Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Thingies

Hello Guys!
Just popped in to say:
I made some mince pies with the remainder of the jar of mincemeat I used a couple of weeks back. There wasn't much, so I mixed it with grated apple, sultanas and calvados to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out. I haven't got "pastry hands" (as Nana Disley used to call them) but I made some pastry and just about got 9 s'pies from it. We had two on Sunday evening, with some mulled grape juice, while watching "Elf" (There's room for everyone on the nice list) which is a favourite Christmas film.

I'm going to make Christmas cookies later on this afternoon. Round about 4.30 the internet goes very slow, so that's the time to stop working (for "working" read blogging/ reading other peopl's blogs/going on Ship of Fools/surfing the internet * ) and find something else to do. I'm making cookies for the family Christmas present of friends who live up the hill. I bought a nice tin in Noz so I'll fill it with homemade Christmas cookies. I use this recipe from The Pink Whisk which has become an annual favourite. I made the cookie dough on Sunday and it's been in the fridge. Now it's time to get rolling and cutting! And hopefully, there'll be too many to go in the tin and we'll just have to eat them!!!

* Though in my defence, this morning/afternoon I have prepared all this week's lessons (that's 8 lessons), ordered some teaching books from Amazon, prepared and printed my December bills and cooked lunch for Mr FD (pasta bake) So I haven't really been skiving!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Possibly the last post before Christmas!

Hello! Hello! I see I have another Follower! How exciting! Sandy from Hobnobbers has joined our merry band! I hope that you find something that interests you, Sandy!

Don't forget that if you're joining me via A Pause for Advent, you'll find the post over at the View from the Teapot
Some of the menu planning from last week changed - On Friday, I didn't feel like making the butternut squash risotto (we'd already had sausage and chips earlier in the week, necessitating a shift to the risotto), but as Sara at Le Petit Village had blogged about Raclette I decided that was what I fancied on a cold snowy winter Friday. Charcuterie is the usual accompaniment, but our raclette cooker has a "hot plate" addition, which means we can cook meat on it. So I bought some thinly cut steak and we had that.

On Saturday, there was still some steak left, so I made steak sandwiches, with lots of onion and mushooms. We had these with more chips (tut, tut, Fat Dormouse. That weightloss will start to reverse itself soon!) and salad. Cathy introduced me to an easy, but yummy salad dressing: three tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Mix well and serve over salad leaves. 

Today we had Colin burgers. No, don't worry, we've not turned into cannibals. Colin is French for hake, and  Gilles, at ShCarrefour gave me some free, just-past-their-sell-by-date Colin burgers. I wasn't too sure about them so...

I cooked some onion, leek, mushrooms and courgettes in a little olive oil, and made a cheese sauce. I put the veggies in an oven proof dish, laid the semi-cooked burgers on top, poured over the cheese sauce, and then topped it all with big croutons made of two-day-old bread tossed in a bit of oil. In the oven for 30 minutes, and it was very acceptable, thank you!

MONDAY: We'll have the postponed chilli from Saturday. With rice.

TUESDAY: I think I'll make a quick and easy vegetable and pasta bake, with a few lardons thrown in. I think there's about 70g of chorizo laying about in the fridge too, so I'll add that. 

WEDNESDAY: As I'm teaching & don't get home until almost 7.00 I want something quick and easy for this meal. There are a couple of steaks in the freezer. With onions, mushrooms and a bit of creme fraiche, this will make a quick  stroganoff

THURSDAY: I've still got the turkey escalopes in the freezer that I was going to use for Hairy Crispy ChickenSo I think I will use those up. 

FRIDAY: We'll have Lamb Kofta curry (the recipe is for beef koftas, but I've got lamb mince to use up)

SATURDAY: I'm off to the UK! I'm flying from Grenoble airport to Liverpool, to spend time with mum, before going to Canterbury to spend Christmas with MiL. I'm not sure if we'll eat before leaving for the airport. I think we'll have time for a quick meal - the journey is about 3 hours, and I need to be at the airport for 17h. If not, we'll take sandwiches to eat in the car.

I won't be blogging from Liverpool, but once I get to Canterbury, I will pop in from time to time. 

* * * * * 
Cro - I hope your village did get its goat! Maybe they named it after you!!! I know it's sometimes hard to believe that these things really do "get through" to whoever they are supposed to, but I guess sometimes one just has to trust! I'm "giving" my friends a duckling from Practical Action this year.

PomPom and GreenPatches - the cats really are cutie pies. I took a photo of Bib a couple of days back
Amidst the chaos of crafting on my desk, she is curled up in her basket, purring loudly and sucking the end of her tail! 

SaraLouise - I hope you enjoyed the Spanish style chicken. We certainly did, and it was really easy to prepare and to cook.

Aninha - My kitties send licks and purrs to yours. I hope you're having a great time in Brazil!

* * * * *
And to everyone who reads this blog:

Whatever you're eating this Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful time. May God bless you.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A great Christmas present!

I've found a great idea for a Christmas present! Everyone should buy one!
This is a CoolZeer Pot and by placing one lidded earthenware pot inside another, and insulating it with wet sand you can keep food fresh for up to 20 days!!! Absolutely brilliant!!!

Of course, I have a fridge, a freezer and access to the supermarket. But people in the baking heat of the Sudan don't - and this is helping to save people from illness caused by spoiled food.

This is one of the gifts that you can buy from Practical Action, which is the charity that my niece works for in Sudan. 

Over at View from the Teapot, I have written a little more about some of the initiatives this small charity is working to support. I hope you will pop over there to read more, and be inspired to help this charity make the lives of those they help more bearable.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Pausing...to talk about food (and cats!)

If you are here for A Pause in Advent, you actually need to go here which is my more general blog...But don't worry. You can stay awhile here as well: you'd be very welcome. I may "pause" in a foodie way too!

But, I want to tell you about the lovely day spent with friends yesterday. Mij and Bill came over from the other side of the mountain, and brought lots of goodies - chocolates, wine, delicious-but-healthy carrot cake, and a pile of cycling magazines for Mr FD. Bill is a keen cyclist too, so he and Mr FD spent a lot of time comparing routes and talking about what mountains they'd climbed recently. We ate a delicious meal together (though I say so myself) - We began with warm butternut squash and mushroom salad, which is a River Cottage recipe. As a starter it was lovely, and it would work as a main course too, with lots of crusty bread. Then we had a Hairy Dieter recipe, which was honestly so good you would never know it was "lower calorie" - Spanish style chicken bake. Loaded with roast onion, garlic, tomato, potato, green peppers, chorizo and, of course, chicken it was spicy, tasty and filling. And easy to make! Definitely one to do again. Then we had cheese and a festive-tasting apple-and-mincemeat tart. What is it about mincemeat that immediately makes me feel Christmassy?! I bought the jar when we were in Pezanas last September, in an English bookshop but I saved it until now. I added a little a lot of Calvados and spread it on a pastry base. Then I added sliced apple and glazed it with some greengage jam. Twenty minutes later, and served with Haagen-Daz Salted Caramel Vanilla ice cream, you have a festive dessert!

Mij and I went for a quick tramp in the snow, returning for cake and tea as dusk started to fall. After they left, Mr FD and I sat in front of our lovely wood burner, with a glass of wine and some paté-on-toast, and watched "Strictly..." A lovely Sunday. The first Sunday-in-Advent, spent with friends, enjoying their company. Perfect.
* * * * *
This week, I'm not sure when I'm shopping, as I won't be in Clermont until Friday and I won't have time on Wednesday when I'm in Roanne. I think I will try to do a reduced shop, using ShCarrefour in the village, and pick up the impossible-to-get-here stuff (Mr FD's breakfast fruit salad fruit) on Friday - if his fruit salad will last that long!

MONDAY: Hairy Steak and ale casserole with leeky mashed potato. I made this a couple of weeks back, but we didn't eat it. It went into the freezer, and came out this morning. It needs another hour cooking, so I may change and have baked potatoes, and braised leeks to use up the oven space. I don't need to make a cake as we have Mij's, which she left for us. Oh, and broccoli - I must use up the broccoli.

TUESDAY: There's a lone chicken breast lurking in the freezer. I'll defrost this, and make a chicken/mushroom/pepper/onion creamy thing to have with rice. It's not a recipe from anywhere, but using sensible precautions (a tsp of oil, lower fat creme fraiche, lots of veggies, only 40g rice each) it will be a reduced calorie meal.

WEDNESDAY: River Cottage Spoufflé. I'd planned this for last Friday, but I was feeling in a can't-be-arsed mood, and so I cooked steak and chips and salad instead. So we can have Spoufflé today. Huzzah!

THURSDAY: Butternut squash and chilli risotto (if I've got risotto rice. If I haven't it will be butternut squash and chilli not-risotto-but-with-rice-of-some-description.)

FRIDAY: Not at all reduced calorie, I'm afraid, but I have a hankering for sausage, chips and beans. The beans part may be difficult, as we may have used our last tin of Branston beans (supplies need to be bought at Christmas!) but if that's the case, I'll make an oniony-tomatoey-courgetty thing.

SATURDAY: I'm not sure. Perhaps a good old spicy chilli to warm our cockles. Yes! I think that's what we'll have. With tortillas, as we've had quite a lot of rice already. Or maybe garlic bread. One or t'other.

SUNDAY: Hairy Easy Crispy Chicken (or, more likely, turkey escalopes) with potato wedges and green salad. I like the suggestion of the person to add chilli flakes to the crispy coating. I may do that.

* * * * *
PomPom- Thank you for your comments. Our turkey joint from Lidl (mentioned a couple of posts back) was delicious - stuffed with chestnuts and currants, it gave us two good meals. Mr FD pronounced it "possibly even better cold", but I'm not sure. We enjoyed it both ways.
I'm not sure how much posting I'll do over Christmas. As I explain over at View from the Teapot, Mum isn't too computer savvy (neither am I) and gets a bit edgy if someone uses the laptop, in case they do something wrong and it gets broken! (tho' to be fair, I used it to check my emails last time I was there, and did something which meant she couldn't access her emails for months, until my niece's boyfriend was able to come over and "do" something to fix it!) But I will have Tabby at MiL's so I'll try a quick post or two from there, to let you know what we're eating!

Aninha asked me who George is. George is one of our cats: we have four. Pomme is the oldest, and is about (we're not sure, as we adopted her from a refuge.) 9-and-a-half years old. Here she is, being curious over a bunch of flowers.
Then we have George and Mildred (otherwise known as Millie) They joined our household a couple of years ago. We know how old they are, because they were born on 23rd April (St George's Day) 2010 to the cat of a friend. 
Here is Mr FD with both George and Millie. As they are brother and sister, they do often curl up together and groom each other. It is rather sweet.

This is George, shortly after he arrived. He is now a big lump of a cat - not fat, just heavy and big. He is the most placid of all the cats, and puts up with a lot from the little monster that is Bib:

 This picture shows Bib when she just arrived - I found her abandoned by her mother, aged about 5 weeks, at the Michelin site where I worked. So she came home with me. Her name is Bibendum, which is the official name for the Michelin man: as she was found at a Michelin site, it seemed an appropriate name. She has grown up a lot since I brought her home, but somehow, it seems I have no photos of her. That must be rectified! She is no longer quite as tiny and appealing, but she is a real character! She spends a lot of time chasing George, or being chased by Millie!! 

So, there you are, Aninha. That is who George is (and Pomme, Millie and Bib...!)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

I've got wrinkly fingers!

I've just helped at the Cyclo Club Telethon meal - The Telethon is a bit like Children In Need, known throughout France as an event collecting money for charity. The Cyclo Club always participate in a ride, collecting money, and a meal, again to raise money.

This year it was choucroute, provided by outside caterers, but served by non-cyclist members of the Cyclo Club. I went down, at 11.30, after I had taught my usual Saturday morning lesson: the hall was prepared, the tables set, and nothing for me to do. But soon the cyclists started arriving - so they sat down, and we rushed around with bottles of kir as an apero, and then bottles of red wine, then plates of choucroute, then plates of cheese and apple tart. I don't know how far I walked, back and forth to the kitchen, but it felt like miles! The servers had time to sit down with their meal (not that I enjoyed it - I'm not a Choucroute kind-of girl ) Then the cyclists all set off again for the afternoon, and we had to tidy and wash up. I washed 250 plates (at least), 250 knives, forks and spoons. While I'm not sure about the ecological/environmental arguments for using plastic cups, I'm very glad we didn't have to wash up 250 glasses as well!!

We're going out with Louis and Odette for a meal tonight - hoorah! I might have a pizza, I think. But maybe I'll change my mind.

Friends coming over for a meal tomorrow, so I think I'll probably write my meal plan blog post on Monday, together with my Pause in Advent blog post. That'll be over on View from the Teapot, but I'll provide a link. So Monday will be a day for me and what I want to do - no cleaning, no cat litter trays to do, no preparing for lessons, no job searching, no preparing for Christmas, no French homework. That will start again on Tuesday, but Monday will be just what I want to do - crafting/card making/ blogging. And I shall enjoy it!