Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 2014 (août 2014)

(August will not be done until the first week of Sept.
I will hopefully have some great photos from the end of the month)

I had this notice out on the Blog site. If anyone peeked, they would have seen the notice above. It was not that I was lazy, it was because we were on vacation ( is that what you call a break even when you are retired????). I had over 600 photos to sort through to do the Blog, so it took a little time after our return.

August is always a quiet month and even more so this year. That could be because of the RAIN!
Wow, so many days of rain this summer. Everyday was not a down pour, in fact most days were nasty drizzles. Just wet enough to be a nuisance.

Photo from back door, storm arriving

In the first week, Keith and I went for a walk in the woods,and although we had had so many rainy days, it was still very dry under the tree canopy. But we did get some nasty downpours and the woods got all wet and muddy and the mushrooms finally popped out.

Okay, now back to the quiet part. It is the month of vacations. All club activities stop, many places close ( and yes the bakery took the month off, my yearly complaint of where to get our daily bread), and people go on vacation. Gevrey is not a tourist town. People who know wine pass through to buy some wine, but there is little else to attack tourists. That is fine with me! I think it is a very pretty area, with lots to see and explore, but I guess it is not big on the family vacation list. There are no local attractions for small children.

There are some great buildings in Dijon to see, a few castles around the place, various sites in Beaune (all of these fairly historical) and of course wine to taste, and of course the food to eat -this includes the cheese.

Although I complain about the weather, the tomatoes have absolutely loved it. It has been a great year, even friends and neighbors are saying they have more tomatoes than ever. I have sauce in our little freezer. I have sauce in a few jars in the frigo - I canned, but I forgot to add lemon juice, so those 4 jars are in the frigo. I have the jars canned below and maybe one to go. After that I am going to try green tomato chutney. Also we have had tomatoes at every meal and then some! But I do love summer tomatoes.

Keith took off for about 12 days to Normandy. Now that is in the west and a wet region of France. He had sunny days and it rained here the whole time (OK, I will stop whining). He stay in a hotel a few nights and camped many more. He loves to go out on the road with his bike and tent, all alone.

In spite of all, there have been walks in the woods. Here are a few photos to celebrate the beauty of nature.

I love the light in the lovely

And the mushrooms too. Some just about 1/4 inch tall!!
very small..see the pine needles below
have not put a name yet, but it may be "lions milk"
even smaller
hidden in the moss

And then the good part, found some chanterelles (girolles)
sooooo good
The reason for the delay in the Blog, we took a few days and went to the eastern Pyrennes. First stop was Montpellier (good place to visit when you need a break from a long train ride); lovely city. We toured the tourist sites, and Keith rented a bike(city bike) for the afternoon and I walked around with my camera.

After that we went to Villefranche de Conflent where the tourist train "Yellow Train" starts and goes up into the mountains. Villefrache is in a gourge, and the village has lots of gift/artist shops. Sites are the train and the fort. Spent more time here than we wanted. Did find out that the Yellow Train was on strike on Friday, the day we had tickets to go to Font Romeu. So we turned in our Friday tickets (they provided a bus that left at 9am) and opted for the local bus at 1€ per person (good savings that way-the SNCF bus was the same price as the train ticket). The SNCF wants to close this tourist line, so the strike (greve) is to get support to continue the train. It runs all year, so is used during the ski season too. The bus ride was a little scary for me, I do not like roads with drop offs. Since a train is on the track and does not have any oncoming, I feel more secure (although I look at the tops of the mountains when there is any drop off!!!). Also the bus slipped a little on one sharp turn -breath in-breath out...whew..I lived through it!!!!!!! (yellow train info if interested: Yellow Train )
OK back to the trip, we took the train half way up on Thursday (a round trip), for an ride going up, and then we had tickets for Sunday for the return trip. Wow it is really a special tourist train. The mountains are beautiful. There is a suspenion bridge that is the oldest still in use, built 1909, called Pont Gisclard. I looked up when going over the bridge and took photos of the structure!
Next stop was Font Romeu, a beautiful mountain village that is on the side of one of the mountains. Very well known for skiing in the Pyrennes. GORGEOUS, but it is a village a billy goat would love. Oh my, the little side roads were steep. Our hotel was at the bottom and it was about 1km to the town center. If we followed the main road that zig-zagged back and forth, it was not too steep. Trying a shortcut, well a very different story. We walked a lot, slowly.
Went up to the L'ermitage Notre-Dame, a historical site and got caught in a late afternoon shower!
the center of Montpellier, Place de Comedie
"Trompe l'Oeil" on the wall behing the tables
Pretty window
Villefranche de Conflent gift shop
The ramparts of Villefrance de Conflent
Villefranche de Conflent outside wall on the river Tet
The track for our Yellow Train adventure
Yellow Train
aound a cuvre going down
Suspension bridge
Leaving Font Romeu
another tight curve
A stop on the train line

Photos from the train

view from hotel room
Sign post on the way to L'Ermitage
After leaving the beautiful mountains, we stopped in Perpignan. It was 32 degrees! It does cool down in the evening, with a nice breeze. Pretty city, but the heat slowed us down.
Kings of Majorca castle Perpignan
just a pretty bakery
got caught on this small street by the Google camera car

That about winds up the month. Still working on the November Expo, pottery and Photoclub will both start soon. Keith and I both got new glasses, first time Keith has had bifocals!!!

Yes, there has been some political upheaval here in France. Last week the financial minister and the president did not agree on economic policy, so out he went along with a few other ministers.
Then this week, Valerie T has released her new book. She was the presidents companion( First Lady), until his affair was discovered last February. Oh, the book written by a woman scorned.
The presidents approval rating is now at 13 percent.

Recipe of the Month
TOMATO TERRINE                 
This comes from a recipe called Heirloom tomato terrine. I went and changed a few things, and actually I think I would change a few more things about the recipe.
Please see my note on cheese .

  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini or eggplant ( I cut mine very thin..1/8 inch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, divided
             CHEESE NOTE: original recipe called for mozzarella. I changed to buffalo mozzarella for a richer taste. If using buffalo mozzarella, find a creamy rich tasting brand. Other ideas might be a fresh goat cheese, especially one with some herbs.
  1.  Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Place tomato slices on several layers of paper towels. Top with a single layer of paper towels. Let stand 15 minutes.
  3. Combine 1 cup water, garlic, leek, and quartered tomato in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes (the point is to meld the flavors into a broth and not to reduce the amount of liquid).
  4. Strain through a sieve over a bowl, pressing to extract liquid; discard solids. 
  5. Pour liquid into pan; stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cool to room temperature. 
  6. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand 5 minutes. Bring gelatin mixture to a boil; boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Lightly brush zucchini slices with oil; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper. 
  8. Bake at 450° the eggplant for 10 minutes; turn and bake an additional 5 minutes or until tender.
  9. Deseed peppers and cut into quarters. Oil lightly, then place skin-side up on a baking sheet and grill on high, until the skin blackens and blisters.
  10. Remove from the oven and pull off the skin.
  11. Lightly coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or wipe lightly with oil. 
  12. Line pan with plastic wrap; push into the corners so the plastic wrap sticks tightly.
  13. Add a small amount of broth, not more than 1/4 inch and put in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up the base ( I added some parsley leaves for looks- into the gelatin) 
  14. Arrange tomato slices in a double layer on bottom of pan; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top tomatoes with a thin layer of cheese; sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme and 1 1/2 teaspoons chives. Arrange 3 eggplant slices over cheese. Repeat layers, ending with tomatoes. Pour gelatin mixture over terrine. Cover with plastic wrap. 
  15. Chill 8 hours or overnight.
  16. Turn terrine out onto a platter. Let stand 1 hour (or until room temperature)

Friday, August 1, 2014

juillet 2014 (July)

JULY 2014  
Time flies, end of July. This summer is going way too fast....I wish I could command it to "Slow down", "Whoa".

Of course there was the Tour de France. This year had some interesting twists to it. For those that did not follow, an Italian Nabali won the yellow jersey. Go figure, the first three days in "sunny" England, then pouring rain here in France for the next four days.

We went to Messanges on the 12th to celebrate the 14th (Fête National in France). Now there is a good explanation. First, the 12th was a Saturday night. Most fireworks are done on the 13th of July. However the evening of the 13th was the final for the World Cup (football here- soccer in the USA). If France had advanced to the final, everyone would have been in front of their TV's the evening of the 13th. So the fireworks were moved to the 12th (unfortunately France was not in the final).
 After an evening of chatting and eating and drinking, we walked down the road where we could overlook the field and have an unobstructed view of the fireworks. I had never taken photos of fireworks before, so I had my camera and tripod and was ready to give it a try! I mounted the camera and then we waited. Do you know how many explode not in the frame of the camera? The camera is stable and the fireworks are not! Many photos of tops, or bottoms or sides...but it was fun and I actually captured a couple of photos. It was a fun night. I am usually in bed by the time the fireworks are done here in Gevrey. I think I have seen them about 4 times!!

I did watch the National parade on the 14th. The parade is on the Champ Elysee and is a review of the military. This year the theme was the 100 years since WWI. The parade started with all countries in WWI (friend and foes of 1914), each having 3 soldiers in uniform. I was very taken with the Greeks in full dress, so I took a photo of the TV screen..not the best photo, they were marching.
Greek military in full dress and the special Greek march
To commemorate WWI, there were french soldiers in old uniforms of WWI.
WWI uniforms of the french military 
The one last photo of the parade, the regular military part of the parade always includes the Foreign Legion.  I love their uniforms.
Foreign Legion with leather aprons, beards and they carry an ax! This is parade dress.

The Fête National is a big holiday (much like the 4th of July in the U.S.). The highways going south are always jammed with traffic; shops and businesses start to close, and summer vacation is here. Of course August is the height of French vacation or rather it is more of European vacation time. Here in Gevrey, the village is not a big tourist attraction. There are always a few passing through looking to buy that special bottle of wine, but it never gets over crowded. It is a quiet town.

Our English friend arrived the 3rd week and as always came prepared to buy wine. The first  few days it rained, so we made the rounds for wine. Then on a sunny day, MT had proposed a visit to the Jura. We went up, up to the top of the Col (summit of the montagne). From 28 degrees C to 14 degrees Celsius!! It gets chilly at the top. It was a little foggy too, but still beautiful. We all took photos of mountain flowers.

It was a long, but breathe taking outing. The photos do not do it justice!

Looking at Switzerland...hard to see in the haze, but the white
band above the land horizon is Lake Geneva ( Lac Léman)

What views, still some haze!

Haze moving in on was sunny down in
the village of  Les Rousses 

Mountain flowers
Now to bore you with more photos of mountain flowers, they were so pretty!
Sainfoin...found all over

Maybe Millepertuis perforé ..needs further research

Centaurea montana

Gentaine- gorgeous flowers

The whole flower or plant GENTIANE..they
are about 1.5 meters tall!

need to research this one a little!

On the road again....oops a slight delay 

Oh la vache

Mountain cows with bells...she posed so nicely
and then again, another pause...but this is the mountains and some very good cheese in this region!
And the little ones too
Then a little stop in Chapelle des Bois
Tried a panoramic..Swiss border..beautiful scene and very tall cliffs
Not a hill as it looks in the panoramic, but more like a wall.
The panoramic makes it curve down at the ends-distorts it 

Church of Chapelle des Bois..the bell tower with the rounded
top is typical of this region

We did get in a short walk one day between the rain showers and I took a few more photos. We went to the parc in Fixin ( fee san  soft "x").  General Noisot was under Napoleon. He built the parc and had a statue made of Napoleon. 
"Waking of Napoleon"

just an old buidling

even older

View looking over Fixin...and the old church
I took a couple of other photos while we were out walking.

On Sunday, the last day of the Tour, the ride into Paris was slightly boring. Keith and I went out, to waste a couple hours, in search of the elusive mushroom. It was dry in the woods, in spite of rain we have had.

Went out today to take a few more photos of the memorial monuments; I need some photos of the details While at it, I took a couple of photos of the villages where I was stopping
Lavoir of Chevannes_ Lavoir had a water source and
it was used to wash clothes 

church tower of Chevannes _ colored tiles of Burgundy

a chateau of Collonges with colored tiles

Fountain in Ternant
Pottery is closed for the summer also. Here are a few photos of my last pieces before the summer break.
Was going to be a small waste basket, but not now.

a vase and a paper weight - raku pottery
Then there is Keith, he took off on this bike with his tent strapped on back rack. He called tonight from Normandy. He will be home when he comes home.

That sums up our month.

Recipe of the Month
A great way to use the zucchinis in my garden and have a refreshing soup on a hot day.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small garlic chopped fine
  • 2-3 medium zucchinis  (courgettes), roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth ( or vegetable broth)
  • 3 Tablespoons  of fresh mint leaves chopped (reserve a small leaf for each serving)
  • 4 Tablespoons  of crème fraiche ( or cream)
  • Salt and pepper(preferably white pepper) to taste
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic.
  3. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini; cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
  5.  Add stock and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  6. Simmer, partially covered, until zucchini is tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Add the mint, lemon zest and the lemon juice
  9. Puree zucchini mixture in a food processor
  10. Add the crème fraiche
  11. Add salt and pepper
  12. Blend well
  13. Refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving
  14. Dish into a bowl and add a small mint leaf to decorate