Thursday, November 29, 2007


This is the beginning of the process, in a big wok, sauteing the chicken parts, the sausage, onions, garlic and peppers in some olive oil. The addition of the tomatoes and some moisture.

Before the rice is added it's like a thick soup.
Serving up the Paella. Yum, yum.

Every time I went to the Mirepoix market on Monday morning, I wanted to get some of the Paella they had cooking in those fragrant and vast cauldrons. However, it was always just after breakfast and too early for lunch and I resisted temptation. I was able to get some Paella at the Marche Nocturne Leran one evening and it just happened to be the last full scoop before the cauldron was empty and was less than satisfactory. So I decided to make another attempt at making Paella at home. Here's how:

1/3 cup of Olive Oil
1 small onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 generous pinch of saffron
3-5 tbsps mince fresh parsley
2 tbsps of chicken bullion
3 skinless chicken breasts, cut in large chunks
2 green peppers, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups rice
7 cups water
1/2 to 1 lb. shrimp, leave shell on
1 lb. scallops

Saute onion, parsley, and garlic in olive oil until the onion begins to become transparent. Add saffron, chicken bouillon, chicken, peppers and saute until chicken has become white. Add tomato sauce, sugar, . Stir. Add rice and water and bring to a boil. Salt to taste. Boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and scallops, boil and additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmer 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, If the rice appears to be getting too dry during the last 10 minutes, add more water. If the rice is too wet at the end of the 10 minutes, uncover and evaporate unwanted liquid. ENJOY.

(Some of the changes I made were leaving out the sugar; putting in legs and thighs instead of chunks of breasts; adding some Italian sausage; using chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce; and I left out the scallops and I added some frozen green peas. If I'd had some mussels, I would have used them. It's a fluid recipe. Use what you have. I apologize to those of you in Europe for the use of cups, tablespoons, ounces and the like. Make the best of it. If it is any consolation, I didn't measure anything.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Case of the Open Door

We don't lock our doors in Moab, but we've never worried about the consequences of that decision. So I was a little surprised when I arrived home from work yesterday about 5:30 pm to see the front French door wide open, the house dark inside, and the furnace trying to keep up with heating the outdoors. The truck was gone and there were lights on in the guest rental, which wasn't booked. Fergus had been left outside and now didn't respond to my calls. It's hard to work up too much suspicion in Moab, but it didn't take long before the mystery was solved. Fergus appeared in the doorway, stretching his lanky frame, apparently awakened from a deep slumber. His body was cozy warm---he'd been in the house for awhile. We've been trying to break his habit of jumping against the French door windows to tell us he wants inside. At some time during his persistent endeavor, he learned that he can now reach the door lever and push it down and Voila!---magically, Open Sez-A-Me! The big decision now is whether to teach him to close the door behind him, lock the doors in our absence, replace the levers with door knobs, or start using O'Malley's old doggie door.

Fergus is missing his cousins, Small and Large, the other components of "Le Trois Noir", as well as his southern belle cousin Hula. He's back to being a single child. Other than six (yes, that's 6) episodes of car sickness enroute to/from Denver, dehydration, and some weight loss from over-playing, he survived the first family encounter.

Thus far, Fergus promises to be a more 'normal' dog than O'Malley. Anyone who had the privilege of knowing the old lad knows what I mean. His list of adventures is stellar: drug by a pickup truck; shot by a 44 Magnum; bit by a black bear after chasing her 3 cubs; two encounters with mountain lions; and stomped by a cow elk with new calf. I swear these incidents are true, only because I was there.

If Fergus does no more than dig up a few plants, learn how to pick locks, and hang out with all his 'babies', that will be enough for me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving in Denver

Nancy and I headed over to Denver for Thanksgiving with my two younger sisters and their families. Fergus found himself amongst two other black labs, one smaller and one bigger. Small, medium and large, Jack, Fergus and Scooter pile onto Madeleine's lap. Madeleine is Amy and Dan's daughter and she's in second grade.

Tony, who along with Peggy, visited us in France this summer, catches up on his sleep. Tony has a burgeoning medical practice to attend to, babies to deliver, and he just renewed his pilot's license and has other commitments too numerous too mention. In his spare time he teaches skiing. You have to sleep sometime and it was not exactly an exciting football game. Dan, the guy not sleeping, is preparing one of about six side dishes that he served on Thursday.

You can see Nancy preparing my favorite hors d'ouvre, tomatoes and mozzarella, and avocado in olive oil. She was assigned the task of appetizers for a dozen folks. I caught my sister, Peggy, who spent the previous day making pies and Thanksgiving day doing the turkey, about to take my picture. The dinner table had folks from Alaska, Louisiana, Indiana, Colorado and Utah. The ages ranged from, oh, I'm going to guess, from seven to ninety-two. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some Pictures I Took Last Summer

You may have thought that we here at North of Andorra had decided to devote all further posts to young Fergus. Well, you would be wrong.

Here are some photos that I couldn't find any reason to use earlier but I still like 'em a lot.

Early in the summer we drove over to Foix, and coming back to Leran, we took the scenic route. I shot this of cows grazing the foothills of the Pyrenees with threatening clouds in the background.

The gentleman in the beret is Jeano. He is resident of Leran and speaks excellent English. He was the one who "quite agreed" with the "Worst President Ever" bumper sticker. I took this one of him during the exhibition of the majorettes from Lavalenet marching around Leran with accompanying marching band. All very American and very incongruous in the old French village of Leran.

The photo of the Scot Highland Piper is in London, where we had a layover on our way to and from France. The interesting thing about this photo is that 20 years ago, in the summer of 1987, I took an almost identical shot of this very same piper. If you've known Nancy and I that long, you might remember it was an image in our slide show of that great summer. It stands outside a boutique smokeshop and is the British equivalent to the cigar store Indian. In the old days it advertised a tobacco shop and was used because advertising signs were forbidden. If you enlarge the photo you might be able to read the explanation.

The proprietor standing outside the Cafe Llobet is in Mirepoix, and on one summer morning he graciously agreed to pose for me. We have never been inside this particular cafe, and I don't know why not, other than we found another one we like and have stuck with it. But it sure looks great on the outside and I think next summer we will have to patronize this place.

The rabbits are always for sale on Market Day in Mirepoix, and I don't know whether people buy these bunnies for breeding stock, or for the stock pot. Again, Nancy and I are going to have to go back to France and be prepared to make some dishes with rabbit. I wouldn't buy one of these soft, cuddly, live critters. I'd get one that was dead, cold, skinned and gutted, butchered by a professional from the Super U. (We used have dinner with our friends, Ron and Judy Hess in Bozeman, and they made a great "Hassenpeffer". I'm sure the spelling is incorrect, and Judy, please help me out. Which as I remember was a hearty German dish with rabbit and mustard.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We Get Letters

We get letters here at North of Andorra. Here's one we got just the other day. Jean-Pierre of Leran writes, "Did Fergus gain 19 pounds in two weeks and does he now have a new doghouse made of recycled plywood, recycled metal roofing and old licence plates?"

Yes, Jean-Pierre. Right you are, on all counts. Be sure to write again with more remarkable and amazingly omnipotent questions. Here are some pictures of young Fergus with his doll collectlion , his new dog house, and as a bonus, a picture of part of my licence plate collection.

Landscaping Update

My sister asked how our landscaping was coming along. She hasn't been to Moab since March of 2004, I think, when we were just planting some of these specimens. She was here for her birthday and a camel ride through the trackless desert. (We all remember that they were Dromedary camels, not Bactrian camels. ) The plants at that time were nothing more than sticks in black plastic pots and the large cottonwood was about the only live vegetation on the property. It seemed the best way to share with her the progress, and with you too, was on the website. I should have been out there several weeks earlier so that I would have gotten some green grass and green vegetation, but autumn is pretty too. So without further ado, here are the pictures of the almost mature, mostly native vegetation.