Bonjour everyone well its been a busy couple of weeks as we welcomed our french and English family for my 50th birthday party and so this week I will introduce My best friend Katrina ( loving the toms!) as well as Evie and Charlie my niece and nephew  who had LOTS of fun in JJs potager helping to pick tomatoes, green beans and aubergines to make salads and ratatouille for all the guests although everyone ate lots in the garden before it even got to the table! It was such a joy to see the children enjoying the fresh fruit and vegetables and collecting the eggs.

We picked blackberries from the garden and got a bit scratched and it was all great fun but the object was to make some blackberry vinegar syrup for winter – a great remedy for sore throats . granny Alice used to make it and it works a treat with boiling water a hot treat to sooth and heal. I have what’s left  of Alice’s recipe book with all sorts of natural remedies so I would like to share some with you all over the coming months.

recipe for blackberry vinegar

1kg blackberries or raspberries

1kg sugar

1 cup water

boil into a syrup about 20 mins the strain through a sieve

remove the pulp and then to every litre of syrup add an equal quantity of white vinegar

then bottle – ITS THAT SIMPLE!!

so when the sore throat strikes or you are full of cold put a slug of syrup in a glass and to up with boiling water and drink as hot as possible – packed full of vitamin C it will cut through your sore throat in no time and its all natural no preservatives chemicals and its GOOD FOR YOU !!!

The chucks are laying well and it was fun for the children to collect the eggs and to stroke the chicken which most children aren’t lucky enough to experience… although they were a bit nervous at first they wanted to go every day to see if there were more eggs and I had to explain that they only lay 1 each!!


one night it was getting dark and we couldn’t find Charlie so after searching the garden we found him in the potager eating green beans!!! WONDERFUL the joy of seeing him eating fresh vegetables and smiling was the biggest reward I could have … some children dont know where their food from let alone have the chance to pick and eat it straight from the plant IMG_5219. SO I SAY TO YOU ALL ;

EDUCATE , GROW, COOK, SHARE ….. ditch the processed food and start growing on balconies and windowsill if you havent got a garden but share with your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews so they grow up KNOWING APPRECIATING AND UNDERSTANDING how to feed their bodies and nourish their souls – till next time this is chef JJ saying

a bientot xx





Bonjour everyone ……well today Napoleon and I went for a walk in the Verger/ The fruit orchard to see what’s going on and the weather has really taken its toll on the apples and pears as well as the usually huge blackberries.

First we came across the old apple tree which earlier on was covered in what I can only describe as spiders webs a sort of cocoon around the small fruits and now the apples are growing well but the stalks are still hanging onto the weird mesh. Napoleon as usual chewed on a windfall – boy does that dog like fruit !!!! as I pick the best off the floor I noticed quite a lot of rotten mouldy ones on the tree – the rain has been torrential not all the time but after extreme heat comes the storms the local waterpark was even shut as lightening hit the electricity supply.

Anyway hopefully we have good weather on the way with heat and sun so fingers crossed the fruit will ripen. The blackberries or “mure” in French are prevalent here winding and twisting their way around all the hedges surrounding the garden so more free food which is great but there is a small problem ….. my chest freezer is almost full BUT not to worry we are having a party for my 50th birthday at the end of the month with a lot of my French and English family in friends and as you would  imagine chef JJ has been making and freezing and preserving lots of food for our guests as it would be impossible to make everything fresh !!


recipes to follow in the next blog off to make pastry for some blackberry and apple pies WHAT ELSE???

have a good week

A Bientot



Bonjour everyone and welcome back … well its been a disappointing week  weather wise august has been shocking  temperatures averaging 21 degrees …. and that is being generous … no eating outside and if the fire was in and working I would have lit it !!! What the hell is gong On up there? electric storms heavy rain and even SLUSHY HAILSTONES ????? the potager is really wet and it has rotted the cornichon plants which I will have to pull out today and chuck on the compost heap …. chef JJ is not happy however at least the hazelnuts are ready to shell and roast woo hoo never had a nut tree before ! and soooo …..Red squirrel6


as I was about to crack open all the hazelnuts I had harvested from the big nut tree in the garden( I was really looking forward to roasting my hazelnuts to make praline ) I went to find a hammer in the Atelier. Gently tapping as I followed the instruction given by my neighbour Marcel  although he said I shouldn’t get too excited …. ???? why ?? after cracking nearly half I had yet to find one nut !!!! zut he was right this time the squirrels had got them and the others had a tiny almost invisible hole which was the sign of a nut worm…..20170812_114411

but 20170812_111822

Red squirrels are I believe protected and quite rare in England but here in France we are blessed to have the incredibly cute little animals in our park. Marcel and Edith have a walnut tree in their garden next door and they harvest the nuts to take to a co-operative to press in return for a couple of litres of delicious oil which is superb in salad dressings., they only come every 2 weeks as its their old family home but this year by the time they arrived to pick the nuts they were nearly all empty !!!! Merde alors the squirrels would eat well this winter but there would be shop bought walnut oil for the salad. MR ET MME NOISETTE will feature in the next children’s book in the NAPOLEON series WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

same time same place next week?











Napoleon and the disappearing birthday cake !!!!


Bonjour tout le monde well its blog time again and what a week its been … so when the family went out for a walk with napoleon to the beautiful village of MONTRESOR just a few miles away (one of le plus beau / most beautiful villages de France) I digress so I was running around trying to prepare a birthday cake . I had made a lovely crisp on the outside chewy on the inside pavlova base;



6 egg yolks

150gm sugar

whisk up the eggs till stiff and keep the mixer on high as you add in three quick amounts till all the sugar is incorporated.

spoon or pipe onto a tray and place in the oven at 150 degrees

so it was ready for the lemon and whipped cream filling ;

250gm cream

1 generous spoonful of mascarpone cream cheese

the seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod or a teaspoon…

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Napoleon and the disappearing birthday cake !!!!

Bonjour tout le monde well its blog time again and what a week its been … so when the family went out for a walk with napoleon to the beautiful village of MONTRESOR just a few miles away (one of le plus beau / most beautiful villages de France) I digress so I was running around trying to prepare a birthday cake . I had made a lovely crisp on the outside chewy on the inside pavlova base;



6 egg yolks

300gm sugar

whisk up the eggs till stiff and keep the mixer on high as you add in three quick amounts till all the sugar is incorporated.

spoon or pipe onto a tray and place in the oven at 150 degrees

so it was ready for the lemon and whipped cream filling ;

250gm cream

1 generous spoonful of mascarpone cream cheese

the seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod or a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

A heaped tablespoon of lemon curd/crème citron

whip everything together till well mixed

and spoon on top of the meringue decorate free style fresh strawberries in slices, whole and quarters .

leave on the stalks or place Sprigs of mint randomly placed to give colour.

SO Now it was done and dusted with icing sugar and as the car rolled into the driveway I hid the cake in the empty room – the new downstairs loo so that when I had emptied the starter plates out of the fridge I could put it there to chill before we ate it – of course after the fromage ! I went to the BBQ to make sure the temperature was very hot for the cote de boeuf and with a puff the gas canister was EMPTY!!!!

no problem I would cook it on the gas in the kitchen first seizing it and caramelizing the outer crust finishing it in the oven. Everyone had a chilled glass of MOET ET CHANDON champagne and while they were distracted I went to get the desert to put it in the fridge….. OMG SEE BELOW20170803_125617

it didn’t sink in at first I thought it had just melted !!,,,????

“NAPOLEON come here ….”

ok so what is done is done just get your head down JJ and figure out what to do next …. I whipped out some tarte citron from the freezer I had a few small meringues in my stock and ran down to the potager to find a few strawbabies then BINGO20170803_145309

So I was back in control UNTIL NAPOLEON AGAIN ????? yes he was throwing up the gateau all over the garden just in front of the lunch table just ruddy marvellous ….I left the boys to it filled my glass to the rim with champagne and hid in the kitchen


PHEW , have a great week everyone



We say courgette you say Zuccini! (Hello all my US and Canadian friends)

Bonjour everyone! well here we are again and its frankly been a disappointing month weather wise but GREAT for the garden which is THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING !!! I just dont know what the hell to do with all the courgettes and green beans ( cant find the emoji of the laughing face lol)

this week has also seen an explosion in the aubergine department closely followed by green peppers…

and we are now seeing a big crop of strawberries – they are a cross between a sweet charlotte and a mara de bois or cultivated wild variety, sweet and delicious they are certainly getting bigger and better the more I pick . Just a little number I knocked up this week a strawberry bavarois with sugar tuiles and white chocolate teaspoons all dusted with a little icing sugar and frankly just too good not to eat!

The mange tout were the only disaster this season and that’s more down to an infestation of ants and a lot of rain which rooted the roots ….so I pulled them up and put that one down to experience. The girls are laying well so tomorrow its going to be a blueberry and cream cheese cake and a strawberry pavlova for the family who are coming to visit – always a good excuse to get cooking. Second planting of cauliflower and salad this week and a couple of new additions Mr and Mrs red and green chilli woop woop ! – we will follow their progress later on this week so watch this space.

Tomorrow is PLUM day as I am surrounded by the juicy little devils … prunelle small vivid purple ones, reine claude the finest green plums and orange ones which are sweeter and used for eating and jamming.

SNEAK PREVIEW FOR TOMORROW I will be doing some industrial espionage on the dog walk  to show you the potager of the locals so you can see for yourself there is magic in MY GARDEN !!!!

with grateful thanks to napoleon for his help in digging the garden GRRRRRR


The Start of The Harvest !



Bonjour and welcome to the Loire on this slightly grey but warm summer Sunday morning and after some fresh warm baguette and home-made strawberry jam  and a nice cup of tea I thought I would re-cap the photo of the potager so you can see what you can achieve in 3 months we started with small plants all nice and neat in rows  …. TO THIS !!!!!IMG_1392

and so with a lot of hard work weeding , watering and talking to the plants (which I do regularly) these lush organic plants are starting to give their reward ….  and what an amazing feeling that is I can tell you and now every day is pure joy as I take my basket and create the days menu around LA RECOLTE – the harvest. I am now picking 5/6 lbs of beautiful crisp green bean everyday along with green pepper, mangetout and courgette and yesterday I pulled the beetroots that was a surprise just to see what was under the soil like hidden treasure!20170721_202648

clearly we cant use everything so I have been blanching – plunging the green beans into boiling salted water for 5 minutes then into iced water and bagging up for the freezer  remember when you freeze you are sealing in the vitamins and apart from a slight change in texture they are as fresh as the moment you pick them,and for the courgettes dicing and freezing raw. just a little tip when taking out to defrost for use put them in a sieve to drain of the water and then dry them on kitchen paper. My favourite way to eat the haricot vert is to sautee in garlic butter salt and pepper and voila a delicious home grown treat!

REMEMBER WHEN YOU PICK THE COURGETTES ….. look under the leaves  they hide and just get bigger and bigger and you will end up with GIANT courgettes when I was a kid we called them marrows  but these are great too stuffed so that’s lunch for today yum yum !


minced steaks peppers ,tomatoes ,red kidney beans, onions garlic fresh choppedcoriander all cooked like a bolognaise and layered with slices of sautéed aubergine, potatoes and bechamel sauce then pop in a medium to hot oven around 180 degrees till the courgette is tender and serve with a fresh garden salad …..

This week has seen the arrival of a new family of TOADS the big daddy jumped out and scared the life out of me as I was gherkin hunting the other day and the baby hops around catching flies – that’s the good news and eating up the pests . I am just terrified of standing on them as the garden is so overgrown and dense its really hard to see!



off to collect the eggs and feed the girls…. need to make some crème patisserie for lunch happy salad days everyone

a bientot JJ xx











Let The Good Wines Roll !!!


Bonjour everyone so this week its all about WINE … Hooray I hear you cry yes we went to visit our old friend and viticulteur CHARLES PAIN situated in the heart of the LOIRE VALLEY on the left bank of the river VIENNE and east of the historic town of CHINON.Charles has 50 hectares of vines AOP appellation origine protégé. He has 2 great” CEPAGES” or types of grapes CABERNET FRANC used for the red and rose wines and PINEAU DE LOIRE for the white wines.. We have known Charles for 20 YEARS and its always a reverent treat to descend into his caves for a tasting or “DEGUSTATION” today was no exception as he allowed us to taste his new wine CHATEU HAUT BORNE I say new but its been 30 years in the preparation after having bought about 10 hectares of old vines from a retiring viticulteur on poor ground which produced very low quality wines … They said he was crazy and he probably thought that after the geologist told him that there was a layer of rock which was going to stop the proper irrigation of the terrain. Years later and huge sums of money to drain the vineyard the grapes are thriving and the wine looks like being excellent quality ( We will see in 5 -8 years time!) The BORNE is the old demarcation stone used by the cadastre to mark the terrain and it is one of the few left around the area so has historic importance. Ok so I digress a little the cool damp old caves where we go to taste the fine wines CHARLES PAIN has created are in stark contrast to the modernity of the bottling plant full of huge stainless steel vats and thousand of bottles ready to be filled .we walked through the vineyard – part of which borders the Caves  to see the vines FULL of grapes progressing nicely with the especially hot sunny weather so far this season.

So with a full car ready to be stocked in our cave we set off for home – a good days work had been done !!!

bonne degustation jjxx


Bush-tucker challenge !

Bienvenue everyone ! well today its all about those insects BIG and small good and bad …so the potager is booming BUT that means bugs too the worst offender of the week is blackflies  all over my cauliflower …how very dare they venture onto my beauts? so I dont want to spend money or use pesticides full of chemicals as I’m trying to keep organic and untreated so I decided to take drastic measures and whip out my big weapon- “SAVON NOIR” in France we use it everywhere – in solid form to get rid of stains and to keep drawers from sticking and in liquid form to wash floors AND get rid of pests. just a spoonful in the watering can fill it right up and water all over the caulies and cabbage and then20170624_145604 another bucketful and a cloth to gently wipe over the leaves – time consuming but it works next day GONE all but a few so another go today and they should leave them alone. They are not easy things to grow but with a bit of patience BINGO!

Next onto peach curl apparently untreatable HA HA not here … the other day in the market over a glass of kir i got talking to a french couple true campagnards they told me that it is actually caused by ants which nest under the tree and I should tie bunches of thyme around the trunk which works temporarily so next put a plastic ant killer a small dome with tunnels which the ants enter eat the poison and take it back into the nest killing it completely harsh but the only way to stop the killing you tree. IT REALLY WORKS no more leaf curl and a healthy tree . aurevoir for now JJ x

cherry baby ….

  • 20170528_203937Bienvenue … welcome everyone well after a marathon cherry harvest  (about 80b) we now have 28 jars of confiture cerise , 12 jars of cherries in syrup and – 6 enormous jars of cherries in alcohol WOOO HOOO. The Garde-Manger or larder to you lot is filling up nicely and my newly painted provencal green shelves look “Reet smashing” .20170531_165231
  • The cherries in the picture are called GUIGNE and are only really suitable for Eau-de-vie in alcohol
  • take glass preserving jars and wash the place in the oven at 200 degree for 10 mins to sterilize lids as well
  • wash and dry the guigne and fill the jars to the top leaving 1 inch
  • mix together 1litre 40% alcohol for fruits and 300 gm sugar and fill jars above the cherries.
  • seal the lids either with rubber seals and lids or by turning the jars upside down straight away to create an air bubble and store I a dark cool place for – 6 months


Wash and stone 1kg of black cherries BIGAREAUX is the variety we have in our orchard add 600 GM of jam sugar and boil for 10 mins and bottle as above , use for pies crumbles or hot with ice cream and kirsch delicious!


happy preserving everyone!

Aunty JJ