Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ways To My Heart... 💜

 But before the Food Talk, what about other things?!

Hello, Lovely Peeps! I hope your Sunday is as sunny and balmy as ours. I have to admit to being a little discombobulated by this weather. It is definitely very springlike, and we have seen catkins and Pussy Willow starting to bud. But I don't trust it. At All. I'm sure we are going to have another very cold spell which will mightily confuse the creatures (especially those woken early from hibernation) and kill off the early blossoming blooms. But I suppose all we can do is enjoy the weather and see it as a blessing!

I forced myself to heave my lazy bum off the computer chair yesterday, and am very pleased I did. The feet are so much better now, so Friend Alison and her dog Marvin went for a walk in the woods above the village. It was probably about 4 km or so. The weather was beautiful, and Marvin enjoyed following the scents of what we assume were wild boar (judging by the rootled up ground) I took my campera, but we were so busy chatting that I didn't take any photos!

But here's a view of the village on the same walk in October 2015

And a view along the pathway.

Otherwise, I have spent my weekend blogging, (See over at The Teapot),cooking meat for the poor cats, tidying my study, working on my Desiderata project which has been ongoing since June 2015 and generally just enjoying myself! Next week is a lull in lessons - partly due to contracts finishing, and partly duer to school holidays - but I have lots of admin/ preparation/ sorting stuff out to do, which will fill up the free hours. Mr FD isn't working, as his contract has finished too, but he will be looking for more work, plus doing things he hadn't had time to do while he was working. 

So, what is on the menu this week?

TODAY - was going to be a roast chicken dinner, but Mr FD is feeling delicate. He has had a bit of a "gastro" since Thursday night - and while he's feeling better, he thinks a roast dinner mightn't be the best idea. Sad face.😿 So I'll be doing the chicken legs in a mushroom sauce, with rice instead. I can't think why he feels that would be better, but hey. There you go. Roast dinner postponed till next week.

MONDAY: Butternut squash and chilli risotto. Maybe this isn't the best idea for someone with a gastro either!!  Still, Mr FD will be in charge of cooking it, so he can change the recipe to something less spicy if he prefers!

TUESDAY: Honey mustard chicken pasta. However, we'll be having it hot, rather than as a salad, so I'll use some creme fraiche instead of mayo. 

WEDNESDAY: Butternut squash & black bean enchilladasWhich sound delicious! I'll be using red kidney beans, rather than black beans, but otherwise they'll be about the same.

 THURSDAY: Tomato & bacon gnocchi - or something similar to this recipe. I'm not sure I'll be faffing with cherry tomatoes. I'll probably just go for a straightforward tin of plum tomatoes!

FRIDAY: Not meatballs, pasta and sauce. A recipe from the fantastic Jack Monroe. Very cheap to make (except aubergines aren't so cheap at the moment!) 


 SUNDAY: The postponed roast chicken, with parsnips, roasties, carrots and stuffing. I may get a whole chicken, or maybe a couple of legs. Not sure yet.

Thank you, as always for your comments. It is lovely when people take the time to comment.

Lots of people were sympathetic about nasty eczema, and your lovely comments made me feel better. Thank you for those!

CONFUZZLED BEV - Your chickpea-y spag bol sounds nice. I don't often think to put chickpeas with pasta, though I can't think why not. I might be tempted to include mushrooms in the mix though!!!

JAN - another chickpea dish that sounds yummy! I don't put chickpeas in soup either!! Aren't they versatile! I usually make a spinach/chickpea/mushroom (there they are again!) curry. That's nice.

KEZZIE: Sorry to hear about your rogue mushroom experience! If you don't like them I can imaginethat wouldn't be a nice thing to happen at all!

So there you are!
Thank you again for popping in, & I hope that maybe you'll be inspired to make one or two of the recipes. Do tell me if you do!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

And this week's menus are....

YESTERDAY: We had pizza and potato wedges. To pretend to be healthy we had some green salad too, but there was a lot of CHEESE on the pizza.

TODAY: No steaks cut into heart shapes for us, I'm afraid! A turkey and vegetable stir fry, that's all.
Kezzie has given some lovely ideas for Valentine's Day cards but I'm afraid I opted for a total cheat version, by sending Mr FD this
by email at work! Not very romantic really. Sigh.

Just looking at the photo now I can't help feeling that it looks like the Valentine's greeting is from Dave Newman, NASA Deputy Administrator!! He's a very romantic chap, isn't he?!

TOMORROW: Something spag-bollish. Mr FD will be cooking it with mince and stuff. Hopefully not carrots this time.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: I'm out for lunch with a student so won't want much dinner. We go to a great little restaurant that does a 4 course lunch for 13€. Last time I had paté, followed by a great bavette with potato gratin, cheese and then pineapple. Simple but delicious. Mr FD can have an omellette with potato wedges.

THE DAY AFTER THAT: Mushroom Stroganoff. I think this is one for Kezzie to avoid: if I remember rightly she believes mushrooms are the food of the Devil! I like them.

We'll have this with fresh pasta.

SATURDAY: Stuffed peppers, using pork mince and a packet of pre-cooked grains. Let's see what it's like. The recipe is made up, so I can't really give you any hints!
I got these at Noz. Never had them before so it's a new experiment!

SUNDAY: Roast dinner - using chicken legs. Parsnips, roasties, gravy, stuffing and a green vegetable too. Yum-yum!

Thank you for all your lovely sympathetic comments. My feet are getting much better as the medicated cream kicks in. Still a bit uncomfortable, but not painful any longer. They don't vlook very pretty however.

I'll reply to the coments individually next time, but now I have to go and have lunch, then face doing some cleaning. It's a working day without much work today, so that means I have to do housework instead (that's my self imposed rule!) But first, lunch of soup and cheese on toast!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Bits and bobs; this and that.

Hello Dear Peeps. This is a rather bitty bobby post as I've not planned my menus for next week yet, but wanted to pop in while I have some time!

I hope you are all well and happy. I'm doing okay, but a bit held back by a bad attack of Dyshidrotic eczema on my feet at the moment. This is a horrid type of eczema consisting of blisters that are filled with a watery liquid. They either burst when they're quite small or get bigger and then burst, leaving one's feet in a painful, red, tender mess, which means wearing shoes is very uncomfortable. I am treating them with a hydrating cream which is helping a little, but it means that walking any real distance is generally out of the question. I don't know what sets this off - possibly when my feet get overheated, although that's not happened much recently. It's a possibility that my lovely new fur-lined ankle boots might be the culprit this time, but as they're new it doesn't explain past outbreaks. The dermatologist was spectacularly unhelpful, and t'internet seems to suggest that no-one really knows what causes this. Hey-ho. They've been really bad since Friday, so I'm hoping that in another couple of days they'll start scabbing over. ANYWAY that's probably too much medical information at the moment!!!!

 And they're a lot prettier than mine!

Otherwise things are fine.

Mr FD has found out that he has been successful in his bid to take part in Ride London this year. He did it in 2015 with a friend from the Cyclos here in the village; this time he'll be doing it with his brother - 100 mile cycle ride from the Olympic Park, around London & Surrey, then finishing outside Buckingham Palace. So he's out starting his training today!
2015 : Mr FD checking his medal is genuine!

Louis and Mr FD after they finished.

You may well remember that last year I took part in 40 Acts during Lent, and I plan to do the same this year. I'm also doing something else too, so head on over to The Teapot, if you'd like to receive a rather lovely postcard from me

 Or, if like Jan, you can't find how to comment at The Teapot, then you can leave a comment here.  I'm not sure if it's a problem with the Wordpress site, but I think that at the bottom of the post it says either "Leave a comment" or, if someone has already commented, it says "1 comment" - if you click on that you should be able to comment. But maybe it's different for you, Jan. It is in quite small writing, amidst the tags and labels, right at the end of the post.

So, I hope to pop in tomorrow (very briefly) with menus, but it might be Tuesday. Tomorrow is a bit rushed as I'm leaving home early to get to Montbrison for my lesson, as I'm going to get my hair cut - I'm trying out a new salon, so who knows what it'll look like! I'm also back later, as I'm stating a new contract of 20 hours, which finishes later. 

As always,n thank you for your lovely comments:
CONFUZZLED - Courgettes are definitely more expensive than usual, but I assume they will come down in price as summer approaches and the weather improves. For now, we'lol have to use other things. Mr FD was rather discombobulated at having to make a pasta sauce without courgette. He used carrot, but I'm not convinced it was a good idea!

JAN - hopefully the note above will help you comment on The Teapot. If not, I'm happy to receive your comments here instead!

SANDRA - I'm not sure if you were joking asking what a phone lesson is (though I still need the occasional lesson from Mr FD how to use his old smartphone that he gave me!). In case you weren't joking, basically I have a student who wants to improve their fluency in English, so they phone me (or I phone them) and we chat for 30 or 45 minutes. I make notes of theitr mistakes, and in the last 10 minutes of the lesson I go through their errors. Then, when we've finished, I send them an email with notes about vocabulary and grammar, plus something to read for the next lesson. And that's a phone lesson. I have taught students with a very low level of English over the phone, but that's not successful. I think the student needs to be at least pre-intermediate level, for it to be of any use.

JOYCE - thank you for the hint about plum sauce. There's not that many Asian stores (that I know about) around where I do my shopping, so I'm rather reliant on the supermarkets for supplies. In the end I adapted the recipe, using a plum-and-apple chutney, some chilli jam, and some fruit juice to make the glaze for the sausages. It worked well, and I really enjoyed them!

Shall we have lasagne this week?

Monday, 6 February 2017

Psst. Are you awake?

Hello Dear Peeps!

This is a quick post (as always, at the moment!) - I have 20 minutes before my phone lesson. I have managed to plan for the next few days, so I can catch up with my blog. Briefly. Don't forget that there is also my other blog, View From the Teapot, so if I haven't posted here, maybe I've posted there (or vice versa!)

What food is planned this week? Nothing terribly exciting, I'm afraid. I'm going through a bout of IBS at the moment - nothing too debilitating, but I'm not terribly interested in food, as it all leaves me a bit bloaty and gaseous (Sorry if that's TMI!) Anyway

MONDAY (today): Korean mince (fromthe freezer), rice and braised leeks.

TUESDAY: Vegetable curry - if I can find any appropriate vegetables! Usually I'd use courgette and aubergine, but with the shortage prices are high. I refuse to pay 2,50€ for 1 courgette! So it may well be a butternut squash/parsnippy curry - which is no bad thing, as these vegetables are in season! We have some poppadoms from the UK that need eating, so we'll have those.

WEDNESDAY: Pasta Arrabiata.

THURSDAY: We're at Friend Alison's for apèros, as it's her birthday.Depending on what snacks we are fed, we may just have bread and soup. If we're more hungry, we may have an omelette. On verra.
As she likes my White chocolate & Ginger cheesecake I'm making her one (or two small ones) as part of her birthday present.

FRIDAY: Chilli and garlic bread.

 SATURDAY: Noddy's Sticky bangers and mash This link to a PDF folder has several sausage-y recipes on it. You can scroll down for the Sweet & Sticky recipe. I may not follow it exactly, as it's not really plum season and I have no idea where to get plum sauce from.

SUNDAY: Chicken Saltimbocca This is a Slimming World recipe, and when I made itbezfore I complained that it needed some kind of sauce...This recipe has taken that into account and now includes a sauce. So I'll try that! With roasties and mange touts.

Must dash. Lesson starts in three minutes!!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Flying fur.

Hey-ho! Life with Jasper is getting a bit more violent. We've had some very nasty spats between him and the other cats recently - fur literally flying! I am going to book him in to have him castrated next week, but I think the hormones will still be "in the air" for a while. He is having time-out at the moment, having viciously got Bib cornered in the kitchen.Noone seems much worse for wear, though Jasper has a bit of a bloody nose from Bib's not unsubstantial claws!

Food this week is:
YESTERDAY: Pork, mushroom, leek and apple casserole, with mash & carrots.

TODAY: Mary Berry Speedy lasagne - I really like this recipe, and I think I prefer it to traditional lasagne.

WEDNESDAY: The rest of the casserole, with baked potato.

THURSDAY: Vegetable risotto with crumbled feta. I don't have a recipe for this, so will just make it up.

FRIDAY: Turkey pepper pasta bake. I'm not using turkey mince, but turkey fillet, having got 750g for half price when shopping. I divided it into three portions, and froze it (as it was short date). I'll use 1 portion for the pasta bake.

SATURDAY: It was going to be Thai fishcakes, but Super U had very little choice in the white fish area. A couple of types I've never heard of, and panga. I avoid panga like the plague - not only does it taste of very little, but I read somewhere that it's actually not great for the environment
I ended up buying some meat that was reduced to 30% and freezing that for Saturday. I will decide what to do with it later.

Is that Lemon...? Dover? It's as tasty as panga!

SUNDAY: Something from the freezer. TBH I don't know what's in there so this will make me go and look! I may even do an inventory.

I must dash. I've just remembered that I've not watched the TED talk that my next lesson is based on (the student chose it) I'd better go.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Burn's Night

Hello Dear Peeps!

I think my stomach has finally reduced to normal again after Friday night's Burn's Night Supper. It was an enjoyable evening and the food was good, but definitely "hearty"! It didn't help me that - to reduce the amount of wine I drank - I poured myself glass after glass of sparkling water. I think I may have drunk about a litre of the stuff!

The Supper was a joint event, organised by ChristChurch, but shared with an Association supporting Anglophone/Francophone connections. Mr FD & I ended up on a table with French people from the Association who we didn't know, but who were charming, and reasonably chatty.

So here is the room prepared:

and the menu as placed on all the tables

It was a tad tricky translating it for the French people on our table, but there is an Auvergnate dish similar to Haggis, so it wasn't completely unknown - although "clapshot" was harder to translate - especially as we weren't sure of the translation of "swede". The smartphone Google translate could only offer us "Suédoise" - which means Swede in the sense of "coming from Sweden"! We ended up saying "yellow turnip" which was at least vaguely understood!

The Haggis was duly addressed, with Caireen, the rector's wife (who comes from Scotland) reading the traditional Scots version, while Rob (the rector) read his own slightly scurrilous translation. Here he is sporting his kilt and a cheeky smile:

As a Canadian of Scots descent he wears his kilt with pride

(I don't know who the other two guys are!)

The Scotch broth was delicious but filling - full of pearl barley, carrots and turnip. Then, after being addressed, (and toasted with a dram of whisky) the haggis arrived:

 It was very pleasant- lightly spiced and peppery, although my clapshot needed more seasoning! The whisky sauce was also very nice. By now I was starting to feel very full, but who can resist sticky toffee pudding?!

The French were slightly bemused by the cheese and oatcakes coming after pudding - in France cheese is served before the dessert, but they gamely joined in, slathering chutney onto their oatcakes as if it was jam....Near-bursting point had been reached, and I was stating to feel a bit nauseous by now (though I still managed coffee and shortbread!!!)

There was a raffle - we won twice! I chose a pair of whisky glasses for the first prize, and the second time I insisted that the French couple who were on our table & hadn't won, went to choose. (Also I knew there wasn't that much on the table that I wanted - so I hadn't been all that generous!!) She chose a vegetarian haggis (the meaty one had gone!) She tried to press the haggis on me - not literally, you understand - but I was happy to let her keep it. 

There was a very amusing "Toast to the Lassies" given by Nick, from church, who is a very garrulous Welsh man. Here is Nick at the Convention a couple of years ago:

Lawrie's return "toast to the Laddies" wasn't quite so funny, but still very good. 

We left at 10.00 pm, before the dancing (I couldn't have danced anyway!) as we wanted to get home at a reasonable time. The cats were happy to see us. And Zantac was definitely welcome (twice!)

Maybe I'll try to get some tartan before next year!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Food and Cats. What more do you need?!

I posted yesterday with bits & bobs of news, so this really is an update on the menus planned for this week.

TODAY: We're having chilli/harissa lamb with a chickpea & spinach rice. There's a bit of ratatouille left from yesterday, so we'll have that too.

MONDAY: Turkey, vegetable & noodle stirfry. I've got chicory and sugar snap peas that need using up. I'll also throw in mushrooms, pepper , leek and tinned beansprouts. I brought some "Blue Dragon" stir fry sauces back from the UK so I'll use one of them - probably black bean.

TUESDAY: Harissa stuffed peppers - I first found this when I was following the 5:2 eating plan (which, if I'm honest, I probably ought to pick up with, but frankly can't be arsed with - not in winter!!! I feel I need all my calories - although I almost definitely don't!) It's a nice stuffing for peppers, and can be used in other things...

WEDNESDAY: Pasta bake made with the rest of the pepper stuffing, and some chopped tomatoes.

THURSDAY: Soufflés with a veggie sauce. We like soufflés, (similar to quennelles) and they are a nice comfort food. Alison is probably coming for aperos so this is good to prep before she arrives & pop in the oven to do its stuff. If I eat too many apero snacks I can save half my portion & have it for lunch tomorrow!

FRIDAY: Burns Night
(which reminds me of the time we saw "Burns Night" advertised outside a village hall, one Spring day. "It's nowhere near Burns Night" said Mr FD "That's in January!" Then we noticed that the poster had "St John's Ambulmance Brigade" across the top - it was all about dealing with burns, not drinking whiskey and eating haggis!)

SATURDAY: Chorizo One Pot. I will be adding mushrooms, no doubt.

SUNDAY: Thai Chicken & Coriander Coconut Rice
I'm not sure how coriander-y it will be. I doubt very much if I'll find fresh coriander, and although Carrefour sells pots of coriander "purée" I'm not shopping there at the moment. Because of theway my lessons are, Super U is the supermarket that is the most convenient on the day I have time to shop. It's not bad, but doesn't have the choice that the Carrefour hypermarket in Roanne has. In general, that's not a problem, but from time-to-time there's something I'd like that I can't get.

As always, Thank You for your comments. 
POMPOM - perhaps your son can send me (post haste!) one of his kilts! I hope that our Burns Night will be fun! I'm not sure what to expect, so We Shall See. I'm not sure I know what "pot roast" is - is it a piece of meat cooked in liquid? Was yours as delicious as it smelt?

BEVCHEN: TBH the potatoes here aren't that great for baking, unless I can get Agata variety. Size-wise I go with what I can we sometimes have two small ones each! 

JAN: The leek-and-beer quiche was nice. Here's a link to a recipe (but it's in French)

I've been feeding the Poor Cats of the village this weekend - they really are poor cats in this weather. Minus 15° can't be good for them. I hope that they are finding vaguely warm places to curl up. I heat the pasta/fat/meat mixture that I make in the slow cooker (courtesy of the Butcher in the St Just Carrefour) so the fat is quite liquid. I mix a good lot of cat biscuits with boiling stock, so they go a bit mushy. I add an egg to that, and then mix in the hot meat mix and a can of cat fud. They seem to appreciate it! I always fill their water bowl with hot water, and give them a load of biscuits too. Marie-Odile generally feeds them during the week.

I'm also knitting wobbley blankets. I used to send these to Spanish Stray Cats, but the postage was getting too much. Now I try to take one a week to the local Cat Refuge in Roanne - 
I drop it off each week, with a bag of biscuits and some tins of cat food. It's not much, but it's something. I wish I could do more!


Don't forget, if you can, please pop over to The Teapot to help me choose who I should support...