Saturday, 18 October 2014

Not quite the Saturday I'd planned!

Mr FD has been away for a few days and I went to collect him from Lyon airport on Thursday...Hah! There's a tale to be told...You can read about it here, over at the Teapot. Anyway, it's nice to have him back, although we're both suffering from coughs and colds.

Our friend Corinne is coming tomorrow for lunch - she and Mr FD love calves' liver (excuse me while I go and retch) so that's what they're having. I'm not. I'm having steak! Mr FD promised to cook it for her and so tomorrow is calves' liver day. With a salad to start (with magret de canard - smoked duck breast - walnuts and croutons) and a bought raspberry/myrtille tart from the patisserie to finish. Fairly easy to make - but the house needed a clean (doesn't it always?!) Four cats and an old house make for a lot of dust/cat fur lying around. Maybe I should get this book:

We were going to do it this afternoon together, as tomorrow morning Mr FD won't have time, due to an extraordinary AGM of the Cycle Club, but this morning he took some bikes down to Roanne with Alison and Gérome to try to sell them in the Trocathlon. This is a second-hand sports equipment sale that Decathlon organises every year: you take your equipment along to try to sell it, & I guess (though I'm not sure) Decathlon take a small cut from whatever you make. There was some kind of hold up, so he didn't think he'd get back till, after making banana/nut/choc chip cookies, pumpkin-and-carrot Thai curry soup and putting tonight's dinner in the slow cooker I tackled the cleaning. Including the clearing and cleaning of six litter trays - yuckety-yuck! He arrived back just as I'd finished!!

I'd planned to have a relatively lazy morning trying to tackle the chaos that is my study, but frankly I can't be arsed now. Maybe tomorrow morning. I'd wanted a not-too-taxing morning, as I'd not slept very well during the week and still feel a bit woozy (although I had a good undisturbed 9 hours last night) - though that might be the antibiotics that I'm on for my cough which is still lingering on after almost 4 weeks. I dislike taking antibiotics, but at least have found that two pots of Activia products a day have helped mitigate some of the effects of the medicines!

Our food plans this week are as follows:
TODAY: Frugal Queen's pulled pork, with salad and coleslaw and bread. I think our slow cooker (which we got as a wedding present, 29 years ago!) is less powerful than Froogs' - the pork has been on "high" for 3 hours and "low" for 3 hours and still isn't looking ready to "fall apart". It smells lush though, so having switched it back to "high" I'm hoping that after another 3 hours it will be more inclined to allow itself to be pulled apart.

The plan is to use left overs for sandwiches, or to freeze some for another time.

SUNDAY: Aforementioned Calves' liver. I don't know how it will be cooked (I'm not touching it! That's Mr FD's dept.) but my steak will be rare, served with a dab of mustard. 

MONDAY: (semi fasting) Chicken with chilli and leeks. I can't find a recipe online for this, but it is very simple:
Heat a pan with a misting of olive oil. Cook two chopped leeks and two chopped onions until soft, and then remove from pan. Put 2 chicken breasts to the pan & brown. Put the onion mix back in, and add 1.5 tbsp of chilli jelly (or sweet chilli suce or chilli jam) Transfer to an ovenproof dish and cook in oven at 190° until the chicken is cooked.

TUESDAY: Spicy pork chops with chickpeas This has spinach and chickpeas, but I might add another vegetable as well. Haven't decided yet.


WEDNESDAY: An easy one, for Mr FD to pop in the oven before I get home from dancing. Aubergine Gratin. I add mushroom to the mix, and use a cheaper pasta sauce from Lidl, but it's basically the same recipe. I can prepare this before I go, so Mr FD can have his apero night at Alison's if he wishes!!

THURSDAY: Chausson farcis (Stuffed slippers!) - I'm not making my pastry (pouf! I'm using bought puff pastry) and the cheese is Feta, not Vache Qui Rit, but otherwise it's the same. With salad.


FRIDAY: It's the Fat Dormouse Fat Fifty-Fifth birthday!! Maybe we'll go out...BUT our friend Steve is coming over, briefly, and it would be good to see him. There is talk of aperos at Alison's, so we will see what happens there. He's bringing a car over for Jean and Claire, then taking an old one back to the UK (he runs a garage). Foodwise - dunno. On verra!

I think full-on fasting is out at the moment - I tried on Friday, but with the antibiotics and cortisone I felt really wierd! I'll wait until I've finished the treatment before going for the full on fast that I usually try on Fridays.

Several people commented on the fact I've got Christmas prezzies (partly) sorted. It's really only because I love going to Noz and feeling I've bought bargains! I went on Wednesday and bought another present  - a Peruvian hat with ear flaps
What the intended recipient will make of it I have no idea! But I like it (but I'm not a young student at Lancaster University, am I?!)
I also got a bottle of fizz for 2,95€, some coconut milk Thai red curry sauce (used in today's soup) plus various other foodie items and some stationery too. A good haul, but I didn't have a lot of time to browse. Oh, and some yummy tortilla chips
I would very much like to pop back to get some more of these - but by next Wednesday (when I'm next in Roanne) they may well all be gone!

Thank you for your comments. I love hearing from you...I hope Cleo Bonbon finds some recipe inspiration - I really have high hopes for this pulled pork!! - and maybe some more of you willsign up for the Christmas swap. I'm looking forward to it (I already have some goodies from Noz put aside!!)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ooooh! Christmas!!

I'm actually quite organised for the Big Day - I have bought quite a lot of presents, and even wrapped and delivered three heavy-and-breakable gifts to members of my family. But I do have a habit of buying random gifts in my favourite discount shop, Noz, and discovering that while I appear to have several gifts for (for example) my niece, I have nothing for (example) my brother! I must get my act together and make a list, so I can see where the gaps in my present buying lie.

I'm always in the market for more presents (both giving and receiving!) so I've signed up for the Ship of Fools Secret Santa which is always fun.

My Bloggy friend, Amanda, at Crafty in the Med has alerted me to a Christmas swap, being organised by Creative Chaos.

Huzzah! More Christmas fun. I have signed up, and just thought I'd mention it in case any of my lovely readers wanted to join in the fun!

Talking of lovely readers, here is another Big Fat Dormouse Welcome to Julie from A Tale From Toadstool House. She is a skilful crocheter and makes fabby blankets with BEAR FACES on them! What fun!!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

All on my Own...

...just for a few days though!

Mr FD has gone to the UK to visit his mum, while his sister & her children are over from Canada, and his cousins are visitig from Germany. It would have been difficult for me to get time off from teaching, so he went alone. And after all, I had a break in the summer, which he didn't, so he deserved a little holiday!

You can read about yesterday, when I went to Lyon to "see him off" (sort of) over at The Teapot.

This week I bought myself a few goodies to have, but mostly I'm eating from the freezer.
TODAY: Steak, potatoes Dauphinoise, corn-on-the-cob, salad

MONDAY (semi fasting): Lentil Dhal (not eaten last Thursday - see below for why) and rice.

TUESDAY: Merguez and aligot. I bought the Aligot ready prepared, but here is a recipe, from Saint Delia, no less! To try to be healthy I may add a few green beans to this, and have the other corn-on-the-cob too. I suppose it's a French version of sausage-and-mash!


WEDNESDAY: The other merguez, tomato sauce and fresh pasta - nice and quick, as I get in late from line dancing and don't want to be cooking till all hours.

THURSDAY: Soup, as I'm out to lunch with students.

FRIDAY (semi fasting):  Garlic, herb & parmesan crusted chicken schnitzels. I can prep these before I go to teach/shop, and Mr FD can finish them off (he's back on Thursday evening) so they're ready when I get home at about 7.15. I'll have mine with green salad, he can have a frozen dauphinoise if he's not fasting. I've rather lost track of if Mr FD is fasting or not! He just eats what I give him!!!

So...why didn't we have the dhal last Thursday? I was teaching my usual Thursday students, a really funny couple called Barbara and Thierry. They are a couple, and they both work for SNCF, the French railway company. He is a train driver, she is a ticket inspector/guard. They are great and I get on very well with them. As part of their course, we get to go out for lunch once a month, and the Language School pays. We speak English and eat a good Menu du Jour and enjoy ourselves. It's still work for them, but they enjoy trying to speak English, even if they're not really very good! Anyway, last Thursday, Thierry asked if I would like to join them at his flat for lunch - he lives near ILS, while Barbara lives in a village outside Clermont, so they usually have lunch at Thierry's.

Never one to turn down food, I agreed. He has a beautifully restored flat, five/ten minutes walk from ILS, so we repaired there for charcuterie, followed by a typical Auvergnate dish called Potée:
If I'm honest, it's not smething I'll be choosing to eat again in the near future. Too many fatty pork products for my taste!


We finished with patisserie and coffee...then we had to go back for another lesson! After that huge lunch, I certainly wasn't ready to eat a dinner, so I made a carbonara for Mr FD and I had a slice of toast-and-jam for my dinner! I fasted on Friday instead, just having lamb tagine (smallish portion) and a small amount of cous-cous.

Thank You PomPom and Sandra for your comments. See, PomPom I've taken your advice and not gone for complicated meals while Mr FD is away. I'm glad you liked the LolCats, Sandra. I think the recipe-reading Kitten is particularly cute 'n' fluffy!

Now, I must go and cook some soup - curried squash-and-parsnip, I think. Nom nom.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


"Splash-and-dash" is what our friends used to call a quick trip across to France, usually to pick up extra supplies of wine and cheese.

This is a quick lickety-split of a post as tomorrow I'm going to have to tackle a mountain of ironing, and today has mostly been taken up with writing a sermon for tomorrow, that didn't come easily.

So, food this week (mostly taken from the freezer, due to a slight cash flow problem!) is:
TODAY: A frozen potato-green bean and duck mix supplemented with extra duck and extra green beans.

SUNDAY: Beef casserole, mashed potatoes, and carrots. Beef casserole already in the freezer. Lots of potatoes courtesy of our generous neighbours.

MONDAY: (semi fasting) Pork steak (in freezer) with frozen wok stir-fry vegetables.

TUESDAY: Lamb meatballs (mix in freezer), chips, tomato-and-courgette sauce

WEDNESDAY: Meatloaf (in freezer), baked potato, coleslaw

THURSDAY: (semi fasting) Lentil dhal (in freezer), small amount of rice, some curried veggies.

FRIDAY: Not sure yet...!! But possibly a vegetable/pasta melange of some description!

Nothing terribly exciting I'm afraid but needs must!

Thank you for your lovely comments - so many of you commented on how cats like to drink from strange places...We have to have a jam-jar in the sink where Bib likes to lap water from - somehow the bowls of water don't have the same appeal for her!

Mags and Jane&Chris: Pride was great - well worth seeing. We'd also like to see "What we did on our holiday" (that's the one you meant, Mags!) and "The 100 Foot Journey" - it just depends if they come on in VO at the (not very)local cinema.

Mr FD is off to the UK next Saturday to see his sister (over from Canada) and his cousins (over from Germany)  so I'll be on my own. Do you think my menus will be full of gastronomic treats, or just stuff I found at the back of the cupboards?!

And will I have any help from the cats, cooking the food?!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Go, go, go!

This is just a quick post as I really should be working, but I want to say Go,go, go - to see the film "Pride".
We went last night and loved it - it is a funny, moving film which deals with an important issue. And what's great is that it is practically all true.

We laughed (a lot) and I certainly wept (a little) at the end.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

No Menus this week - but bits of chat

Hello, hello, hello dear friends!

And a special hello to Maggie, who has recently bought a farmhouse in France and is renovating it. You can read about her adventures over on her blog, Brambling in Brittany. 
It is lovely to have you join me on my random ramblings mmostly about food.

Don't forget I also have my blog at View from the Teapot which is a bit more general - and I blog there slightly less frequently than here.

I'm busy at the moment - I don't have much time during the week for preparing my lessons, so have to do it at the weekend. As my Sundays seem to be taken up with Church-y things (or cleaning in preparation for a friend's visit!!) I'm preparing on Saturday, which leaves less time for blogging.

Still, it's good to have work. On Mondays I am teaching 5 different groups at a factory in Riom, near Clermont Ferrand. Most of them are happy to be in lessons, but one or two are less-than-enthusiastic, which makes for some slightly awkward lessons. Still, I just ignore them and get on with it! Or rather, I ignore their mardy faces and get on with it...I do speak to them! This Monday I will have to leavevery promptly to rush on home because Mr FD and I are thinking about going into Roanne to see a VO showing of the film "Pride"

Wikipedia describes the film thus:
Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the UK miners' strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. The National Union of Mineworkers was reluctant to accept the group's support due to the union's public relations' worries about being openly associated with a gay group, so the activists instead decided to take their donations directly to a small mining village in Wales — resulting in an alliance between the two communities. The alliance was unlike any seen before but was successful

We have a Church "away-day" tomorrow, entitled "Living Stones" so I'll be out all day at that, and  I'm also preaching next Sunday...Nice to have the opportunity, but Lord knows when I'm going to write the sermon!! Hopefully I'll find nooks and crannies through the week when I can prepare lessons, giving me Saturday to write the sermon. I already have a couple of ideas bubbling away on the back burner, so I hope they'll develop over the next few days!

Food next week is of the fairly basic kind - or pulled out of the freezer! We are having a nice meal tonight though - Cordons bleus aux saveurs du Sud.... Veal escalopes, topped with a slice of aubergine, all covered in bolognaise sauce and grated cheese. With chips and corn-on-the-cob, and maybe green beans too. Yummy!!

Sorry, Kezzie, I haven't yet got round to sending the book off to you, but I hope I will soon. It seems to be impossible to get to the Post Office at the right time. POOH! Just remembered I meant to go to the bank this morning and forgot. Hey-ho. We need to order a new cheque book, as one of the VERY bad Kittens has now taken to peeing from time to time on the downstairs table where we used to keep a lot of our papers and things. The cheque book was in the line of fire. Although it has spent several days outside (weighted down by a plant pot) and been sprayed with anti-smell spray, I am still rather embarrassed giving people cheques that have a distinct  whiff of cat pee about them!

I wish they'd learn!!

And this is just because I love the drawings:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Insert snappy title here.

Goodness me! Life is busy at the moment - I don't have time to prepare my lessons during the week, so am having to do it at the weekend instead. I could do them in the evening, but to be honest, I prefer just flopping in front of the TV with a cat on my lap! I had too many years in mainstream education when I had to work all through the evening, marking and preparing - I don't want to do it again!! So this weekend, I shall be mostly working on my lessons tomorrow.

Last week I spent most of Saturday doing it, as we had the Church Barbeque/picnic on Sunday. This was a very enjoyable event - Nan and Scott opened their home and their barbecue, and provided mountains of pulled pork and chicken thighs; everyone else provided salads and other assorted goodies. It was a South Carolina-style event (so I believe!) as many of the church members are based at Greenville, S.Carolina, with Michelin. I ate far too much!! It was all so delicious. There was a silent auction too, and I offered some calligraphy and a Zentangle - but as many people bid on a Zentangle I've offered to do one for everyone!!

Today Alison and her children came for lunch, so we spent the morning cleaning (we needed to do it, and Alison's visit was a good nudge that we needed!!) and most of the afternoon eating. We had foie gras (I found a tin in the cupboard), pizza and salad and a fruit tart from the boulangerie

Of course we needed an apero, so enjoyed a peach sparkling wine beforehand! Together with a glass of white with lunch I'm feeling a tad squiffy.

I also spent a bit of time in the morning using up the 1.5kg of tomatoes that I brought back from the picnic last week. Some of them had started to grow little beards of white mould, but most were okay. So I made chilli jam with them. Here is the recipe I got from my MiL:

Pat's Chilli Jam

1 kg ripe tomatoes
4-6 large red chillies, with their seeds
6 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
3 thumbs of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
50g Thai fish sauce
450g unrefined caster sugar
125 ml red wine vinegar

1. Blend the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger & fish sauce in the food processor. The chilli seeds will add heat, while the tomato seeds provide pectin.
2. Put the purée in a pan with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down to a simmer & cook for about 90 minutes, stirring from time to time & skimming off any foam.
3. When it has reached setting point, pour into sterilised jars & allow to cool.

Great on cheese sandwiches, cheese-on-toast, with cold meats etc.

I didn't have enough chillies so threw in quite a lot (possibly too much!) piri-piri sauce that I had. Mr FD says it's fine, but I have a slightly more sensitive palette than he does!

Our menus next week look like this:
SUNDAY: Roti du porc aux poireaux (recipe in French) - roast pork with leeks - with roast potatoes and carrots. This is a recipe from a little recipe leaflet I picked up a while back. There will be pork left over, so I'll freeze this for another time.
MONDAY: (semi fasting) Griddled aubergine and courgette gratin - possibly with some of yesterday's pork, but probably not. It's only a semi-fast, because I take soup for lunch and I have scrambled egg for breakfast. I probably consume 700 or 800 calories, rather than the specified 500 calories, but with a long drive at either end of the day, I think it is better not to be fatigued by fasting!
TUESDAY: Chicken biriyani - one of the Hairy Dieter's "Fakeaways"...I can't find the recipe on line, but if it's nice, I'll let you know!!
WEDNESDAY - my Line Dancing night! I am really enjoying this, although my knees are complaining vociferously by the end of it! I join the Beginners group about 20 minutes in, then stay for the "improver's" group. I get home at 8.50, just before "Bake Off" starts, so Mr FD has my tea ready! Tonight it will be Hairy Dieters Salmon with chilli ginger sauce 
THURSDAY: This is my lunch-out-with-students day, so I probably won't have anything except soup tonight. It should be a fasting day, but it isn't going to be!! Pasta with sauce for Mr FD.

FRIDAY: Not-exactly-fasting-but-maybe-a-little-bit. We'll have stuffed peppers for dinner.
I may add a bit of chorizo...but I may not!

SATURDAY: Clafouti de legumes - or maybe not. Now I look at the recipe again it seems a bit meh. I'll see how I feel. there's meatloaf in the freezer, so I may pull that out and have it with chips and beans instead!!

Thank you once again for your comments - always nice to hear from folk!

Both Mags and Claire commented on the cheeseboard at La Poste - it is an excellent cheese trolley with the cheese being well kept  - although this time La Comtesse de Vichy (a local cheese) wasn't ripe enough, so was a little dissappointing.

 I look forward to finding out whether Kezzie tried the chickpea recipe and how it went down with her Beloved! Do tell, Kezzie! (We didn't have it in the end! I had a yen for something else, so we had that...though I can't for the life of me remember what it was!!)
News on the Giveaway - Kim didn't get back to me, so has lost out on her chance to win the Picnic book. So I pulled another number from the hat - number 4 which is Kezzie!!!  I do have your contact details, but to be fair, and to keep to the same rules as I applied to Kim, can you contact me Kezzie either by leaving a message or using my email. Then I can send it to you. You have till next Friday, or I will choose another person.