Sunday, 15 January 2017

Foodie Sunday

I am in the process of making a Sweet pôtato and lentil soup from this recipe.
Mr FD has started taking soup to work for his lunch, which is great, but means I have to make soup at the weekend...Which is OK if I have time/inclination/ingredients, but less so if I haven't! Anyway, today I had a few ingredients, including the sweet potato I'd planned to use but hadn't for some reason: so it made soup.

The other planned dinners for this week are:
TODAY: Beef and ale casserole, mashed potatoes, braised chicory.

MONDAY: Turkey fillets wrapped in bacon (we're having bacon sandwiches for lunch), potato wedges & tomato salad.

TUESDAY: The remains of the casserole today, with cabbage.

WEDNESDAY: Baked potato, with baked beans, mushrooms & grated cheese. I may throw together a salad too - although I'm not sure baked beans go with salad.

THURSDAY: Salmon and leeks, cooked with chilli and coconut milk, served with noodles and wilted spinach.

FRIDAY: Big veggie omelette (with maybe a bit of chorizo in it) and HM chips.

SATURDAY: Sausages (brought from the UK), baked potato, ratatouille

SUNDAY: Chilli spiced lamb and chickpea-and-spinach pilau. It's sort of this recipe for the lamb, with a ricey/chickpea/spinach mixture. 

We spent a good day with Danièle yesterday - thankfully, I didn't need to tell her the news about Olivier and Renée as she already knew. Also, during the afternoon, we discovered (as she was being kept up-to-date by another mutual friend) that the post-mortem showed that Renée had been killed by a massive blow to the head, and Olivier by a heart attack. Although it is still terrible that they died, at least they had not been burned to death, which was something we had feared. Both deaths would have been either instantaneous or very quick, which is something of a blessing.

Apart from that, we had a pleasant walk along the banks of the Loire, and a delicious meal. She had cooked a leek-and-beer quiche, then we had pintarde tagine, cheese and "deconstructed lemon meringue pie"

As always, I want to say Thank You for your comments

Lots of different subjects in POMPOM'S comment - it's always nice when a cat attaches themselves to you....It sounds like you are Timothy's "human". I like the Hairy Dieters, because it is real, proper food, not fancy. They appear to be two fairly ordinary guys who love their food, so they try to keep lower fat food tasty! 

ARIL - I need to admit that the photo wasn't my dinner - althpough mine didn't look far off that. I think "rustic" is fine - people are there to eat your food, not to take photos of it. I can't be doing with all that faffing around. 

MICHELLE - thank you for your sympathy. I'm not sure that there is more sad news around, (after all, more people died of diseases like polio etc in the past) but I think because of social media we hear about it more. It's like the fear that parents have for their children - the number of child abductions probably hasn't risen that much, but due to 24 hour news services and global news, we get to hear about them on a frequent basis, so it appears that there are more.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Running to Catch Up!

 I wrote this on Wednesday, but half way through the computer decided to start playing Silly Beggars, and I ran out of time before I needed to leave for Roanne! So here is last Wednesday's news:

Hello Peeps!

Goodness me! Where does the time go?! I had all good intentions of writing a couple of blog posts this weekend, but here I am, three days later with nothing written!

On Saturday I went for a walk with a friend, her daughter and her dog, Marvin. It was cold but enjoyable. I took a long time to thaw out afterwards. On Sunday, I went to church as usual, in the morning, but then had a surprise invitation to lunch with the Rector after church. Two other people were going, so I joined them - it was very enjoyable, but I didn't get home till 6 pm! Poor Mr FD had been left alone all day!

My Wednesday morning student cancelled, so I have a little extra time today, which is why I'm writing this. I do have to go to Roanne earlier than I would though as I want to deliver some cat food and blankets (if I can find them!) to the SPA cat shelter. I also need to leave a "Chat Trouvé" poster, regarding Jasper-boy, just in case his owner is looking for him. There are posters at the Mairie, the Vet, and near where he was found, as well as in the little supermarket and the boulangerie, so if his owners are in the village they should see one of them. We've also put adverts on a couple of Lost Animal sites, so we imagine they might look there - if they care! Of course, he might have just been dumped, or shut out when they went away over Christmas, in which case they don't deserve to have him back! If we have had no responses by the end of January, then we're going to say that he's ours, and have him castrated!

Food this week isn't very inspiring (although last night's stuffed peppers with rice, mushrooms & feta cheese were very nice!) but on Friday evening our friends from across the square are coming for dinner. I'm doing a quick smoked salmon paté (smoked salmon bits, whizzed up with herb-and-garlic cream cheese) and salad to start. I can prepare that on Thursday evening. The main course is a Hairy Dieter's recipe: Spanish Style Chicken Bake which basically involves throwing everything into a roasting tion and letting it cook! Not too ,much effort when we get home from work on Friday!

We have saved some of the stilton & cheddar that we brought back from the UK, for the cheese course (plus a couple of French cheeses) and then a very quick cheats' banoffi dessert:

Crumble 4 chocolate chip muffins, and mix with a little melted butter. Chop 2 bananas and mix in. Divide between 4 buttered ramekins or a baking dish. Cover with foil and put in oven (180°) for about 15 minutes to warm through.
Put 50g light brown sugar, 50g butter and 75ml of double cream into a pan, plus some vanilla. Gently heat until thesugar dissolves. Pour the sauce over the muffin mix & serve warm with ice cream.

And there the post ends.

As it is now Saturday, I can tell you that Monique & Michel declared everything as "delicious". The dessert was nice, but certainly not very elegant! Mr FD thought it would be better to caramelise the sugar/butter before adding the cream - I'm not sure it really made a difference to be honest. I think it would make a nice quick dessert for a family, but ity wasn't "dinner party" dessert....however, M&M aren't really "dinner party" people, so that's OK! We had it with vanilla & Macademia nut ice cream which was lovely. Or maybe you could add some nuts to the muffin mix instead.

Today we are going to visit our friend who lives near St Etienne - she used to live in the village, but moved after her husband, Paul, died. It will be lovely to see her, but I'm afraid I'm going to be the bearer of bad news...

You see, I was casually reading the local newspaper (local to us, not Danièle, now) and was reading an article about two old people who had died, in a rather horrible car crash (the car left the motorway, rolled over two or three timers then burst into flames)  Then near the end of the article their names were mentioned, and - to my horror - I realised that I had known them. They were members of the church that Danièle & I used to attend, such lovely, kind people. It was a real shock, and I feel that I need to tell Danièle. But it's not a very nice thing to have to tell someone. If you are of a praying nature, please remember the family of Olivier and Renée.

Thank you, once again for all your lovely comments. I do appreciate them.

Much hilarity from Jan and Sandra over a LolCat - I recognised the cat's pain!
I will be visiting Jan's new blog so maybe you can too. 

Sandra - the pork & mushroom casserole was very nice. And really easy too. I suggest you try it.

PomPom - Jasper is settling in, althopugh there are still battles. Millie, however, is rather terrified of him, and spends a lot of time skulking. She also sits shivering onthe balcony most evenings, rather than come in to sit with us, so we feel a bit guilty over that. It is a shame, because - most of the time - we think Jasper only wants to play,but as she runs away, he chases after her and it all goes pear shaped!

Hopefully I'll be able to get back on blogging tracks now. At least posting once a week. Have a good week, dear friends, and thank you for coming to see me!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Food for a New Year!

Hello Dear Peeps!

Two posts in two days?! Whatever is going on?

Here is a Happy New Year greeting.

And, as I have planned next week's menus, I thought I would share them with you.

TOMORROW (Monday) - Gammon steaks, brought back from the UK, with a marsala sauce, baked potato and broccoli.

TUESDAY: Vegetarian SC lasagne.

WEDNESDAY: Pork & Mushroom casserole, with rice and carrots

THURSDAY: I'm out for lunch with one of my students, so I won't want much dinner. Mr FD can have liver (yuckity-yuck) which is in the freezer from last time he had liver (y-y) and I'll have egg-on-toast.

FRIDAY: Mushroom & Spinach curry with naan bread (also imported recently from the UK)

SATURDAY: Gnocchi bake - though with more veggies (courgette & pepper) and maybe no cream

SUNDAY Spice rubbed turkey breast with sweet potatoes and braised chicory.

Jasper-the-cat has settled in very well, and although there has been some growly noises there has been no violence between him and the other cats. Millie won't be in the same room as him, Bib will growl and hiss and then run away, and Pomme will generally just ignore him, although he growls at her. He likes to be close to me, generally following me around the house (but I think it's because he links me with the provision of food!) He is still eating at almost every opportunity, but we're keeping him off wet food, as he's a bit farty, and we think it's because the food might be a bit rich for him, especially if he's not been eating much over the past weeks.

We haven't given up on George returning, but it's seeming less and less likely as time passes. I went past a derelict house today and out of the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of a big ginger cat scooting away - I went in, and called "George!" but there was no sign. As Mr FD said, George may well have forgotten his name and our voices by now, so he might just be afraid. If, of course, it was him. There are at least two stray ginger cats, to my knowledge, in the village, so it could have been one of them.

And fnally, if you have made any resolutions I hope you are able to keep to them...

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Quick Christmas round-up and some Cat News

Hello Dear Peeps!
We're back home after spending 10 days in the UK - I took my camera, but took no photos!

We drove through France - two hours on Sunday evening, after the Carol service, up to Bourges, where we stayed in a Campanile hotel, and then the rest of the journey on Monday. Mr FD had booked us into the "Club Lounge" on the boat, which was very pleasant....calm and quiet, with complementary champagne, nibbles, tea and coffee. We arrived at MiL's house just after 5 o'clock.

We were due to drive to Milton Keynes, where we used to live, on Tuesday, to stay with some friends, but during Monday evening, Garyt texted to tell me that they'd had some bad news and were unable to put us up. We were disapponted, but understood. Luckily, we were able to stay with ML another night, so we went into Canterbury to do some shopping, then on Tuesday evening wnt to see the film "A United Kingdom", which was excellent.

I would definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

On Wednesday we drove up to Liverpool, and arried at mum's around 4 o'clock. It was lovely to see her, and we had a relaxing few days with her...Some more shopping in Liverpool, going to see her neighbours for a lovely meal (They really went overboard with the Christmas decorations - snow laden village, 10 foot Christmas tree with a train running round it, giant baubles, Christmas themed teddy bears - the lot! They don't have children!) I also visited my 93 year old "aunty" Dorothy with mum. I remember when Dorothy and her friend Kathleen would come to our house a week before Christmas to decorate the Christmas cake with beautifully piped royal icing. Mum would bake an amazing cake but wasn't good at decorating it. In later years, Kathleen had MS, and was wheelchair bound, but she & Dorothy would still come to "do" the cake. I think that was the start of the celebrations for me!

We had a quiet Christmas day, with our meal spread out through the day - Church, followed by smoked salmon and a good Macon wine. A walk and then Mr FD cooked the main course - roast beef, yorkshires, potatoes, broccoli, butternut squash and parsnips. Lovely! We had cheese after Doctor Who, and Pannetone Pudding with the Baby Wranglers ("Call the Midwife"!)

During Boxing Day we drove back down to Kent, and stayed a couple more nights at MiL's, this time with Mr FD's brother, his wife & son there as well. A bit more shopping (a gift exchange in the Sales meant I was able to get a pair of jeans, a handbag and a jumper in exchange for a wrap, of which I received two this year!) and more delicious food and wine! On 28th we crossed back over the Channel and arrived home on Wednesday evening. The house was cold!! Both our neighbours (the school and the hotel) are closed so we have no heat from either side, plus we'd been absent for ten days. The cats were very pleased to see us and shared our bed!

Yesterday evening we went to friends for apèros and lots of nibbles, and tonight we have a meal of smoked salmon, followed by duckling in morille sauce, and Buche de Noel (courtesy of the Boulangerie)
 We will probably watch a film and go to bed before midnight.

But our big news is this boy:

You can read about him over at The Teapot - we have called him Jasper, but we don't know if he'll be staying, as it depends on whether we find his owners or not. It certainly seems that he's a domesticated cat, but whether he's been abandoned or lost we don't know. We've put up adverts saying he's been found, so we are waiting to see if we get any response.

Millie, Bib and Pomme aren't really sure about him, but most meetings so far have been reasonably polite - a little bad language but no fisticuffs.

I direct all my dear readers of this blog over to The Teapot (again!) for my New Year's greetings. Let's hope that 2017 is a peaceful year, and full of joyand blessing for us all.

But, whatever 2017 may bring us, remember that God has promised that He is always with us:

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Christmas Greetings

Here is a Happy Christmas video for you Cat lovers to enjoy!

And I wish all of my lovely Readers a very happy Christmas. I'm not sure I'll be posting now until after we get back from the UK, so I do hope that you all enjoy your time over Christmas.

May God bless you.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Apologies - again!

Hello my lovely Peeps! I am sorry to have left you hanging with no blog post for over two weeks! How rude of me!

 (Haven't decorated yet! Eep!)

The bathroom is still unfinished, but it is usable. And it is very nice (if you don't look too closely at the finishing off!) We've bought a few new accessories (including the world's most expensive bin!) and we do like it...Hopefully it will be finished soon. We're a tad pissed off as we have to finish stuff off ourselves that we would have expected the builder to do (But it's not on the devis!)

In fact Mr FD had a minor painting disaster today - he was priming the wooden battens that are going to be added to the top of the tiles and the join between wall and ceiling, when Bib, the inquisitive cat, managed to knock over the tin of primer, all over herself, the floor and various other places. Scared witless, she then scooted all round the house, leaving paint-y paw marks everywhere! Mr FD managed to catch her and took her into the shower for a good wash before she could ingest too much of it trying to clean herself! I'm sorry I missed it!!

We're off to the UK for Christmas...So there won't be any posts for a while. I'll try to post next weekend - maybe with a picture of the finished bathroom!!

If you would like some quietly meditative Christmas music, I would definitely recommend this concert by Sting from Durham Cathedral, in 2009. I have had it playing gently in the background while I have been blogging.

If you'd like to read about my Advent Challenges you can go to The Teapot

Food-wise nothing exciting has been happening - except I bought a Christmas ham in Ikea today (it's really hard to find proper gammon-ham here) which I will roast tomorrow - when it's defrosted. Then we'll be having ham for a couple of meals this week. Nom-nom.

TODAY: Pork steaks in a kind-of ratatouille-y sauce, pasta.

MONDAY: Ham, chips, and HM coleslaw.

TUESDAY: Probably out for dinner.We are thinking about going to see "Arrival" in the cinema in Clermont, so we'll eat out somewhere.

WEDNESDAY: It's the Dance group Christmas party so I'm not eating at home. I will maybe buy some liver for Mr FD. Yuckity-yuck!

THURSDAY: Ham and mushrooms in sauce, rice.

FRIDAY: Something from the freezer - I think there's some meatballs in there to have with a sauce and pasta.

SATURDAY: Something that uses up the bits that are around before we go to the UK.

SUNDAY: We'll have lunch - probably a steak & chips - as Mr FD is coming to the Service of 9 Lessons & Carols inthe evening, and then we're going to travel on to Bourges from there. This will save us coming home and then getting up dead early on Monday to set off for the UK. We'll have a sandwich tea between choir rehearsal and the service before leaving after the event itself (there'll be some mulled wine and mince pies afterwards, but we thought we'd have a couple of sandwiches)

We'll miss seeing our lovely kitties for that night, but it can't be helped.... After George's escape we're not letting them out on the balcony while we're away. Our friend Alison will pop in to feed them, and she'll also bring her daughter to play with them from time to time.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bathroom Blues.

Hello everyone! I hope that life is treating you well, as we start the cound-down to Christmas with the first Sunday in Advent.

I'm afraid I had a bit of a meltdown today. The bathroom renovation is now heading into its sixth week, and considering our builder-bloke said, just before the works began,
je confirme bien la date du vendredi 21 octobre c'est le plombier et électricien qui vont commencer et moi je commence le 24 octobre pour environs une semaine. "  ( I confirm that the plumber & electrician will start on 21st October, and I will start on 24th October for about a week)
I think we have been more than patient! 

There are so many things wrong, or badly done, that we despair of having it ever looking good!  He has not tiled right up to the ceiling - we admit that this might be a bit tricky with the beams, but why weren't we told? Also he's left great gobs of cement at the top of the tiling:
and if he's not finishing off to the ceiling, shouldn't he at least paint that part?
Look at this delicious piece of finishing off around the beam (Yes, that is more gobbets of grouting on the beam):
Another slightly bizarre thing is the way he didn't cut one of the tiles, to the correct height (granted the ceiling slopes, so it isn't horizontal) leaving it like this:

It's standing slightly proud of the others and, as you can easily see, not at the same height. It's like he just couldn't be arsed to cut the tile to match the others.

We are pretty sure that he forgot the fact that we'd asked him to box in the pipes, as when I asked it about it, there was a rather telling pause before he answered. And so how he's now going to do this we're not sure, as he has tiled right up to the pipes themselves - so how is he going to fix the box?:

And, with a charge of 222€ for the boxing in, he has the cheek to suggest that in fact we will be expected to paint it! (even when we'd asked him to tile it!) The best bit about the whole thing is the painting of the wall, and that's Mr FD's handiwork, because we hadn't asked the workman to do it (kind of imagining it was included in the "renovation of a bathroom") it wasn't "on the devis" so he wasn't going to be doing it, thank you very much! 

I see this guy every week at dance group, and although, as Mr FD reminds me, we are the consumers and we're paying him a pretty hefty fee to do the work, I feel embarrassed that we're not happy with it.

This morning, waking up again with a feeling of despair and dread about another week trolling down to our friends' home to shower every morning, I started crying and shouting at Mr FD (not that he is to blame!) I feel it's partly my fault because I suggested we used this guy as he was a student of mine, & I thought we'd get good service from him. How bogging wrong I was! I am worried that - if he doesn't put stuff right - Mr FD might want to pursue him through the small claims court, which would be a hassle in French. And it would mean I'd have to give up dance group, because I couldn't face him after that! (Yes, I'm already looking way into the future and panicking about what ifs...) (My speciality!) 

We have written a long, non-accusatory email, explaining what we are unhappy with, including photos - and had the French checked! It's hard because we rarely see him as we go off to work at 7.15, and he arrives (two days a week, if we're lucky!) at about 9.00, and he's never here when we get back at 5.45. So we've been communicating (not often) through emails, which isn't ideal. We hope to be able to settle this amicably, either by phone, or face-to-face, if he'll come over in the evening, but who knows.

I know that this is really a first-world problem - there are no bathrooms for so many people in the world - but it really is starting to depress me. I'm no longer excited about the thought of a new bathroom, but wishing we'd never started the project. It was fine the way it was!