05 March 2008

Oui, c'est mon anniversaire !

As you have seen from yesterdays comments, today is my birthday. Yes, another birthday. I don't feel a day over 60. Maybe that's because I'm turning 59 today. (I don't know who left the anonymous comment yesterday that gave me away — the one signed 'xoxo, "Anonymous"'. Do you?)

By the way, 60 is the new 40, they say: that's when life begins. I can't wait.

There is not a cloud in the sky this morning. The sun shines brightly but it's a little chilly. No frost, though.

05 March 2008

05 March 2006

Sometimes, it's fun to look back through pictures from years past and see what was going on on the same date as today. One year ago, Walt and I were at the Mont Saint-Michel on March 5, and I posted about it back then. But two years ago! Look at the contrast in the two pictures above — you might recognize the first one. Here's another pair from those same dates.

Today (l.) and two years ago on the same date (r.)

We did actually have some snow yesterday, but as you can see it didn't stick at all. Twice yesterday afternoon big dark clouds rolled in, the wind became gusty, and 20-minute showers of mixed rain, sleet, and snow pelted our windows. The temperature dropped to freezing overnight.

Sunset at La Renaudière, 04 March 2008

At about 6:00, Walt and Callie went out for a walk. I went to the bedroom window, looking out over the back yard and out into the vineyard, to watch them go out. The picture above is the sunset I saw starting to happen.

04 March 2008

I stood watching the sky change and taking pictures at different zoom levels for about 10 minutes, and here are some of them.

04 March 2008

Walt was out by the pond with Callie. He was taking pictures too, and I think he posted some of them on his blog this morning.

Walt and Callie by the pond, 04 March 2008

For my birthday dinner, I'm making borscht (or bortsch, as my French recipe spells it). A 85-year-old French woman I knew in Paris way back when used to make it, and I've had the idea in the back of my head for 20 years. The French woman had been married in her youth to a Russian who escaped from Russia in 1917.

Looking around at various recipes, I found out that there are two major categories of borscht. What they have in common is red beets. New York deli borscht is a vegetable soup made with beef stock. Russian borscht is more like a French pot au feu with boiled beef and vegetables.

This is the borscht recipe that inspired me. I think
it is the one my Parisian friend used in the early 1980s.

Russian borscht is what I'm making. I cooked the beef (boned shank) in simmering broth for about four hours yesterday afternoon. In the broth I put leek tops, celery stalks, onions, garlic, allspice, bay leaves, star anise, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary (from the yard). Today I'm going to cook carrots, celery, turnips, and beets in the broth along with the beef. Then serve the beef and vegetables in broth with a spoonful or yogurt or crème fraîche. Maybe I'll take a picture or two.


  1. Happy Birthday, I am about 10 years behind you. It is wonderful to see that there is indeed life after 50.


  2. Cheers to your b'day! We had a big week here. My daughter married her Parisian beau (my wildest dreams have come true.....to be almost french!) Right now they r living in DC but eventually in France (YAY YAY) so I'll have to visit frequently (or maybe move too)

  3. Claudia in Toronto05 March, 2008 15:42

    When I put your sky photos on the big screen, I can walk on clouds. Great feeling! I love your before-and-today pictures. By the way, I'm 78. I was told that life starts at 75!!! I'm just a kid. I don't know what that makes you???

    Happy Birthday. Happy Bortsch. Happy Everything.

  4. Yes, there's life after 50, as well as after 60, after 70 and after 80. I don't know after 90 because I'm not there yet, but I'll let you know. As they say in French : "As long as there is life, there is hope." "Tant qu'il y a de la vie, il y a de l'espoir."
    Ken, I wish you many, many happy returns of the day, and I hope to witness (I'm not presumptuous) most of them!

  5. Happy Birthday young man .
    Enjoy your day and many happy returns .

  6. Happy birthday, Ken. Thanks for all you do for the francophiles online. If only we could all chip in and send you and Walt to the new 3-star Michelin to celebrate!

  7. Happy Birthday! Rain or shine, we wish you many more lovely days.
    Chris and Tony

  8. Happy Birthday! I love all your pictures and I really enjoy your blog.

  9. Gabby and I wish you a very happy birthday. Now the first 50 or so weren't that bad, were they? Keep blogging, old friend.

  10. Happy Birthday Ken! I can't wait to see photos of your birthday borscht. Loved the then and now photos in today's post.


  11. Happy Birthday!
    Hope you enjoy your day and the soup sounds delicious.

    I loved the photos and the contrast between this year and last year.
    Our neighbors always talk about the weather, "hotter this year, it's terrible," "much colder than last year," "much less rain this year" etc. It makes me want to document every day so I can go back and remember what the weather was really doing!

  12. many happy returns of a sunny day!

  13. Hope you had a wonderful day, Ken! Let us know how the borscht making (and eating) went. I will have to share a warm-weather beet soup recipe with you sometime. It's the Lithuanian variety, called saltibarsciai, and it's one of my favorite summer meals.

    xoxo (there's my giveaway),

  14. Happy birthday, Ken, bon anniversaire and all that.
    My mother used to make a borshtsh, (I am spelling it like this because that is really the way it should be pronounced according to her) with beetroots. I have no idea how she made it, but we drank it cold with sour cream, not crème fraîche, but crème aigre, and don't ask me where she got it!
    Anyway, that cold soup was just sooo delicious and the only way I have ever been able to swallow beetroots. Maybe it was the sour cream, and didn't have the texture of beetroots either...

    I think that on your birthday, Callie should have been the cook, or à défaut, Walt, but that is just because I don't enjoy cooking, and always assume other people don't.
    I know you and Walt both do.

    Many happy returns, Ken.

  15. Ken,

    Bon anniversaire. You're not getting older, you're getting better.

    Bob and Norma

  16. Happy Birthday Ken! It looks like a lovely day for a celebration, meilleurs voeux!

  17. Sorry I am a day late. Happy birthday Ken.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?