We've been here in the Auvergne for nearly three weeks now; the first week was warm and sunny, the next slightly less settled and this last has been unremittingly wet, either with rain or cloud. It has however improved over the last couple of days. One benefit, if it could be called so, is that the many waterfalls in the valley are all full and rushing down the hillsides. Many are not easily visible, but there is one the other side of the valley, which we can see from our house.It was just a small trickle when we first arrived in late June, but is now in full flow.
This morning I decided to bake a savoury cake, with ham and Parmesan cheese. I've tasted savoury cakes at some of the receptions we've been to here, but not tried one until now.It turned out well and would be delicious with a glass of white wine or cider. The recipe I used came from a French magazine, ( Modes et Travaux, I think) bought a year or two ago
Ingredients: 150 g plain flour, 3 eggs, 80 ml olive oil, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 large slices cooked ham, 60 g grated Parmesan cheese, a small bunch of parsley and the same of basil, 100 ml milk, salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180 centigrade. Gas 4. Wash and chop the herbs,and mix with the milk. Cut the ham slices into small squares..Beat 2 eggs, half the flour and the olive oil with an electric beater in a large bowl. Add the 3rd egg, the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the milk with the herbs.. Season with salt (a little, because the cheese and ham are salty) and pepper.and mix well. The mixture should be smooth. With a spatula fold in the ham and the cheese. Pour into a buttered 2lb loaf tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with an aperitive, or a glass of wine. This loaf can also be part of a meal, with salad.
Because of the weather, we've managed to do quite a bit of work on the house, such as my husband laying vinyl, which he has never done before, putting up tiles in the kitchen, repairing the supports to the balcony and other jobs, including painting.
I've also been able to read most of the books I picked up on a visit to my local library before leaving England for France. I did a rapid trawl of the shelves and picked four novels and one book on local history (left that at home). I found a new copy of Penelope Fitzgerald's The Gate of Angels. I've never for some reason read any of her books and this one was a good introduction. The story of Fred, who works as a junior fellow, and junior or assistant to almost everything else in an all male Oxford college. One day while cycling to an appointment from outside Oxford, Fred is involved in a collision with a cart and another cyclist, a girl called Daisy. Both are rescued by the people outside whose house the accident happened, and end up in the same bed. After many twists and turns, Fred and Daisy do meet again....
Another book which I picked up on my quick trawl was Alice Walker's The Colour Purple. I'm not sure how I came to miss this when it was first published in 1982, but catching up with a good read even years after all the hype about it has faded into history, is usually rewarding. This one definitely falls into the Well Worth Reading category and I'm glad I've finally caught up with it. I've not yet seen the film, either, so something else to look forward to.
Two more recently published books I gathered in the same swoop were Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour and Marina Lewycka's Various Pets Alive Or Dead, this last I have yet to read.