One Great Read & 3 Ways to Extend Summer

Happy September! After a rare evening of rain, the heatwave has subsided and today is the first of many sunny, yet chilly, windy August days here in Provence, with the temperature clocking in at a perfect 72°F/22°C. Ah, nearly autumn, my favourite weather! But, I’m determined to extend the summer, so my posts this month will include healthy doses of late summer goodness.

One Big Inspiration

My one big inspiration for the week is a fabulous book which I ordered a while ago and has finally arrived. It’s called Cook House, by Anna Hedworth, and, yes, her recipes are delicious, but what I love is that this book is so much more than a cookbook! 

Peppered with honest and funny stories, in Cook House, Anna narrates her career transition from architecture to becoming a chef and restaurant owner. She offers advice for those who may be wondering what it’s like to change gears and follow a passion. The book is perfect for me as I embark on my new career. Still, it’s also just right for sharing because it reflects the Simply Eau-de-Vie lifestyle – wellbeing through a life made simple.

Anna’s adventures in cooking take place in Newcastle, in the North of England, where she first created a weekly farmer’s market which livened a community and filled it with food pride. Her award-winning restaurant – initially started in two small shipping containers – and her mouthwatering recipes offer meal time simplicity, and a bit of old-fashioned goodness. Buy or borrow the book (it’s available in the U.S. and across Europe) read her stories, cook her recipes, check out her blog and enjoy!

Now, here are a few ideas to help bring some Eau-de-Vie into your life this week, simply:

Living Simply Practice for the Week: Hang the Laundry (And, yes, I’m serious)

There is something meditative about taking a few moments to hang laundry. I hang mine on a rack in front of a sunny window or on the line in the garden. If I’m lucky, the wind blows, and the clothes peacefully move to its rhythm (yes, I have been known to briefly turn on a fan in London just to see the clothes blow in the wind!). Then there’s the practice of taking it down, inhaling the smell of your fresh-air dried linens as you put them away, or resting your head on them once they’re on the bed. It’s just a few minutes of a day, but the steps involved somehow calm the mind.

Like many Americans, I grew up with a clothes dryer in the house; it was considered a prized possession that prior generations didn’t own. When I was little, I used to watch one of my grandmothers hang her laundry out on the line, but I didn’t understand why she didn’t want a dryer. Fast forward to life in Europe where many people hang laundry to dry on a clothes rack or line. I’ll admit that when I first moved to the U.K., I found it inconvenient to hang my laundry rather than use a machine. But, now, I love hanging laundry on the line even though I now have a dryer. Hanging laundry is good for the environment, an excellent way to reduce your utility bills, and Simply good for your soul.

Try it: Take a few moments to slow down and be fully present. Hang the laundry to dry, using clips, hangers or just over the line itself. Later, watch it blow in the wind (or turn on a fan!). When it’s dry, take a few moments to take it off the line, inhale its fresh goodness and put things away in their place. Ah, such peace!

À la table: Cuban-style Stuffed Round Courgettes (a.k.a. zucchinis)

An easy side for dinner or a luncheon main, this recipe is packed with Latin flavour and veggies.

Earlier this summer, I came across a lovely round, green vegetable in a French farmer’s market; it looked like a little gourd, but I knew those weren’t in season. I looked at the sign, “courgette rond”, and I thought – “oh my goodness, little round courgettes!” They were too cute to pass up, and I had friends with children coming to dinner that week, so I bought 8 of them. 

When I got home, I realised that I had no idea what to do with them. But then I remembered these little stuffed pumpkins I used to make around Thanksgiving and went online to see whether there were any recipes for stuffed courgettes. I was delighted when my search turned up a TON of French recipes! I learned that there’s an entire genre of Provencal stuffed vegetables called “Petits Farcis” (even the name is cute!). These are traditionally small vegetables (courgettes, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms etc.) that are stuffed with a meat-based filling or with mushroom, for a vegetarian option. 

We’d already decided salmon as the main, so I didn’t want to add meat, and I’m deathly allergic to mushrooms. Hmm…what to do? In a mind-meld, my daughter and I came up with the idea to stuff these little guys with vegetable-infused, Cuban-style paella rice, with some good kick. We prepared the veggie rice and the courgette shells in advance, which was an added benefit. We left the stuffing job as a fun pre-dinner activity for the children, and then warmed the stuffed courgettes while the rest of the food cooked on the grill. We even had leftover rice to serve as a side for those who couldn’t get enough (and it was all eaten up!).  

We’ve since made these at least ten times this summer. I wanted to share them as there is Eau-de-Vie in the preparation and every bite. Feel free to do like the French and use the same filling to stuff other veggies, creating your own Cuban-style “petits farcis”! More pics and recipe here! 

Wine Wise: La Vie en Rosé

Summer is almost over, but as long as there’s any sunshiney warmth in the air, you will find me drinking rosé wine. So I thought I’d share my recommendations.

You may have noticed that rosé comes in a range of prices. Here in Provence, people typically drink the rosé made by their local vineyards, and those are usually not costly. So, don’t be afraid of less expensive bottles; try a range to find what’s best according to your palette. I prefer delicate, pale rosé, with a silky smooth texture, clean minerality and just a little touch of fruit like those in the feature image above, which are from our local vineyards. I’ll be writing more about wine as I continue to learn through my programme at Le Cordon Bleu. In the meantime, I’ll turn to the experts, sharing links to the vineyards where you’ll also find reviews and well-respected tasting notes.

I hope these little inspirations bring you joy!



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