Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mouse Season.


Regularly at this time of year, Lady Magnon becomes obsessed by Mice. She imagines that every Mouse within a 20 Km radius is heading for the house, in order to spend the Winter with us in relative comfort.

I am instructed to set traps, plug holes, and gather gallons of Cat urine to discourage their ambitions.

She had a dream recently about a group of laughing Mice on top of our kitchen cupboards; I was of course blamed for their Morpheus induced incursion.

Freddie catches quite a few, but we've already had one in the house recently; luckily he was soon dispatched.

Mice have the whole of France to play in; be warned, WE DON'T WANT YOU IN THE HOUSE.

Now, where's that Mousetrap and some Peanut Butter? I'm told that Peanut Butter is irresistible to Mice.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Doppelganger No 3,557.

One is a genuine Balenciaga Menswear fashion show; the other isn't.

Can you tell which is which?

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Yesterday in S W France.



Autumn/Winter has really taken hold, and potatoes are now regularly being baked in the ash pan of the sitting room wood-burner.

For crispy skins they are cooked naked; for soft skins they are wrapped in foil. Both are wonderful; we use a variety called Mona Lisa.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Let's get it correct. 'Vaulting'.

I get really pissed-off. I'm constantly hearing people refer to 'Vaulted Ceilings', where they really mean 'Beamed Ceilings'. 


I first noticed this on a TV country-house finding programme; much loved by Lady Magnon. Every bloody house that had nice old beams was referred to as having 'vaulted ceilings'. It drove me nuts!

I've even heard architects (who OUGHT TO know better) wrongly talking of 'vaulted ceilings'.

So, let's get things right. The above illustration is of a vault; either built in stone, concrete, or brick, they are constructed over a template with considerable weight being added to the top to hold it all together once the template is removed.

A beamed ceiling is constructed of wooden beams that hold either an upper floor, or a roof.

Amazingly, when I was looking for a good illustration, I referred to Google Images and found almost nothing but photos of beamed ceilings. The rot has set-in even further than I'd imagined.

I don't know why this should annoy me as much as it does; the problem is, there are far too many people who claim to be experts, but who obviously aren't. Just look in any Estate Agent's window for proof.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Rat's Teeth.

These are pretty much the last of the year's mushrooms. 

Known in the UK as Hedgehog Mushrooms, in these parts they translate as Rat's Teeth, Deer's Feet, or Sheep's Feet. Personally I prefer 'Rat's Teeth' as it describes perfectly the underside of the mushroom.

In past times (40 years ago) I would take a large wooden crate into the woods, which would be filled within an hour or so. I would often return several times during the day. The resulting haul would be sold to merchants who went from farm to farm. I was told at the time that the mushrooms were used in the pharmaceutical industry; but I suspect most went to be eaten. Today's forager would find such quantities almost impossible to collect; the few above took me over an hour to find.

Rat's Teeth are very delicate creatures. They are mostly 'brushed' clean, but they often require rinsing under water. They also break very easily. When cooking, the water used for cleaning floods out, and has to be boiled away before they actually begin to fry. 

So, to the most important thing; what do they taste like?

When eaten alone, they have a delicate mushroom flavour, but when cooked with chicken or lamb they take on the flavour of the meat. Mixed with chicken, not only is the colour much the same, but the quantity of the meat appears to multiply; as if my magic. 

An easy mushroom to identify; those underneath teeth are a give-away. Look in November amongst mixed Pine/Chestnut trees.

Monday, 13 November 2017

How to Make Hummus.

My method of making Hummus is not exactly the same as this, but the ingredients are much the same (I never add curry powder).

I use a free-standing 'dedicated' machine to do the hard work, and add ground Sumac, Olive oil, and a few chick peas, to garnish.

So easy, so delicious, and so satisfying to make. I love it.

And here is my version (below). Even the bowl is similar.

This was eaten yesterday for lunch, accompanied by some delicious Chorizo baguette. 

Does life get any better?

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Sunday Book. San Michele.

                                                      The Story of San Michele.jpg

I believe that the bible is still one of the world's best selling books, and this must be another. The popularity of both mystify me.

Swede Axel Munthe's book about the island of Capri has been continuously printed for over 7 decades, and must be one of the world's most extraordinary publishing miracles.

In 1874, at the age of 17, Munthe arrived on the island of Capri, and (like so many) walked the long path up to the village of Anacapri (see book illustration). En route he discovered a ruined chapel, and decided at once that he would restore it, and the nearby ruined villa. The book tells of the restoration of the two buildings, and his life as a doctor in Italy and France.

If you have read the book (and many of you must have) you might agree with me that it is decidedly unremarkable. Factually interesting at most, but not a work of great literature; yet it continues to be a great favourite.

I wouldn't buy a copy, but if your local library or charity shop has it, it's worth giving it a go!

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