Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bunny day

Bonne idée ? Today we'll cook our annual rabbit dinner, but with a twist: I'll be cooking the bunny on the barbie. I don't think I've done that before. We're also planning to have spaghetti squash (yes, we still have a few from last fall's harvest) and some collard greens, also from our garden.

Little yellow flowers grow under a tree by the river.

It'll be interesting to see what goes on in the neighborhood today. Most of the out-of-town neighbors are here for the weekend. I expect some of them will be receiving family and/or friends for Sunday dinner.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Somewhere in Eriador

Watch out for trolls! Actually, this bridge crosses a stream bed very close to the Cher River, not far from our house. The stream gets it's start up in the vineyards behind us. It's named, I think, l'aulne (alder) after the trees that are commonly found along water courses. There was no water in the stream on this day; it was bone dry.

Looks like something out of Middle Earth, doesn't it? Maybe hobbits passed by here...

It's Easter weekend and we are preparing for our annual rabbit dinner. This year Ken wants to grill the bunny, so we'll cut it up into pieces and marinate it with a spicy mustard sauce overnight tonight. One of our local supermarkets had a special on rabbits two weeks ago so I got a couple and put them in the freezer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Moonset

When I got up Thursday morning I saw the just-past-full moon setting in the west, lining up nicely with that lone tree out in the vineyard. I wanted to take a picture, but my camera wasn't ready. No card, wrong lens, and the tripod base was not attached. I scrambled to get it together before the moon moved out of position. I took a few shots without the tripod and this is the best one.

A nice clear morning. The photo would be a little crisper had I used the tripod.

My tripod has a base attachment that screws into the bottom of the camera. That way, putting the camera on and off the tripod is done with a simple click. But for it to be quick, you've got to keep the base screwed onto the camera. The last time I replaced the camera battery I didn't put the tripod base back on. That'll learn me.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hello Dolly

This 2CV was sitting outside the Clos Roussely winery on Sunday. My friend noticed that it's named Dolly. I don't know anything else about it, but it's pretty, non?

The official winery car. Every winery should have one.

Ken is home and getting back into his regular routine. Callie was very happy to see him, but Bertie is pretending not to notice. He'll come around soon enough. Dogs and cats, eh?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coq au vin

Since Ken is arriving home today after a couple of weeks in the US, I thought I'd make something French for him. I'm sure he's been enjoying seafood, barbeque, and hamburgers at home in North Carolina. So, as a change, I made my version of the classic French coq au vin (chicken in red wine).

The sauteed pork, onions, carrots and garlic, along with armagnac and red wine.

Rather than use an old coq (rooster, the traditional ingredient), I used haut de cuisse (thighs), with bone in and skin on. First I sauteed some smoked lardons (bacon) and followed that with diced carrots, garlic, and some whole small onions. I seasoned with pepper, and added tarragon and thyme (I didn't add salt because the bacon is salty -- I'll correct if necessary once it's finished). Then I browned the chicken. When the chicken was golden, I removed it from the pan, put the vegetables back in, and sprinkled some flour on them to give the sauce a little body.

Browned chicken thighs. As an alternative, the chicken can be marinated in the wine with the vegetables overnight before it's browned.

Next, with the vegetables back out of the pan, I de-glazed with some armagnac. I put all of the ingredients into an oven dish along with some bay leaves and black pepper, then poured in a bottle of our local red. That went into the oven to cook slowly for a few hours. It spent the night in the refrigerator and will be reheated this afternoon -- dishes like this are often better the next day. At that point I'll add some mushrooms that I sauteed this morning.

Nearly finished, after three hours in a slow oven. There's a layer of clear fat to be skimmed off the top, but you get the idea.

Ken may be too jet-lagged and tired to eat. But maybe not.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A horse is a horse, of course

I mentioned that Clos Roussely (the winery I visited on Sunday) is an organic operation. One of the things that means is that they don't use herbicides to keep the weeds down in the vineyard. Organic growers will either mow or more commonly plow the rows in between the vines. Plowing helps control the weeds but probably also helps by aerating the soil.

Munching on a bit of spring grass. The plowman is standing behind.

Most growers plow with a tractor. But Roussely works with a guy who uses his horse to manually plow up the rows. Apparently he hires his services out to other local vintners as well. I asked him what breed the horse is and naturally forgot it as well as her name. But I do remember that she's a young'un at four years old. She was having a well-deserved break while we tourists had a look.

Pointing the way to the horse (but the drawing looks like a donkey). "Hee-haw! Come give us a hug!"


Monday, April 14, 2014

Clos Roussely

Friends K&J invited me to tag along with them to a local winery open house on Sunday. The owner, Vincent Roussely, recently (a few years ago) bought his family's former wine operation and updated it. He grows the traditional Touraine varietals, gamay, cabernet, côt, and sauvignon, all organically.

Vincent Roussely outside his winery in Angé, Touraine.

The event was held inside the winery's cave (cellar) and featured winemakers from Champagne, Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Chablis (Burgundy), and Sablet (Côtes du Rhône villages), along with Vincent's own wines. There were also some local food producers providing samples of their goat cheeses, baked goods, and other treats. I had a good time tasting (I wasn't driving) and brought home twenty liters of local wine (gamay and rosé) along with six bottles of Chablis (chardonnay).

Tasting in the cave.

It was another beautiful spring day with plenty of warm sunshine and the views of the Cher Valley from up on the heights where the grapes grow was spectacular. The forecast for most of this week is the same. Yay!