Monday, October 23, 2017

Tarte aux pommes

Now that it's feeling like fall again, I decided to make an apple tart. The supermarket had some nice looking Gala apples on Friday, so I picked up a few. On Sunday morning I made my standard pie crust and blind-baked it. Then, I mixed a small amount of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into some white sugar and dusted the empty shell with it before peeling, coring, and slicing the apples. Once the apples were laid into the shell, I sprinkled a little more of the sugar mixture on them before baking it all in a hot oven (200ºC or 390ºF) for about twenty-five minutes.

The crust was crisp and flaky, and the apples were perfectly done.

After the pie was out of the oven, I glazed it with some of Ken's home-made plum jam. It turned out great, being the first apple tart I've made this season. I'm sure it won't be the last one. And there is plenty left for when Ken gets home tomorrow.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Fall is mushroom time. They sprout up all over the place: in our lawn, on decaying trees, among the grape vines and, mostly, in the woods. I see many different varieties on our walks, some are even edible, although I would never gather my own mushrooms. I'll leave that to the experts. This one is a shaggy ink cap. It sprouted, among others, in the place where I normally see them every fall.

A shaggy ink cap before it opens fully. Supposedly, they're edible in their early stages.

I've never seen a toad sitting on a mushroom. Wikipedia says that the term "toadstool" derives from German fairy tales telling of toads sitting on mushrooms to catch the flies that are attracted to them. In French, mushrooms are called champignons, originally from the Latin campania, "product of the country." No toads. Wikipedia also says that our word "mushroom" probably comes from the French mousseron, having to do with moss.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


I make lists. I have a little pad of paper on my desk, always at the ready, for a list or two. Often, it's a list of items that have to be entered into the check register that I keep on the computer. I have a shopping list that I keep for our trips to the US. I have a list of things we want to get on our next trip to the Asian grocery. Right now, I have a list of things that I wanted to get done while Ken is away. Of the ten items on that list, three remain to be completed.

One of the vineyard parcels that Tasha and I frequently walk by.

There are other things I've done that aren't on the list, of course. Like moving the burn pile. I didn't plan to do that this past week (it's been four years, after all), but the spirit (and the good weather) moved me to get it done. I also made an appointment to get Tasha groomed on Monday, but that wasn't on the list, either.

At least two of the three things left on my list will get done this weekend, I'm certain. On Tuesday, Ken gets home. Tasha and I will pick him up at the train station. That's not on the list, but it's on my calendar which is, after all, another kind of list.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Moving the burn pile

Four and a half years ago, we had the line of hazelnut trees along the north side of our back yard cut down to hedge size. I asked the guys who did the work to leave the trunks in piles in the yard so I could saw them into firewood. There were three big piles. One I took care of that year. The second, I think, I sawed up the following year. The third, however, sat there under our large fir tree for over four years. Until yesterday.

You might be able to see the moved pile out in the garden plot (center-right in photo). And there's Tasha, always ready to play help.

Over the years I tossed large branches and other prunings onto the pile. I've picked through it from time to time for kindling. For over four years I've been saying that I'm going to move that pile into the garden plot and burn it. I finally moved it on Thursday morning. It took about an hour and a half. I kept some logs and branches out to burn in the wood stove. It's free wood and kindling after all. I moved all of that to a sheltered spot in the afternoon. Burning may happen one day this fall when it's foggy so that the smoke is less of an eyesore.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oh the leaves, they are a-changin'

This is the view of our hamlet from out in the vineyards on Tuesday afternoon. The vines are planted on the heights above the river, which runs from right to left down in the valley behind the buildings you can see. On either side of the vineyard, where the land curves downward into the woods, are ravines where streams run down to the river valley. The vines are planted on the higher land where water drains quickly to the streams and river.

Looking roughly toward the northeast. Our house is the building on the left.

The plumber that did our shower came by yesterday with the representative of the manufacturer that made our new shower door. In August, one of the hinge plates detached from the glass door. The plumber used a powerful adhesive to stick it back on, but said he'd call the manufacturer about it and, at the very least, get the guarantee extended. Well, the rep needed to come by to verify that the door was properly installed. After five minutes he said, "OK." He'll do the paperwork and order a new door, which we should have in about a month.

Then I asked the plumber, who also dabbles in electricity, to take a look at my botched attempt at installing the ceiling light fixture. He had it fixed in no time and now it works perfectly. No charge! Again, the right tools and a little savoir faire.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Leaf peeping

I took the camera out on Tuesday afternoon to try to get some shots of the vineyard in its yellow stage. The sun was bright in the western sky, about two hours from setting. I attached Tasha's leash to my belt (I should probably get one of those jogger's leashes) and headed out. I'm not used to taking pictures in such bright sun since I'm normally out at dawn or dusk and it's often cloudy.

There are some rogue red leaves among these yellows. And there's still a lot of green mixed in.

After a while, the leaves on the grape vines will turn a golden orange color for a brief time before falling to the ground. I hope I can get some photos of that again this year. As usual, it all depends on the weather. Hard wind and rain can rip the leaves off the vines quickly once they've started to fall.

I went to the garden center yesterday and found a bag of soil made specifically to amend outdoor flower beds. I worked it in and it looks good. I also got a sack of acidified soil for the heather. Today is transplanting day. It's supposed to be cloudy and a little cooler, but without rain.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

Tuckered out! Here's Tasha resting after some vigorous ball chasing outdoors. I throw the tennis ball, she runs after it and retrieves it. Then she brings it back toward me, but no to me. She trots in a circle around me, just out of reach, daring me to come and get the ball. If I move toward her, she darts away. Hahaha, what fun. Not. My new strategy is to just to ignore her and continue whatever I was doing. At that point she'll drop the ball somewhere near me so I can pick it up and throw it again.

Chasing tennis balls is hard work!

On Monday I turned the soil in that spot where the lavender was. It was packed pretty hard. I think I'll need to add something to it before I plant the rozanne geraniums and flowering bulbs I want to put there. Another trip to the garden center. I need a sack of terre de bruyère (acidic soil) anyway for some calluna (heather) I got to replace the rozanne geraniums. They're currently in big pots on the deck.