Sunday, 26 October 2014


One of my nearby neighbours is trying to raise some cash for an upcoming holiday to Spain.

He's made these bird nesting boxes (with some help I imagine) which he brought round to the house yesterday to sell. At €10 each they were a teeny bit expensive, but the cause was the important bit; we are always happy to buy stuff from the local kids, and bought two.

Samuel (pronounced Sam-well, as in the Spanish name Mig-well) is about 12, and is a really nice boy. He and his little 6 year old sister Zara lugged a huge bag-full of bird-boxes around our tiny hamlet; I do hope he sold them all.

Merçi Sam-well; I'll let you know when they're occupied.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Cranes heading south

Yesterday the first of the Cranes passed overhead on their way south for the Winter.

My cheap €70 Fuji camera obviously doesn't capture the real beauty of the occasion, but here it is anyway. I hope you can see and hear them; it might be clearer on YouTube.

What a wonderful sight, and sound.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Last Chestnuts for the Freezer.

There are numerous ways of preserving Chestnuts; this is mine. 

With a very sharp knife, I cut a cross into the pointy end of each Chestnut.

Boil for between 15 and 20 mins, until semi-open.

Peel away the outer shell (don't worry too much about the inner skin, just remove as much as possible), and remove the nut.

Then when cool place in freezer bags, and freeze. Couldn't be simpler.

These are semi-cooked Chestnuts which can later be roasted, or used in blitzed soups, or even puréed for sickly sweet desserts (not my thing).

As with all freezing, only PERFECT produce should be used. 

It's now the end of the Chestnut season, so this may be your last chance to preserve. Don't buy them later-on towards Christmas as 'fresh'; they won't be, and will probably contain worms. 

I put away 3 bags from the above, and now have a total of about 12 bags awaiting Winter; that's plenty for me!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

New Wine.

Yesterday I went to the birthplace of my youngest son, Villeneuve sur Lot, to get a couple of new front tyres for the Compact Royce.

On my way back I popped in to see my vigneronne to fill up two 5 litre containers with my favourite rough-n-ready rouge.

As has become tradition she offered me a sample of new wine. This stuff was still on the vine until two weeks ago, and has not yet finished fermenting. She filled an old 1.5 litre plastic water bottle for me (above). 

The colour is staggering, the taste interesting, and the kindness unbounded. 

A glass of 'new', a few roasted Chestnuts, and maybe a small Cèpe omelet on the side, and I am in Autumnal heaven. Maybe the new wine is not to everyone's taste, but, once again, it's a marker in the annual cycle that I hope continues forever. 

In another month we shall be sampling the Beaujolais Nouveau (Thurs 20th Nov), but for the moment I'm perfectly happy with my St Martin de Redon Nouveau. Cheers.

Think Blackcurrant juice (Ribena), with a serious vinegar attack on the back of the throat; delicious.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Please allow me one final indulgence.

To any amateur mycologist, there is no finer sight in the world than this.

Wicker baskets lined with bracken are de rigeur when mushroom hunting; and a few young Boletus mushrooms languishing therein is 'gatherers heaven'.

And just so you don't think that Lady Magnon doesn't do her bit, here are a couple of perfect Tête noire Cèpes (Boletus Aereus; the others are Boletus Edulis) that she found yesterday (below). These are reputedly the best of the Boletus family..

I shall now stop posting about bloody Cèpes, you must be getting fed-up with the wretched things. Me; I could muse about them for weeks on end.

Anyway, the above haul combined with some others to fill seven 350gm jars. I think that's enough for now (I already have seven 250gm jars in storage).

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

There will now be a short intermission.

I'm a tad preoccupied at the moment (ahem), so as an in-fill here's our late National Amy singing Hey Little Rich Girl..... Amy at her best. Enjoy.

I've added the lyrics below (just in case you want to sing along).

I bought you a fur coat when you were fifteen
You wore it to the disco, but everyone was in jeans
But you were a rich girl, and only having fun
Your worn out dresses, brought stares from everyone
Hey, little rich girl where did you go wrong?
You left for London, when you were nineteen
Had to pawn all your nice clothes, just living on dreams
A man in the bright lights took all that you own
Now he's taken your freedom for a fate unknown
But you were a rich girl, only having fun
Your worn out dresses, brought stares from everyone
Hey, little rich girl where did you go wrong?
Hey, little rich girl you've been away for so long
And now little rich girl, my words are in this song
Hey, little rich girl my love for you is gone
And now little rich girl, I know where you went wrong
At your dad's office party all the movies were blue
Caused him so much heart ache, because the screen star was you
You left for London, when you were nineteen
Had to pawn all your nice clothes, but you were living on dreams
You were a rich girl, and only having fun
But your worn out dresses, brought stares from everyone
Hey, little rich girl where did you go wrong?
Hey, little rich girl where did you go wrong?
Hey, little rich girl where did you go wrong?


Monday, 20 October 2014

Oh YES!!!!!


At last, we have Cèpes; and they're beauties.

My vigneronne has given me a new recipe for preserving them, which is slightly simpler, and less time consuming, than the usual method.

The mushrooms were cut into reasonable sized chunks (1.5 cm cubes), then plunged into boiling water for 2 mins. They were then transferred into ice cold water to cool, and drained.

I used 250 gm jars, which were filled to the level indicated. I added salt, pepper, parsley, and a small sliver of garlic, they were topped up with water, the capsules and lids put-on, and sterilised for 2 hours.

And here's the result; 7 small jars of the world's most delicious mushrooms, ready for our Winter omelets etc.

Cèpes dry well and freeze reasonably well, but this method is by far the best. Usually, in this area, they are preserved in oil (in much the same way as above, but with 3 hours sterilising), but I must say that these look very good; Winter will have some compensations after all.

I shall be out in the woods again today.

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