Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Nut Butter and Oat Truffles

Have you bought a jar of nut butter and find you don't really like it spread on bread? Here is a much nicer way of using such a product.

 Locally made hazelnut paste.

Ingredients for truffles:
1.5 cups of rolled oats
½ cup nut butter (I used Berrinoise hazelnut praline butter)
¼ cup honey (I used local chestnut honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla from Réunion)
¼ cup cocoa nibs (a product I bought when they were trendy and have never previously found a use for. You could substitute very small chocolate chips.)

 Local honey.

Ingredients for Coating:
¼ cup ground almonds or hazelnuts
1 tbsp icing sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch salt

  1. Carefully brown the ground almonds or hazelnuts in a pan. 
  2. Combine the ingredients for the coating.
  3. Put the rolled oats in a food processor and pulse a bit.
  4. Combine the nut butter, honey and vanilla.
  5. Add the rolled oats and cocoa nibs to the nut butter mix.
  6. Stir until combined and forming a paste.
  7. Make about 30 small balls from the paste.
  8. Roll the balls in the coating once and then repeat the process.
  9. Arrange in a single layer and refrigerate or freeze.
The truffles ready to be coated.

If you live around the Preuilly area you can buy the hazelnut butter and honey from Sylvain at La Croisée des Terroirs, our specialist local products grocer. 

The finished hazelnut truffles, coated in almond sugar.


Tuesday's Training Tales (see here)

Last week there was no swimming at all, and three days work away from home interrupted training, but we still managed 33km of walking, most of it at about 6km/hour, even when we weren't trying really hard. Some of the morning walks have been a lot cooler, which may account for the higher speed.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Vintage Fruit Boxes

The other day at the market in Preuilly I noticed that Tony the Organic Orchardist had some nice old fruit boxes by his van. They had the names of long gone businesses stencilled on them and I asked him what their history was.

He said he 'inherited' them when he bought the orchard. They date from the 1950s and 60s and he has lovingly repaired them so he can continue to use them. He likes the idea of them being in continuous use for more than half a century, and by three different owners of the orchard.

So often fruit boxes are used as kindling here and I was charmed by how sentimental Tony was about these seemingly mundane objects.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Cotter Dam

Cotter Dam is about 20km west of Canberra, and until the 1960's was the source of Canberra's drinking water.

The original dam was built across the Cotter River in 1912, and a pumping station was completed in 1914. Water was pumped to a reservoir on Mount Stromlo, and from there was gravity fed to another reservoir (Red Hill) before being piped (gravity again...) into Canberra homes. In the late 60's other dams were built higher up the Cotter River which in normal years removed the need for the Cotter dam, but it was held in reserve for very dry years.

About 10 years ago it was decided that Canberra was still under-resourced when it came to water, so a new dam was built across the Cotter 100metres downstream of the old dam. The new dam is 87 metres high compared to the 31metres of the old dam, and holds twenty times the amount of water. The old dam (which is heritage listed) remains in place, invisible except in the dryest of years. It serves as a silt trap, stopping soil build up against the new dam wall.

"The Cotter" was one of the favorite recreation areas near Canberra when I was growing up. There was a couple of swimming places in the river below the dam, barbeque areas were plentiful, and there was the famous Cotter Tavern where we could buy ice-creams and adults could buy a drink. The Tavern went in the bushfires of 2003 and wasn't replaced, but the BBQ areas and the like are returning. (Of course it's not as good as when I were a lad...)

The dam and its catchement from Mount Stromlo

Saturday, 15 September 2018


When we drove to Switzerland we didn't drive the easy way - we went via Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, entering Swizerland via the St. Luzisteig Pass.

Where to start??

The pass is named after St Luzius (the Welsh King Lles ap Coel) who, legend has it, used it in AD166 to travel to Rome to ask the Pope to make him a Christian. The local Roman govenor beheaded Lazius, making him both the local Martyr and first bishop of Chur, before he returned to Wales to establish the Christian church there. Even though the Welsh king never existed, a case can be made for two stories being conflated...

The pass has long been a problem for communities at either end, so it has been constantly fortified and re-fortified, the lastest fort replacing one destroyed by the Austrians in 1622. The gate house of 1705 still exists, although most of the fortifications date from 1831.

Until 2004 the fort was a Swiss army base, training cavalry troops. It now houses a military museum.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Pompier's Velo

When we were in Mulhouse we visited the motor museum, and they were holding their "Vehicles in Uniform" open day. One of the more intriguing (and probably most weirdly stylish) pieces of equipment was this pompier's (fireman's) bicycle from the early years of the 20th century.

We can find very little information online, but from conversation with its owner we discovered that they were used in either in small villages that didn't have a larger brigade, or as a first response machine where larger machines couldn't go.

Susan gets the gen from the bicycle's owner

It carries all one needs for putting out a small fire, or at least keeping it at bay until reinforcements arrive. I can't remember exactly (and don't have photos that show it accurately enough) but I am fairly sure the brown canvas item on the back rack is a bucket. According to the owner the most important tool was the axe. It allowed the fireman to break down a door if necessary to rescue victims. Even if he couldn't put the fire out he could ensure nobody died.

We were particularly taken by its "siren", and also by its gas headlight.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Cooperative de Vente des Associations Agricole de Loir et Cher

I love old industrial buildings, especially when they show some kind of style. This is the Cooperative de Vente des Associations Agricole de Loir et Cher warehouse that stands by the station in Onzain. It now appears to be abandoned and unloved, but I hope some use can be found for it so that the evocative 1930's script isn't lost.