<Guest post from Joel>
We just got back from a short trip to one of the most beautiful islands I have ever visited. I have never visited the islands of Africa, Australia, or Antarctica so I can’t say it is the most beautiful island on Earth from experience. For its size, though, it’s got to be in the running.
The Ile-de-Groix is located in the Bay of Biscay, just off shore from the port city of Lorient in the Morbihan department of the region of Brittany in the country of France in the continent of Europe on the face of the planet Earth.
Combine the distinguished shabbiness of Nantucket, the dramatic coastal cliffs of Ireland, the picturesque lighthouses of Maine, the white beaches of Bermuda, the salt-of-the-earth culture of Brittany, and the translucent cerulean water of Mykonos.
Activity/Commerce Hubs – The ferry will docks at Port Tudy but Port Tudy itself does not contain enough commercial activity, even when everything is open, to entertain you so you’ll need to venture up the hill to “Le Bourg,” also called “Groix,” at some point. This hill is no K2 but once you’ve gone up and down it you’re motivation to go back to Le Bourg by foot that day will drop significantly. Beyond that, the other hub of activity is Locmaria, which is roughly 2km from the port. That said, 90% of the dining, shopping, grocery, and general amusement options are in Le Bourg. The Carrefour Contact and Intermarche Contact are both in Le Bourg for your basic grocery needs – real helpful. This is important to know for making transportation decisions.
Sites and Sights to See – The island is absolutely gorgeous from one end to the the other. Unfortunately that means you’ll want/need to travel to the ends to really get the most of your visit. Pen Men, Pointe des Chats, Les Grandes Sables, Les Sables Rouges, and on and on. Again, important for transportation decisions.
Transportation on the Island – It is prohibitively expensive to bring your car over on the ferry if you’re only going to be there a few days, the taxi service is essentially non-existent, and the bus system is not going to do your stay any favors. To see the island you’ll want to rent your own transportation. For cars, your two options are Coconut Rentals and Groix Panoramic. For bikes/scooters, there’s Coconut plus several others right in the harbor. I do not recommend a scooter. The guy at Coconut is really nice, speaks great English, and is very accommodating. If you want physical exercise to be a major part of your trip and/or you want to save money I recommend a bike. The island is not Australia after all.
The Roads are Ridiculous – No matter what means of transportation you choose you need to know that when you find yourself thinking you are surely and hopeless lost – as the surrounding terrain, <lack of> signage, and neglected pavement will undoubtedly lead you to believe – you probably are not. There isn’t a “main road” or a “well marked directional indictor” or a “stop light” (that’s “robot” for you South African readers). The good news is there aren’t that many roads and it’s an island so you can only get so lost even if you are, which you probably are not. You probably will not be lost. The information you want for navigating will either be written on a rock by a small child (I’m assuming) holding a blunt chalk stick in his fist, painted by the DOT on the road but only legible when it is too late to heed the info, or on standard-issue road signs.
Accommodation – The Ty-Mad Hotel in Port Tudy offers great views over the harbor. The rooms are clean and simple. Operationally it is more like a bed and breakfast as you may or may not be able to get service at the front desk at any given time but overall it is well worth the money. An argument could definitely be made for staying up in Le Bourg as well, as I might if I were to go back, just because it would be much more convenient while you’re on the island.
There’s plenty more to say about Ile-de-Groix but that will do it for now. Have a great trip.
Last week we received a wonderful gift with a coffee- a warm, rich, and gluten-containing chouquette. Chouquettes are made from choux pate dough which is used for eclairs, cream puffs, and all sorts of deliciousness. It smelled so decadent that I ended up sniffing, poking and squeezing it past the point of appropriateness. It did not pass my lips as the fear of migraines results in a tremendous amount of discipline.
A week later and I still couldn’t get that pastry out of my head. I became a little fixated and scoured the Internet for a recipe that I could make. I didn’t have any luck but combined a few recipes to make something that wouldn’t put me in bed for days.
These turned out just amazing. Hollow (to be filled with creme, or chocolate), lightly sweet, decadent, and not a trace of health in the taste. I made them over the weekend which meant Joel was around to snap photos.
The options are endless. I think I’ll add garlic and goat cheese to the dough next time to make them savory. I also am going to experiment with fillings and toppings. For now, enjoy!
Gluten-Free Coconut Oil Chouquettes
- 80 gram (scant 3/4 cup) brown rice flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- sweetener (I used 20 drops liquid stevia but would substitute 1.l5 TBSP maple syrup, agave, or honey)
- 56 gram (1/4 cup) coconut oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 TBSP oat milk (almond, soy, etc would work)
- 1 TSP honey
1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Grease cookie sheet
3. add oil, water to pot and bring to boil
4. add flour and stir until a ball of dough forms (takes 2-5 minutes)
5. transfer dough to bowl and cool slightly
6. mix glaze ingredients
7. mix eggs in one at a time until well combined (a mixer would be great for this but it can also be a decent arm workout)
8. transfer mixture to pastic bag with small corner cut off
9. pipe onto cookie sheet keeping a couple inches between balls
10. cook for 20-30 minutes until tops are golden brown and bottoms sounds hollow when tapped
Mine were delicious the day the were made (they melted in my mouth when hot) and stayed good until the next day. I can’t make any claims about subsequent days but I imagine they wouldn’t last that long anyway.
I used an egg in this one but it could easily be substituted for a chia or flax egg (1 T chia or flax meal mixed with 2 T water and left alone for 10 minutes)
Buckwheat/Oatmeal Banana Bread with Coconut Oat Crumble
- 100g (generous 3/4 cup) buckwheat flour
- 80g (scant 3/4 cup) oat flour
- 1 TABLESPOON baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or spice mix. I used one with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
- 1 tablespoon oil (I used melted coconut)
- 1.5 tablespoon yogurt (I used soy yogurt but anything would be fine)
- 300 gram bananas, mashed (3 large)
- 1/4 cup oat milk (or almond milk/soy milk/whatever)
- 1 egg
Optional: Stevia or sweetener of choice. I used 20 drops of liquid stevia. I think 1-2 TBSP sweetener would be a nice addition.
- 10 gram (1 TBSP) oats
- 10 gram (1 TBSP) oat flour
- 10 gram (1 TBSP_coconut flakes
- 1 TBSP maple syrup or honey
- 1 TBSP oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9×5 loaf pan
2. Mix flours, baking powder, spices, salt
3. Add in oil, yogurt, milk mashed bananas
4. Add egg and mix just until combine.
5. Pour into baking dish
6. Mix Topping ingredients
7. Spread evenly over batter
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes (mine took 33) until toothpick comes out clean
9. Do what I say and not what I do and wait until cool before slicing.
At the physical therapist’s office last week I was given a pamphlet. It really has tickled my funny bone and I think we can all keep this advice in mind this coming spring.
This spring, be like the french and:
enjoy the sunshine while gardening
go buy your bread by bike
take a family outing
accompany your children to school by foot
According the wise government, exercising 30 minutes every day (for 10 minutes at a time) is good for your health and what’s more, your mind too!
If I am not careful, this is going to be a Mary Oliver fan club blog. I’ve been reading this one daily for a week and wanted to share in case anyone loves it as much as I do.
At the River Clarion
I don’t know who God is exactly.
But I’ll tell you this.
I was sitting in the river named Clarion, on a water splashed stone
and all afternoon I listened to the voices of the river talking.
Whenever the water struck a stone it had something to say,
and the water itself, and even the mosses trailing under the water.
And slowly, very slowly, it became clear to me what they were saying.
Said the river I am part of holiness.
And I too, said the stone. And I too, whispered the moss beneath the water.
I’d been to the river before, a few times.
Don’t blame the river that nothing happened quickly.
You don’t hear such voices in an hour or a day.
You don’t hear them at all if selfhood has stuffed your ears.
And it’s difficult to hear anything anyway, through all the traffic, the ambition.
If God exists he isn’t just butter and good luck.
He’s also the tick that killed my wonderful dog Luke.
Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.
Imagine how the lily (who may also be a part of God) would sing to you if it could sing,
if you would pause to hear it.
And how are you so certain anyway that it doesn’t sing?
If God exists he isn’t just churches and mathematics.
He’s the forest, He’s the desert.
He’s the ice caps, that are dying.
He’s the ghetto and the Museum of Fine Arts.
He’s van Gogh and Allen Ginsberg and Robert Motherwell.
He’s the many desperate hands, cleaning and preparing their weapons.
He’s every one of us, potentially.
The leaf of grass, the genius, the politician, the poet.
And if this is true, isn’t it something very important?
Yes, it could be that I am a tiny piece of God, and each of you too, or at least
of his intention and his hope.
Which is a delight beyond measure.
I don’t know how you get to suspect such an idea.
I only know that the river kept singing.
It wasn’t a persuasion, it was all the river’s own constant joy
which was better by far than a lecture, which was comfortable, exciting, unforgettable.
Of course for each of us, there is the daily life.
Let us live it, gesture by gesture.
When we cut the ripe melon, should we not give it thanks?
And should we not thank the knife also?
We do not live in a simple world.
There was someone I loved who grew old and ill
One by one I watched the fires go out.
There was nothing I could do
except to remember
that we receive
then we give back.
My dog Luke lies in a grave in the forest, she is given back.
But the river Clarion still flows from wherever it comes from
to where it has been told to go.
I pray for the desperate earth.
I pray for the desperate world.
I do the little each person can do, it isn’t much.
Sometimes the river murmurs, sometimes it raves.
Along its shores were, may I say, very intense cardinal flowers.
And trees, and birds that have wings to uphold them, for heaven’s sakes–
the lucky ones: they have such deep natures,
they are so happily obedient.
While I sit here in a house filled with books,
ideas, doubts, hesitations.
And still, pressed deep into my mind, the river
keeps coming, touching me, passing by on its
long journey, its pale, infallible voice
<guest post from Joel>
Everywhere has its thing. If it’s not a state fair its a strawberry festival or beerfest or antique car show it’s a pig pickin’ or chili cook off. No matter the reason, the message is clear: this is who we are, this is what we love. I enjoy a Studebaker, short cake or Krispy Kreme burger as much as the next guy but I definitely get more excited by the word “flotilla” than “tortilla.” I’m more “ship” than ”sip.” More “jib” than “rib.” More “keel” than “meal.” You get my drift <nautical pun intended>. It is not surprising, then, that the “state fair” event of Morbihan being a week of seafaring glory really put the wind in my sails.
Some of my fondest memories are of sailing up and down the Pamilico Sound with my Dad and family – constantly excited and petrified at heeling further and further. Only petrified, though, by the presence of Blackbeard’s grave in Bath, NC it should be noted. No excitement there.
“La Semaine du Golfe“, or “Gulf Week” – literally but awkwardly translated, is 7 days of sailing glory around the expansive Golfe du Morbihan, not far from where we live. On Saturday we were able to spend some time walking around Vannes, one of the largest port cities on the Golfe. If you weren’t aware or couldn’t have guessed by looking at a map, Brittany has a long and rich history of seafaring. One of the greatest sailors and ship designers in history, Eric Tabarly, is a native of the state and setting sail is woven deeply into the coastal culture. All that to say, if you like sailboats new or old, the high seas, or have just recently read The Old Man and the Sea or better still Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea then La Semaine du Golfe is a feast for the senses.
It wasn’t a great weekend health-wise. I have been having digestive issues (more than usual) all week and my muscle pain has been especially consuming. To top it off I developed a migraine while at lunch with ML in Vannes on Saturday. I spent the majority of the weekend attempting to find some position/food/activity that would make me more comfortable.
While weekends like this one are demoralizing, I always find myself thankful to live in a place that is so distractingly beautiful. Despite the physical discouragement my overwhelming feeling is that of gratefulness.
Speaking of thankful, we were sad to not be able to spend the day with our moms yesterday and are sending lots of love across the ocean to them. We are, as always, very thankful for their love and support. Happy Mother’s Day.