Saturday, 28 July 2012

Gingering Things Up

July has not proved to be any less stressful and busy than June - and the start of August isn't going to be any improvement either.

Years and years ago I bought the best digital cooking thermometer with a probe that I've ever had. Well - maybe the second best! After my mother died I gave it to my dad, to make sure he was heating things through properly. And then started the quest for another good one. I couldn't get the same make and model again, and I don't think it's overstating things to say I tried at least 5 more before finding one that was reliable and robust. I'd still love a Thermapen, but I like having a probe.
The thermometer I ended up with was a French make (I saw some lovely products from the same company (Mastrad) in the kitchenware department of BHV in Paris). And it came with correspondingly upmarket recipes in the instruction leaflet; two for foie gras, and one for

Pear Preserves with Ginger.
I'd always wanted to try the last, and one day a couple of weeks ago was the day.

1 kg reasonably firm pears
700g sugar
50g fresh root ginger.

Wash, peel and remove the pips from the pears. Then cut them into pieces, place in a thick-bottomed pan and cover with the sugar.
(The recipe was very unspecific about size. I'd cut them into quarters to take the pips out and then cut each quarter into two or three; next time I think I'd just cut each quarter in half horizontally).
(I also had a few pieces turn brown as the sugar didn't quite cover them, and I think I'll try dropping them into acidulated water while I prepare them next time).
Peel the ginger, cut into small pieces and add to the pan.
Cook over a low heat till the temperature reaches 104 C, 219F.
Place in sterilised preserving jars.
The pears are strongly infused with flavour from the ginger, and along with plenty of the syrup (which is just sugar and some juice from the pears, I expect, they make a lovely accompaniment to a good vanilla icecream.
In fact, I'm just going to go and have some now.
I think they would make quite a nice Christmas gift too, especially if I could find more jars like this, which was the last one in the shop.

Friday, 20 July 2012

DIY weather

A lot of these "boxes" (I don't know what they are, some utility company probably, perhaps electricity; I've never been curious enough to wonder before) in town are getting a new look for the summer. I need to take time to go in and get a few proper photos before they get too weathered with all the wind and rain.
This photo was snatched  from the far side of the road when there was a gap in the traffic.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Arènes de Lutèce

To get from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont back to anywhere, we had to change from line 7 bis to line 7 at Louis Blanc station. A lot of steps, no lift that we could see, and strategically placed seats on the returns for those who need a rest.
Mind you, Abbesses is definitely a LOT more steps, and I'm pretty sure Cité is too.

We were going over to the Quartier Latin for our dinner that evening. The name derives from the fact that Latin was the language spoken in the university in the middle ages - but it's also home to a couple of early Roman ruins including the remains of the Gallo-Roman baths at the Cluny Museum, and the Arènes de Lutèce.

The exit from the metro station is designed to be in keeping with the historical context.

There were plenty of kids playing around, someone benefitting from the free WiFi, and a group of men enjoying a leisurely game of boules.

And while I'm on the sports theme, I'll add a couple of photos of the French Open being shown in front of the Hotel de Ville, although this is out of chronological order. The square was covered in an orange matting to mimic the clay courts at Roland Garros, and marked out with lines like a tennis court.

C was more than happy to sit and watch the tennis while I did some last-minute shopping along the Rue de Rivoli.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Canal Walk

At  last we had a day with (some) blue skies. Mind you, I think I'd already missed the best of the day by the time I set off for a walk. But it was lovely to be able to go out without a rain-jacket and umbrella, and what sun there was was a tonic.
Even the birds were all out enjoying it!!
Judging by the amount of droppings, whatever board the heron is standing on has been a favourite summer perch for the birds. He flew off very briefly when the dredger came through the lock and up the canal, but by the time I'd crossed at the lock and was walking back up the other side he was back enjoying the sun again.
I had been thinking that maybe the swan was nesting along the bank, since I've often seen it there any time we drive that way, but there was no sign of any sort of nest, and no cygnets either. I saw six on the Liffey earlier on in the week.

Mother duck keeping a good eye out as her young ones rest on the bank. They're beyond the chick stage, but you can see that their wings are still a bit short and stubby - I don't think they could fly yet.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

One of the places we visited this time round was new to us - Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
It was the worst weather we had - you can see it was grey and cloudy, but we were lucky not to have much rain at all. It was very windy, though - and in the belvedere up at the tip of the island we really felt it. The camera felt it too! It was great to get those unusual eye-level views of Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur, but I had to brace the camera against one of the pillars as I was being buffeted around so much. We'll definitely visit here again on a sunny day.
As a bonus, there was an exhibition of lovely bird photos along the railings in one area of the park.
There are several gates all with identical gate lodges, and it felt like a long walk round the perimeter before we found the gate that we had entered by.

It has to be said that while that article in Wikipedia says there are several restaurants, not one of them was open in early June. Some signs of life, maybe gearing up towards an opening a little later on in the summer perhaps. Plenty of school kids and teens, too.