Friday, 6 December 2013

Bee Orchids - a photo series

This year, in late spring, early summer, the Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera were particularly abundant and beautiful. I thought you might like a reminder. They may be one of the most common wild orchids in the area, even growing in people's gardens, but they never fail to make me stop for a moment to admire their lovely flowers. These were all photographed in our orchard, where we have about 200 of them growing in the grass.

For more about Bee Orchids, go to the page about them on Loire Valley Nature.
A la cuisine hier: Paupiettes de lapin from the rabbito at the market. Paupiettes are escalopes of meat wrapped around a sausage mince stuffing and tied into a neat round bundle. They are usually cooked by braising, which is what I did.

Paneforte -- a sticky mixture of chocolate, nuts, candied peel and warm spices -- what's not to like? I used my own home grown nuts and home made candied peel. Note that there is no fat in this recipe other than in the small amount of chocolate and that which occurs naturally in the nuts. Clearly this is healthy diet food... I added substantial quantities of ginger and 5 pepper mix for extra zingy warmth.
Orchard News: Some creature (a badger I assume) has dug a hole next to our little apricot tree. By the debris scattered about I suspect it was after some sort of underground fungus, but it might have been beetle larvae or something else entirely. I think I will fill in the hole with some nice home made compost.


  1. Lovely showing of the variation...
    as opposed to the "standard" illustration...
    and as the top picture shows, the variation in one plant!!
    I party-culier-lee like the little "jester" in the last picture...
    made me smile on yet another cold, damp, grey day!!

    "Orchard News: .... I think I will fill in the hole with some nice home made compost."
    Shove some bone meal and/or corne broyee in as well...
    the tree will thank you for the slow-release food.

  2. The description of that Pan-eForty makes me think that it might be a drovers' food...
    pack in your bag and you can keep working the cattle on trails that don't have any regular inns...
    or where you need to remain with the beasts.
    Scottish Black Bun...
    now only made at Christmas...
    for the New Year celebrations...
    is another...
    designed to feed a drover from the market in the Cairngorms to the market in Norfolk...
    they are full of "energy" material.
    The Black Buns were reputed to be blessed at a service in Carrbridge...
    I wonder if the use of Communion Wafers for the paneforte had the same link??

  3. Lovely to be reminded of spring on a dreary day with those excellent pix. We'll definitely try the paneforte!

  4. Tim: the ingredients are expensive for drovers I would have thought. It seems to me to be a festival cake, maybe for pilgrims?

  5. Susan, do orchids grow wild all over Europe?

  6. Nadege: Yes, orchids have a global distribution, even into the Arctic for a few species I think.

  7. Susan, drovers were never as poor as people imagine...
    They were, in the UK at least, free agents...
    think of them as an independent cattle-dealing trucker, but without the vehicle overheads.

    The Carrbridge Drovers Fair [Early Spring] and the Norfolk Fairs [two per year - Late Spring and Early Autumn - held on land just to the south of Horsham St. Faiths... now under Norwich Airport] were almighty affairs.

    The drovers bought and sold the cattle at all three of these fairs... eventually selling at Smithfield.
    Two droving families that I know of... the Carters [mainly Broadland based] and the Eagles [near Kings Lynn]... were stonkingly rich and owned land and property in Scotland, Norfolk and London.
    They could have afforded this sort of food...
    and interestingly, both families went into transport when droving finished.

  8. Startlingly beautiful. Nice shots !

  9. Thanks for the mention of Panforte. It struck me as something I would really like and last night I made one. Can I say--Delicious! I'm bring what little I have left (I ate many times more than the recommended serving!) to a holiday party. I'll be making this again . . . very soon!

  10. Anton: Terrific! Glad to have given you a new treat.

    Stuart: thank you. They are lovely little orchids.

  11. Très belles orchidées. Ophrys apifera est rare par chez nous.Il faut vraiment bien chercher.
    Les épices et les recettes de Noël embaument dans les cuisines en cette saison!

  12. Lucie: maybe O. apifera prefers a slightly cooler climate. I didn't realise they were rare down your way.