April morning in Dijon France

We made it from London England to Dijon France yesterday but arrived a little later than planned after missing our first connection in Paris and ended up on a later train. What an adventure! I don’t think I have been so confused in a very long time. Lesson number one – Ask. Lesson number two -Ask again. Lesson number three – keep asking.

Good people to ask in the Paris metro and train stations are the people at the small snack shops. They were the most skilled at giving clear directions. Better than the information centre. Who would have thought it? My assessment of RER Transit across Paris is mixed. I believe it  is only for the brave foreign traveler or those that play video games and who are willing to keep trying to get through the doors and passages which appear to be hidden. I took us on a wrong turn someplace getting off the RER and after about half an hour of asking and searching I popped up like a gopher halfway down the loading area for the trains. This would have been fine if our two month continuous train pass had been activated but wasn’t and this is where we lost any hope of catching our first possible connection to Dijon. Since we didn’t come in the main entrance and we didn’t know the layout of the Gare de Lyon train station, we had no idea where the ticket office was located. I tried information and received some rough idea which didn’t seem to lead to anything resembling a ticket office. Then I asked someone else who worked in another part of the building but she didn’t know either.

After waving us off the same direction as the information counter David said  “You poor darling. You have no idea where to go and I can’t keep following you.”

This experience and the five minutes to catch our train later when transferring in Sens almost finished him. When I didn’t see Dijon Ville on the list of destinations after we disembarked, I went and checked with the ticket counter. The service person had little English and of course I had about the same amount of French. But I had written out the train number, time and our destination in a little black pocket note book. This enabled her read my notes and not be distracted with my feeble attempts at speaking her beautiful language. She checked the schedule and let me know that we had five minutest to get to Platform one (voice raised hands making appropriate references to be sure I understood as she spoke her English words perfectly). This required quickly zipping across to a middle platform in the underground stairs with our luggage. I gathered David up and pointed him down a steep set of stairs and grabbed the end of our bag so we could  go quickly. We then went about 20 feet and I pointed for him to go up an equally steep set of stairs.

“What!”

Yes, I do believe he shouted in dismay. But we made our way up the stairs with a whole two minutes to spare.
As we whisk across the French countryside he is deciding what in the suitcase he is going to send home. But the yellow rapeseed fields are stunning and the regional train is quiet like the ferry home from Victoria. He is recovering. I hope anyway. Looking out the window I see trees with doctor Zeus like balls on them that must be a vine growing up the tree and forming these shapes. Dusk is falling and, even if I have almost no idea what the conductor is saying, the stillness of the end of the day is comforting.

But that was yesterday. This morning we woke early in our old walk up apartment with its French balcony and many tastefully added modern touches. The task was to find the Les Halles market.

early morning Les Halles Market by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 003

Many streets in Dijon are pedestrian and bicycle only making it a pleasant city to walk both day and night. The market starts early and Tuesday is the local shopping day. As we slipped along the quiet streets with locals going to work it was easy to think we are just part of another ordinary day in Dijon.

morning in Dijon by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 013

The salt cod or morue caught my eye but only for its natural display beauty.

salt cod or morue in Les Halles market Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 007

I would have taken more photographs to show you but I found an amazing food blog post by the Food Gypsy last evening when I was searching for where we could get groceries nearby. It is worth the read and the food photographs are stunning.

Instead, we went for coffee and croissants at the small cafe next to the market. We had taken a browse and wanted to carefully consider what we would purchase. This task needed a wee bit of fortification so as not to get more than we could eat in a couple days. After, we picked up a few items and started back to our apartment. The day was starting to pick up and the local shops were getting prepared for business.

April morning in Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 019

The day tours were just arriving from Paris as strolled home and unpacked our provisions.

a few Les Halles market provision by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 042

David turned on the French radio and we served up a late breakfast of strawberries drizzled with creme fraiche, parsley ham, sweet pears, ripened goat cheese and a chunk off a wood oven baked baguette.

I then went off to paint a block away in Park Darcy while David took a nap.

plein air sketching Park Darcy in April Dijon France by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 058

I chose the park because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my painting on the streets. However, I quickly discovered that painting is considered serious work in Dijon and many people stopped to comment, visit, ask questions and give their thumbs up of approval. My French is improving by the hour out of the pure delight and pleasure of warm conversation. The only slightly awkward moment was when a couple of oriental tourists stage-set a photograph with me. I should have seen it coming but only had enough time to look up and smile as the woman laughed and put her arm around my shoulders and her husband’s face disappeared behind his iPad to frame the shot. I am not sure if one short night’s sleep can even remotely qualify me as the local Dijon artist painting in Park Darcy.

But here we have it – APRIL MORNING PARK DARCY 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on tempered hardboard.

Park Darcy in April Dijon France 8 x 10 acrylic plein air sketch gessobord  by Terrill Welch 2014_04_08 Dijon France 063

Getting tangled in the unknown and unfamiliar yesterday was worth it for the sweet welcome of the April streets of Dijon this morning. There is something extremely humbling about being at the mercy of others to find our way. It is only equaled by the release of finding we have succeeded and all do to the kind and open hearts and minds of others.

 

As an adult, what is a time you most needed to rely on the help of others to find your way?

 

© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Oven-Baked Mild Chicken Curry and Rice

You may not believe this but there is more to my life than photography and paintings. Some of my days in fact are swaddled in domesticity. Today is one of those days. Now that I have the half-dry sheets from the third load of laundry in off the line to finish up in the dryer, let’s see what we have to offer…

Sunday dinner at la casa de inspiracion by Terrill Welch 2013_05_26 018

Sunday dinner at la casa de inspiracion simmered in a late May drizzle is an Oven-Baked mild chicken curry and rice served with a side of seasonal asparagus and dark rustic bread.

 

Ingredients are all are local organic whenever possible. Thank you Mayne Island Farm Gate Store.  The ingredients are in bold for ease of identifying what is needed.

 

Step One:

Two chicken legs with thighs (cut at the joint)

1 chicken bouillon cube (optional but add salt if don’t use)

¼ cup chopped onion (will need one large chopped onion in all)

¼ cup chopped celery

½ teaspoon ground ginger (could use fresh if you have it)

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ – ½ teaspoon chili powder

 

Place chicken in saucepan with chicken bouillon, chopped onion and celery, ginger, smoked paprika, chili powder and cover generously with boiling water. Simmer for 30 minutes while you proceed with Step two and step three.

 

Step two:

Two medium Yukon Gold potatoes

Three small carrots

½  red or green pepper

½ cinnamon stick

½ cup uncooked Forbidden Rice (a pearl black rice – of course any rice will do)

 

Wash and chop potatoes, carrots and pepper in large stew size chunks. Put chopped potatoes, carrots, piece of cinnamon stick and rice into pottery roasting pot. Set aside.

 

Step three:

½ cup ghee or butter

½ cup chopped onion

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon fenugreek

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

 

Chop onion. Grind spices with mortar and pastel – okay electric grinder if you must! Melt butter on medium heat in medium size cast iron frying pan. Add spices followed by chopped onion. Brown onions and pluck chicken thighs out of broth placing in frying pan. Set broth aside for later. Brown the chicken lightly on all sides.

 

Step four:

¼ cup raisins (not too many and can leave out but then don’t add cinnamon stick)

3 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds (or pistachios and cashews)

¼ teaspoon of saffron

 

Add raisins, nuts and saffron to pottery pot with raw potatoes, carrots and half of a cinnamon stick. Pour browned chicken with onions and spices over the potatoes and carrots, raisins and such in the pottery pot. Now cover it all with chicken stock that was set aside. Give it all a bit of a stir. Cover. Place pottery pot in oven and bake for about 1.5 hours at 300 F.

Oven baked mild curried chicken rice  by Terrill Welch 2013_05_26 014

Oh shoot! Can someone pour the wine please?

 

What are you simmering at the moment?

 

By the way, the 12 x 10 inch oil on canvas painting NO REASON released last week has sold and will be on its way to California shortly.

No Reason 12 x 10 inch oil on canvas by Terrill Welch 2013_05_20 008

 

All the best of the last week in the Month of May to you!

 

© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

Autumn Sliced with a Tear

Just the highlights from a painter and photographer’s last five days…

Sunday – Today is one of those slow-baked, melancholy west coast Sundays, so moist and tender you can slice it with a tear.

Autumn Sliced with a Tear

(available in my redbubble store at HERE)

Monday – new painting.

To see at a glance the cliffside, the sea and the movement of light across the canvas. This unframed 16 x 12 inch oil on canvas is a studio-finished plein air impressionist painting of one of the most beautiful location on the southern most gulf Island off the west coast of Canada.

Fiddlers Cliffside Saturna Island  – oil painting

This painting is now in a private collection.

Tuesday –  After an appointment this morning I slipped off to the sea – for no reason other than to say “hello” to the sea, the sun and today.

Here is Today

Wednesday – Perfect for today…. Moroccan Harira Soup

Every time I make this soup I do something a little different. Today it was 1/2 cup of dried organic French du Puy Lentils instead of the ready-to-go canned ones. Just add the dried lentils at the same time as the carrots. Enjoy and feel free to add and delete veggies… it all works. No potatoes or cabbage in mine today 🙂

ThursdaySeagull Cry Mayne Island

These gray days are as much a part of west coast life as the gulls. Loneliness and aloneness are so close that they whisper to each other and can be heard above the wind and pelting rain.

There is a Haiku poem by Alexis Rotella that came to mind as I closed in on framing this image….

The Gull
giving loneliness
sound.

SPROUT: What are some of the high lights of your creative week?

P.S. I left out the event of locking my keys in the car over by the daffodil garden. It was not a highlight. Thankfully, because the kindness of one of our Mayne Island residents, it was only a minor bleep in the week.

Today I have a long list of tasks in preparation to leave for the big city Vancouver B.C. on Friday morning. I wish all the best for today and the weekend.

© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

A Taste of Morocco in Harira Soup

Sometimes my creativity takes me out of the studio and into the kitchen. So how about we go from Mayne Island to Morocco?

A few years ago I found the most delicious Moroccan soup in one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks. This Harira soup, in its many variations, is usually eaten to break the fast in the evening meal during the Muslim time of Ramadan which will begin on or close to July 20th in 2012. Just the smell of this fragrant soup being prepared has me smiling with satisfaction and delight. It is a great addition any time of the year to inspire freshness and renewal.

I have made some adaption to the recipe, of course – as any creative person might.

Terrill’s Taste of Morocco Harira Soup

1 cup chopped onions

4 cups vegetable Stock

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds or a bit of fresh fennel

1 large table-spoon finely chopped fresh ginger

A tiny pinch of cayenne

3 or 4 peeled or unpeeled and chopped carrots

2 finely chopped sticks of celery

3 or 4 medium chopped organic tomatoes

(you can leave the peal on if you like but be careful not to get too much tomato as it can overpower this delicate soup)

3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes washed peeled or unpeeled and chopped soup size

(any firm-meat potato will do as will no potato at all)

A small pinch of saffron soaked in warm water ahead of time to release its goodness

1 small (14 ounce) can of organic lentils

1 small (14 ounce) can of organic chickpeas

A good squeeze of Lemon Juice

A dash of Madeira if you have it

A bit of good black pepper and sea salt to taste (a sprinkle of cherry wood smoked rock sea salt is nice)

A nice clump of fresh cilantro chopped

(a must unless you hate it then use parsley)

Sauté the onions in large a soup pot with a bit of olive oil. Add in spices and ginger. Then add carrots and celery followed by vegetable stock and potatoes and finally the tomatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Now add lentils, chickpeas and saffron. Heat through but do not over cook. The celery will tell you when it is cooked just the right amount for you. Add Madeira, lemon, sea salt and pepper very last.

Serve with fresh cilantro and lemon wedges and a smile. We had crackers too but you could have hard-boiled eggs on the side just as easily.

Please feel free to substitute many items in this recipe while keeping the spices consistent. Small amounts of meat can be added such as beef, lamb or chicken. This time I added a little cabbage and it was a nice addition. I didn’t have enough onions so I used a shallot. Tomatoes are not in season so I used canned tomatoes and so on. But always keep the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, lemon, fresh cilantro and the tiniest pinch of cayenne.

 

Side note: this is one of the few soups that I make which tastes best on the day it is made. It is a large pot of soup so invite friends.

Today is my daughter Josie’s birthday and I know how much she loves soup and foods that fill her senses with their natural goodness. Happy Birthday Josie!

SPROUT: What foods fill all your senses with their natural goodness?

© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com