Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 January

Jan 23 2016 !

Janvier  2016

A new year has stated and not a lot has happened. In fact, as far as writing a blog goes, not much material to work with, but I will" blab on" nonetheless.

As for a weather report...we actually have had at least two days of winter. Nights are still in the 30's, but above freezing, and the days warm (high 40's to 50's).

But for most  of January, it has been raining or foggy. Very few sunny days. That is normal.

I am frustrated because the photo expo theme this year is COLD (Froid). How does one take photos of cold when it is 50 degrees!!
I am working on a few ideas, but yikes, what a challenge. Here are a couple of photos...the one day it was cold, I went over to the ponds (étangs) and took a few photos. Final photo for the expo are due in 2 weeks!!

Not really in the running, just a photo of swan on ice.
Not sure if he was stuck, but the day was warming up
fast, soon to be 50°

Lone feather (plume) on the ice.

A puddle with ice, I added a little blue, it was
muddy brown
not in the running either, could not get the clarity
and angle I wanted (in photoshop)
Dawn and moss on the wall with a little frost
Made an ice candle
Frosty morning one day and really frustrated
by the theme This is the car window
Back to Iceland photos- at the glacier

some frost on a couple planks for crossing the ditch
at the étangs (ponds)
Surprisingly I have not taken that many walks, or to be precise, pretty walks with photos. The 3km walk I do from the house is not entirely picturesque, especially now in the winter.

But a jump back to the beginning of January. On the first of January, we had MT and Christian over for lunch and onion soup...mmm mmm. There is nothing open on January 1st, so getting together with friends is a pleasant way to pass the afternoon. Friends, food, and wine; what more is needed?

We also caught up with some friends that we had not seen for a long time. We had them over dinner mi-January. We talked until 1am (yikes), it was a nice evening and I guess we had a lot of catching up to do.

Now,back to walks. I went over to the étangs (ponds) twice in recent weeks. Here are a few photos. MT went with me the first time (that day my batterie died and I was not able to take some photos- sniff). That day it was a walk without the dogs. We saw lots of ducks, unfortunately, they swan to the other side of the pond. But swans (cygne) were there and so were the coots(foulque).

There was an egret too, but that is when my battery failed! It is an interesting place to visit during migration (not sure when that season will be this year since
the season is so mixed up), but a lot of different ducks pass through.

mushrooms also popping up

Late afternoon photo et the étangs - was trying to capture the
frost, but it is not evident
And life here in Gevrey? The vinges are always part of life here. It is the season to cut back the vines and burn the branches (sermants).
Barrels are often used for burning. Add a wheel
and it can easily be moved.
One other photo from the bedroom window one evening...sunset was gorgeous.

I want to talk about restaurants a little. First the one around the corner from our house. It has new owners now. It is a true bistro, open for lunches. They will take reservations for special occasions on Friday or Saturday nights.

Many of these small establishments are found around France. Workers here in larger businesses get a lunch allowance. These bistros accept these lunch coupons. So the lunch is a starter, main plate, cheese and dessert. Some places include a glass of wine or coffee, others do not. Lunch runs about 13-14 euros. The new owner is a chef and so far the food has been very good. This is not haute cuisine, but a good lunch.
The other place we just went to, is Asian. Lunch buffet (all you can eat) is 12.80€ ( they do note that if you leave a plate full of food you will be charged an extra 5€). So take small portions and return if you need more! Sometimes the fair is fried, but thi,s place had a section of raw food, you fill the plate and go over to have it cooked for you in a wok. You get a choice of sauces. Not bad for the price. The food here in France does not get very spicy, the french palette is not for chilies (or piquante), so it lacks a little zest. But I have to admit after all the years here, my mouth has gone soft. Habeneros are right out! One changes.

The kitchen glass stove-top is slowly giving up. The unfortunate news is that all the connections are behind the cupboards. So we are thinking about how to attack this problem!!!

I am not working on the photo book. JH is adding the words to all the photo (it is believed that a native speaker should write the captions -I AGREE) .
The association had it annual meeting, I am still treasurer, among other things. Planning for this years outings, always fun to go and explore nature or history.

Pottery continues, of course with some great and beautiful creations !!

And as mentioned above, PhotoClub. Our annual photo is posted here if curious. Some people in costumes, others just being silly, and this is before the glass of Crémant and galette de roi.

I have written in other years about the Gallete de Roi, the pastry that is for the fete de Epiphany. It usually is in the bakery by the end of December and still being sold mi-January. So a slice of this is served at the both club meetings and any other occasion that lends itself to serving a treat. This is a buttery layer pastry often filled with marzipan.  

So ending on a high note of food, I will segway into the recipe of the month

Recipe of the Month

This recipe is very good. It does require a little vigilance, watching the pot! But it is so good on a winter day, along with some cold cuts (charcuterie) on the side and a green salade. It is not hard, so do not be put off by the length of the recipe, it is just a matter of "watching the pot" long, scrape and stir.


From: Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 6    [well maybe six, or maybe 4...depends how hungry you are]

For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
  • 6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Make sure you get Yellow)
  • Table salt
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (They recommend Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth )
  • 2 cups beef broth (They recommend Pacific Beef Broth)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons
  • 1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)


For the soup:
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. 
  3. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. 
  4. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). 
  5. Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. 
  6. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
  7. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. 
  8. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. 
  9. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)
  10. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  11. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  12. Stir in the broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.
  13. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. 
  14. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  15. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

For the croutons:

While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

To serve:

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

SUE NOTE: This is the original recipe method. Here I put the grated cheese in a bowl, the toast bagette slices in a basket and the pot of soup on the table. Each person add the crouton and cheese, and then ladled the HOT soup on top. Works every time.

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