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The sunflowers in the field behind my house in SW France:
I am British (English-Scottish), but I was born in South Africa and have lived all over the world, including Hong Kong, Germany, Cyprus, USA & Singapore. I have also been very fortunate to have travelled extensively over the years.........I still have wanderlust!
I used to be an English Literature & Art History teacher & lecturer; before that, I trained and worked as a Graphic Designer for many years. I now live in France with my husband & my daughter who has just started university in September 2006. We also have one very chatty Burmese cat Willow, who allows us to live with her here! (I used to have three cats, I recently lost Monty, a beautiful seal point Siamese and before that, Rama, who was a debonair blue point Siamese cat - I would love to have another Siamese cat or cats in the future!)
This is my Burmese Cat, Willow, sunning herself on the log pile in the kitchen garden:
Here is my lovely Monty, a seal point Siamese, and Willow, sitting in the kitchen garden last year, and a few months before Monty died; he was 18yrs old:
This is my wonderful old boy, Rama, a blue-point Siamese, who died when he was 20yrs old - excuse the old and much sellotaped photo:
My favourite pastimes are: reading, writing, painting & drawing, photography, gardening, anything creative, walking, travelling, dining out and of course COOKING! I love all types of cuisine, but especially Traditional British - and NO it is NOT all bad!! I particularly love food associated with the changing seasons plus traditional feasts & festivals, as well as Slow Cooking. I also enjoy French & North African cuisine, come to think of it, there isn't much I don't like!
My husband & I run a Chambres D'Hotes, (Bed and Breakfast) called Auberge de la Fontaine here in beautiful South West France; we specialise in Gourmet Food & Wine Breaks, French Antiques & Restoration courses, French Language courses and French Cookery classes. Our home is completely furnished with Antique French furniture that we have rescued & restored ourselves. Our charming village has one of the oldest Churches in the region & it is famous for its connection with the St.Jacques de Compostella Pilgrimage route, as well as being within the Cognac & Bordeaux wine growing area.
We have a wonderful garden where we grow ALL of our own herbs and most of our fruit and vegetables. I specialise in rare, unusual and old-fashioned herbs, which I grow in our walled garden. As well as growing herbs, I also grow many different varieties of lavender, old-fashioned shrub roses and heirloom fruit and vegetables.
We have lived overseas for many, many years now - but we both still love going home to Northern England, near Scarborough & York, to visit our family & friends. We also love indulging in dining out when we are there, in a wide variety of EXCELLENT Gastro-Pubs that we have in North Yorkshire; and popping in to have a Pint of REAL ENGLISH ALE in our local pub is a always a must!!
A Message to all who make and review my recipes! I try very hard to reply to EACH and EVERYONE of you who kindly makes, reviews and photographs my recipes! However, sometimes I am so busy in the B and B, and with other things, that I may be late in sending a personal thank you message, and sometimes I forget completely! I would just like to thank you ALL in advance, and just in case I am late or forgetful in sending a personal thanks. I am always very humbled by anyone who chooses to make one of my recipes, and I love reading the reviews and seeing the beautiful photos that are posted. Merci beaucoup encore!
A note about my recipes. All of my posted recipes, whether they be my own concoctions or adaptations from a book or a famous chef, have been tried and tested at least once, by ME! I try to make sure that I am the guinea pig and not you! However, if there is anything you would like ask me about one of my recipes, or a query that I may be able to help you with, please do write and I will try to answer your question as soon as possible. I post my recipes in Imperial (lbs and ozs) and Metric (kilos and grams) as I am British!
A Swish Slideshow!!
I have participated in:
Good Traditional British food, prepared with fresh SEASONAL meat, seafood & vegetables.
North African, Moorish and Spanish cuisine - especially Tagines cooked in a traditional Tagine, which I am famous for!!
French - of course! I especially enjoy discovering regional French recipes - some which are not known outside of France; La Cuisine de Bonne Femme!
SLOW cooking & casseroles, that includes Crock Pot recipes & cooking on my woodburning stove too.
Asian food - I was practically raised on it! I also love South African cuisine too and I have lots of South African recipes saved in my cookbooks.
Baking - especially traditional English bakes, biscuits (cookies), cakes, scones, tarts, pies & breads.
Cooking with SEASONAL produce & also unusual & rarely used HERBS AND FLOWERS; we grow many different types of lavender in our garden & I regularly use it in the kitchen. Sorrel & Lovage are two more of my favourite herbs that I also regularly use in my cooking.
Barbeques - I love creating & cooking with all manner of rubs, marinades & spicy sauces.
Preserves - I enjoy creating jams, jellies, chutneys & confitures - all made from the fruit from our garden. I sell many of my artisinal products at our Bed & Breakfast; LOTS of my spiced fruit chutneys have made their way back to the USA & Canada!!
Favourite cookbooks? There are too many to list here, I have nearly 500 in total!! But I think most of my favourite recipes are treasured scribblings on scraps of paper, on the backs of napkins, on envelopes & even a match case - all donated and shared by family & friends!! My Mum's first Be-Ro cook book - given to her by her Mum, my grandmother, was the book that I cut my cooking teeth on, published in 1938! I still refer to it now and then for old family favourites & basics.
Our favourite local restaurant in France has to be L'Ecluse with views of the Gironde Estuary over to the Haut Medoc on the other side; it serves great French home cooking AND has a fabulous seafood buffet of fresh Oysters, Langoustine, Mussels, Scallops, Sturgeon & Cavair, Herrings and many other Fruit d'Mer specialities. In England, the pub in my parent's village called The Star Country Pub and Inn, serves wonderful home-cooked food with great seasonal specialities. Have a look at their website here: www.starinnweaverthorpe.co.uk One last favourite, Suddaby's Crown Hotel in Malton (North Yorkshire) has the most amazing real ale on sale, as well as its own micro brewery on site; apart from the friendly ambience and atmosphere, there is as a fabulous shop selling bottle beers and ales. To browse the ales and beers they make, here is their web-site: www.suddabys.co.uk