Autumn in France

Hello friends! Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire, France.

The rains have begun intermittently with sporadic sunshine peeking through the grey clouds from time to time. The air is crisp at night though it is still too warm during the day to start a fire in my dining room fireplace. This particular fireplace (there are four others) is the heart of my old ‘Maison Maitre’, and was the main source of heat when it was built in the 1800s as well as where all of the food was cooked. (Except for bread. That was baked in the bread oven that originally was outside and is now part of the kitchen.) Here is my dining room fireplace. It is tall enough to walk into!

What is hard to see in this photo is a large, cast-iron hook attached to the back of the fireplace. It was used to hold a cast-iron cooking pot over the fire.

I took advantage of the oak fire, which is burning all day and night in the winter, to cook some lamb chops last February. Just like camping!

I am still harvesting tomatoes and will be for the next month. Here is yesterdays harvest.

The orange squash below is potimiron. Similar in taste to butternut squash but with deeper orange flesh. Oh and one very cute yellow beet!

Between canning my harvest and maintaining the gardens I still find time for some fun. My dear friend Delores came to stay for three weeks and the night before she left to return to the states I invited several guests over for a ‘Bon Voyage’ party. I barbequed an entrecote, which we in the states know as prime rib, made a potato gratin, tomato jam and zucchini tart, and many more delicacies. Delores made a delicious ‘peche de vigne’ (small wild peaches from my tree) and raspberry crumble for dessert. We lingered until late in the evening and everyone left quite full.

The cast-iron firepit is a recent find at a local brocante or attic sale that was held near the lake across the street from my house.

It was locally forged and was used to make rillettes, a kind of pulled pork dish that is cooked in great quantities for a long time. A time-honored tradition here in the Loire. It is served on crusty French bread, usually as a starter. Delicious!

I hope all of you are having a great ‘Indian summer’ and that you are also harvesting fresh veggies from your gardens. When you grow it yourself you know it hasn’t been sprayed with poisonous chemicals and it keeps us in touch with our Mother Earth. Something that is vital right now. We mustn’t forget that we are stewards of the land and be very careful not to exploit and destroy it. And let’s face it. Gardening is good exercise! Until next time,

All our best to you and yours,

Denise, Gail, and Lindsey



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