We came back from our holiday on Monday.
We didn't go far into France but we found beautiful beaches,
|check out our view!|
and lots to do. We spent lots of time on the beach, body boarding, sand castle building and (hooray) reading.
|quality mummy time|
|orchards at Cidrerie le Pere Mahieu|
We also found time to visit an organic cider farm on our way from Vauville to Portbail, a small chateau as we crossed the Cherbourg peninsula from West to East, and to breathe in the history of the WW2 D Day landings in the area around Ste Marie du Mont, Ste Mere Eglise and Utah Beach. I'm hoping to get a chance to write a post just about this - off my usual topic, but it was such a very moving and awe-inspiring experience. Just approaching the beaches made me tingle. Maybe I'm being fanciful and maybe I've read too much literature about the Second World War, but it seemed to me as we visited the little towns so crucial in those days of June 1944 that the history and energy of the place absorbed through the soles of our feet, even without a visit to the fantastic Utah Beach Museum. For all that its focus is the US contribution to the D Day and specifically to the action at Utah Beach, it also gave an amazing overview of how WW2 progressed to that point, and beyond. A humbling experience indeed.
|One of the US memorials at Utah Beach|
Returning from holiday is always sad and exciting at the same time for me. This time, the return wasn't helped by the weather (that old "piles of washing and no where to dry it" conundrum), and the fact that the garden had gone mad in our absence leaving us with groaning bean plants, courgettes coming out of our ears, and fennel in need of eating. Unlike the gloriously ripe tomatoes we found in France, our greenhouse is full of stubbornly green ones, and I'm not sure we're ever going to get enough sun to ripen them. I'll keep you posted.
As well as the inevitable returning to the house jobs, and getting back into work, it's back to school next week so I've been tracking down bits of uniform and lost PE bags, and trying to finish up all the jobs I was supposed to get done this holidays. Most importantly, curtains for Blue's bedroom, completing the change from little boy room to Harry Potter Gryffindor room (sob - not at the Harry Potter-ness but the loss of little boy-ness). On top of all that I woke up on Tuesday morning with some horrible creeping nausea type virus thing, so I just haven't been feeling on form at all, and I made myself stay away from my blog until I'd got all the jobs done.
Anyway, the curtains are now
cobbled together finished (such self-control), and the virus seems to be clearing up, and last night it was the turn of the fennel to get some post-holiday treatment, so I have something to blog about.
I had some pork steaks in the freezer which I defrosted and trimmed of most of the fat (yes, I have gagne'd beaucoup de poids during the holiday - all that vin, fromage and saucisson...) marinaded in the juice of half a lemon, a crushed clove of garlic and the finely chopped 'leaves' from some rosemary sprigs, and pan fried - 3-4 minutes tops on each side. For the kids, once I'd cooked the pork, I removed the meat and set aside, then added a teaspoon of dijon mustard to the pan along with a tablespoon of creme fraiche left over from the trip, and heated this up, stirring in the pan juices. They enjoyed the pork & sauce served with pasta and finely sliced green beans from the garden.
But what of the fennel? Oh yes. Doesn't it look magnificent. The plumes are too tall for me to get into one photo. Mum's staying with us at the moment having returned Fred the Dog after his summer hols, and she is always quick to remind me that when I was younger and still living with my parents, I used to claim that fennel tasted like boiled welly boots and refuse to eat it. How times have changed. This salad is loosely based on one of HF-W's in Veg Everyday. I made quite a lot of changes to accomodate what I did and didn't have available, and threw in some beans as well, just because we've got tonnes in the garden, but you don't need to use them if you don't want to.
Lentil & Fennel Salad
Serves 3 accompanying a pork steak, a piece of fish etc or 2 as a main course salad on its own.
125g puy lentils
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
some fennel fronds (optional)
1tsp veg stock powder
4 small/medium fennel bulbs, trimmed
150g green beans/runner beans, sliced (optional)
2tsp dijon mustard
120ml olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
Meanwhile, slice the fennel bulbs as finely as you can length-ways, reserve half, and the chop the pther half into fine dice. make up the dressing by shaking together the dijon mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, sea salt and freshly ground pepper in an appropriate receptacle. I'm not proud - I use a jam jar for this (remembering mostly to screw the lid on properly before shaking...).
After the lentils have cooked for 20 mins or so, and are nearly cooked, add the finely diced fennel (reserve the sliced portion - you're going to eat this bit raw!) and the sliced beans and continue cooking till the fennel & beans are cooked - not much more than 5 minutes. If there is still liquid in the pan, drain the lentils, remove the bay leaf and fennel fronds, then stir in half the dressing to the warm lentils and leave to cool.
When ready to eat (i.e. once the pork is cooked), mound the lentils into a bowl or on a plate, and scatter the raw fennel slices around the outside. Top with the thinly sliced pan fried pork and serve with the remaining dressing (no creme fraiche sauce with these).