Updated: May 13, 2022
In our 4th blog already we would like to take you outside, show that we live ‘comfortable warm’, and we do have a healthy snack for you.We have been living in the countryside of Bretagne since November 2020, and our lives have turned upside down! We share our experiences through blogs. If you want to respond, share tasty vegan recipes or ask us a question, you can do that via this link.
Philippe Perard, oyster farmer
Every week we go out for at least one day, to get to know our Breton environment better. We often go to the coast, provided with a thermos of coffee and lunch box, to enjoy the views, rugged rocks, the tidal area and the salty vegetation with yellow-flowering broom and gorse in the winter months. Sometimes you can't tell the sea from the sky, infinite in size with no clear horizon. It's fascinating, always different and always stunning beautiful.
Even though we are on the road all day, we never walk more than ± 8 km. All time is spent enjoying the environment with binoculars and camera, rockpooling and beachcombing. See ‘Tideline’ and ‘Objet trouve’. Sometimes we have a special meeting, like recently with oyster farmer Philippe Perard. Twice a month, at low tide, he turns all oyster bags over so that all oysters can grow well and do not get any algae growth. The bags on the tables contain one-, two- and three-year-old oysters in a row. After three years they are harvested and sold. At high tide you can no longer see the scaffolding, everything disappears into the sea! Philippe gives us a meal: farmed (flat) and wild (hollow) oysters or huîtres plates et creuses. A precious gift.
Living room ‘Ty Vert’
Now, more than a year after our move, we are well rooted and ‘ordered’. Our house, named Ty Vert (Green House), has undergone a first round of making it more sustainable. We installed a large cuisinière à bois in the kitchen as a heat source, which we also cook on during the winter months, and in the living room a high-efficiency wood-burning stove. We only heat the room(s) where we are. Wood burning is considered not very sustainable, which is a bit confusing and also not correct because its carbon neutral. Fine dust emissions are a health problem in densely built-up areas. Here, in the countryside, it is a sustainable and reliable way of heating. Only Jeanette lives in a radius of 500 meters around our house and she also burns wood. We’re not bothered by each other’s smoke. We burn locally harvested, well-dried wood, which we buy from suppliers around the corner. We also get wood from our own small forest, mostly oak which burns hot. The power we use is produced by windmills on top of the hill ahead. We have a hybrid hob with two induction and two gas burners. Provides security in the event of a power failure. And the gas in tanks for the cooking unit will soon become biogas. Our amount of waste is decreasing; the compost heap grows daily, paper bags are reused, we use cardboard as lighting material for the fireplaces and we minimize plastic packing material when purchasing food and things. The walls of the living room were already finished with coarse clay plaster, insulating and robust. All curtains are insulating and we have closed the steps of the open staircase to the first floor, so that the heat stays below it. At the top of the stairs hangs also a thick curtain which we close as soon as the wood stove is switched on. Then it stays warm downstairs and cool in the bedroom upstairs. Two of our exterior doors were as drafty as a basket and been replaced by aluminum profiles with HR++ glass. Under the sisal rug in front of the wood-burning stove is now a layer of insulation material so that the slippers go off in the evening. Wow, what a difference in experience and comfort all this is! And the container term sustainable is given a tailor-made interpretation that fits the place where we live and the way we (want to) live.
Primrose and Saint Fiacre
Spring is coming! Wonderful to go back into the garden, admire all those colorful primroses and prepare for the new season. The organic potatoes are already sprouting so that they can be planted in March. The broad beans are already in it, maybe too early because February does strange things. For example, we first had very warm days and immediately after the beans were in the ground -5° frost for 3 nights!
There are now quite a few fruit trees in the garden; quince, fig, reine claude and mirabelle plum, grape, kiwi, raspberry, blackberry, currants, gooseberry, wild apple, Japanese dogwood and peach. Vulnerable good which is spoken in courage on a daily basis. If that doesn't work, we'll call in Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners. To be continued!
Houmas with Kale
And then there was 'light'... vegan light that is. In our previous blogs we already announced that we want to make the step from vegetarian to vegan. For several reasons, namely: Environment, livestock farming causes enormous greenhouse gas emissions. Animal welfare, ensure a good life for animals, so more organic livestock farms where animals can go outside. Health, increasing the chance of a healthier and fitter life through a plant-based diet.
It took exactly one week, that huge appetite for CHEESE & CREAM BUTTER! And now, after a few months, we no longer talk about it because more delicious products and ingredients have been replaced. In our French kitchen we experiment and take the time to enjoy all the new colours, scents and flavours. Kale is typically wintery, of course. Very healthy and super tasty, especially if you make it into a fresh hummus. Delicious on fresh sourdough bread or on warm toasted day-old bread (no waste).
Houmous with fresh kale:
400 grams cooked chickpeas (pot or soaked and cooked yourself)
3 fresh, large leaves of kale
2 tablespoons tahini (I prefer the white one)
Garlic (amount to your preference)
Lemon juice at least 1 lemon, more to your own taste
Pepper and (herb) salt
Remove the tough veins from the kale and finely chop the cabbage (or buy freshly chopped kale). Puree everything (food processor!), including the liquid from the chickpeas, adjust to taste if necessary. Also delicious on toast or as a dip with carrot, celery and cucumber!
Suggestions and comments are welcome as always.
We look forward to seeing you on the next spring Ty-Vert blog!
All the best Erika and Dennis