19 February 2011

Cabin fever

Okay, I'll chalk it up to cabin fever. I don't really want to live in a city again. Too cramped, too polluted, too noisy, too expensive. Problem is, the weather forecast here in Saint-Aignan is for rain for the next week. We haven't had a lot of really wet weather recently, but it seems we are entering a rainy period.

Rain in the gauge in the back yard

What to do? Well, we have to go out with the dog anyway, so we'll get wet. At least it's not cold at all. It's sort of raining this morning — it's more mist than real rain. The real rain is supposed to arrive Monday. If the weather people know what they are talking about. We can't complain. February has been pretty nice up to now.

The pond out back is really full. It overflows now
whenever the weather is rainy.

Cooking good food is the best antidote. Today, leg of lamb with French flageolet beans. That's what people in France eat, traditionally, with leg of lamb, called gigot d'agneau. Flageolets are immature white beans that are harvested when they are still pale green in color. They were first cultivated in the late 1800s by a farmer in the Paris region.

Rain puddles in the vineyard

It's funny, because a flageolet in French is also a specific kind of musical instrument. The dictionary says it's a “small flutelike instrument with a cylindrical mouthpiece, four finger holes, and two thumbholes.” It toots. Enough said, no?

The leg of lamb I'm cooking comes from New Zealand. We buy New Zealand, Australian, and Patagonian gigots fairly frequently, but usually we cook them in spicy Moroccan-style tagines, "barbecued" with a spicy vinegar sauce, or as Irish-style stew with vegetables and herbs.

Heard it through the grapevine

Today, I'm just going to roast the leg of lamb, which weighs 1.825 kg, or about 4 lbs. From what I've read, it should take just an hour to cook in a hot oven, and then it will need some resting time so that it cooks through evenly but remains approximately medium rare.

If we don't like it cooked that way, we can always re-cook the leftovers in some other form, such as stew or hash. Hachis parmentier, for example — shepherd's pie. What ever we end up doing, we'll be eating lamb for the next few days, prepared one way or another. Poor us, right.

Vines in February

We've been eating a lot of chicken and turkey recently. This will be a good change. One butcher here in Saint-Aignan told me that his customers don't buy much New Zealand lamb. They much prefer French lamb, whether from Normandy or the Limousin region.

We usually buy French lamb when we want a roasted leg, but it's really expensive — 30 to 40 euros for a leg, compared to 10 euros ($14.00 U.S.) for a 4 lb. roast. French lamb is supposed to be more mildly flavored. Once friends in Normandy served roast leg of lamb for lunch. It came to the table all sliced. The meat was so white and mild, though full of flavor, that I thought it was veal.

New Zealand lamb is sold as a “three-quarter leg” — in French,
a gigot raccourci, or “shortened” leg.
The hip bone and saddle
have been removed, so just the thigh (la cuisse) is left.

Maybe going away for a few days will be a good change for me. I'll be in North Carolina for two weeks in March. I think the weather there will be springlike (with any luck). I saw on the web that the high temperature in the Raleigh-Durham area yesterday was 78ºF — that would be a hot summer day in Saint-Aignan (just over 25ºC). And no, North Carolina is not in the southern hemisphere!


  1. If I understand correctly, North Carolina is in the Northern Hemisphere, so South Carolina should be in the Southern Hemisphere next to South Georgia which Google says it is remote and inhospitable ... As far as politics is concerned that definition fits South Carolina perfectly. BTW it seems their main crop is Sandwich. LOL

  2. lol chm......south carolina is really incomprehensible anyway...one of the finalists (if not the winner) in the stupid state contest....although VA is doing its best to keep up! we tied a record temp yesterday at 77 but today back down about 20 degrees

  3. Lamb is wonderful and we don't eat it that often. I used to buy a lamb from a farmer near here, with one of my daughters, but none of there husbands really like lamb, so no more....I usually serve curried lamb with rice for leftovers, just because my mother did.

  4. Melinda- I live in a state that in contention for stupid state lol---Alabama, but we know how to pay for football. Our weather is beautiful right now.

    Am at St Simon's Island right now- the beach is lovely! You're going to enjoy your time back home, Ken.

  5. chm: too funny! But y'all are goin to have a hard time topping AZ for stupid state. They want to eliminate domestic partner benefits to balance the state budget now.

    Good lord, that French lamb is expensive! It must be trufffle-fed.

  6. No stupid-state competition would be complete without Louisiana. Stupid, and proud of it!

  7. I am starting to develop a true belief in blogger serendipity...I was just thinking about the term "cabin fever" today.

    I think February will be the only month in the 2010-2011 school year that I will not have left Aveyron...

    Bon courage...stay the course...keep cooking!

  8. Hi Betty, I was trying to figure out a French equivalent for "cabin fever." I'm not sure what I'd call it in French.

    CHM and Melinda, don't tell anybody that my mother and grandfather were both born in South Carolina!

    Diog', yes, expensive French gigots. But worth in once a year or so.

  9. The weather here has been in the mid-20's and I'm still cold. Today it's about 25. It feels chilly. I think the last time I had lamb was in Paris several years ago. We eat mostly chicken and turkey, with an occasional bit of ham.

  10. Yeah! But they went up north... Didn't they?

  11. Actually, CHM, my grandfather moved pretty much straight east to get to Morehead City. There he met my grandmother. They then lived for a few years in South Carolina, where my mother was born, before going back to live in North Carolina.

  12. I took a very quick look on the Internet, Ken, and the best I could find was "sentiment d'enfermement." I had been thinking something along those lines..."se sentir enfermé." I'm thinking there is not a translation that gives some sort of imagery, the way "cabin fever" does.


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