pink-bloomsLast week was the Chandeleur, or Candelmas, yet another pagan tradition co-opted by religion. While the U.S. has Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, the French celebrate that day by making food. Of course. Specifically crêpes.

88-crepes
Many are missing because they were eaten as soon as the sugar got sprinkled on top.

The reason for crêpes is either that they are round like the sun and Feb. 2 is when the days start getting noticeably longer, or that they are round like coins. If you can flip your crêpe (some say it must be the first one–which is always the hardest–some say any of them but you have to be holding a coin in the other hand), you will be prosperous for the year.

I had planned to post this last week, but I was too busy stuffing my mouth with the first sugar I’ve eaten since Christmas. The Carnivore is the Crêpe Master and he doesn’t flip them, so too bad for us. His mother’s recipe is at the bottom.

Spring does, however, seem to be tapping its foot and pushing winter a bit from behind to get it to step out of the way already or at least move faster. (Do you also hate it when the person behind you in line keeps bumping you or touching you, as if you are holding up the line, when, in fact, there are other people ahead of you? Do they think that they can perhaps annoy you so much that you just leave and let them move up one spot in the queue? Answer: NO. Or perhaps they think that nobody else is feeling the pain of standing in line the way they are?)

Anyway, spring. I looked at temperatures this year vs. last, and January was colder, probably because of that cold spell a few weeks ago. But still, I photographed these irises in bloom on Jan. 30. Irises in January???

irises-1And this camellia bush is ready to bust out. I shot it last year in April here.

rhododendronI keep seeing flowers everywhere, and not just the primroses, cyclamens, pansies and decorative cabbages that towns and villages and homeowners plant for winter. (I do love living in a place where one plants flowers for winter.) The wild almonds are starting to flower.

When we bought our house 15 years ago, every field was a vineyard, as far as the eye could see. It seemed like a good idea–vines send roots deep into the ground and resist the summer droughts, and those roots help hold the soil when the rain beats down in torrents.

bare-trees-and-greenThe vines are many decades old, and it’s easy to think it’s always been like this. But I was reading about life years ago, when most of the population worked the land and grew their own food. It was inefficient, and hunger was a big driver of the French Revolution. Farmers grew a bit of everything–some vineyards, yes, but also wheat, oats, flax, olives, barley and hay. It was far from being a monoculture. As farms got bigger and needed fewer workers, they specialized in one thing or another.

fields-distanceToday, under a program to reduce the quantity of wine produced in order to shore up prices, many vineyards have been uprooted and turned over to other crops, like wheat, sunflowers, beans, sorghum and rape. Since the end of January, some have started to peep above the soil and turn everything green, even as the trees remain bare.

Do you see signs of spring yet?

field

The Carnivore’s Mother’s Crêpes

750 grams flour (6 cups)

1 liter whole milk (4 1/4 cups)

2 tablespoons white sugar

6 eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil

a pinch of salt

butter for cooking

Beat the eggs, milk and oil until well mixed. Add the flour, sugar and salt. Mix well. It should be runny, not like pancake batter.

Melt a pat of butter in a shallow skillet. Pour about half a cup of batter into the skillet and rotate to spread the batter evenly. Keep a close eye and turn when it’s brown–with a spatula or, if you’re daring, flip. Cook the other side just enough so it isn’t sticky.

If you want to be a gourmande, sprinkle with sugar right away and keep your stack covered so they stay hot.

Melt another pat of butter before pouring in the next round of batter.

Best eaten warm, but they will keep, covered, for several days. If you haven’t consumed them all before. This recipe serves a crowd (30 crêpes? Something like that).

 

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34 thoughts on “Signs of Spring

  1. I’m in Paris at the moment and there is some small tree with pale pink blossom flowering (some sort of almond or cherry maybe…). Your irises are some sort of winter flowering species, so not doing anything very weird.

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  2. Lovely to see a blooming japonica …?(something or other I think) a sign that spring really is on the way even though we are experiencing bitter temperatures here in the UK.
    I’ve noticed buds on hellebores, primroses and snowdrops in my garden. Stay warm.

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  3. We were having spring like weather until a week ago….daffodils were up about four inches…snow drops blooming and then….25cm of snow fell. I’m so glad to know that there is hope for spring in my future….

    Ali

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  4. Love the flowering quince! I had a start from my mother’s garden that took (Lord knows how many) years to finally bloom- which it did gloriously last year! Absolutely love the color!
    And crepes were a Lenten favorite as a child. We fill ours with a sweetened (and a dash of cinnamon) cottage cheese, roll them and bake them with a sweetened sour cream slathered on top. FABulous for breakfast!

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  5. Not a huge fan of crêpes but love the tradition of Chandleur (thanks for the explanation – did not really know what it was about!). As for being bumped in line, it irks me beyond belief. I always turn and give the person the evil eye, or suggest they go ahead if they’re in a hurry. Usually quite effective. And weather-wise, we are not quite seeing spring in the Haute Savoie just yet, but definitely not winter either and longer days. Yay!

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  6. Your recipe, or the Carnivore’s Mother’s, calls for flour, yet I’ve seen recipes that use mostly buckwheat flour. Does that make for a notable difference in the texture/quality of the crêpes, or in taste?
    Maybe it’s a regional difference in France?

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  7. I just posted that we are looking at an early spring, but not nearly as advanced as yours. Guess the climate give you a step up. We’re lucky to not be dredging through snow at this time of year. We’ll try your crepe recipe.

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  8. What a fabulous stack of crepes!! Must have taken quite some doing – full marks to the carnivore!!
    I saw almond and japonica blossoms about a week ago, and a few narcissus had started to flower! I completely missed chandeleur, but Shrove Tuesday is the traditional pancake day in the UK, so I’ll go for that! 🙂

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  9. We are seeing sings of Spring here as well but I think it is because the winter has been so strange, one day 74 the next 39, then 65 then snow flurries.

    AS for your crepes, I could eat that entire stack! I love them with butter and sugar!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. TOF, you always as ever do a damn good blog, I am sorry I have been quiet for a while but we have had a bereavement and just not online, thank you so much for your recipe, crepes are something we have quite often even in the evening when we havent had a pudding but just want something sweet, I like mine with lemon and sugfar but John likes them with Maple syrup, get that pan on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Roz, I am glad to hear from you. I went to send you a message but I had to sign up with Google, and I just refuse to do that. So sorry to hear about your bereavement. That is never easy.

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