Books and Bed …..Bliss!
For once luck was on my side. We arrived in France to find the house in perfect shape, clean enough (thanks to Hubbie’s flying visit in December) and warm. But best of all (though it took a little adjusting to in the planning of the week) – no internet, no tv, no telephone. (cheers Orange!). And in true french style it was all turned back on, just as we were leaving, by which time I was no longer interested anyway.
So at last, I could have the holiday I occasionally dream of, filled with books and snoozing, curled up on the sofa, or under a blanket on the deck when the sun shone, and really listen to the lullaby of the waves at night. It was calm and relatively sunny, the barometer was at an all time high, and apart from the evening dvd episodes of West Wing courtesy of Rog & Carol (or morning kids Carry On films courtesy of my Mum!) – silence (interrupted by the splashing of the waves at high tide to be precise) was golden.
It was mild enough to sleep with the window open at night, and the calming lull of the sea was magical. Giving me the perfect excuse to read in bed til gone midnight while the rest of the house slept.
I hit an all time high on my book count, not realised since I gave up the romantic life of faraway beach holidays and romantic adventures (to start the life of mother and wife).
Here’s the list;
Lunch in Paris – Elizabeth Bard.
A great read all about an American falling in love in, and with, Paris. Elizabeth writes with wit and ease, and brings to life so many aspects of falling in-love abroad, and with a foreigner (oh those memories came flooding back!). To top it all, she has documented her love affair with recipes, and they are gorgeous! The french onion soup accompanied my second book of the week, and is featured in the main picture – Yum! Many thanks to my Breton Brit pal Janine, for as always, finding the books that make us want to stay in France forever.
The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac.
This was one of the first two books lent to me this trip by my American pal and lit chick, Jules. I asked for inspiration, and she gave me Hippies treking up a mountain to search for Karma. Wow! what a classic, I can’t believe I’d not touched this before.
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom.
Jules second book recommendation was sheer magic. Sad but beautiful, it tells the true story of Mitch reaching adulthood and touching base with his old college professor as he faces death. Wonderful to focus you back on what really matters in life.
Water for Elephants -Sara Gruen.
This was one of my own reads. Sitting on my bookcase for over a year, waiting for the moment when I could escape into the realms of imagination. A great read, the story is set during the Great Depression in the US, it holds true for a life wake up call today. Escape to the Circus however is not really an option anymore, drat!
One Moment, One Morning – Sarah Rayner.
Sad. sad, sad, but also inspiring on what can happen next. A little disappointing at the end, a bit too twee and too expected, but a lovely read nevertheless, particularly in a holiday line-up that ended up being just inspirational in so many different ways! ☺
And to enjoy reading at it’s best, I can thoroughly recommend Elizabeth’s ‘Better than French’ Onion Soup recipe, accompanied by a large glass of red wine – Lunchtime bliss!
‘Better than French’ Onion Soup, in France!
2kg roscoff onions (my fav in Brittany!)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp course sea salt
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry sherry (approx 250 ml – I used the bristol cream sherry normally reserved for my Mum’s Christmas visit!)
8 cups of broth (nearly 2 litres) – I used frozen turkey broth from last Christmas (perfect!)
8 slices of stale baguette
500g Comte cheese grated
Preheat the oven to 200 deg C
In a casserole dish, combine the onions, butter, olive oil, salt thyme and bay leaf. Cook covered in the oven for one hour. Stir and leaving the lid ajar, continue to let the mixture cook in the oven for another 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer the dish to the hob. Cook the onion mixture over a medium high heat until the liquid has evaporated, and the onions are golden. Approx 20 minutes.
Add the sherry and cook for 5 minutes more.
Add the broth, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any caramelised onions. Bring the soup to the boil and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
Spoon the soup into eight ovenproof bowls, top each with a few baguette slices, and some grated cheese.
Heat under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Enjoy with a good book!