Saturday, December 30, 2017

Decembre 2017

Grenade _ see below
Happy New Year

Very soon we start another year. It is amazing how fast the years go by.

And resolutions? For me, same as last year, and just maybe I will do it this year.

The grocery store has been filled with chocolate for Christmas. Other Christmas goodies in the grocery store at Christmas; foie gras, oysters, turkey and capons, salmon, special aperitifs, fancy cheese (covered in something to make it festive-( one of my favorites is one covered in dried cranberries),  pain d'éspice (gingerbread), lots of puff pastry treats to heat up and serve, and of course holiday wine, crémant and champagne.

We often go to the Alsace for the Christmas marché (christmas market). We first go to Colmar and stroll through the Christmas booths and check out all the goodies. There are food booths with sausages, cheeses, jams, cookies, honey, waffles, wine, spirits, vin chaud (mulled wine), chocolates, candies....Then artistinal things to buy; Christmas ornaments, santons, lace, scarfs, hats, pottery, candles, knives, jewelry, wooden cutesy things,wooden toys , pictures made with remarkable marquetry, ....

Also the decorations everywhere, a little more like Christmas that I grew up with in Minnesota. Here in Gevrey it is more toned down, although some people now put lights on their houses.

After strolling (flanner) the different Christmas markets , picking up a couple christmas gifts and some Munster artisinal cheese and a chunk of nougat, we drove up to Eguisheim. 
Here are some photos of Colmar.
Now we have seen it all, a Christmas Bar Carousel

Nougat- so many flavors! I would have gone for the
 chocolate-caramel, but
it was Keith's treat, so he picked fruit rouge

The man selling the nougat had cold ears!
Storks are big in the Alsace, they nest there in the summer. I was tempted to buy MT a stork hat for Christmas, you can buy them all over.

More photos;

Now that is a ginger bread house

Canal in Colmar

Old building, panels are all painted

Christmas market booths

Got a photo of Keith even!

Then the 6 km drive to Eguisheim. I took a few photos there too. The market is smaller, but the village is decked out for Christmas.

Christmas decorations galore

Goodies to eat- note the gingerbread men hanging

We spent a lovely evening in Eguisheim . We had finished our wine tasting at Domaine Gruss and  visited with the patrons ( we have been going there for 17 years), we strolled through the marché, and Keith found his Beerwicka (one of the things he looks forward to buying there at Christmas-it is fruit cake), and then we enjoyed a very excellent dinner. Eguisheim is a beautiful village.

The next morning we left Eguisheim with wine in our trunk and smiles and best wishes for the holiday all around. It was a sunny day, so I tried a photo of the The Ballon d'Alsace There are a few named mountains in the Vosges, The Grand Ballon, The Ballon d'Alsace and the Petit Ballon, and probably more.

Ballon d'Alsace- taken from the moving car!

Other than our one night trip, not much for the month of Decemeber. It has been misty and wet here, very little sunshine. I do not like going out in the wet weather, so have not.

The Friday before Christmas we went to the marche in Nuits Saint Georges. There is a butcher there that has great beef, and we wanted some tenderloin for Christmas eve. We bought beef and jambon persillé and some foie gras. Then we bought some brussel sprouts from a vegetable booth. As we started to circle the other booths with cheese, saucisse, oysters, breads,.jam, honey.....etc, when we looked at each other and decided to leave before we bought more food than we could eat! Never go there just before lunch!

During the grey days, I have been working on my photos for the May exposition for the photo club. This year the theme is "Detail". Not a lot of ideas yet, but I have been working on it. Here are a few attempts, including the opening photo above.
Mushroom 1

Grranade N° 2
Another Grenade -N° 3

Mushroom 2


Keith is well but has a bit of cabin fever.He left  for a ride this afternoon. It ise sunny and up to 12° C.  today , can not beat that. I know the US is under an extreme cold spell. Glad I am here.


Meringue Candy

When I make mayonnaise, I have leftover egg whites. So I whip up a batch of meringue candy.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites (from large eggs, at room temperature)
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • (last batch I added some crushed dark chocolate, pretty good)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). 
  2. Butter and flour a baking sheet or use cooking paper
  3. In a glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy using an electric mixer. 
  4. Sprinkle in sugar a little at a time, while continuing to whip at medium speed. 
  5. When the mixture becomes stiff and shiny like satin, stop mixing, and transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag. Note this is for fancy candy, I use a teaspoon and drop a teaspoon on the paper
  6. Pipe the meringue out onto the prepared baking sheet using a large round tip or star tip.
  7. Place the meringues. Bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meringues are dry, and can easily be removed from the pan. ...
  8. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature

Friday, December 1, 2017

Novembre 2017

Surprise! Our backyard
November 2017

As briefly explained, I am a little is Dec 1st. I could not access my Blog yesterday, I just saw the spinning circle, and after 30 minutes, I decided it was not going to happen yesterday. Checked later too, and the same thing. So I am writing this on Dec 1st.
A white surprise this morning. If and when we get snow, it usually is a light covering like this. It will melt by this afternoon. As you can see, I covered my garden this year with plastic (and then piled everything on top of it to hold it in place), so the weeds could not start growing in February.

Obviously we have moved into winter . It has been cold, nights at about freezing, and foggy rainy days.

 Last week we had ads for "Black Friday". It is really strange here, since there is no reference for it. There is no Thanksgiving, and no 4 day weekend (with a Friday holiday from work so you can shop). But the stores picked up on this and I had many emails, the paper was full of ads, and flyers in the mailbox. Friends asked what Black Friday meant! The french have no reference for this  event. And so it goes in the world now with TV, internet, and instant access to everything.

On this same note, a big issue here, or rather a huge issue is opening stores on Sunday. The bakery is allowed to be open, as are flower shops that have been granted the right ( one needs to pick up flowers for the hostess for Sunday lunch- main meal on Sunday), and some grocers who applied and have been granted permission. Now however, stores are pushing for opening any store that wants to be open. I think Galleries Lafayette in Dijon is now open on Sunday. The stores want it, some people want it, but a large majority of people are against it. Sunday is the day to relax and be with family or friends. After living here these many years, I am against it also. At first it was strange, I was so used to running out for anything I wanted, now I plan and make sure I do not need anything. Our little grocer that has very little in the store has milk, and bread (baguettes) if I have needed them. I think the stores are going to win this battle though.

Onto Thanksgiving. I had 2 couples over on Sunday the 26th for Thanksgiving dinner (again main meal at noon). I had pre-ordered a turkey, but the new butcher in charge of orders did not pre-order! Here turkeys are for Christmas, so the order for a whole turkey has to be in 3 weeks in advance to reserve a turkey (they cut up turkeys and sell them by the legs, breast...). He did not pre-order and called just before Sunday to say he could not get a whole turkey! I was disappointed, but had to serve something, so I bought the big breast (always boneless and skinless here) and did a roulade. Actually I did 2 roulades, one with mushrooms and one with apple/cranberries. You know, other than my fretting and swearing etc, these were very good and a lot easier. Maybe this is the way of the future for me. Here is my table photo (again, without Thanksgiving here there are no pilgrims, or turkeys decorate the table).
Thanksgiving in France
Went on only one hike this month, weather just was not cooperating. But we had a beautiful day and got out for a walk. Fall was over, but I still love the glow of the late afternoon sun. Of course here are a few photos. And somehow, in spite of the cold weather, there were a couple flowers! I took photos to show we still have flowers mid November.
Centaurée- a little scraggy,
but a flower non-the-less



yellow flower!
Obviously  the flower is gone, no idea what this was!

I believe this is a wild Clematis, in seed form. I love the texture,
so took a photo.
And some late fall photos on Mont Myon above Messanges. A walk with the MT and the dogs.
Happy dogs, Flipper and Dolce

All the yellow with the green,
and happy dog

little road through the vines

View from the top -village of Meuilley 

Tall vines in the Hautes Côte

Last of the grapes (they were pretty good too,
had to have a little taste)
As for photo club, we had a evening session on still life photos, and different ways to set up a small studio. I took this photo.
Green peppers, one red and one green chili
 and scotch bonnets in the rear. Here, chilles are called
piments. They are not scotch bonnets, or jalapenos, or
habeneros...all just piments
Keith has not been on this bike as much as he would like. He tries to get some riding in on very good days, on marginal days, maybe a ride to the coffee shop.

Recipe of the Month
How about that Turkey Roulade.


  • one turkey breast (skinless and boneless) - butterflied
  • About 5 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 6 ounces herb sausage- cut open to use without the skin
  • butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound turkey breast so it is thinner
  2. Sauté the onions and sliced mushrooms in butter, until most of the water has evaporated, add salt and pepper
  3. Spread the sausage over the inside of the turkey breast (this is add a little fat so the turkey does not dry out when cooking)
  4. then spread the mushroom onion mixture, leaving a good inch clean at the one long edge (right side)
  5. Start on the left side and roll, one roll or  I actually got two rolls (really banged that breast out!)
  6. Rolling;I did this on plastic wrap and then rolled tightly in the plastic wrap to get a firm roll - (one would roll maki). Then left the tight roll in the refrigerator about one hour.
  7. Take from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap.
  8. Tie about 5 strings around, and one lengthwise also.
  9. Put in oven and cook about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours -depends on breast actual size.
  10. I used a thermometer to 165°F
  11. Remove and let rest about 15 minutes before cutting.
ADVICE: If not sure how to roll the turkey breast, there are many recipes on the internet and some have short films.

Monday, October 30, 2017


  Octobre 2017


Halloween is not a big holiday here. There are Halloween parties for the children, and some will try to go Trick and Treating, but overall, the holiday has not caught on.

It is fall and the fall colors have been pretty this year. I was not sure what would happen with the dry summer, but the vines had enough water and it rained some in September. Our backyard faces west, so here is a sunrise photo and a sunset from the back door.
Sunrise...colors were vivid
All the gold in the background -right, are grape vines
Beautiful sunset! Surprising results since I took it with the
Macro lens (accidentally)!
One Sunday afternoon, we both were sitting reading in the living room. It was sunny beautiful day outside and here we were mid afternoon, sitting inside. So I went to the kitchen, cut the bread into slices, pulled out the cheese (Comté), and put the bread, cheese, a knife, small bottle of Chablis wine and two galssses in a sack and said we were going out. We went above Gevrey near the vineyard called Ruchottes, and sat on a bench and enjoyed the view, the day and our little snack. Perfect way to finish the afternoon.
Keith on the bench

Ruchottes -Chambertin (all that is gold is vines)

Our view of people walking in the vines (they are walking on a
small tractor road)

Renovation next to where we were sitting
Above is an old building that was going to ruins. It is being restored to its former glory. Regard those beautiful tiles on the roof, so Burgundian. Not everything can be saved, but sometimes it is worth it.
As I understand a vigneron bought it and is restoring it.

And I will toss in a few more photos since I am already telling you the vines were pretty this year. Why the hills (and department) are called Côte-D'or (side of gold) has been lost, but when fall arrives, I have no doubt why it is called the Côte-D'Or.
Clos Saint Jacques Gevrey
The little shelter (left) was designed by Thomas Jefferson

Cellier de Dimes and the Church- Gevrey

Vines around Clos de Vougeot
Burning barrel 

Road to the Château du Clos de Vougeot

More Vines- Gevrey looking west towards the Combe Lavaux

Château du Clos de Vougoet
with hot air balloons in the background
We do not have the beautiful maples and the vivid fall colors that trees like that produce. But we have the vines. Our trees turn subtle fall colors, muted yellows, oranges and browns.

We have had very little rain again this month, but we had a little, so set out to find mushrooms. I am probably boring you with mushroom photos, but the colors and difference are amazing. MT had hoped to find some edible mushrooms, but so far they have eluded us.
A collection a friend left for me to see
(can you name any of them?)

Amanita ocreata, or Death Angle
Very poisonous!

Probably tricholome soufré

Stink horn - oh the small trying to take a photo!!


Puff balls or in french "Vesse de Loup"



Chlorociboria aeruginascens
Like the name! It is very small and growing on the log

l'Amanite panthère
Life here has been back on track. Keith is going to Bligny to work on trains, and sunny days he tries to get in some riding of his bike. Right now he is working on putting in a cat door into the outside garage door. Not as easy as it would seem, because our garage door has a Z brace on the inside with a metal hinge bar on the outside, exactly where the door has to go. Hopefully we can get the cat to use it!!

I have been interviewed by the local news letter for the December of next July issue! Always the question "why do we live here". It is a new experience, for sure. In our backyard (almost literately) there is so much history to explore; 1000 years, even 2000 years ago! So little time to explore it all. And then all of Europe is so close. We can visit so many different countries so easily (well, before we had the cat to take care of, he has crimped our vacation style a little). I can get to the mountains or the sea in less time then it took us to get to the Black Hills from Minneapolis.  I am amazed at least once a week, if not more often. But before taking the big step, one has to realize that this is not Disneyland, that you have moved out of the USA and there are differences. And let me tell you, learning a language at an "older" age is not easy. It was a long way from high school french.

This week and last, the schools are on vacation for Toussaint (all Saints Day). When we first moved here it was a one week vacation break, now it is two weeks. Poterie closes for the two weeks also, but Photo Club continues.

Other than that all is well.

RECIPE of the Month
Sauce forestière
I know this is a rich sauce and not something you use every day, but once in a while a treat is fun. And it is the season for mushrooms. Forest mushroom such as chaterelles, bolets (Boletus),and trompette de la mort, are do need a mushroom with some taste. If all else fails, use cremini mushrooms (more flavor than Paris mushrooms).

  • 30 g of wild mushrooms (best to use fresh, but if no alternative use dehydrated)
  • 2 TBS of Madera ( I used a cognac)
  • 20 g of butter
  • 10 g of flour
  • 1 onion
  • 15 cl of chicken broth
  • 10 cl of cream liquid or crème fraiche
  • Pepper and Salt
  • 1 tsp of corn starch 

25 min
Cooking time: 20 min
  1. Cut up the mushrooms in pretty slices ( if using dried mushrooms, you must re-hydrate the mushrooms in 20 cl of warm water, then drain and rinse thoroughly and drain again).
  2. Finely chop the onion, then brown in half of the butter.
  3. Add mushrooms to the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. In another saucepan melt the remaining butter. Add the flour all at once and mix well. Leave to brown- slightly-watch carefully!
  5. Take off the heat, slowly add some chicken broth ( a little at a time) and mix vigorously until you have more of a sauce than paste. Return to heat and add the remaining broth little by little while stirring. 
  6. Let reduce and again watch carefully. Add the Madeira
  7. Add the cream.
  8. Put this sauce on the mushrooms, and rectify the creaminess if necessary with the corn starch
Here the french recipe said to add the corn starch to "si besoin l'onctuosité" -if you need to make it creamier. 
 I love the sound of the word in french "onctueuse". There is a word in english "unctuous", but it is not used frequently. I also think the "unc" has a harder sound than "onc". This is one of my favorite words. It feels as good as it sounds when you say it!

OK back to the sauce....
Serve on pasta, or with a steak or pork or...
Did you know you can look for recipes by using the little search section, it does work, or just ask. Also let me know what you think? Anyone try the pear tarte?