Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chestnuts roasted in my oven, not on an open fire.


Roasting chestnuts in my oven is just not the same as buying them on the street in Europe. The fragrance is on the air everywhere in the autumn. In France they are sold in little paper cones. In Switzerland they sell them in little brown bags that have two sides, one for the chestnuts and one for the peelings (so Swiss).  I love them roasted or as a puree, or my favorite, marron glacé,
 
Chestnut History
     Probably one of the first foods eaten by man, the chestnut dates back to prehistoric times. The chestnut tree, Castanea sativa, was first introduced to Europe via Greece. The majority of the chestnut trees currently found in America are of native European stock, but Native Americans feasted on America's own variety, Castanea dentata, long before European immigrants introduced their stock to America.

In 1904, diseased Asian chestnut trees planted on Long Island, New York carried a fungus hitchhiker that nearly devasted the American chestnut population, leaving only a few groves in California and the Pacific Northwest to escape the blight.

Today, most of the chestnut food crop is imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. Chestnuts are known as marrons in France and some parts of Europe.

These starchy nuts are given to the poor as a symbol of sustenance on the Feast of Saint Martin (Nov 11) in Germany and are also traditionally eaten on Saint Simon's Day in Tuscany.

Legend has it that the Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C.

Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes. It is no wonder they are still an important food crop in China, Japan, and southern Europe where they are often ground into a meal for bread making, thus giving rise to the nickname of "bread tree."

Chestnut timber resembles its cousin, the oak, in both color and texture and is highly-valued. Also known for its tanning properties, the trees can live up to five hundred years and usually do not begin to produce fruit until they are forty years old.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All Torn Up

The work crews arrived early (7am) to begin replacing the siding on our building. They first had to pull off all the old siding. Then they had to refit the doors with new surroundings since they hadn't been fitted properly when the place was originally built. The wood deck was molding and rotting from water seeping down and not draining properly. This work took several days to complete. While they were working on the siding, they draped heavy plastic over all the windows and the outside doors.
We had to move everything away from the walls. We have so many plants and outdoor furniture that it is quite a mess out there as we wait for the work to be completed. 
 
  
When they first put up the plastic we were at the HQ office. When we got home it was dark. The next morning I opened the back door and this crowbar fell into my living room with a thud. Someone had leaned it up against the door and then covered it with the plastic. I took it to the office and was rather perturbed when one of the women who work in there was snippy and told me I shouldn't have opened the door! We had a bit of an exchange and I took the crowbar and walked out saying I would return when the manager was back. I did, and she was very nice, as usual, and very apologetic assuring me she would let the  construction company know. It wasn't but about an hour before the crew manager called me to apologize and  next morning arrived at my front door with a pretty house plant.  The crew came in, did their work, were courteous, quick, and efficient. They cleaned up their mess, and I gave them hot cookies that I had just baked.
 
The walls have been prepared with new wall boards and Tyvec. Now all that remains to be done is to replace the siding. I hope it is done soon. (they say by the end of the week) I'm tired of the mess!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today was a glorious Indian Summer day. It was cool and crisp with an azure sky and warm sunshine.
I spent the afternoon with my friend Mary. Her new puppies are fun to watch prancing and rolling around. When they are through chasing each other they flop down, exhausted, immediately falling to sleep. They're so cute.
I came home with a huge bag of apples from her trees. there are yellow ones and red ones. When I came home, I made applesauce. Yummy.

I brought a few of the last of the Italian plums, as well. I love her plums. The yellow jackets are so drunk on the over-ripe fruit that has fallen to the ground, that they just flop around. One landed on my foot and I had to brush it off.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Feature

Blogger has a new feature I've decided to try. It is called "Follow this Blog". If you would like to try it with me and become a part of this blog, follow the instructions at the bottom of the page. If you would like to know more about this new feature before you try it, click HERE,

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Last night we had our first really Autumn dinner. We had a nice bit of pork roasted with lots of vegetables including potatoes, carrots, squash, hericort vert, and apples. All flavored with shallots, thyme and wine.


Polly had stopped at the market for a loaf of bread and ran into a sampling a French wine, called French Rabbit. It's one of those wines in tetrapaks. She brought us a Cabernet to go with dinner. I look forward to trying some of the other varietals.
When we lived in England we could buy inexpensive French wine at Sainsbury packaged in collapsible, recyclable plastic bottles. I'm sure these tetrapaks are far superior.

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