Monday, 18 January 2010

Four à Bois

Yesterday I went on a brilliant day course about using a traditional bread oven. The oven in the old priory where the course was held can cook 40 loaves in one go!

It also included bread making and was extremely interesting for me to see how many different grains can be used in making bread. Examples of the grains were there and I now feel quite confident that I could identify them if presented with a sample in the future.

The guy also explained the difference between the types of wheat crop and that only one had enough gluten to make good bread - blé dur, hard wheat or winter wheat. Then he went on to explain the numbering system on the bags of wheat flour, something that had been puzzling me since our arrival here. We then ground some of own flour and seived it out to our desired 'number', then made our own bread. Even this was a revelation for me as I have always added butter/oil and milk but neither were on our ingredients list, plus I have always kneaded my bread for ages with my knuckles. Yet this man (a master baker) said that it wasn't necessary, just to use the palms of our hands to 'press' it firmly but gently and only for 5 mins or so until it's springy. Superfast, uncomplicated bread and easy to incorporate into our daily lives.

Now I'm hoping that Ben will build us a bread oven this summer as it's also good for pizzas.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Yes, I know that the UK got lots of snow this year but we were very surprised to wake up this morning to see snow - and lots of it. This much fell overnight....

And the boys had a great time sledging, and S enjoyed watching them wrapped up warmly next to me in the sling.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Goose Eggs

Oh wow, one of our lovely geese has started laying. I knew that they only laid eggs in the Spring but I'd hardly call 4th January with snow on the ground 'Spring'. However, there it is. About twice the size of a hens egg. Apparently each goose can lay up to 80 eggs in this 'spring' period... and we have four geese... that's a LOT of egg eating to be done! I've heard say that goose eggs make the best cakes, turning sponges to a wonderful daffodil yellow colour. The boys are looking forward to finding out if that's true.

You can also see from the photo that our hens are still happily laying 4 or 5 eggs a day though we had been told to expect them to go off the lay for December/January. Good job I didn't pickle any for the winter store cupboard.

I'm glad that someone pointed me in the direction of all the myths surrounding eggs and high blood colesterol as we can now eat them with a free conscience having seen that the research does not point to any link between the two. I must look out the link to put in here in case you're interested in finding out more.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

La Souris

Our 'loveable' French car has become known as La Souris as it squeaks like a mouse the whole time that you're driving it. Plus being a passenger is like being in a boat that's tossing on high seas until you go over cobbles/rough road and then you are reminded that you are indeed on terra firma and in danger of having your teeth shaken out. No it's not my favourite car to drive nor be driven in.

And as you can see, it has now endeared itself to the family by not starting on the chillier days. Thank goodness for the Bongolini and Tractor Tom.