A Bouquet and a Book for Mom – Sunflower Seeds and My Culinary Journey

Sunflowers are so easy to grow and they’ll provide not only Mom but the whole family loads of blooms throughout the summer. The sunflowers in La Vie Rustic’s Sunflower Collection are all branching types which means that after the first bloom on the top of the plant, side branches continue to put out blooms, making these types ideal for bouquet cutting. The varieties chosen for the collection are the closest I could find to matching the sunflowers in Vincent Van Gogh’s famous series of sunflowers, some that look like crystanthemum, others with a green center, others brillaiannt gold and faintly orange.

To see a view of the original paintings, I suggest visiting this site: http://www.vggallery.com/misc/sunflowers.htm

For many people, sunflowers along with lavender are the symbols of Provence, and sometimes you’ll see fieldsof them juxtoposed, as below, on the plateau near Riez, in the one of the lavender growing regions. These sunflowers, however, are not destined for the flower markets, but for oil production.The photo above appears in My Culinary Journey -Food and Fetes of Provence, along with dozens of other evocative photos, more than 40 recipes, and travel essays on seven different festivals held throughout the region. Authored by the owner of La Vie Rustic, Georgeanne Brennan,we’ll send an inscribed copy to your mother (or to you) with a message of your choice, plus a complimentary  jar of  La Vie Rustic’s culinary Sel de Lavande to enhance the mood  – and food!

So looking forward to a Happy Mother’s Day for all!


Think Spring with Bare Root Fig Trees

This is a photo of Sultan de Marabout fig, the tastiest fig I know. The tree produces, large, plump figs starting in August through October.  Here at La Vie Rustic we’ve created trees for sale from cuttings of our mother tree, which is now about 12 years old. The trees will be shipped to you bare root, ready for planting either directly into a sunny spot or a large planter or pot.

Now is also an ideal time to be planning your year round kitchen garden or even getting some lettuce seeds started. Read about both as well as ordering information in the Potager section of our website.

The new La Vie Rustic Cooking and Living in the French Style is now available for purchase wherever fine books are sold or on-line.  (See home page also) An entire chapter of the book is devoted to stories and recipes from the seasonal potager, and another to stories and recipes from the orchard. A particular favorite of the author is Fig-Glazed and Fig Stuffed Pork Rib Roast on pages 111-112. Other chapters are The Barnyard, Forest and Field, and Water.




Hello Everyone,

I apologize for the last two postings with the missing/broken images. Thank you for your patience. We think the problem has been discovered and remedied. I am hoping this image of Socca and Classic Tapenade from the La Vie Rustic cookbook comes through correctly.  And here is a link to my recipe for French Peas and Lettuce that appeared in today’s San Jose Mercury Newpaper, on-line. Print version on Sunday. Thank you all for your patience and have a lovely weekend. ~Georgeanne

Announcing Publication of La Vie Rustic- Cooking and Living in the French Style

It’s here! Over 100 recipes and photos, stories of France and food, of pigs and sheep, of truffles and snails, and more tucked between the covers. Photography is by Sara Remington, and the book is published by Weldon-Owen. The official pub date is March 7, but you can pre-order it now from these sources, or from your favorite bookstore.


Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

AND – of special note: Book Passage and Left Bank Bistro in Larkspur are hosting a special ‘Cooks with Books’ event for La Vie Rustic -Cooking and Living in the French Style on March 26, 2017. Would love to see La Vie Rustic and A Pig in Provence fans and friends there for a memorable Sunday lunch together. Ethel Brennan and family will be there, as well as Joanne Kauffman, with whom Georgeanne began the French adventure with as roomates in Aix-en-Provence.

New Gratin Dishes Have Arrived

Handmade Gratin Dishes

For me, It’s just not a kitchen without a collection of oven-to-table gratin dishes. Ceramic, enameled cast-iron, all in different sizes, shapes and colors are among my favorite dishes to collect and to use.

I am thrilled with Elaine Corn’s newest style gratin dish, made exclusively for La Vie Rustic. Rectangular, in hues of red, golds, blues and browns, with accents of white on the outer edges. More

Gratins, from the verb gratiner, to form a crust,  are a mainstay in the French kitchen and in mine as well, especially vegetable  gratins .They are one of the easiest of dishes to make.

The vegetables vary according to the season. In winter, broccoli and cauliflower, in spring asparagus and artichokes, in summer think peppers and eggplant, and in fall, butternut squash. Parcook the vegetables, put them in a buttered gratin dish, pour over some bechemel sauce and top with grated cheese and a sprinkle of buttered bread crumbs, then bake at 350 degrees until a golden  crust has formed and the sauce is bubbling. Take the dish to the table and serve hot, scooping out steaming spoonfuls.  For more about gratins and the recipe for my Leek Gratin


Winter Salad Set with Olio Nuovo

Brighten winter’s gray days with La Vie Rustic’s Olio Nuovo and Citrus Salad Set. It has all you need to make vinaigrettes  with freshly milled olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and citrus sea salt. In this case, Seka Hills Olio Nuovo, La Vie Rustic’s Sel d’Agrume, made with sea salt and lemon and orange zest, and a juice from California-grown Meyer lemon. The set also includes a full-color recipe card, and a collection of French Heirloom Lettuce seeds to get you (or a friend) ready for spring planting.

Seka Hills Olio Nuovo is made from Arbequina olives, harvested and milled by Seka Hills in Northern California’s Capay Valley. Dark green, buttery, slightly peppery and redolent of fresh olives, the oil was milled in late November, 2016. Only a limited number of cases were bottled.

The Meyer lemons are produced on 25 year-old trees planted on a former California Spanish land grant property in Northern California and picked and packed the day of shipping.

Winter Salad Set

Stocking Stuffers

La Vie Rustic has stocking stuffers for the cook, the gardener, and even the backyard chicken raiser. Small, easily tucked into a stocking, ready to discover, these little gifts last beyond the moment.

Goat Cheese with Olive Oil and Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence  or Sel de Lavande to scatter on goat cheese, to season soups and stews, to rub on succulent legs of lamb – so many possibilities. 0182_2015-04-24_LaVieRustic-Edit-Med

Red Poppies and Bishop’s Lace Flower Seeds mixed  in a muslin bag with California rice hulls for ease of scattering to create a swath of flowers, your own small piece of France.Aperitif under the trees

Thomas Kuoh Photography

Thomas Kuoh Photography








For chicken keepers, a muslin bag of mixed grasses and legumes to plant a Chicken Scratch Patch of treats.


The Gift of Provence – Special for the Holidays

img_3926Here at La Vie Rustic we think that a little bit of life in the French style can be experienced wherever you live. It can happen simply by reading a memoir cookbook, like My Culinary Journey – Food and Fetes of Provence, and imagining the place and the food.  That experience can be taken a step further by cooking a few of the recipes, some fragrant with the wild herbs of  Provence. Take a moment to stand in your kitchen as a Beef Daube simmers, inhaling the aromas of the Mediterranean back country. It’s a little like being in the south of France. And, to  really immerse yourself into the  French experience, plant a  French style Potager garden using La Vie Rustic’s Potager Seed Set for a year round garden, complete with planting maps for a small space, planting and harvesting instructions, 12 different varieties of vegetable seeds, plus flower seeds and 13 sturdy zinc garden markers.

The Provence Holiday Gift Set includes all 3. The Potager Seed Set with Maps, a copy of My Culinary Journey – Food and Fetes of Provence, and jar of La Vie Rustic’s Herbes de Provence, plus a sprig of fresh sweet bay laurel carefully tucked inside the Potager Garden Seed Set Box. It’s the gift of Provence and we are happy to gift wrap the set for you between November 28 and December 19.

The book is signed by the author, Georgeanne Brennan, founder of La Vie Rustic, and can be personally inscribed if you wish. Just let us know.

Provence Holiday Gift Set………………………….$60.00

All items are also sold separately.

Soups, Seeds, and Salads -Gifts that Give



Give a gift of lettuce seeds and you give a gift of  fresh salad, home-grown and brought to the table every day. Our French heirloom lettuce seeds, each with its place in history, were varieties grown in the market gardens around Paris for over a hundred years. Add a jar of  La Vie Rustic Sel de Citrus  (Agrume) to season the vinaigrette for the salads.

thomas Kuoh Photography

thomas Kuoh Photography


Aperitif under the treesGive the gift of French red poppies, seeds to grow a swath across a side yard, an entry way, or a garden.











IMG_2809As seen in Sunset Magazine, page 98, December 2016, “What we love…)

Give the gift of a fragrant soup, replete with sweet fresh bay leaves, Winter Savory Sea Salt (Sel de Sarriette), Herbes de Provence and Rancho Gordo giant white Royal Corona Beans.La Vie Rustic White Bean and Winter Savory Soup Set


For the cookbook lover and dreamer on your gift list, give the gift of a memoir with recipes,

My Culinary Journey – food and fetes of Provence, by Georgeanne Brennan. Stories, photos, and recipes, and comes accompanied by  a jar of La Vie Rustic Herbes de Provence.

French Shepherd’s Pie with Celery Root and Potato Topping

Shepherd’s pie, a traditional British dish, is made with meat–usually ground beef or lamb–and vegetables, covered with a thick layer of mashed potatoes and then lightly browned in the oven to make a crust. In this version, the topping is a combination of mashed potatoes and pungent celery root.

Celery root has a somewhat intimidating appearance. It is not at all obvious to the uninitiated how it is used in the kitchen. When I was a student in Aix-in-Provence, before Donald and I were married there, my French roommate taught me that once the whorled and callused skin of the celery root was removed, the flesh could be cooked or eaten raw in any number of different ways. An inexpensive winter root, its strong flavor and interesting texture made it frequent fare in our kitchen and also in the inexpensive restaurants we frequented.

2 tablespoons butter

½ onion, minced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 ½ to 2 pounds ground lamb or beef

3 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup beef stock

4 potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 medium-sized or 1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup whole milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown slightly on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and saut until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add the bay leaves, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of the salt, pepper, and flour, and continue to cook, stirring constantly. The flour will start to brown on the bottom of the pan, but don’t let it burn. Let it become very dark brown, as it is the browning of the flower that will eventually give the stew its rich, dark color. This will take 6 to 8 minutes. Stirring the meat and scraping the pan bottom, add the stock, a little at a time, until all the bits of browned flour are freed from the pan bottom and mixed into the liquid. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer until the flavors are blended and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.

While the lamb or beef is cooking, boil the potatoes and celery root in water to cover until tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and celery root, reserving ¼ cup of their cooking water, and place them in a bowl. Add the reserved cooking water, the milk, 2 tablespoons of the butter, egg, the remaining ½ teaspoon each salt, pepper, and the thyme. Whisk all the ingredients until well blended and fairly smooth. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. To assemble the pie, put the stew in an ovenproof casserole and spoon the potato mixture evenly over the top to cover completely. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into bits and dot the topping with the bits.

Place the casserole in the preheated over until the topping is slightly browned and the stew is bubbling,15 to 20 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

From ‘My Culinary Journey’ by Georgeanne Brennan

‘Tis the Season for Salt Jars

Thinking about the holidays?


La Vie Rustic’s New Gros Sel Salt Jar makes a special gift.

Since I started La Vie Rustic two years ago, I’ve been looking for a potter who would recreate my treasured French salt jar.  At last I found one, Rebecca Holmes. Now La Vie Rustic can offer salt jars, hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel,  just like mine,  labeled Gros Sel, with a natural cork stopper. My salt jar has a permanent place of honor in my kitchen and not only do I use it daily, but it also gives me pleasure just to look at it. Inside it I keep large–crystal grey sea salt from Guerande in France. The opening is large enough for me to easily reach my hand in to scoop up salt for seasoning large pots of water for vegetable or pasta, soups and stews. For smaller crystals, I take a handful of the large salt and grind the crystals in a mortar and pestle.

The jar is made with one-half porcelain clay and one-half stoneware clay, and glazed inside and out. It is food safe and dishwasher safe.

Of course, you can your jar for anything – to hold bouquets of roses or bread sticks or to store spices or garlic – whatever you fancy.

Another grand gift is a signed, customized copy of  Georgeanne Brennan’s new book, “My Culinary Journey – Food and Fetes of Provence“. img_3794The author, who is the founder and owner of La Vie Rustic, will also include a jar of La Vie Rustic’s Herbes de Provence with your order, to make it even more fun to cook the recipes. The book, just out October 24, has already been hailed as an ” evocatively entwined memoir.  rich in detail about the food, people and festivals of Provence, France.”

And, as the author, I can say that if you liked my book,  A Pig in Provence, you will like this book, with photos of goats and pigs, family, food, and landscape from the days when I raised goats and pigs in Provence – plus 40 recipes and tales of fetes from lavender to olives and truffles.

For your gardening friends, or those who dream of gardening, La Vie Rustic’s Potager Garden Set with Maps gives them the gift of a year-round garden, with a continual harvest for their kitchen.img_3885






For your cooking friends and family, be they seasoned or beginners, La Vie Rustic’s Soup Sets have everything needed to turn out a hearty soup. Pictured here is the White Beans and Winter Savory Soup. IMG_2809