Hello Friends and Fellow Campers,
Today the sun came out for the first time in over a week and it was warm outside! You Southern Californians probably can’t relate to my exuberance over one sunny day, but then you haven’t experienced the Loire in the winter. Every morning I dress up in multiple layers of wool and cashmere in a feeble attempt to stay warm. Today after I ran outside to greet El Sol I actually had to shed some of those layers. Spring is almost here and all of my bulbs are pushing their sleepy heads out of the wet soil. I spotted some wild Snowdrops under my cherry tree!
As the sun set the temperature grew colder and I felt a strong urge to make soup. I had roasted a chicken a night ago so I placed the carcass in a pot along with a leek, carrots, parsley, celery and some fresh herbs (bouquet garnie) and brought it to a boil. I let it simmer for about an hour to coax out all of the flavors in the veggies and chicken bones, and added salt to taste. I will add some of the leftover chicken when it is ready to serve. That should warm me up.
The local markets around my little town of Mouliherne (by the way that red, yellow and blue shield is the cities emblem. Perfect for Valentines day n’est pas?) are still going strong in spite of freezing temperatures. In the nearby town of Langeais, the market is every Thursday morning, and you can always find the olive man there.
Can you believe how many varieties there are? Yum! And the seafood lady is there too!
Bouillabaisse anyone? And look at this produce! Let’s see, what could I do with that cabbage…
I am really enjoying my culinary adventures here in France. Everything is so fresh and tastes incredible. This is the real meaning of ‘farm to table’. It may be a trendy catch-phrase in the States but they have been doing it here for hundreds if not thousands of years. Every self-respecting Frenchman has a potager, a veggie garden, and many folks out here in the country rely on them for most of their meals. They keep chickens for eggs and meat (I will be getting my girls this summer!), and many also raise pigs and/or goats. The Loire is known as the fruit and vegetable basket of France and spring comes a bit earlier here that in Paris. That is why French royalty built their chateaux here. Come on over and we’ll go on a tour of them!
I am gearing up for spring and summer and thinking seriously of offering some cooking classes here at Le Petit Saint Barnabé. Is anyone interested? Let me know what you think here.
Stay warm and keep on cooking!
Denise, Lindsey, and Gail