Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentines Day

Saturday 14th February 2009 Happy Valentines Day!!!

So how many Valentines did YOU get?

I spent the day with 2 children and 3 helpers, Other Half is sick in Switzerland with MANFLU.

This morning we went to visit our ‘summerhouse’ and spoke to the farmer next door who informed us that they had calculated how much they owed us for the yearly rental of our field and it came to 84kgs of wheat or a cash equivalent (about 20euros). We will take the wheat and feed it to the chickens. Our land is slowly working for us.

This afternoon we went to visit friends who have a goat farm for making goats cheese. This month is when all the babies are being born so the farmer has a short holiday until all the goats can start to be milked again. The children sat in the pen with all the babies who were away from their mothers. The herd of 30 females plus one buck have produced 50 babies which will mostly be sold. They are long legged, long necked goats and all of a calm disposition. We saw round the dairy and were explained the whole cheese making process and returned home with 2 cows milk cheeses. The farmer sells the cheeses at the local makets.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Wood fired quiche

Wed 11th Feb.

How to cook quiche on a wood fired stove.

Start to heat up the fire an hour before you want to eat. Small logs burn quicker and faster than big ones.

Take your ready rolled pastry packet out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature, about 15 minutes.

While pastry is reaching room temp. start to cook lardons (bacon) and onions in a frying pan.

When the pastry is ready lin a baking tin with it on its greaseproof paper.

When lardons and onions are cooked put them in the pastry lined tin.

Add finely chopped vegetables – broccoli, sweetcorn, peas – your choice.
Add grated cheese to the tin.

Crack 6 – 8 eggs (2 eggs per person) into a jug, add about 150 mls of milk, season to taste and whisk.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning every 15 minutes to stop burning. Timing varies depending on the heat of your oven.

Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Musee des Blindes, Saumur

Sunday 8th Feb 2009

It was cold again last night and we had a slight bit of snow again. Yesterday we went to Saumur to the tank museum with helper no.51, 2 children and me. It wasn’t an easy place to get to though we have been there 3 times already.

On the way into the town we saw a sign for Buffalo Grill and decided to have lunch there before going to the museum. So we turned left at the roundabout and into a huge industrial estate ( we could see the Buffalo Grill) drove all the way towards Buffalo grill and couldn’t get to it. So we came out, went back the way we came and still couldn’t get to it. Went back round a roundabout and headed off to town to go to McDonalds.

Came off the first roundabout and turned into l’Eclercs. Wrong. Back out and joined the motorway. Wrong, drove over the river, turned, came back and finally got to McD’s. Had lunch and then the same sort of fiasco to get to the museum. We took another 2 wrong turns before we got to where we should have been.

The museum is huge and has hundreds of tanks all grouped in various rooms – Allies, french, German, Warsaw Pact etc. Biggest child loved it, smallest child spent most of the time jumping off concrete blocks.

You can find the museum at, it is open all year except 25th Dec and 1st Jan.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Candlemas Day - Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day in USA, Candlemas Day in Europe – what does it mean? Well basically if the sun shone today it means still 6 weeks of winter to come and if it was cloudy then winter is on its way out. We will see.

It was our local livestock market today and I took 2 helpers with me. It was grey and raining so not surprisingly there wasn’t a full complement of stalls and not many people either. We bought 2 tan ‘cou-nu chicks’ at 6 weeks old and 4 ‘souche lourde’ which are meant to grow bigger than the cou-nu’s. Already they are quite a weight.

The bugs were found in a log split for the fire, anyone know what they are?? The other photo was taken yesterday, down by the playpark.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Wood fired cookers

30th January 2009


Cooking on a wood fired stove. We started cooking on wood in November 2008. Our first cooker was beautiful. Concentric rings on top that you lifted out to suit the size of cooking pot, side boiler to heat cooking water and a little oven. We rescued this little beauty from a friends ruin of a garage. After sanding with a ‘soft’ angle grinder we managed to clean off all the rust and installed the stove in our new kitchen.

It burned well and we managed to cook on it, but the firebox was just a bit too small at 40 cm logs for heating our 200m cubed room. It also didn’t burn overnight. So we changed it for an ’ugly’ wood fired stove with a bigger firebox.

Stove no.2 heats the room reasonably well ( we have had temperatures down to –14* this winter) and cooks well too. Our biggest scare with it was one day we didn’t shut down the back flue after lighting it and it was fully open for 30 minutes. When we came back into the room there was an amazing thundering noise and the flue pipe was glowing bright red like a nuclear reactor. The photo has not been edited.

How to roast chicken in a range : -

Heat your oven 30 minutes to 1 hour in advance of putting in your chicken.
Place the chicken , breast down, on a roasting tray with a complete cover of tinfoil.
Leave in the oven for as long as it takes. Todays has taken 4.5 hours so far and is still not done, but when it is it will be wonderful.
Check with a meat thermometer before eating. The juices should always run clear.

Not a very technical recipe – wood cooking is slow and the food is ready when its ready and not before. The tinfoil keeps the moisture in during cooking. At the end we usually light our ‘normal’ gas oven and heat it to ‘8’, give the chicken half to an hour cooking to finish it off and then put the roast potatoes in for the last half hour.

Sometimes we sprinkle olive oil and herbs on the chicken before cooking, today we didn’t.
The chicken weighed 3.5kg and came from our own stock. We prepared it yesterday.