Monday, 28 May 2012

Real Life Got in the Way!

I'm not sure if I've been missed, but I'm sorry to anyone who might have been waiting with bated breath for last week's post. You can now unbate your breath...And Breathe!

 The last couple of weeks have been rather hectic - the week before last I was all-of-a-tizzy as I was being interviewed by a couple of Summer Language Schools for jobs. I was offered three interviews (well, four really, but I turned one down as I didn't really want to work there) and was offered all three jobs! I accepted one which is EFL teacher but also Workshop Leader: Gastronomy. Tee-hee! I'm not totally sure quite how the workshops function - whether I choose what the students cook, or they do, but I'll have to try to get some ideas, based around the themes. These themes are connected to the trips out::
  • The Streets are Paved with Gold (London) - Rocky Road bars? with Caramac (can you still get Caramac? ) chocolate chips?
  • Off With his Head! (Hampton Court) 
  • Wierd Science (Science Museum)
  • Is It Art? (Saatchi Gallery!) - Jackson Pollock inspired icing on a cake, perhaps?
  • Gladiators! (Bath)
I'm feeling very uninspired.  Maybe we should cook fat dormice to go with te Roman theme. Eeep.

I also spent last Sunday at a Craft Fair, selling a few bits and bobs. It's never going to make me a millionaire, but I had fun. My friend Mij was also selling, so we spent some time chatting as well as selling!

My Slimming World intentions went slightly down the drain too (now, there's a surprise!) but I've not been eating too badly, or too much! We've been having a starter of mixed salads every day - some with dressing on, which partly negates the doing-us-good-ness of the salads, I know, but which certainly add to our 5-a-day. Last night, for example, I had a handful of roquette, a tbsp of red cabbage salad, a tbsp of beetroot, 2 tbsp of vegetable macedoine, a couple of slices of cucumber and some olives. Yummy. I'm also making a bit more effort to walk for 30 minutes a day: down to the bottom of the village, up the fairly steep path to the chateau and then down to our house again. According to MFP, 30 minutes of walking at 3 mph is equivalent to about 150 calories. Not much, but certainly something. It also helps my sciatica, which is certainly worse if I don't do exercise.
Last week it piddled down for three days, so I got out of the habit. So I'm out again today!
So, what have I planned for this week?
MONDAY: Vegetable curry. I'm using a Patak's sauce, so it won't be very low calorie; however, there will be lots of vegetables in it, which is all good. With rice, and home-made spicy peach chutney.

TUESDAY: I bought some Yellow label mince (I'm really pleased that I've found a supermarket that appears to yellow label its meat on the day I can get there! It's usually chicken - not always, but often, organic / red label - but this week I got some 5% fat mince and some Merguez sausages too.) so I'm using this to make a shepherds' pie type thing. I'll cook it all up with onions and tomatoes, and then use half today & save the rest to use on Thursday for chilli..
WEDNESDAY: Vegetable moussaka. Here's a link to one recipe, but I'm thinking I won't use the cannelini beans. I'll just use peppers, courgettes, mushrooms & tomatoes.
THURSDAY: Aforementioned chilli with rice. I must remember to cook extra rice for tomorrow's...
FRIDAY: Stuffed peppers - the recipe is something like this  . I'll possibly add some chopped courgette or tinned sweetcorn into the mix as well.
SATURDAY: I'm going for the falafels combo that we had a few weeks back It wasn't low cal but it was high vegetable content and pleasure content too! Very very delish!

So that's it! Food sorted!

Now news on the giveaway
It's my 100th post today! Whoop-di-whoop!

So to celebrate, I have two vaguely foodie orientated gifts to giveaway. One is a little recipe book, entitled "Les Recettes du Potager Bio" (Recipes from my Organic Vegetable Garden) - but I guess you can use vegetables you've not grown yourself, and, indeed, vegetables that are not organic. Don't be scared that it's in French - the recipes are easy to follow, and you can use a dictionary for any ingredients you're not sure of. You can even learn new words - like Topinambour  - I think that's a great word, and could even be used as an alternative swearword.
"Bof! Topinambour! I've dropped my artichoke quiche and it's gone all over the floor.!" (Goodness me! That even rhymes!)

Another is a fridge magnet, with one of my favourite bons mots:
J'aime cuisiner avec du vin; il m'arrive meme d'en mettre dans mes plats.

There are one or two other little bits and bobs to add as well. So definitely two prizes and maybe three if I feel generous. 
All you need to do is comment on this post - or, as others have already done, on the two previous posts. You have until I next post on this blog - probably next week. That post will include the winner, so hurry, hurry, hurry!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

99 posts. 1 more to go! Recipe

 I'm cheating a bit, really, with this, but I hope I'll be forgiven. I've been taking part in the "Finding Fun" blog swop with Carolyn & lots of other people. The fun is going on in the kitchen this week, but I'ver not had a huge amount of time for playing. Actually, that's a lie. I've had lots of time, but I've filled it with other Stuff. But I did have time to make some low fat muffin/cookies/rock buns. Which aren't bad at all! So here's my post about rock bun recipes:

I don't know what these are going to taste like, as I've made the mix but they're waiting to go in the oven with tonight's baked potatoes.
(I've used the same mix for both (!) because I ran out of paper cake cases, so I just plopped spoonfuls of the mix onto a baking tray to make a cookie version. I don't know whether this will work. The recipe was for muffins)
150g oats                                        100g sugar
140 ml natural yoghurt                 100g SR flour
1 tbsp cider vinegar                       1 tsp baking powder
85 ml apple sauce                           1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vegetable oil                       1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs                                               1 apple grated
1/2 tsp vanila essence                  100g dried cranberries

  1. Pre heat oven to 375°F, 190°C
  2. Combine oats, yoghurt and vinegar in one bowl. Set aside
  3. In another bowl, mix apple sauce, oil, eggs & vanilla
  4. In yet another bowl combine the dry ingredients
  5. Pour wet over dry ingredients and stir gently. Then add dried fruit & apple & the oaty mixture. Stir well until all combined
  6. Put into muffin tins or plop onto a baking tray to make cookies
  7. Bake for 25 minutes
 This amount has made 29 cookies/muffins. And on My Fitness Pal comes out as 63 calories per muffin/cookie. (Although I was a little cavalier with putting in the ingredients as it's so tiresome to do. So the spices/vanilla weren't counted. I can't imagine they bring many calories to the party though)

I will report on the success or otherwise of these at a later date.

This is not a picture of my apple cranberry muffins. I fear these look too much like muffins!
OK Here's the report: the cookies turned out more like rock buns, as they rose quite a lot. They were very nice. The muffins are a bit denser, but they're okay too. I will be making these again, but in the form of rock buns, I think.

And don't forget my Giveaway. There's more details on the earlier post if you'd like to join in. Foodie items (recipe book plus something else) will be the Prize.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Nearly 100 posts - so a Giveaway!

This is my 98th Post. Which means that in two posts time I'll be on my 100th post. Goodness me! So, I've decided to do a little Foodie Giveaway.
All you need do is make a comment on either this post, or my next one, or my next one (You'll have  up until the time I make my 101st post!) Then I'll draw the winner. It would be lovely if you became a follower, but it's not necessary. If you have a blog too, it would be lovely if you put a link to Fat Dormouse. But it's not necessary.

I am feeling very Fat Dormouse at the moment. I'm not exercising enough, and I'm eating too much.
Calories in - calories out = still too many calories in!!! Danièle was talking about going to some kind of Spa where for a week you have nothing but tisanes, juice, and water AND you go out for long healthy walks. It costs 400€ a week. I offered to have her stay for half that and I'd feed her nothing but tisanes, juice and water...but she didn't seem so taken with the idea! Quite frankly, it sounds like a recipe for disaster - far too few calories in for the amount of exercise. And, I would imagine, all the lost weight goes back on as soon as you start eating normally.
( This is a picture of a Fat Dormouse. It certainly does look a bit porky!)

So, I'm thinking of attempting Slimming World-ish type food again. So the menus and recipes may not be quite so mouth watering! But maybe they will. We'll see.
The most difficult things for me on a diet are breakfast & lunch. Dinner is fine, as it doesn't need to be easy to carry or anything like that, but I find lunch hard to plan anything interesting for...also if I don't have enough I go all wobbly later on. I usually do sandwiches - but bread isn't great on SW...especially French bread!

I think the other problem is that there isn't the range of stuff that SW recommends using for cooking here in France. Which is great in many ways, because it forces you to use fresh, non processed foods, but it makes finding usable recipes a little more difficult. The old stand-bys of  Muller light yoghurts, Quorn, low fat sausages etc aren't available...and, at the same time, I'm needing to cut down on spending and the options are therefore cut even further! Of course what I still need to remember is the equation:
Calories in - calories out = still too many calories in!!! If I'm exercising more, I needn't worry quite so much!

MONDAY Chickpea and Spinach curry and rice. This isn't a SW recipe but, on a Green day, it's practically Syn free.
Green day Breakfast:  Mushrooms on toast (0.5 HA for toast)    Lunch:  Egg mayo sandwiches (1 Syn mayo. HA for 2 slices bread) 0% yoghurt, fruit, low fat muffin (4 syns)

TUESDAY: I bought some yellow label chicken legs last week. I think I'll give us a bit of a treat and cook a version of Lemon and Garlic Chicken  with warm Potato Salad . It looks fairly simple and quick to cook. We have potatoes and green beans already so there you go! I'll probably cook some courgettes too.
Red day Breakfast: Cheese slice on toast (0.5 HA for toast; HB cheese slice)    Lunch:  Ham sandwich(. HA for 2 slices bread) 0% yoghurt, fruit, low fat muffin (4 syns)

WEDNESDAY: Baked potatoes with prawns and creamy yoghurt sauce and salad. I'm just making this recipe up, using a mix of mayo/natural yoghurt & tomato purée. Salad will be the usual green stuff and tomatoes. I don't know how many Syns in this, but if we're sensible, it won't be too many.
Red day Breakfast: Mushrooms on toast (0.5 HA for toast; HB cheese slice)    Lunch:  Ham sandwich(. HA for 2 slices bread) 0% yoghurt, fruit, low fat muffin (4 syns)

THURSDAY: This recipe seems so easy to be true! An oven baked tomato and bacon risotto... I have a phone interview for a possible summer job, round about dinner cooking time, so this will be perfect to prepare and pop in the oven.
Red day Breakfast:  Porridge 35g porridge oats & water plus 0.5 tbsp golden syrup (HA + 2 syns)    Lunch:  Roast chicken sandwich sandwich(. HA for 2 slices bread) 0% yoghurt, fruit, low fat muffin (4 syns) Dinner 3.5 syns

FRIDAY: This asparagus frittata sounds yummy, served with potato wedges. 
Green day Breakfast:   Porridge 35g porridge oats & water plus 0.5 tbsp golden syrup (HA + 2 syns)  Lunch: Vegetable soup, bread and cheese slice(. HA for 2 slices bread HB cheese slice) 0% yoghurt, fruit, low fat muffin (4 syns)    Dinner 2.5 syns

To be honest, this planning has taken me forever and I'm not very happy with it. I've done some of it from memory so I'll have to get my books out to inspire me a bit more & hopefully to speed up! If anyone does Slimming World and can give me any tips I'd be very grateful - especially for lunches.

Thank you too for your tips on having more fruit and vegetables... I've decided to start having a small starter each day of salad stuff - grated carrot, grated courgette, a spoonful of cous cous, a few olives, a couple of tomatoes etc. This will help fill us up plus hopefully add to the F&V intake. I won't list the F&V as I did last week - I didn't actually keep to what I'd said, so it was a bit of a waste of time. If I'm doing Slimming World seriously I need to be more aware of "Syns" so I'll be looking at that, rather than counting F&V.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fun, Fun, Fun!!

If you've come in this direction to see if I've been Finding Fun with Carolyn, you need to click on this link to go to my other blog.

Otherwise, I can tell you that yesterday's quiche, coleslaw and jacket potatoes was very nice. I added some cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and green beans, so we probably had THREE vegetable portions all told in that meal. Huzzah!
TUESDAY: I've already had juice, an apple (as a snack) and coleslaw/cucumber/cherry tomatoes for lunch. I'm guessing that's possibly four in total. With the fish casserole tonight we're having a mix of leeks and courgettes, which, at a rough estimate will give another 1.5 portions. If I have a few dried apricots too I'll be well over the F&V portion target.

Though I won't be surprised if you're not that interested!!
On Sunday now - just to catch up:

Wednesday - We had the Spanish pork with rice.  There wasn't quite enough for two portions so I padded it out with some extra sauce and a few olives. So it was rice-and-olive-sauce-with-pork.
THURSDAY - I forgot to get kidney beans so I made  pasta dish with mince. I added vegetable soup to the mix, but it didn't do it many favours. Not a successful meal, really.
FRIDAY - I threw par boiled potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, onions, courgettes and chorizo into a baking tray. I stuck it in the oven for about 45 minutes. We ate it. Delicious!
SATURDAY: We had friends for a meal. They're vegetarian, so the planned Toulouse sausage dish is for tonight. (And anyway, 2 toulouse sausages wouldn't have gone round 5 of us!!) We had Courgette & Green bean salad with tahini dressing (A River Cottage recipe) and then mushroom risotto. Danièle brought an apple tart so we had that for pudding.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Oops, I'm a bit late.

Sorry Folks, I'm a bit late with this week's post...and I'm not sure it's a very interesting one. Not many recipes this week.

But this painting is to rejoice and celebrate the fact that we had our first melon this week! And it tasted good! I love melon and so the season when I eat a bit more fruit arrives. I really should try to eat more fruit & vegetables - perhaps I should post the planned 5 portions here, so I know that at least I've planned to eat them! Usually I have 4, but I know more is better.
Does anyone have any tips how I can increase my intake? ( I usually have a glass of juice at breakfast, plus a pot of tinned peaches with my sandwich lunch. Sometimes I'll have 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes too)

So, what else are we eating?
Well, yesterday Danièle invited us for lunch, so we didn't have the steak-from-the-freezer that I'd planned. No problem! It can stay there until our wedding anniversary dinner on 25th May. (27 years!!!) We had a delicious paté of chicken livers with fig jam, then Portuguese Salt cod casserole. (While I was dubious when she brought this out, it was in fact really yummy! We didn't finish the enormous casserole full that D had made, so she gave us a box to bring home. Dinner tomorrow then!) We finished with cheese and a strawberry tiramisu. So in the evening we just had vegetable soup.
TODAY (MONDAY) Tomorrow is a bank holiday (to celebrate VE day) so today is what is called "Le Pont", that is a "bridge day". In many places, workers take a long weekend, and don't come in on Monday, so it has almost become an official holiday. My language school is not open today, and many of the Michelin guys aren't working either. It's nice in one way, but in May this year there are THREE Ponts, which means SIX non-working days! (1st May was a Tuesday so 30th April was a Pont, 8th May is a Tuesday, so today is a Pont, and just to shake things up, we go to the other end of the week next week, as Ascension Day is always a Thursday, the Friday is a Pont) Anyway, that was a long winded way of saying I'm not working today!
Lunch: veggie soup and French Bread Pizzas. Dinner: Quiche from last week, home made coleslaw & jacket potatoes.
F&V: juice at breakfast, veggie soup, melon, 2 in coleslaw (onion, carrot & cabbage) = 5
TUESDAY: Lunch: veggie soup and quiche. Dinner: Danièle's fish stew with sautéed courgettes.
F&V: Juice, soup, peaches, fish stew (tomatoes + peppers), courgettes = 5
WEDNESDAY: Working, so I'll have sandwiches for lunch. Dinner: Spanish pork (from freezer), green beans & carrots, rice.
Is this what you would call Spanish Pork?!

F&V: Juice, tomatoes, peaches, (both for lunch), 2 in a combination of veggies with dinner + in sauce = 5
THURSDAY: Chilli & rice for dinner. A made up version, using veggie soup as a base, plus kidney beans and some more tomatoes.
F&V: Juice, tomatoes, peaches (lunch), kidney beans, veggie soup, tomatoes(all in dinner) = 6
FRIDAY: Pasta-and-vegetable-and-chorizo bake. Recipe below (but it's as free-and-easy as you wish!)
F&V: Juice, peaches, tomatoes (lunch), tomato sauce + veggies in bake = 5
SATURDAY: Probably bacon & eggs for lunch - Mr FD likes a good lunch before cycling, and Richard brought some English bacon with his delivery of Branston baked beans (see last week's update) We may go mad and open another tin - as we have more "on a promise" from Mij and Bill!

Dinner: I feel a bit uninspired at the moment, and TBH, I'm not sure what's in the freezer to use up! But then I think about Toulouse sausages, and after a tiny search on t'internet come up with Toulouse sausage and lentil casserole which I think will do us nicely!
Bizarrely, this photo is taken from a site called "Cook Japan"!!! I wouldn't have said it was the first recipe I thought of when I imagined a site "Cook Japan"!
F&V: Juice, beans, dried apricots for lunch pudding, lentils, fruit for pudding (melon again? Maybe strawbs...depends on the price.) = 5

RECIPE (for 2):
150g chorizo (about)
150g pasta
tin of ratatouille. Or not, if you can't get it. You could just use tinned tomatoes. Or nothing and maybe a bigger jar of sauce.
Jar of favourite pasta sauce
1 onion. Or two if you like onions. Or maybe a leek. Or both.
1 courgette or a red pepper. Or both.
small tin of sweetcorn. Or not, if you don't like sweetcorn.
a few mushrooms. Or a lot, if you like.
cheese & breadcrumb mix

Put pasta on to cook, as packet says.
Cut chorizo into cubes and chop onion. Put both in a frying pan over a medium heat. Let onion sweat in the chorizo oil. Add chopped courgette & mushrooms and cook. If you want, add some garlic too.
Add ratatouille and pasta sauce and sweetcorn. Warm through. Splash in some red wine if you have it lurking around. Dried herbs might be nice.
Drain pasta when cooked and add to the sauce.
If at this moment you say "Bloody hell, that's a lot of food for two people!" divide into two dishes, let one cool and pop in the freezer for another day.
If you think "Mmm, that looks just right!" put into one dish and sprinkle with the cheese-and-breadcrumb mixture. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and crisp and melty all at the same time.