Cabbage & Co; Our Winter Heroes

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Blogging for me usually follows one of two forms. Often I think of exactly what I want to say whilst in the car or in the shower (or somewhere else equally inconvenient where I am far from the keyboard!); as soon as I can I quickly write down my thoughts and then head out when I have time to search for photos to illustrate what I have written. At other times though the photos come first and then the story follows. Today’s post is definitely a case of the latter; it was just another regular early morning search for vegetables in the market, and as always I clicked away with my camera, fingers growing numb in the cold. It was only when I got home that I thought the humble winter vegetable might be deserving of a little more attention.

The weather here is still cold, definitely below average for the time of year and for the past couple of weeks we’ve had frosts every night with cold clear days, blue skies and plenty of sunshine – in fact, just the sort of winter weather I love. The market in Rochefort is always there, come rain or shine, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On market days the street leading down to the Porte du Soleil, (the arch you can see in the distance, built in 1666 and so named because it is positioned so that the spring and autumn equinox sun sets directly in the centre) is closed for the morning to traffic and stalls line the roadside with pedestrians tramping back and forth in search of their favourite purchases. There are far fewer vendors and people in winter compared to the spring and summer, and there are no exotic fruits and hardly any tourists. On a cold morning like this, one doesn’t dally too much and waiting in line can be a chilly business.

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The ladies selling chickens on the rotisserie had the benefit of a little warmth

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unlike this poor girl. The AB on the boards stands for Agriculture Biologique meaning organic, a status commonly referred to as bio throughout France.

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Even at 9 in the morning we saw several people stop and enjoy a small warming glass of vin chaud just to set them up for the day!

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You’ll be hard pushed to find anything except the usual suspects on sale in January, very little is imported and if it is it’s not from far away; mostly from Spain, but right now the cold front has taken its toll there, too. Broccoli has quadrupled in price this week thanks to the first snow in over a century in some parts of eastern Spain.

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Common vegetables on offer include sprouts, swedes and turnips, spinach and leeks, garlic, onions and baked beetroot

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and there are cabbages galore.

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And whilst I waited as Roddy filled our basket with plenty of winter greens I glanced down at this little chap, waiting, oh so patiently, whilst his owners standing next to me made their choices

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and when they had finished and walked away he turned and trotted along with them, the perfect well trained companion.

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There is something incredibly satisfying having a counter overflowing with fresh produce, but even more so is the fact that we paid just 20 euros (17 pounds/21 dollars) for this stash of winter goodness. Our haul included parsnips (which I simply adore roasted alongside potatoes), red cabbage, shallots, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard and leeks; and the potatoes and carrots that wouldn’t fit in the photo!

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I think now is a good time to think about underrated winter vegetables. There’s no getting away from it, we’re in the depths of winter, the festivities of December are long since passed, and I think January is definitely a month when we need to ‘up’ the comfort food levels, especially this year with such an unseasonal deep chill. Having made that easy decision, the next question is how to ‘up’ the ante in the comfort stakes without adding more cakes and sweet desserts! I think the answer has to lie in the abundance of greens and other vegetables we have just bought. They boost our immune levels and provide us with a big healthy kick that is much needed at this time of year. Of course, I apologise to all of my friends currently enjoying balmy hot weather, but please just bear with me and bookmark this post for when you need it.

Winter seasonal vegetables can often seem rather boring, but I am hoping to put that to rights. Firstly, I have to mention the most simple of quick mid-week dishes, which is just for Roddy and I as the children are at school and time is, of course, of the essence. I know, I know, we live in France, the country of two hour/three course lunches, but we’re extremely busy and we don’t usually have that sort of time to spare. However, I also don’t skip this important meal, or eat on the run, so some Frenchness has obviously rubbed off on me!

One of our favourite lunches is this terribly easy dish – spinach simply steamed for a minute or so, a fried or poached egg fresh from our own chickens, all on a slice of wholewheat toast/crusty french bread (whatever your preference might be), topped with a generous grating of black pepper.

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A light evening supper or another straight-forward, fuss-free lunch has to come in the form of a hearty vegetable soup. A habit we have had for years is to make chicken stock from the leftover carcass of the weekend roast, and with this on hand I chop away at any vegetable I can lay my hands on.

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For the soup above you’ll need a litre of really good chicken or vegetable stock.

In a pan gently sauté one diced onion and one diced clove of garlic. When these are sweated through you can add a handful of diced smoked bacon or ham – but this is entirely optional. Add two sliced carrots and turn the heat up for a minute or two, but don’t burn the onion and garlic. Now pour in your litre of stock, and add two cubed potatoes, a medium sized leek cut into inch-long strips, a can of white beans and two finely chopped stalks of celery. I also add a couple of bay leaves, a glass of white wine, and I season with salt and pepper. This is simmered until the potatoes are cooked, when the bay leaves are then removed and the seasoning is adjusted.

If you have no beans to hand you can substitute some pasta instead, and you can change the vegetable ingredients as you want – this is very much a “what’s in the larder” sort of soup.

Moving onwards, the broccoli, Swiss chard and carrots are regular simple accompaniments to dishes like oven-baked chicken and jacket potatoes, another typical midweek family evening meal.

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Then there is my favourite, the red cabbage. I loathe green cabbage, as my school days put me off it very successfully for life. I have never been able to eat it since and even the smell of it cooking is enough to turn my stomach; I can remember the soggy mess as if it was yesterday. However, red cabbage is another matter altogether plus it has even more health benefits than its green cousin. This is one of Roddy’s recipes. Sauté gently one chopped onion and a chopped glove of garlic and four chopped rashers of smoked bacon. Add a quarter of a red cabbage coarsely shredded, sweat for ten minutes covered with a lid and then add  half a cup of chicken or vegetable stock, seasoning, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of ginger, the zest of half an orange and a teaspoon of fig jam or any other jam you have to hand and half a cup of raisins. Mix thoroughly and then bake covered at 180C/350F for 20 minutes. Cooked this way this is one cruciferous vegetable that is easily my number one winter comfort food.

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There is nothing complicated about any of these dishes but they have the added benefit of being extremely budget friendly and if you make a good sized batch of the soup or red cabbage, both will keep in the fridge for a couple of days which makes life much easier for anyone pressed for time.

** Just as my blog posts have two forms so do my titles, and sometimes I have thought of a title before I have even written the post; other titles come relatively easily and a few evade me altogether. Occasionally they have been known to take as long as the post itself to write; we typically throw suggestions around the supper table and proposals go from sensible, to boring, to downright outrageous.

Today’s title was no exception; my ideas were dull, I couldn’t think of anything with the zing I wanted, and our kitchen table-talk didn’t come up with anything much better. In desperation I even messaged Izzi in the UK and Millie who is currently on a school exchange in Madrid. Nothing was forthcoming.  Just when all seemed lost, Jack sauntered in from the sitting room and within seconds his proposal of ‘Cabbage & Co’ was born – so on this occasion all the title credit goes to Monsieur Jack Hays!

152 thoughts on “Cabbage & Co; Our Winter Heroes

    • Thanks so much Helen, it just struck me that sometimes it’s difficult to come up with anything very exciting at this time of year, but I love having a vegetable soup permanently on the go and the red cabbage is great to have in the fridge! Plus the more I read about it, the healthier I realise it is! xx

      • Hi Susan, I am very new to your site. I became aware from Stone Gable. I’m starting at your most recent posts and working backwards! I really enjoy looking at your pictures and reading your posts, this is my favorite site. Could you please tell me what you and Roddy do for a living there in France? Thank You so much

      • Thanks so much Sherri, I am so glad you are enjoying the blog and so happy you found me. What do we do here? I run our little guest house and my husband has an internet based business which means he can really work anywhere in Europe. xx

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me and for sharing your family life with us all. I appreciate you taking the time to write such interesting and heartfelt blogs!

  • I was so shocked to see the price of veg in our local supermarket and then later found out why so next tuesday I am off to the market to hopefully get some bargains of local produce, I will let you know via my blog, the soup looks delicious and I adore red cabbage, thanks for the recipe I will try it.

    • Prices have certainly gone up around here, our local greengrocer explained why to us, but there are still some things priced really reasonably, spinach, chard and kale are local and love the cold. Just think, soon it will be spring and there will be a whole new array of goodies on offer! xx

  • Thank you Susan for this engaging post … it feels like we have been to the market with you!
    I loved your comment about Boarding School and cabbage!
    I too went to Boarding School and have not been able to face Cabbage ever since …. that dreadful smell of boiling Cabbage … boiling forever and permeating the School at recess time …. that we were having for dinner that evening…. yuk!!!
    Kindest Regards
    Susie

    • Hi Susie, that smell, I agree with you, it is one anyone who has experienced it will never forget, it was just disgusting! I am happy to say I do love red cabbage though and we certainly never had that at school! I am always telling our children how lucky they are with their school food, they have no comprehension of how awful ours was!! Hope you have a lovely end to the week. xx

  • I shall be making that red cabbage for sure, i would never have thought of cooking it like this and I can quite see why with the jam and raisins it is like a wonderful healthy comfort food, thanks for sharing.

    • It is indeed the most delicious dish, I eat a bowl of this, steaming hot on it’s own, the perfect light lunch for me, it really does feel like great comfort food and the raisins give a touch of sweetness. xx

  • What agree at post. Will be trying those recipes for sure. Even though it’s the middle of summer here I find these kind of meals great for the soul. Love red cabbage made a salad with it tonight. Apple, celery,cabbage lime juice lemon juice and avocado. Yum. I was looking at the prices so cheap compared to ours.

    • Interesting that our prices are so reasonable, I think if we buy locally then we can really keep the grocery bill down here, it only gets expensive when we start buying things that are out of season, if indeed we can even find anything, then it gets very pricey. I love red cabbage in salads but at the moment it’s really cold and we need hot food! But I shall make a note of your salad and certainly make it in the summer, I love the idea of the avocado with it, yum. Enjoy your sun! xx

  • I just found you through the tartiflette recipe. Everything looks delicious, but what drew me to your blog was that you only use seasonal ingredients, this is really how we should all live, this way we get the most nutrients out of our food.

    • So happy you did find me and welcome to the blog, great to have you following along. I do totally agree with you, eating food that has come straight from the garden or that is local is certainly preferable to anything shipped thousands of miles and stored in refrigeration units for days on end. It is also very much cheaper to eat what is in season and it makes us appreciate the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables so much more. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated, hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  • I had to work hard on my veggie lady in the market to keep back some beets unroasted for me – she found it very odd that I wanted them uncooked. I think there is nothing on earth more beautiful than an array of veg waiting for their turn to star in or support a comforting soup or stew or any other warming delight in winter. As an aside and continuing our conversation about St Bonnet le Froid …. I picked up a copy of le Montagne when I was in Cantal and on the front was a piece all about a young sous chef bidding to win the Bocuse d’Or …. imagine my surprise when I read on to discover that only two Auvergne chefs have won it before – Sergei Vieira from Chaude Aiguës (whose restaurant is absolutely to die from) and a certain Regis Marcon who is a Michelin Trois Étoiles in, of all places St B l F …. I’ve told hubby that I am moving there and he can join me if he likes. I’m sure Regis will let me peel the spuds and clean the leeks if I ask him nicely ….. 😁 xx

    • OMG, St Bonnet is just one of those incredible places, I can just imagine it, what are the chances of Regis being there, this is too bizarre. I am definitely going to mark it as one of those places I have to visit one day and especially with a Michelin 3 star restaurant there, what’s not to love. I love love love filling the kitchen with vegetables from the market, there is little more comforting or satisfying, another great thing about French life! and I can just imagine your veggie lady not understanding why you want uncooked beets, you are obviously the odd English lady!!! xx

      • Isn’t it extraordinary …. and I keep telling him indoors that it must be kismet – I mean, I found it entirely by mistake and it has a Michelin Trois Etoiles AND it popped up in the local rag when I bought it for the first time in ages – I am clearly meant for St Bonnet (who is quite definitely my favourite Saint … Saint Woolly Hat MUST be special) and it happens to be in the right area broadly speaking and at the right altitude and judging by the other night it gets loads of snow. Destiny, I say!! Boringly practical husband has pointed out that there is probably not a house with the right land, the right buildings and the right charm for me that happens to be for sale but these are mere details ….. xxx

      • Ahh but it simply has to be, that is a lot of positives, and the name and the restaurant, I am googling property for sale in St Bonnet, there must be something, I’ll be your first visitor!! Oh and I am looking up the restaurant too. It’s just so many coincidences, it was meant to be! xx

      • I knew I could trust you to understand! There will be a place and it will magically be for sale at exactly the right moment. And you shall, indeed, by my first visitor – such FUN! Xx

      • Sounds like a plan, now to go property shopping, if I find anything I’ll email it through!!! Actually went house hunting with friends looking for a house here this morning, great fun spending someone else’s money!! xx

      • Oooh what fun that must have been! And yes, if you feel like keeping an eye out then feel free …. I wouldn’t want to miss my dream house in St B! Xxx

  • Love the title Susan! We have some Chinese cabbage in the patch still as the prices have definitely gone up Red cabbage is favourite too with apples, onions and cinnamon. Will definitely try the egg with spinach too! xx

    • Yum, apples, onions and cinnamon sounds fabulous, I shall get my red cabbage chef to give it a go! Trust me when you need a very quick, healthy, speedy lunch spinach and eggs are my “go to” I eat them at least twice a week if not three!!! xx

  • I miss French markets particularly at this time of year. I’ve just come back from our own local one, and was hard put to it to fill my bag with home-grown winter vegetables. By the time I’d dodged French beans from Kenya, tomatoes from Perpignan(!), bagged spinach from Spain and so on, I’d rather lost energy. My instinctive preference for seasonal eating was fostered in France, where, just as you have, someone queueing alongside you could be trusted to share a recipe for their favourite winter veg. If nothing else, all winter veg. make a great contribution to the soup pot!

    • I do sympathise with you Margaret, it’s not really the same buying things at the market that have come half way around the world, plus it makes the prices so much higher and the taste is always sorely lacking. I grew up on a farm and we only ever ate what was in season plus peas, we always had some frozen peas in the freezer! Plus I do think eating what is in season makes us really appreciate the glut of spring fruits and summer vegetables, it’s like the biggest treat in the world suddenly having strawberries again and cucumbers and tomatoes warm from the sun, it makes them taste so wonderful. Stay warm and have a lovely end to the week xx

  • I turned around the market on Saturday at least three times, looking for something DIFFERENT. Carrots, leeks, turnips, spinach, beets, cauliflower…On repeat every week. (I got mildly upbraided for asking for broccoli, which was out of season). I did try out cauliflower rice at last–actually as couscous for taboulé. It was good. I finally bought the usual suspects and….a head of red cabbage. Everything has been consumed except for the cabbage. I used to chop it and sauté it with onions and a bit of uchumi mix; no idea what that is in English or in French. Some spice mix. I figure I can try the same procedure with some different spice combo. Maybe I’ll do this one.
    I see we have the same stove. We don’t have gas in the village and got rid of our propane tank some years ago. That required switching to electric, so our stovetop is induction, which is WONDERFUL!

    • The usual suspects indeed. I must admit I buy broccoli always, the children all love it and eat it every day, super healthy and I will never complain when my children ask for broccoli! But spring is not too far away and then the market stalls will double in number and the tables will be full of an array of colours and tastes, I can’t wait! I love the Falcon, we truly cannot find fault with it. We don’t have gas in the village either or a propane tank, we have two large bottles outside, they are just over a metre tall and the plumber ran a line out to them when we did the kitchen. Each one lasts about six months so it’s very convenient. I’ve heard great things about induction too. xx

  • Good afternoon Sue from a cold London, I love eating seasonal vegetables and fruit…Everything tastes so much better, and I love shopping for my food at a French market. They are always wonderful no matter what time of the year. That darling little doggy reminds me of a dog I had years ago…We called him Puppy and we had him for fifteen years. He never left my feet, and to this day I can still feel his presence. As you mentioned in a previous blog…maybe this cold, seasonal winter means a lovely spring – wont be too long now:) As always your cooking looks so delicious – I always leave you with watering taste buds. Enjoy the rest of this day….Janet. xxx

    • Thanks so much Janet, I just loved the dog, he was so sweet and his eyes just stared straight at me and then off he went as good as gold. Later saw they stopped at another stand and he was sitting there, waiting patiently again. Puppy sounds like he was just gorgeous, great name! Yes spring is just around the corner now, but it’s still bitterly cold here too, I think this year spring will be a welcome relief, can’t even think about the garden, whereas last year we had plum trees in blossom at this time, certainly not this year! Hopefully you will make it this way this year and we can shop at a market together. xx

  • It’s hard to beat a good winter soup, warms the cockles of your heart! Now with a French baguette on the side this is my favorite lunch all winter long.

  • I loved your photos and recipes. You are always able to show such an interesting slice of life in France that I enjoy. I love your Emma Bridgewater dishes. I have a small collection of her mugs and love them.

    • Thanks so much Sue, I try to show the real France that we live on a day to day basis, there’s nothing glamorous about the market in the depths of winter, but it is very much a part of life here and that’s what I so enjoy sharing. I love Bridgewater too, we used to have several mugs but some have been broken and now we are down to just two! Her designs are always so cheerful, we each have our favourites! xx

    • I can imagine it is a shame if you only have farmers markets in the spring and summer but I can quite see why, if the stalls belong to growers themselves then often they don’t have anything much to sell in the winter. We literally have half the number or even less than we have in the warmer months and I know these are vegetables that are mostly bought from the local commercial growers. xx

    • It’s the best type of winter food for me, it’s a winner all round, we feel good buying it, we feel good eating it and we feel fantastic afterwards, what’s not to love about it!! xx

  • lovely post, i enjoyed reading and viewing all of your photos. It was a first for me to see already oven baked beets available to purchase. Morning has come here and I think I’m going to prepare myself some sauted beet greens for breakfast! Stay warm!

    • Thanks so much Carmen, they love selling cooked beets here, I would imagine because that’s what everyone wants and so that is what they sell! Your breakfast sounds yummy, a great start to the day. Cold here again all day, but I think the cold snap has just about come to an end now, next week should be a lot warmer! xx

  • Hi
    thank you for the red cabbage recipe, i cook one given to me by a german friend from years ago but this is a new twist. And please tell me, if you know, what the pale green pod- like veg is next to the garlic in your photo. A bientot

    • It is a chayote or christophine, but I have to confess I have never eaten them, I know they are cooked in a similar way to summer squash and I know they have a fairly bland flavour. Hope that helps a little! Hope you also enjoy our take on red cabbage, I think it is quite delicious but I would love to know how your german friend cooked it, I love hearing different recipes. xx

      • My german friend gave me the recipe in the mid 70s so what i cook now probably bears no resemblance to the original! Red cabbage with almost equivalent of chopped cooking apple. In uk i used bramley but here i use canada apples, one chopped onion, three or four cloves, a teaspoon of cumin, a tablespoon of sugar and the same again of wine vinegar. Cook very gently as there is no added water. About an hour or longer depending on how crunchy you like you cabbage. Can be cooked on top or in a slow oven. As with recipes, experiment to find your preferred combo/cooking time. Bon app!

      • Thank you so much for this, I shall make it this week and try and find the equivalent to a Bramley here, sounds absolutely delicious. I love using cumin, I find it the most versatile spice. Have a great week xx

  • Ps swiss chard is quite easy to grow ( i say this as it is the old man aka mr mcgregor who grows the veg). The green part is a good substitute for spinach which we don’t have much success with dans le jardin….

    • I like swiss chard, if I cannot get spinach or kale then this is what I buy always. This year we planned to completely redo the vegetable garden design and so we didn’t plant anything this winter. Next winter I shall heed your words and definitely plant swiss chard, thank you xx

  • Like you we have had Vegetable soup, on the go all week , just added to it what was to hand to to eek it out the next day or added a few different spices to pep it up a notch. Can’t beat comfort food on these cold days, Matbe scrambled eggs tomorrow using some nice fresh eggs . That little dog had the pleading look of Evie.

    • I agree, we need this sort of really warming food in this chilly weather, plus it just tastes so good, it is definitely my winter favourite! and anything with fresh eggs is a winner here!!! xx

  • I can’t waite to try your receipes Such comfort foods and sent from my favorite country France. I have been a follower of your stories and beautiful photo’s for at least 2 years, I remember of your article of the summer kitchen how to up date and I suggested a crystal chandelier to give it bling but keep the original look. So many great articles of your family, pets, life style and your great adventures along the way.
    Keep it up you have such great talent my daughter also is a follower from Arizona and I in New Jersey in USA. Sending the Best

    • Thanks so much Sallie, I remember the summer kitchen post only too well, it was right back at the start of my blogging days and yes we bought the crystal chandelier, we found one at a Brocante in the summer and paid the huge sum of 15 or 20 euros for it, I can’t remember which now. I think in the spring I should do a summer kitchen update, once the weather warms up and we get out there again, at the moment it is home to all of our tender geraniums and plants, shielding them from the cold frosts! Hope you are keeping warm in New Jersey, big hugs from France to you and your daughter. xx

  • We’ve just got home from visiting friends in the BVI, and although the heat is wonderful, we are really blessed with seasons and seasonal produce. Fresh vegetables and even salad items are costly, and not always readily available in the BVI.
    The blue skies and crisp days we returned to are equally wonderful as the heat, and as with any good holiday, we are happy to return home, or is that just me?

    • Hi Julie, I always enjoy returning home, there’s nothing quite like home is there? I am sure the BVI’s were fabulous and right now I would welcome some of that winter warmth for sure! We spent a couple of years not far from them on the small island of Anguilla, there really were no fresh vegetables available at all, everything was tinned, we used to have to take the ferry over to St Martin to get anything fresh, being a French Island and a part of mainland France the fresh produce was flown in daily and there right in the heart of the capital, Marigot, each day was the French market, just as we have here, full of fresh produce! I think one has to live without seasons to really appreciate living with them if that makes sense and likewise to live with only seasonal produce available to appreciate the abundance of spring and summer fruits and vegetables when they come around, it’s suddenly like being a kid in a candy store, there is so much choice and everything is so sweet and delicious. Makes me long for spring!!! xx

  • Oh that dog is adorable and to trot along like that without a leash, just too cute. The market is definitely a way of life, a routine I have always followed whenever I have stayed in France. How I miss those markets and the time and care taken over each purchase. Thanks for the recipes, I shall be going out to fill my larder with winter vegebtables today, alas sadly they will be bought at the grocery store but it’s the best I can do here!

    • I know isn’t he gorgeous, he just looked at me with those gorgeous eyes and he was so good, like I said, just the perfect companion. The market is one of the things I love most about life here, it is a way of life, but I also just love buying what is in season and making the most of it and then when spring comes around it all gets to be such fun and such a delicious explosion for the tastebuds. Hope you had a wonderful shop, grocery stores can be lots of fun too and now you get to cook lots of yummy food! Enjoy xx

  • me the same….best ideas, best speech etc..not in the car or under the shower, but suddenly at night while sleeping
    (or dreaming?…I am not sure) perhaps my hidden talents of a writer or philosoph comes out (haha). I set out to write
    all my thoughts down but to lazy to get up and immediately I fall asleep again……. I noticed in your pics that some
    vegis are more cheaper than in Southern Spain (others not OK) but anyway I also love it to cook soups in January
    which is beside Feb. the coldest month here. From sweet potatoe (my fav) or pumpkin, broccoli or spinach all ended up in a pot for soup. Can easily eat from Monday to Sunday whithout getting bored or lose my appetite….and it’s time
    and money saving as well.

    • Isn’t it annoying how our best ideas come like this, half the time I forget them. Sometimes I’ll think of something whilst I am reading at night and I will have to grab a pencil and scribble away in the front of my book! I would imagine our veg probably work out much the same, some are cheaper and some are more expensive, but you certainly get more choice than us at this time of year. I too could eat soup all week and need get tired of it, it is my absolute favourite winter food and good for the budget as you say! Have you had this very cold weather? I cannot believe that Eastern Spain has had snow, I saw photos, it looked amazing. Millie has had it slightly warmer in Madrid than it has been here, but oh how she has loved every second of it, they took her to Toledo, she’s been to the Prado Museum which she adored, she’s totally in love with Spain now! xx

      • Not only Eastern Spain even in Andalucia….Ronda was totally in snow and the road up was closed…
        when I saw the pics I couldn’t believe because it is only 1 hr far from us. This situation happens
        more than 10 yrs ago….a very cold winter in Europe. While I’m writing this the windows are shaking
        and rain pelt on them again. Temps are around 10 g. Forecast was different the last months though I
        will never trust them. My husband is happy because he is up for skiing in the Sierra Nevada (also very
        close)… I like that kind of winter here ….summer is too hot and long anyway.
        I am glad that Millie enjoyed Madrid and Toledo and I am sure she will come back to see more. It is a very versatile country which is worth to visit more than once. Wish you an other lovely day .

      • It’s amazing, I think it is rather nice,and I can imagine your husband is thrilled, the skiing will be fantastic. Only another month and we are off to the mountains for the children’s winter holidays, cannot wait, I am longing to see some snow! Millie comes home from Madrid tomorrow, she says she is totally in love with Spain! I rather think we might be going there again this summer with the whole family! Hope you too have a lovely weekend, it was 0C here yesterday and 12C today!! xx

  • What a great post – loved the photos and the recipes. It has been so cold here lately (for us anyway – central coast of California) and so much rain (just lovely after 5 years of drought), I’m ready for lots of hot vegetable soup. CSA box this week has Napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, celery, (and apples, broccoli, scallions), and I know our farmers market will be loaded up with spinach, chard, parsnips, little potatoes – and who knows what all. Your post is certainly an inspiration, as usual. Thanks!

    • That all sounds utterly delicious, just think of all the things you can cook. I heard about the rain, am so happy for everyone in California, it was so badly needed and finally it has come. Hope you make some fabulous vegetable soup and enjoy the cold weather, the two go hand in hand! Have a wonderful end to the week xx

  • I just learned about your blog from my sister, Diane, who like me enjoys everything that makes a home warm, beautiful, and welcoming to everyone. I love to decorate, cook healthy food for my husband and two sons, and exercise. Thank you for your beautiful photographs and timeless insight into a little bit of French lifestyle. I’m here in Yorktown, Virginia, where victory was won over the British (with the aid of the French) over 250 years ago. Many thanks and I’ll look forward to more posts on your blog.

    • Hi Carol, so happy you found me and thank you to Diane! I am in total agreement with you, I love everything that makes a warm, welcoming happy home and there is nothing better than cooking for the family and then all eating together. I love that you live in Yorktown, perhaps I’d better keep quiet about being British!!! So looking forward to having you following along. Have a lovely end to the week xx

    • Oh I am so happy Jeanne, I love red cabbage like this, there is just a little bit of sweetness from the jam and the raisins and it really makes it delicious for me, as I say, real comfort food! Have a great end to the week and let me know what you think of this! Xx

  • What a delightful post, Susan – love all of it, especially the photos and the recipes. We do soups all winter and we’re always on the look out for different recipes. Your one here looks very “artisanal`’ to me. We’ll have to make two lots because Amy wants hers with the smoked ham, and I do not. C’est la vie!

    And I’d like to publicly thank you for all your help with Amy’s copper pans. They got here this afternoon, and they’re exactly what she wanted; just brilliant. Unfortunately though, you may have created a rod for your own back because Amy now has a list of further things she’d like to try and find. She says she will email you to make a beneficial deal 🙂 I wonder if you should think about doing this in conjunction with the blog – I’ll happily pay a little extra for French finds in the knowledge that I’m buying the real deal. Thank you again.

    • Thanks so much Simon, soups are definitely one of our favourite winter foods, so simple and so delicious and so warming in this cold weather. Personally I prefer mine without the ham too, but Roddy loves it with! There is no pleasing everyone!! So glad the pans arrived safe and sound, trust me, it was an absolute pleasure to help, I’m just so happy I was able to. I’ll look forward to her email and chatting more. Xx

  • Choux de Bruxelles have become so popular here, it is often taking the place of broccoli. Just roasting on high heat makes a quick side. It is a great pleasure to pull out of the freezer the plastic bag of bones from a rotisserie chicken and knowing soup isn’t far behind. The round “au gratin” dish is something I should search for, the traditional ovals are all I have and sometimes a round pan is needed. As usual, a good posting, thanks.

    • Thanks so much as always. I love sprouts, sadly the children are not quite so animated, they will eat them but only with encouragement! I used to eat them a lot as a child, I shall get some next time I am at the market and try roasting them and see if the children prefer them that way, thank you. The round dishes are excellent for cooking and serving, they weigh a ton but cook so well! Next time you are in France it will be something for you to search for! I’ll let you know how the sprouts go down. Xx

    • I quite agree, it really just makes one want to cook and eat them! Meant to be getting warmer for the weekend and next week, but of course that means we shall get a little rain too! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • It’s one of the things I love the most too, and I actually love only being able to buy what is in season, it means when the glut of Spring and summer fruit and vegetables come around we devour them, it’s like suddenly being set free in a candy store, so much choice and so many fabulous flavours, we appreciate them so much more for sure. I could happily have soup all winter every day for lunch, it is my absolute favourite! Xx

  • Your post makes me want to go to the kitchen and create all of these wondeful dishes! I am particularly intrigued by the red cabbage. It sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing these recipes with us!

    • Thanks so much Nancy, the red cabbage dish is delicious, it has just that little bit of added sweetness that gives it something special, I could and often do, eat it by itself with a slice of wholewheat bread, the perfect lunch, Roddy like to add a poached egg on top! Xx

  • Parsnips are such an underrated veggie! I have some in the fridge right now. I think I feel inspired to put them in our supper tonight somehow (I have an idea involving the spiralizer and some carrots and a little Asian flavor).

  • I have just realized how many veggies I still avoid due to horrendous memories of school meals. I think it was that awful smell as they boiled all life and flavour out of them. We won’t even mention texture! Having the kitchens next to the laundry probably didn’t help. My mother was an Old Girl and had a pathological hatred of all green vegetables for the rest of her long life in various countries where wonderful veg abounded. My brothers were fed by the Jesuits and that didn’t end well either. Generational veggie phobia! Happily things have changed. A recent visit to my old school where a great-niece is currently “incarcerated” (her word) was a revelation! Organic produce abounds, all home grown and the meals bear no resemblance to the stodge we endured. Just goes to show that even centuries-old institutions are capable of change. Sadly, the youngster was only interested in heading for the nearest fast food emporium for “real food” – plus ca change………

    • Don’t remind me, that awful awful smell, do you know I can still smell it now an picture it all as if it was yesterday, it was such an enormous part of my childhood obviously. I don’t remember hating any other veg apart from cabbage and the mashed potatoes with black bits in them! Isn’t it funny how when we speak to anyone who went through the British boarding school system, even as a day girl or boy, how the food is one of the main things everyone remembers. I keep trying to get back to one of our reunions, I would absolutely love to, but the timing is never right. I have nieces at school in the UK and they say the food is fantastic, who would have thought indeed and of course the lunches here in France are like a Michelin starred restaurant compared to what we had to endure! On those happy memories I wish you a very happy weekend with good food!! Xx

    • Thanks so much, I love vegetables and we are really lucky that our children do too, but there is still something wonderful about just buying them in the open markets in winter! The cabbage rolls sound good, I wonder, perhaps those might make me change my mind about cabbage? Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • I would be in seventh heaven in your market. I love pictures of veggies and displays of them at markets and eating them of course. I must try that cabbage dish. It sounds delicious, and like you, I am not a fan of cabbage. I roast a lot of winter vegetables with a bit of garlic and olive oil, and they are truly comfort food–the cauliflower especially with a little dash of lemon juice. And eggs! yes, I think they are comfort food, too. If I don’t eat them for a while, I get cravings for them. You’ve reminded me to get to the garden and check on my leeks. It’s been so mild, I think there is probably arugula as well. Enjoy your good food!

    • We love roasted vegetables with garlic and olive oil, so easy and yet so delicious. Sadly we have nothing in the garden this winter, we are planning on completely redoing the vegetable garden and so we didn’t plant anything and I miss that. Last year we had lots of kale which saw us right through the winter. Hope you enjoy your leeks and arugula, delicious. It does remind me though that Spring is not too far away now and then we shall have so many delicious fruits and vegetables to look forward to. Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Thank you for this wintery post and compliments to Jack for the title! Perfect!! Just a couple of follow up questions: 1) why are your beetroots sold roasted? I have never heard of that in the US. And, 2) what are swedes? The recipes look very delicious and simple–my favorite kind! Sending warm wishes!!

    • I shall pass your compliments on to Jack, thank you! I have no idea why the beetroot so are sold roasted, perhaps because people perceive they are messy to cook they have found they sell much better when they are pre-cooked. In the summer I have seen small ones uncooked for sale but I don’t think I have ever seen large winter beets not cooked. Now as for Swedes, I believe that is our English name, they are also known as rutabagas and neeps. Perhaps that’s how you know them? Do try the soup and cabbage dish, both are delicious and hope you have a wonderful, happy weekend xx

  • You’re singing my song. I love being in France in the winter when you get to see how all of the locals really live, and intermingle on a regular basis. Also, I adore the winter vegetables, especially parsnips, I make a mean Borscht and parsnips really bring the flavor on. Our one difference is in the cabbage variety, I enjoy the green as well as the purple, and I find, when cook the purple fades where the green gets brighter, but I’m sure we could still enjoy a fabulous meal together! Thank you for the tour of your town in the chilliest part of winter.

    • Oh I am sure we could have a wonderful meal together, we don’t have to like exactly the same thing! Plus there is so much choice here, even if winter vegetables can seem boring, there are still plenty to choose from and we both love parsnips! France in the winter is fun, I agree, it’s a different way of life, very few tourists but everyone has time to stand and chat because there are less people. Every season has its special moments. Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Hi Susan, on my travels this week, but just wanted to say that you could adding some organic pork sausage to that red cabbage if your kids fancy something different. Wonderful photos as always! Loved this blog very much; food, eh? What would we do without it.

    • What indeed would we do without food and doesn’t it just make us realise how incredibly lucky we are to have such a choice of fresh winter vegetables. The children would indeed love some organic pork sausage with the cabbage, Gigi’s absolute favourite thing! Enjoy your travels this week and hope you get to eat in some fun places. Xx

  • My first time reading your blog and all the interesting responses, over morning tea (which had to be extended!).
    Poor cabbages, is it time to re-visit them? I too was not enamoured by them at school but love the flavour they bring to soups, stir fry, salads etc. At school they were overcooked…..disgusting! I am just off outside with a ‘failed’ spring cabbage to see what my chickens think of it. I thought I would string it up so they can peck at it. (It is looking a bit like a school cabbage.) The hens are tormented by some broccoli plants which are beyond their reach on the other side of some netting.
    Must look through your past blogs to see what I have been missing. Thank you for inspiring me.

    • Welcome to the blog Kate, I hope you enjoy going back through some of the older posts and find some things of interest. I can happily eat raw cabbage as in a coleslaw salad, it’s the smell of it cooking, school has a lot to answer for! I would imagine your hens will love the cabbage, ours adore absolutely anything we give them, what type of chickens do you have? Looking forward to chatting with you further and have a lovely weekend xx

      • Bonjour Susan. J’ ai une astuce pour vous aider à supprimer les mauvaises odeurs de cuisson du chou-fleur : simplement ajouter un morceau de pain , même rassis et grand comme la main, dans l’ eau de cuisson du chou.// Hello Susan. I have a tip to help you eliminate the bad smells of cooking of the cabbage: add a piece of bread, even day-old and big as hand, into the cooking water of cabbage. Very efficient.

      • Bonsoir Philippe, you are always so full of such good advice. I shall try the bread, if there isn’t the smell perhaps I can eat it! The problem was at school it used to be cooked for hours, the smell permeated every wall, I can still smell it now! Hope it has warmed up with you, it was beautiful here today, 12C! A big change from yesterday when it was 0C! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • I love winter vegetables, I usually roast them quite simply with some olive oil. I have heard many people complain that they are so boring and there is no choice but I disagree, I think we are rather lucky to have so much choice, I can certainly think of many who would give their eyeteeth for any veg at all

    • Oh I think you are so right, when I think of the people starving, what they would do to have any of these vegetables, I know it really puts a different light on things. I do love roast vegetables too, we tend to add whole heads of garlic and drizzle with olive oil, quite delicious. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • Ha ha, great timing, well I urge you to try this because it is yummy. I reheated some and had it for lunch today as I was all alone and it made the perfect quick meal for one! Have a great weekend xx

  • Susan,
    There is nothing like a French marketplace. I can hardly wait to get back to the Wednesday market in St Remy!
    Once again I applaud you for a wonderful and informative post! I am going to try the red cabbage recipe for my husband tomorrow night.
    I am envious of French markets. The produce so fresh; it’s coloring luminous and vibrant. I can only imagine the concentration of “colorful storytellers” that line the streets of Rochefort or any of French village!
    Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you find some Hygge time! ❤️

    • I totally agree Stephanie, I love French markets, both in summer and winter, at this time of year everyone has more time to talk, but then in the summer it’s warmer and one tends to linger a little longer! Let me know if you like the red cabbage. Roddy was away today and so it was just me for lunch, I reheated the last of it for my lunch, perfect for just one! An exciting weekend ahead, Millie comes back from Madrid tomorrow night, she has been there for 9 days on a school exchange and is totally in love with Spain now! Plenty of other things going on too but I always love the weekends. Hope you too have a fun relaxing weekend with plenty of hygge time too. xx

      • Oh no! I was alone for lunch today. If only we lived closer we could have met! 🙃😉❤️️
        I will definitely let you know what Steve thinks about the red cabbage. Looks delicious….🍽
        So glad Millie had a FABULOUS time in Spain. Such a WONDERFUL experience. I always love when my children come back from their adventures…so much fun…so many tales to be told! 🐘⛷✈️🇫🇷
        I am planning some Big Hygge time this weekend! Beginning with Sushi and a movie tonight! I am going to find time for a bubble bath 🛀🏻with candles sometime this weekend! 💗 And I can’t wait! It is my FAVORITE “Hygge” oasis! 😉❤️️
        Enjoy the family! ❤️🌹

      • Oh no, if only it was just a quick car ride, even a couple of hours would be ok, but 8 hours on a plane plus getting to and from the airports is just a bit too far for lunch! Such a great shame, imagine what a wonderful lunch it would have been! Hope you are having a wonderful hygge weekend and that you managed to get your bath. Friends to dinner this evening, Millie arrived home, friends for brunch tomorrow, all is as it should be! xx

      • Sounds fabulous, I’m jealous already!! But then we had friends over for Sunday Brunch, a long long relaxed morning in front or a roaring fire, chatting and laughing wit friends, now that’s hygge too!

  • I think I have all the same veggies in my fridge but of course mine probably aren’t near as fresh as yours. I’m definitely trying your red cabbage with the jam and raisins…it sounds wonderful.

    • I really hope you enjoy the red cabbage, do let me know. I adore it, could happily eat it a couple of times each week all winter and then as so many people here have suggested, we can have red cabbage salads with apples and things in the summer. Have a great weekend xx

    • Thanks so much, hope you are enjoying your year in France, I think it is fantastic that students are able to do these exchange months and years. Our number two daughter has just come back from 10 days exchange trip to Madrid. xx

  • Oh yum! I must keep those recipes! With my husband retiring later this year, and income levels plummeting, we are going to need some nourishing but inexpensive meals! And of course, we are getting two eggs at the moment, sometimes each day, sometimes with a day in between, so no excuse not to enjoy them. They are so lovely and yellow and thick, still can’t quite believe they come from our own hens! Except for poor Buffy, our big girl – she is till not laying and I’m wondering if, as she is a standard Orp, she will leave it till February 14th. Or maybe she doesn’t know what’s expected of her!! She’s such a wimpy girl! Largest of the lot, but so timid! But my husband is gradually getting to stroke her and she is slowly slowly allowing it. But back to veggies – I think it’s great not to have the exotics and the ‘summer’ vegetables available, let’s go back to seasonal. I’m sure that’s how it’s meant to be. that way, we eat what our bodies need, good filling stews, soups and casseroles with lots of energy and warmth-giving veg. Enjoy your weekend and may the sun be with you!!

    • I am so happy for you Marian with your eggs, I do know just how exciting it is and they are laying so well considering how cold it has been. Do let me know when Buffy lays her first egg, wouldn’t it be funny if it was Feb 14th! I totally agree with you about seasonal vegetables, it is eating in line with nature which has to be better for us surely and anyway it really does mean we enjoy the glut of spring and summer vegetables so much more. With such a large family I am always trying to conjure up budget friendly meals that are also healthy and nutritious and also full of flavour that everyone will like! Beautiful warm sunshine today, I enjoyed every minute of it, 13C and it felt so good! Hope you too are having a lovely weekend xx

  • An inspiring post about using more vegetables. I’ll work on it — after tonight’s dinner of fettuccine alfredo with shrimp and a salad of butter lettuce. Not winter vegetables at all, but definitely comfort food.

  • Early start for us today, Susan (tennis in the offing, you see, and we have an invite to go and watch it with friends on a HUGE TV!!) but I just wanted to say that Amy and I had the red cabbage last night, following Roddy’s recipe to the letter, alongside a little mashed potato and a decent cumberland sausage each (good suggestion, Mr Caldecot).

    “Easy peasy,” as that crafty Jamie Oliver would say. A very good combination indeed, though I confess we drank something different with ours – from the north bank of the Rhine. 🙂 I must add that was Amy’s choice – she’s a far better sommelier than I. However, suffice to say red cabbage will become a regular winter veg for us from now on.

    • So happy to hear that Simon, sounds like a great meal with the mash and sausage and a good bottle of red! Hopefully should be a fabulous final, not quite sure who I want to win, I want both of them! I never thought we would see the pair of them together in a final again, as our eldest daughter, who is just 20, said, it all feels rather nostalgic! Have a great day xx

  • January and comfort food just go hand in hand. Yesterday I made a lentil stew with some winter veggies and quinoa and it really hit the spot. I love that you added nutmeg to your cabbage! Such a marvelous combination that adds such great flavor and taste. Stay warm; hopefully Spring is just around the corner for us all.

  • Our meals tend to revolve heavily around vegetables first and this time of year can get a bit boring and predictable. Finding something new to try is always appreciated. I LOVE cabbage … red, green, I’m not picky … but I’ve yet to find a recipe for red cabbage that really knocks my socks off. They always seem to add vinegar which I don’t care for in cabbage. Your recipe however looks very interesting – the fig jam and raisins really caught my attention … and no vinegar!! Thanks – must add red cabbage to this week’s shopping list!

    btw – Porte du Soleil is amazing. Thanks for adding that little bit of history. It’s another reminder of how awesome France is 🙂

    • I am totally in agreement with you Joanne, our meals tend to revolve heavily around vegetables too and at this time of year no matter how hard we try there is not a vast amount of choice. Do try the red cabbage like this and please let me know your thoughts, I personally love it and have had it three times in the past two weeks! Can’t wait to go back in the spring and photograph the Porte du Soleil at sunset. Xx

  • Your blog and your photographs are an absolute refreshing delight! I love all your topics, I read them with great enthusiasm and linger over every picture. Each post is a storybook. Please don’t ever stop.

    • Thank you so very much, what a truly lovely comment and I am so so happy you are enjoying the blog. I really hope I never stop, I too am loving it, I love sharing where we live and life here and I also really enjoy chatting to everyone, replying to comments and creating this little community of like minded people. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

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