Thursday, 5 October 2017

Sailing on stormy waters.

It's not all been plain sailing since we've been in France. People have said how lucky I am to be here. It's got nothing to do with luck, just the money from the sale of my house and a grim determination to be here and succeed at our goals.
I was asked yesterday if I had a job yet! Yes, the job of carving out a living from my smallholing, my art and Reiki courses and selling our produce. On top of that I'm hoping the Gite will bring in a modest wage and then if there's any time left after all that, I may enjoy working with the ponies/horses and mucking out their paddocks.

Anyway, I digress, the joining of two households together has not been a smooth transition and so with great difficulty we've decided to rehome Echo. She hasn't coped well with the move and has seen my dog as a huge threat. Being a dog of little courage, Manchee then became the victim which resulted in a very unhappy incident. That's all I'll say on that matter, but I've been on my own a lot lately while the situation has been managed! I daresay it will come right in the end.

As part of the small-holding enterprise, I've been able to rekindle my love of preserving things.  The food here in France is very seasonal, unless you want to pay a small fortune for something.  Citrus fruits are a good price at the moment, so I bought a couple of bags of oranges and grapefruits and decided to make marmalade, which is really expensive in the shops at any time of year.

The preparation of all the fruit took three hours, but as life is pretty quiet here in the Autumn, it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The house smelt delicious.

I finely peeled the oranges and grapefruit (and my finger!) and then sliced the pith away from the skin.  I also took excess pith off the fruit and removed the flesh from between the membranes.

The skin was finely chopped, but I found it all much easier with a pair of kitchen scissors, that's top tip no.1.
I then added sugar and way too much water which meant that I had to boil it down for longer than normal to get it to a set, so check your quantities, top tip no.2. That's why I think the marmalade came out dark, because the sugar had caramelised. It doesn't matter, it has a delicious, burnt toffee taste with strong bitter orange. I made 10 jars of Confiture d'orange, and I doubt it will last all winter! It's worth making another batch, but this time I'll be sure of the amounts!
After all the domestic work, we took a break and went to the Abbey Bon Repose. The sun was so hot and healing after the hard work of cooking!
They have a little reinactment village, and I hope to be able to do some spinning here when they open for the tourist season next year. It will be a good place to sell my wool and do demonstrations. It's not as authentic as the Ancient Farm near where I used to live, but the atmosphere is amazing. The peace just seeps into your bones.
There's a lovely little cafe opposite the Abbey and if the weather is good tomorrow, we'll try it out for lunch. All in the spirit of checking out places to offer our visitors, of course ;)


  1. That Reinactment village at Abbey would be a lovely place to sit and spin (hah - wrote "sin" to start with!!) and hopefully bring you some business.

    I hope that you can find a good home for Echo soon - it's the best idea in the long run or else you would have some more "incidents", without a doubt.

    You are certainly getting into the rhythm of the seasons, with your preserving. I have been trying to find ways of using up your walnut harvest but all the recipes just require tiny amounts!! I need to get started on my Mincemeat for Christmas, and I'll put the recipe up on my blog next week. We have the Botanic Gardens 2 day Antiques Fair this weekend and are setting up today, or else I'd put it up sooner.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  2. I hope the fair goes well for you. I have so many recipes now that I may run out of walnuts!