Monday, 24 October 2016

Walnut season.

The walnuts are dropping, and the harvest looks good.

I've mentioned previously that I drink two teaspoons of Walnut oil each morning, and try to eat about 8 nuts every evening. Their medicinal qualities are renowned.

Otherwise we make a good Walnut Pesto simply by substituting Walnuts for Pine Nuts, Lady Magnon uses quite a lot for her various cakes, and a lot go into our Summer salads. That's about it.

Of course, any that are left-over from the previous year make wonderful fire-lighters!

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Certain dogs are used as status symbols, others as thugs, and many as adornments.

Our two (we now only have one) just came our way by chance.

Monty (the Lab') was a rescue dog, and his best friend Bok eventually came to live with us simply because they were inseparable. 

Monty was much admired, and even the subject of some jealousy; Bok is just a lovely affectionate boy, who'd lay down his life for us. He loves everyone, and is loved by everyone. 

What would we do without dogs in our lives!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Paté v Rillettes.

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Everyone knows about Paté, but do you know about its big cousin 'Rillettes'? I shall try to explain the difference.

Paté is made from coarsely ground raw Pork, with the addition of herbs, etc. This is put into jars/cans/dishes and sterilised or cooked. Rillettes is made from either Pork, Duck, or Goose (or a mixture), which has been slow cooked in stock, allowed to cool, then the meat pulled apart and semi-mashed. This meat is then mixed with fat (from the same animal type), and stored under a further layer of fat. It is not really designed to last too long, unless potted like the jar above.

Additions, and seasonings, in both cases depend on the maker.

Here in France we eat a lot of both Paté and Rillettes. Both are fatty, and should be eaten in small quantities.

We've just recently consumed a jar of the Goose Rillettes (above), made in nearby Cahors. In my humble opinion, it is one of the most delicious things on earth, and eaten with good freshly baked Sourdough bread, must be the zenith of French charcuterie.

If you are lucky enough to find a jar of Mémé Quercy's Rillettes d'Oie in a store near you, buy one. It's not cheap, but you'll not regret it. It is not to be compared to the inferior northern Pork Rillettes du Mans, that one finds in all French supermarkets.

Good Paté is good; good Rillettes is sensational.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Twiddling Thumbs.

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This time of year can be very dull. For me it is more tedious than anticipatory.

Mornings can be quite cool, but not cold. Afternoon sunshine can be warm, but not hot. We are in a period of neither one thing nor another.  We're in limbo land; waiting for the winter onslaught.

Being someone who likes to keep busy, I have drawn-up my usual list of jobs to be completed before spring, but this year's list is worryingly short.

I have the caravan to complete, quite a bit of errant Ivy to hack back, some serious weed-killing to be done on gravel paths/drives etc, and possibly a small interior DIY project or two. Otherwise most of my work will be wood-sawing, and general tidying. Haddock's is reasonably weed-free, so will look after itself for a while.

It looks as if we shall not be having any mushrooms, so even that bit of bottling will be denied me.

I shall make paté, nearer to Christmas, and will pickle onions and red cabbage, but all these activities take no more than the occasional 20 mins.

Maybe I'll use my extra free time to make bread. For years I've wanted to make bread that I could be really proud of, but although my attempts have been OK, they have not been what I would call 'special'. I'll let you know.

N.B. The bread in the photo was NOT mine, but that's what I'll be aiming for.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A chip off the old block.

Wills, Kellogg, and Boo Boo are in Thailand for 10 days, en route for Oz.

Thai food must be their favourite. For veggies it is perfect; plenty of choice and wonderful flavours.

Boo Boo's tastes are still slightly undeveloped, so he has a plate of chips; no child says no to chips.

And what child says no to relaxing on a lounger, overlooking some idyllic Thai island bay.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Fight Against Waste.

I love Swiss Chard, but have never been terribly keen on the stems. Up until this year I've always stripped-off the green leafy part, and thrown the stems away.

However, I've now decided that this is downright WASTE, and I am now keeping those stems, and eating them. 

Firstly I tried putting them into my infamous 'Compost Soup', but they made it taste earthy. Then I tried cooking them as a separate vegetable, and I think I may have conquered the problem.

I cut the stems into about 4 inch lengths, then sliced each piece into thickish matchsticks. These I boiled for a while until softened, then fried them in Garlic Butter.

I can't see them being served at Maxim's in Paris, but they were 'reasonably' pleasant. Certainly much better than chucking them on the compost.

As you can see, I'm having some more tonight. I give them 7/10.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

RIP Sonja LeVay MBE.

                                  Sonja Le Vay was appointed MBE for services to the community last year

We are sorry to report the death of our very good family friend Sonja.

I know that most of my 'family' readers will remember her with huge affection. Her remarkable life touched so many.

Sonja was married to the eminent orthopaedic surgeon David LeVay (his book 'Scenes from Surgical Life' is worth reading, if you are interested in medical things).

Sonja was a committed Socialist, Nurse, Magistrate, Samaritan, and Quaker. One of her great successes was to co-found a charity to rebuild an orphanage in Bulgaria. She did so much good for her fellow man, that it's impossible to innumerate all her accolades

Those who knew her, or of her, may like to read her obituary from The Guardian.

Farewell Sonja; you were a good'un. My sincere condolences to Jonathan, his brothers, and her entire extended family.

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