Monday, 19 February 2018

Paris in February

The Senior Partner and I are very much looking forward to seeing our nephew Alex and his girlfriend Kim when thy arrive tomorrow for a four day visit.
At present they are enjoying the sights and sounds of Paris, their first trip to the City of Light.
They only have 48 hours in France's Capital but I'm sure they will be filling every minute with memories.
Wondering about where they'll go and what they'll see started us reminiscing, like old people do, and we realised that we have wonderful memories of Paris too.
Here are a few...........................................



Au revoir Paris!

Linking this post to my weekly meme
and
 with Show and Share hosted by Linda @ Coastal Charm

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Mosaic Monday # 73 - Chinese New Year 2018 - Year of the Dog.



At the supermarket this week I saw that they were promoting a range of ready made Chinese meals in celebration of the Chinese New Year 2018 - "Year of the Dog".
I gathered up some sauces, a packet of crispy rolls (Nems), and another of riz Cantonais (special fried rice) then headed to the grocery department to pick up a green bell pepper, pak choi, onions and mushrooms. There was a theme developing here................
After stopping off at our local Boucherie in Trevieres for a piece of fillet steak all the ingredients were in the bag for a Chinese style dinner for two.
Setting the table to suit the occasion quickly came together using a selection of white plates, bowls and platters mixed with vintage red and white English transfer ware, red napkins, rattan placemats and spare chopsticks found in a drawer!

hot pork and vegetable spring rolls (Nems)
sauces;
aigre douce (sweet & sour)
citron et gingembre (lemon & ginger)
sriracha (spicy, hot, red pepper sauce)

a fragrant bowl of stir fried beef
with mushrooms, red onion, pak choi and green bell pepper
in a black bean sauce



Happy Year of the Dog from M'selle Fleur and me.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Mosaic Monday # 72 - life lately

Life lately has been centred around the home, no foreign vacations planned for this month unlike previous years when we've escaped the February glooms and headed off to enjoy winter sunshine in Greece.


There's been plenty of rain but, fingers crossed, we have so far escaped the snow that has blanketed Paris this week. The sun has been out occasionally and whilst taking Fleur out for a " tiddle time" early one morning the Senior Partner captured these scenes in the lane.


A low lying sun created beautiful shadows on the staircase and turned the spotlight onto one lonely daffodil, a victim of inclement weather earlier in the week, brightening the kitchen windowsill.


Life's culinary influences have lately come from some unusual places.


1. A FB post from our nephew, who is coming with his girlfriend to visit us next week, prompted the SP to make a big pot of Delia Smith's French Onion Soup for our lunch and to freeze ready for company.
Just look at those mouthwateringly crunchy garlic croutons smothered in melting Gruyere cheese floating on top of the soup! See how he tortures spoils me, I'll never regain my sylph like figure at this rate.
Click here for the recipe @ Delia online.


2. After a busy day I was looking for something fast and easy to make for supper.
Pinterest came to my aid and in no time at all penne pasta with steamed salmon fillets in a creamy broccoli cheese sauce was on the table.

3. I know I'm not alone in owning too many cook books (about 50 at the last count). I enjoy reading a cook book almost as much as I enjoy reading a novel, even if I have no plans to make anything.
Mrs Charles Darwin's Recipe book (revived and illustrated) isn't just a collection of some of her wonderful original recipes (written in her own hand) it is also a great read giving detailed insights into the lives that Emma and Charles led.
It so happened that I was looking through the Recipe book recently practically drooling over the beautiful photography and illustrations when I came across this recipe for Burnt Rice and decided to give it a try.
Ingredients:
pudding or medium grain rice (50g/2oz)
butter (30g/1oz)
cream and milk (1 cup or 250 ml each)
sugar (50g/2oz)
2 eggs, separated.
Method:
Simmer the rice in the milk and cream until it is completely soft, takes between 20 and 30 minutes, stir occasionally to prevent the rice catching on the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat, add the butter, 1 teaspoon of sugar and the egg yolks.
Whip the egg whites into soft peaks, gently fold into the rice mixture.
Pour into a shallow ovenproof dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the top, place under a hot broiler/grill for a few minutes.
Note from me: watch it carefully or it might become too burnt, like mine did.
I also used golden caster sugar which perhaps was a mistake, it was delicious nevertheless.

Mrs D's book has not been returned to the main bookshelf to gather dust but has now taken up pride of place amongst the kitchen cookbooks that I refer to most often, it's my new favourite and still available on Amazon if you'd like to try Emma's recipes for yourself.




Beachcombing Sunday

I recently started to look at beachcombing in a totally different way.
Instead of collecting shells or searching out glittering pieces of sea glass I've started to collect plastic garbage during my Sunday walk on the beach.
Our beach, the one we head to every Sunday, encompasses the sea side villages of Vierville sur Mer, St Laurent sur Mer and Colleville sur Mer.

It's also known as Omaha Beach.


After a 30 minute walk this morning I was thinking maybe next week I'll need a bigger bag.
In the distance we spotted another couple also picking up garbage, a good sign.


Cleaning up the beach even in this small way is my way of showing respect.
I'm not looking to blow my own trumpet or play the blame game, although I would like to know how a plastic carton that once held semi skimmed milk and was bought at Tesco, UK came to be there.
I'm just looking to raise awareness in us all.
Bon dimanche.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Mosaic Monday # 71 - doing my bit for the planet

There's been a lot in the media recently about the build up of discarded plastic garbage and how it is slowly poisoning marine life and choking the ocean.
Last December a UN resolution calling for targets to tackle the problem was rejected by China, the US and India. Countries did agree that there should be measures put in place to stop plastic entering the sea but no timetable or plans on what or when they might be were agreed upon.
I did a little bit of online research to see what is being done and I was amazed at the scale and magnitude of the problem.
Plastic Oceans is an action group with plenty of ideas and projects in place, click here to visit their website if you are interested in learning what needs to be done.
Click here to watch a trailer of their inspirational film.
As some of you might know Sunday mornings are when we take M'Selle Fleur for a good long walk on the beach at Colleville sur Mer.
We enjoy the peace, tranquility and wide open spaces whilst she runs around like crazy socialising with the other dogs who are out taking their people for a walk.
As an experiment last weekend I tucked a plastic (!) shopping bag into my pocket before we left home.
I've always regarded our beach as being clean but I thought I might find some odds and ends of plastic washed up by the tide that I could carry away with me.

I came across this huge clump of twisted rope, plastic cords and goodness knows what else.
I tried to lift it but it was buried deep in the sand and too heavy to shift.

Imagine the damage this could cause to marine life.

I walked for about 20 minutes picking up bits and pieces as I went along.

9 broken pieces of plastic
1 yellow balloon
7 lengths of rope/twine, either all plastic or with plastic elements
2 plastic bottle tops
2 metal cans
1 plastic coated paper carton
1 shuttlecock
1 length of plastic tape
1 large plastic bottle


We are enjoying watching Sir David Attenborough's Blue Planet 2 on BBC television,
click on the link above to see episodes
and the prequel of this amazing documentary on the link below

This new kind of beachcombing is going to be my way of doing my bit for the planet.



Update.
I took my multi-use plastic carrier to the beach again this morning (Sunday 04/02/18) but due to a very strong incoming tide no beachcombing took place this week!



Sunday, 28 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 70 - early signs of spring


For Mosaic Monday today I'm sharing some images of the beautiful countryside that surrounds our home as it begins to transition from winter to spring.
I found this lovely little ode to snowdrops, pretty little harbingers of spring already beginning to appear this month in gardens and lanes.

The Snowdrop, winter's timid child,
Awakes to life, bedew'd with tears.
- Mary Robinson


This month the weather has been wet and windy but there have been some beautiful sunny days too.
Here's what January has looked like hereabouts.
depleted log pile
moss growing on a cherry tree
clematite armandii "Apple Blossom" by the front door
daffodils in the garden
snowdrops;  catkins,  primroses, ajonc, wild orchid and late mushrooms in the lane
stormy skies above

silver birch trees swaying in the wind



late afternoon as rain clouds start to move over the village once again

Hazel or birch catkins, not sure which.
Another early sign of spring?