Monday, September 28, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
BC: That [chimney/window/door/beam/shelf] is squint.
BB: (long steely silence with much flaring of nostrils) Well it's too late to do anything about it!
BC: What do you mean it's too late? You've just this second put it [up/in/on].
BB: Well I'm not changing it!
BC: Ok. We'll just be known as the foreigners who live in the crooked house.
That works every time and he spent the next hour (huffing and puffing) trying to budge the chimney a couple of centimetres.
When I was out running earlier I thought I'd stumbled across a family of baby hedgehogs, these sweet chestnuts were so big. They were as big as tennis balls but you wouldn't want to slip one of these in your pocket for your second serve. Which brings me nicely on to bulls' testicles. Poire is just back from holiday in Alsace where rognons blancs featured on the menu in a restaurant they went to. I'll just file those with tête de veau I think.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I found this photograph (below) of the roof of the house we're in now (which I'm going to call L'Atelier because it was originally two semi-detached workshops), taken at the same stage as the mill roof and it looks tiny in comparison: 120 square metres to 232 square metres to be exact.
I've added a new feature opposite where you can view a slideshow of the progress of the building work from the beginning to the present day. I'm afraid you have to set up a snapfish account to view it (I can't find a way round this) but it takes 10 seconds and only requires you to give your name, email address and a password.
♫ View along to: The Velvet Underground Venus in Furs
Friday, September 18, 2009
Things have advanced on the roof and I promise to bring you some photos in a couple of days. In the meantime, the tomatoes keep coming so here's a recipe for roasted tomato soup with basil purée.
3 lb/1.35 kg ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, left whole and unpeeled
1 oz/25 g basil leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp caster sugar
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 tsp sundried tomato paste
25 fl oz/750 ml vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Skin the tomatoes by pouring boiling water on them, leave for 1-2 minutes then slip off the skins.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange on a baking tray, cut side up and top each half with a basil leaf. Place the garlic cloves on the tray too, leaving their skins on. Then drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle on the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour at 370°F/190°C or until the edges of the tomatoes are slightly blackened.
3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomato paste and stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Scrape the tomatoes and any juice and the garlic pulp (skins removed) into a food processor, add the stock mixture and whiz to a purée then sieve to remove the pips.
5. Just before serving make the basil purée. Strip the leaves into a mortar, sprinkle them with half a teaspoon of salt, then bash the leaves down with the pestle. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Drizzle over the reheated soup.
♫ Cook along to: Teenage Fanclub (they have a song called the cabbage but this is one of my TF faves) Start Again
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
On Sunday (the start of la chasse - the hunting season) we had lunch chez Nainbo where we arrived to find him (still, after three hours!) stuffing green beans into empty plastic Perrier bottles. "Mini-B told me this is the best way to freeze them", he said as we tittered, knowing that Mini-B was pulling his leg. I've just frozen mine the traditional way - by blanching and placing in freezer bags.
Nainbo is a very good cook, effortlessly throwing things together from the garden without any fuss. Before I moved to France, other than my good friend HC, the only men I knew who were interested in cooking were professional chefs, but here you're as likely to hear regular guys swapping bread recipes in the bar as you are to hear them discussing football - and just as fervently.
For starters we had salad of green beans, tomatoes, peppers and red onion (all from the garden) with a vinaigrette sauce, followed by roast leg of lamb accompanied by creamed sorrel with fried bread topped with sliced hard-boiled egg.
Top Modèl, who just got his permis de chasse this season, joined us for cheese and spiced pears with champagne to celebrate his first kill - three wild boar. We won't be seeing him on the roof at weekends from now on.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The remote for the crane broke (again) and he had to drive all the way to Lyon on Monday (2 hours away) to pick up a spare, which, when he got it back, didn't work either. So yesterday was spent waiting around all day for a phone call from the remote guy with instructions on how to fix it.
After lunch today I went out to do some things in the garden and when I passed the window five minutes later, BB was still sitting at the kitchen table gazing at his navel. The second time I passed, he was tidying out his tool belt; the third, brushing cobwebs off the ceiling; and the fourth, loading the dishwasher (for the first time ever) - anything to put off going back up on the roof!
Monday, September 7, 2009
I hope all this wife swapping isn't contagious because I kind of like BB (whose take on affairs, incidentally, is: "why would you want more than one woman giving you grief"!).
40 g/1½ oz butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
225 g/8 oz mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, brazils) coarsely chopped
225 g/8 oz tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
175 g/6 oz wholemeal breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the onions and celery for 5 minutes.
2. Add the nuts, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and eggs and mix together.
3. Spoon into a greased 450 g/1 lb loaf tin, cover with oiled baking foil and bake for 50-60 minutes in the oven at 220°C/425°F.
♫ Cook along to: O'Jays Back Stabbers
Thursday, September 3, 2009
BC: Don't know.
BB: Well what car was it?
BC: Kind of pale yellow.
BB: What type?
BC: Mmm. Lemon chiffon maybe.
BB: No. The make?
It must be strange going back to the house of your birth after 75 years to find so many changes. But he was aware of the state it was in before we even bought it (holes in the roof, major roof timbers broken or burnt, rotting principal supporting beams, floors propped and re-levelled) and seemed genuinely pleased with the work we're doing. When I asked him if he could have imagined a swimming pool in his old house he replied that he could never have imagined running water!
1. Put the chicken in a bowl with the egg white, salt, sesame oil and 2 tsp of cornflour and leave for 20 minutes in the fridge.
2. Bring the water to the boil in a pan and add the chicken and leave on a low heat for 4 minutes until the chicken turns white. Remove.
3. Heat a wok until very hot and add the oil. Add the peppers and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
4. Add the stock, curry paste, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce and cornflour mixture. Cook for 2 minutes then add the chicken and stir until heated through. Serve with torn basil leaves.
♫ Cook along to: Siouxsie and the Banshees Hong Kong Garden
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
450 g/1 lb boneless pork, cut into smallish pieces
2 medium green peppers, cut into smallish pieces
2 medium onions, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 dsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp groundnut oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the marinade:
1 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour
1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and leave the pork in the marinade for 20 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the pork until brown (about 2-3 minutes). Remove.
3. Reheat the wok and stir-fry the onions, garlic and green peppers until the pepper skins become slightly blistered. Then add the pork and the chilli sauce and stir until heated through. Serve with rice or noodles.
♫ Cook along to: Martina Topley Bird Intro