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This week we started our olive picking in earnest. We have taken 5 loads of olives (at least 50 kg per load) to the mill. The last 2 loads were over 150 kgs each. Today we picked 13 crates and those will go tomorrow morning. But our total quantity is much smaller than last year.
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In order to do all this picking, we have called upon our family and friends to come and help. JP arrived from Besancon, Michel and Nicole drove from Toulouse and Francoise and Maryvonne are here from Rodez. Next weekend, Pascale, Lizzie, Pat and probably Julia will come to lend a hand.I hope we will have some for them to pick. If not, we will find an adventure in the countryside and of course a meal.

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Little Olivier has been helping pick olives too.
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In order to get ready for our guests, Robin and I wrote up menus and did the requisite shopping. I must confess that I had forgotten how much I enjoy cooking. When I lived in France in the 1980’s, I had friends over for dinner all the time. I took cooking lessons and tried out new recipes. These days, I make the same thing over and over, chicken 3 ways; baked or broiled or barbequed. When I am not cooking chicken, I poach or barbeque salmon. Yes, I am stuck in a rut. But this week, I am branching out and have been baking, making more soups and different meat dishes.

Last weekend Robin and I started our advance-cooking program. We started off when we practiced on the neighbors, Isabelle and Pierre. We made cheese soufflés, poached salmon with hollandaise sauce and for dessert, and apple crumble. All the dishes went off perfectly. (Robin made the crumble.)

Our menu for this week is the following.
Sunday: dinner: Cream of Cauliflower soup with quenelles / cheese/salad/apple pie

Monday: lunch: quiche/salad/fruit
Dinner: lentil soup/salad/cheese/

Tuesday: lunch: grilled ham and cheese sandwiches / chili
Dinner: chicken potpie with puff pastry tops DSC08975(thank you Robin)/ salad/ cheese/chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday: Lunch: Chili and grilled ham and cheese sandwicheschili/ salad/ cheese/ cookies
Dinner: stuffed tomatoes (Nicole)/ salad/cheese

Thursday: lunch: cassoulet (Nicole)/ mashed potatoes/ salad/ cheese
Dinner: spinach and potato soup / salad/ cheese/ tarte
Friday: left overs and probably a short visit to the grocery store – but maybe not.
Saturday: 3 more people will be arriving but the olive picking should be about finished…

For some reason, soufflés are easy but for me, quiches are hard. Here in France you can buy excellent ready to cook pastry from the supermarket. I bought 2 packages but I bought pate sable instead of a pate brisee. The one I bought is for dessert tarts and not for quiches. So my quiche Lorraine was very weird because of the sweet pastry. I don’t recommend using the sweet pastry.

My cauliflower soup was really good and the quenelles made it a good dinner option. On Monday night we had a lentil soup that was a hit.
Now I must confess that our houseguests always bring food. JP brought a huge loaf of bread and 4 different kinds of cheese. Not only that, they were big pieces. He brought my favorite, Mont Dore from Besancon.

Michel and Nicole brought enough foot to feed everyone for a month. Nicole is a fabulous cook! She brought a huge loaf of brad too and a cassoulet, which we will eat on Wednesday at lunchtime. But she also brought 3 jars of homemade jam, the stuffed tomatoes and 2 baskets of other things that can be made into delicious meals.

Francoise and Maryvonne also brought a carload of goodies. We will not starve this week. I am just hoping that I won’t gain any weight. I imagine that picking all the olives, and lugging around the full crates in the Mistral wind will help keep the pounds off, then again, maybe not.

The following photos are of all the food our wonderful guests brought.
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