09 November 2009

Contrasts and compensations

To counter the chill and gray of winter, what's better than good food? Comfort food. Improvised. Variations on old themes.

First, a winter scene. Bruno Ledys has been busy pruning his plots of vines. It's early, and I don't know why he's in such a hurry. It's as if he needs to get all the work done before winter even begins.

The vines take on their winter look.

Maybe he's going to spend the winter in Tahiti or La Réunion and wants to leave nothing to chance out in the vineyard. Usually all this work goes on in January, February, and March. Clipping, then burning the clippings. Repairing the support structure, the posts and wires that hold up the growing vines in summertime, and keep the grapes from touching the ground.

I keep finding clumps of different mushrooms all around.

I think it's a chilling scene. The vine stumps are skeletal and dark.

To ward off the chill, what better than a plate of white beans and carrots in a light spicy tomato sauce, with a smoked sausage and a thick slab of grilled pork belly on the side? And a salad, some good bread, and some red wine?

I wish I had a recipe. I know I put in some tomato paste, some home-made ketchup, some duck fat, and spices including cinnamon, cumin, and allspice. Black and red pepper too, and a little hash of duck confit bits and smoked pork lardons. I put the carrots in because eating them makes me feel virtuous. I put them in a lot of the things I make for lunch.

Yesterday was shop-and-cook-for-the-dog day. Chicken and rice cooked in chicken broth. Today is make-quince-jelly day.


  1. Lovely photos. That one of the vineyard almost makes me shiver.

    This is definitely the comfort food time of year. In December food becomes more sophisticated, the celebration meals with friends, etc. I like both.

    I just like all the food seasons, really !!

  2. here u see pork belly & they r packaged & look like mostly fat.......do u eat urs or just use for seasoning?? and how did u cook it? isn't it sorta like bacon?

  3. Yes, Melinda, pork belly, or poitrine de porc, is like bacon. I bought a piece and then cut a fairly thick slice to eat with the beans. I pan fried it for a few minutes and then finished cooking it in the oven on top of the beans (maybe 30 mins.). It's smoked, so has good flavor, and is more than 50% lean. I'll use the lest of the slab for seasoning the boeuf bourguignon I'm making tomorrow.

  4. That bean dish looks wonderful!

  5. Chrissou, I think you and I like the same kind of food!

    Starman, pork belly (or breast, poitrine in French) is basically what we call bacon. It doesn't have to be sliced thin, or sugar-cured. It can be smoked or just salt-cured, or just fresh. I remember I used to be able to find slab bacon -- that's pork belly -- in California once in a while. Don't know if you can find it easily in the Southeast.

  6. It's more common than one might imagine in South Florida, but I've never heard it called "pork belly".

  7. Starman: What do you call it, then?

  8. Shop-and-cook-for-the-dog, chicken and rice... just the thing! Our pooch is ailing and not eating much; I think chicken and rice in broth should do the trick. :-) woof

  9. Ellen, our dog Collette went on a diet of poached chicken and rice when she to be 12 or 13 years old. For a while, about all she would eat was poached chicken breast.

    It turned out she had had a minor stroke and we didn't realize it — until she had a worse one and ended up paralyzed for 48 hours before she died (age 14).

  10. I remember Collette well, the sweet creature. Our pup Rebecca is 12, just diagnosed with lymphoma, and really slowing down... this diet will be good for her. Thanks!

  11. I'm not really sure, but I'll check the next time I go to the market. I think it's just called slab bacon or something like that.


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