Sunday, August 28, 2011

Red Cabbage and Smoked Bacon

When Bernard arrives here, he usually comes laden with good stuff: leeks, eggs, lettuce, red currants. Last year he specially went picking wild plums, and they made a hell of a jam!
Last week his box (like an organic vegetable box!) contained a red cabbage, and I served it when he came to dinner the other day:

Put smoked diced bacon in a cookpot and gently simmer until it has given off its fat and it has shrunk to crispy brown knobs.
Add sliced red onion and fry until golden.
Then sliced cabbage, grated apple, a few cloves, cinnamon and salt.
Simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, until solt. If it tends to get too dry, add a slosh of cider vinegar.
When all soft add enough honey to sweeten, and a slice of gingerbread crumbled up.
Stir until well mixed.
Check seasoning.
Serve with boiled potatoes, and salty sausages, if you wish.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have not listened enough

I have not listened enough.
I have not paid attention
to the sound of a clarinet
quivering in the quiet room;
the cat on the carpet, purring.

I have not listened
to the soothing mood of rest
above the turmoil around.
I have not allowed
tears welling in my eyes.

I have not listened enough.
I have not sat still.
My ears have not been attuned
to the peace within
the music of each individual note.

I have not listened as I should.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bernard's English

Bernard has lived all his life in the same house. And his father before him, and his grandfather. He has hardly left the départment, except to visit the relatives of his wife in the Mayenne, or his son in the Eure, and once he went with his daughter and her family to the seaside near Bordeaux. He has never been to Paris, let alone abroad. He doesn’t speak any other language than French; he doesn’t even know the word for Oui in English.

Two years ago he got British neighbours permanently living below him in the valley. They didn’t have any French, although they intended to learn. Bernard has helped them find their way about: where to buy the right machinery, what the local rules and customs are. Most communication was done with gestures, yet they hit it off fabulously. The British couple looked after his garden and his chickens when he was in the hospital, and they brought him plates of their own dinner when he was still poorly. In return he helped them build their fences, and he drops in regularly for a coffee or a glass of cider.

And now a little miracle is happening. Bernard has heard so much English from newly found friends – who revert too often to English in despair – that he is beginning to pick out the words that are of French origin. He is recognising them in spite of their funny pronunciation, and at times he knows what they are saying.

Who would have thought this possible of a man who is almost three score and ten?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Summer fruit: Elderberry Sirop

I can't resist it. I must tell about the elderberries.
A. saw them glimmering in the tree tops, and remembered a friend in her student house, who had elderberry sirop -- made by her grandmother -- which she would drink, diluted with warm water when she was ill. So A. went out with a few buckets and picked them full.
We boiled them down to juice, strained them through an old tea towel in a collander. Washed and washed the blue/purple/pink mess on the counter top, the collander, the tea towel. Then we measured 1 kilo of sugar to each liter of juice and the juice of 2 lemons per liter. Brought to the boil and simmered for 5 minutes. Then bottled.
It tastes wonderful: sweet and yet earthy. We have no idea how it will keep. Once opened A intends to freeze it in the ice cube tray. But the colour of the juice itself is already a feast!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Miss Mirabelle

Dear Miss Mirabelle,

Could you please give us a break? We try to give in to your every wish: We eat your jam at breakfast with croissants; we drink your juice at any time of the day; we serve your crumble at tea time and your chutney with our meat.

We breathe you eaten fresh; we admire your hue; we dream you, full and fragrant.

Dear Miss Mirabelle and still you push for more. Your tree is still dotted with yellow orange fruit, but what can we do more? Ice cream? Face cream? Can we paint you on our walls?

Dear Miss Mirabelle, we love you. But can you give us a rest and give us a little less of your bounty?


I see.

You cannot.