Hello, fellow campers, chefs, and lovers of food!
Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire River Valley, France. It has been a while since I have been in communication, mostly because it has been a very busy holiday season for me over here and the remodel of my farmhouse continues. A wonderful WorkAway fellow, Mark, is in residence here and has been for three weeks now, and he is making a huge difference in the work to be done here at Le Petit Saint Barnabé. Walls are going up, electrics are being sorted, and firewood is being cut. Mark is amazing!
While he is busy feeding this hungry house, I have been doing my share by painting my kitchen cabinetry and tiling, a new endeavor for moi. I can’t say it is turning out perfectly, but at least work is getting done. Here is a progress pic!
What a mess!
Tiling in progress.
Very country French, n’est çest pas? There will be a tile backsplash too and I still have to tile the area behind the stove, so I’ll be back at it after I post this blog. Then the wood countertops will be sanded down and varnished with a mat varnish to make them waterproof. I tried oiling them but it just didn’t work out. It has been pretty much trial and error around here since I purchased the house and I have learned a lot. Such is the way of the DIY homeowner.
I have been meditating lately on the title of this week’s blog, How Much Is Enough? which I find to be especially pertinent around the holidays. Since I moved to France I have had to alter my lifestyle dramatically, mostly because I am retired and living on a very limited income from Social Security, which I am very grateful for. I have discovered just how to live comfortably enough without all of the trappings of life in Southern California. I have enough clothing without having to run out and purchase the latest style (after all I live in the country where no one dresses up), enough food to eat thanks to my garden, my chickens, and careful shopping, and I do not waste food, water, and electricity. I compost all organic waste and use that black gold in my veggie garden and recycle everything else. I will be looking into purchasing a small, roof-mounted windmill in the future to augment my electrical usage.
I think you can see that I am not only attempting to achieve a sustainable lifestyle/homestead but to stop being the consumer that I was in the U.S.A. The constant barrage of advertisements telling us that we need to look younger, have better cars and homes, have more money, and be in constant competition with one another is mind-boggling. When I think back to the amount of money I have spent on clothing, makeup, hair color, cars, and housing, I get a bit queasy. And the sad thing is that the upcoming nations of the world want to be just like us! And there are not enough resources for that to happen without destroying the Earth.
How much does a person really need anyway? I have found that need and want are two entirely different things. Oh sure, I want a swimming pool, a truck, and many other things, but do I really need them? The answer is no. Well, ok. Maybe a truck.
Need is defined as something one can not live without, such as food, shelter, and water. And this Christmas, how much does a person need to spend or receive in order to feel loved, happy, worthy, fulfilled? I assert that we could all do with a lot less and still be happy. Perhaps even happier. I know I am. And given the warming of our beautiful planet and the rape of her resources, we may all be looking at a future where all that we have taken for granted will no longer be at our disposal. So let’s all learn to live with less before we are forced to.
Ok, I’ll get off of my soapbox now! Christmas is coming and the French have a particular dish that is made every year, Coquille St. Jacques. My French Maman made this every year and I have kept up the tradition. Here is a scan of the late Anthony Bourdain’s recipe which is the same as my mom’s. Enjoy the holidays and remember to ask yourself! Do I need that item or do I want it? It’s ok to want. I know I want some Coquille St. Jacques! Yum! Enjoy!
Don’t forget to gift that camper and cook in your life this must-have cookbook! The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook! You can purchase a copy https://www.gourmetgirlsonfire.com/
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey