06.05.2011 - 24.05.2011 24 °C
Did I mention we have 6 giant cherry trees? At least 3 different varieties and this week they hit red and ripe! In my ridiculous state of excitement i started to pick the little bright red ones until I realised they weren’t quite ready yet, then discovered the bigger ‘black’ variety that I’m more familiar with further behind. Frederic had a cherry picker at the house because he’s working on restoring one of the walls so we all went up in that to pick some little ones, then I went off to get some sweeter big ones from the other tree – the best are at the top of course but no problem as they make excellent climbing trees!
[I can’t describe how fantastic it is to each perfectly ripe fresh cherries straight off the tree, but I fought my way through knee high dry grass, knowingly exascerbating my already intense hayfever symptoms to pick this basket of cherries]
So a clafoutis has already been made, we will do jam and chutney and I am searching recipes for icecream/sorbet and freezing and drying methods to make full use of the bounty. Does anyone have other ideas of cooking with or preserving cherries??
This is just the first 2 of 6 trees, even on one tree there are more cherries than can be picked in day, so I know I must accept some will be wasted or go to the birds but all my spare time WILL be spent gathering fruit.
Over the last few weeks I tried twice to start yoga in the neighbouring village of Sennecey, the 1st false start was because the teacher was sick and cancelled the class for the first time ever, the next week it was on but everyone needed their own mats, which I didn’t have because when I expressly asked if I needed to bring anything I was told no. And there was no misunderstanding, Sophie at the little Tourism Office was translating for me. Last week - since I had finished the final Uni assessment on the 13th (oh happy day!) – I decided I would rather stay in Chalon to do some discovering after dropping the kids at school instead of going straight back to Sennecey for the class. Now I’ve decided I don’t want to attend that one anyhow so I’ll be searching for another.
So one particular discovery session was at Carrefour Sud (the supermarket Carrefour at the south end of Chalon, as opposed to the other Carrefour at the northern end. And Chalon aint that big). I call it a ‘discovery session’ because I feel it goes some way toward explaining how I entered at 9am and didn’t leave until just after noon. I really was just looking but there was a lot there - and when the supermarket is not only a Coles but also a liquor store, retravision, dymocks, BCF, bakery, delicatessen, and Kitchen Warehouse then i think it doesn’t sound so bad. Plus I can’t shop without thorough examination of labels which takes twice as long.
I wish I could say my French is improving but I’m not noticing much. I haven’t really tried to timetable regular studying sessions yet, something will start asap if I can resist all the other distractions.
The vege garden is coming along slowly, the strawberries didn’t really take but it turns out they were wild anyway so only produce fruit the size of a pea. There are small tomatoes growing and we ALSO have quite a lot of raspberry bushes with fruit that should be ripe in a couple of weeks. There are all of 2 figs on the tree that is about 4 years old. I have to work out how i can claim at least one of those when it's ripe. I might be lucky since everyone else isnt all that interested in eating fruit, at least not everyday.
Generally things are really well, the kids are still… ah 'difficult' at times but I am getting quicker at jumping in when they start nerving each other and shortening the ‘inch’ so to speak so they can’t take a mile. Every now and then though there’s an afternoon where I’m brought to the brink of my snapping point. I won’t go into it but one day last week involved me pushing the dining room table to the door and leaping the couch to catch Antonin after chasing him around the living room furniture. He was waving a stick (feeling the 'power' i think, no intention to use it to hurt anyone) and it was extremely interesting to see his face change from 'ha ha you can't get me' to 'uh oh' when i caught him and snatched the stick. Free child psychology lessons here.
So I’m not totally the bitch au pair, only when i have to be (no one could possibly equal the tonne of bricks Nadine can drop on them when there’s been a big problem) but Nadine has said I don’t have to play by the rules ALL the time – she wants me to be the nice one who lets them OCCASIONLLY do things she wouldn’t or says ok to chocolate at breakfast time ‘but don’t tell your parents..’ So I suppose that’s good for me, and I’ll have to not stress about trying to reduce their sugar intake and their chocolate addiction and getting fruit and veg into them since I think I’m the only one who’s particularly concerned about them not getting their 2 & 5 per day.
Antonin is speaking a little more English – so a just a bit more than nothing – every now and then but he doesn’t hide the fact he understands almost everything I say in English so I don’t stress anymore over the level of communication. I help him with his homework when he lets me and on the rare occasion he’s in a good mood he’ll actually listen properly and correct the French I speak. Grandad Bernard was telling me once that there are something like 60,000 words in the French language (I think, anyway it was at least double that of English) but apparently now most people only use about 5,000. Maybe there is hope for me. Not that I’ve actually really started to learn formally, yet….
We have been very Gourmand over the past weeks, with a celebration for Antonin for something to do with church there was a 6 hour Sunday lunch a few weeks ago - involving nibblies ( ‘Aperitif,’ here it refers to both the pre-meal drink and appetiser food), 2 entrees - escargot and foie gras, 2 mains, white fish i think cabillot and melt in the mouth roasted beef wrapped in pastry, sorbet, cheese, dessert, cake (profiteroles) and coffee. And i'm sure i forgot something there.
We had left over escargot to use so us 3 adults ate them again during the week for dinner and then one of the freezers broke down so we simply had to cook another defrosted batch to avoid them going to waste
There was a lunch in Dantesyeux, a village near lyon for an annual get together for Nadine's Mum's (Grandma Maryvon) side of the family. It was in a 'slightly above average' restaurant but of course the standard was Aussie 5 star - even for a set menu for 50 people. Not only was the food interesting and really really fantastic but the afternoon was quite productive - I met one of Nadine's second cousins Chloe who has very good english and is living in Grenoble, studying Architecture at uni. So if i go venturing down that way i have someone to hang out with, and also a room at her mum's house in Avignon in Provence.
Otherwise i have been busy testing recipes in the kitchen, i was successful at my first attempt at making yoghurt, have produced nutritious biscuits for the kids (and Nadine and Frederic) when they need breakfast on the run or the arvo snack, oven baked banana chips and savoury crackers for aperitif time. All those things normally bought at the shop but really have little to them and are so easy make when one has the time.
An attempt at potato crips and zucchini chips wasn't so successful so back to the drawing board (internet) for those.
The weather has been brilliant for about a month now, bordering on hot actually even some days by 8am because the sun has been up for hours already, so i am now in shorts and skirts, and going shopping for a few more, select clothes since i brought so little.
Apparently the last 2 years it has been crappy cold weather until well into June but this year they are expecting a hot dry summer. Just the way i like it!