Tout est bien qui finit bien

It is exactly 1 year since I started this blog. The goal was to try the technology about blogging but also to get in touch with friends who are not yet on the Fafacebook. It has been very inspirational to share my recipes, to write about our travel experiences but also about the daily life here in Luberon. Our wonderful life continues by following the seasonal changes, by meeting old and new friends and also by traveling, picknicking, dining etc. Two years ago when I decided to retire I had two main goals. The first one was to find an inner peace and the second one was to learn French. Both are still on my agenda and will remain for the rest of my life as both are evolving all the time. I will stay on Facebook and I am looking forward to reconnect with you there. In my view is facebook an excellent meeting point. You can get involved or you can just observe others, it is up to you. And remember, when you do not try new things, it a sign of getting old....and this is the last thing we like to be....or? :))

A table...

It's raining today, finally, and I hope it will continue for some days and give the nature a relief. It has been incredible dry this year. I started my day by driving to Apt for my appointment with my hairdresser and also to make some shopping. Our fridge was pretty empty after we had been away for 4 days. Yesterday, and thanks to the lack of other ingredients we managed to have a pure vegetarian day. Today, I bought chicken de bresse, which is a high quality chicken coming from the region of Bourg en Bresse, north of Lyon. So now I am roasting the main part of the chicken in oven together with rosemary and thyme from our garden. The house is filled with the wonderful smell of those mediterranean herbs. The remaining part I am cooking as a soup together with a plenty of vegetables. Today I will serve the roasted chicken with a mixed salad and as desert a fruit salad. The soup we will enjoy tomorrow together with a lot of homemade noodles.The wood fire crackles cosily inside and outside falls the darkness. It is this atmosphere, I love so much.

Canal du Midi

We took an advantage of the beautiful indian summer and decided to make a little excursion. We drove south-west with a goal to follow the Canal du Midi. 15 years ago we spent a week on the boat going from Castelnaudary via Carcassone and ended up our journey near Séte. This was a funny trip 4 adults with 3 youngsters onboard. It was time to check whether the Canal was still maintained and whether the boats still run on it. We started our trip in Séte and followed then the Canal upstream. The beaches around Séte were empty in spite of the sunny whether. We could have our pick-nick totally alone, just watching kids and surfers from a distance. There are some interesting cities along the canal as Carcassonne with its medieval La Cité. We noted that the whole area was pretty poor, simple houses and particularly a total absence of luxury hotels. In Luberon you have 4stars (= eu 5stars) in every corner. During the days we walked along the canal, in the afternoons we visited historical city and monuments and in the evenings we warmed up with local dishes like cassoulet and duck confit. Last night we found accommodation in ancient Abbey school, which was so cold and our thoughts went to all those boys who spent years in this interesting but very unfriendly building.

Escalope de dinde

This is a very easy and delicious dish accompagnied with some of the classic italian ingredients:
  • fresh rocket
  • roasted pine nuts
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
Thin slices of turkey breast are marinated over night in olive oil and juice from a lemon, seasoned with salt and pepper. This is a very fast dish so make all the other ingredients ready when you start to pan roast the meat on medium heat from both side. When ready, place it on a serving plate and top with rocket leaves, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Drizzle on top little of the olive oil and lemon juice. For variation add:
- roasted mushrooms
- shredded dried tomatoes

On a healthy route....

Sharing some pictures of our lunch and dinner today. The ingredients have changed with the season and here are some of my current favorites:
- Red beetroot, cooked and shredded with horseradish
- Sweet potatoes, roasted with olive oil in oven
- Fennel chopped and cooked in butter together with shallots and seasoned with chicken stock and spiced with curcuma.
- Celery root, cooked with cauliflower in chicken stock, mixed and served as a soup. Seasoned with parmesan cheese and parsley.
- Avocado, great to add to salads or mix into soup.
- Avocado oil, Argan oil, Sesame oil and Olive oil. Always great in salad or drizzle over soup.
- Pomegranate seeds and juice.
- Dried prunes, very high in antioxidants and perfect to add to salads, tagine or just as snack

Kick off for hiking season

Finally, after 4 months I felt my lungs and muscles work hard again. We went to a very deserted area, located 800m above the sea level and then climbed to 1100m. Driving from Luberon to the direction of Banon, you soon observe that the vineyard fields are being replaced by lavender fields, that the size of villages is getting smaller and smaller and the distance between country houses is getting larger and larger. The area doesn't posses any of the extraordinary scenic beauty like it does around gorges and rivers but offers a serenity and silence which is so rare nowadays. We walked mostly quietly, united in our happiness. As always sandwiches, coffee and tea were with us and the picnic not only strengthened our power but also helped create the whole experience of the day.

Taste of Autumn

Today's market was almost empty. I guess that it was due to the Mistral wind which has arrived and which you feel independently how well dressed you are. My husband who returned home yesterday night from Sweden was already used to the low temperature but for me it was a surprise like for many locals. We made our shopping as the fish, vegetables, bread, flowers and also some girolles (mushrooms) and chestnuts. I also visited a butcher to buy some lamb chops. Lamb is still the meat which is produced in very natural way, at least here in Provence. The butcher made a nice lamb package for me and he also shared his recipe. I should roast it for 10min from both side and then keep it in oven at 120°C  additional 20 min before I slice/cut it into individual pieces. When I bought chestnuts I received an advice how to roast them in an open fireplace. This is a new way of shopping, by receiving new ideas for cooking. Tonight we lighted the wood fire for the first time this season and  enjoyed the lamb with haricots verts and mushrooms together with a deep red wine. Now we are planning for our hike tomorrow.

Good-bye Summer, Welcome Autumn.......

There is only one remedy for the ending summer and that is to welcome in the next season with open arms. Autumn has always been my favorite season and therefore no clouds to welcome it. Particularly, here in Provence, we got an additional month of summer which makes us all pretty satisfied. Yesterday we started our french class so like other children, pupils an students we are back in school, with new energy and enthusiasm. The gardener today  pruned some of the trees and also cut the perovskia. Now, there are only the roses and the oleander flowers which still remind about the summer season. Also the vineyeards fields are getting the color of gold. I am changing the cooking style from light dishes and salads to more comfortable pots and soups. Yesterday, we enjoyed, first time in this year the pumpkin soup. I served it with a tartine and dried tomato pesto. Soon we will start our hiking season, soon we will light our woodfire to warm up during the coming chilly evenings and to make all of  things which we planned for during all those hot days.

Coq au vin with salad and sourdough bread


Coq au vin

Here comes a recipe on very traditional French dish relying on wine, herbs and a generous cooking time. There are as many recipes of this famous dish and as there are cooks. Through the years I have also developed my own version, which slightly differs from the original recipe. However, the most important is the quality of the ingredients and the time. For a really rich flavour I marinate the chicken pieces in wine overnight, cook it next day and serve it the day after. Don't underestimate the wine quality, use the best you can afford.

Ingredients 4
  • 4 large chicken legs cut in two pieces
  • 0.5l red wine
  • 150g bacon cut into cubes
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 200 mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3tbs flour
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 spring of thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • 2tbs tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Cut the chicken legs in two parts, remove the skin and marinate in red wine overnight.
  3. Put the olive oil and bacon in a large ovenproof casserole dish  and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the chopped shallots and garlic and cook until brown. Add flour and incorporate into the mixture.
  4. Add the chicken and the marinade, the chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaves (bouquete garni), tomato paste and pepper. Wait with the salt as the bacon and chicken stock may be salty enough.
  5. Put on the lock a leave it in the oven for 50min at 180°C.
  6. So long you can prepare it the day before serving.
  7. Next day cook some bacon cubes until browned, set aside
  8. Cook sliced mushrooms in a small amount of butter, set aside.
  9. Before serving, heat the casserole and sprinkle on top the mushrooms, the bacon and the chopped parsley.
  10. Serve with a good bread or pasta and green salad.

Mas des Herbes Blanches

We can say: It all started here. 18 years ago when we first arrived to the Luberon valley for vacation we discovered this beautiful hotel. Since that we have returned every year, dreaming and planning to have a similar house in similar settings. 10-years ago we bought a plot in the vicinity and started the construction. We also paid a visit to this hotel together with our architect in order to clearly communicate our ideas. Nowadays, we do not need hotel for accommodation but we return from time to time for lunch or dinner. Today, as we celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary we took the opportunity and made this day to something special…..a gourmet lunch on the terrace......

What's on....

Nothing special, just wanted to share some pictures about the influence of flowers, fruits on the interior. I do not aim to make this blog about interior decoration, this is not my strong side, this is rather about the good life. So today we returned from the market, the coffee/croissant with friends and loaded with flowers, fruits and coffee grains and other necessities for the coming week. It will be again a warm lovely summer day.....

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