Greetings…

Paris postcard found at a 'vide-grenier' - 'Place de la Republique'
old Paris postcard found at a ‘vide-grenier’ – ‘Place de la Republique’

Up early this morning and dashed out to a village ‘vide-grenier’…  it’s a type of garage sale, but instead of just one household selling their wares on the street, it’s a whole village full!   If you’ve never been to one, they are just brilliant and full of potential treasure – and trash (as many would say!).

I’ve got to say I’m a little hooked and it’s one of those rare mornings where I’m ready to spring out of bed at 6am.  There’s even get a slight adrenaline rush as I jostle for a car park close to the sectioned-off streets and head towards the first stand displaying its wares.  I’m on a mission –  my purse is heavy with coins and my chest is literally bursting with excitement.  Sicko, you might say.  But really!  Vide-greniers (this translates as ’empty the attic’) offer all sorts of wonderful objects. And hey it’s in France, so for me that makes it totally exotic (mind you, being far from home, kangaroos and gums are also completely exotic for me now).  It’s not everyday you can buy the old scribbled-in picture books from the elderly monsieur’s childhood collection, or the 60s flowery frock from Madame’s hand-me -downs.  I’ve even picked up a whopping Le Creuset cast iron pot  for 8 Euros (now this find was in the half-dark it was so early and I had a torch!).   Mmmn, a post on vide grenier treasures will follow!

These ‘village garage sales’ are held on weekends (Sunday is the big day for our region)and start from around 8am, with people beginning to pack up around 4pm.  But if you want to find the ‘better’ stuff and real bargains, it’s best to head out as early as 7am (ie 8 Euro cookpot) – the time where you’ll rub shoulders with the ‘professionals’ already out for the hunt.

Here’s a few pics of some local vide greniers to whet the appetite for some…

vg 8
aaargh!!! this is a sight that sends me CRAZY

vg 2

vg 1

vg 10-11

vg 9

vide grenier 7

vg 7
I just loved this lady’s pricing for her old linen
vg 12
Lilas’ already an old hand at these things
vg 5
…that’s her with the Viewfinder

Today the weather has been pretty dire, so I headed out early and came home early (it has been raining much of this weekend – not something we’re needing when it is already difficult to access the vineyards by tractor, we’re hoping the forecast for heat for this week dries everything up).

I came home with a few postcards amongst my finds.

Goutez nos olives

This first one, above, was actually written (from the 60s?) on today’s date!?!  Woh!

Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today's
Reading over the cards from this mornng over a coffee, I noticed the date marked was today’s

But have a look at these beauties…

'Babyface'
‘Babyface’
'Rond Point'
‘Rond Point’ (the guy on the far right side is to blame for this purchase)
...not much to be said
…not much to be said
guitar chick
You go girl, stroke those strings…
st eloi
this guy’s a fave
frenchie loveeers
check those fellas (mounds of muscle)

…and on the above theme,

...love an old recipe postcard
…love an old recipe postcard

But I do love a pretty card too.

sailboat postcard

another old Paris postcard:  'Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite'
another old Paris postcard: ‘Marche aux Fleurs de la Cite’

Lost in the Charente

Have been lost in the Charente, getting down with quality ‘in-law‘ time.

Will report back soon.

Hallelujah. A train station in France that offers an alternative to all those lumping stairs
Hallelujah. A train station in France that offers an alternative to all those lumping stairs
controlleur
a quick ‘clope’ (fag)

gare de Saintes

2CV charente

fishing

angeac sign

Here little piggy

following in the footsteps
on the trail

When I’m on a roll and doing the right thing by my back (my G.P. freaked when I said I was discovering the merits of beer and wine over prescription pills to ease chronic pain), I get out and walk.

Up and down and around the numerous ‘chemins‘(paths) of our local village after dropping Lilas off at school – or if I’m at home, I lock the door behind me and head out for a wander around ye olde hamlet.  There’s nothing better for head-clearing than getting out and enjoying the sights and smells and sounds from the viewpoint of your feet (I haven’t yet embraced the bike-thing, despite obvious inspiration from the many folk here in Frogsville).

And now more than ever – with the hunting season is officially over, I can walk panic-free.

It sounds crazy but believe me, there’s this dodgy period of the year, from September to the end of February, when delightful shots ring in the air and I freeze and cower behind some vines.  The hunters are out.  Crouching like a ninny, you wonder if your bulk in a huge brown puffa jacket ressembles more wild sanglier (boar) than human.  Especially when you’re not much taller than a wild boar – and on all fours (ooh la la, I won’t start).  Here little piggy.

shells
Lilas likes collecting up the rubbish they leave behind. On you girl!

I’m not joking, accidents happen all over France each year during hunting season.  You can find any number of stats on the net, one of which claims 57 hunting-related deaths in the 2012/2013 season (up from 42 in the 2011/2012 year).  But the stats, depending who is reporting them, vary: the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage cites for 2011/2012, 131 hunting-related accidents of which only 18 were mortal, for eg.  And don’t forget the 9% concerning ‘non-hunters’…

hunting plaque

It’s a topic charged with anger on both sides of the fence.  I wonder which side this author is hanging on…

Oohla, Bernard has a petit hunting zizi surprise in his pocket
Ooh laa, Bernard’s petit hunting zizi surprise has popped out of its pocket – image courtesy of La Buvette des Alpages
…(AND NO, Bill! – that is not me that circled the goods)

Yes I’m confused, and wary of the propaganda – but when you’re out there enjoying the cacophany of shots whilst stepping over colourful empty shell cases, I wonder what my odds are.  I should maybe don a red beanie and have a plastic red rose held high, a la the travel guides shepherding their groups around the grand squares of Europe.

a tranquil walking path
a tranquil walking path, minus the hunting crowd

On the less extreme end, some groups simply argue for a ban on Sundays (most accidents occur on weekends)…  This leads me to wonder why Wednesday (with Saturday and Sunday) is also nominated as an’open’ hunting day of the week  – when it is, all-over France, the mid-week day-off for children from school?  Can’t say I’m itching to take Lilas out for a walk when you can see the camouflage khakis and gun cocked on a guy strolling not that far from the kitchen door.

But hey, on the whole I have no problems with hunting if regulations are respected.  It’s incredibly popular here in the Minervois and you see a big proportion of the villagers getting involved.  It’s almost like a religion.  And these guys are outside, enjoying the elements (and the odd bottle of red) and providing some of us meat-eaters with food on the table.  Probably better than frozen nuggets, pot and a few hours of Playstation in a dark living room .

dawgs in the back
dawgs in the back…  (I’d been wondering where I’d put this pic)

So onto those walks.  Like I said,  the season has offically ‘closed’ and the hunters are at rest for the next few months at least.  The piggies et al can relax – and me too.

hamlet 8

hamlet 6

hamlet 3

4L hamlet

calam5

hamlet 2

black pusscalam13

hameau

mousse

calam1

hamlet9

hamlet 10

Mamy Jeanne’s Jardinière de Légumes

 

jardiniere cooking

It’s the season of peas.  How delicious and sweet they are – served in the pods as a nibble during the aperitif, or boiled or steamed.  I grew up with my fair share of them – Mum always hid them in the mashed potato –  and I loved them like that even if ‘green’ was a no-go zone at the time.  But I must say that the peas we ate were more of the frozen in a bag variety (feeding a family takes a lot of shelling I now realise).  Now it’s a delight to find so many fresh peas around at the markets and Lilas and I’ve had a great time sitting amongst the rows of vineyards (Benjamin uses them as a ‘green fertiliser’) picking and eating them.

pea

 

Lilas shelling peas for Mum
Lilas shelling peas with her Mum

 

 

A couple of years ago, my parents-in-law brought Mamy Jeanne with them to stay at our place (Mamy Jeanne is Benjamin’s maternal grandmother and ever since my arrival in France has been a huge support – even when my French was non-existant and communication was conveyed by gestures).  Not one to sit around and enjoy  being waited on , Mamy wanted to help contribute to the numerous family reunions we were having that week and prepare a few of her favourite Spring dishes from over the years.  And we’re talking a few Springtimes here – Mamy is 90 and also been known to wield a ping-pong bat in games against the great-grandchildren.

Mamy Jacqueline et Mamy Jeanne
I just love this photo of the two Mamys: Here is Mamy Jeanne on the right and Mamy Jacqueline on the left

jardiniere on stove

So I took Mamy to the local market and she was very keen to buy up on the peas.  She wanted to show me how to make a Jardinière de Légumes (as one of my husband’s favourite dishes, it was almost a family duty to add this to the repertoire) and I was very eager to hover over the stove as she did it.

When the peas are abundant in Spring and you have the arrival of the other ‘legumes nouveaux’ (new vegetables), this dish is served on many French tables.  It’s extremely easy, colourful and healthy. We had some Australian friends to stay recently and with a couple of vegetarians amongst them, it was a perfect meal.

Mamy Jeanne’s Jardinière de Légumes

(please note that quantities are approximate – I vary them, depending on how it looks in the pot) 

ingredients:

10 or so lettuce leaves (any type of green salad leaf)

10 carrots

10 potatoes

6 turnips

4 onions – or about 8-10 new baby onions

367 432 peas (that’s what it seems like – but make it about 800g, unshelled)

bay leaves

fresh thyme

butter, olive oil

salt, pepper

salted pork (this is optional – depending on how you feel and if there any any vegos)

 

method:

First I like to fry the onion in a good chunk of butter and olive oil until almost golden as I enjoy the sweetness (and easier for hubby to digest).

(I read a recipe where a women likes to caramelize a bit of sugar in her pot first, but I really don’t think you need to when the new vegetables are so sweet and fresh)

Once onion is done, add the salad leaves and stir well until leaves are floppy.  If using pork, add now too.

            Then add the carrots, potatoes, turnips, all cut into random, small chunks (some like to perfectly dice each vegetable but I think this looks too neat!), and herbs.

            Add water to the pot, until vegetables are just covered, close lid and simmer after boiling for about one hour – or until vegetables are to your liking (the French have a reputation for very well-cooked vegetables, something unheard of in the Asian-focused cuisine so popular in Australia!)

Remember to add the shelled peas about half-an hour into the cooking time.  I don’t like to add them from the beginning as they can get mushy.

 

Serve on its own or as an accompaniment to veal, pork or chicken, with a big pot of French mustard on the side.

jardiniere 3

Bon Appetit!

P.S. There are many, many versions of a Jardinière, this recipe below came from a treasured copy in her cookbook collection…

 

'Les Recettes Faciles' (easy Recipes) by Francoise Bernard, Librairie Hachette, 1965
‘Les Recettes Faciles’ (easy Recipes) by Francoise Bernard, Librairie Hachette, 1965
Francoise Bernard's version
Francoise Bernard’s version

 

 

a sprung Spring

wild irises in our hamlet
wild irises, thyme, jonquilles in our hamlet

The first lilas, the first irises, daisy chains made of ‘paquerettes’…

paquerettes and dandlieons 2013

iris 2

iris 3

wisteria 2013

our school held it's first of two 'Marche aux Fleurs'
our school held it’s first of two ‘Marche aux Fleurs’ in the village square
watching the sales
…careful observation of the flower sales
a surprise bunch for the Aussie shelia
a surprise bunch for the Aussie sheila

It’s 26 degrees, Spring is beautiful and I’ve just made my first ‘Jardiniere‘ of the season.

Look out for Mamy Jeanne’s recipe in the following post…