14 April 2009

Catching up

I wanted to mention a comment that Michel Pierssens left on my recent topic about our local newspaper here in the Loire Valley. Michel said he had worked for La Nouvelle République years ago.

"Your comments about La NR bring back some memories from my time as « secrétaire de rédaction » while a student in Tours in the 60s. At the time, local « correspondants » were quite illiterate (the pay was extremely low) and the secrétaire de rédaction all but made up the articles about local events from almost undecipherable reports. The main thing for the bosses was to get photos showing as many people as possible so they would buy copies of the paper..."

The prunus tree in our back yard, 13 April 2009

As Michel said in his comment, there's no telling whether the newspaper's staff still has to work under such difficult conditions, but it's possible. As usual, the best intentions and supreme dedication is never enough to ensure quality. It comes down to resources. You need talented and experienced reporters, writers, and editors to put together a high-quality newspaper, and most people need to be paid a living wage if they are going to do that kind of work.

I'm sure a lot of newspapers, especially in the U.S. these days, are struggling with these kinds of issues.

Thanks, Michel, for those memories and comments. (I met Michel last summer when he was in Saint-Aignan.)

This is one of the trees out on the edge of the vineyard
that I plan to keep my eye on as the season progresses.
I hope it produces fruit as beautiful as its flowers.

Walt went out walking in the vineyard a few days ago and came home with a nice bunch of green asparagus spears. We've seen asparagus growing wild out there in a couple of places over the years, but we've never been there at the right time to pick enough to actually make our "found asparagus" part of a meal.

"Found asparagus"— it isn't what you call wild asparagus,
but grows wild out in the vineyard.

This time we did, as you can see. Yesterday we made a stir-fy of asparagus, green onions, mushrooms, and shrimp, which we ate over Chinese wheat noodles from the Paris Store in Blois. It was quite good, flavored with fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, and ginger.

That reminds me that Quinn left a comment on my Easter Weekend topic the other day. "Why don't you grow your own asparagus? They require no effort and the patch will yield for up to thirty years...," Quinn said. We tried planting some asparagus a few years ago, actually. But we don't have the right soil for it, I think. It needs well-drained, sandy soil, and ours is heavy clay.

Prepared for stir-frying

I saw a gardening show the other day where there was an explanation about how to best plant asparagus. You buy the roots and you dig a deep trench to plant them in. You fill in the trench with sandy soil. The asparagus themselves grow in the sand without ever seeing the light of day. They stay white. That's how they like their asparagus here. If you don't plant them deep and the spears stick up above ground, they turn green.

If we lived down in the river valley, where the soil is sandy and loose, we could grow asparagus. Up here on the heights, the soil, clay and flintstone, is a lot heavier. Drainage isn't great. We are working every year on amending our vegetable garden plots to lighten up the soil.

The stir-fried asparagus, mustrooms, green onions, and shrimp

Oh, and Quinn, of course you can paint the dandelion. You didn't even need to ask. I would love to see your painting of it when it's done, if that possible. Can you take a photo of it and e-mail it to me?

Today I plan to pull out the rotary cultivator again and till up two more garden plots. It's still too early to plant anything outdoors without protection (cold frames, tunnels). But Walt has been busy transplanting all the tomato and eggplant seedlings that have come up in our trays. We have something like 36 tomato plants and 19 eggplant seedlings in pots at this stage!


  1. That stir fry looks wonderful!


  2. Excellent vergetarian work on Walt's part :-)

  3. I'm glad that you "found" some asparagus- I think you had a hankering for some. Lunch looks delicious.

  4. Thanks to the painting! My family is thrilled that I've finally found something to inspire me to paint again.

    That stir fry looks amazing, I'm going to try to re-create it for dinner tonight. (With asparagus from my garden! Sorry, had to rub it in! Though finding it in the vineyard is almost as good as having your own patch.)


  5. I'll tell you the truth, that stir-fry really was good. I was glad I had bought some mushrooms from the lady at the outdoor market in Saint-Aignan over the weekend. And some spring onions from the Paris Store in Blois.

    Susan, you are featured in my post today, April 15! Thanks.

    Evelyn, see the next post for more about asparagus...


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