Last weekend we escaped Paris for the day to visit our friends Lise and Franck in Verdon a tiny village, more a gathering of houses as there isn't even a café/bar, in the champagne region. It was a cool clear day and we drove through the valleys, tinged with autumn colours to their country home. Their house is set in a large plot of land that gently slopes down to a stream. They have a vegetable garden, a quince tree, now you know why they are my friends, and apple and cherry tree, blackcurrant bushes and a medlar tree, more about medlars later. There are also several roses bushes covered in rose hips, églantines or gratte-cul, as they are more colloquially known in French. Franc has made some rose hip jam, and has promised me a jar.
The ground floor of their house is composed of two large rooms, the kitchen/dinning room and the living room with a huge wooden beam running the length of the two rooms and at either end are wood burning stoves. These stoves not only heat their house but Franck and Lise use them for cooking too. For lunch they attacked a recipe from my book, cassoulet cooked slowly on one of those stoves and here is the result.
Here is a photo of the whole pot. It was as delicious as it looks and, best of all, they said not only was it easy to make, they had fun making. What more could a cookbook writer ask?