Notes from Rabbit Hill | SUNDAY BROCANTES
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I began this letter on the last day of February.  Oh, February -- I am sorta glad to see you go.  Really sorta.

I have to admit that I struggle a little during this time of year.  Despite taking copious amounts of Vitamin D, I do get the blues which means that things that would normally not get under my skin, or under my skin so deeply, sometimes do.  A few weeks back I took a little time away, realizing that I was probably the only one that could get myself out of the 'funk'..... but just as I was surfacing again 'life' tossed another curve ball my way.  Because life is like that sometimes.

I read the worst quote ever the other day -- something about 'Your struggles today build strength for tomorrow'... yikes.  I don't like that.  I don't want to need more strength.  Can we change that one to --'Your struggles today make it so that the rest of your life will be crazy-amazing-perfect because you earned it baby!?"  I like that quote better.

I am ready to move on.  I am happy to head towards spring although a tiny bit more winter would be nice too.  I like seasons and I think the body needs to go through complete seasons to be at it's best.  So I never rush these things.

I am however eager for a few things that are coming just around the corner.  Read on for farm news, a comforting winter-to-spring transitional recipe and updates about life at Rabbit Hill.

Thank you for reading ... and being a part of it.  Happy March mes amis!
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Come cook with me -- Foodie Workshops are starting up!

I can't believe that next month the 'Foodie Workshops' are starting up.  I have butterflies in my stomach when I think about hosting new friends here at the house and farm. 

I have been cooking up a storm, researching recipes and ingredients to add to my 'carnet' workbook of inspiration for the workshops and meeting new shop owners and producers to add to the weekend workshop itineraries.  You may also notice that I have slightly changed the format of the workshops.  I have chosen to make them by reservation and not on pre-set dates.  This was in response to the fact that most inquiries and bookings were falling outside of the originally planned set dates.  I am happy that this idea gives much more flexibility (and makes for a more do-able schedule for our family too!)  I love that I can work with you individually and am not just trying to fill spots. It is really how I wanted it to be from the start.

So if you have a trip planned to France this year or next and would like to add a day, a weekend or several days of going to the market, shopping at cookware shops and epiceries, searching for French vintage goods ... and cooking with me at Rabbit Hill -- I would love to host you!
 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Hope to see you in 2016!

News on the farm ...

Oh goodness.  I could do an entire letter just about our new Welsh Corgi pup, Izzie.  She has wiggled herself deeply into our hearts.  She is smart and affectionate, loves farm-work (she herded sheep for the first time today -- slightly assisted). Most importantly, she is a constant companion to me, whether I am cooking in the kitchen, shooting photos for the shop, doing farm chores ... I already cannot imagine life at Rabbit Hill without her.

But to be fair -- there is bigger news than how much we love Izzie.  Like the pending arrivals of baby goats!   Both Phoebe and Olive are due to deliver on or before April 2nd.  It's hard to believe that we will have little chevrettes again this spring. Last year we delivered Gracie's buckling, Zeke and hopefully that experience will benefit a smooth delivery of our new additions... (prayers and fingers crossed for doe-lings not bucklings--just girls we hope!)

Also soon to arrive -- les vaches for season FOUR!  Yes, we think that any day now we might see the return of tenant 'vaches Normandes' cows to the field on the east side of the farm.  Normally there are 8-12 'ladies' and they can arrive any time now and will occupy the field until late September for their 'maternity' stay.  You will be the first to see the new season ladies if you follow me on Instagram!

In the meantime, we have two 'guest sheep' that we have named Napoleon and Josephine who are sharing our goat pasture for an undetermined stay as a favor to a farmer-friend.  They are sweet but a bit adventurous and have recently been escaping barriers to wander to forbidden areas... and hence Izzie's chance to learn herding.  There you go. (Because just chicken herding left something to be desired.)

Shop NEWS ...

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find some great additions for the new 'Rabbit Hill French Kitchen' section of the online shop this month. So many of the items were so hard to let go of -- and that is why I am certain that you will love them as much as I do!  Stunning copper cookware is my newest obsession as I learn to cook with and and collect it.  I am smitten with culinary history and classic tools and will continue to expand one of my new favorite areas of the shop with both vintage and traditional French kitchen items.

In Rabbit Hill - Savon news ... I have decided to feature just one type of handmade goat milk soap each month rather than always having multiple varieties available.  This will allow me to sufficiently re-stock the shop each month as soap making is a 2 to 3 week process.  I also hope that by focusing just on one type each month, I will be more able to try new 'recipes' in between shop openings.  March featured my basic gentle soap called 'Simple' and the April 1st opening will offer my favorite lemon and poppy-seed kitchen soap called 'Cuisine'.

I am thrilled at the response to the Rabbit Hill moisturizing skin 'BAUMES' ... I recently added a page to the website that describes these amazingly soothing natural solid lotions and lip balms.  On that page you will find a brief list of ingredients and also my philosophy for making them. 

Find the page for BAUMES here.

I hope to see you on April 1st.  Stay tuned for the exact opening times which I will post on IG and FB and the website, closer to the end of this month.

Click HERE for more information about the shop!

Comforting Poached Chicken in broth ...

I don't know about you, but my body has been crying out for warm soothing and satisfying food ... But not so much for a heavy stew or thick soup. I love this recipe at this time of year because it is lighter and vibrant with flavors of fresh herbs added just before serving.

Poaching ('pocher' in French) is a method of cooking that involves a slow simmering liquid that keeps ingredients moist and flavorful when done in a richly seasoned broth and a bit of wine. Simplicity wins out in this basic yet somehow decadent dish.

Your will need:
4 chicken breasts, sliced into pieces
3 medium carrots; sliced into disks
10-12 small red skinned potatoes halved or quartered

For the poaching broth:
1 cup quality dry white wine
4 cups water (If not using wine, increase by 1 more cup)
2 Organic Vegetable Bouillon cubes
Herbes - fresh if you can get them:  Dill, Thyme, Bay leaves, Chives
1 Bouquet Garni bundle
Sea Salt and White Pepper to taste

Start by creating your simmering poaching broth; warm the water and wine and add bouillon and the bouquet garni to a large pot. 

Add the carrots first as they take the most time and after add halved small red potatoes.  I left the veggies to cook (and flavor) the broth for about 25 minutes and once the carrots are cooked you can add the chicken breast pieces. 


The trick is that you don't want to boil the chicken breast meat or it will be 'chalky' textured instead of well cooked and tender.  Keep an eye on the chicken, it can cook quickly if the pieces are small. That's why you want to make sure the other veggies are almost cooked entirely first.  I suggest you cut a piece of breast to check for done-ness. (Note:The liquid should ideally be around 160–185 °F (71–85 °C) as it is vital that the chicken is cooked through in order to be eaten safely).

I chose not to thicken or reduce the broth this time because I love that this dish is between a soup and a stew and any left over broth can be drank up the next day!

I hope you try it!

 

A Helping Hand ...

Sometimes the best thing to do when you feel overwhelmed about a part of your life, is to get outside of it, and take a look at another perspective -- maybe somewhere on the other side of the world.

Some of you might know my 'chere amie' Kimberly Taylor. We met on a plane almost six years ago.  She sat next to us on a flight to SFO where I was going to the French Embassy to apply for a Visa right before we moved to France. Kim, who has the biggest heart of almost anyone I know, is the founder of an amazing non-profit organization that is helping people around the world improve their circumstances through education and a helping hand.

"The Grow Hope Foundation is not an aid-based program.  Rather it is a program that strives to empower communities and the people in them by providing the tools and resources THEY need to make improvements in their lives.  We provide education in areas such as sanitation, hygiene and nutrition.  We teach skills that allow them to then create an income source, which in turn provides the finances they need to do things like feed their families, send children to school or make improvements on their homes.  We feel that this is the ONLY way we can impact communities long-term."

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

"The Grow Hope Foundation is looking for a team of people with big hearts and the belief that by lifting each other up we can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. By joining our campaign to donate a small amount each month you are making a HUGE impact on the work that we are doing in Uganda. By committing to $10 or $20 a month we can put those dollars to work to create opportunities for people in rural Uganda to change the way they live their lives. "

I just signed up to donate each month.  It was easy.  I think it took 20 seconds ... maybe 18. I won't even miss that small amount debited each month but I know that every bit of funds will have a big impact on many lives.

Here is a link to join the monthly donor team - I hope you do! Merci!

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR

(Image by Kimbery Taylor Images)
Hard times are often blessings in disguise. Let go and let life strengthen you. No matter how much it hurts, hold your head up and keep going. This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a rough day, a bad month, or a crappy year. Truth be told, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your spirit needs most. Your past was never a mistake if you learned from it. So take all the crazy experiences and lessons and place them in a box labeled “Thank You.”   — Manisha Shrestha  Bundela

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your kindness and support.  I cannot express enough how much I enjoy the friendships and connections that I am able to make while doing and sharing what I love.

M  E R C I.
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