick the sauce is.


  1. 800 gr (28 ounces) Fromage blanc (ou Fromage frais) à 40% fat [substitute Greek Yogurt, or Queso fresco]
  2. 200 gr (7 ounces) Crème fraîche épaisse (thick) 30% fat
  3. 50 gr Ail ( 2 regular cloves GARLIC), minced
  4. 100 gr (3.5 ounces) Echalotes ( 2 small or 1 large shallot or mild onion) chopped fine
  5. 30 gr Ciboulette (CHIVES- about 3 Tablespoons) chopped fine
  6. 10 gr Sel - salt to taste
  7. 1 gr Poivre - pepper to taste

Just blend everything together and refrigerate for about 2 hours for flavors to mix. Take out a little before using so it is not icy cold. Stir again and serve.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Novembre 2014

November 2014
Shaggy mane mushroom that I found in
Gevrey while walking.

Busy month, at least the first couple weeks were busy. Last couple of weeks I have had a cold and have been housebound. The abnormal fact about this month is that I did not take many photos! So not a lot to add to this Blog.
And so it goes.

We have had an unusually warm November, until today. The temperature has been 50°-65°, warm indeed. This morning (Saturday the 29th  nov) I got up and it was 4° Celsius outside! Brrrrrr ( OK 4 degrees C is 39° F).

On November 8th, we were invited by the mayor for a little ceremony and a glass of wine. This was to celebrate our french citizenship. It has been a year since we got our citizenship, but the city of Gevrey only does this every so often. Not a lot of people becoming citizens in a city with 5,000 habitants. Most are already french.  The paper did an article about it too, but I did not attach it because it was in french.
It was a nice ceremony. The mayor said a few words, and then Keith said a few words ( no surprise there). Members of the city council were also there, as were Marie Thérèse and Christian.

Halle de Réception de Gevrey.
Keith had a few words to say too.   Photo by MT Hoquet 

Mayor of Gevrey giving us some documents
Photo by MT Hoquet
Photo that was in the newspaper
With the article in the paper, we have had our 15 minutes of fame.

Also this month, the association had the  3 Expositions ( one in the Haute Côte, the Côte and the plain for the villages of the commune of Gevrey) for the Centennial. A busy time getting that done. On the 12th of nov, there was a talk about the soldiers and the wine allowance each soldier was given per day. There were lots of numbers given, but just think of transporting all the wine to each and every camp!! There was also a chart on all the diseases that wine could cure (I believe, yes I do- well maybe not some of the things on the list)! This was the first war, so around 1914! Two men were present and dressed as french soldiers. After we had a dinner with them and those from the Assoc that wanted to participate. Wine, pate, salads, cheese and dessert.)
Pinard des Poilus
2 soldiers in 1914 military uniforms

Back to the 11th, Armistice Day. Keith and I joined in on the ceremony at the monument aux morts ( monument to those that died in the war). First everyone gathered at the center of the village and then marched with the band to the monument ( two blocks maybe). At the monument a wreath was laid, the mayor gave a speech and the band played.
Lined up with the band and the fireman

Ceremony at the monument
There were about 200 people at the ceremony. After everyone was invited for a glass of wine. Keith and I looked at the crowd trying to get into the Salle de Fête and decided to skip the glass of wine!

I must admit, with the cold I have not done my daily walks...mea culpa! Have to get back into action.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner. Marie T and Christian celebrated with us, as usual. We had a very traditional dinner with firsts cream of broccoli soup, then turkey, mashed potatoes (see recipe below), stuffing, beet salad and pecan pie. The thing about the turkey this year, he was very long (only about 11 pounds) and barely fit in the oven. But the the new thermometer, he was perfect! If you are into wine, we started with a white from Ladoix (the vines are right next to Charlemagne) and then a red, Chambolle-Musigny Bonnes Mares 1998, both were very nice!

Another project this month is the start of planning what to do for the Photo Expo. Hard work thinking and thinking!! I may have mentioned that the theme is multiple photos. I have been working on the idea of putting photos that are graphic into a P. Mondrian type Boogie composition, and calling it Graphic Boogie. Getting the balance is the trick. The other, making a mosaic with 1 x 1 cm photos of flowers...hmmm that would be about 2,000 little pieces! Do I have time?

Keith has been riding when the weather permitted. He sold one of his antiques bikes to a man who has started a small bike museum. Project, cleaning the garage.

Recipe of the Month
Potato casserole ( mashed potato casserole )
This is an easy recipe that can be made the day in advance. Makes it easy to do ahead and it is good.
Makes 5 servings
  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature ( I used abt 2 oz of cream cheese and abt. 2 ounces Boursin cheese with herbs and garlic)
  • 1 cup sour cream ( or creme fraiche)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick)  butter 
  •  2 tablespoons plus of butter for topping before cooking -cut into small cubes (never skimp on butter for the mashed potatoes!)
  • salt and white pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a pan and boil until tender; around 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes well.
2. Purée, mash or rice potatoes. Do not overwork the potatoes, they become gummy if worked too much.
3. In a pan, heat creme fraiche (or sour cream), cheese and butter. Watch carefully and stir so it does not burn.
4. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish. Dot the top of the casserole with the 2 tablespoons of cubed butter. Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one day. Remove from the refrigerator an hour before the final baking.
5. When ready to reheat, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F.
6. Uncover the casserole. Bake it until the top is lightly browned and the casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

adapted from Rick Rodgers writes in his new cookbook, “The Big Book of Sides.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween
October 2014

I always seem surprised when the end of the month arrives. It happens every 30 or 31 days (for 11 months anyway), and yet I look at the calendar with amazement when the actual date sinks into my head. So here we are again and it is the end of October.

It has been a wonderful glorious fall. Warm, and mostly sunny days, and slowly the leaves are turning. We do not have many maples here, so the change is from green to a subdued yellow. Septembre and the first couple weeks of October were very dry and the vines were not as gold as usual. Some brown leaves mixed in there too. But I think it is still the Côte-D'Or.

The very last of the tomatoes, but this is Oct 16th!
Since I grew up in Minnesota, never did I think it would be possible to pick these in mid-october to eat for dinner!

At the end of Sept beginning of Oct, I took a weekend trip to Jersey, the island next to france. This trip was without the husband. I met our english friend there. Although it is under the British flag, it is very different from the big island and is some what self-governed ( Commission have confirmed in a written reply to the European Parliament in 2003 that Jersey is within the Union as a European Territory for whose external relationships the United Kingdom is responsible).  If interested there is lots of information on the ineternet. Because it was part of France, it does have a slight french air about it, and the food leans heavily in the french direction.
By ferry it is 1.5 hours from france (19 miles from St. Malo, France) and 4 hours from Britain ( 85 miles ). It is very small, 9 miles wide, by 5 miles long. The main reason I wanted to go there, for many years, was the zoo, or rather conservation started by Gerald Durrell. I had read the books by Durrell many years ago and have always wanted to visit this conservation that he started. He died, but it continues. Some animals like the Aye-Aye would be very difficult to see in the wild because the population is so diminished, but you can see them here!  (quote: Durrell strives to save the most threatened species in the most threatened places around the world.  -for more information you can go here - DURRELL)

It was amazing.

The island itself is small and quite varied for such a small place. It really is a great weekend trip ( although a little expensive- I was thinking the prices were not bad at first, then I remembered the converion is about 1£ equals 1.5€...oops). Oh the seafood! yum!
Here are a few pictures and if you want to see more the photos, you can go to my photo site JERSEY  -note the photos can be enlarged and I have identified the animals in places in comments, but those are only under the enlarged photo.
St Malo France

St Malo, France

Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey

Meercats (not really threatened, but so cute)

Lesser Antillean iguana -

Andean bear

Nicobar pigeon

Since it has been so dry, mushroom season was slow in arriving. We have had some rain, so they are now popping up in the woods. So here are photos of mushrooms and walks in the woods.

Although the colors this fall are not as golden and vivid as some other years, they still live are impressive. A couple weeks ago we went just south to Rochepot. We had a delightful picnic and I took a couple of photos there too. The other photos are around Gevrey.
Gevrey -sunset




Clos St Jacques, Gevrey


Rochepot,  from picnic site

Château at Rochepot

Keith sketching at Rochepot

Our backyard one foggy morning just as the sun broke through
This is the season when the setting sun turns so golden. I love to walk around at the end of a day, and see the golden cast on these old houses, walls and churches. Also so great for photos.

Last Sunday, our friend  who lives in Auxey-Durress had invited us to come down ( about 40 minutes from us). The village had "Portes-Ouvertes", or open house concept for wine tasting. He had invited friends for a buffer lunch and tasting.  Tom has been working on an old mill for about 1 1/2 years. He is turning it into a 5 bedroom Bed and Breakfast. It is really starting to look like a house inside as the final trim is going up. And this year he has also put in a lot of work on a huge garden.
We tasted enough wine at his place while we ate and talked, so we did not wander through the village  for more wine(plus Keith had to drive). But the idea, you pay around 5-6€ for a glass and then go to the winemakers in the village and taste wine! I think there were people in town who were not steady on their feet by the end of the afternoon. It is a common practice around here, in fact Fixin has a "Portes-Ouvertes"  Dec 7-8. There you do not pay for the glass, it is all free.
This last Sunday in Auxey, it was about 78°, a beautiful Sunday afternoon in his house and very large garden. Delightful.

Other things:
Keith went out on a bike trip mid-october. He went down around Lyon for 4 days. Now and through the winter, it will be day trips. Yesterday he did 95km.

I am continuing my daily walks. It is usually 2 miles (3.3 km) each morning, plus what I may get in during an afternoon walk. So far the weather has cooperated. Even the days it rained, it paused sufficiently for me to get out and walk. But winter is coming. I am now at the point where I feel so much better because of the exercise.

We are trying to be a little more ecology minded! Keith is doing most of the grocery shopping on his bike, with a wicker basket attached at the back. I am trying to walk to the post office or pottery or...when possible. Less car, more excerise. But again, winter approaches!

Until next month.  Send a note if you have time.

Recipe of the Month 
Basque Chicken  (Poulet Basquaise)
I threw all of this in my slow-cooker and let it go for 6 hours on low. I used Chicken legs (with thighs), because they stay moist longer. I always reduce the sauce before serving when using a slow-cooker. This is an easy recipe for the winter nights to come.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 big chicken legs with thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, preferably red sliced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you want it a bit spicy)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 cup of broth)
  • water to cover
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1. put oil in pan and brown the chicken legs on each side
2. Toss the onions, garlic, red peppers into the slow cooker
3. Add chicken legs
4. Add wine, diced tomatoes, broth and water 
5. Salt and pepper
6. Cook for 6 hours in slow cooker
7. Turn cooker to "keep warm"
8. Remove as much of the sauce as possible ( I had a lot of sauce, so I used some to cook the rice)
9. Reduce by half at least, taste and add salt or pepper to taste.
10 . Add cornstarch to cold water and then slowly add to sauce to thicken
11. Pour thickened sauce over the chicken dish
 Serve with rice