26 February 2010

Hurricanes and herrings

We've been having 90 kph wind gusts all during the night. That's not quite hurricane force, but it's getting close. I've been hearing water drip on the trap door to the attic. That's because the strong winds blow water up under the roof tiles, and it drips down onto the attic floor.

And it's all the more reason why we need to get the attic finished. Not only will we get more living space, but we'll get a moisture barrier that will keep out those wind-driven raindrops. These French roofs are simply heavy tiles hanging off slats that run between the rafters. They let the wind blow right through, unless the roof has been insulated.

Here's another picture of a Vélux-brand rooftop window
installed in a house in our hamlet.

It's just getting light and I can see that some things I didn't think about securing near the house have blown out into the yard — a vinyl outdoor table, the lids to one of the cold frames we start plants in. I hope nothing is broken, though I see that some medium-size tree limbs are on the ground. No trees have blown over, happily.

I just went outside to see the damage. The table is broken. Too bad, but it had seen better days anyway. It's still windy, but not like it was a few hours ago.

Yesterday, during the rainstorm that preceded this one, I went over to Intermarché to buy some choucroute, or sauerkraut — salted, fermented cabbage. They have it on special this week — 55 cents a kilo for "raw" sauerkraut, or 30¢ a pound. It freezes really well, so I got four kilos, or almost 9 pounds of it!

Filets de harengs saurs

I also looked at the smoked and salted fish products and found something I hadn't found elsewhere. That's a package of what are called harengs saurs — salted, smoked herring. A 200 g/7 oz. package cost 1.67 €. When the cashier rang them up, however, I saw the price 8.35 flash on the screen. I stopped her, she called her manager, and there was a conference about the correct price that held up a long line of customers for a few minutes. The correct price turned out to be 1.67.

The vacuum-packed package of herring fillets I bought earlier, which I haven't even opened yet, is labeled as hareng fumé doux, or mild smoked herring. I think it's called doux because it is less salty than the regular hareng saur. But I'm not sure. None of the clerks at SuperU could tell me with confidence.

A close-up of the label — the adjective « saur » describes
the reddish color that smoking gives to the herring.

Now I'll know. Yesterday morning I put the filets de harengs saurs to soak in milk in the refrigerator overnight, as I understand you are supposed to do, to take some of the saltiness out of them. Then I can open the package of mild smoked herring and compare the two.

These smoked herring fillets are fished in the northeast Atlantic
and processed and packaged at Boulogne-sur-Mer in France.

It matters, because most of the recipes I have specify either hareng saur or hareng fumé doux, and they don't seem to be interchangeable. Afterward, I have some recipes using smoked herring that I want to try. More about that later.


  1. I can't wait to have the verdict. These herrings, whether saur or doux look pretty good to me. They might taste slightly different though because of the difference in texture.

    I wish I were there to taste them. LOL - MDR

    Verification word is hioushni, I think it means herring in Japanese!

  2. chm, very funny:)))

    Is herring the food item that Nadege was so hoping to find here in the States around Christmas time? Which kind?

    Judy (bowing and repeating, "Hioushni to you, hioushni to you....")

  3. I can taste them just looking at the photo! Thank you Ken for giving them a try; it makes CHM and me very happy.

  4. We remodeled our townhouse on the Intracoastal in Wilmington last year. In addition to installing an elevator, we remodeled the attic and converted it to an office and large sitting room. The addition of the skylight (which is also made by Velux) not only gave us the additional few inches for elevator clearance, but also the ablility to have light and ventilation. It is the only window in the room so there is no view, however.

    We also insulated with spray foam. Not only were we looking for good thermal insulation, but also looking for protection from leaks. So far, (no hurricanes) so good.

    We love having the office upstairs out of the way so there is no worry about leaving papers, files etc. out until the work is finished.

    I hope you will be as happy with your result as we are with ours.

  5. Those prices seem very good! $0.30a pound for sauerkraut and a low price for the herring as well.

    Soaking the herrings in milk reminds me of creamed pickled herrings with onion I used to get in new York. They had a slightly sweet taste.

  6. Ken, That attic of yours looks fantastic and has a lot of potential. I'm just curious about one thing ... temperature? Will you be putting in extra radiators and airco because it can get pretty hot underneath those rafters in summer?

  7. Thanks for the chuckle, CHM;-)

    Getting insulation for the roof sounds like a good investment, plus sleeping under the roof in the rain will be nice.

    I love the look of your new staircase also. Oak is so durable as well as beautiful.

  8. Nine pounds of sauerkraut? It would take me years to eat that much.

  9. Since you cannot open a window on the wall facing the street, could you put the same 'jour aveugle' that you have downstairs in the stairwell. That would give you additional light and I don't think it would weaken the wall or the overall structure.

  10. Thanks, CHM. "Jour aveugle" is a new term for me. Its meaning is abundantly clear. Oh, you French! A great turn of phrase for everything.

    K&W... seems like you have a world of advisors for your remodeling project!

  11. Oh, boy! A science project. Hope it doesn't turn out to be a red herring. Sorry, I couldn't resist.


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