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My French Life: My chefing is improving

I had guests staying at the weekend so I decided to have a bit of a bake up and make Grandma Flo’s Dundee cake and Champagne cup cakes. I didn’t use real champagne  – sacré bleue – that would be sacrilege (and terribly expensive) so I used a sparkling wine and a little of my summer fruit liqueur (that I made last year) to jazz it up a bit.

Well the Dundee cake I’ve got down to a fine art now and it turned out nice. I’m not the best cook in the world and it wasn’t so long ago that I almost burned the house down making a jus when I got enthusiastic about chefing after I watched Master Chef so being able to cook a cake without a disaster is a vast improvement for me.

The champagne cupcakes – well I never! They were easy to make, easy to bake and even if I do say so myself rather bon!

My French Life Champagne Cupcakes
Champagne Cupcakes

I also made Claudette’s beef casserole. She is 84 and prides herself on never having been to a supermarket in her life. She’s a sprightly old girl and a fabulous cook. She has used the same oven since she got married more than 60 years ago – I’ll try to remember to take a photo of it for you one day as it is amazing – bright blue with enamel pictures all over it! Anyway, she is attempting to teach me to cook with varying degrees of success. The problem is that she doesn’t weigh anything. She just pours things into a bowl so I have to try to remember and even though I write things down sometimes I get it wrong. The other problem is that her oven is a wood oven so I have absolutely no idea what temperature anything is. Also… with the wood oven on, a glass of vin for me and her, I often get a bit mixed up by the end of a lesson! Well the casserole was okay – it should have been better but it called for a pinch of cinnamon but I put in a table spoon so it was a little bit Christmas-puddingy!

My French Life at the brocante
At the brocante

After all this eating we had to walk some of it off so we nipped out to a local brocante (second hand market) where my sister who has a beady eye for a vintage bargain had a whale of a time. If you ever come on holiday to France I’d thoroughly recommend visiting a brocante, braderie or vide grenier. There’s always a lively atmosphere and its a little window into French culture.

My French Life Goats at the goat farm
Its baby goat time at the goat farm

After that we went to the goat farm down the road from me. My sister is crazy for their fresh natural goat cheese and bread which they make from goat’s milk. It is the heaviest bread in the world – you could build a house out of it and if it rained the bread would set like cement. My sister who is a foodie says that this is the whole point – the heavy bread with the fresh light goat’s cheese and a sprinkle of fresh herbs is a perfect match – I guess I still have some way to go before I become a real French Cuisine gourmet!

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