Thursday, 9 February 2012

Deep Freeze Summer Makes Winter Warmer

 Snow on the ground and temperatures way, way below zero and we are reaping  the rewards of last year’s harvest.  Last summer we picked windfall apples, hedgerow blackberries and from our garden and friends’ gardens, beetroots, runner- beans, carrots, cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, pears, tomatoes and herbs.   It was a few weeks of hard graft, picking, peeling, chopping, parboiling and freezing but – it was so worth it.

We have a freezer full of ready to use fruit and vegetables – healthy and economical convenience food!   Jars of jams and chutneys made great Christmas presents and we still have some left for ourselves.   Cakes, dinner and desserts are never a problem.  And when I lift the lid off the frozen parsley, mint and basil leaves they release beautiful memories of a gorgeous hot summer’s day.

Top Freezing Tips

Pick only the best of the crop and then wash and pat the leaves or fruit dry. 

Then spread out on a tray or baking sheet in the freezer.   Tomatoes can be frozen like this and they are great for home- made passata, soups or stews.

When completely frozen store in a plastic container in the freezer.

For apples, pears, runner beans, carrots, etc – wash first, core and peel, blanche in boiling water for two minutes, then cool.  Slice into bite sized pieces, drain and place in freezer bags in serving sized portions.  Remove air, seal, label and freeze.  

Do you freeze fruit and vegs?  I would love to hear how you get on.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Flippin' Great

traditional French crepes

Pancake Day, or Le Chandeleur is a catholic religious festival here in France.  Le Chandeleur celebrates 40 days since Jesus was born and his first visit to the Temple to be baptised.

Well, lots of French festivals go hand in hand with delicious food and Le Chandeleur is no exception.  Anytime is a great excuse for crepes.  Wafer thin and sweet or savoury  - naughty dripping with Nutella or a healthy option with fresh fruit. 

In the old days, eggs were stored during winter in a large earthenware pot in the dark under layers of salt.  Any eggs that were left over were used up at Le Chandeleur to make way for the new, fresh ones. 

And if you hold the pan in your left hand and hold a coin in your right hand, and successfully flip the crepe, you will have good luck for the rest of the year.

So get flippin'.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Cold Snap

Yesterday, the snow arrived, just about 10cms but it covered everything.   The road was soon clear and the day went on as planned. We met new friends who made the hour's drive from the top of the parc to come and see us for the afternoon.  They said the roads were OK but pretty icy through the forests near us.

Today, the first of February and the snow is still here but it has got much, much colder.  The post lady told me it was -6! No wonder the dog didn't want to go out first thing.  Mr B has spent all day trying to keep the fires well stocked.  I spent the day working from the kitchen table - the warmest room in the house.

We went for a very brisk walk after lunch.  The sun was shining but the wind chill took our breath away.

Back indoors, and back to work at the kitchen table.  I was getting colder and colder and thought I could hear the wind roaring upstairs.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Our bedroom window had been blown wide open from behind the shutters.  The wind was so strong that Mr B had to nail the windows shut.  The bedroom is still cold.

I think I might sleep down in the kitchen tonight!