Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hunting in France

My hunting experience in pictures:

Getting ready to go out

on our way

looks like the dogs found something

My first shoot

that was sore!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to choose a wine glass

Coming to live in France some people can feel a bit intimidated when it comes to choosing a wine for a dinner or even when choosing a glass for serving the chosen wine.  Living in France, I discovered that wine is a very important part of everyday life and French culture. 

If like me, when I just arrived here, you are wondering what type of glass you should present at your table for your chosen wine; I can give you a few hints to avoid a mayor faux pas. 

Most wine connoisseurs agree that a wine glass should be made of crystal.  The transparent crystal should be thin and without too much ornament in order to let the wine lover appreciate the contents of the glass in all its senses.  In some parts of rural France you will see short Champagne-shaped glasses in porcelain; these are meant to be for coffee, NOT for wine.  To be on the safe side, make sure your wine glasses are of transparent crystal. 

A wine glass should have a stand for easy manipulation when wine tasting.  I have seen wine glasses with no stands, I suggest you don’t try to be too avant-garde and avoid those glasses, at least when you are in France.     

White wines are easier to accommodate to any shape of glass due to their qualities.  Red wines can be more complicated depending on their body.  In France different regions have created special wine glasses for their wines.  The most popular are:

  • The wide “ballooned” wine glass for wines from the Bourgogne region, because the wine from Bourgogne should “roll” freely in the glass to be tasted at its best. 
  • The smallish wine glass shaped as an egg, for wines from the Bordeaux region.
  • Very tall wine glasses come from the Alsace region.
  • Flutes are reserved for the Champagne region.

How to choose a wine glass

    An advantage of knowing what type of glass goes with which wine is that if you are served a glass of wine without seeing the bottle, you can at least start locating the wine as being a Bourgogne or Bordeaux. 

    Remember that a wine glass should never be filled all the way up.  The ideal is to fill it up a little bit more than half the way, that is, leaving a third of the glass empty to leave space for the wine to develop. 

    My selection of best wine gifts under $25 for wine lovers

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Argenton Sur Creuse In Pictures

    St Sauveur’s church on the Place Carnot was built at the end of the 15thCentury, admire its beautiful 50 m high gothic bell tower

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    The Hotel de Scevole was built during the 17th and 18th century. 

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    La Bonne Dame
    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    La Coursiere street leads to the top of the hill where the little chapel of the Bonne Dame stands.This is worth a visit as you can overlook the whole town from there.

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    The River Creuse on November

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    Musée de la Chemiserie et de l’Elégance masculine:  Shirt and Elegance Museum 
    This little museum is located on what once was the first lingerie workshop in the area.  The workshop opened in 1860 and soon developed to be one of the main sources of revenue in the area.  My favourite part in the museum is the floor dedicated to the women who worked there as it is a testimony of the economical development of the town an also testimony of the way of life of the women in Argenton.   

    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    Place de la Republique
    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved
    Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Iturrizaga.  All Rights Reserved

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Microwaved Steamed Ginger Pudding to warm up a cool afternoon

    With autumn here we are having more and more cool afternoons.  The sun still shining and during the hottest time of the day you can expect at the most 20°C, but once the sun starts to go down, the cold temperatures climb up and we can be as cold as 5°C already!  A fun way to keep warm during these autumn days is to bake cakes and biscuits.  Children love to get their hands in the kitchen to grate, mix and decorate their baked efforts. 

    Some of my favourite recipes to warm up during a cool afternoon are steam puddings, always delicious with a scoop of ice cream or with hot custard.  The only thing that ever put me off from cooking a steam pudding was the length of time that it had to be steamed.  However, not long ago, I found the solution to this when I found a recipe for steam puddings cooked in the microwave. 

    Microwaved Ginger Steamed Pudding

    Did you know that you can cook a traditional steam pudding in a microwave?  Yes, steam puddings can be cooked in a microwave in a fraction of the time.  Instead of traditionally steaming your pudding for 1 and ½ hours, you can have your pudding microwaved and ready to serve in less than 5 minutes.  Do you want to try?  Here we go, you will need:

    Ginger Photographed by: Frank C. Müller

    225g Self raising flour

    2 tea-spoons of ground ginger

    25g steam ginger finely chopped

    50g butter

    50g caster sugar

    2 tablespoons of honey

    2 eggs

    2 tablespoons of milk

    A pinch of salt

    Ginger jam (for the syrup)

    Before you start, prepare all your materials and ingredients.  Start by greasing a 1 litre pudding basin.

    In a bowl mix the flour, salt and ground ginger.  Add the butter and then all the other ingredients.  Mix well.  That is your pudding ready to steam. 

    Place the mixture in a basin; make sure you leave room for expansion and cover loosely to allow steam to escape.  Microwave on full power for 4 minutes (in a 650w microwave) or 3 and a half minutes in a 800w microwave.  Leave to cool.

    For the ginger syrup put at least 3 Tablespoons of ginger jam in a bowl and heat it up until runny in the microwave.  Pour the syrup over the steam pudding and enjoy! 

    If you don’t have ginger jam, you can always make a light syrup with sugar, water and a piece of ginger root or caramelized gingers.  

    November is time for:
    Do not forget that November is the month to start preparing your Christmas puddings Remember that once cooked your Christmas pudding  needs to be kept in a cool place, ideally a larder. Christmas puddings are often dried out on hooks for weeks prior to serving in order to enhance the flavour.

    Photograph by DO'Neil.