Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Town Hall Clock Mechanism


Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
This lovely robust clock mechanism sits on display in reception at Le Grand Pressigny Town Hall. According to the young woman working there it is the original mechanism from the front of the building.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Pasties


Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Pasties are diced root vegetables, traditionally with meat, cooked in a flaky pastry case. They are easy to make in big batches and they freeze well. A wonderful example of humble ingredients that when put together make something greater than the parts.

Root vegetables.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ingredients:
640 g flour
250 g butter
Salt to taste (I suggest 1/2 tsp in the pastry and 1.5 tsp in the vegetable filling)
Root vegetables to yield about 1 kg of diced mixed vegetables for the filling (I used a carrot, a rutabaga, a kohlrabi, a leek, half a celeriac, a potato and a parsnip)
1/2 tsp ground celery seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
Lots of ground white pepper (I suggest at least 1/2 tsp)
An egg, beaten

Method:
  1. Put the butter in the freezer for at least half an hour to ensure it is hard.
  2. Mix at least one teaspoon of salt into the flour in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Coarsely grate the butter into the mixing bowl with the flour.
  4. Bring the pastry together into a dough by hand, adding water as necessary (you will need at least half a cup).
  5. Cover the pastry and rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  6. Scrub, peel and dice the vegetables into roughly 5 mm cubes.
  7. Mix the spices and at least a teaspoon of salt into the vegetables. You may also want to mix some chopped meat in at this stage. I used a couple of rashers of bacon left over from another recipe.
  8. Turn the oven on to heat to 200C.
  9. Divide the pastry into quarters and roll out one quarter at a time on a floured worktop.
  10. Cut circles using a 20 cm diameter soup bowl as a template. You should get at least 3 pastry circles from each quarter and about 14 in total.
  11. Lay the pastry circles out, put a handful of diced vegetables on each, placing the vegetables slightly off centre and leaving a couple of centimetres margin all around. One or two at a time is easiest, depending on how much workspace you have. You will probably have leftover veggies -- use them in soup.
  12. Eggwash the edge of the pastry circles then fold over to form a parcel. Seal the edges with your fingers, making as neat and decorative as possible.
  13. Place the pasties on a silicone lined baking tray.
  14. Brush the tops of the pasties with eggwash and make a small cut in the top so they can vent steam during cooking.
  15. Bake the pasties for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 180C. Cook for a further 40 minutes.
  16. Eat warm or at room temperature. If frozen, reheat gently for half an hour in the oven.

Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The flour I used was purchased at my local SuperU supermarket at La Roche Posay, and comes from the last working flour windmill (Fr. minoterie) in Berry. The vegetables were bought at the market in Preuilly from our local organic market gardeners, Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière, on the outskirts of town. They sell from the farm every Tuesday evening and at the market jn town every Thursday. Local butter, from the Laiterie  Cooperative de Verneuil, can be purchased from their factory shop or local supermarkets and corner stores.

Diced root vegetables (and a little bit of bacon).
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Using a soup bowl to cut pastry circles.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Pastry circles.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Filling on the pastry circle, eggwash to help seal the edges.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ready for the oven (just waiting for eggwash and vents).
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Macropod Eden


Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

I can't remember what species of macropod these are, but they were photographed very early one morning near my parent's place. If you want to see kangaroos or wallabies you need to be quiet and a bit stealthy. You will get the best views just after dawn or at dusk when they rouse themselves to graze in the cool. 

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

This small mob has found a little personal Eden, full of lush grass around a windmill. They knew I was there and would have bounded off if I had got any closer.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com


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We are now on Instagram, so check us out. It's a regularly added to selection of our very best photos. 

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Swiss Summer Road Hazard


Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Round a bend and this is what you might encounter if you are driving in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com


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Our friend Roger has published a book, which is now available on Amazon. It's called "Super Old Job!: Medical Musings of a Country Doctor" . You can also read more from Roger, about his current life, on his blog Our French Adventure.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Ticks and Lyme Disease in the Loire Valley


The local municipality has decided to fund a programme to raise public awareness of the dangers of ticks and Lyme Disease.

My advice is to always wear a DEET based insecticide, either on the skin or on clothing, if you are hiking or working in the field here between March and October. Check yourself for ticks when you shower and remove any embedded ones by pincering them with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Pull them straight out, working quickly so the tick doesn't have a chance to inject you with internal fluids. (The other reason to smother yourself in DEET from June onwards is to repel chiggers, which are the bane of gardeners' lives here.)

The two most common species of tick in the Loire Valley -- Left, Castor Bean Tick Ixodes ricinus (Fr. Tique du mouton) and two Ornate Cow Tick Dermacentor reticulatus, right. These are all engorged females that were taken off a dog in April.

The 'y' shaped tick removers available in pharmacies and veterinary surgeries are no longer recommended as best practice, but better than smothering the tick with oil or other substances, which is definitely not recommended.

Get yourself to A+E if you experience any symptoms at all (redness, especially but not necessarily the classic halo, itchness, anything else out of the ordinary) within two days of being bitten. The longer you leave it the less effective treatment will be, and you really don't want chronique Lyme Disease -- especially in France where it is not officially recognised as a thing.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

If you get an unexplained rash or bruise, think about the possibility of Lyme Disease. Many people never notice the infected tick that gives them the disease, and their first hint is a rash and/or flu like symptoms.

Read this reputable health website for more details about how to identify and treat the disease. Incidences of Lyme Disease in France have tripled in the last 10 years and the government is increasingly worried about the health impacts so for the past couple of years has been conducting research and awareness campaigns.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The Awesome Panc'hike, Part II


Our walking club holds a public subscription walk every February which terminates with eating crêpes. The first half of the event can be seen in my previous post. Here is a selection of photos from the second half of the event.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
 The Claise River at Etableau.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
 The village of Etableau, overlooked by its ruined medieval chateau.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
 A sunny courtyard and troglodyte cave in Etableau.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Valley. https://tourtheloire.com
 A view of Le Grand Pressigny, with the chateau in the background.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
Club members reheating and plating crêpes in the kitchen of the salle des fêtes (village hall), 
Le Grand Pressigny.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
Walkers enjoying their crêpes and cider.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
Empty cider bottles waiting to be taken out to the recycling bin.

Photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com
At last, club members get their turn at tucking in to crêpes and cider. 
Simon introduced several people to the chocolate spread and cherry jam crêpe.

For another participant's take on the event see Roger's post on Our French Adventure.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.