Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck
Roosting on the gate

2011 - My second year of blogging in Brittany

I felt I would like to share some of the photographs I have taken so far this year and some from other years. I live in a beautiful part of Brittany and just love being here. It's a lovely place to photograph and enjoy being in through all the seasons and hopefully this blog will show you where I live my life.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wet weather and good food

The rain continues to fall even though the ground cannot absorb any more water.  The hen runs are lethal and I fall frequently in spite of always holding a very long handled fork and stabbing this into the quagmire to try and stay upright.  This is the short cut I usually take
but it is now too wet to use this path without ending up lying on the sodden grass.
We have also had hail and, I think overnight one night, a very light sprinkle of snow.  This was left on the ground when I walked up to the field.  The winds have been very strong, noisy and frightening.  The rain seems to have been relentless although we have had periods of sunshine which have been lovely but too short.

Because of the rain and not wanting to go outside I have been cooking.  I bought from SuperU four aubergines for just one euro.  I have only eaten aubergine once before and so I searched the internet for recipes.  I ended up doing my own thing which was:
Halve, drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven on a baking tray for about fifty minutes until soft.  Then with a spoon carefully empty the half skins of the aubergine flesh and save the skins for stuffing.  Meanwhile in a frying pan gently fry in olive oil chopped onion and garlic and then a tomato in small cubes with chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Add the onion and garlic back into the pan with cooked basmati rice, a good handful of golden sultanas, which give the dish intriguingly sweet notes, and the chopped flesh of the aubergine.  Add one teaspoon of cumin powder.  I had never used cumin before and it is delicious.  Gently stir everything together before stuffing the aubergine skins and putting them onto the baking tray.

 Using fresh breadcrumbs, cover the heaped filling of the aubergines and drizzle with olive oil before placing in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until they are a deep golden colour.


They were lovely and I will be making them again and again.

This afternoon I made cauliflower cheese with English Cheddar cheese, which I then ate with fresh tomato and crispy fried streaky bacon rashers.

While I was cooking, my oldest cat, Purrdy, brought in a robin.  Luckily I saw her coming through the cat corridor and managed to get it away from her.   I calmed him for a few minutes and took his photo before placing him on the garden wall from where he flew to freedom.

There was another taste of wildlife inside at the Pub Quiz this week when a Red Admiral butterfly was flying around the room.  At one point he landed on a paper I was holding but he ended up resting for about thirty minutes on one lady's white hair.
This is a photo of some of the horses in the village being exercised in the lane.  I love that the riders are texting with mobile phones while in the saddle!  You can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you like.
In Cornwall too the weather has been atrocious.  Here is Emma, Mia's Mummy, lying on the wind at Trevose Head with the sea crashing in below and the waves coming over the top too in the second photo.  I stole these from her Facebook page. 

Lastly Claude and Grace lying on the settee.  I think Gracie is telling Claude that her legs have gone to sleep and will he please shift himself.
Three things I like:
1.   Experimenting with food and making something I want to eat again and again.
2.   Getting back into the warm  and dry after dealing with the animals.
3.   Linking up two of my friends who may get together.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pancakes and Fête de la Chandeleur

I often wondered why pancake paraphernalia started arriving on the shelves in the supermarkets so far before Shrove Tuesday in France.  Thanks to a posting on a forum I belong to I now think I understand. 
Fête de la Chandeleur is the Catholic holiday of Candelmas which falls 40 days after Christmas Day, on 2 February every year.  This date is fixed, unlike Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day in the UK, which is tied to the moving date of Easter. 
The pancakes are eaten in the evening, traditionally by candlelight, and every member of the family tosses a pancake with the handicap of holding a coin in the hand they write with and using the other hand for holding the pan.  A successful toss ensures prosperity in the year ahead and for farmers, a good harvest.
Back in the 80s two friends and I all had birthday within four weeks of each other.  We would each do lunch for the birthday girl.  On my 37th birthday, my friend Viv made me stuffed pancakes which I loved ever since.  I don't suppose the recipe is exactly the same as hers but this is the one I have used for the years since then.  It is very popular in my family.


Bacon - small pieces like lardons
Roast chicken in bitesize pieces or fresh chicken breasts cut into small pieces
Frozen peas
Garlic clove
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cup a soup
Cheddar cheese

First make some pancakes.  I usually cook mine a day in advance, making twelve for this dish which I fridge until the next day and extra for eating straightaway with sugar and lemon juice, or butter and maple syrup.

Fry bacon, mushrooms, onions and a crushed garlic clove and then add chicken, peas, herbs, salt and pepper. 
If using fresh chicken put this in at the same time as the bacon.
In a mug mix some cornflour with a leek and potato cup a soup and half a mug of milk.  Add boiling water to top of mug and stir well before pouring over the contents of the frying pan. 
Stir gently and allow the sauce to cook through. 
Cool the mixture a little and use it to fill pancakes. 
Fold in the sides and roll into neat packages. 
Place them in an ovenproof dish and cover with cheese sauce, finishing by sprinkling grated Cheddar cheese on the top. 
Cook in the oven until heated through and cheese is golden and bubbling.