Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Foie Gras

Cooking with the chateau chef, Charlotte, in the kitchen, is not a bad way to spend our first Monday at the chateau. After learning the French technique to preparing a foie gras, we all donned our kitchen gloves and canned a jar. Although foie gras may be a bit squeamish to some, the French have a way of breaking it down into a culinary science - and the end result is pretty fabulous.
Afterwards, Charlotte, led us through a step by step lesson making French moutarde - the real stuff - complete with both yellow and black mustard seeds. Whipped into perfection with an electric whisk and bit of tasting all around the table, the mustard was then jarred for each of us to take home for a small memory of the cooking at the chateau.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Miel en France

Rambling along the back roads of France, we happened upon a honey farm with old bee skeps, boxes and smoke cans strung about the ancient barn. We learned a bit about the history of the land and the different types of honey the bees produce; and then when we could no longer understand the conversation, bought a jar of Acacia Honey and said our goodbyes. We are learning that discovering the old rural farms is a real treat, but give a French farmer an inch and they may take a mile - everyone loves to tell their story and whether or not we understand is of little importance. A yarn is a yarn....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Good Brocante

Nothing much needs to be said when you happen upon a really good brocante at the end of the day and find all the things you were hoping to find - old paper, pottery and maybe a road sign or two...all of this comes in second though when you find a really good dealer - someone who gives you the story you were looking for and is willing to bargain like the best of them....thanks Guiliame - we loved your eye!

Friday, June 24, 2011

La Ferme = The Farm

Deep in the heart of France, we went on a wild goose chase - or maybe I should say a wild goat chase - through the back roads along the River Aveyron.
After searching high and low for an angora goat farm, I had heard about from my friend Karen, we finally found the sign, La Ferme Chevres Angora, and entered down the mile long driveway - having no idea whether they would be open for visitors at 6:00 in the evening. When we arrived, I jumped out of the car and figured, we've come this far, may as well knock on the door and see if we can meet a goat or two. Rudolpho, one of the two brothers who manages the farm, came out of his 14th century stone house and was happy to show us the lay of the land.
First we visited the atelier, filled with handmade scarves, blankets, socks and mittens - all in the most beautiful shades of reds, browns and blues. They also sold skeins of mohair all freshly cleaned, carded and spun - ready for knitting.
Then it was time to meet the goats - all 200 of them. 150 of the goats are raised for their milk and the remaining 50 are raised for their wool. We spent some time getting to know the baby angora's, and then it was time to milk the goats. Along with Rudolpho and brother Frank's help, Molly and I both took a turn learning how to milk the goats - which has to happen fast if you don't want to get kicked. Drinking fresh goat milk straight from the udder was something new - and had my mom practically running out of the barn - she grew up on a farm and wanted nothing to do with the milking!
At the end of our two hour visit, we had bonded with the goats and the brothers and promised to return soon - feeling an attachment to the land and the agriculture - which we hadn't felt before. This is the deep France experience - the France profound - that I have heard about and wanted to know more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back in France

We've finally arrived back in France for the summer - and everything feels right again. The smells, sounds and flavors all come rolling back - just like we never left. Molly, mom and I have spent the past few days relaxing in St. Antonin, eating at some of our favorite bistros, visiting a couple of our favorite brocantes and getting lost on the country roads.
More to come....

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Creative Connection 2011

Bibelot Charme Workshop

I'm really excited to be returning to The Creative Connection Event again this September. This year, Wendy Addison and I got together and decided to try something new...instead of each of us teaching our individual classes and wondering where the other was all day...we decided to combine our classes and teach them ensemble. We figured we could spend our time enjoying our classes as well as seeing each other - the old two birds theory. And...we get a little extra perk...Marcia Ceppos from Tinsel Trading will be setting up a petite emporium of metallic threads, trims and sequins...our own private Tinsel Trading right in the classroom!

Boite de Bijoux Workshop

This year The Creative Connection is expanding to include three days of social media and business workshops, creative workshops, food panels and classes, pitch slams and of course the fabulous hand-made marketplace.

You can read more about French General, the workshop Wendy and I will be teaching and join a giveaway at Where Women Create and spend some time looking over The Creative Connection Event - hope to see you there in the Fall!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Table Time

With just a week before we leave for the summer, my mind has drifted to the food of France. I stumbled upon these five key dates of French food, and it made me start dreaming about the fois gras, the fresh herbs, and the chicken cordon bleu...

1. 1533: Italian aristo Catherine de Medici marries into French royalty and, under her guidance, the Court gets passionate about its food for the first time.
2. 1691: Fran├žois Massialot reveals the recipes of Louis XIV’s kitchen in Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois, effectively launching haute cuisine.
3. 1765: When Parisian soup maker Monsieur Boulanger offers customers at his tavern a choice of dishes, the world gets its first restaurant.
4. 1902: Auguste Escoffier pens La Grande Culinaire; 500 recipes of the rich, sauce-based cooking that would dominate 20th century French cuisine.
5. 1969: Food critics Millau, Gault and Gayot identify 48 chefs creating lighter food focused on fresh produce, recognizing nouvelle cuisine for the first time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Turning 14

I rarely let a day go by without remembering when Sofia was 2 or 4 or 10...she was so cute and confident. Remember when she said this...or danced to this song...or wore this...she was so young and sweet. I live in the memories of Sofia as a young girl - maybe it's because I was young too or maybe it's because it just seemed so simple then.
One of these days I have to accept the fact that I have raised a beautiful, talented and quite capable fourteen year old! But somehow - I still find comfort in knowing that she is just a young lass - still searching for her own way, creating her own artistic path and building her character step by step.
And....I kinda like that she is willing to jump into a cold pool...fully dressed in her school uniform - just puts it all into perspective.
Happy Birthday sweet Sofia - from someone who loves your creative spirit more than anything else.