Heat can be a constrain when it comes to daily exercise. Who, with all his senses in place, is physically active at a temperatures of 35° degree and higher? There is a solution: rafting.
I remembered what I wanted to do for a long time: up in the mountains the temperatures are alway a bit lower. When you then jump into one of this inflatable dinghy's and then go with the flow down the river, sometimes with quite a good speed, you will not feel the heat anymore.
Doing this without helmet and swimming suit is a bit suicidal. Not to mention my specific worries about the safety of my camera. I was terrified the good thing could drawn in the river. Here in the South of France are some organizations who offer to rent all this equipment.
It is a lot of fun because you do it in a team. Sure you can go yourself, but you will most likely have more fun with another 4 or 5 people in a large dingy. Just stay afloat...
Uzes is one of France's smallest and oldest towns and Uzes is normally known for its huge market with a large variety of Provençal products for food and hand crafted goods. Although the town originated 2,000 years ago by Emperor Augustus, the town has a rather remarkable history as the first duchy of France and has a lot of medieval buildings.
Just on France's National Day, last Saturday this market was almost shut down. While President Hollande attended the celebrations of the French National Day in a rainy Paris, tourists and inhabitants enjoyed a sunny day in Uzes. They lined up in their thousands in the shade of the plane tree avenues of this picturesque, medieval town to watch the spectacle of the "Tour de France".
"The Tour" defines endurance and global sportsmanship.The participating drivers are coming from all over the world. Functioning as a team sport, the race features teams of nine cyclists selected from a larger group of teammates.
Winning a Tour de France stage is the career highlight for many cyclists. Every day, one rider is victorious, and he climbs onto the finish podium after a stage win and hears fans' cheers and receives various accolades. But a rider's individual triumph, at least to some degree, is the result of selfless teammates. It's rare for a cyclist to win a stage without acknowledging teammates who've put him in a position to ride to a triumph.
This team spirit is also mirrored to the spectators: Unlike professional sports played in stadiums and arenas filled with fans who've paid for tickets, the Tour stands alone in the sports world. Its arena extends past countries' borders, and for fans, it's the best bargain in sports, because it's free. Still, because it is free, this is bringing also some constrains for the people of any town and village with it. Because the Tour de France is sponsored by private enterprises a convoy of over 1000 cars and trucks that looked like a carnival was driving through the medieval town. People standing on this trucks, throwing t-shirts, candies and all kind of gadgets into the cheering crowd.
The actual reason, to watch the bicycle race with about 160 cyclists, taking part in this year's "Tour de France," was then over in just five minutes...
I do not separate the stones from these little plums. Its enough when you only wash them good. Then biol a branch of rosemary which is giving a stronger taste. Also add a bit clove spice into the pot.
Grate some lemon peel and throw the lemon also into the pot, its a good idea to cut the lemon before in slices.
Then throw the plums together with the jam sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir this stew good. Just before the jam is cooking, add some grated cinnamon, lemon peel, lemon juice, vanilla, and add a little bit red wine. You can use a "heavy" wine.
So, all this must biol ca 4 to 5 minutes. The plums must separate from their stones, - you don't want to eat stone right? Then your just have to pour it all through a sieve. There is a lot of juice if the plums are very ripe. Don't throw this juice away, because its a good syrup and you can store it quite long in your fridge to use it as a drink. Just dilute this syrup with water and you have a nice refreshing drink. The factories are doing the same, but this way you don't have to buy it.
Anyway, its clear, now you squeeze all these cooked & drained plums with a large spoon through the sieve into a bowl. Now you only have to fill the "mud" immediately into prepared jars, preferably you use boiling water to sterilize them before, so the jam does not get funny after some month.
Is it all just about money? When I think of the complains of the Northern Europeans, - yes!They even don't know: Here in southern France its at this time of the year 30 to 40 degrees. Hot. Heat is the same as cold and makes working harder. So, its not a bout laziness. The Greeks have to live with the heat during the summer, just as the Finns with their cold in winter. Both are falling into a sort of "hibernation", so here with us, its like "summer-hibernation". Tourists are coming every year in millions. They want to eat, find their hotel rooms clean, want to have fun and expect good services..., and somehow to a certain degree this also working. Why else are they coming?Well this has nothing to do with apricot jam, but as we all know, we learn with age. And, I've just learned how exhausting physical labor can in the heat.
This year is good for farming here. Perfect, - the frequent rains have led the fruit trees to be so full of their fruits. Few days ago, no excuse did help anymore: I had to harvest the apricots! In the morning at 6:00 clock, because it is still cool. From 12:00 the temperature reaches easily 35°, even more! The branches of my 3 trees were so full that the branches were bending under the weight of their fruits. It took 3 days to harvest all this little orange fruits. During the seemingly endless picking I also understood for the first time why some people make brandy & distilled liquors out of this. Sometimes nature is giving too much. Anyway, I ended up with over 100 kilo apricots. But harvesting is just the smaller part of the work. It goes on.
Then actually, the real work begins it goes on like this:
First you must organize lots of glasses and put them hot water because later is too late, there is no time for it. After all the cooking you have to be fast.
You first start with carving the apricots crosswise and put them shortly into boiling water if you want to remove their skin. To remove the skin they must be be then quenched with cold water.
Next, cut them in the middle. Put the stone of the fruit aside so you can break them later with a nutcracker. Test their taste: if their taste is sweet like almonds, the seeds are good! You will need approximately 10-15 stones per kilo of apricots.
Next you have to rub the rind of one lemon per kilo of apricots. Then you squeeze the lemon, chop all into little pieces and give everything, even the lemon seeds to the apricots. (I prefer to cut the lemon into slices and add them like that.
If you don't want fruit pieces you can smash/puree all with one of this electric beater/mixer. Be careful, this tolls are dangerous!
And then of course sugar! Its up to your taste, but approximately up to 500 grams per kilo of apricots will be sweet enough! I like a little pepper (leave whole grains) and cloves, all in a small bag and cook it with all the other things. But thats a matter of taste.
Just do not forget the vanilla, - real vanilla! Not such chemical flavor stuff were you don't know, if you get cancer from it. Only real vanilla is giving this nice "round" flavor.
Now its getting sporty: well think about rowing: Stir and stir and stir this mush. It must cook. Bubble. Everything needs to bubble up. Don't worry its looking a bit like the inner circle of a volcano or like tar for the tarmac, just orange. You must stir well, for 30 minutes. If you don't stir this stuff will ruin your whole pot. With all this sugar it boils solid on the button of your pot. You never get this off. While the bubbles are are getting stronger and stronger you will find yourself exposed to the dangers of the splashes popping up from this hot mush. Once the mush has been burning some nice blisters in you hands, you can stop rowing. That's it. You're done.
Just distribute now everything nicely into glasses and take care the mush is very hot! You can use any glass, simply screw the metal lid very tight. Store it on the head (put the glass upside-down). Leave it to rest for at least 10 hours until it has cooled down nicely and then store it in a cool place. That's a nice gift for your summer guests from the north: when they will return in their cold north so they can then again complain about the lazy South-Europeans.
Ok, if all this seems too much work, just take a blender and make a puree, fill it in jars, put a stick into it and everything in deep-freezer. The next day the children will enjoy an ice-cream.
Instead Of Letters, I'm Writing This Blog.
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