A Taste of Garlic

The French Country Challenge - Île-de-France

ile de france  The French Country Challenge   because we all love reading blogs about life in FranceThe French Country Challenge is Laura and Ashley’s blog about  rediscovering a more self-sufficient, sustainable (and cheap!) way of life in rural France.

Laura and Ashley are (to use their own words)…… “two American girls who went to Paris to study at age eighteen and now, seven years, an education and some work experience later, have left the city of lights with our respective partners to live in the French countryside and pursue dreams of a more fulfilling, self-sufficient, eco-friendly, sustainable and slower way of living.  In short, the good life. Something which in France inevitably involves good food.”

And their blog promises to ..“share with you all our adventures in this pursuit: the ups and downs of organic gardening, mouthwatering recipes, tips for living on the cheap, as well as the exploits of Maya and Kali, the pointer sisters (Laura’s puppies), and Bandit the chihuahua, so far our only livestock.”

Oh yes, I’ll have some of that!

For a blog that’s only three months old there is an immense amount of good sense and practical advice already.

I’m going to follow my belly and start with the recipes (if only because my belly seems to enter rooms about five minutes before the rest of me, these days!)

The Cookery Stuff….

I particularly liked the Asian Style Salmon and Leeks and loved the Grilled Mackerel Crostini with Wilted Swiss Chard.

Then again, the Chicken Bundles (et sa sauce) looked delicious and the Dahl (lentil Curry) looked to die for.  I suppose I ought to say that Lentils do have an unfortunate effect on me but the Girlie has learned when she has to sleep upwind of me, and when she doesn’t!

I do have to say that I drew the line at the Acorn Coffee though! I am very particular when it comes to my coffee and will only drink the stuff that Michele serves at the local bar!

The Self Sufficiency Stuff…

The girls explain the basic concept of what they are doing in The Self Sufficiency Checklist and follow this up with some advice in posts like Recycle, Reduce and Especially Reuse!

There is some useful advice about Saving Money with particular help on Fence-Making and More Advice on Stretching Your Chicken.

The Gardening Stuff….

In this post, Laura gives us a Garden Update and here, Ashley confesses that her Plot is a Mess! Personally, I think they both look fine!

Both the girls must have Green Fingers as there seem to be things growing in this post from April and they don’t look like weeds!

Then again, you only have to look at this growing success from last year.  All I can say is… Biggest Tomato I’ve ever seen!

And finally, Our First Produce details the arrival of the first home grown salad of the year!

Other Stuff….

I’m a cat person and I’ve always thought that Dogs were, in some in-definable way, less than human (in the same manner that cats always appear to be more than human.)  This post about Naughty, Naughty Puppies just goes to prove my point (although I should mention that I know plenty of humans who appear to be less than human in a puppyish, cocking your leg on gateposts sort of way!)

To find out more about the girls, you could read Laura’s story or Ashley’s story.

Actually, I’m going back for seconds…

I just can’t resist it!

I mean… with posts like Potato Skins with Sour Cream Dip, Potato Gnocchi with Kidney Bean Arrabiata and Leak, Lardon and Feta Quiche, how am I supposed to lose any weight?

I was actually going to try and wrap up this review but… I may just have to go back for seconds of the Grilled Mackerel Crostini with Wilted Swiss Chard!

Anyway, moving on…

The French Country Challenge is a pretty wide-ranging blog.  It’s still young which means that there will be more and more good advice and information for all of us.  If they carry on the way they have started, I’m sure that Laura and Ashley will be sorting out some more special recipes for us as well.

You could also just dive right into The French Country Challenge pretty much anywhere and, as long as you avoid the compost heap (I made a mistake and didn’t, the first time round!  Head down, feet in the air and up to my ankles in the stuff and I’m not due another bath until June!  C’est la vie!), you will find something interesting and inspiring to read.  Hey, the photos are good as well.

So, if you’ve ever thought about saving some money (and perhaps helping to save the planet as well), you should head over to visit Laura and Ashley at The French Country Challenge – say hello from me (I’m the smelly one who was round visiting earlier on; the one who stinks of compost!)

And me?  Well, I know my place!  I’m going off to The Good, The Bad and the Lazy for a quick visit.  And I’m not going to say which two of those adjectives suitably describe me!  Although, after the whole compost heap thing, Smelly might be a good adjective to use, as well?

All the best

ile de france  The French Country Challenge   because we all love reading blogs about life in France


  • By Leesa, May 14, 2010 @ 7:47 am

    Hi Keith….

    What a great blog! I’m adding them to my list… Thanks for sharing it!

    Have a great WE to you and the missus!!


  • By Keith Eckstein, May 14, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    Leesa – this is one of my favourite discoveries – even if it doesn’t have any 2CV, mushrooming or Lingerie posts; I’m sure all that sort of stuff will come in time!

    Have a great weekend yourself – I’ll be largely busy building The Great Fence of Brittany (details on my blog – am just about to email NASA to see if they can see it from the space shuttle.)

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