Monday, 18 July 2016

Summer Suns are a-glowing well with Angela Wren!
My Monday Moments feature is having a 'new look' for a few weeks over this summer. 

I've invited some friends to tell me about how the summer affects their writing - positive and negative. You'll find that some Fridays will also have a guest author, so look forward to them telling us about their summer as well. 

My personal problems over the summer are needing to spend more time actually tending my garden which takes away potential writing time, and working out a way of typing away outside on my laptop when I can hardly see the text on the screen. Then, there's the lure of taking my grand children out and about at least 2 days a week over the summer weeks. 

Angela Wren
However, the details of all the above can be for another day since, today, I've got a fellow Crooked Cat author - Angela Wren - here to tell me about her summers. I can tell you that her description fairly makes my mouth water and her photos are very enticing. France is an unexplored country for me, apart from Paris and the border area with Belgium, so it's great to imagine appreciating what Angela is describing for us today.

(BTW- I've just started her new novel Messandrierre and will update on that soon.)

Welcome to my blog, Angela! Please tell us something of being...

In the kitchens of France

Normande Timbered Houses - Courtesy of Angela Wren
I’ve spent much of the last 12 months writing about France, the scenery, the history, the geography, and, I’ve suddenly realised, not once mentioned the food.  This is a very grave error and I sincerely hope none of my French friends are reading this dreadful admission.  So Nancy, thank you very much for inviting me to your blog today, and I hope that you won’t mind if I take this opportunity to put right the aforementioned mistake.

I’ve come to realise that the vastness and diversity of France can be encapsulated in the food and the wine.  Normandy, a lush green area ideal for dairy herds and orchards immediately brings to mind cider and its stronger cousin Calvados.  ‘Tarte Normande’ says everything you need to know about this area of France.  Each family has their own version but my favourite includes that buttery almond paste with a dash of Calvados between the apples and the pastry and is always dusted with icing sugar when cold rather than glazed. 

Market Day  - Courtesy of Angela Wren
Burgundy is known for its cream sauces with just about everything.  The rich and intricate pâtisserie sits in the shop windows tempting you to buy and the smooth, fruity and full-bodied red wines from vineyards are bathed in bright yellow sunshine.

To the west is the Limousin and 'Clafoutis' made with the tiny sweet black cherries that grow there.  But the volcanic soil of the Massif Central is also ideal for mushrooms – cèpes, morilles and the small button mushrooms from Paris – in a sauce made of sautéed shallots and garlic and cream.

South to the Cévennes and, with my eyes closed, I can breathe in the remembered scent of sweet chestnuts, gamy wild boar in a creamy Armagnac sauce, and hams being slowly oak-smoked to eat later in the year. 

Nancy says...YUM!
Cevennes - Courtesy of Angela Wren

‘Châtaignier’ (chestnut trees) grow wild in this untamed landscape and once underpinned the economic base of the Cévennes, which earned the tree its local name ‘arbre à pain’.  The wood was used for housing and furniture, the leaves to feed the cattle, wood splinters and sawdust were used in the tanning industry and the chestnuts themselves were fashioned into any number of dishes, including being ground and used in preference, or in addition, to flour to make biscuits and some types of bread.

Some of my favourite dishes are from this area.  Roast veal with chestnuts is delicious on a cool evening.  The sweetness of the nuts compliments the delicate flavour of the meat and the mushrooms bring a subtle earthy flavour to the buttery sauce.  ‘Flan aux Marrons’ takes patience to make but is well worth the effort as the resulting dessert is light, sweet and yummy.

I suppose, I could claim to have eaten my way through all the regions of France as a look at my French atlas shows numerous handwritten notes detailing restaurants, bakers and pâtissiers on just about every page.  And these detailed notes tell me things like ‘the absolute best Tarte au Citron’ can be found at the pâtisserie on ‘Grande Rue’ in Prémery (Nièvre) and the best ‘Moules Marinière’ can be found at ‘Eric’s place’ in Notre-Dame-de-Riez (Vendée) and so on.  All of which probably means that I need to get out more!

Ah- indeed, Angela! Stunning description- thank you. Getting out to appreciate the scenery wars with the desire to sit in and write about all sorts of things, including our novels.  The photos you've sent along are beautiful and if any of the readers of this blog are interested in reading a lot more about France, pop in to Angela's Blog HERE

Here's a little about Angela: 

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre

But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won't give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?

Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

Here are details for buying a copy of Angela's novel and how to keep up with her news:

Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren

Once again, my thanks for coming today, Angela, to give us a glimpse of what makes these areas of France so popular. Best wishes with your summer writing!


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