17 January 2009

Moderating influences

Saint-Aignan and the whole Loire Valley are again under the moderating influence of a maritime flow. Gone is the cold continental or Scandinavian air mass — a high pressure system — that dominated the first part of the month and brought us snow and ice.

This is called un rosbif. It weighs about a pound. Cook it
for 15 minutes in a very hot oven and then let it rest,
covered, for 15 minutes — if you like it rare.

Now things are back to what I consider "normal" winter weather in Saint-Aignan: clouds, breezes, and rain, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit — 5 to 15 degrees Celsius. This morning's low is just above 5.4ºC, which is about 42ºF. It is supposed to rain today.

Un rôti de bœuf — very typical French food

It's market day in Saint-Aignan and I have some errands to run. It will be fun to be out with the crowds. Everything is relative, and when I say crowds you shouldn't think of masses or mobs. Finding a parking space is not a problem, and you don't feel pushed and shoved as you walk through the outdoor market. You might have to stand in a line at the seafood or cheese merchant's stand, though. Or Chez Doudouille, the pork butcher's.

Grated raw beet and carrot as a mixed salad

Yesterday was a meat and potatoes day. We had a nice rosbif, all tied up in twine by the butcher and ready for the oven. And French-fried potatoes. I also finally got around to grating up that raw beetroot I bought on New Year's Eve — in fact, Walt did it in the food processor. The beet had waited patiently in the refrigerator and was none the worse for it. I ended up cooking the other two red beets I bought.

Carotte et betterave râpées, sur des feuilles d'endive

This one didn't look like it would be quite enough for a big salad, so we added two carrots. We grated them up in the food processor to, and then seasoned them with red wine vinegar, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. That's all. It made a good salad, with a few leaves of Belgian endive. In America, where beets are sold raw, this is a good, quick way to prepare them.


There's a protest in the village today. Or a show of support, I guess you would call it. The French postal service wants to close down the village post office, and some people are unhappy about it. The mayor, our neighbor, has called for people to turn out at 11:00 this morning to demonstrate their support for keeping the office open. Already it operates on reduced hours compared to five years ago, when we first arrived here.

P.S. Noontime. An icy rain or sleet started falling at about 10:45 so I didn't go to the manifestation. I wonder if others did.


  1. So you never cook the beets or carrots in that salad? It looks yummy- actually the whole meal looks great. I admire the variety of your cuisine.

    Speaking of crowds, we head to DC in a few hours. The weather is cold and some people may be scared away. At 8am on Tuesday when I'm in line for the swearing-in, I'll probably wonder "what was I thinking about?" But by noon I'm sure I'll be glad that I made the effort.

    I never dreamed this day would come in my lifetime.

  2. No, you don't cook the carrots or beets at all, just grate them raw. The dressing cooks them.

    Good luck with the weather in D.C. You are right, we never dreamed this was possible in our lifetimes. I'm envious that you will be there -- but happy for you of course.

  3. Evelyn, I will look for you on TV on Tuesday. (Not that I know what you look like!) Am I right that you live in Alabama? You're driving up into the coldest weather we've had in years so be prepared.

    The French radio station I listen to over the internet has been playing "A change is gonna come" a lot lately. I'm ready for a whole lot of change.

  4. That's a beautiful vineyard photo in your header. Lovely colors and patterns.
    On your previous post about traveling to NC: Air France is going to do non-stop from Raleigh to Paris starting later this year, they say. It might be something to look into for your next trip.

  5. Hi Emm, that photo in the title bar is one I took just a couple of days ago. I imagine the direct flights between Paris and Raleigh will be seasonal, don't you think? I don't usually travel during times when the weather is really hot and humid in N.C.

    Carolyn, is everything frozen solid in Penna.? Weather reports are showing D.C. around freezing for the next few days -- not to bad.

  6. Hi Ken - Just found your blog. I'll be back for another visit soon. Lots of fun.
    You gotta love the French protesting for their post office - I do believe that not having a post office places a village into the truly off the map category. Or as my husband says - podunk. What a great place to live.

  7. Ken, it has warmed up enough in PA to snow a little. It's now 25 degrees and we're grateful. People in the next town were reporting temps below 0 F. yesterday.

  8. That beef looks excellent. I never buy roast beef in France because I haven't had much luck cooking it -- even when rare, it always seems a little too tough. What's you're secret?

  9. Betty, I think the secret to cooking French beef, i.e. grass-fed as opposed to corn-fed, is to cook it really rare. It's too lean to withstand longer cooking. And it will always be a little chewier than American corn-fed beef because it is so much leaner. Cook a one-pound beef roast for 15 or 20 minutes in a 240ºC oven and then let it rest for 15 or 20 minutes covered so that the heat can distribute itself through the meat. You have to experiment to get it done as you like it.

  10. Thanks for the advice...I'll see if I'll give it another go someday...

  11. Hi Carolyn, Yes we live in Alabama but we decided to fly this time. Everything went well. It was very cold but we layered up and managed to get to a spot where we could barely see a tv screen.

    The crowd was fun and they chanted na na goodbye for Bush, Obama and yes we can. It was incredible to see how people came out to be a part of this event. Our daughter said the Metro was packed at 4am on Inauguration day.

    Nobody was complaining about the weather. Our spirits were so high.


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