Monday, 30 August 2010

Is there anything better than home made cake?

Have you been to visit Barbara at her wonderful gourmet food blog "Moveable Feasts"?
I have been a follower for some time and I always feel as if I've discovered a really great cook book, written by a talented chef and author, when I read Barbara's recipes.
She has an excellent way with words and I always come away from her blog determined to try to recreate the delicious foodie delight which she shared with us that day.
Well, yesterday I did just that and so I would like to say thank you to Barbara for sharing the recipe for Pear Amaretto Crumble Cake.
Mr B loves what he calls "plain cake", no cream, no icing/frosting and no chocolate! Barb's cake had his name all over it.
It's so rare that I have all the ingredients necessary to bake a" spur of the moment cake".
I did have apples, pears (home grown), walnuts, lemons, almost all the store cupboard dry ingredients but no almond flour.

Tucked away at the back of the shelf I found a packet of ground almonds, fine and silky, so I used that instead.
Raided the cocktail cabinet but no Amaretto was to be found, instead I used Benedictine Liqueur made by monks at the Benedictine Abbey in Fécamp, Normandy.

Nous habitons en Normandie n'est pas?

Although the recipe is very easy to follow, it required an enormous amount of kit!

Not just the KitchenAid mixer but also the Kenwood food processer, several bowls, Dualit electric hand whisk, kitchen scales, measuring spoons and cups and jugs and pans.
Oh, but it was worth the great big pile of washing up that I had to do. whilst the cake was baking.

I can tell you that the cake is delicious, perfect for Sunday afternoon tea and this morning's elevenses, we enjoyed both. I think the mixture would also eat well as a muffin too.
Merci Beaucoup Barb!
P.S. DH just wandered by and asked "Will I be having a piece of that lovely cake with my tea this afternoon?" Say no more..............................

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The Old Vicarage for SSS

During our trip back home to UK in June we spent some time at The Old Vicarage situated in the small village of Old Clehonger, Herefordshire.
For Hey Harriet's SSS #119 today I am sharing some photographs of the garden at The Old Vicarage, a delightful place to stay with welcoming hosts, Dinah and Julian, who made Mr B, Mr Ben & myself feel right at home.
Bon dimanche.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Normandy delights: Calvados and Cows

Today my friend and fellow Quimper faience collector Cerelle, has blogged about her love of cows on the QCI Blog.
Followers of my blog will already know that I too love cows.
Well, as cows spend a great part of the year in the fields surrounding our home here in the Calvados region of Normandy, I guess I have to love 'em!
"Bossy" Cerelle's favourite cow has six little cups hanging from her sides and a spigot beneath.
If she were a souvenir of Normandy and not Auvergne, Cerelle supposes that she might be dispensing some of Normandy's famous apple based liquer, Calvados.
One of the sweetest Quimper faience services, designed for serving our special "eau de vie de cidre", that I ever came across, is the one shown here.
In the very popular Ivoire Corbeille decor a pomme shaped jug/decanter complete with apple shaped stopper and six small cups sit nicely on a round serving tray, parfait!
à votre santé

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Growing and going green.

It's Outdoor Wednesday where all things green are often celebrated, the Rainbow Summer School is going green too this week.

After the torrential rain we have experienced this past week (ever since I wrote about the Hazy Lazy days, actually) everything in my garden is refreshed, luscious and green, indeed.
How about these gorgeous espaliered apples and pears growing against a usually sunny, ancient stone wall?
In the potager along with the organic fruits and vegetables, some of which I blogged about in last week's Summer School project, I cultivate a few culinary herbs. Tasty green chives, and leaves from my Bay tree enhanced by nature's tears above, and below flat leaf parsley growing right alongside a new crop of dwarf haricot beans.
The Scarlet runner bean crop had been excellent this year, they love the rain it seems, but once again I think there'll be plenty of green tomatoes for frying and making chutney this autumn.

Many thanks to Susan & Jenny for graciously hosting these excellent meme's. Click on the links on my sidebar to see who else is going green this week.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

As far as the eye can see.....................

"The world only exists in your eyes - your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Sharing these photographs, of the beautiful French countryside and the fields that surround us, with Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday, Mary's Mosaic Monday @thelittleredhouse and Tracey's Weekly Words to Live By @Notes From a Cottage Industry.
If you've enjoyed my mosiac then I definitely think you should visit these wonderful blogs too.
You're in for a treat.
Have a great week everyone.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Rainbow Summer School: Just call me mellow Yellow

Courgette flowers.

For Mrs Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday Rainbow summer school project some cool mellow yellows for your delectation. Fruits and flowers blooming in my garden this week. And in case you were wondering, courgettes and pumpkins are technically fruits because they have seeds.
Maybe teach will give me a gold star for that little factlet?

Golden yellow pumpkins.

See you in class.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Why bees matter.

For a number of years we have been hearing that honey bees are disappearing and no one knows why.
I've been prompted to look online to see if I can understand why bees are under threat and it seems that the biggest fear is something called Colony Collapse Disorder.
Simply put the worker bees disappear, maybe as a result of a virus or mites and the colony dies.

I found this information on the Guardian Newspaper's website very interesting:
Why bees matter.
"Flowering plants require insects for pollination. The most effective is the honeybee, which pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide. As well as most fruits and vegetables – including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots – they pollinate nuts, sunflowers and oil-seed rape. Coffee, soya beans, clovers – like alfafa, which is used for cattle feed – and even cotton are all dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields."

and the lavender in my potager....................................

Yesterday morning as I did my daily round to see how my garden was growing I was so very pleased to observe these hard working honey bees doing what comes naturally.............thank heavens for bees.

I'm linking to Susan's Outdoor Wednesday meme this week, so head over to A Southern Daydreamer to see what else is going on in the great outdoors.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Hazy lazy days of summer.....................

It’s August and practically all of France is en vacances, so grab your sun hat and designer shades and let’s head for the beach.
This looks like a great place to relax and read the newspaper.

The foot stool conveniently doubles as a table, so your cold drink is always close to hand.
Perhaps you need to cool off a little? Sitting here with the waves gently tumbling over our toes feels so good!

Time to eat? These folding chairs are so easy to bring along and the gorgeous picnic basket has wheels to make life even easier. The ancient rock face behind us will act as a natural windbreak and keep the sand out of our food.
Not a beach lover.................... seriously?
Maybe you’d prefer to spend your vacation somewhere in the stunning French countryside? Why not relax amongst the cushions, it’s lovely and shady here beneath the striped, blue awning.

I’ll just go and set the table for lunch.

We can take our afternoon nap here in the shade. Oh! I see you’ve already reserved your place with sunhat and shades.
Later on we’ll have tea in the garden.
We could sit here, or perhaps a deck chair on the lawn would suit you better?

Decisions, decisions.................................bonnes vacances tout le monde.
All images courtesy of Campagne Decoration my favourite French lifestyle magazine, the next issue is on sale 1st September.

With so much blue around I just have to link this post to the wonderful Blue Monday meme, graciously hosted as ever by Smiling Sally.
I just realized that it's one year exactly since my first Blue Monday post, wow, where has the time gone?
Click here to read it, on the sidebar link for more blue loveliness and say "Hi" to Sally.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A Medieval Sunday afternoon at the Château de Colombières

Visitors to France already know about the fabulous châteaux which can be found in the Loire valley. Many years ago we took the ferry across to France, from England, to spend a wonderful week touring them with our friends K & T.
Until we finally came to live in France I hadn't realised how many châteaux there are in Normandy and we have certainly enjoyed discovering them, touring their gardens and marvelling at the wonderful architecture.
You may remember that I blogged about our visit to the Château des Ravalet some time back, click on the link if you missed it.
Two weekends ago we discovered a beautiful hidden gem, practically on our own doorstep!

The stunning Château de Colombières , less than a 5 minute drive away from our home, was hosting a Fête Médiévale, how could we resist visiting?After struggling to find a space to park, we wandered through the ancient gates and into the grounds surrounding the château, where we discovered many displays and activities depicting how life was lived in medieval times.

It was possible to tour the Château, however we decided to postpone that treat for another day, when there would be fewer crowds around.

I hope you have enjoyed our virtual tour of the Château de Colombières (click on the highlighted links for more information), with it's thousand year history and if you are ever visiting this little corner of France I would imagine a stay in one of their wonderful B&B rooms would be a once in a lifetime experience.

What a shame I live so close by, Ben & I think that their Louis XVI room is just our style!
Linking this post to Mosaic Monday graciously hosted as ever by Mary @thelittleredhouse and also Frenchy's French Obsession Party & Giveaway @Le Chateau des Fleurs, two places where interesting and friendly bloggers get together.
Click on the links to see a list of others also participating this week.