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Along with my new teaching kitchen, new version of this website is nearly finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer! Here are the dates for all programs- from an Introductory Kitchen Charcuterie to our 4 week long French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie for those wishing to start a business, discover whole hog farmstead charcuterie, or just understand the Old World traditions of seam butchery for charcuterie. There are also lots of Cooking-at-Camont days for those longing to learn how to make a true Cassoulet, master the easy all butter French pastry for tartes and tourtes, or just enjoy the gracious art de vivre at Camont’s terrace table. And to tempt the adventurous traveler, I am planning a couple Roadtrips as well: Mexico in March and Basquelandia in the April.

2015 Programs

  • February 16- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie
  • March in Mexico- I’m hatching a plan- ask me!
  • April 8, 29- Cooking at Camont-The Spring Sessions!
  • April 12- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • April 19- Basquelandia Roadtrip
  • May 11- Savory Spoon Special Week in Gascony
  • May 24- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • June 3, 17- Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • June 21-  One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • July 1, 15 - Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • Aug 5- Cooking at Camont- Summer Sessions
  • Sept 7- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie
  • Oct 5- One week Introduction to Kitchen Charcuterie
  • Oct 11-24 US Workshops
  • Nov 2- 4 week French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie

Need to know more? Just write me a note or leave a comment here. Now, about that new website…  Stay tuned!

 

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IMG_6405In my perfectly seasonal mind, Summer is 3 months long- beginning June 1 and ending on August 31. This means over the last 26 years living at Camont, I have had 2418 days of Summer… or nearly 7 years of long days, warm nights, sunshine and summer storms, garden tomatoes, and flip flops for shoes. It also means I have cooked dozens of tomato tartes, made kilos of fig barbecue sauce, and eaten enough fresh fruit from our trees- white and red peaches, summer pears, yellow cherries-to satisfy a sultan.  IMG_6303

Summer Food is the celebration of sharing an explosive bounty like a heavy basket of ripe tomatoes on  my kitchen counter or inviting too many people to a friend’s house for a special indoor Pique-Nique (the summer storm days). We move outdoors for lunch and dinner, dodging the Golfe de Gascogne squalls as laundry moves on and off the line like mad clockwork. Food taste differently outside, even when just a few steps from the kitchen. Wine and apéritifs flow like water, and the kitchen is busy as friends join students and we cook together.IMG_6380

Now “August descends like a nap…” and Camont slows down a notch to savor the last 30 days of early sunrises, late sunsets, leaves plucked from the garden for dinner salads-a mix of roquette, laitue, amaranth, basil, mustard and scallions flourish under soft rain waterings. When students come in Summer, we don’t make confit de canard, we eat it; we don’t eat plum jam, we make it; peaches become clafoutis and are immortalized forever summer at Camont; visiting friends bake cakes for friends as we share summer birthdays.  Bakers, bake, artists paint, and musicians play Summer.IMG_6410

Summer Food is what is growing right now, outside your door, along a country road, at a village market. The goat’s cheese from Marie de Moncrabeau begs for ripening figs wrapped in a slice of home-cured ham; tomatoes jump into a pot for tourain de tomates; and golden eggs scramble themselves into a pan of duck fat for a breakfast-supper.  This is not the time to fret over food, but create the meals you’ll dream about during the 2418 days of Winter. Some summer tomatoes in a jar opened in January will be a good reminder of why we live on the 45th parallel- four season living. For more Summer Food ideas click here.IMG_6310

 

Summer recipes? just click here for more information: http://kitchen-at-camont.com/basix-six-summer-recipes-from-gascony/

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I’ve been thinking a lot about teaching lately. How we learn an idea or a skill. How we assimilate it into our everyday life.

As the summer garden blooms along the kitchen wall, I think about the lessons learned this spring. How even now, that season is just a memory and summer replaces spring thoughts with it’s full blown abundance. My friend Elizabeth Murray‘s new book- Living Life in Full Bloom is a good guide. She reminds me that “The grateful heart sits at a continuous feast.”

The Continuous Feast that is Camont is at the heart of my teaching.  I teach many things here at Camont: how to make a pastry tart; how to make a ham. How to bone out a pork shoulder and make paté. How to cook a meal from start to finish; how to confit a duck from start to finish. Those are things I can tell you how to do step-by-step, demonstrate, help you hands-on, and give you a taste of the final product. However there are other things that I teach that are a bit more…ephemeral.

Éphémère: in French, it is a wonderful scrabble word with lots of accented e’s, the name of those short-lived Mayflies that rise out of the canal once a year, and the very elegant French equivalent of the term ‘Pop-Up’.  I think that it is also a very special category of lessons I  give everyday here at Camont. Recent Butcher & Charcuterie student Diana Dinh nailed it in her ode to the Elderflower Cordial.

At that point of the trip, I had already cut most parts of the pig, slaughtered, gutted, and butchered ducks, and knew how to make five different kinds of paté. But I felt especially proud of making this floral syrup, proud enough to lug thick glass jars of it home to the States. They are proof that I could go beyond my assumptions of what I am capable of doing, that sometimes I need to get  out of my own head and just do it. “

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Everyday is as fleeting as those transparent Mayflies. The spring seeds planted have sprouted and are producing the first summer meals. Vin de Noix time has come and gone …already. The lessons learned are often not what we were seeking out, but what was placed in our path to discover. In the kitchen, in the garden, at the market…that’s easy. The stimulus for learning is tangible, sensory and dynamic. However how do we achieve that online? I am thinking about it–on this ephemeral Sunday morning in the French countryside.

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And a last Sweet Fleeting Summer memory of Paige on her Birthday at Camont- with the all-too-fleeting Chocolate Éphémère cake.

Merci Paige for all your good energy, willing help, chicken wrangling, garden digging, and wonderful family meals…at Camont.

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Before we jump into Tip # 11, refresh your last summer lessons- the Top Ten “How to have a Great Vacation in the French Countryside.”

http://kitchen-at-camont.com/2013/06/17/47-tips-vacation-french-countryside/

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and then

http://kitchen-at-camont.com/2013/08/06/47-tips-for-a-great-vacation-in-the-french-countryside-6-10/

Ready for Number Eleven? When the first hint that Summer has arrived, don’t looking back, switch gears instantly and embrace…

Tip #11   Turn Summer into a Verb

I summer, you summer, he and she summers.

We summer, you all summer, and they summer.

When I heard this some summers ago, I decided to embrace the idea from the first summery day of June to the last warm evening of September. Now, I summer all season long. And here are my favorite ways:

 

market tomatoesBuy Fruit and Vegetables in Flats as in “I’m going to summer these tomatoes!”

late summer food 044 webLet’s summer this Basque pepper sauce.

Summer PitchersWill you summer the garden a bit, s’il vous plait?

slider-GaronneLet’s summer down by the canal a bit.

slider-marketThey’ve summered up the market square!

slider-tartCome over and summer a little supper with us this evening.

It doesn’t take much to get in the mood and start flinging summery sayings around your conversations. How do you define summer as a verb? let me know here. The best definition get’s a free copy of my Six Summer Recipe e-Cookbook. Comment below. and don’t forget to summer a little this evening.

 

 

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This little book dropped into my lap yesterday. Actually, it was gently placed in my basket by my bargain hunting sister on a day’s outing with the Camont Crew to the Fête des Plantes in the village of Lamontjoie.  In it is the record of one small chicken/egg producer during the year 1903. Funny how nothing much has changed. I can read the puffed up pride of new chicken ownership, the prolific accomplishment of rabbit wrangling, the punctilious accounting of sacs of grain and bales of hay between the delicate dotted lines.

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Starting with 1 coq, 14 poules, 5 cocquelets, 2 canards, et 56 lapins, this little almanac chronicles the basse-cour on one small French farm in the year when the Tour de France began.  How many feathered and furred critters raised, how many eggs laid and sold, and how much feed, seed, and hay bought over that year? Who administered this rural menagerie? I don’t know, but I am sure it was a tiny but formidable French housewife like my neighbor Madame Sabadini at the Ferme Bellevue.

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Over the year, her hens and ducks laid 2186 eggs. The season’s bounty peaked in April at 404 eggs and  by August had started to drop by halves each month, with barely an egg or two a day in October and November.   I imagine the disappoint of November marked by a minuscule zero, day after day until in a last flurry of fecundity, the ducks started laying for an early hatching.  Five large white duck eggs in Mid-December. The meticulous accounting scratched in a fine-nibbed ink pen tells more than the seasonal flow of farming; more than balancing the centimes spent and earned for feed and shelter. Most months, she spent as much or more than she earned; some months, she made several francs and centimes more than spent. It was a delicate balance. No one was getting rich. But they ate well.

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What’s old is new and barnyard chickens have their place in the modern home again- 110 years later. This ad in the back of this French booklet is touting an American feed product that included smoked (dried) meat as well as grain, oyster shells,salt, ginger and iron. Here at Camont, we feed our flock a mix of whole grains- wheat, barley, oats, flax and corn, all the garden and kitchen scraps, and all the slugs and bugs they can scratch and peck in the orchard and parc.

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It’s an old story, but I raise a few chickens- 10, and a fewer ducks 6, at Camont not because it saves us money, but because we eat the best tasting eggs in town. When a clutch of eggs is hatched, a few more cockerels are destined for the pot, a few more girl chicks for next spring growing into fat laying hens, a few old working girls retired into a golden broth Poule-au-Pot. Last year’s Christmas ducklings have now become summer confit.

We ate this simple salad yesterday. There is no recipe. Look- just an abundance of good escarole lettuce, the first local market tomatoes, and a bowl of hard boiled eggs topped by a lemony mayonnaise made with those golden yolks. One hundred and ten years of barnyard  productivity on a plate. Reason enough to learn about raising birds.

More stories about eggs and chickens at Camont:

 On counting eggs-

Making the Catalan Spinach Egg Tortilla  

What to do with duck eggs

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It starts here. The nursery at the Truite de Banka tucked along the little river, the Nive des Aldudes, that runs from the border mountains. It ends here, 2000 meters away, on our plate at the Basque Country restaurant at the Hotel Erreguina in Banka served with a glass of chilled white Irouleguy wine.  The red roe, the green lettuce and the white asparagus cross remind me of the Basque flag.

The salted & smoked 5 year old salmon-trout are yet another way to say “charcuterie”in Basquelandia.

 

 

 

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