Thursday, 27 October 2016

Playing Cat-n-Mouse.

It's early Autumn, and Mice are have been looking for somewhere warm to spend Winter.

Both here, and up at the barn, there's been a sudden invasion of Mice; they've been arriving like Swallows in Spring.

I like Mice, but not in the house. There's the whole of France out there for them to squat in, but not here thank you!

Freddie (Cat) does his bit to reduce the population, but my preferred method of eradication is the simple Mouse trap, baited with cheese. It is almost 100% successful, and does the job with unerring precision.

Wills and Kellogg, however, don't like killing the beasts (they're veggie/vegans), so have installed several 'humane' traps which have worked quite well, and the Mice released far away.


I've also tried scaring the blighters witless, and have made this wooden cut-out of a Cat..... Success as yet unknown, but probably nil.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The New Stuff.

Only a few weeks ago, this was still hanging in bunches on the vines; now it's in my glass.

There's something magical about the process of wine making. There's something even more magical about my Vigneronne giving me a 1.5 litre plastic bottle of new wine; straight off the press (if you know what I mean).

I've been buying my wine at the same vineyard for the past 5 or 6 years, and each year I'm presented with a free sample of the new. What lovely folk.

We chat about the weather, about the pro's and con's of bread, about whatever harvest has just been brought in. We get on very well; she gives me huge Pumpkins, I give her Fererro Rocher Chocolates. We have an understanding between supplier and client that is exactly how it should be.

My car mechanic informed me last week that he will be retiring in March 2017. I just hope my Vigneronne doesn't contemplate something as thoroughly stupid.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Rush Is On.

Haddock's has a serious surfeit of green Tomatoes (as well as green Peppers, and Chillies); so, what to do with them all.

I don't usually bother with Chutneys, but this year I've gone against my better judgement, and made one specifically for accompanying curries, rather than cheese (If I say this, it gets eaten. If I don't, it doesn't).

It's a James Martin recipe, in whom I have some faith.

We tested it last night with Rick Stein's Chettinad Chicken curry; it was perfect.

We also have so many green Peppers that I'm stuffing them 'à la Provençal' on a regular basis. I don't really know what else to do with them. They need to be used-up before any serious frost ruins them!

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.

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