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)

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