Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fevrier 2016


Mont Blanc photo taken from the vineyards of Chaux, Cote D'Or, Bourgogne, France
This month, as others, has gone pass too fast.

I had the photo of Mont Blanc on Facebook, so some people have seen it already. It is a phenomenon of nature that does not occur frequently,  Mont Blanc is over 300 km away, with the valley of the river Saone between here and there. With conditions just right, Mont Blanc is magnified and we can see it from here. This last Sunday, Feb 21, it was a beautiful clear day and the view was extraordinary! It was large and very clear. So of course I took some photos. Regard the details and remember it is over 300km away!!!  MT and I stood there looking at this beautiful miracle for a long time. It was hard to walk away.

I have talked about some changes in the kitchen . With the current stove top slowly giving up, Keith and I went out one day and bought a new stove-top (plaque). Most of the choices were induction tops and with just a few electric . Reading the information, induction is more economical etc, I chose the induction. We brought it home, Keith installed and VOILA, as I looked at the instruction book, I found a note that one needs special magnetic pans  to cook with induction. Hmm, what is this all about? I went out to the kitchen and tested one of my pans, absolutly nothing!  So I concluded (correctly) that my pans would not work on the new stove top (sauf the cast iron pan, it is iron and therefore magnetic).
Luckily, dinner for the evening was to be cooked in the over, whew.

 Next day off to the store again, to find induction pans. Happily, the sales of February were still on, so we found good pans at a good price ( stores have sales in Feb and June, although this has been modified a little in the last few years).

Now I had to learn how to cook on induction!! Only burned two things, rice and soup (now you tell me how one can burn soup :-/ ).
This last week I have not burned anything!, I am getting better.  It had been years since I had burned anything. But cooking on induction is different and I am starting to get the hang of it.  I am so proud, I can turn it on and off now knobs on this stove-top.

Then we found that the oven and microwave had a risky and illegal connection!  A extension cord had been cut open for a stove connection and the micro plugged into the end of the extension cord. Except for the extension cord plug, all the rest hidden behind the cabinets. Luckily,in the 14 years, nothing has happened. But still, what a mess of electric connections.
We received the electricians' bid (devis), will accept it and get a date for him to come and correct the electrical problems. For the time being, the micro has been moved to the table and the oven is safely connected.

Been out taking some photos as usual. I finalized my 3 photos for the May expo, that took a lot of time and energy.
Still working on the book, but have had this month mostly off because Joëlle is writing the captions. Worked with Joëlle on the last two Tuesdays, and had the head of the nature reserve here in Gevrey look at the chapter for the Reserve,(whew no errors), and had a vigneron from the city counsel look at our chapter on the vines, and no problems there either. Onward, I will get the computer and book back in a few days to do some photo and other corrections to the book. Project will be back in my hands. This is a photographic book on the city of Gevrey at the start of the 21st century. It is for the archives and hopefully for future generations.
A couple photos of the vines in winter.
Upper Gevrey near the chateau

Above Gevrey in the vineyards( the ones in the photo above),
 looking back at the village

I like the graphic patterns of the vines, south end of Gevrey

The sign says it all. It is called La Justice, because
in the middle ages, executions for crimes
were done here

And yes the season for burning the sermants
This is behind our house, lucky the wind is blowing away
Also there were other walks with MT. At the beginning of the month, not much to photograph. Hazy days and nothing in bloom. But I took some photos, especially this last Sunday when it was one glorious day.

Marey-les-Fussey is the village in the distance

Dogs enjoying the walk

Tremella mesenterica

With the bizarre weather, spring has started,
although we have finally had a couple nights just below
 I had this one on Facebook too.
It is a sparrow hawk in the vineyard behind the
our house
On Saturday the 27th, Keith had gone to Bligny. If you are not aware, he is a volunteer for the narrow gauge tourist train in Bligny. They association has diesel and steam engines. The winter is dedicated to repairing all of the equipment. Anyway, that is not where I was going with my thoughts.

At noon on Saturday, I realized that I had not bought chicken for dinner. Stores are closed on Sunday, and with Keith in Bligny on Saturday, I buy the weekend groceries on Friday. Hmm no chicken in the frigo!
The store is only 2km away and the weather was not bad. But I had the great idea to use my bike.
First I had to dig it out from under everything, that is, Keith's two bikes and the plastic cover Keith had put on top to protect it. Then the tires looked a  little down, so I found the pump.  Keith pumps my tires for me, but he is not here and how hard can it be? I connected the pump to the back tire and suddenly all the air was out of the tire,YIKES. Obviously, I had done something wrong.
I finally got it to work if I put my finger over a hole in the pump connection and pumped. It was an awkward position and difficult once the tire was almost full. So I stopped at 60, and decided not to try the front tire. It was a little low, but not flat and now the back tire had air.
Off I went. The road to the store is a false flat, just a slight uphill. Since I had not ridden in a couple of years, I had a slight incline, and a front tire that was low, it was slow going!! I made it to the store and the legs were a little wobbly. Different muscles from walking!
Bought my provisions and mounted the bike for the ride home.This would be easier with the slight downhill slope. I was sailing along Ave de la Gare, enjoying the ride home, when at an intersection,  with only about 1/3km to go, my pedal flew off.
Yikes, no control at all without pedals. Slowly applied the brakes and jumped off at the corner. Walked the rest of the way home.
Keith looked at the bike and has no idea what happened, he said the crankshaft connection was stripped. How did this happen, who knows? So I will wait for repairs before I can go for another ride.

OK a little politics this month. I have leaned left over the years (all right, I was chair of democratic district in Minneapolis, so Democrat). But I always try to regard all sides and read about the candidates.
But, but... explain, Trump, really!!!  Is he really going to be the candidate of the Republican party?
I find the pre-convention this year a little sad.
But change is in the wind here too. People are upset and going for change ... United Kingdom is going to vote in June to stay or exit the European Union. This is a major action. Problems with EU regulations and migration?  So watch for June 23rd.
 Here in France, the party FN headed by LePen would move to exit the EU also and close all borders to migrants. Sadly this extreme right has has gained support this last year.
And the huge problem of migrants from places like Syria is looming over the EU. The numbers landing in Greece and Italy is staggering, and how is the EU to deal with it all. Some countries are trying to limit the number of migrants. Sad problem.
Off the soapbox.

Let us return to our sheep ( a french saying about getting back on subject).

Recipe of the month...I have thought about what to put this month. I made a souffle for Valentines day, but I think I will postpone that until next month.
I had published a recipe for Poulet Basquaise October 2014. I have found a few improvements to the recipe, so I will re-publish with updates. The 2014 was in a slow cooker, this version is done in the oven.

Recipe of the Month 
Basque Chicken  (Poulet Basquaise)
Before I did a slow cooker recipe with chicken legs. Chicken breasts that are skinless and boneless would be very dry. However, I like chicken breast. So here is the revised recipe with chicken breast done in the oven.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts (or 3 breast if small--to me a chicken breast is 1/2 of a total breast)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2  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
  • 1tsp espelette piment ( basque spice)
  • 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. Toss the onions, garlic, red peppers into the pan with oil and sauté
2. Add wine, diced tomatoes, broth and water 
3  Add salt and pepper
4. Cook for 30 minutes to one hour in the oven at about 275°. The flavors are melding, so long as it has enough liquid, 30 minutes to an hour is OK
5. 1/2 hour before serving add the chicken breast. Push down into the sauce and return to the oven. Up the temperature to 320 °. Cook 30 minutes.
6.  Just before serving- about 10 minutes,  remove as much of the sauce as possible ( I had a lot of sauce, so I used some to cook the rice) into a small pan
7. Reduce by half at least, taste and add salt or pepper to taste. Watch carefully, not to burn.
8 . Add cornstarch to cold water and then slowly add to sauce to thicken
9. Pour thickened sauce over the chicken dish
 Serve with rice

The chicken breast should be moist and not overcooked by placing into the sauce and cooking just the last 30 minutes.

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