Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where are the snows...?

In fact what was left of them have hung around overnight, since the temperatures dropped, and last night the garden twinkled in the torchlight like sugar.  Today is the big cooking and wrapping day, where the contents of the jam and chutney shelf which have accrued over the last year are raided, repackaged and reinvented, the pile of slabs of plain German marzipan (which I found at a cut-price supermarket of German origin which will remain nameless because I think I promote them too much here and am in danger of laying on my inverted snobbery with a trowel) are converted into marzipan fruits with the help of food colouring, a fine brush and the fruit dryer ( does food colouring ever go off?  I realise mine is rather old...), and the cobnuts Marcelle gave me in the autumn, already shelled and picked over, get made into nut roast along with the tail-end of a packet of pistachios and the breadcrumbs I carefully hoard in the freezer, since I hate throwing even crusts of bread out, and the birds can't have them as Molly would nick them. 

(For any who have felt or expressed curiosity about the kitchen at Maison Box Elder, here is an angle of it in all its shambolic, cluttered, boozy, less than elegant glory, cables showing, box of Roche Mazet cab sav from the Pays d'Oc, various bottles of mostly alcoholic liquid - abstainers pace, my excuse is I'm cooking with them - bits of unresolved paper dangerously close to the toaster, pots and pans suspended from a hanging rack left us by the long deceased Victoire who lived her before us.  Straining a batch of rosehip and rose geranium schnapps... does liquid come in batches?)

We braved Carrefour in the afternoon yesterday, three days before Christmas and vowed never again, as one always does, but as ever, I'm quite happy that we keep our involvement with that kind of Christmas insanity to a minimum.  When we first arrived here, 12 years ago, we were a bit depressed by how little to-do there was about the holiday.  Now there's a lot more conspicuous consumption, though much of it is still centred on oysters and foie gras and it's still not as crazy as in Britain, and we rather wish there wasn't.  But at least you don't hear Slade's 'Here it is, merry Christmas' belting out anywhere, which was always one of the blessings of not being the UK at this time of year.

When I got home I realised I'd still forgotten the porridge oats for the flapjacks, so I'll have to hope I can get them in Moncontour, and leave it until this afternoon so I don't have to venture out on the ice too early.  How intrepid that sounds!


'Où sont les neiges d'antan?' - Where are the snows of yesteryear?  Villon's question which Joe put to me pretty much exactly a year ago, as part of the 'Questions' project at the time.  Finally the thread, as it now continues, drawn out sporadially fine but still resilient, went another way, and this question was not included.  But this, with pictures for ekphrastic substance, was the reply at the time.

Hushed white liquefies, flows

to the lowest place, distills, climbs,

forms in time the sixfold crystal, clothes

earth once more in lovely blankness.

Is trodden, again, to slush.


Must be getting on.  I'll post briefly once more before Christmas Day.


HLiza said...

Just the sight of your busy kitchen cabinet made me drool over the Christmas yummies that may emerge in a short while..
I went to tesco today and vowed never to go again in the next two days too..

Roderick Robinson said...

And are you going to string out these mini-views over forthcoming Christmases? I must remind myself to stay alive so I can collect the whole set. A sieve like that proclaims professionalism and reduces my opportunities to tease. And the bottles of booze all have their labels turned away except one which must surely be calva. The scene is moderately untidy and from my experience this betokens a good cook. Good cooks concentrate on cooking; in the case of Mrs BB (who is also a good cook) she too doesn't tidy up en route because she knows there's a mad-eyed, anal type who oftens washes and dries the same knife four times during the preparation of a single dish. The cabinet doors, with their decorative flutes and grooves, can retain grease and we changed to flat surfaces sometimes last year. But no doubt someone else does the cleaning and this is not a burden. Thank you for this fascinating, if parsimonious, glimpse of your holy of holies.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Seeing your kitchen, I know I could spend Christmas with you!

As for Slade, they've translated it into Welsh you know. I tried to find it on youtube for you, but apparently it's not available yet.

I only go to the supermarket on foot so can only buy little bits at a time and that kind of stops over-consumption really. I hate to see people piling their trolleys high - makes me feel ill. Mind you, my boys hate it that they have to each carry a bag up the hill back home whenever we go!

Have a wonderful Christmas. I am in some kind of ecstasy here - Sandra is here and everything is fine and wonderful. We still have snow, we have wine and Gluhwein and food of course. And there are pressies under the tree and a kitten knocking all the decs off.

This year i just love Christmas and I want everyone to be as intoxicatingly happy as I am. I think you probably are.

Love to you all

marja-leena said...

O, a lovely kitchen, one that reveals a gourmet cook with food gifts bursting forth! I wish I were closer...

And the beautiful outdoors, so lovingly captured, prompts snow envy! I keep looking back at my photos of last year to satisfy. Enjoy the preparations!

herhimnbryn said...

Festive kitchen L.
Happy Christmas to you, Tom and Molly.
Love HHB

PurestGreen said...

I don't think it matters if the food colouring is old. Christmas is all about consuming different kinds of toxins that the rest of the year.

Happy Christmas to you! I have that song in my head now. Thanks for that.

Crafty Green Poet said...

beautiful snowy photos, just lovely. We've got snow too, even in the city centre which is most unusual.

I like the glimpse of your kitchen, it looks like a very creative space...

Have a very happy Christmas...

Pam said...

Yup, also singing "So here it is, Merry Christmas" now. Hmm.

I always imagined your kitchen a dream of minimalist chic. What a relief.

Off now to look up "ekphrastic".

Happy Christmas!

Roderick Robinson said...

Straight-driven woodscrews. Racondite allusions. Continuous power. Unbroken broadband. Cat-poo-less borders. Boggle-free bearnaise. Self-cleaning sables. Myth-riddled churches. Fly silent mornings. Ale from the cask and brewing adjacent. Wall-to-wall Cosi. Unending Brendel. Clarified Proust. An index for Yoolie. Masterpiece photos.Perfume from mangroves. Machine shining steel. A high-revving two-stroke. Murdoch-free broadcasts. Snowy crunch footprints. Fat taste from Meursault. Snow-covered Prague... well, you get the idea. I pray you are supported by technology in 2010