Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Champagne, Realms Faire. Road Works.

There is a new report out which says if you drink 3 glasses of champagne daily, it may help to prevent Alzheimer's. I'm all for it. I drink champagne on Sunday morning and it is my favourite beverage. I have two glasses just before lunch and I do get a teeny bit tipsy. So 3 a day I would be flying high. Mind you after a while one would get used to it.  We buy splits of champagne, each small bottle being just the right size for a glass. They cost approximately $10 for 3 small bottles. That means $70 a week or $3,640 a year. Sorry, can't afford that, guess I will just have to risk the disease after all. Not only that, as it turns out, the study has only been carried out with rats. On GMA today (Tuesday) they had lots of volunteers for human testing. I too would volunteer if they need someone round here. Of course the Henkell Trocken we buy for me is not champagne, but a sparkling wine made in the methode champenoise. They are no longer allowed to use the word champagne unless the wine comes from the Champagne region of France. As a final note, Matt is NOT a champagne drinker unless it has been made into a cocktail. The one he likes and makes, you drop a cube of sugar into the glass, a half shot of cognac, a dash of angostura bitters and a sliver of orange peel and then top up the glass with champagne. We used to serve those on Christmas morning together with a really good ham and Colman's English mustard. These days we don't really have friends who don't have families with whom they celebrate.

There are lots of games going on at Realms Faire not just the unicorn one part of which was on this blog yesterday. The first day we had to cheer Alex on because he was fighting War. Each day there is fighting and jousting. I know the jousting is hosted by M. Pax. There are lots of prizes to be won so don't just sit back once you have checked out the unicorns. By the way, I had to get L. Diane Wolf to show me where the unicorns were.

We had to go for our annual eye test today. I have mentioned the roadworks going on in our town right now and the impossibility of getting to places on King St. In fact some businesses have closed because people just won't bother (well we basically don't) because it's so difficult. So, half way to the optometrist, what do we find, no through road and a diversion. I reckon we went a good mile out of our way to get back onto our road. It's absolutely ridiculous. They seem to be doing roadworks all over the town. Tomorrow, Matt has a doc. appointment and we have to go up a different street, then follow the signs which one store has put out all over the place. They are right opposite the office Matt is going to. The store is a very popular grocery store and, these days, is one of the few which still cut meat. I want ground veal and they are the only people that have it. I am going to be ordering a pork roast for Boxing Day too (Dec. 26). That picture is how they used to be. Nowadays the road in front is completely torn up. Has been for months. I have heard of at least two stores which have closed and a MacDonalds.

I remembered a recipe I used to make quite a lot, once upon a time, and it was called Jarret de Boeuf en Daube. I knew exactly which cookbook it was in - only it wasn't. I was astounded and now I don't know which cookbook it came from. It was well before the age of computers. So, I looked it up online. First, I discovered, Jarret de Boeuf meant shin of beef. I didn't know that. Basically that just translates to stewing beef nowadays. Here is one of the recipes I found. This is an absolutely wonderful dish. Burgundy is not readily available round here unfortunately, so I recommend a good, full bodied, red wine if you can't find it. One thing I don't remember in the recipe I used to make, is the addition of tomatoes.

Boeuf En Daube - French Beef Burgundy in the Crock Pot

A delicious and heady combination of good red wine, prime beef, smoked bacon, dried orange, shallots, garlic and cèpes - dried forest mushrooms! A traditional French recipe with a twist - cook it in the crock pot for ease and convenience. Wonderful in the depths of winter, but equally lovely with
crisp salads,crusty bread and baked potatoes during the summer - the addition of orange making it a lighter beef dish than the more usual Beef Daube or Beef Burgundy. An excellent choice for a family reunion or celebration, as it is VERY well behaved! It also freezes well and is a great pie filling idea.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 5 lbs prime beef, cubed and trimmed of fat
  • 1 lb shallot, peeled
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 -4 bay leaves
  • 750 ml Burgundy wine  
  • 1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb lardons, Smoked Bacon pieces
  • 12 ounce dried cèpes, soaked for 1 hr
  • 6 -8 pieces dried orange peel, see method
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 -2 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch), for thickening
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 2 -4 sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can chopped tomatoes (optional)


  1. Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots and garlic over night in the bottle of red wine.
  2. Drain and put the wine to one side.
  3. In a large skillet or frying pan, sear and brown the beef pieces over a high heat in the olive oil until nutty & brown. Do not overcrowd the pan!
  4. Place browned beef into the crock pot or cast iron Casserole Dish.
  5. Fry the lardons or chopped bacon pieces until crispy and golden brown. Drain and add to the beef.
  6. Brown the shallots and garlic in the bacon fat and add to the beef and bacon.
  7. Add all the other ingredients, except the cornflour, to the crock pot including the reserved wine.
  8. (Add the tinned tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes at this stage too if you are using them.).
  9. Cook on automatic or High for 4 hours and Low for up to 6 hours.
  10. (For conventional cooking - pre-heat oven to 175° C or 325° F or gas mark 3 and cook SLOWLY for approximately 4 to 6 hours; check towards the end, the meat should be extemely tender - you MUST not be tempted to cook it quicker, it will be tough!).
  11. Towards the end, blend and mix the cornflour with a couple of spoons of the stock in the crock pot and add to the beef, stirring well. It should not be TOO thick but just like a glaze or thickened jus. Add the cognac at this stage as well - stirring into the daube.
  12. Serve with Green Beans, Mashed, Steamed or Pureed Potatoes during the colder months OR with a selection of salads, crusty French bread and Pasta during the warmer months. The excess sauce can be used or saved as a fantastic gravy or stock later!
  14. Freezes beautifully - I always make a large batch and then freeze some.
  15. NOTE:If you cannot buy sun dried orange peel, make your own, it's VERY easy! Peel some oranges with a swivel head vegetable peeler or parer, be careful not to peel the pith. Spread outside on a rack in the full sun and leave to dry for about 2-4 hours. Weather permitting of course - otherwise dry in an airing cupboard or a very LOW oven overnight.Store in an airtight jar for up to 2 years.
  16. If you are really stuck - just grate some fresh orange peel into the daube, it will not have the same intensity as dried peel, but it will work!

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - champagne is my favourite .. though I seem to enjoy a cider now-a-days. Road works - they're updating the station and shopping centre here ... so we are constantly in 'shtuchk' ... I walk in - so am ok. Crockpot beef sounds good ... cheers Hilary

    1. Me too. Hilary but I have never enjoyed cider. These roadworks are a pain. I wonder where my town is getting all the money from.

      It is a good dish.

  2. Two glasses of champagne and I'm asleep!
    If the construction was that bad, businesses here would just raise a fit.

    1. It is pretty good for putting one to sleep.

      Everyone in town is raising a fit Alex. I assure you it is very bad.

  3. Always interesting with the studies they come up with, with what is good or bad for a person, but I do like the champagne one :) That Realms Faire is really cute; I'm not participating a lot in it, but having fun with a bit here and there. A lot of effort went into planning it indeed.


    1. I would volunteer for the champagne test on humans LOL. You don't have to drink all 3 glasses at once just during the day. Those rats must have been pretty drunk. Can you imagine wasting all that bubbly on rats.

      I am not really participating per se either.

  4. Would love to drink a little champagne, but three glasses at a time? Don't think so. This test was done on mice? How reliable is that? I'd love to see all these research projects done over the years with mice and know the factual results of human studies. So much out there - if we listened to it all, we'd all be sick! :)

    1. I don't think you have to drink them all at once Yolanda. It only just occurred to me though, what a waste of bubbly.

  5. Guess I'm at risk then because I don't drink. And I don't like champagne either, even when I was able to have a cocktail. I'll raise my glass to toast my stepdaughter at her wedding but I doubt I'll drink it. lol

    1. I love my fizz on Sundays. 3 glasses a day is out of our range anyway, adds up to a lot of money.

  6. Even getting a big bottle, which equals four glasses, would be pricey. That would be more than five bottles a week times $7-8.

    1. Yup, no matter how you look at it Diane, it would be beyond most of us. Donald Trump could do it I guess.

  7. Those lucky rats. Love champagne but I prefer wine. Does it have to be real Champagne from Champagne I wonder?

    1. No I don't think so Pinky so long as it's made using the method champenoise. Mind you if one were a volunteer, they would surely give us the best??? If they can give champers to rats, humans ought to get top of the line stuff.

  8. I love champagne too but only have it once in a while. My husband doesn't like it so always more for me. Roadwork all about here too. My son almost missed his train last week because we just couldn't get there from here.

    1. My hubby doesn't either Susan which is why we buy the small bottles (splits) and I drink a couple every Sunday morning whilst he drinks beer. See my post tomorrow, have photos of what we are going through.

  9. Much sympathy about the roadworks. It's been happening near where we live too. So frustrating. It seems it will come to an end eventually, though, because when we went to visit our son recently we were stunned that the journey took half what it has for the last two years because - finally - no roadworks on the freeway.

    1. This has been going on for a few years now because they are altering everything to accommodate some kind of transport system which nobody seems to want and not many people will be able to use. I honestly don't know too much about it as you will gather.

  10. I have never heard that about champagne before, but I have heard that doing things like crossword puzzles and brainteasers helps to keep the mind active and may prevent Alzheimer's. I love crossword puzzles and do them every day. Jo, I have a crockpot and I love using it. You recipe sounds delicious. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    1. It's only recently been announced Linda. Not been tried on humans though. You are right about crosswords. This is a delicious recipe although not quite the same as I used to make many years ago.

  11. I am catching up and saw the road work. Yikes.

    PS: I've never tasted champagne.

    1. Yes, pretty bad aren't they Ivy.

      Well you don't really drink anyway do you? Probably too late to acquire the taste.

    2. I don't like the smell of any alcohol. Makes me gag. Though there was this one Hungarian peach liqueur that Papam (grandpa), would buy and that was yummy. Didn't smell bad like alcohol or wine does, to me.

      Though really, it's never too late to acquire a taste for things. I try new foods and ingredients each week. Makes baking and cookery far more fun for me. Plus, I love the food adventures. Still though, that darn dragon fruit is eight bucks a pound. No way. Too high. But someday, I'll get to try it.

    3. I have never thought that about alcohol. Pity, I would have saved a lot of money over the years LOL. Have you ever tried to get the Hungarian Peach liqueur Ivy?

      II suppose it isn't - it's great you try different things, so many people don't. Yup, it's not cheap here either. Can you just buy one fruit?

    4. My bad, it was apricot, not peach. Yes, I would take a shot every once in awhile to celebrate something with the family.

      We can buy just one and back during the summer me and a friend were going to get one but even one fruit was just out of our price range.

      I don't undertand why people don't try more new things. There are soooo many wonderful tastes out there. So much fun to be had.

    5. I am surprised dragon fruit are that expensive, Ivy. They are not totally prohibitive hear which is a surprise, things are normally more expensive here.

      I Don't understand either. I have tried new things all my life and very often if I didn't like something, I tried it again 2 years later. Usually ended up liking it.

    6. I dunno why either but boy, they look pretty. Someday, someday.

      Were you raised to try new things? I was. Grandpa always told me to try things twice. Once and if I didn't like it, try it again a few years down the road. He was a big supporter of trying new foods and tasting all that we could.

      Good lesson for me.

      Okay, now I'm really, really outta here. It's still light out and I want to hit the market for staples and then to find something new. But that might not be at the stores here, might have to save the somehing new for Wegmans, as they have a wider range of fun ingredients.

      Cheers, Jo. Happy Saturday meal.

    7. I don't know that I was specifically told to try new things, my mother was a brilliant cook, much better than I will ever be, and cooked so many different foods that we tried new stuff automatically. Plus we travelled the coasts of Europe where I got to try different foods too.

      Hope you find something good at the market.