You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2013.

Well, so much for summer being on it’s way. I was drinking a coffee, doing the menu plans for a job I have this week, seven straight days of an evening meal for 12 people and salivating over ideas of stews and soups. It’s the end of May and I want potée auvergate! It actually feels like summer has come and gone and now we are preparing for the winter cold. And really, it is quite difficult for our bodies. I have seen people falling ill when usually those nasty winter viruses are long gone. Today is dark and cloudy but the weather station says that tomorrow will be better.

This weather makes me really want to eat this pie. The crust is made of nuts and baked so the nuts roast and smell like heaven. The chocolate filling is firmed up with a single egg added to cream and chocolate. It’s pure heaven and so simple.



Rich chocolate tart in a nutshell


225 g walnuts or a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almond

60 g butter

2 tbsp sugar

A pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180°C /370°F

Ground the nuts in a mixer until they are nicely crushed but not powder. Add the butter, sugar and salt and then mix just until combined.

Using your fingers dampened a bit push the dough into a pie dish, making sure it goes up the sides a bit. I have a handy round pan with a pull out bottom. A cheesecake pan would be good, too.

Bake 10-12 minutes until it smells nice.




200 g good quality dark chocolate chopped

240 ml cream

1 egg

In a fairly small pot, heat the cream until almost boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and move it around until it is immersed. Lets sit for a few minuted and then stir to blend chocolate. Make sure it is completely melted. If not, heat very gently stirring constantly.

Add the egg and stir until perfectly blended. Pour into pie crust.

Bake about 15 minutes or until the center is like gelatine. It will set as it cools. Let cool to room temperature at least.

Serve with whipped cream!



Scooby was adopted !


This is Scooby. He comes from a lovely family but unfortunately they have to leave France very soon and cannot take him with them. Life throws some loops sometimes. He is a pure bred Labrador from a reputable breeder near Montpellier. He is a high energy dog who is so very sweet and devoted. He would make the perfect pet for someone who loves walking and/or hiking. He loves children and is fine with cats. If he doesn’t find a home before the 1st of June his owners will be forced to leave him at the SPA. He is four years old, so still young and not neutered, so breeding is a possibilty.

Give me a shout if you’re interested!


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I mentioned getting hens about two years ago and the children have been bugging me to actually do it since then. We finally decided to actually get a coop, make a run and buy the chickens this spring. My husband wanted to build a coop from scratch but the reality is that we have other, more time consuming projects pending and if we didn’t buy pre-fab, we weren’t going to have chickens.

The hens are my first chore of the day. I start talking to them from outside the run and they call back, ready to get out and on with their day. I once read in the book Raising chickens for Dummies that watching chickens go about their business was actually very much fun and I admit, I have not been disappointed. They seem to be busy all of the time and if they are still, it is because they have dug themselves in to a hole and are resting (which is entertaining in itself). I sit on the bench every day, when I need a break, and just watch them. They peck, they scratch, they munch and wander around. This is the head chicken. She makes the law.


When I sit on the bench, she hops up to see what I’m up to. The other day, I was cleaning out their night part of the coop from the back door and she went around the front, climbed the ladder and hopped in to the sleeping area right in front of me to see what I was doing. She is so funny!

I think the rear ends of chickens are very cute. The feathers are fine and fluffy. This is the prettiest of all of our hens. She is quite big and her coloring is light and even.


I gave them some left over cooked rice and they thought that was great! I have found that they don’t actually eat everything. They are a bit picky. But they LOVE worms. They will try and snatch them from each other.


The chickens don’t even mind if I bug them while they are laying. They just look up at me, probably thinking, “Yes? Would you like something??” I just peak, I swear.


The hens lay every morning, quite early. I’ve read pretty much all over the place that hens take about 25 hours to make an egg and so they will lay later and later until they finally skip a day. These hens went from laying at about 10h30 to about 9 and haven’t missed a day in over a month. They are super layer hens. One of them has been laying a bit later than the others, hence only three eggs in the picture.

DSC_0034They aren’t fancy hens, but they are still pretty darn cute.

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Yesterday I was at l’Arche de la solidarité, a charity shop in our town where locals bring their give away stuff but also to find treasures or great deals. I was there because I had seen some very cool lounging type chairs that I would like to refurnish and put on our terrace. Of course I had to take a look around the whole shop while I was there.

In amongst the kitchen wares, an old fashioned Fisher Price record player was perched up, all alone on a shelf. I had one when I was a child and I LOVED it. This one still has all it’s disks and works perfectly. I bought it without even asking the price because they sell stuff like that for pennies. When I got it home, the girls fell instantly in love.

This is Lou, dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, listening to Humpty Dumpty.


When I hear the music, I am transported back many, many years to similar rainy Sunday afternoons, sitting on the floor, winding up the record player, placing the arm and listening to each and every song, humming away. Watching her is almost like watching a film of my own childhood.


But I didn’t have these very fancy, sparkly shoes!


Happy Sunday

Everything is finally in the ground. I thought this year would be later than usual but after watching what others were doing, taking the advice of the guy at France Rurale and looking at the week long weather forcast, I decided that a day where rain was called for in the afternoon was going to be the day. We had already shoveled a huge trailer full of mixed manure on the plot and rototilled. Here is my blank slate, about a quarter smaller than other years:


I usually get the lettuce in the ground a lot earlier but in February I caught the flu that led to a horrible ear infection and pneumonia that put me in the hospital for five days. I was very tired for weeks and not ready to deal with the garden in March (hence my silence here as well). Lettuce hates our summer heat and so hopefully these ones will grow quickly!


After waiting a few days for the nights to be less cold and the weather to stabilize I bit (we had snow just a few weeks ago!) I finally decided to get the summer crops in the ground.


I bought some traditional, high yield tomato plants but at the market I also bought a big selection of heirloom plants. I was reading an issue of an american magazine they were talking about these new plants that have a heirloom look about them but are actually a mix of heirloom and modern plants, so they look old fashioned but have a high yield. I admit I found it quite shocking.

I really have no idea what I have planted because I just asked the farmer to give me a variety of his heirloom plants and when we started planting with Margot who is five, I asked her to count them. I wasn’t looking and she took all of the plants out of their trays and so I had no idea what was what. Oh well. I can’t seem to ever keep track of my tomato plants. It’s a mystery every year.


What’s a vegetable garden without basil?


Eggplant, my favorite vegetable. Had never eaten it before I came to Europe but by the Med, it’s everywhere.


My rhubarb is still very happy after about five years. Made some nice compote yesterday to serve with my daughter’s panna cotta. Fantastic!


Red and green Batavie lettuce, leeks, sweet, red Toulouges onions.


We have four new members of the family that live beside the veggie patch, Tulipe, Coquelicot, Pétunia and Marguerite. Four young laying hens. I never thought I’d become attached to chickens, but I have. My husband constructed the handy coop in a kit (Chemin des poulaillers) and placed it on a concrete base. He then built a fence so they could wander during the day. They are very spoiled hens! You can’t see it but the run leads out onto a nice green patch. I’ll be dedicating a post to them very shorty.





Jennifer is a Canadian/American, living in the South of France for the last 18 years. Married to a frenchman who's job forces him to spend a lot of his time overseas, she has learned to cope with all those everyday challenges brought about by her sometimes crazy life. Adapting to a new culture, raising children, taking care of animals, growing a vegetable garden, cooking for her family and friends, teaching cooking classes and trying to maintain a fairly organized and inviting home. Here are some of her thoughts about it all.

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