Some seventeen years ago, when we were starting out on the journey of schools with our children, meeting mothers and parents at the school gates for the first time and starting a completely new phase in our lives, I remember one mother who I had quite recently met bringing her daughter over to spend an afternoon with Izzi. It was a beautiful summer’s day and the girls played in the garden for hours. When the girl’s mother came to collect her in the evening she gave us a huge bowl of raspberries; they were from her garden and she had just picked them and I remember thinking, how I would love to be able to do that some day. And I still think of that moment quite often – it’s what has inspired me to always grow an excess amount of everything. Continue reading “The First Days of September”
They are a world apart, complete opposites, like chalk and cheese and yet they go together so well, existing side by side in perfect harmony. Where one might add a little glamour, put on her sparkling jewels, high heels and strike a pose, the other will stick to her tweeds, her sensible shoes, twinsets and pearls. Yet they are still the best of friends and neighbours, living contentedly side by side as the days turn into nights, the weeks into months and the years into millenia. Continue reading “Where Opposites Attract”
To admit to a dislike of oysters is a bit like admitting an aversion to cheese in this particular area of France. It’s often met with a frown and genuine surprise, so I set out to discover what all the fuss was about. I have been advised many times to “simply swallow without chewing or even tasting”, but this is what I tell the children on the rare occasion when they might need to take a headache tablet; surely the same rules should not be applied to the world’s most famous seafood (not to mention much talked about aphrodisiac)?
A warm, sunny spring weekend is the perfect excuse to pack up a picnic basket and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you set out on a long hike, find a sheltered spot on the beach, drive to a local park or simply lay out a blanket in your garden, a picnic done well can be pure bliss. Continue reading “The Perfect Picnic”
For me, growing and cooking are inextricably linked. I am a firm believer in the importance of understanding where our food comes from and how it is grown. Perhaps it is my farming background but I feel it is necessary for both us and our children to realise what goes into growing food in order to fully appreciate what is in front of us on the table. Continue reading “The Simplicity of Food”
As I set the camera on timer on a carefully balanced tripod in the corner of the kitchen during supper, no one raised an eyebrow; the family are all quite used to me snapping away by now, they automatically assume “it’s for the blog” and ignore me! But Roddy did ask one thing, “What’s this post about?”
“Hygge” I answered.
“What?” exclaimed everyone. Not one person around the table had a clue what I was talking about so I explained a little.
“So are we moving to Denmark now?” was Roddy’s comment afterwards, and from there the conversation moved on to short days, gathering darkness by 3pm, and the fact that Denmark is actually on the same latitude as the north of Britain. This all led to talk of the Scottish Islands and my ancestors, and so on and so forth. ‘Hygge’ was long forgotten, the camera had blinked and taken it’s automatic photo, but no one had even noticed. The candles continued to flicker and faces remained animated with the fast paced chatter around our kitchen table.
During this long hot summer we’ve had plenty of friends from abroad visiting us; not surprisingly at some stage the topic of conversation has been food, in some form or another. Almost without exception this in turn has lead to discussions about French school lunches. Despite everybody proclaiming to know that the French system is indeed excellent, everyone, without exception, has been both astounded and fascinated when I explain exactly what the children eat for lunch and how the meal is taken. The quality of school lunches in France is just so high it’s about time I explained a little more to those of you who have never stood outside French school gates!
A visit to the weekly French market is the best way to buy food. But don’t be fooled into thinking it is just about fish and meat, fruit and vegetables. Because it’s also most certainly about the people and their passion for the produce they are selling. It is an experience not to be missed and it is also one that simply cannot be hurried.
It was with some triumph that Roddy returned home from our local market a while ago with a bag of milk. I looked at it in some surprise but a closer inspection revealed the words “lait cru.” Roddy stood there grinning at me, and I realised he was as excited as I was becoming – this was raw milk, unpasteurised and fresh from the cow as nature intended it to be. Continue reading “A Land of Milk and Honey?”
If you ask most people what comes to mind when they first think about France and food, more often than not you’ll probably find croissants, cheese and wine popping up in their replies. Moules-frites, fruits de mer, Cognac, truffles and patisserie also play a role in most foodies’ daydreams, but this blog-post is about cheese, and in particular, goat’s cheese. We’re not talking mass-produced here, no, we’re thinking more about those soft aromatic little cheeses that are a real speciality. Continue reading “Cheese & the Goat that Ate My Homework”