27 November 2012

The back corner

Here are some recent pictures taken in the back corner of our yard. It's the northwest corner, and there are no houses over on that side, just woods and vines. Now a big patch of the woods has been cut down. Back in July, we started working on this ourselves, to make sure the brambles didn't pull our lightweight fence down. Maybe we wasted our time and effort.

The electric company's crew cut a wide swath under their wires right next to our property.

As I mentioned yesterday, the electric company (ERDF) sent out a crew to clear the brush under the wires that come up the hill from the river valley to supply the nine houses in our hamlet with current. The wires run around our yard — along the north side and then around the west end. The land on the north side of our property doesn't belong to us, and it is not tended at all by its owner.

Callie of course needs to explore and sniff around anything that changes in her environment.

I think I've noticed a pattern. I believe EFDF sends out a crew every five years to cut down the trees that might be growing up into the wires. I believe the last time was in 2007, but I haven't yet been able to find any photos of it from that time. I can't remember what month it was when they did the job.

Looking through the bare branches of the plum tree out into the vineyard

The back corner of the yard has always been a problem. We can't quite figure out what to do with it. A few years ago we planted a good crop of potatoes on a little plot of land back there that was the previous owners' compost pile. And one year I successfully planted greens (collards, mustard, and chard) on the same plot. Then I planted a plum tree back there, and it has grown tall but hasn't yet produced much fruit.

This year's greens, slightly slug-infested because of mild temperatures and abundant rains

Today is a shopping day. The Carrefour Market over in Montrichard has fattened ducks (canards gras) on sale — whole ducks or parts — at really tempting prices, but it's too late for us because we cooked a canard last week. SuperU in Saint-Aignan has extra-lean beef roasts on sale, and I have an idea for bœuf à la ficelle cooked with ginger, rice wine, soy sauce, and Asian spices. More on that later.


  1. A fatten duck or extra lean beef! I'll take one of each.

  2. Get the ducks. One can never eat too much duck. We have duck breast almost every week, and would have roast duck and duck confit more often if they were more readily available here.

  3. Hi Ken, Have you tried 'boeuf à la ficelle' before? It's pretty spectacular - prepartion-wise, but I'm not so sure about the taste. I had it once, decades ago and found it rather bland. But then it didn't come with the ingredients you mention. Looking forward to your cooking report and 'verdict'! :) Martine

  4. Ken, you certainly always have lots of ideas for menus. You are so inspiring in your blogposts!

    Keep it up, please.

  5. Hi Martine, I bought the beef roast today. I'm planning to serve the bœuf à la ficelle with rice and stir-fried chard, maybe with onions. I'm looking forward to it and will post some pictures.

    Mary, merci. Je continuerai.

  6. How far do you guys have to drive to get to a major market like Carrefour or SuperU?

  7. Starman, we have a regular SuperU and an Intermarché here in Saint-Aignan. Neither is more than 3 or 4 miles from our house. There's a larger SuperU 10 miles north in Contres. Auchan is 25 miles north near Blois, there are two Centres Leclerc within 25 miles (Loches and Romorantin), and Carrefour is 35 or 40 miles west in Tours. There you have it. Our Saint-Aignan SuperU is a nice store and has pretty much everything we need.

  8. What about a good " pot au feu" ?


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