31 December 2008

New vegetable that we discovered in Lyon

We had these at a very yummy lunch in Lyon and were immediately fascinated. They have a crunchy outer shell and a melty interior with a flavor somewhat like a potato or turnip. Suffice it to say between their appearance and their texture, they could pass for something that moves around. They were tasty enough for Mike to search them out at our vegetable stand and prepare them as a side for our yummy New Year's Eve dinner. Now we know they will also bring us more good luck in the new year!! Here is some technical info on them. See if you can find them atthe vegetable stand near you.

Crosnes - tachys sieboldii (chorogi [CHAWR-oh-gee] and knotroot)

In Japan Chorogi and also referred to as a Chinese Artichoke where it grows wild in Northern China. The word chorogi means "longevity" and is tuber is considered considered to be a sign of good luck.

The plant is in the mint family but the edible part of the plant are small white tubers. The tubers can be eaten raw as one might a Jeruseleum artichoke (no relation) or cooked like a potato or other starch.

Crosnes as they are called in France were introduced in the late 19th century and named after the village where they were first introduced. Crosnes du Japon was the given name by Paillieux (of Paillieux and Bois, Le Potager d'un curieux, 1882)

How They Are Used - Varied uses include sliced raw and used in salads, pickled, steamed or in stir-frys. Tubers can also be dipped in tempura batter and fried. Crosnes are never peeled.

Chef Charlie Trotter, restaurant "Toque" includes them on his menu Roasted Monkfish Tail on the Bone with Pig's Tail Pieces, Crosnes & Mustard Vinaigrette.

Elizabeth Schneider offers several usages contributed by chefs including:Use pickled Crosnes for Martinis - Chef JohoPink Pickled Chorogi on Black Soybeans - Chef MorimotoMackerel Tartare with Crosnes - Chef Anita LoSee credits section below for book reference.Select and StoreTubers should be pale and firm (not rubbery).

Can be placed in an open basket or container, refrigerated for about a week.

This is the classic French preparation:


1 pound crosnes 4 tablespoons butter Salt, pepper


Wash the crosnes by soaking them in water and scrub gently with a vegetable brush taking care to get all dirt and sand out of the nooks and crannies. Heat butter over medium-high heat in a heavy pan. Add the crosnes whole, stir, reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

25 December 2008

Pictures Christmas 2008

A fine Christmas was had by all followed by a wonderful meal of prime rib and Buche de Noel...chocolate of course! We are all now just in a stupor with our heads in the clouds! It was so nice to have a day of relaxation and nowhere to go...no schedules to keep!

Joyeux Noel 2008

A traditional carols and reading service was held in a beautiful old church in Fontes. This is the first year that we attended the Christmas services in English... and Episcopal/Anglican to boot. This service had an organ accompanying the choir and the acoustics were amazing. The voices just floated up to heaven and back down to us. Mike was a reader and the only American accent in the group. Well done, Mike!!

07 December 2008

Decking the Halls

Celia, Eugenie and Armand decorating the family room tree. Celia babysits them every Wednesday afternoon and gives them an English lesson.

Mike used to buy the TALLEST tree on the lot and then whack off two feet when it was too tall for our house. Now we are in the land of munchkin trees...short and broad...and way less expensive!!

06 December 2008

Happy 15th Birthday Nathan!!

In what is turning out to be a yearly tradition, we feted Nathan's 15th birthday at Sequoia, a beautiful restaurant with innovative cuisine in the outskirts of Montpellier. We were not disappointed by the artistic presentation of the meal. It was a really beautiful evening.


We had a warm and convivial Thanksgiving feast...the adjectives used by our French friends. A table of twelve, lively conversation and yummy food!

02 December 2008



Also, this website is a live webcam of the large main plaza in Montpellier. All of the small little roofs are the chalets for the annual Christmas market that is held through Christmas Eve featuring everything from food and treats to artists works to junk.


This link takes you to a map with icons of cameras. Click on a camera and you can have a 360 virtual tour of some of the best places to see in Montpellier


25 November 2008

Speaking English

Today for the first time since Nathan and Celia started their new school, I went to the school during lunch. Nathan has a bit of the flu and a fever so I got the old come-pick-your-son-up call. The person at the front desk said Nathan was at lunch and that I should go look for him myself.

In the courtyard of the school, there was so much energy being let free! Boys running and jumping and playing some type of ball game. Finally, I found Celia coming out of the cafeteria with her friends Laura and Hortense. I asked her to tell Nathan that I was waiting for him in the courtyard. After she went back into the cafeteria to get him, Celia's friends were looking at me as if I were some sort of curiosity out of a museum. I introduced myself to them and they to me. Then Laura said she was the one that called our house the other night. Celia returned and she and I talked about some little nothings when I noticed that the two girls were once again looking at the two of us with awe. It turns out that hearing American English being spoken is so foreign to them that they are simply entranced to hear it in conversation.

After entertaining them with more back and forth, Nathan came out and we left. On the way out, I ran into Celia's British friend Rosalie and stopped to chat with her. Her two French lunchmates got the same look of wonderment on their faces as Celia's friends had. It is just so interesting to have people so intrigued by your language. It's as if they cannot imagine how we can speak like we do.

On the way home Nathan said that the kids always are so interested in listening to him and Celia when they speak English to each other. All of the kids are required to take English and it is third in line of importance after science and math in the curriculum and with the parents. For some, it is the first time they are hearing English being spoken in live conversation by native speakers. Quite a different experience.

22 November 2008

School Pictures

Nathan is in troisieme (9th) and Celia is in quatrieme (8th) this year at Saint Francois Regis. I just am so proud of them!

21 November 2008

Beautiful Fall Walk

Jazzy and I went for an early morning walk in the vineyards. The rising sun made the remaining leaves on the vines burst with orange fire. There was just a touch of frost on the grass and the crisp air felt so fresh and cool.

15 October 2008

Sorry for the Eye Strain

Much thanks to Susie for the input regarding the damage that the blog's coloration was doing to my loyal readers' eyesight. I was just reading a web page that had a similar set up and I can still see the lines burned onto my retinas. I apologize for the unnecessary wear and tear on your precious eyes! Keep the comments coming!

04 October 2008

Knitting a Quilt Pattern

I had to share my latest knitting project with you. I recently found this wonderfully easy and cool pattern on the web site Knitting Daily. It is so incredibly simple yet it knits like a quilt. I won't disclose what it is that I am knitting, but it is turning out so beautifully. Although the color of this picture does not do it justice, I have choosen the colors of a peacocks feathers for this piece. It will be three large squares wide and twelve big squares long.

I am almost done with the sweater that I have knitted for Mike. I just need to block it and sew the side seams. I will have him model it for you when it is completed. That was a tough sweater. The yarn was a really dark color...tough for my weak eyes...and the pattern was hard to get used to. But I FINISHED IT!! It was such a huge piece of knitting!!

I fell so accomplished now! Next up after the above quilted knitting is a white cashmere sweater for me.

One Bathroom Down, One to Go

Before the renovation, this room was an unfinished space that we used as storage. Through the magice of wonderful fixtures and tiles from Porcelanosa and the talents of Chris B and Mike Faigle, we now have a bathroom that I never want to leave!

The floors are slate cut in 1 meter squared tiles and the walls are travertine marble and slate cut in finger sized pieces.

23 September 2008

Madeira Portugal Summer 2008

Uncle Jon

We had a great time in Padua, Italy visiting Uncle Jon as he taught a class at the University there. We really feel for the tough time the students had while the temptations of beautiful Italy were surrounding them.

We even watched Italy play France in the Euro Cup at a really nice cafe surrounded by really excited and vocal Italians. Any of you who recall France's problems with Italy in the World Cup can appreciate the scene.

Cousin Robert

Mike's cousin Robert from Germany came and stayed with us for two weeks this summer before serving his obligatory military duty this fall. We had such a great time visiting with him and I think he learned some really interesting things from Nathan and Celia. I hope his English did not suffer from all of the slang he learned from them.

Summer camp at the beach 2008

What's not to like?? Sailing, windsurfing, beachbums for counselors, sand, sun and a camp full of teenagers!! They had a great time and really enjoyed learning how to sail and windsurf. They can't wait to go back next year.

First day of school 2008

Under great duress and promises of sushi, I was again successful in getting them to allow me to take our annual first day of school picture. Albeit in the alley at least half a block away. Thus the blurry non descript picture of their new school. Oh well, we artists have to put up with so much criticism of our work...So misunderstood!

24 May 2008

Sur une Peniche

We made our seasonal voyage on the Elizabeth recently. She is a barge (peniche) that our friends Tom and Trish Reay live on from March to November. We started in Paray le Monial and ended in Genelard...21 kilometres or 13 miles by car! The barge's drive shaft sheared off the bolts and there we stayed for the rest of our trip! Luckily, there was a train trip of a whole 20 minutes back to Paray le Monial where we retrieved our car and brought it to the barge. Then we made day trips to wonderful food and antique/junk markets. We played Mexican Train dominoes with the Dutch couple on the barge parked next to our's, visited a beautiful barge owned by Tom and Trish's friends from Phoenix, Arizona and ate, drank and laughed a lot! So great to catch up with the Reay's again!!

23 May 2008


Mike stated recently that the right side (what we can drink right this moment) of our wine cave was looking a bit thin these days so off we went to Tavel to rectify the situation! Tavel is one of our favorite rose wine regions and we were not disappointed. We visited two domaines and one cooperative. A cooperative is where a group of grapegrowers combine their grapes and resources to bottle a regional wine whereas a Domaine is privately owned and bottles their own labelled wines.

The first domaine was Domain de la Mordoree. The winemaker there was so open to introducing us to his wines and we had a great visit in addition to tasting some really good wine. We found a very yummy white Lirac and a Tavel rose that I just can't wait for summer to enjoy! He had just returned from a trip to Paso Robles in California and our discussions were quite interesting.

The second domaine was quite hidden away down a very narrow rocky road. We found an ancient lady tottering about who while serving us, kept warning us to taste, but spit it out as the gendarmes might stop us. She had a really pleasant white wine that will be so refreshing on a hot summer day. The building served as their tasting room as well as their home and looked as if it had been in their family for centuries. It was cool and musty smelling inside and had a wonderfully ancient looking garden and terrace in front. The floors were all old mosaic marble and a huge Bouvier des Flanders dog greeted us at the gate. It was like stepping back in time.

We had lunch at a small restaurant in an incredibly old winemaker's house. The interior architecture was so beautiful. Arched windows with columns running the length of a winter room, stone floors, thick dark wood doors and handpainted tiles in the bathrooms. The garden we sat in for lunch had a huge cypress tree that had a trunk as big around as our table.

Days like that remind of us the simple beauties that we discover when we take time to meander and play.