We did and we didn’t – eat dog biscuits that is – more on this in a minute as it has in fact been rather a contradictory week. I love the spring and summer but profess to dislike autumn and winter. However, I then actually like winter when it snows because I love the snow, but we don’t get much snow here. As a result I inevitably tell everyone I dislike winter and the autumn. But isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind?
Yesterday I found myself driving down some country roads behind the wheel as chief chauffeur, along with various children aboard who needed ferrying to different places. I covered quite a significant number of kilometres during the day, and around each corner the landscape got better and better, up until a point when I suddenly found myself thinking that I love this time of year. The spectacular autumn colours, the cosy comfort of a warm fire in the evening. I was shocked at the thoughts playing around inside my head, and wondered if I’ve really been fooling myself all this time? Do I really rather love every season, relishing in the individual pleasures each one offers, knowing that appreciating one leads to an even greater gratitude for the next?
In October we revelled in an Indian Summer, and as the month stretched out we continued to gorge on figs, tomatoes and all sorts of other late things from the potager. November arrived with continued beautiful weather, but alas after the two week vacances de la Toussaint the children sadly returned to school , and as if in mourning the temperature dropped instantly, even if the skies remained for the most part blue and the sun continued to shine. The beaches emptied, the Hobies and dinghies lay untouched, and it turned into perfect walking weather for those who like solitude, a state of mind only interrupted by the sound of cold waves washing gently ashore onto chilled sands.
In the garden our leaves have started falling at an alarming rate, and as fast as we clear them, the lawn is covered again; we have a varied team of groundsmen, some are probably more of a hindrance than any form of aid.
The morning glow is still soft and mellow, however, and whichever road I take each day the autumn colours are warm and welcoming, with none of the harsh winter tones that I know will come all too soon.
I find myself stopping to take photos far too often, and as I have now told you, I think I have to admit to myself that perhaps I’m just a little in love with autumn!
The light at this time of year is magical and the afternoon sun, quite low in the sky, bounces off russet leaves, magnifying the intensity of the orange hues and constantly changing colours.
The evenings have taken on a distinctly chilly feel, but that’s ok too, as it means we have to light the fire, this is a time to get snug and cosy. Now that the clocks have gone back it’s getting dark not long after six o’clock, and more of the early evening is spent indoors, where faces are aflame with warmth and noses are tucked into books and homework.
The cooler weather also brings a change in what we eat, suddenly we have a longing for hearty stews and homemade soups with our favourite crusty bread from Franck and Amélie’s stone oven. Yesterday for lunch I made a classic French potage, a thick and creamy vegetable offering of potato, leek and carrot that was so easy to make it slotted effortlessly into our slightly hectic Saturday timetable, a part of the week that involves tennis, friends, parties, endless children and a house and garden that are always calling for a little love and TLC.
In the colder months, Sunday mornings are all about breakfast in pyjamas, with steaming cups of chocolat chaud, and bowlfuls of classic bistro-style coffee for Roddy and I that take a little longer to prepare; the milk is warmed and then whisked to a froth, but it does make breakfast a special treat!
But, back to the title of today’s blog, and for all of you who love dogs, I have a recipe with a difference. Hetty loves cooking and she loves baking so I wasn’t at all surprised when she asked if she could make some cookies, and absent mindedly I said, “Of course.” It was only when I heard a snatch of a conversation between her and Gigi that something got my attention and turning to listen I found the two of them had set to work adapting a cookie recipe they’d found on a leaflet in our local vets; I saw some flour and an egg, and was vaguely aware of the whir of the Kitchen Aid. It all seemed terribly normal until I heard the clank of a spoon on the floor followed by the words, “It’s only for the dogs.” Seconds later I realized they were making peanut-butter cookies for pets!
If you want to make these, you’ll need 2 1/2 cups wholewheat flour, 1 cup water, 1 cup peanut-butter, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon baking-powder. Mix everything together. You can make them into shapes as the girls did, or simply roll them into balls in the palm of your hand. Bake at 350F/180C for 15 – 18 minutes on a greased baking tray.
Fresh from the oven they smelt so good, we had to nibble a corner and then another; guilty as charged, we ate the dog treats and they were surprisingly good! Not at all sweet, not too peanutty, and if truth be told I could quite see these making a great accompaniment to cheese. Both Bentley and Evie had stayed close throughout the manufacturing process, as is their wont when anyone is cooking, just in case a crumb should land on the floor. Once the cookies had cooled we let them have a taste, and if the wagging tails were anything to go by I would say they were a big hit. I can happily urge you to try making some for your furry friends today, but try not to eat them all yourself!
p.s. Don’t forget your chance to win an original, signed and dated, piece of art in my giveaway last Thursday, you still have plenty of time to enter, details here