Monday, March 29, 2010

Gigi, Death Book, Bird Watching,

I hope everyone remembered to turn off their lights on Satuday night. We certainly did. Meanwhile I watched Gigi on TV. I don't know how many times I have seen that movie but I rarely fail to watch it when it comes on. It is one of my all time favourites; guess I'm a sentimental sap, but I really enjoy the story. I particularly enjoy Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold - as a young woman I saw several Chevalier movies on TV (they were even before my time) and always liked them. I also find the music of Gigi particularly delightful. The movie was made in 1958 and I think it has really stood the test of time with Leslie Caron playing the lead and Louis Jourdain as the leading man. In its day, it won 9 Oscars.
I have just finished the latest Death book by J.D. Robb, Fantasy in Death. It is particularly enjoyable to me as it centres around computers and gaming (albeit in the future). Not that I play games other than solitaire, I guess at my age I am too slow, I had a free one once and couldn't get very far at all. There is always a fair amount of 'computer stuff' in these books anyway - well if you look at how we use computers for so much today, in 2060 we will no doubt rely on them even more. I am staggered to see this is the 37th book, I didn't realise I had read so many or that J.D. Robb had written so many. Actually it says 37 in one place and 30 in another, I don't know which is correct. I have certainly enjoyed the books and love the main characters, Eve Dallas the police lieutenant, her fantastic and wealthy hubby, Roarke, her sidekick Peabody and several other characters who appear in all the books. One feels very familiar with all of them.
Glenda Larke was talking about birds in her back yard in her blog Tropic Temper, we used to spend a lot of time taking pictures of birds in our back yard in North Carolina, it is one of the things we both miss. There are lots of birds in the park outside our windows here, but you can only see them from a distance. In NC we had feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes and spent hours watching them. I made lists of the birds which visited and ended up with quite a number although one or two only visited in passing, like the one year we had an invasion of cuckoos, not the kind we get in England, and had no idea what they were. They were chasing something in our yard for the best part of the day, dozens of them, then they left and we never saw another one. Another brief visitor was the Fox Sparrow - one winter we had lots and lots of snow (unusual at the coast in NC) so we kept our bird feeder full. The fox sparrows visited the feeder which they don't normally do and it was fascinating to watch them scrape at the seed with both feet in an instinctive movement which would allow them to uncover food on the ground. We tried putting up a bird feeder on our balcony here, but were told to take it down as the people below us were getting seed all over their balcony.
A friend sent me an email today showing another problem caused by deforestation, I just had to share it with you.
This following recipe is a classic one from France who do the most wonderful stews and this one in particular is a favourite.
Coq au Vin Source: Dutch Oven Cooking/Longstreet Yield: Serves 6
Literally translated "chicken in wine," this is classic French bistro cooking at its best. A simple cheese and fresh fruit course with crusty French bread would be a delightful way to complete this meal.
RECIPE INGREDIENTS For the Chicken: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 (4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper For the Sauce: 1/3 cup brandy 3 cups red wine 2 cups chicken stock 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon-style mustard About 36 red or yellow pearl onions, peeled 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes with their juice 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 pound baby carrots, scraped 3 ribs of celery, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch pieces 3 cups sliced button mushrooms 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley DIRECTIONS FOR THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a 5-1/2-quart Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until sizzling. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and then place 3 or 4 pieces in the hot oil, skin side down. Brown the chicken in batches, turning, until lightly browned on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan with chicken or you will not get a nice browning of the skin. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. FOR THE SAUCE: Immediately return the Dutch oven to the heat and add the brandy to deglaze. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that have accumulated in the pan. Stir in the red wine, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, mustard, pearl onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, add the chicken to the pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven. Bake, gently stirring every 20 minutes or so, for 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. TO SERVE: Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Place the Dutch oven on the stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce on top of the stove until it is nicely thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Ladle the sauce and vegetables over the chicken and top with the chopped parsley. Serve at once.
Have a great day


  1. Coq au vin - indeed. An old favourite of the French. Takes longs to cook though.

  2. Sure, as do a lot of the good, old dishes. Once in a while I need to go back to the best of the best. Boeuf Bourgignon for instance - yum.