Life in France is very much determined by the seasons, often by what we eat and where we eat, and if you are feeling a little out of kilter or disconnected with the world around you this is a fabulous place to put things back into some form of perspective.
Spending any time here really does reinforce the simpler more ‘back to basics’ lifestyle. Of course we also have wonderful cities, beautiful shops and designer brands galore, but even when partaking in a little retail therapy there seems to be an attitude that whatever you are purchasing is something special to treasure rather than a purchase that is bought solely to impress, sold by a sales assistant keen to rack up as much commission as possible.
Many people talk about getting back to basics, and I personally think living here – or even staying for a short while – really does help many to reconnect with nature and the seasons.
I really love the quality of our life here; it is no exaggeration to say that whenever I take a walk, be it in a town centre or in the middle of nowhere with not a house in sight, I still often have to catch my breath; there is something so beautiful, so timeless, so natural about much that I encounter, frequently I find I have to stop and stare, no matter that I have been here many years, it never gets boring, and that in turn makes me realise just how lucky I am.
This is another place where the blog comes into its own. It allows me to step outside of my own little box and see things from an outsider’s perspective. I think I can imagine better now how I would feel if I came here for the first time, how I might appreciate the minute detail that I might otherwise totally overlook.
So as it’s a Sunday, I’m keeping the words to a minimum; no long waffling, just a little eye-candy. It makes me think of the radio in my grandmother’s kitchen, quietly playing away in the background, with some remote station telling us it was ‘easy listening’. Well this is easy viewing!
Spot the cat!
The sunflowers have long since lost their vibrant yellow petals. Now their heads hang low and heavy with the weight of seedsand repeatedly the only noise that breaks the sound of silence is the droning of the combine as it harvests the last of the autumn crops.
There’s one thing though that makes me write a few more lines, and that is food, great home-cooked meals that go hand in hand with our lifestyle. Local and seasonal ingredients not only taste better, they are also much cheaper. Cooking is something that really should be enjoyed and right now this is my favourite dessert. We have an abundance of apples and pears in the markets at the moment and I rather enjoy this slightly different take on the classic tarte tatin.
This is a Pear Tarte Tatin that could not be more simple or easier to make.
All you need:
- a sheet of good quality puff-pastry.
- 4 or 5 pears, peeled and sliced into four quarters.
- 125 grams of sugar
- 40 grams of butter cut into cubes.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Gently heat the sugar stirring all the time, in a pan that can also go in the oven. When it is warm, but not too hot, add the butter and stir until the butter is dissolved and the sugar has melted. It will bubble away fiercely. Keep stirring non stop until it turns to a smooth paste, it will look somewhat like peanut butter. Be careful not to let the sugar burn here or your tarte will taste bitter and burnt, and not caramelised.
Turn down the heat to a low simmer and add the pears, covering them completely in the sugar mixture. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Then turn off the heat and arrange the pears so that their rounded sides are facing downwards. (Remember when this is turned out and complete you will be left looking at the underside of the dish). Allow to cool a little.
Place the puff pastry on top, gently tuck the sides of the pastry in around the pears and juice. Place in the oven at 200C and cook for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is a lovely golden brown.
Allow to cool completely and then a plate over the top, turn upside and gently shake the tarte tatin out onto the plate. It looks impressive and it is utter delicious!