01 August 2014

A summertime salad

Here's an idea for a summer salad that Walt has been making for years. I've searched my blog and Walt's for the recipe but I guess we've never posted it before. The ingredients are zucchini, tomatoes, corn, a cooked grain — bulgur, rice, wheat berries, or couscous, for example — and herbs.

Diced zucchini and tomato salad with bulgur and sweet corn

1½ cups bulgur, brown rice, wheat berries, couscous, or quinoa
2 large, fresh tomatoes
2 small or 1 large zucchini
1 cup cooked sweet corn kernels
2 or 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, tarragon...)
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the bulgur, brown rice, couscous, wheat berries (Ebly in France), or other grain.

Meanwhile, remove the seeds from the tomatoes and dice the tomato flesh finely. Cut the zucchini into fine dice. (Peel the vegetables if you want to.) If using fresh or frozen corn, steam the kernels for 3 or 4 minutes — corn from a tin can go in without cooking. Chop the fresh herbs and finely dice or puree the garlic clove.

When the cooked grain has cooled to room temperature, mix it with the diced tomato, zucchini, and corn. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Mix in the chopped herbs and serve the salad chilled or at room temperature.

There are hundreds of possible variations on this theme, of course. Cucumber would be a good substitution for zucchini, or a good addition to the salad. Lemon juice could replace vinegar. Use the oil you prefer, or a combination. And the herbs...

Walt made the salad a couple of days ago using fresh mint, and I think it's really delicious with that flavor. We ate the bulgur salad with oven-roasted chicken wings that we marinated and basted with a combination of honey, lemon (zest and juice), and garlic.

31 July 2014

Country road

Just a few photos today, taken through the car windshield as we drove through the Touraine countryside from Le Petit-Pressigny toward Le Grand-Pressigny. Some of you who read this know the area much better than I do. Enjoy.

In a way, I'm glad July is ending, even if it means summer is speeding by. After a short chilly spell, our summery weather is back now. The bread lady returned from her two-week vacation on Tuesday, and I asked her if she had a good time down in the Auvergne. Yes, she said, but not such good weather. « On n'a pas eu un bon mois de juillet... », she said, adding « nulle part ». In my case, July was just too busy, I think. I feel exhausted. Maybe it's my age.

30 July 2014

La Celle-Guenand & Le Petit-Pressigny

The village called La Celle-Guenand is located southwest of Châtillon-sur-Indre, between Saint-Flovier and Le Grand-Pressigny. I skipped Saint-Flovier, by the way, in my photo-taking. La Celle-Guenand is not large — it has a population of 400. The village has existed since the 1200s, and maybe longer.

Coming into La Celle-Guenand from the north

The word Celle comes from the Latin cella and means a cell or house where a hermit-monk lived in the Middle Ages. The spelling is variable, and another example of a town with the term in its name is Selles-sur-Cher, just upriver from Saint-Aignan.

Guenand is a family name. I don't know how the people who live in La Celle-Guenand pronounce it. If you go by the spelling, it would be [guh-NÃ], with what is called a "mute E" and then the French nasalized A vowel. But some texts I've looked at spell the name of the inhabitants of the village as les Cellois-Guénandais, leading me to think that the word might be pronounced [gay-NÃ]. Does anybody reading this know how it's pronounced locally? [I think it's pronounced either way....]

There's a château in La Celle-Guenand that dates back to the 15th century. Part of it is used as bed-and-breakfast (chambres d'hôtes in French). If you want to spend a night or two in a château, this is one of your options. Prices run from 110 to 160 euros per night for a room for two persons, breakfast included. Here's the web site.

Above is a picture that I took on the grounds of the château in La Celle-Guenand in April 2006. At that time, we were exploring the southern part of Touraine for the first time, after moving to Saint-Aignan in 2003.

The next village along the road we took is called Le Petit-Pressigny — population about 325, down from nearly 1,100 in the mid-19th century. I misidentified it in my first version of this post, but Tim set me straight. Thanks to him.

Above, a series of three photos taken as we drove into the village called Le Petit-Pressigny.