Wednesday, December 26, 2007
But it does give us a chance to talk about food...
Two meals to prepare for 6 adults and 3 kids (didn't really count them as they never eat anything on special occasiosn). The traditional Reveillon on the evening of the 24th and Christmas lunch on the 25th. I already had the turkey in the freezer but there were still some preparations to be done last weekend. On Sunday we went to a well-known local market and did a bit of luxury buying (the once a year splashout). The others were having oysters so I stumbled on a friendly oyster seller who sold me 4 dozen small sweet Vendée oysters for 13 euros (about £9) so you can't say fairer than that. Luckily we are in an oyster producing region so they are always fresh and fairly affordable. Then it was to the cheese stall, where our town's most famous cheeseseller was drawing a crowd. There I bought a Machecoulais (a white fresh cow's cheese), a Pont l'Eveque (quite odourous yellowish-pink Norman cheese with a creamy interior and light edible crust), a type of Auvergne blue, made from sheep's cheese, but firm with a grey crust, not like a Roquefort, a splendid Gouda with tomato, peppers and spices throughout, a Trou du Cru (a neat play on words, could be tempted to translate the name as something like an Artzhaul) which is a small orange slightly runny crustless cheese with a pungent flavour and a sweet Gruyere that was beautifully ripe (if you are thinking where is the goat's cheese, my mother-in-law had already bought some).
As I had no more Brussel sprouts from the garden I cheated and bought a kilo of some nice full sprouts from a veg stall, and in fact they were delicious.
So my Christmas menu went something like this:
- Verrines of salmon and courgettes (these were previously cooked with ginger and cumin then cooled) and more verrines of prunes in apple brandy with goat's cheese and raw ham (they weren't to everyone's taste)
- Oysters (or smoked salmon for me because I don't eat those)
- Baked salmon with beurre blanc sauce, 3-rice mix and courgettes tians (little cooked flans)
- Cheese (except everyone was too full and they didn't eat any cheese as it turned out :-(
- Yule logs, which personally I found quite disgusting, swiss rolls with butter cream, ok, they were fresh from the baker's but not to my taste at all
- Sausages wrapped in bacon as appetizers
- My mother in law's duck terrine with fig sauce
- Free range turkey stuffed with sausagemeat, prunes, apples, red onion and thyme stuffing and cooked vaguely according to Delia Smith's method, which is very hot oven for a short while then low oven and cover the turkey then uncover at the end to brown it. The stuffing went in the bird hot and it was perfectly cooked.
- Gratin dauphinois with parmesan
- Brussel sprouts, with bacon, they were lovely, no bitterness at all, I browned the bacon then pan cooked them, with a lid on in a little stock so they sweated in the juices. How could you not like that?
- Cheese (weird, that day they had room)
- Christmas pudding which was not really appreciated by all, hubby ate it because he likes it, and my parent's in law had a bit to be polite but my sister in law left hers on the plate and her BF wouldn't try it
So now I just have to eat the enormous pile of leftovers that remains. And nip down to the lottie to put on the compost the enormous binbag full of organic rubbishthat I accumulated over the last few days.
I hope you all had a very enjoyable Christmas and many best wishes for the New Year 2008. Thank you so much for reading this blog, I have over 1400 hits which is quite thrilling for me really. I hope that you will keep up with my gardening adventures next year as I start my second season, hopefully with better results than this year's weird weather allowed us to have.
Peace, Love and Happiness to all
Monday, December 17, 2007
-2c here this morning, there was actually a sheet of ice on the car. bbrrr
so yesterday it was down to the allotment to snatch up everything we could, which included a kilo or two of parsnips, two cabbages, the romanescos, a heap of big Brussel sprouts, all the first leeks and all the tiny carrots and beets that were still in the ground. I think I might have to put some veg in the freezer this week :-)
It is my first experience of seeing the garden over the winter, all the fruit bushes have lost their leaves and gone to sleep, the leaf mulch I spread out has started to decompose into the earth, as has all the other vegetation. The rhubarb has disappeared and the artichokes have sort of sprawled out as if they are kipping.
The compost bin had collapsed again, so I took the opportunity to dig over the compost before rebuilding the bin.
The water barrels are full of ice! that is quite a spectacular sight! luckily they are not sealed. Maybe it will kill any nasties in the water too. And just think, it is not even winter yet!!
Still I took a moment to look around and think, in the spring I will be digging all this up again, but keeping in mind that next year I am going to cover and mulch as much as possible. Because I have made so much effort not to walk on the beds, the earth is still soft and aerated. The things I dug up yesterday, I dug over a little to let the frost into the soil. And had a little moment to visualize in my head, ok where the tomatoes were, that will be beans and peas - and over in the onion bed, the spuds - and in February I will see the sprouts of garlic there - ok the spuds were there so that will be the squash next year and this bit here will go out and be root veg. Now where will I put the broccoli....
Gardening - 2 parts sweat, 7 parts weeds, 3 parts delicious home grown veg and 0.02 parts pure fantasy
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The plants are all dying down well now, the romanesco got kind of blown sideways but is still in the ground so I will just pick that one first. The rain has made the leaf mulch nice and soggy and hopefully it will rot down in the next few weeks.
I pulled up a few leeks and some more rocket which has turned out to be indestructible.
I found a nice way to cook sliced parsnips: wrapped in foil with some oil or marg, a chopped apple, and some thyme/salt/pepper and a little water. It steams but also caramelises a bit. Yum. My hubby and I like them but the kids are still doubtful.
Last bit of news
I am on the last handful of onions that I grew myself. I started using them in August/September sometime so considering I thought the crop was crappy, in fact it has lasted me for quite a number of weeks. Everyone says, oh I wouldn't bother with onions, they are cheap to buy, but I feel they have good flavour and I like that reminder of my hard work, still paying off after the season is long over. Next year I want to try red onions, echalots and hopefully my overwintering garlic will be better than last year's. (oh i still have little tiny white onions shoots too, I hope they will give me some spring onions in the right month)
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