Monday, February 20, 2017

Tweaking a French classic. . . . . . . . .

Today my kitchen was bursting with the fragrance of fresh vegetables, garlic, thyme
 and the best olive oil. Sizzling in two baking dishes in the oven, and bubbling
 from a skillet on the burner, music was created! Who knew a plump eggplant,
 two zucchini, two onions, and an orange and yellow pepper could taste so good
when blanketed with your own homemade thick tomato sauce, it's so easy.

 If you've spent time in the South of France, especially in picturesque Provençe, 
surrounded by lavender and sunflower fields, when dining in either a restaurant
 or a French home, you most likely have been served ratatouille
Also known as ratatouille niçoise, this colorful unctuous vegetable
 stew which originated in the city of Nice, is a French classic and so easy to
 make at home.

Purists may still choose the traditional French way of preparation where each
 vegetable is cooked separately atop the stove, a longer more messy process,
 then combined and cooked together slowly until they reach a creamy consistency.
 I used to make mine that way. The new way is much easier and to me tastes even
 more fantastic. . . . . .actually this version we will have for supper tonight is really
 the best I've ever tasted, honestly!

The word ratatouille derives from the Occitan ratatolha and is related to the French
ratatouiller and tatouiller, expressive forms of the verb touiller meaning 'to stir up'. 
From the late 18th century, in French, it indicated a coarse stew, and the actual 
ratatouille recipe didn't appear in print until around 1930.

Always serve ratatouille warm or at room temperature.
If you have refrigerated leftovers remove from the fridge allowing at least
 half an hour prior to serving.

There are dozens of recipes available online for ratatouille or, if you have a
 collection of French or vegetable cookbooks, you are certain to find 
 one to try. I used the simplified recipe from my awesome British cookbook
VEG by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage in Dorset, not far from
 my English home. It was a gift from my granddaughter Jasmin who always
 knows what I love, or will grow to love. . . . and I'm definitely loving
this cookbook.

Off now to eat and enjoy.
Bon appetit.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The perks of Southern living . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . often begin with the weather.

We are so fortunate right now having what everyone is calling 'an early Spring'.
This February weather is fantastic - not saying it will last as there can be really
harsh weather here even in March, but we are certainly enjoying these mild days
 and embracing the sunshine and brilliant blue skies.

Yesterday we did some garden chores and it was actually hot outside.
I was able to gather these pretty blooms to bring into the cottage. . . . . . 
I love cutting my own flowers, even just a few can bring color and smiles
for several days.

Happy Sunday. . . . . . . . . I'm sending these blooms north to all my friends
 who won't see their daffodils until later. Do take care moving all that snow!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Closer to wild, a shared adventure. . . . . . . . . .

If you love animals, especially viewing them in their natural habitats,
I hope you will enjoy this post. These are all photos from Kenya which I've
not shown previously - it's rather long and all the information is 
at the end.

This will probably be the final post on my safari trip to Kenya last Autumn.
These links below will take you directly to view my earlier posts of very exciting
 moments of that memorable trip --------------

As usual, I took a lot (close to 2,000) photos, of people, places, and of
 course the amazing animals. I used the lightweight Canon Power Shot SX530HS
point and shoot, not a hefty complicated DSLR, and am happy with my photos.
This visit, we were in Kenya the entire time. All these beautiful creatures,
 large and small, were seen on the magnificent Masaai Mara National Reserve
 which is contiguous with the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. 
I've included some shots which show you the stunning landscapes as well as
 close ups of the animals.

As mentioned, these are photos I've not shown in previous posts. They are more
 I really like and want to share with you before moving all the Africa photos
 to a portable drive to free up storage space here on my MacBook. 

If possible, never pass up a chance to visit the captivating
 continent of Africa. . . . . . and definitely go on a wildlife safari.
For more information on planning a wonderful customized safari trip,
I suggest you contact Kili McGowan here at NEXT ADVENTURE
Kili and her staff will make sure your experience will be unforgettable 
as mine have always been.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lions in love---------------------

Masaai Mara, Kenya - September 16, 2016

Early morning on the Mara. Our guide braked as a pair of magnificent lions, 
who were obviously planning a romantic interlude, passed by the safari vehicle.
We followed them quietly for some time - they took us roaming
 with them across the sunny golden plain. 
We even stopped here for our bush breakfast - in a safe spot of course - realizing
 they were in no hurry and we could catch up with them later.
Bob, Tirian - our Masaai guide and friend, Me

When we caught up with them again, he seemed to be treating her well, 
 gently showing affection . . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . he looked at her with adoration

. . . . . . . .and roared, but not at us, at another young male who passed by, possibly
one of his sons according to Tirian.

More snoozing and no action. . . . . . and this continued for quite a while.

So we said goodbye, gave them privacy, and wished them well - they did look happy!
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