My French Chronicles : July 2023

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préparation confiture maison home made jam French kitchen chronicles
DIY bouquet dahlias champêtre timbale-09

I’m writing those French chronicles while it’s been raining most of the day. I really like this kind of weather (and if it’s foggy, it’s even better), so I’m really glad not to be suffering from the summer heat. It’s good for the trees and flowers, a little less so for the tomatoes which, even though they’re already well formed, suffer a little from the low temperatures at night. But the fact that the temperatures are rather mild also means that I’m able to do a lot more than usual, as we don’t stay cooped up in the house with the shutters closed waiting for the temperature to deign to drop. It’s also good weather for the dahlias, which suffered greatly last year from lack of water and which give me the opportunity to decorate the house with pretty bouquets. Not to mention the fact that July is jam-making month and also birthday month, so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen between copper basins and cake-making…

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I may be making a return trip to Brittany in August, and I’m looking forward to picking figs from my grandmother’s garden to make pies. Many years ago, my mother bought a beautiful young fig tree from Plantymen (Erwan Tymen’s nursery, which unfortunately no longer exists), which produces delicious figs when there’s no frost in spring. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying Paris in the evenings – the Parisians are starting to leave on vacation, but the tourists are coming back in droves – and the countryside at weekends, where there’s always something to do, as I’ll tell you below…

préparation confiture maison home made jam French kitchen chronicles

The perfect month to make jams at home

Every year, my mother and I make jam with fruit from our garden. We don’t like to buy too much, because we know we’re only using healthy produce (apart from redcurrants and then mirabelles later in the season, which we always buy because there aren’t enough of them) and because it’s a real pleasure to open a good homemade jam in autumn or the middle of winter.
We’ve got lots of blackcurrants and blackberries, so this year we’re once again making blackberry-roseberry-blackcurrant jams and juices.
The result? 22 medium-sized jars to fill the cellar shelves already well stocked with jams from previous years.

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préparation confiture maison home made jam French kitchen-8

Country bouquets have the advantage of being easy to make and not demanding perfection. And they’re lovely with airy, colorful flowers and fern leaves to complement them. I like to set a rustic, pastoral, prairie-style table while sharing a good, simple meal with my family.

Dahlias are one of the most interesting flowers in the garden, thanks to their great variety and the different colors available. What’s more, they’re an ideal choice because they bloom from July to October. What’s more, they hold up well in bouquets and are perfect for small, medium and large arrangements.

I plan to write an article on my favorite varieties soon, and share with you some good planting and care practices.

In the meantime, take a look at the page dedicated to bouquets, and in particular those made with these magnificent flowers.

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dahlias jardin garden French country living
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Weekends are always very busy in the countryside, so we took a little break with friends to go to the Chantilly jumping competition and admire these incredible athletes, horses and riders.

The setting was perfect, as the Chantilly Classic took place on the racecourse, with the Grandes Écuries and the Château de Chantilly as its backdrop. It was a beautiful day, punctuated by numerous showers (which didn’t stop me – strangely enough – from getting sunstroke!).

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A nice country walk

The day after the jumping, we went for a country walk in the surrounding area. A pleasant little excursion along the water to admire nature and our beautiful heritage. As well as the little château on the edge of the pond, there was this beautiful building that had fallen into disrepair, and you can imagine that my mind was already thinking about how to renovate it! What a shame to leave our beautiful heritage in such a state of disrepair. It makes me think of the beautiful, derelict factories and plants in Alsace that would be sublime if they were restored…

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One evening, one of my friends and I met up for dinner in the Palais-Royal district of Paris. We’d planned to go to a small Japanese restaurant, but they were all full of tourists. In fact, I could hardly reach her as I walked under the arcades in front of the Louvre, such was the flow of tourists. We finally decided to buy a bento from a Japanese pastry shop and have a picnic in the gardens of the Palais-Royal, which turned out to be a very good idea! And the sesame paste éclair was simply stunning.

At home, summer is synonymous with three things: jam, preserves and dahlia bouquets! I add new varieties to the beds every year, and what a pleasure it is to discover them in bloom in July and make bouquets. There are so many that I’m lucky enough to be able to let my imagination run wild, and I’m looking forward to the start of autumn to create darker bouquets in more « dramatic » tones.

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I’m in the middle of reading this novel by Julian Fellowes, the man behind the Downton Abbey series. I’d already seen the Belgravia saga on DVD and was keen to immerse myself in this world of scandal and intrigue in 19th-century London.

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