Sunday, 30 June 2013

Voyaging with the Cycle Club

I forgot that I hadn't posted about the Voyage with the Cycle Club. We had a lovely time in the Alpine village of Samoens which was set in a beautiful valley. Here are some of the photos:

 On Saturday afternoon the cyclists set out to conquer the mountains. There was a bus trip for the non-cyclists to a clock museum and miellerie (honey making place) but it was a beautiful day so I decided to go for a walk. It was slightly disappointing as I got a bit lost and didn't really go anywhere...but I did find a nice shop where I bought a blouse - so it's not all bad!
 In the evening we went for a walk around the village and quite a lot of us (not me. I'd eaten far too well at dinner and felt a little over-stuffed!) had an ice cream.. Here is Mr FD in the shade of a 400 year old lime tree

The next day the cyclists set off to conquer new heights
while I decided to go for a shortish walk - my feel were hurting after yesterday. I went first to a waterfall:

which was rather lovely. I sat for quite some time and watched it. But it hadn't taken long to get there, and I was feeling quite good, so I took another path, signposted to Beaumont-les-Hauts. It was hard going but I felt really good: it was a beautiful day and while my feet hurt a little, I could ignore it.

I passed these sheep in a tiny hamlet

and then came across this shrine:


(The illustrious and reverend gentleman, the Bishop and Prince of Geneva will always accord indulgences to those who say an Our Father and an Ave Maria in front of this oratory)

 So I did!

 After lunch there was some free time before getting the bus back, so Mr FD and I visited the Botanical Gardens in the village. We managed to force down an ice cream today! I had melon-and-pineapple. Yummy!

 and then we all went to Le Cirque du Fer à Cheval which was beautiful

It is a great circle of rock, with cascades all around from the meltwater from the glaciers and snow on the tops. Amazingly beautiful.

Finally we made our way home, pausing at an "aire" (motorway rest stop) to have the usual picnic supper

Bread, charcuterie, crisps, paté, chocolate, wine, melon,  cake - and home made flapjack. Which went down very well and I had to explain what it was and how it was made about 20 times! I think I will have to sell the recipe!

This particular time I used a mix of porridge oats, granola and meusli, some ground almonds, and dried cranberries, with a mixture of golden syrup and honey, together with butter and sugar. One of my best versions so far, I think!

Friday, 28 June 2013

You say Hello..

...and I say Goodbye!

Not permanently, you understand, but...
I'm sorry I've been absent for a bit - if anyone noticed! - but we have been without internet/phone access for two weeks. Quite why it took the combined efforts of SFR and FranceTelecom so long to work out why I'm not sure, but there you go. I was rather like a gypsy, toting my (Vera  - lovely giveaway from Vicki!) bag full of folders to various friends' houises to take my phone lessons. I used my mobile for some, but I don't have unlimited tarif so it was best to try to blag some phone time off friends. Thank you, Danièle and Charles-and-Angela! We're back on-line now, and I've caught up with my favourite blogs, but I'm leavig for a sojourn in the UK on Tuesday.

Last year, you may remember, I spent 5 weeks teaching in a Summer School in the UK. I found it a little difficult at times, it must be said, (as you can also read here) but I have been lured back by the money...and the fact that I don't have much work over the summer. And, in hindsight, it wasn't that bad. (Actually, I'm not sure about that!)

Knowing a little better what to expect, I've already tried to do a bit of planning, although, due to a new method of working, the Powers-that-Be haven't allocated year groups (so I don't know what age I'll be teaching) or Workshops Leaders (so I don't know what workshop I'll be running...) I'm guessing a bit! Still, I'm taking the car this time (eep. I have to drive across France by myself. First time ever doing a long run single handed!) so I can take a few more resources than I could last time, so I feel better prepared for what might hit me!

One of the resources I'm taking is our popcorn maker!
If I am leading the Gastronomy workshops, I have planned to use it. If I'm taking the Kids' age range (7-10) I'm planning on having a popcorn making session each week - designing & making boxes to put it in, choosing a flavour etc - and if I'm doing neither we can have it in the staff common room!!!

The other slightly irritating thing is that I don't know how long my contract will be for. Last year I knew it was for 5 weeks. This year it mighht be for three...or four...or five weeks. As Mr FD wants to fly over to join me for a bit of a holiday at the end, this is a bit frustrating as he can't really book his flight. But, hey-ho! There it is. It's like that so we have to deal with it.

The 5:2 fasting has been going reasonably well, with some days harder than others. I haven't really been calcumating calories very carefully - using the given number on recipes, but as I've added ingredients, or taken some away, I'm never totally sure if I've stuck to 500 calories on a Fast day. Still, I have lost weight, and can fit into clothes that I couldn't wear before, so there must be something good happening! Whether I can continue it while I'm away - or even will want to! - is another matter! I may try to have a couple of days a week when I just eat raw fruit & vegetables - there is a great salad bar both for lunch and dinner - but equally, I may not have the will power to do that, when faced with fish-and-chips, pizza and other delights! But until I go, the food plans are

TODAY: (fasting) coffee, cuppa soup and Good for you Green Curry with a small amount of rice

As Yves, a cycling friend, gave Mr FD a huge bag of cherries (at least 2kg) we will probably have cherries too!

SATURDAY: Merguez sausages, pork brochettes, pasta, tomato-and-courgette sauce.

SUNDAY: Magret de Canard, salardaise potatoes (cooked in duck fat) and green beans. Mmmm!

I may make a little plum sauce as we have some plums going wrinkly in the fruitr bowl. I need to stew them today but I can use them + some chutney to make a sauce.

MONDAY: Though I'm not sure we'll do a full fast, we'll eat "light" so our main meal will be an old favourite of "Kamchatka" - stewed peppers and tomatoes, with eggs. I may pop a couple of potatoes into the mix too.

TUESDAY: Mr FD is on his own as I'm leaving to drive to Calais. I have a couple of cans of Red Bull to keep me going if I feel sleepy, and I'll take lots of "grazing" food to snack on when I stop the car for a rest every couple of hours or so. I am nervous about the drive - especially going round Paris - but there shouldn't be any major problems.

I'll try to blog from Downe House, but I make no promises!
Have a great summer, everyone!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Insert title here:

HELLO! First of all, a big fat Dormouse welcome to 2 new followers: Lucie from Big Cook...Tiny Kitchen and also to Tenku Butang, who appears to have a YouTube channel all of his/her own. Also a blog which is incomprehensible, so I'm not sure I'd get much benefit from following him/her. But still, HELLO & WELCOME!

Otherwise, we're fine. It's finally decided to be quite summery. A week of beautiful sunshine (when we were working) has given way to a Saturday that's grey and a bit muggy. Mr FD is cycling up some huge climbs with the Cyclo Club today in preparation for the Voyage next week. There they're planning to cycle up the Col du Joux Plane
which is big and high. The non-cyclists will be relaxing in the swimming pool and visiting (I believe) a clock museum.

I'm not sure if today we will be welcoming a stray cyclist. We belong to a group called Warm Showers, which links up cyclists with hosts where they can stay overnight. Our experience with young Aaron back in November was so positive we decided to sign up. On Thursday I received an email from a Quebecois who wanted to know if he could have a bed for tonight. I emailed back immediately saying "Yes" since when I have heard nothing. OK, it's going to be very relaxed, and we're not putting on anything special for him (although I have invited 2 cycling friends to share dinner with us) but I'm a tad miffed that he hasn't bothered to contact us to say yes/no/maybe. Oh well, all the more salad, lasagne and fruit crumble for us!

Food next week is a bit disorganised, as I'm trying to empty the freezer. As I'm using a box  labelled "Mince and vegetables", another labelled "cooked mince" and another "Mincey-veg" to make tonight's lasagne, AND I've removed the half-joint of fore-rib of beef to have tomorrow, one of the drawers is now very empty. We need to work on the others!

MONDAY - not a fast day as we're having a lunch at ILS, the language school where I work, as an end-of-course Goodbye for a couple of classes. This isn't usual, but they're really nice and they suggested we did it, so - I'm making English trifle for pudding (with jelly! Sure to (not) go down well with the French!) So for dinner, I'm pulling out yet another box of vegetable curry from the freezer, mixing it with some of the beef from our roast meal on Sunday and making vegetable-curry-and-beef pasties to have for dinner with salad.


TUESDAY: Fast day - I'm making a veggie chilli to have with a bit of rice. Otherwise, just cuppa soup (and 1 cracker with a half slice of cheese) - adding up to about 100 calories.

WEDNESDAY:  Cold beef, chips and beans. Miam-miam (French for "Nom-nom")

THURSDAY: Something from the freezer...I'm thinking a melange of salmon and seafood mix, in a creamy sauce, topped with mashed potatoes. Everything, except the creamy sauce, is in the freezer. I feel Mr FD could assemble this meal without too many problems!

FRIDAY: Fast for me, but not Mr FD,as he's in preparation for tomorrow. So Mushroom Goulash  for us both, but more for MrFD with pasta (freezer) I may have a tad of pasta or maybe a small jacket potato.

SATURDAY - away with the Cyclos. I know we'll stop for breakfast on the way - out will come cool boxes full of sausage, cheese, chocolate and bread, plus wine (at 8 am!) or coffee. Lunch will be provided by the Holiday centre before the ascent - probably something with pasta - and I would guess it will be traditional Savoyard fare for dinner. This will be some variety of the melted cheese/charcuterie/potato mix that appears in so many mountain areas - tartiflette, raclette, aligot, fondue, and another which I've forgotten. All variations on a theme...

SUNDAY: Lunch is again provided, but dinner is a Cyclo event on the way home - stop in a Service Area, and pull out cheese, meat, bread,crisps, cake, melon, fruit, wine, chocolate, coffee. Stand around eating and chatting and then pile on the bus again. This is the only time in the year when I feel I should have my own pocket knife! Everyone pulls theirs out in order to slice/peel/pare various foodstuffs... and we have nothing! Still, I'm thinking of making a giant lot of flapjack, so maybe someone will be willing to share!

ThistleCove Farm - Hello, Sandra! The food was all delicious...especially on Monday & Friday. I find that fasting really makes tyou appreciate the meal!!!

PomPom: I didn't do all my ironing (a job I detest) but the things that I thought I'd need. I'm swopping my winter/autumn/spring clothes for my summer clothes today - there'll be more ironing to do, I fear!!

Tenku Butang - I'm glad you like my blog..but as I say, I don't think there's much point me following your blog. I don't understand it!!

Esme - as you might have seen the weather for our trip away wasn't too bad. Let's hope this coming weekend is even better!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Busy days!

We've had a lovely time with a couple of friends staying, but now it's back to normal. We went out for a couple of meals - one to the Poste round the corner, where I was a bit disappointed by the choice on the menus.There was nothing that really grabbed my tastebuds! However I chose a tuna terrine, followed by chicken in a mushroom sauce. It was very nice, but nothing particularly WOW! factor. Still great cheese and a good choice of desserts, as usual.
The other meal was to La Murette
where - because it was "Friday and not the weekend" (?!) there were no "menus" - just a choice of poeles with meat and potatoes. However, these were delicious: I chose confit de canard, Norman had agneau, and Ian went for reblechon cheese; (Mr FD hadn't joined us as he wasn't feeling very well)
We had a salad to begin, and then our little frying pans full of potatoey-meaty goodness were brought, still sizzling hot, to the table. After that (and a Westvleteren Blonde beer for me!) we were very full and went back home.

And now...

I've spent this morning doing my one of my least favourite things - sending out bills, getting my records and accounts up to date. But a big THANK YOU to Mr FD who spent last Saturday afternoon completing our tax return.

The freezer has become too full to put anything else in - so it's time to start taking things out and using them. So this week's meal planning will be very boring, and have very few recipes included. Sorry!

MONDAY: Kamchatka with a bit of chorizo thrown in (I've got lots of peppers that I bought for a recipe and then didn't use)

TUESDAY: Burgers with chips and coleslaw and salad. No buns though.

WEDNESDAY: Aubergine and ham gratin. Again, already in the freezer.

THURSDAY: Salmon in coconut/chilli sauce. Served with noodles and strfrried shredded cabbage. Salmon is already in the freezer (I bought 8 fillets of salmon-trout for 10€. As they usually sell for 2 for 5€ I was quite a happy bunny at that bargain!) I'm teaching this evening, so Mr FD will have to prepare this.

FRIDAY: Fasting again. Something made with the left over veggies I would imagine and some chicken pieces (Again bought reduced - Red Label chicken at 1,50€ for 300g. Not bad!) With a lot of spiciness and maybe a few carbs I'll make the recipe up as I go along.

SATURDAY: Something mincey-veggie-tomatoey with fresh pasta. The mince/veggie sauce is in the freezer and the fresh pasta in the fridge.

SUNDAY: We've had a piece of beef in the freezer since Christmas. I think it might be time to pull it out and have it in all its glory with yorkshire pudding, roasties and loads of vegetables. It will make room in the freezer too, as it's a BIG lump of meat!

I hope all my readers are well and happy. Sorry this is a tad rushed this week - I've got to prepare next week's lessons and do my ironing, and it's already 3.30!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Less Is More

If you have come via a comment to view my Less Is More challenge entry, you'll need to go over to the View From the Teapot.
Where you can find out how this rather shabby front door vaguely inspired a card!