For the first time in 19 months of daily weekday posts I have writer’s block. A few posts are swimming around (new recipes, reflections on “wherever you go”, a health update) but nothing is coming together. I suppose if I don’t have anything good to stay I shouldn’t say anything at all but I like the daily habit of posting. It’s a nice check in for me.
We don’t have any big plans this weekend besides an out-of-town meeting with our new landlord. We hope to make the most of an otherwise practical errand and will certainly take photos.
Enjoy your weekend wherever you are. In the meantime, a few more shots form Groix.
<Guest Post from Joel>
Jessica’s migraine and back pain has been particularly severe the last couple days so I’m taking this opportunity to issue a PSA on behalf of the quaint little village of La Roche-Bernard in Brittany.
We went for our second visit this week and thankfully discovered the master list of advisory icons indicating what we should expect from our experience in La Roche-Bernard. Take a moment to review the tableau before continuing on to learn the meaning.
Take heed of the blue squares – left to right, top to bottom:
- Men and women are to remain separate.
- Jellyfish will be hanged on the spot.
- You will be able to avail yourself of a rare horseshoe magnet thought only to exist in cartoons.
- Mermaids can be identified by their afros.
- The small man from the BiC pen logo is being held captive nearby.
- The genie in the town lamp leaves a lot to be desired.
- There will be no smiling as the snake approaches when you have your head in the stocks.
- Amphibious vehicles may come ashore at any available incline.
- There’s basically no water from the taps so don’t bother.
- It is possible that you will see a dark haired man with a wavy, striped scarf covering his face wearing a key on his head.
- Wheelchair riders will be inhumanely loaded onto boats.
My French isn’t good enough to translate the bottom portions so feel free to comment if you know what they mean. Seems pretty straight forward to me. Obviously there are some stalking nuns, invisible sailors, and giant badminton shuttlecocks but that’s to be assumed.
Jessica and I were lucky enough to avoid the multitudinous dangers and have had two wonderful visits.
<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