20 November 2013

Winter soup

The temperature this morning is a mere 1ºC, or about 34ºF. That's the coldest temperature we've had in many many months. To prepare, I've now brought in all the big potted plants — aloe, jade, agave, etc. — that spent the summer and fall outdoors. We haven't had snow, but the region around Lyon has as much as 6 or 8 inches on the ground.

A potée of pork and winter vegetables

And to fortify myself, today I'm making soup. I said a few days ago that we were having a potée — a big boiled dinner of vegetables and pork. I haven't blogged about it since, so I'm putting a couple of pictures here.

The view last week over the back hedge at La Renaudière, outside Saint-Aignan in the Loire Valley

The vegetables that went into the potée were collard greens and kale, onions, carrots, leeks, and potatoes. The meats were a salt-cured pork shank, a fresh pork loin roast, and a couple of smoked Montbéliard sausages from eastern France. Herbs like parsley, coriander, and bay leaves lent flavor, along with some garlic cloves and some clous de girofle (cloves), plus black peppercorns. And the cooking liquid was chicken broth left over from poaching a bird a few days earlier.

A lunch of leeks (foreground), carrots, potato, greens, pork, and sausage

We've had two meals of potée since Saturday. There's still some left, and that's what I will make into soup today. I'll spent a little time dicing up all the leftover vegetables and meats, and then heat them up in the potée broth, which is pretty richly flavored at this point. That should warm us up despite the chilly temperatures outdoors.

Peaceful daily walks around the vineyard with Callie have replaced the long commutes
and endless traffic jams that I had to deal with back in the 1990s.

My father died 23 years ago, in November 1990, at the ripe old age of 64. He and I were both born in March. That means I have officially outlived him now, because I turned 64 last spring. Was quitting work, selling everything in California, and moving to France the right thing to do, from today's perspective? It was. I wonder what the state my health would be if I were still in California, fighting the traffic, the noise, the cypress pollen, and the work stress.


  1. Glad you made that choice :) It sure seems to have been the right one for you, hands down.

    Soup is so warming on these cold days. Yumm!

  2. And we probably wouldn't be reading this blog if you had stayed in NoCal.

  3. I am always impressed with the wonderful life you and Walt have made for yourselves in France.

  4. Your photos are so French today- just like your life and thanks for giving us France every day. You do a good job of living in the moment which makes your blog special.

  5. Just because your father died at 64, is not an indication that you will. According to all the information I've managed to gather over the years, I've out-lived all the men in my family by several decades. Of course, it's all hearsay because I've never actually met anyone from my birth family.
    What is the thing with the white center in the back of the photo?

  6. Starman, if you mean the first photo in the post, that white thing is a pork loin roast. I know what you mean about parents' age at death not meaning much. Both my mother's parents died before the age of 50, and ma is now well into her eighties. Still, you wonder if you will out-live your father... Thanks for your comment, as always.

  7. Much as we miss you, you made the right choice.

  8. Thanks Chris, and Susan, you are too kind.

  9. Ken, I'm so glad you are still here and living a healthy peaceful life in France. Since I began reading your and Walt's blog, I have such a deeper sense and knowledge of how life would be living in another country. The posts and the pictures you put so much time into are so very appreciated by me. Here's to continued good health for many many years to come!

  10. Thanks for the comment, Kim, and for the good wishes. Ken

  11. As usual, I'm late catching up on my reading.
    I think I know how you feel about living past the age your father lived. My father almost celebrated passing the 65 mark. He died when he was 86. And my mother, when she was 89. Both my grandfathers died in their 6Os and my grandmothers in their 90s. We do use (and so do our doctors and insurance companies) these references to gauge our own longevity probabilities.
    As for working, I can't imagine myself still doing it. I'm too busy with other things.


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