This morning was a baking day. The warm sun has gone back to the South of France for a while leaving us with normal temperatures for March, a cool wind and an overcast sky. Ian had weighed the flour out for the batch of bread last night and it was all lined up on the worktop.
I put my apron on, turned on the radio and began the deliciously slow process of making bread, interspersed with the not so slow process of making lemon cake for the holiday cottage visitors arriving this afternoon. We have a leaven going for sourdough but this bread was the batch baking which produces six loaves, one for today and five for the freezer, which will keep us in home made bread for the week.
The mixer chuntered away to itself, the dough hook taking the hard work out of kneading, while I lined tins with greaseproof paper for the lemon cake and grated lemon zest. On the radio, Sandi Toksvig was visiting Iceland which seems to have the most astonishingly full and creative arts scene for such a tiny population.
The dough went into its bowls to rise and I creamed butter and sugar and lemon zest and tried hard not to stick my finger in the mixture. Soon the cakes were in the oven and the kitchen filled with a warm lemony smell. My father in law came in from his daily walk up the drive to our post box. This is one of his particular jobs now, bringing the post down, and he was pleased that he had a parcel for me.
As soon as I saw the French postmark I knew it was from Stephanie at Millefeuilles. If you haven't visited her blog, do go and read. The word "delight" is an overused one I think and so it is a word that I use rarely but Stephanie's blog is a delight: sensitive, erudite, amusing and intensely feminine. And I had won her giveaway and this was it!
I loved the beautiful card and the wrapping paper even before I had opened the parcel.
Inside an English translation of Charles Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales and
the tale of Peau d'ane (in French, let's hope my French comes back to me!) exquisitely illustrated by Miss Clara. It is delicately beautiful, each illustration a work of art in itself.
Thank you so much Stephanie. I have promised myself that I will try to read it in French first before any sneaky cheating with the translation. The last of these pictures with the girl in the fabulous dress sitting in the turkey shed makes me smile every time I look at it. We are having some French visitors to stay in May as part of the twinning arrangements between our local town and a small French town in Brittany. Bravely or foolishly, we have yet to find out, we have agreed to host a couple who have very little English so how timely to have some French to read. I wonder what kind of conversations we will have if all of my recent French has come from reading fairy tales?
Carefully setting my new treasures aside I went back to baking. The bread was on its second rising in its tins and the lemon cake went in and came out of the oven.
What a good morning.