Sunday, 2 February 2014

A warming winter treat

Feeling rather pleased with the harvest of lemons from our neighbour’s tree, which we have been looking after this winter, we decided, instead of making marmalade, to bake our favourite cake - Lemon Drizzle.
Lemon Drizzle Cake....yummy!
I used a quick, all-in method of mixing up the ingredients and baked it in a lined, round tin, in the oven - gas mark 4 for 45 minutes, until the top was golden and when a knife is pulled out of the cake, dry, you know it's cooked through.  
After turning out the cake when cooled slightly, a syrup of caster sugar and lemon juice was then poured immediately on top of the cake and left to drizzle down the sides!
Serve with at least one cup of strong tea!
See Recipes tab for the instructions.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Lovely Lemons

  I’ve never seen a lemon growing on a tree before.    
 This morning we were thrilled to see an abundance of wonderful lemons hanging from our neighbours lemon tree and squealed with joy at the thought of home made lemonade and marmalades...
You see, we were asked by them to look after the tree during the year as they were going to be away from home a lot.  We had treated the tree with some spray earlier on in the year and were careful to cover the tree when frosts threatened... a close eye was kept on the weather and prayers were said in the hope that it would survive the Mistral winds outside.
 Well, as you can now see, the tree has done really well and produced lots of gorgeous, yellow fruit.

Doesn't the bright yellow go well against the dark green of the leaves.
 We have been growing one in a pot for the past 18 months and, come the Spring, it will be planted out in the ground.
Our tree has a light, yellowy green leaf and, as a young plant, is pleasing to look at even now...but I can’t wait until it starts to fruit. 
Now I'm off to find a good recipe for lemon marmalade!
Thanks for reading.

H A P P Y***N E W***Y E A R !

Wishing you all


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

M E R R Y **** C H R I S T M A S !

Just a quick post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

We've had a last minute make and bake-up.

  Home made festive bough full of holly, berries and pomegranates! 
 Quickie mince pies - see here for recipe
 and jolly Christmas cards.

Wishing you all every happiness, good health and peace this Christmas 2013!


Monday, 16 December 2013

Olives for Oil

What a delight it is to pick olives at this time of the year. I hadn’t realised that the olive tree is such an easy going friendly tree, no thorns or prickly bits; it surrenders its fruit without too much difficulty if one, of course, overlooks the height of some of the trees.
Walking amongst the trees, the scent of thyme, sage and rosemary pervades the nostrils as you brush against the herbs or tread down upon them. Their pungent aroma immediately releases a feeling of joy and a gradual smile becomes a huge grin.  The warmth of the sun shining on the skin and the fact of simply being out in the open air, gives rise to a feeling of happiness and well being. 
Reminds me of a book I first read by Winifred Fortescue "Perfume from Provence", many years before Peter Mayle became famous. I still have it and have read it over and over again.  I shall dig out my copy and post a photo of it - the illustrated cover is charming.
As for the olives, it is surprising to see such a wonderful contrast of colours ranging from the lightest of greens to the darkest, shiniest black, with all shades of purple in between.

Although we don’t have many olive trees, we wanted the experience of harvesting the olives, as we hadn't had this before and, also we couldn't bare to leave them unpicked, since this year, the crop was very good.
So with buckets and ladders to hand we set too and managed to pick 16 kilos, which took two afternoons of solid picking - not bad for our first attempt. 

Chuffed to bits, we set off to our local moulin a huile (olive mill), which, by the way, is well over 300 years old and where today, they still grind and press olives in the old traditional way - using a millstone fed by a water wheel to crush and grind the olives, then cold pressed between rope mats and finally the oil is extracted after settling in huge tanks.  
When we arrived and walked in to the mill, the smell is what hits you first, it's the olives being ground into a paste by the fast rotating millstone.
After a while the pulp is placed onto the rope mats and stacked one-upon-the-other and pressed to force out the liquid which is made up of both oil and water.
The liquid is then collected and pumped into huge tanks where the oil begins to rise to the top and separate from the water.
Our 16 Kilos of olives earned us 2.3 litres of extra virgin, cold pressed, olive oil! pleased were we?
 Now to have a go at making a perfect French salad dressing....
Thanks for reading.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Colours of Autumn

An ensemble of nature finds put together in an old printers tray we found at our local flea market at the weekend.  You can see more of our French Market Finds here. 
Printers Tray finds from nature.
Items found and gathered during our walk, around the garden. 

A perfect showcase for displaying the items we collected during a walk around the garden...the wonderful colours that surround us are amazing this time of the year.
Great for outdoor displays!
If you're looking for something in which to display your autumnal finds, this printers tray may be the answer - just email me, as I have yet to list it on Etsy.   
Working outdoors today has given me quite an appetite...have you seen our latest recipe post? 
A delicious and filling, savoury scone bread.
Thanks for reading - until next time!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Autumn Is Upon Us

...I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, 10th October 1842

And so
a walk outside... 

The leaves have turned
 the berries are out
coppery shades of autumn
mingle with the lush greens of Provence and...

Matin d'Octobre

C'est l'heure exquise et matinale
Que rougit un soleil soudain.
A travers la brume automnale
Tombent les feuilles du jardin.

Leur chute est lente. Ou peut les suivre
Du regard en reconnaissant
Le chêne à sa feuille de cuivre,
L'érable à sa feuille de sang.

Les dernières, les plus rouillées,
Tombent des branches dépouillées :
Mais ce n'est pas l'hiver encor.

Une blonde lumière arrose
La nature, et, dans l'air tout rose,
On croirait qu'il neige de l'or.
 by François Edouard Joachim Coppée (1842-1908)

October morning

It is that exquisite morning hour
Reddened by a sudden sun.
Through the autumn fog
The garden's leaves fall.

Their fall is slow. One can follow them
With one's gaze, recognizing
The oak by its leaf of copper,
The maple by its leaf of blood.

The last, the rustiest,
Fall from stripped branches,
But it is not yet winter...

A blonde light saturates
Nature, and, in the rose-coloured air,
You would think it was snowing gold.

Thanks for stopping by...enjoy your week!