October 31, 2007

twas the night before Toussaint...

In France, we changed the time back last weekend. This week has been the usual jet-lag trying to catch up with the hands on the clock. Since Bacon doesn't wear a watch, he is hungry an hour earlier and needs to be walked along the towpath in the dark. Neither of us go very far and usually he chickens out before I do.

Tonight as I made the rounds to lock the Relais de Camont against the night before settling in the barge, Bacon had a barking frenzy at what I took to be the old poplar stump. Wrong. A few moments later he attacked the fig tree. Now what was going on? Just as I came over to investigate he sprang out of the bushes howling and whelping off the charts. And smelling. Really really bad!

By the time I caught the giant bebe puppy and got a flashlight to explore, I was pretty sure, I didn't want to meet the critter, large or small, that started all this. I know there aren't skunks in the old world but this had to be a close cousin.

So I turned my back to the porch light and we walked the gangplank to the wheelhouse to settle in for the night and have a little skype chinwag with one of my mates showing up for the all-bean-all-the-time Camp Cassoulet this weekend (follow our antics later here- same time, same station). Immediately we were plunged into darkness, the wireless connection broken and the stinky beast still lurking outside...in the dark.

The captain in me grabbed the flashlight which I still had in my pocket and started out the door to the circuit breaker back in the barn. The girl in me got squeamish so I figured I'd take Bacon with me to 'protect' me. In any case, I called back my friend in England on my cell phone and had him 'walk' with me to the barn in the pitch black of a Gascon country night! A few switches later Bacon and I were back in the light. I thank friends who even when they could have laughed hard at me, didn't. Thanks Tim Clinch for being a true gentleman.

It must have been the very thought of beasties and ghouls but when these two events happened within 5 minutes of each other, I knew the ghosts of Toussaint to come were at work and then remembered...of course, All Hallow's Eve. Happy Halloween.

My favorite Halloween soup with pain d'epice croƻtons.

1. Peel and Cube enough French pumpkin or butternut squash to fill half of a sauce pan.
2. Cover with spring water- about one knuckle over the cubes.
3. Add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
4. Cook over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender.
5. Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf, mix with an immersion blender. adjust seasoning as needed.
6. Serve with croutons cubes of Pain d'Epice or spice bread sauteed in butter until crispy. Be careful! they burn very quickly- like pine nuts!

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