Sunday, September 30, 2012

SUNDAY SUPPER


So the kitchen is almost done (only the hood needs to be installed), all pots and pans are unpacked and the fridge is full of good ingredients. Ready to cook it up.  Not that we haven`t before in the Gite, but now all is in place to venture out a bit from the routine dishes such as Risotto and sausages.

During the week, and Isabella at school, we eat mostly light lunches, sometimes just a salad or a sandwich and in the evenings a little something more substantial. Overall though, not much has changed yet from our favorite foods. Yes, we added a few new french dishes, but I believe when you reach a certain level of likes, you tend to stick with them. Geography did not change that too much. So far. Little by little it will, I am sure of it.

Sundays, with not much to do, we usually make more of an effort to cook it seems. It usually starts with a visit to the Friday market to find something good to make.
For today`s dinner I bought a veal shank which already came stuffed with ham and cheese. Somewhat skeptical I thought I never had veal stuffed before, but once I started eating, it came over very much alike to  Cordon Bleu (not the school, but a famous meal in Austria), just roasted and not deep fried. We found a great butcher it seems. It was a nice roast.
We also found the first Brussel sprouts of the season, which we all really like roasted in olive oil with plenty of garlic..
 I made Cucumber salad in Mexican Crema, opened a nice bottle of red and had a great dinner with the family. The way Sunday evenings should be.

Victoria knocked out another one of our favorites for dessert, gluten free lava cake served warm with vanilla ice cream. Look at it as testing out some meals to cook for you when you all come and visit us. What do you think?



CURRENTLY MY FAVORITE APPETIZER

STUFFED VEAL SHANK WITH ROASTED SPROUTS

CUCUMBER SALAD IN CREMA DRESSING

NOT BAD, NOT BAD

GF LAVA CAKE WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FRESH CEPES


On my way to Angouleme this morning I saw the first wild mushroom stand of the season. Hoping for Chanterelles, I stopped by on the way back home.  But the season apparently is not so good and the vendor told me no Chanterelles yet, if any. 
Already preparing a Risotto in my mind, somewhat disappointed I bought some of his so so quality Cepes, which in their own way are just as good as Chanterelles. Strong, earthy mushrooms. Great by themselves, just roasted, as a sauce to go with beef, or in an omelette,  I like them just fine.

The quality  on display though did not impress me much at all and when I saw his pricing....dinner  quickly became leftover soup and an Omelette.
After cleaning the few I did pick, it was just the perfect amount for one Omelette to share with Isabella and some roasted Cepes for Victoria.  
They did not disappoint, we all enjoyed the first wild mushrooms of this fall.. 

This vendor brought them up from the Pyrenees, or so he said. 
I wonder if there is the same racket of mushroom pickers here in France as there is in Austria. Last year the regional government of Salzburg instated a weight limit one person could pick, as some inventive Italians would bring up bus loads of pickers to harvest as much as they could carry, for their own markets back south. 
They showed some ridiculous news clips on TV, where civil servant mushroom Sheriffs roamed the country side, inspecting baskets and bags of unsuspecting mushroom hunters. Only to then let them off with " a warning" this time around. That will scare the Italians.....





ROADSIDE STAND OUTSIDE ANGOULEME

OK BUT NOT GREAT

ALAIN DUCASSE REJECTS?

JUST ENOUGH FOR THE THREE OF US

AFTER LOTS OF CLEANING

SLICE THEM UP

QUICK ROAST IN SOME GARLIC BUTTER

BUT DON'T OVERDO IT

CRACK SOME EGGS, CHOP THE PARSLEY

MAKES A GREAT OMELETTE

ISABELLA LIKED THE FLAVOR

Saturday, September 22, 2012

AT THE VET


About three weeks ago our dog inhaled some food particles into her lungs and has been sick ever since. 
The day it happened, I took Emily to the vet who checked her out and told me to come back if it does not get any better. Well, two days later she was not better at all, so we went back for a more thorough check. By then she lost all appetite and just was not herself at all. 
The vet took much more time this time around and wanted to X Ray the dog for a clearer diagnosis. Have you ever xrayed a dog? I had to help the vet, otherwise I would have taken a picture of it all. The animal basically gets stretched out on her back and side, very similar to those rabbits you see at the butchers......

It was clear from the xray that Emily had a lung infection from the food she inhaled and the prognosis was 50/50. A set of three injections and a harsh regime of antibiotics and Cortisone was prescribed.
Emily is not out of the woods yet, she lost weight and has a hard time catching her breath when we go outside. But she is a trooper. Let's hope it will get better soon.


A VERY TIRED EMILY

RECEPTION AT THE VET

 IT'S NOT HER KIND OF PLACE

A GOOD VET

 UNHAPPY DOG

X-RAY MACHINE


PNEUMONIA

ONE HURT, TWO WERE OK

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FOR SALE



From shacks to chateaux. Walking around Jarnac, it seems a good third  of all properties are for sale around here. In a town of 5000 people, we have six real estate offices to begin with and then in France something like half of all transactions are still done privately without involving a real estate pro.

Looking on Le Bon Coin (similar to KIJIJI) there are 227 listings in Jarnac alone, ranging from 22K for a piece of land, to 1,3 Million for a country manor outside of town proper. 
It seems a lot of the sales are inheritance related, when family members cannot agree amongst themselves and sell out. Or simply do not want to renovate an old, outdated house.

People from Britain long time ago realized that life in France has it's appeals, moderate climate being one of them. I wonder if North Americans will be a future force of expats to come, or if life in Europe does not appeal to them as much as it does to others.  

Is Europe too far? Are there too many questions and hurdles about living and working in France? 
Compared to some overheated markets such as Vancouver or GTA, it sure cannot be the price. 
Lack of opportunity? I don't think so.  Plenty to do here, from renovations for unhandy guys like me, to hospitality businesses that generate a decent revenue, the ideas are endless really.
Maybe the realtors don't market to North Americans? 


 BARN FOR SALE

CHATEAU FOR SALE

ONE OF FOUR IMMOBILIERS AROUND PLACE DU CHATEAU

THE TOWNHOUSE NEXT DOOR 187M2, INCLUDING A SHOP

FSBO

MY FAVORITE COURTYARD

DID NOT SELL AT AUCTION

LESS THAN  $50.00USD/SQFT

SOLD

Friday, September 14, 2012

SMOOTHIES


Every since living in Las Vegas we had a Blender. A Vitamix. It got used a lot for smoothies and soups over the years. Iced drinks more so than my puree soups. Victoria would always have fruits and vegetables in the house to make a good, healthy drink for the family.

When we started selling some of our household before moving to Europa, the Vitamix was the very first item that got bought. I had it on KIJIJI for not even half a day and three people wanted it. The low asking price did help, but it is a very good mixer.

Here in Europe the asking price for a new Vitamix is 650.00 Euros, or around 840.00 Dollars. Considering that our very nice washing machine was less than half that price, I could not justify that purchase.
So we started to look for alternatives locally, something good to make iced drinks and some soups as well. The hunt did not go so well. In our area and south in Bordeaux we could not find any Blender that would come close the Vitamix in performance. regular household strength yes.
My next step then was to maybe find a used one on EBAY or Le Bon Coin, but there weren't any to be found.
But I did find a very similar looking blender on EBAY, the JTC OmniBlend V Some research and comparisons made us go for that one. 

At 220.00 Euros it not only comes in two thirds lower in price, the performance is at par with the higher priced Vitamix. Maybe the overall design is not as slick as it could be, the lid is softer,  there is a push button dial and the jar itself is maybe not as solid as the competition.
In the end though we made a good buy. The 3HP motor makes the smoothies we want and the rest we get used to.  Soup next.




JTC OMNI BLEND V



VERY STRONG 3HP MOTOR


MANGO, STRAWBERRY BANANA SMOOTHIE

ICE CUBES

BLOOD ORANGE JUICE

AFTER A FEW SECONDS, STILL CHUNKY

COMPLETELY SMOOTH AFTER 35 SECONDS

Thursday, September 06, 2012

FLYERS



The paper kind, not Hockey. 
Very much the same as in North America, once a week we get flyers. 
Grocery shops, clothing stores, DIY markets and so on. Maybe not as many big box stores here in France, so there are less of them in the door.

And of course we read them. Always great to buy something on special. If one sticks to necessities and not door crashers, it can save a few Euros here and there.
Our buying pattern so far is very disjointed compared to when we lived in Calgary. Superstore was it 8 out of 10 times.  Costco the other two.
Here, twice weekly we go the fresh market for fruits and vegetables, some cold cuts or meats and fish. Depending on what we feel like.
Fresh milk (cannot stand the popular UHT version), we have to buy at the supermarket and we also frequent Lidl, our favorite discounter.  The images shown do not reflect what we buy but rather for comparison for you. I am not going into the cost of living details, we seem to be not your normal family. If you are interested,  this three part article is very well written. 


Some things are more expensive in France, others of course are cheaper. To me, it seems to even out. One big difference though is our behavior. We eat fresher and we cook in smaller quantities. In Calgary, there were always always leftovers in the fridge. Many times, after not eating them, inevitably they ended up in the garbage. 
Here? I have yet to throw out food. An interesting observation. The roasted chickens always seems to be the perfect size for the three of us, unlike the one I used to purchase (for less) at Costco. Of which, we could have dinner, a couple of sandwiches for Isabella Mondays and Tuesdays and them some for the garbage. So I rate that as a good thing.

Since we were renovating (and still are), the DIY store flyers are always the ones we watch. Come October, we are going to insulate the attic. 120m2, currently wide open and drafty space. We ill just lay some of those  fiberglass rolls down for now. until we decide what to do up there.



WE GET THEM AT THE STORE FRONT, BUT NOT AT THE HOUSE

SIMILAR TO SUPERSTORE 

OUR HOME DEPOT

THE BETTER DISCOUNTER

ANOTHER LARGE SUPERSTORE

BETTER THAN TWO BUCK CHUCK AT TRADER JOE'S........

THAT'S A DOOR CRASHER PRICE

WE NEED ABOUT 120M2 OF THAT STUFF

I WAS UNABLE TO TURN THEM, SO YOU HAVE TO TURN SIDEWAYS

CHEESES, ALWAYS A BARGAIN

LIDL, BETTER THAN A DOLLAR STORE

CAN YOU EVEN FIND RABBIT IN CANADA?

OF COURSE IT'S LESS HERE