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