Simple is happy. Happy is simple. Today’s focus is food.

Living here in the outfitted ‘vacation rental’ is proving to be very satisfying. Most of you know that I like to cook and keep things natural and unprocessed.

It’s so fun shopping, looking at tons of new items, and looking for old favorites trying to figure out where they would be in the store or if they even exist in France. Say, chutney, for example. The pork here is SO good (see below), but I do enjoy a little spicy mango chutney with it. Dream on! Think I’ll need to perfect my previously failed attempts at making chutney at home. But I have the time. And, God knows, there’s enough wonderful fruit here.

Speaking of pork, today (Sunday) was a super lazy day for us. Grocery stores are NOT open on Sundays and I’m not the best planner-aheader, so Theo offered to take me out for dinner. Sorry to say, but I was too lazy to actually get dressed and head out. So off to the refrigerator I went. I still don’t have much in the pantry, but am slowly adding spices and basics as I need them. We had bought some pork chops, so I decided to stuff them with brie (I haven’t even started talking about the cheese here!!!), tossed some potatoes in a wonderful garlic olive oil to roast (along with a whole garlic bulb), chopped up some carrots, and opened our last remaining bottle of white wine (we have only begun the journey of working our way through the Bergerac Appellations!) Sitting at our candlelit feast, it occurred to me how GREAT the pork tasted. Reminded me of the chops my mom used to make in Colorado. Perhaps raised without growth hormones or processed differently? It actually tasted like something…not just like ‘the other white meat!’

Other pleasant surprises so far in the foodie department include:

• It’s common to see goat yogurt, which is low in lactose (for us delicate flowers) and it’s really creamy and good too.

• The carrots actually taste like carrots, not like orange-colored pithy sticks.

• Duck products are everywhere and are a big part of life in these parts, so need to adapt. Still have a lot to learn about preparing duck and about choosing the tastiest pâtés.

• The lettuce is dirty. You have to wash it. And it melts in your mouth…

• We feel very lucky to have fresh apples and pears off the trees here on the property on our daily walks, along with delicious small plums that appear to be red-skinned Mirabelles, and wild blackberries too! The owners of the house have been sharing peaches from their tree as well. Life is good.

• And the bread. Holy crap is it gorgeous. My bread-loving husband covets his little daily jaunt to the bakery. And gluten-sensitive me has been fighting the urge to partake. It’s hard! (Lucky or not, I have found that the pain de campagne is less irritating that the ‘whiter’ varieties.)

• The salted butter here is actually butter with little chunks of salt in it. SO yummy.

Salty specs from heaven in our butter.

Salty specs from heaven in our butter.

• Again with the salt already… Picked up a course grey sea salt harvested from the Île de Ré by La Rochelle, mostly through the power of familiarity (been there). Got home, Googled it, and learned that it is considered the best salt in the world. I would tend to agree. He’s a bit long-winded, but I love this video about the ancient method of harvesting this salt.

My favorite new cooking tool. Guess what everybody's getting for Christmas???

My favorite new cooking tool. Guess what everybody’s getting for Christmas???

• And yes, to answer your question, we are having a coffee crisis. Found beans from all over the world, but they all suck! What’s a poor girl to do???

And so, our simple little life here makes us so happy. Just what we ordered for our retirement!!!

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