Hello Everyone! I’m back online after a glitch in my partially completed electrics here at Le Petit Saint-Barnabé in the Loire. Internet runs on DSL here, so if a telephone line gets knocked out by the wind, no phone, internet or TV. I suppose even Paradise has its’ drawbacks. I do live in the countryside, so change is slow to come to these parts. But then that’s what makes it so charming.
The Loire is known as the Garden of France, as there are miles and miles of rolling farmland, lots of rain and a fairly long growing season. This year the summer has been hot and long with no signs of easing up soon. This makes for some wonderful produce! And in France, you are judged by how big and bountiful your ‘potager’ or veggie garden is. I got a late start on mine this year as I have just moved into my partially renovated farmhouse, and have been quite tied up with an extensive remodel. I am laying my travertine stone kitchen floors right now, by myself! Here is how it looks in progress and before grouting.
But I digress! Even with a late start, my little kitchen garden is thriving. I planted arugula from seed as well as lambs lettuce or mache, multi-colored carrots, Japanese eggplants, three yellow zucchini (I will probably regret planting so many of these!), three mini tomato plants and of course herbs; rosemary, thyme, chives, and green and purple basil. There were already several fruit trees here; cherry, pear, nectarine, peach, and walnut. The cherry tree looked promising but didn’t produce enough for the birds let alone myself. What a disappointment! Oh, and speaking of disappointments, I was nursing along the little pear tree that in spite of its’ diminutive size had about five pears on it. I would walk out and check on them every day. One morning all of the pears were gone as well as the branch they were growing on. The deer had eaten them! I had some choice words for them that morning. Oh well, there is always next year. And they haven’t found the peaches and nectarines yet, thank goodness.
Here are a few pics of my ‘garden in progress’;
Super Sweet 100 cherry and mini plum tomatoes!
Nearly ripe peaches and nectarines behind the barn (can’t wait!)
And walnuts! The nuts will fall to the ground after the green exterior fruit you see in this photo dries up and splits open. After the nuts dry for about a month, they are ready to eat.
And look what a friend sent me home with from her garden! Tomatoes and runner beans,
White nectarines, yellow Mirabelle and green Reine Claude plums!
and apples from her very prolific tree.
You can see why they call this place the ‘Garden of France’ now can’t you? I guess it’s time to make fruit cobblers, jams and Tarte Tatin. I just bought a used Godin stove, not the older wood burning type, but in the old style, so I can get busy turning this beautiful bounty into delicious dishes. Here she is;
She is equipped with four gas burners and a cast iron grill on top, a large oven to the right, and a small broiler/rotisserie on the left. I am so thrilled to have found her!!
So I’ll be busy cooking up a storm here in France for the next few months as I continue to harvest this beautiful valleys fruits and vegetables. Put your homegrown or store-bought tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplants to good use and make my Cast Iron Ratatouille on page 142 of The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. It’s easy to make and will bring a smile to your face. What else are you cooking this summer? Have you been camping this season? Let us know here.
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey