Monday, October 21, 2013

FRISEE SALAD



Though we can still walk around in T-Shirts half the time, fall has arrived. Gone is the heat, no more swimming in the river and the vegetable stands at the market definitely have different fare to sell.
While we ate mostly Mache salad all summer, it just does not chive all that much with winter. 

Frisee on the other hand is much more like this season. Slightly bitter, hardy and tense leaves.  Looking at a head of Frisee , it reminds me of edible thistles almost...Which makes for a nice "tiede" salad. Tiede means warm in french. I love it with a bacon vinaigrette and some eggs that just were boiled. Many recipes show this salad with poached eggs, but I prefer them hard boiled, but warm. I also add a spoon of Creme Fraiche to the mix it gives a creamier texture and sticks better to the leaves.
You could not do that dressing with Mache leaves, they'd wilt on impact, but those frizzy leaves? No worries. It's a meal!

Simply cut up some bacon, fry it up, douse the heat with your favorite vinegar, salt, pepper and all done.  If you have some potatos around, fry with the bacon and mix them into the salad.




GIANT HEADS OF FRISEE SALAD AT THE MARKET

FRY UP THE BACON

A DASH OF VINEGAR

MY VERSION IS WITH CREME FRAICHE

SALT, PEPPER AND THE EGGS!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

LE CHEESE




As I read today's headlines, one stood out about Canada's PM Harper having reached a trade agreement with the European Union. Cool I say, Maple Syrup everywhere. But as I read on, this jumps out: 


Canada’s dairy farmers ‘angered and disappointed’ by EU trade deal that would double cheese imports



Of course there has to be a lobby for everything, including dairy farmers. And they are upset that Canada is being opened up to more Euro cheese. Now, some of you who read this are not from Canada, let me tell you that dairy products (especially cheese) are very expensive in Canada. I'd say up to 60% more than the same product in the US or Europe. It was always one of my main comments when we lived in Canada, that the Saputo Cheese Mafia  gouges the consumer with their sub par products. 

I am not an expert, so I watched a couple of videos on You Tube by Wally Smith, the chief dairy farmer who droned on about how subsidized cheese from outside the country ruins their way of life, yada yada yada, how Canadian cheese this, American engineered cheese that and how they should keep fighting to protect their industry by blocking that trade agreement.  Huh? 2013? I don't get it. It sounded very protectionist. Very 1978.
I'd think rather than starting a battle the farmers won't win, they should invest their membership dollars into educating customers at home and promoting their products around the world. Just recently this Ontario cheese won a global competition in England. and some other Canadian cheeses I had in Calgary were excellent as well.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/this-canadian-cheese-wins-the-world-title/article14866013/
They don't need to hide their achievements. Unless of course their chief milking guy tells them to. For sure there are other arguments to be made, such as the Canadian food police making small producers jump through hoops to justify those high prices. But more than 50% higher than the US?  

To clue in the facts, currently only 2% of total cheese consumption in Canada is permitted to be imported from Europe. In the trade agreement it was agreed upon to double that to 4%.  No matter where in the world, if a trade organization is afraid of a 4% share of the pie, they suck at what they do. The managers, not the farmers. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

A PROTEST



Looks like I missed a small protest yesterday evening. Though I did see way too many Gendarmes walking around, I had no idea that the local leftists arranged a march through Jarnac.
If it is true that there were only ten guys marching as the local paper wrote today, then I can tell you for sure there were more cops than protesters. Who were paid OT, most likely from the protester's taxes. Just nuts.

It's about pension reform from what I can see. The protest ended in front of the local Socialist rep's office who apparently was not even here so they just taped their signs to her office window. How effective. Theywere removed by 8.30 when I walked back from school.
I am not sure what the goal is or was, since Prez Hollande already cut the retirement age to 60 from 62. Freedom 55?  The sign that got me is the one that says "money for retirement, not stock options". Ehm, I think half of Alberta's (or Silicon Valley) boom is built on the back of those options. Or am I out to lunch here.  
Anyway. My other favorite country in Europe (Austria) just held elections last weekend and the socialists in charge got spanked there. They'll remain in power, but lost significant votes to the fairly far right Freedom Party. No matter how many handouts a government gives to it's citizens, they will always want more it seems. 

So we might as well buckle up in France. The next elections are not until 2017, but there could be a major swing to the right. Hollande keeps stumbling through his term, barely making any progress. Sarkozy has just been cleared from wrong doing during his term and could re enter politics on the middle right.  And on the right fringe, Marine Le Pen has more charisma than both of the two combined. 
People here should be content with what they have. Since their ambitions seem limited, this cradle to grave assistance from the government does work for them.  They can't have it both ways, no matter how hard they try. 






THE OFFICE OF A LOCAL POLITICIAN THIS MORNING

WHY THEM AND NOT US

CASH FOR RETIREMENT, NOT STOCK OPTIONS

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

CHICKEN STOCK



While the European Union and America have pretty much the same size population, Europa is still very much more fragmented and individualistic. Not a negative or positive, just an observation.
One drawback of that is that larger US consumer goods companies have a hard time breaking into this huge market. Even Wal Mart failed.
Costco has been talking about it, but no progress to date. Costco is the one company I miss most and with that, many products. Organic chicken stock, gluten free. If you know where to find it in Europe, let me know.

Until then, we make our own. Which is actually not a bad thing at all. Know your ingredients, eat at home and nobody will call you a "food terrorists" at a restaurant when you inquire about the Risotto being gluten free.....(http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/09/30/letters-gluten-free-is-just-another-example-of-the-food-terrorists-winning/)

We eat a lot of roast chicken here in France and we always freeze the carcass instead of throwing it out as we did back in Calgary. (Where we had Costco, who carried the best gluten free chicken stock. )
I think Victoria waits until she has four of them before dumping it all into our large stock pot and boils the bones for a long while. I say 6 hours or more? Not much flavoring needed, you can add spices when using the stock. Leave it sit in the fridge for a night, remove all the fat, pour into smaller containers and freeze up the soup. Makes the best Risotto and many other great dishes.



MY GO TO BRAND OF CHICKEN STOCK IN CANADA


FOUR POTS FULL OF STOCK

BEFORE AND AFTER SKIMMING THE FAT

DISPOSE THE FAT.


CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

RISOTTO


WE EAT A LOT OF ROAST CHICKEN

DON'T THROW OUT THE CARCASS. BOIL IT FOR HALF A DAY

IN YOUR BIGGEST POT