June is Cherry month in La Creuse… for a few precious weeks the trees throughout the countryside are filled with beautiful pink blossoms. Then, almost all at once the cherries are ripe- and then are gone. For a few days in early June we eat all the cherries we can stand- one’s yearly cherry ration in the matter of a few hours! Whatever is not eaten, packed into delicious Clafoutis, or sterilized into jars, will either rot or be taken by the birds if it’s not gathered fast enough… So Jaques called one day asking if I could come by that very afternoon for Cherry Picking- it was either now or never since the birds were already getting full! If we waited even a day longer they would be gone… So, I cancelled my plans for that afternoon and we headed to Eguzon gather all the cherries we could. (more…)
Every year in the summer, the gardens are full of plenty of fresh vegetables of all kinds- Even though we had no garden of our own this year, the neighbors are always happy to help out and ensure that we get our daily ration of veggies. Perhaps the most prolific of all is the lowly courgette (zucchini)… They come in all shapes and sizes, for all tastes and purposes. Throughout the whole summer, there are courgettes all over the village and they grow so fast, no one can possibly eat them all. (more…)
This doesn’t have so much specifically to do with Le Vignaud, but somehow I feel it’s appropriate. There have been so many struggles in the past year–the difficulty of Jason and I separating, his move to France and ongoing complications with the house, and my six month odyssey that, at first, orbited around him. It’s been a year now since that fateful trip to the desert. Jason is in Europe with a car and possibly a house. I’m back on Wilson Drive and preparing for my own Burning Man adventure. But through it all we’ve had redbeans.
This post has been in the works since way back in April… Countless hours of editing and collaboration have been wasted bringing this to you now, four months later. So, please enjoy… more photos and stories hopefully to come soon.
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By Julianne Dodds
One day late in April we decided to drive up to Malval, where there is an old mill as well as ruins of a millennium-old castle. The fields on either side of the rural road were bright yellow, completely filled with dandelions. It was a beautiful sight: the sunny flowers are not really considered much of a weed in France and are allowed to grow sans herbicide. Penelope made a casual comment about making dandelion wine, but it really fired up Jason’s imagination. He’d never even heard of it before, but suddenly he had a new project.
Neither of us had ever tasted dandelion wine or made any wine before, but luckily Google had us taken care of. We found a few intriguing recipes which we then synthesized into one master recipe.
The wonderful cherry harvest was finally drawing to a close, and we had stuffed ourselves with as much of the fruit as possible before the rain the birds got to it. There still clung a few precious bundles of sweet fruit, and after three weeks of nearly daily visits to the cherry grove, I still wasn’t ready to surrender back to nature what remained of the year’s bounty.
After a few too many cherries eaten by the handful, eaten in pies, and in Clafoutis all over the village, there was still one rock left to uncover… Confiture.
Yes, there’s an exclamation mark in the title, that’s the way it needs to be.
Since late March when the cherry trees started blooming, I have been hearing about Clafoutis. Seems like every time the subject of cherries happens to come up (and often it is when the villages are all eying the multitude of cherry trees waiting for the fruit to ripen), a long conversation inevitably follows about how insanely delicious it is, how tasty it is, how fluffy it is, etc., etc., usually followed by a lot of lip smacking and drooling on the part of those in the know.
I said to the [cherry] tree,
Sister, speak to me of Beauty.
And the [cherry] tree blossomed.
Since late March when the cherry trees around the village bust into an amazing display of white or pink blossoms, we have been waiting and watching for the payoff.
Well, the time has finally come and we’ve been stuffed with cherries, filled buckets, pie pans, and jam jars and there’s no end in sight.
For weeks after my first arrival to Le Creuse, way back in February, I had been hearing about the fabled Creusois cake (which shares its name with the region). The flour used is made of ground hazelnuts and the concoction is advertised with the momentous “Once upon a time, there was a cake…” The recipe was developed by monks and is kept secret, known only to about 30 local bakers.