31 July 2015

It wouldn't be summer without sunflowers.

25 years ago today we arrived in France to live.

 With my two Labrador dogs in the back of the car
with loads of boxes & bags pushed in to make them safe.
I can still remember driving through northern France
 seeing fields of yellow for miles & miles.


It was such a feeling of what summers were going to be like. 
I hoped they would be growing in the fields near where we were going to be living.

and they were.

This is what I see whilst driving to our nearest Boulangerie
or on my way to the hairdressers.

Certainly a joy to see.

I still smile & pinch myself seeing such beauty.

To see so many flowers turning their heads in the same direction facing the sun,
 makes me think of a crowd of sunbathers lying on the beach getting a tan.

Soon they will be harvested and sent to make Sunflower oil. 

In the meantime I'll savour the sunny days.

Enjoy your summer whether you are at home or away on holiday.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

11 July 2015

Market day

I haven't been to Piegut- Pluvier market for a long time.
It's rated as being the best market in our area and stall holders come
 from far and wide, it's always very busy especially during the summer season;
so we like to arrive early. It's about a 25 min. drive from where we live.

 Most times I go to the market with our visitors or a friend.
It's not very often Mr France comes with me, but as we were up early
 he came with me. Here he is with my straw market basket.

We started off buying lots of fruit.
The Apricots were almost as big as the peaches.

I needed to stock up on fresh garlic so searched out my favourite stall.
It's always much cheaper to buy them loose.
I only buy the platted strung garlic as gifts.
Next I wanted summer fresh vegetables.
I'll be making summer salads with the Haricot vert beans.

This is how I make a quick simple bean salad.
Top & tail the beans. bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
cook the beans just enough to still have a crunch, about 7 to 10 mins.
drain in a colander, then plunge them straight away into iced water,
this will keep them green.
Put the beans into a serving dish, and drizzle some good quality olive oil over them,
  add some thinly sliced spring onions, toss tog. season with ground black pepper.
If you make a large amount, they will keep for a few days stored
in a sealed plastic container, in the fridge.

I noticed a lot of the stalls I used to visit were not there anymore,
so I decided to look around to find a new source for good fresh veg.
I saw a queue, at a  stall I'd never seen before, this is always a good sign.
 It was all Bio vegetables, which is usually more expensive, but their prices 
were very competitive. I had a peep first and all their produce looked top quality 
so I tagged on at the end of the queue. I noticed most of the people had
crumpled brown paper bags in their hands, which I assumed were from
their last visit and they must be regular customers. 
So not only were the producers Eco friendly all their regular clients were too.
So I'll certainly be buying my vegetables from there again.

 I bought a kilo of plum tomatoes with the intention of slow roasting them,
but I made a tomato salad drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled 
with fresh basil with a crunchy baguette for lunch,
I wish I'd bought more. I'll have to buy more next week .

My last purchase were olives to have with our evening aperitif.

So many types so I left that purchase for Mr France to choose.

He chose Greek and Moroccan, black olives

 There were lots of wine stalls, we only looked this time.
maybe next week we'll try wine from another region.

 Vin Rosé seemed to be the most popular.

I was pleased with the fresh fruit & vegetables I bought.
 Here's my straw market basket full of all things fresh.

I hope you enjoyed joining me along with Mr France at our favourite market.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

08 July 2015

Cutting my Lavender

Very soon after I'd been living in France and several weekly visits
 to the local markets, bringing back home the wonderful selection
 of fresh fruit and vegetables in plastic carrier bags.
I realized I needed the right shopping bag, so I bought my French
 style market basket, which as you can see is well worn
as it's been to many markets.

But early this morning before the sun had come up I used it 
along with my well used flat basket 
to carry the freshly cut Lavender from my garden.

I gathered it by the hand-full and tied each bunch with string, to hang
and leave to dry in a dark room hoping it will keep it's lovely blue colour.

 During the day I moved the bunches around the terrace
so that I could enjoy the beautiful aroma.
Each time I touched the flower heads, they release their oil so the scent
 began to float around the terrace, reminding me of my visit to the Provence.

I left a bouquet on the day bed.

Tomorrow I'll be cutting some more
and making some Lavender and ribbon posies.

I'll also be replacing this lavender from last year 
and using it to fill some small cotton bags I've made
 to hang in the guest bedrooms.

I love this time of the year the days are long,
 and the garden is full of
 wonderful perfume from the many different plants.

I'd love to know what you do with your Lavender.
I have a good crop this year so I need lots of new ideas, let me know.

Look forward to your ideas.
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian