Saturday, 28 February 2015

L’Huile de Noix

Last Thursday we went to Huilerie Lacroix in CouhĂ© with our neighbour Annie, to have our nuts pressed. We’ve been looking forward to this, after spending many a happy evening cracking our nuts. We guessed we had about 8 kilos of shelled nuts and we weren’t far off. 2 kilos of nuts will make 1 litre of oil, so 4 litres will be plenty for us to use. We thought we had a lot but Annie had over 20 kilos!! It was such an interesting afternoon and the owner was so informative. I will add captions to the photos to guide you through the process. We just need to let the oil settle now for 2 weeks, then it can be popped into a nice bottle and used to make delicious dressings and baking.

Walnuts 1

Nuts shelled and ready to go

Walnuts 2

Weighing in at 8.2 kilos including the bag

Walnuts 3

Crushing the nuts ready to be heated

Walnuts 4

The nuts are heated gently for around 20 minutes so the oil can be released

Walnuts 5

The heated nuts ready to be pressed

Walnuts 6

Loading the nuts into the press

Walnuts 7

Here it comes

Walnuts 8 Walnuts 9 The nuts resemble MDF when they come out of the press and can be used to make walnut flour, fertilizer and animal feed.

Walnuts 10

The finished product in a not so pretty container plus a bottle of rapeseed to try.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Quads, Bikes and Mud

We’d seen some signs up telling us about an Enduro event in Pouffonds on Sunday, but it didn’t say where exactly. Roger really wanted to go so we enquired with our neighbours, they told us it was right behind our house. What a result, no driving to the venue, just a short walk across our field. Sunday arrived and this was the view (first photo) that greeted us from our landing window – a misty and frosty morning, but as it cleared we were amazed to see all these vans and cars. Where had they all come from?? We thought it was going to be a small affair but there were pits, a tannoy system, ambulance, security and food. Roger wandered over in the morning and took some photos of the quads then we both went in the afternoon to see the bikes race. The event was organised by FFMoto and over 200 competitors took part. Every year, a different farmer let the FFMoto club use some fields that are ready for ploughing. The tyres certainly help prepare the fields for the next crop. There was mud everywhere and sometimes you had to duck as the mud was sprayed skywards. Also, a tractor was on hand to pull out parked cars stuck in the field. I’m glad I don’t have to clean the quad in the last photo.

Misty Morning 3
Misty Morning 2
Moto 2
Quad 2

Monday, 16 February 2015

Visit to Rom Cemetery

We had heard about Rom from a friend we go walking with, who’d told us about SAS operations that had taken place in the area. Some of the soldiers who took part in those operations were buried in the cemetery, and as Roger’s brother is very interested in military history and is visiting us soon, we decided to find out more about it. Operation Bulbasket’s mission was to stop German reinforcements from reaching the Normandy beaches. The operation was a success with fuel trains being destroyed. The soldiers had to change their camp’s location regularly to avoid being detected, but they were betrayed and their location given to the Germans. 30 SAS men and an American soldier were captured and executed. 3 soldiers were poisoned in hospital. They were all buried in the woods at St Sauvant, were later found and re-buried in the cemetery at Rom with full military honours. There is a book telling you all about the soldiers and another where you can leave your thoughts. The quote below is written on the headstone of 21 year old J.Aspin, which we found very moving -
We were not there to hear your
last feint sigh or whisper
Dearest son “Good Bye”
SAS graves
Info Plaque
Graves 2

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Le Fontadam

We have a lovely little Fromagerie up the road from us in Chail that sells this gorgeous little cheese. Produced by Jean-Noel Lavergne and his family, Le Fontadam is made with cows and goats milk and wrapped in chestnut leaves which adds to the flavour. It’s lovely and creamy on the outside and crumbly in the middle. Delicious. I had just taken a portion out for the photo, but Roger pinched some more!!

Le Fontadam

Monday, 9 February 2015


I first had this dish when we visited Melle years ago. It was on the menu at a local restaurant and I didn’t know what it was, so I ordered it. A tureen appeared full of this delicious soup/stew, and you could help yourself to as much as you wanted. I had forgotten all about it until we went skiing recently, and there it was on another menu but as a starter. I couldn’t resist, ordered it, and this enormous dish was put in front of me. Definitely not a starter but more than enough for a main course. I had to stop myself eating it all as I wouldn’t have been able to fit anything else in. Garbure comes from the south-west of France and was a staple food of peasants. It consists of cabbage, meats and seasonal vegetables. Traditionally the meal ends with a Chabrot - you mix some red wine with the liquor and drink it directly from the plate. You can read more about it here. I had to try this recipe for myself. This recipe makes loads, but well worth it as we had enough for 2 days. It was delicious and usual, there was none left.Garbure
Ingredients Method
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
300g very thick bacon, cut into chunks
4 Toulouse sausages, cut into chunks
200g haricot blanc - tinned
4 duck confit legs (if you can’t get confit, use chicken pieces and brown them with the bacon and sausages)
3 large potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 leek, cut into slices
1 turnip, cut into chunks
2 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
In a large casserole brown the sausages and bacon. Then add the garlic, leeks, beans, turnips, carrots, onions, bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Cover with water, bring to the boil then simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, blanch the cabbage for 5 minutes, then rinse in cold water.
Add the cabbage to the casserole and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Add the confit and potatoes and cook for another 30 minutes.
To serve traditionally, put toasted crusty bread onto a plate and pour over the Garbure. I prefer a bowl and crusty bread to dunk.

Serves 4 very hungry people.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Just a Sprinkle

This is what we woke up to this morning, just a sprinkling of snow. We’ve been told it doesn’t snow very often here, so it was a lovely surprise. Not enough to do anything with, so no bonhomme de neige and by lunchtime it had all gone :(

Snow (6) Not much news here this week. The house was closed up while we were skiing, so the walls in the lounge and hall still need more drying out. Because there’s not much we can do while this is happening, I’ve been continuing to paint the hall ceiling and the side of the stairs and Roger has been Mrs Mop in the lounge, cleaning the floor which has a lot of render stuck to it. We didn’t have time to clean it before we went skiing as the last of the rendering was finished minutes before we went on holiday. We have a long DIY shopping list for Friday which includes such delights as copper tubing for the radiators, 3" nails, wire strippers and wood filler. Hopefully we will also get fun stuff like curtains, poles and new tiles for the floors.

Roger Cleaning (2)