A French country party

It rained and rained for a fortnight, or it nearly did on my birthday! At last the sun came out and the day began….. Continue reading

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The Cherry Orchard

Cherries in Yolande's garden

Sweet and succulent cherries in Yolande’s orchard

“When I sound the fairy call, gather here in silent meeting,
Chin to knee on the orchard wall, cooled with dew and cherries eating.
Merry, merry, take a cherry, mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
Mine are sweeter for the eater, when the dews fall, and you’ll be fairies all.” Emily Dickenson American poet 1830 – 1886

Hard at work in the cherry orchard using a special ladder for reaching the highest branches

At work in the cherry orchard using a special ladder for reaching the highest branches

We picked our first cherries of the season today – the warm weather has arrived!  In between pip spitting and gorging on freshly picked cherries we managed to throw a few into the baskets. Our neighbour Yolande has all the tools for the job:  a traditional wooden fruit picking ladder – wider at the bottom and thinner at the top to allow it to settle against the tree trunk, a long pole with a hook to bring down the highest branches, as well as little baskets and hooks to hang in the tree to leave your hands free for picking all those cherries.

Princess Margot lends a paw

Princess Margot lends a paw

There are hundreds of varieties of cherry. Yolande grows the Burlap cherry it’s huge and fleshy and very sweet. Fruit farmer Leonard Burlat created the stock in 1915 by grafting onto a wild cherry tree in his garden. Now all the local markets are beginning to fill up with the new seasons crop – summer is here at last

The booty!

The booty!

It was a lovely afternoon, neighbours coming together to pool their resources. John Donne said ‘No man is an island’ and the communal sharing of something you cannot do alone was uplifting. While we were working and talking we were asking Yolande what she planned do with all the cherries “Manger” she said between mouthfuls of cherries. I’ve just been looking up some recipes and we’ll make Clafouti which is a sweet baked batter packed full of cherries, cherry jam with eau de vie (strange but we seem to have acquired an eau de vie lake), roast duck with cherries ummmm!

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The best easter egg

Asparagus with a soft boiled egg

Asparagus with a soft boiled egg

There is nothing quite so fresh and green tasting as asparagus pulled straight from the earth and eaten immediately. Our French neighbour whose Potager we are sharing suggested a few ways to cook the asparagus, with vinagrette, with a cheese sauce or simply with a soft boiled egg – it was absolutely delicious! What a lovely breakfast.

Fresh asparagus, butter and a soft boiled egg for breakfast

Fresh asparagus, butter and a soft boiled egg for breakfast

Covering a chair with French linen sheets

Chair covered in French linen sheets

Chair covered in French linen sheets

Bonjour mes amies! So sorry for the very long delay in posting anything……..here we go, a new project that I’ve been working on. I bought this comfortable old armchair at a car boot sale here (a vide greener) and covered it with a lovely old linen sheet, I’m quite pleased with my effort. Don’t look too closely though or you’ll see all the mistakes!

Christmas Market in Toulouse – Marché de Noël

Marché de Noël - Christmas market on Place Capitol, Toulouse

Marché de Noël – Christmas market on Place Capitol, Toulouse

The Christmas lights are up in Toulouse and the season of Christmas Markets ’tis begun…lots and lots of gorgeous food and plenty of tat too…

One of the animated stallholders

Marzipan (Almond & honey paste) painted with food colouring and made to look like different fruits

Hand made crepes filled with chocolate

Hand made crepes filled with chocolate paste and a little hot spiced wine ‘Vin Chaud’ ummmmm

More baked goodies -

More baked goodies – Petits pates de Pezenas, little  mutton pies

Petits pâtés de Pézenas

These little sweet, spiced mutton pies are a golden brown, crispy pastry with a moist, sweet inside. They can be eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, with a salad or as a dessert.

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More marzipan sweets

Apple cakes

At the front – baked almond and apple tarts – (Frangipane or a Tart du Pommes)

A French Potager

Leeks growing in a French Potager

Winter vegetables growing in a French Potager

Even the scarecrows are stylish! It’s a beautiful sunny day today, there was even a little snow in the nearby village of Espinas. Very cold but sunny – just how I like it.

Potager near Le Rouquette

Potager near Le Rouquette – leeks and cabbages

 

French Printing Workshop or ‘Gravure and Impression’

Seeking inspiration...

Seeking inspiration…

In September we went on a free ‘taster’ “Introduction to Printing” workshop at the local library. These workshops have been organised by the French inter library system here in the Tarn et Garonne to introduce the general public to the processes involved in creating a book.

Getting inspiration from books...

Preparing sketches for the print…

Each session is led by an artist with their work usually on exhibition in the library. The artist for this session was Muriel Limonet, she was so helpful, she did a quick demo first on how to use the cutting tools on the square wooden boards, then gave everyone individual tuition and ideas.

Using the roller to ink up the print - artist Muriel Limonet on the left

Using the roller to ink up the print – artist Muriel Limonet on the left

Using simple rollers and pads of ink we were able to print off from our boards and produced some amazing little prints!

Exciting moment -revealing the first impression!

Exciting moment -revealing the first impression!

It was totally absorbing and can be done quite cheaply with no expert equipment required. Just a few different sized cutting tools, printers ink, rollers and bits of plywood.

Inking up the print - Muriel on the left

Inking up the print – Muriel on the left, Jon on the right

The finished results!

The finished results!

Fantastic morning!

Dans le cadre des ateliers “à la découverte des livres” mis en place par la communauté de commune QRGA, l’atelier techniques de “gravure et impression” animé par Muriel Limonet, aura lieu à la médiathèque de Caylus