Cold Weather and January Days

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I’ve heard quite a few local sayings about the weather this week: “If it’s mild at Christmas, then the vegetable crop will be poor in the spring.” “If it’s cold at New Year, then it will be warm in June.” They both basically mean the same thing; it seems we need cold weather now to ensure balmy spring temperatures that will lead to a bountiful crop from the kitchen garden in a few months time.

Well, it’s cold. In fact it’s been really cold this past week; so chilly that I’ve had to put some winter protection on the lime and lemon trees and wrap them in winter clothing.

p4940254The temperature has truly plummeted, and it’s the coldest it has reached in over two years, hovering around  -4C˚ (24˚F). Not every day has been the same, some have been bright and clear, but those skies that have been cloudless have encouraged even colder nights.

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while other dawns have been cloaked in freezing fog.

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Actually, I’m loving this cold snap;  aside from the promise of a lovely spring and a great crop (if we believe the locals – which I do because their words make perfect sense) it’s the most wonderful excuse to wrap up warm. Hats and gloves litter the hallway and we’re all in huge scarves. They’re more like a blanket, really,  but they are à la mode in France.

And once we’re suitably dressed for arctic conditions, which is perhaps a little excessive, there is nothing better than to get outside and walk the dogs, with our breath clearly visible in front of us, noses turning red and ears burning from the cold. The tips of our fingers are quite painful in the deep chill even though we’re wearing gloves, but still we march on,

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deep into the heart of the Marais, watching buzzards and hawks, the children throwing stones onto the frozen water and breaking the ice with great glee. A lone heron watches us but as soon as I raise my camera he flies off, seeking his prey elsewhere away from the intrusion of humans.

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Villages are quiet, the smell of woodsmoke perfumes the air, a distinctive winter smell.

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And the best is still yet to come, that return to home and the warmth of our own roaring fire.

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Our kitchen is very versatile; it really is a room for all seasons and in the warmer months it opens up onto the terrace with doors and windows permanently open, and indoors and outdoors blend into one. In the winter, though, it’s remarkably snug, the glowing wood-burner in the corner the comforting feature of the space.

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Another great thing about this cold weather is that it’s such a good excuse to eat really warm and comforting food. One of our firm family favourites is Tartiflette, a French dish originating from the Savoie region close to the Alps. Based on the staples of a typical winterised chalet high on a snowed-in slope, it is perhaps best eaten at lunch, preferably after some hearty exercise to help assuage some of the guilt for such a rich and calorie-laden dish. But it’s undeniably delicious and is typically made with potatoes, smoked meats, cheese and cream.

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For four very hungry people (or six polite eaters) you will need:

1 kilo of potatoes, preferably a variety that is slightly floury
300 g of cubed smoked bacon or ham (lardons will work just fine)
2 large diced yellow or white onions
400 g of mixed grated mountain cheeses (Emmental, Gruyere, Comte and so on are obvious choices, but you should also include some soft cheeses too such as Reblochon and Monte, which can be sliced thinly instead of grating – this dish is in fact best with more soft cheese than hard, but it is not a rule set in stone)
a handful of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of white wine
400ml cream
a clove of garlic
olive oil, salt and pepper

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  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into egg sized pieces. pieces. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. They should still be firm enough to slice when ready. When they are cooked, drain and leave until needed.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat enough olive oil in a non-stick pan to gently sauté the diced onion. When the onion is soft and starting to colour, add the bacon or ham and cook through gently for 5 – 7 minutes.
  3. When the onions and meat are cooked, add the cup of white wine and half the cream, stirring and simmering at a heat that reduces and thickens the sauce.
  4. Add 100 g of the mixed cheese to the mixture and stir in well as it bubbles. You’re almost making a cheese fondue here with some bits in it! Season to taste with the salt and pepper. At this stage children may now appear and lay siege to the pan with pieces of bread – resist them at all costs!
  5. Take a large oven-proof dish and wipe it out with a cut half of the garlic clove. Then butter the dish slightly if you wish. Slice the potatoes 1cm thick and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of them. With a slotted spoon lift out the onions and meat and place them on top of the potatoes. Then cover this with half of the sauce left in the pan and another 100g of the mountain cheese mix.
  6. Arrange the rest of the potatoes on top, and pour over the rest of the sauce, followed by the remainder of the cream, and then scatter the shredded cheddar on top of that.
  7. Cook in a hot oven at 190C/375F until golden brown on top. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine, promising yourself that you’ll eat a mass of vegetables only for dinner!

If you do want something on the side, peas are a great favourite, and leeks are a wonderful accompaniment too.

Eat, enjoy, savour every mouthful, allow a good hour for digestion and then preferably head outside and wear it all off with more exercise! Bon appétit.

 

179 thoughts on “Cold Weather and January Days

  • I love your posts more again since i read more about you in Living i used to read at hotel de bordeaux in pons our favorite stop on our way from Lille to our home pays basque
    Nice pictures and an outside look on our people…
    Very interesting and good for my english!
    Can you say you have real french friends? In this deep charente country? Tell i wonder
    Not easy even for natives
    English people are known to stay between them ?…

    • Hi Karine, thank you and I do love having French followers. Actually we only know one English couple an amazingly they live in Pons, or just outside, they run a chambres d’hotes there!! What a small world! That is about an hour’s drive from us. All of the rest of our friends here are French, we truly do not know any other Enlgish at all. There are no other English in the village or in the school. Personally I love this, we moved here because our family is part French and we enjoy the French people and French lifestyle. We do know more English in France but they live much further south in Pyrennes Atlantique! Love the Basque country. Actually we just had a fabulous Sunday afternoon with French friends, they came for lunch, then a long walk and left just an hour ago. So yes, I can honestly say we have real French friends, I think there are a lot of English further inland but here so close to the coast there are very very few. Bonne Annee xx

    • You know, I did think of all my American friends with much much colder weather than us, and I thought, they are going to laugh at me saying how cold it is! You see we have become very soft living in this mild temperate climate!!! Stay warm xx

  • Oh what a treat, back to your delightful everyday life stories involving your family, my absolute favorite posts of yours. Happy sunday

  • So beautiful photos of a winter scenery and your family! The recipe sounds just delicious! Thank you! I`ll definitely try it. It´s sooo cold in Germany too (yesterday -10C). Have a nice Sunday! Greetings, Petra P.S. Please excuse my bad English :-(…

    • Petra, your English is excellent, never apologise! I think it is pretty cold throughout Europe at the moment, although I think it is meant to be a little warmer here this week, which probably means rain instead! Personally I think it is quite nice to have a real winter. Stay warm and enjoy the tartiflette, perfect for your cold weather! Xx

  • Very moody pictures….I really can feel the cold (here we have 14+, which is the lowest temperature by now). I love the
    cold and I mostly walk in the evening hours (at least I can wear my down jacket and a beanie, haha). Your kitchen
    is indeed versatile but occupied by the dogs and cat…. they know which is the best place . (cute photo)Tartiflette I had to skip for a while after all that loads of goodies during the holiday….but will try it after I have lost some kilos. And, if by now, I did not wish you and your family a healthy and cheerful 2017 with many wonderful adventures please accept my lateness.

    • Thanks so much and a very happy and healthy 2017 to you too. The dogs and cat always know where the best places are, now, as I write this, they are sprawled in front of the fire in the sitting room! I love walking in the cold weather, it take some courage to get out there and leave the warmth of the house but once I’ve made that effort, I never want to come back inside! 14 sounds very warm at the moment, but today we actually did climb to 10C, maybe our cold snap is over for a few days! Xx

  • I love the picture of your pets waiting for a treat! Yes, it’s getting very cold here too: this morning was 7F, which is what, -13C, I think? And, having snowed a bit, the walks and roads are now pure ice! Very unusual for this part of the country. I am longing for spring!!

    • That is so so cold Libby, we’ve become rather soft living in this mild coastal climate! Travel safely, I love snow but it does make driving hazardous and black ice, what we call the really hard stuff one cannot see, is really dangerous. We had this the other morning, we looked out and thought it hadn’t frozen at all, there was no white frost on the lawn, only to realise it was so cold that everything was solid, no moisture had even managed to form on the grass. Stay warm, Spring is only a couple of months away now xx

  • It has been cold here, too, and windy. We descended from Belgium to 12 degrees on Monday, but it quickly changed–as you say, those perfect blue skies mean plummeting temperatures at night. But the nip of cold feels good once in a while and the sunshine is so welcome.

    • We haven’t had any wind, just still and frosty, but today was 10C and so maybe the cold snap is over for a few days, the weather seems to be very up and down at the moment. Hope you had a lovely time in Belgium, I am sure it was much colder there! I rather enjoy this cold, makes it seem like a real winter. This time last year the plum trees were in blossom, it was all too bizarre! Xx

  • Love the frozen fog photos. We have had that here a few times in the past and I love how that looks. We are very cold this weekend for the south and even the heat in our house can’t keep up with the demands to warm us up. I’m sitting in layers by the fire to stay warm.

    • I agree Kim, freezing fog always looks so fabulous, but driving in it is horrid. How cold is it with you? It sounds as if it is really freezing. Stay warm, only another couple of months and it will be Spring! Xx

  • Your recipe is not only incredible – the description makes it so meaningful. Thank you!! Yes, truly transporting. I will not only cook this delicious dish, but I will feel the connection to past times when it would have been truly live giving.
    The photo of your furrier family members by the fire is fantastic. Can’t stop smiling. And the description of your kitchen….yes, yes it is perfect for all seasons.
    I cannot thank you enough for sharing this rhythm of life…..I breathe deeper each and every time I read your blog.
    And the photos….always so special.
    Thanks again for another amazing and inspiring recipe!!!!

    • Thanks so so much. It’s certainly a dish to make when you are not on a diet and need a really good hearty meal, then it is truly delicious and to be enjoyed immensely! The kitchen is far from perfect but is perfect for us, a cosy family kitchen and it works! Xx

  • Brrrrr! I can feel the chill in your pictures. And also the glow of the fire inside. We had a cold front come through yesterday and this morning it is hovering around 50 degrees F, quite chilly for us here in southern Florida. Suki seems to enjoy the occasional cool snaps and gets very playful outside. She was sporting a little pink sweater on our morning walk today. I had gloves on! Not quite fingertip pain weather, but I was grateful for still having gloves in my pockets.
    That recipe looks amazing! I made something very similar with leftover ham last week. And yes, a vow to eat more veggies usually follows the potatoes, cheese, and ham. With even more leftover ham, I think I will make the best of our cool weather and make some pea or lentil soup this afternoon. Yum! Stay warm over there! xoxo

    • I think we have got soft, our climate is so mild here that 24F comes as a very big shock! But I love it, it’s really nice to feel some proper winter weather. 50F is cold for Florida, is your heating on? I can imagine Suki was the belle of the neighbourhood in her pink coat. I adore ham and pea soup, yum, now I shall make some this week! Stay warm in FL too. Xxxxx

    • Thanks Susan, walking here is rather fun, the landscape is beautiful and there is so much wildlife to see. Yes they are swans, we have several pairs who live down in the Marais, we always love seeing them, they each stick very much to their own patch of water and area. Xx

  • You never disappoint. Another post spot on for an early January weekend. Walking, family, cooking – just as we should spend our weekends – once again, you have captured life to perfection

    • Thanks so much Bev, this is very much how we spend our winter weekends, lots of walking and outdoor activities, and plenty of cooking, because after all we do have to eat, and plenty of family time. It’s certainly my recipe for a lovely happy and content life! Xx

      • And so it should be, this is how people used to live, in simpler times, now it’s all about who’s got what and how much ‘entertainment’ can be crammed into a few hours. Your children may not realize it yet but one day they will thank you for this upbringing you are giving them

      • I agree with you completely Bev, this was certainly one of the reasons we moved here, it is a simpler way of life and one which we all thoroughly enjoy, actually I do believe our children really do appreciate this lifestyle, they have lived around the world and know enough about different cultures to know how lucky they are. Hope you have a lovely week xx

  • I love walking in the winter, probably I am one of those rare people who prefers it to the summer, you can always get warm with clothing and exercising but cooling down in hot weather is so much harder.

    • Often we have this conversation amongst the family: which would we rather be, too hot or too cold? And always too cold wins, as you say it is so much easier to warm up, but having said that I do love summer too! Xx

  • Sounds like the perfect recipe for a lovely weekend and your girls are so pretty! And of course the furry family members too x

  • We have been tracking your weather. Actually ours has been a bit warmer….but you have sunnier skies. We had Tartiflette in a cafe and at friends’ home last November. It is a yummy dish. The friend made it without the meat for me. Real comfort food.

    Spring is coming…she says with hope.

    Ali xx

    • Our weather has been all over the place, but it is nice to have some proper winter weather. This time last year our plum trees were in blossom and the first daffodils were in bud, they are a long way off this year, only just peeking out of the ground. I think this is a good thing, everything was so out of sync last year. Spring is only a couple of months away, quite incredible to think but it truly is, I think just this way too, everything is re-emerging slowly and better still this year you will be in France again! Xx

  • Tartiflette is one of my favorite dishes. I don’t allow myself the pleasure of it very often. Reblochon is difficult to find so that helps but now with a few cheese substitutions, I might be weakening.

  • I hate January, it’s so hard to get.back into a routine and face everyday chores all over again. Family have gone and it feels lonely and sad. Your post today was the only bright spot in a dull weekend

    • January can be such a tough month after all the festivities, I do understand Erin. I always find it is good to light a few candles, and find a good book and then just spend a few minutes thinking of all the many things we can be grateful for. And if all else fails, Spring is just a couple of months away! Hope you have a good week xx

  • I so agree with what you write. I took some 2 Million or so photos of hare frost (have never seen your expression of frozen fog but it’s very correct and well understandable – more so than hare frost which always makes me think of those poor freezing hares….) – We ‘only’ have some little frost on the ground and rooftops, but when we returned last Saturday we had an ice plate of some 15cm logged in our water butt next to the veranda…. The only thing I really miss in our house is that none of the fireplaces are functionable. We have excellent gas heating in those tremendously heavily decorated iron radiators. It takes a while to get the house warm at the beginning of the season but then we’re just fine – and of course a DOG is missing too in our household…. MY dog! (The one for which I just couldn’t provide properly as long as I’m so often away) We do have much less sunshine than you do which I do envy you a tiny bit as I’m absolutely no winter person. Since we have given up skiing, winter is a ‘write-off’ for me – I bought 20 tulips on Thursday, dismanteled my Christmas tree on Friday and since then it’s officially SPRING TIME in my house… I only need to write another 4 or 5 cards and then I can calmy await the Easter card avalanche! 🙂
    Love, Kiki

    • The weather is so up and down here, today was sunny and 10C by mid afternoon, I believe the week is meant to be warmer, but that probably means more rain, mixed with a little sun I hope! One day you will have a dog again, I am quite sure. Same here, decorations all down on Friday, and then I thought Spring is just a couple of months away. This time last year the plum trees were in blossom and the daffodils in bud, this year they are a long way off which is good, last year everything was so out of sync, this year is normal! We had 4cm of ice on the pool yesterday morning much to the girls delight, they were smashing it and having great fun, fingers scarlet with the cold! Have a great week xx

    • Kiki,

      We have a working fireplace, but live in Florida so we don’t really need it for the heat very often. A couple of years ago we bought some electric logs. They don’t put off any heat but you get just a nice look of flames. I also used to put some candles (real or the battery powered) in our fireplace before we got the electric. It makes everything very Hygee.

      Sue in Fl.

      • Sue, I just see NOW that my ‘blxyzy’ Automatik corrector has again made my hoar frost to the infamous hare frost – this was a JOKE when I used that in ENgland as I always tend to see the funny bit in languages – now my auto-correct took the gag away and made it official!!! Har har…..
        I very often see fireplaces like yours too and I like them too – but the one in my office is bricked up and the grill over it is pulled down (so that we don’t have to see the bricks). We had two electric fireplaces in our Victorian pile in England and a very good working one in a rental flat in Switzerland. We DO enjoy our tremendous cast-iron radiators however….

  • And YES, we adore tartiflette; but oh my oh my, the calories!!!!! In fact, I have spuds leftover and 2 large Montbéliard saucisses plus some 6 sorts of Swiss and French cheeses on the ready for a hearty meal….. BUT today we ate in Paris in a totally lovely tiny resto and we are so ‘full’ of goodness that we won’t even bother with an evening meal. Was on the Marché d’Aligre and bought Clémentines bananas, large Portugese chestnuts, leek, fresh baguettes (2, idiot that I am – they’ll be hard tomorrow and I will have to think of something clever to use them in), untreated lemons (auto-correct made ‘unter stairs’ and l’émotion…..!) and quite a few more wonderful food items. I always go over-bord as the choice is so amazing and the prices so low – most sellers are Arabs and one looked at me intently for the longest time. I asked him if anything was amiss and he said: No, all is fine but you have the most beautiful eyes…. NEVER ever has a seller made a personal comment so far – made my step go lighter and my eyes even more smiling!

    • What a wonderful comment, isn’t it funny how a stranger can so lift our spirits and make us feel a million dollars. Sounds like you had quite a perfect day. We had French friends over to lunch and we ate like kings so we too just had fruit for supper although the children were, as children always are, hungry and wanted more than just fruit, a light but proper supper for them, it must be nice to be growing and using all those calories!!! Love the auto correct, I am not sure I would have worked that one out!! Xx

  • Seeing your stark photographs of the French countryside truly made me feel the cold that you are experiencing. The inside photos of a cozy fire and children drinking what looked like hot coco are a wonderful contrast. I must try your recipe for tartiflette. It sounds like the perfect dish for a cold day!

    • It has indeed been really cold, for here! I think we have become rather soft because we are used to such a mild coastal climate. But it is nice to experience real winter weather. Yes that is indeed hot chocolate, a favourite with the children at this time of year. Hope you enjoy making tartiflette and make sure you have a long walk afterwards! Xx

  • I believe you may have sorted out tomorrow’s supper, Susan. I just have to buy some suitable cheese. Mrs C has already reminded me we have some ham and cream to use up…. your countryside seems as dull as our shoreline. It’ll soon be spring though!

    • Enjoy it and you will always have some leftover for lunch the next day, but make sure you eat supper early, it’s a heavy dish to go to sleep on! I rather like the winter countryside, everything is dormant and sleeping and everything looks so peaceful. Not long now, just a couple of months and it will be Spring! Xx

    • Thanks Francesca, I love the smell of woodsmoke, there is something so comforting about it. We wrap the citrus fruit in horticultural fleece which we can buy readily at all garden centres here. I don’t have to worry about the roots as it doesn’t get cold enough or last long enough, the ground never freezes solid, it is just protection for the leaves. Xx

      • Pleasure, not that you need any sort of covering for your plants, except agains sunburn right now! Does it get cold enough in the winter that you have to concern yourself with tender plants and frosts?

      • The severity of winter frosts vary from year to year. Two years ago, my citrus grove was set back severely by frost, particularly the Kaffir lime. They did recover but it slowed their growth. We get overnight temperatures of around 2C in winter. Our climate in the foothills out of Melbourne light best be described as Mediterranean, that is extremely hot in summer, sometimes over 40C, and very cold in winter. More extreme that Sydney. We tend to run away in winter for a few months so this year I need to prepare the citrus covers in June.

      • Your weather is similar to ours except you are probably a little hotter in the summer, we have the odd days in the high 30’s but most are nearer the high 20’s to low 30’s. However, your winter temperatures are probably much the same, I know our citrus would survive without me covering them but this helps, as you say, otherwise they get knocked sideways for a year or more. Ours have fruited prolifically every year since we bought them, they are in sheltered positions and with this little winter help they seem to thrive!

  • Thank you for your interesting blog about your life and family in France, and for your beautiful photos. Your tartiflette recipe brought back memories of the one my daughter cooked for me when she was living in Verbier. She now lives and owns a restaurant near Chamonix where they are hoping for more snowfalls for the visiting skiiers, so that they may have another successful season, while we here in South Africa are in the midst of our summer!
    Je vous souhaite une bonne annee.

    • Thanks so much Ingrid, tartiflette is of course a perfect lunch for skiers, and indeed comes from the Alps. What a lucky girl your daughter is to live in Chamonix, such a beautiful part of France. I too hope she has a wonderful season. Right now I envy you your summer weather, but then I remind myself that in only a couple of months it will be Spring here. Enjoy your hot days and wishing you a very happy and healthy 2017 also. Xx

    • Ha ha, thank goodness we cannot gain wait by drooling over food, or by inhaling the wonderful smells when one walks into a French bakery, I would be huge!!! Let’s just hope 2017 is a good year for everyone xx

  • We love Tartiflette. Might have to make it when we get back to land!

    It is sounding very cold your way.Dad has been complaining of similar temperatures in Normandy, but at least he still gets out for his walks!

    • It would be perfect sailing food and it keeps well in the fridge so there is always something for lunch the next day too! I was just watching the news and hearing of all the snow and cold, snow in the Greek islands on the Mediterranean beaches. I think it has been quite a bit colder in Normandy than it has been here, but great that your Father can still get out for his walks, so important for him I am sure. xx

  • Hi Susan , I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and i really enjoy it, .I love France so much we are visiting the South West of France this August.At the moment we are experiencing a cooler day of 24 C amongst the 35C we have been having here in Melbourne Australia.Hopefully it wont to hot for the Tennis starting next week.Thanks again for showing me parts of France where i long to be,

    • Hi Suzanne, first of all thanks so much. Where are you visiting in August? I am sure it will be a great fun trip, I wonder if you will be anywhere near us?? Have been watching the finals of the tennis in Brisbane this evening, as tennis fans it’s so exciting that the new year is getting underway. Can’t wait to start watching Melbourne next week, will you be attending, it sounds as if you are a tennis fan too? xx

      • We are going on a Scandinavia tour and then having a week in Collioure , a week in Pau. a week in Biarritz and a week in Paris.It is so hard to work out where to stay in France but we thought we would do the Pyrennes and check out the beaches to compare them to home.i do like the tennis but i m not that fond of crowds.but one year i will make the effort and go.i would love to go to the finals but the tickets are quite expensive.xx

      • It sounds absolutely fantastic and I am just a little envious. I would love to tour Scandinavia, it is on my wish list, I have travelled extensively but for whatever reason never to Finland, Norway or Sweden and I know I have to change this. We know Pau and Biarritz very well as we used to live in between the two, stunning part of France, I love Biarritz and just a little further south, St Jean de Luz is a firm favourite. Pau is majestic with the mountains in the background. I know what you mean about the crowds at the tennis, sometimes it is just easier to watch on television! In November I took the girls to a tournament with the top French ladies playing, we saw France’s number one and two players and we had front row seats, no huge crowds, tickets were 15 euros each and it was semi finals day and front row, a very civilised way to do it!! Xx

  • Lovely photos, always lovely photos 🙂
    The tartiflette sounds wonderful and must surely taste heavenly after a brisk hour or two.
    I love the winter rest. Best of luck with your fruit trees.

    • Thanks so much, comfort food is always welcome after a brisk walk and when one doesn’t then feel too guilty!! The citrus have thrived every year so far and fruit prolifically, just a little winter covering helps protect their leaves, it doesn’t get cold enough to worry about the roots, (hope I haven’t just jinxed that!!) xx

  • Having just visited two blogs on the Prairies in Illinois I am afraid I do have a smile on my face at calling your temperatures cold – try -26 C with a chill factor almost doubling that 🙂 ! But absolutely loved the walk with you in your own winter wonderland: it is ‘moody’ as someone stated! Beautiful photos . . . Now, as to that second part of your post – hmmm, hurried past that and quite enviously so – have not broken any of my New Year resolutions as yet and partaking of that beauty would be a huge tear in my promises! My palate does fondly remember from days long ago 🙂 ! Have a wonderful year to come . . .

    • I knew when I wrote this that it wasn’t really that cold! I thought of so many American friends, and I knew that they would laugh at my calling 24F cold!!! And you are not the first to say this, so I have to laugh at myself. I think we are getting soft living in this mild coastal climate! But it felt really cold for us, the children were breaking the ice on the pool with much excitement, it only happens occasionally and last year not at all! Hurry past the tartiflette, your New Year’s resolutions must remain intact, good for you, here’s to a super healthy 2017 xx

  • Beautiful photos and sweet words. Love the animals waiting in the kitchen, each on their own respective chairs. So cute. So Warm. So Inviting. 🙂

  • I was introduced to Tartiflette several years ago by my friends who live in Sciez, on the shores of the “French” side of Lake Geneva. And Raclette too, of course. Wonderful warm comfort food. Lovely photos, thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Kathleene, I adore raclette, probably more so than tartiflette. Our neighbour’s make it for us when we eat there in the winter and it is such a fun meal as well as being delicious! Have a wonderful week xx

  • We drove through freezing fog from Calais, via Reims and Troyes to Bourges and into Auvergne on New Years Eve. This is our Eastern route, sometimes we head west through Rouen and Chartres and rarely we go in a straight line North to South which takes us through Paris. The fog lifted to clear skies as we crossed into Allier the northern reaches of Auvergne and the stars were surnaturel! The drive though slower than usual was one of the most beautiful I have had cloaked in fog with rime-ice frosting all the trees and plants and buildings on the way. I love winter and I’m glad yo are getting a snappy freeze – such a great excuse for chocolat chaud and unctuous delights like your tartiflette. In Cantal we go for Truffade or rather I do …my husband doesn’t eat cooked cheese (unless it is blue) which given that he lived in Grenoble for a decade is a curiosity and rather trying!!! I loved this piece and of course I loved your pictures … so evocative xx

    • Always avoid Paris and Parisian traffic, very wise! Watching the weather last night it looks as if you are going to get a real dumping of snow later this week, we might even get a few flurries here. Of course if you get a foot and we get a scant millimetre I shall be insanely jealous, but that’s the price to pay for living on the coast, a husband who loves boats, fishing and the water and wonderful beaches so I had better not complain!!! Temporarily the cold weather has gone, a light drizzle and grey skies has replaced the frozen landscape, oh well, a good reason to knuckle down and do some work! Xx

      • The absolutely delightful young man who has been painting outside of our house in Massachusetts and who has really become a friend, said to me last Autumn that people like ‘us’ by which he means people that don’t like living in cities either want coast or mountains. I guess you are coastal and we are mountain if push comes to shove. Of course ideally, being totally selfish, I would like both – that would be my absolute ideal …. to have a little place by the sea that I could use when the whim took me …. hey ho – I’ll just have to come rent your gite from time to time instead!! Xx

      • He is probably so right, except, and there is always an exception to every rule in my opinion, I like both the mountains and the sea, I, like you, would be happy with both next door to each other, I adore the snow, and everything about mountain life but then I love the beach, the call of the sea, walking along the sand. Yup, I want to have my cake and eat it too!!! xx

      • Now you have totally spoilt my morning!! It’s just damp here and not at all cold, 9C! But, there is snow forecast this weekend, don’t hold your breath, but do say a prayer that it really does happen, I am as excited as the children!! xx

  • There’s nothing like a warm dish on a cold day! Will definitely be trying this one as an alternative to the usual soups!

    • It really does make a lovely alternative to the usual soup and baguette, but make sure you have a long walk planned afterwards! I believe you have Arctic weather heading your way at the end of the week, so maybe a good time to try it. Xx

  • At least the chilly weather allows for coziness that isn’t possible in warm weather, almost makes the freezing temperatures worth it!

    • That is certainly one way of looking at it. It also reminds me how I love seasons, each has it’s own unique special times, comfort food and freezing temperatures being my favourite thing about winter! Xx

  • The weather you describe was the weather we had in Sussex last week…now though, it’s raining. I phoned France this week (Pays de la Loire) and was told it was -4 down there, I was surprised. My goodness that Tartiflette looks absolutely scrumptious, real winter comfort food, what a shame I’m trying to lose a few pounds.
    Bonne Année Susan.

    • It was really cold last week and at the weekend, but today is very much warmer, 11C, but that means rain! not much just drizzle, but I understand it is going to get very cold again at the weekend, quite a winter!!! If you get this Arctic weather meant to be heading across the UK at the end of the week it might be a good time to make tartiflette!!! Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy 2017 too xx

  • I adore your family life Susan! The Tartiflette sounds and looks delicious. I’ll have that on Saturday’s ON THE MENU here at StoneGable. I know my readers will love it and your blog as much as I do! xo

    • Thanks so much Yvonne, that is really exciting and I really appreciate it so much. Typically it has now turned much milder here which means rain instead, but then we have snow forecast for Saturday night, almost unheard of here, so fingers crossed, we would all love to see a little of the white stuff here! Have a great week, meanwhile I shall continue to try and make a decision about my coffee table!!! xx

  • You make the cold weather sound so romantic, but as someone living through an even colder snap in Ohio, it doesn’t feel that way. The tartiflette looks scrumptious. My favorite photo was the one under the info about the heron. The sparkling water, the frozen vegetation. Lovely. Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

    • I knew the moment I wrote this that I would be teased a lot by my American friends, 24F is not even cold, it’s just we are getting somewhat soft being used to this temperate coastal climate! But ice and snow really is quite romantic when one doesn’t get it very often, it’s also a great excuse for comfort food! Stay warm and have a lovely week xx

  • The recipe sounds delicious pity it is too hot here in Sydney to give it a go. I much prefer the cold and your photos looked suitably chilly. I hope it isn’t too hot this coming summer as we will be there and not keen when it gets into the 30+ degrees centigrade. Does it cool down at night? Have a lovely week.

    • Hi Virgina, I have come to the conclusion that I live winter and summer, each one makes us appreciate the next one more!! Here on the South West coast summer’s can be hot and often in the 30’s, but most nights do cool down, occasionally we get a few stuffy hot ones, but a simple fan in the bedroom makes it very pleasant, usually though the temperature dips nicely, but is still warm enough to eat outside without the need for a jacket, so just perfect really!! xx

  • Susan, I just prepared this for our dinner! It’s lunch time here in California, but this dish {a version of it} is ready to pop in the oven tonight. oh. my. Mr. FrenchGardenHouse is in dire need of some comfort food, I know, and this will fit the bill. I didn’t have the same cheeses, no white wine, but substituted hard apple cider, and oh, it was all I could do not to eat the whole sauce myself. Unpacking loads of French trouvailles today, so looking forward to a heavenly dinner ala French Oasis tonight! Merci, mon amie! xo

    • Hope you had a wonderful dinner Lidy and hope it was a success! I am sure the substitutes will work just perfectly, nothing is set in stone and there are so many variations anyway. Your French finds make me jealous as you know, I am still drooling over those prints!!! have a great week, snow is forecast for the weekend, I’m as excited as the children, fingers and toes firmly crossed! xx

  • I love casserole dishes in cold weather and this one looks like a winner. I wouldn’t mind a plateful for dinner tonight 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe!

    Stay warm. Your kitchen looks like an inviting place to hang out 🙂

    • This one is a winner and certainly suited to your cold winters, probably far more so than ours! It’s turned quite mild here again which means damp and grey, but snow forecast for the weekend, this is unusual for us, so fingers crossed, I am as excited as the children at the mere prospect of a little white dusting! xx

  • That dish looks and sounds delicious! Your photos perfectly convey the beauty of a cold winter. If it’s not cold enough, germs proliferate and plants begin to grow when they shouldn’t. So I don’t mind the cold, although the -20 F with wind chill is a bit much. The next two days are supposed to be in the low 40’s F, then back into the 20’s. We’re getting just a bit of cosmetic snow which will be rain tomorrow. Love your stove in the kitchen, but you already know how I feel about your kitchen. 🙂

    janet

    • I totally agree, this time last year the daffodils were in bud and the plum trees had blossom on them, everything was out of sync, as a result we had hardly any fruit at all because there were no bees around to pollinate and it was a bad year for the garden in general. This year things are far more as they should be, the daffodils are only just peeking through the ground, although it has turned mild again more cold weather is forecast for the weekend. Stay warm, I am jealous of anyone who gets even a light dusting of snow!! xx

  • I loved the way you described your kitchen; it made me wish for a kitchen like it. I miss France so much and can’t wait to go back. I feel like my heart always goes back to it. I enjoyed the photos as well.

    • Thanks so much, where is your favourite place in France? Any plans to visit again this year? It is certainly a beautiful and very varied country with something for everyone. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2017 xx

  • So much to enjoy in this post… cold French landscapes, cute pets around the fire, a delicious recipe… true glimpses into French life.

    Judith

  • We’ve eaten far too much over Christmas for us to even think about trying your recipe at the moment, Susan, but thank you anyway as no doubt we shall try it another time; perhaps if that snow and ice in Europe move a little westwards it may be cold enough next week to necessitate a visit to the cheese shop – I think we have everything else!

  • Good afternoon Sue, Oh I do enjoy your posts, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it is very cold all over Europe. and it’s heading our way this weekend….but as you say, it’s meant to be like this in January and if it means a Spring filled with lusciousness then I am very happy.:)….I like you enjoy the process of wrapping up in layers, braving the cold, and then returning to a lovely warm house. I am off to Kent this weekend and I am sure lots of rambling in the countryside will take place followed by delicious meals and wine.
    I particularly love the photograph of your animal angels all enjoying the warmth of the fire….Enjoy the day and keep warm. Janet. xxx

    • The Arctic weather is meant to be heading this way too at the weekend, this is something of a real winter and it feels good. This time last year we had daffodils in bud and blossom on the plum trees, followed by a cold April, May and June and scarcely any fruit. So I am rather happy that this is far closer to how it should be, plus as you say, I love wrapping up warm and walking. Have a wonderful weekend in Kent, hope you don’t get snowed in or out, plenty of snowy walks perhaps? Susan xx

  • Beautiful pictures as usual. I love tartiflette and I have not had it for over a year. I am hoping to change that in a month… I made reblochon two months ago and am waiting for it to age at least three months. (can’t find reblochon where we live and it is one of my wife’s favorite…). I am going to try your recipe (looks fantastic… plus I can’t find the recipe I used last time I made it in France).

    Thanks for posting this!

    • Very impressed that you made reblochon, do let me know how it tastes once it has aged for a few months. You can easily substitute another soft cheese, hope you enjoy it, it is definitely good hearty comfort food xx

    • That makes perfect sense too, they basically all mean the same thing, but this is such a lovely way of putting it. I am sure a few days out won’t make any difference! I hate it when it is cold at Easter. Looks like you are going to get plenty more snow this weekend, we even have snow forecast here which is a very rare occurrence. Stay warm and thanks for following along. xx

  • It is the season for comfort food, isn’t it? I imagine a brisk walk through the beautiful countryside, returning to the household animal hogging the fire, and pulling that lovely dish from the oven. I can just about smell it…

    • I totally agree, this week’s comfort food is all about escaping the rain! It’s mild once again but then more cold weather forecast at the weekend, personally I prefer the cold to the mild damp days! xx

  • I’ve copied it into my Recipe file and will make it this weekend! Thank you for sharing it. And the lovely photos – I really love these frosty sunny days that lift our spirits with joy. Have a good week.

    • Thanks or so much, hope you enjoy it. Yes, it’s meant to get really chilly this weekend. We have snow forecast for Saturday night and Sunday and Monday night and then next week looks like it will get down to about -7 and scarcely above freezing all day, but brilliant sunshine. This week is wet and mild, such a changeable few weeks, but nice to have a real winter this year. Stay warm! Xx

  • Your tartiflette sounds scrumptious and perfect for the weather you are experiencing. You could see the cold in your photos and your meal must have been very comforting.

  • There seems no end in sight of the cold here in France. I am getting worried that I will loose the apple trees that I planted in the autumn. Last time it was as cold as this my neighbours lovely laurel hedge was killed.
    I wonder if I can feed your delicious warming food to the plants!

    • I really hope you don’t, it is bitterly cold here over on the west coast too, -5C last night, the coldest we have ever known it here and it is set to last for a few more days and get colder too. I have wrapped up all our tender plants but I worry we might lose one or two, they are not used to this sort of weather. Stay warm! xx

  • Hi,, just found your blog because i had a message you had started following mine! Twill be a quick read as i don’t blog on the lynnefrancophile one. I changed the name but wordpress kept the old one! I blog about our various holidays on
    promenadingpeacocks.net

    I look forward to exploring your blog, a bientot…..

    • Thanks so much am going over to the new blog to follow there! Hope you have fun exploring the blog here, if you’re a Francophile then there should be plenty to keep you amused, especially today’s post about our plumber, we thought to ourselves, only in France could this happen! Susan xx

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