Monday, 28 October 2013

I should be working...

...but I've got some sort of nasty tummy bug that has just wiped me out. I am SO tired, my head feels stuffed with cotton wool, and my stomach is achey-churney. I've cancelled my face-to-face lesson in Roanne, partly because I don't think I'd be a very good teacher like this, and partly because I don't think I'd be very safe driving the 30 km there or back, feeling as dopey as I do. This week is very thin work-wise (school holidays, I guess) so I could have done with the work, but there's not much to be done.

One student cancelled is lesson last Friday - usually there's a penalty for lessons cancelled with less than 24 hours to go, but I feel it would be unfair to penalise him: his house had been flooded!

So our food this week? I don't really want to think about food, TBH. We're fasting today anyway - I may eat some toast but that's about it. I can't remember the rest of the planned stuff, but I'm sure it will be lovely!

We're going to friends' on Thursday for a Thai Green Curry. I'm making my white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. But excuse me if I don't think about it today.

PomPom: My meal at the Bistrot was lovely - I had salade de gambas flambées, then a lovely steak & chips, then fromage blanc with confiture. The others had salade Lyonnaise, and the Quenelles Lyonnaise with Sauce Nantua. The meal with Cathy was when I started feeling grotty, so I didn't really enjoy that so much...but she made a lovely tomato tart: pastry case, baked blind, then spread with grainy mustard. Then a lot of peeled cooked reduced tomatoes (no juice), with grated cheese on top. Really delicious.

Trish: My weight loss has slowed down now (500g in the last couple of weeks) but I think that is (a) lack of exercise and (b) not being at all careful about what I eat on the other days. I know I need to increase one and decrease the other...But I like the way of eating in general. It fits our lifestyle very well (although Mr FD doesn't really follow it that carefully, claiming that he needs more calories for his cycling.)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Less is More

Actually there is a tiny bit less of me - I've dropped another 1lb in the last couple of weeks. Not much, but, as Tesco delight in telling us, Every Little Helps!

But this is a quick post to say if you're looking for my Less is More cards, you need to pop over to The Teapot

We're going here tonight for my birthday meal:




It's not far away and usually has lovely food. It's typical Lyonnaise food - so maybe there's a surfeit of andouilletes, but I do enjoy going for it's friendly atmosphere. We're going with Louis and Odette.

Then tomorrow we're going to Cathy's for a meal - I'm taking a mirabelle and peach jam tart (Ooops! I should be making the jam now!) and we're off to the pictures on Monday to see "Gravity" which Mr FD is keen to see. I just like going out to the pictures - but we will NOT be eating out at the same place as we went to last time...a really crap Chinese restaurant where they took forever to refill the serve yourself starter buffet. But the worse thing was that you chose your meat, veggies and sauce for the main course, took it to the chef where they cooked it in front of you on a hotplate affair. I chose chicken - and when it was cooked, the chef was ready to put it back on the same plate that had had the raw chicken on! What's worse is that he seemed mighty confused when I started demanding a clean plate, as though he couldn't understand why I wanted one. Mr FD wrote a rather scathing review on TripAdvisor:

Nous étions là dimanche soir après une seance de cinema. Ils ont demandé un prix premium mais ils n'avait pas d'entrées ni plats principals disponible depuis 45 minutes. Quand ils sont arrives ils etaient pas bon, tiede et sans un bon gout. Les sauces avec certains plats etaient très acide.

Ils avaient aussi des viandes et crevettes crus, dans un endroit pas froid. On peut choisir des choses à amener à une grande plaque de cuisson où ils sont cuisiner. MAIS ils ont ramené les plat cuisiné sur le meme plat qui a contenu les viandes et crevettes crus, brisant la première règle de l'hygiène de la cuisine.

Donc je ne vais plus aller meme si c'est le seul restaurant ouvert. Je préfere d'avoir faim que d'être malade!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Rapid(ish) Fire Posting!

I have a fairly free morning today - which is rare. Because the schools are on holiday I don't have the same number of students this week, so I can relax a little and I don't need to plan for them. I can do that next week. I do have a bit of planning to do, so I can't spend too long blogging.

I've already spent an hour menu planning for the month ahead - I like to do this, although it is (of course) a little fluid, depending on various things. For example,last Thursday I found chickens reduced to half price. I bought two, popped one in the freezer, but used the other over the weekend. We had a Sunday roast on Friday evening (!), we had chicken legs with chunky chips and coleslaw on Saturday, and on Sunday we were at a friends' house. Because I'm fasting today, I'm saving the rest of the chicken to make a chicken and bacon pie tomorrow with a chicken-carcass-and fridge-bottom soup as well.


So the menus this week are:
TODAY (Monday)
Fasting
As we didn't have the cod as planned on Friday, I need to use it today. But the planned meal isn't 5:2 so I'm changing it to Marsala spiced cod with 25g rice. I have prawns too which need using so we're having a piri-piri prawn starter too. It still only comes out as just over 400 calories for the whole meal!

TUESDAY
Chicken & ham pie, carrots and mange tout. I would normally buy puff pastry but (if I have time!) I'll try making my own shortcrust. I don't have pastry hands so it might be an unmitigated disaster!


WEDNESDAY
Vegetable pasta bake - using up all the stuff in the fridge. I fear I may be wasting some salad stuff (though if it's not exactly slimy it will have gone in the soup on Tuesday!) as I bought some & then we were given two heads of salad. I'm not sure if it will be still edible  now. Otherwise the veggie bake will use the bits of pepper, carrot etc that are hanging around.

THURSDAY
(fasting)
 It's my birthday! Woo-hoo. Still fasting though.
Turkish lamb and potato stew - It's 307 calories a portion - maybe I can allow myself a celebratory glass of wine. Or a cake from the patisserie. The recipe is  from my 5:2 cook book.



I use this SO much for our fasting day recipes. It is absolutely brilliant!!

Basically, for this recipe, you

  1. Peel & slice 375g tomatoes
  2. Brown 500g lamb in 1 tbsp oil
  3. Add 4 onions, chopped/cut into wedges + 2 crushed garlic cloves. Fry gently for 5 minutes
  4. Add 750g peeled chopped potatoes, the tomatoes, 1 chopped red/green pepper, 900 ml stock & 2 tbsp wine vinegar.
  5. Add 2 bay leaves + 1 tbsp dried herbs. Cover & simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Add 1 chopped aubergine. Bring back to boil & simmer for a further 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve
Mr FD will be in charge of this, as I will be working until late.
 
FRIDAY
  Salmon/chilli/coconut milk/ leeks/noodles combo. Yum!
This is almost the recipe but I use coconut milk (not cream), I poach in a pan, not the oven, and I add shredded leeks into the poaching liquid. It is lush.
 

SATURDAY
The plan is to go out to a restaurant with friends. I'd like to go to La Murette, but it might be to La Poste round the corner. As long as it is delicious I don't really mind. There are some good restaurants in Roanne I'd like to try, but it means that someone can't drink, which is a shame...
SUNDAY


Mr FD isn't a huge fan of lentils, I know, but from time to time I think they're A Good Thing to have.
I have a pork tenderloin in the freezer that I bought on a BOGOF offer a couple of months ago, so I'll use some of that for this recipe & some for tomorrow's dinner as well.

*********
 PomPom: I can't help thinking that if you're not a dried fruit cake eater even the feeding it with brandy won't make a Christmas cake palatable!!! Do you have a cake at Christmas/Thanksgiving? What kind of cake do you have?

Marigold Jam: Unfortunately Dad died before I got onto making my own Christmas Cake, so he didn't leave me a needle in his will (I hope the ones mum used were sterile!!! One wonders what we might have ended up catching!!) Maybe I'll ask our doctor friend in the village for one (or even our nurse friend - for whom I've made one of the cakes!) 

Frugal Mum: I hope your baking goes well. I love the run up to Christmas too. My blogging friend Floss usually organises A Pause in Advent which encourages us to think about God in the Advent season. I find it a timely reminder of (and I hate the phrase but it seems appropriate!) The Reason for the Season

And here's a LOLcats before I pop off to finally do some work:

Tee-hee.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Only 66 days to go...!!

Sorry about that, folks. But I'm feeling a little Christmassy as I've just made my Christmas cakes for this year. Once they're out of the oven and cooled, I will wrap them in foil, and put them somewhere cool. Then every week or fortnight I will "feed" them with a bit of alcohol poured down little skewer holes. I remember that Dad (who was a GP) would provide a needle and syringe for the job...

I am talking in the plural as my friend has requested a small Christmas cake as her family present. For the last couple of years I've made Christmas cookies, but this year I asked her if she'd like a cake, and she said Yes. As there was some mixture left over, I'm also making two little tiny cakes for two of our French friends as well.

As always I'm using my MiL's recipe, which she got from the Christmas edition of Family Circle 1966
 I wonder if it was from this edition...Or maybe this one




Whichever it was, I have always had great success with this recipe. I've reproduced it once before, but here it is again:




PAT’S CHRISTMAS CAKE


8” round/
7” square

7” round/
6” square
450g
currants
400g
225g
Sultanas
200g
225g
Raisins
200g
50g
Shelled almonds
40g
50g
Citrus peel (optional)
40g
110g
Glace cherries
75g
225g
Plain flour
200g
1 tsp
Mixed spice
¾ tsp
225g
Butter
200g
225g
Moist brown sugar
200g
1
Lemon – rind & juice
½
4 standard
eggs
3 large

Sherry/rum/brandy (optional)




  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Line sides & bottom of tin with baking parchment
  3. Prepare dried fruit & nuts.
  4. Beat eggs.
  5. Cream butter & sugar together until light and fluffy
  6. Add fruit, peel and nuts. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Stir in flour, mixed spice and lemon juice.
  8. Mix well and put in tin, pressing mixture into the sides. Smooth top with spoon.
  9. Place cake on a double sheet of parchment/brown paper on a baking sheet.
  10.  Bake as directed:
1st hour
160C
2nd hour
150C
3rd hour
145C
4th hour
140C
  1. When cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool in tin.
  2. When cooled remove from tin, peel off paper.
  3. To increase moistness and keeping time, prick cake on top with skewer and spoon a little alcohol into it. Invert and do the same with the base.

I have to admit that I mix up the fruit a bit - I don't like candied peel or glacé cherries, so I threw in more nuts and other berries - cranberries and goji berries (I think) were included in the mix I bought. As long as you end up with the same weight of fruit/nuts I don't think it matters. I soaked them in the cherry gin that Yves gave us a month or so ago, because it smelled so Christmassy! I'll probably continue to use that to "feed" the cakes.

My icing skills aren't up to much. I wonder how they'll turn out!!
Not like this, I fear!!!

HELLO & WELCOME! to my newest follower, Marigold Jam. Pleased to have you along!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

RECIPE: Soup of the Day!!

I love soup. I certainly cook it once or twice a week during the winter, and we have it for lunch.
Very often it's bottom-of-the-fridge soup, with soup lentils thrown in for good measure. Sometimes it's whatever leftovers I have, reheated with a tin of tomatoes and some stock and then zuzzed (left over lasagne makes a good hearty soup!)

I've blogged the recipes for a couple of great soups recently: Mushroom, Chestnut and walnut soup here and curried leek and apple on the post before this one. Of course, there's the perrenial favourite Spicy Butternut squash soup as well, but I was pleased to find this series on the Good Housekeeping site: 10 Warming Soup Recipes

They all sound really rather delicious (although some are ones I make anyway) But here are two which definitely appealed:
SPICY TOMATO SOUP WITH HERBED FLATBREADS

  • 1tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1tsp mild chilli powder
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 800ml (1⅓ pint) vegetable stock
  • 1tsp granulated sugar
  • 250g (9oz) strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • ½tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 125g (4oz) ball of mozzarella, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar, to drizzle
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, carrot and celery for 8-10min until beginning to soften. Stir in the chilli powder, fry for 1min more, then add the tomatoes, stock and half the sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20min until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the flour in a bowl and stir in ½tsp salt, the yeast, dried herbs and remaining sugar. Stir in 175ml (6fl oz) warm water to make a smooth dough. Tip out on to a floured surface and knead for about 5min, until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Put dough back into bowl, cover and rest for 15min.
  3. Whiz the soup in a blender until smooth (do this in batches if necessary). Add a little boiling water to thin, if needed. Return to the pan, check the seasoning and set aside to reheat later.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal balls. Flour the work surface and roll out each ball to make a rough 15cm (6in) circle. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Shake off any excess flour and cook each flatbread (in batches) for 5min, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  5. Reheat the soup, if necessary, and divide among four bowls, top with the mozzarella and drizzle over a little oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with the warm flatbreads.


GOLDEN LENTIL & CHORIZO SOUP:
  • 50g (2oz) chorizo, cubed
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 125g (4oz) red lentils, washed
  • 1.3 litres (2¼ pints) vegetable stock
  • 1tbsp pumpkin seeds
  1. Heat a large pan and fry chorizo for 2min, until it gives up some of its oil. Empty chorizo and oil into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Return pan to the heat and add leek, celery and carrots. Cook gently for 10min or until vegetables are softening. Add lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20min or until the lentils are soft.
  3. Blend until smooth (in batches if needed) and return to the pan to reheat, if necessary. Check the seasoning. Serve in warmed soup bowls, topped with the chorizo, a drizzle of chorizo oil and the pumpkin seeds. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

You can tell it's getting cold...

...when the cats snuggle together on the chair

But unfortunately, I can't upload pictures so you can't see them here. You'll have to go over to the Teapot to see them. While you're there you might want to read my post about the not-so-dreaded CHRISTMAS word!! 

Today our friends Jean and Clare will be pressing their cider for the year. We often go along to join in, but I'm not sure we'll go. It is a beautiful clear, blue day, but yesterday it was cold, grey and it p*ssed down with rain. And poor Mr FD and his Cyclo Chums were out picking grapes to raise money for the club. He went out at 7.30 am and came home at 7.15 pm, chilled to the bone, with an aching back and a very painful wrist. 
(This is not them. But it looks like conditions are just as bad here!!)

So I'm not sure Mr FD feels like going. But, maybe we will go. Maybe I'll go. Perhaps I should make a cake, just in case...

I've just made curried apple and leek soup

 1 Tbsp oil
3 medium leeks (chopped)
2 tsp curry powder
100g potatoes (peeled, diced)
2 tart apples (peeled, chopped)
yoghurt/ creme fraiche
600 ml veggie stock

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Stir in curry powder and cook 1 minute. Stir in leeks, potato and apples and cook 5 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Zuzz. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a swirl of yogurt/ creme fraiche.
 We shall have it for lunch, with granary bread and cheese.

The rest of our meals are going like this:
SUNDAY:
Chicken with celeriac cakes 

MONDAY
not fasting, as I'm out for lunch with Alison & Cathy
On Thursday Cathy invited us round for aperos. As I'd not seen her or Alison for a chat for ages I wanted to go - but I was fasting! So what did I do? I almost cried off, thinking "I will want to drink wine", but deciding that friends were more important, I went along and drank mint tea and nibbled on a dry Ryvita,  while Cathy & Alison drank wine and ate yummy chilli rice cakes. I was very pleased with myself!!
Anyway: Lentil and quinoa burger (Click for recipe)  with houmous, tzatziki and chips.
(Mr FD will love this!!!) (There was just a tiny tad of sarcasm there!)


TUESDAY
(fasting for me, but maybe not Mr FD if he's cycling tomorrow)
 
Squash with red bean sauce (from my 5:2 recipe book)

WEDNESDAY:
Mr FD is on cooking duties tonight, as I'm out teaching until 7.00.
(Not quite the recipe, as mine uses spinach as well, plus cannelini beans instead of chickpeas, but you get the idea)
THURSDAY
Fasting again
Thai beef and pepper stir fry. With a few noodles. 
This is nearly the recipe, but cut down drastically on the oil, and the quantities, take out the sweet chilli sauce and add 2 tbsp of lime juice instead. I may add a bit of chopped red chilli as well, to bring some zing!

FRIDAY
This has been on the menu plan several times, but has never yet got cooked, for various reasons. We will see if it gets cooked this time!  I will probably put it on rosti instead of ciabatta bread though. 
  

**************
PomPom: We actually ended up having Friday's dinner on Wednesday - but it was good! In fact everything last week was tasty. I made a slightly bizarre lasagne on Friday with leftovers from Thursday plus some chorizo and pasta sauce. And chickpeas.. Not your traditional lasagne but still very tasty!

Frugal Mum: Ruby was uber irritating this week. The comments are a-twitter with Paul Hollywood fancying Ruby stories. I'm not sure, but she still ticks me off. Do you think that her lack of confidence is an act or a real thing? I suppose when I was a student I wasn't oozing with self confidence either. I want Kimberley or Beca to win.

Thistle Cove Farm: Butter is a weakness too...but I'm glad that I'm losing the equivalent of it from my stomach!! I don't buy it very often as Mr FD will insist on eating it!!!! 
 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

I missed a week...

Sorry about that! I was away at a wonderful weekend, which you can read about over on my other blog: we were Opening Doors with the wonderful Ange.

There was lots of good food eaten, and not a few bottles of wine imbibed - our Friday night dinner was home cooked, with everyone contributing: there were stuffed mushrooms (a stuffing of feta cheeses, curry powder, and the mushroom stalks zuzzed together, then grilled for about 15 minutes. Simple but delicious!), a huge tuna salade composé, quiche, and then a yummy vegetable curry. A chocolate flan, and home made syrup/honey/spice/cranberry cake (my offering) followed plus fresh figs from Ange's garden.



Saturday and Sunday lunches were cooked and delivered by a local lady - green salad and something-delicious-that-I-can't-remember, then stuffed chicken, cheese and little madeleine cakes on Saturday; courgette soup, stuffed peppers, vegetable curry (again!) and bulghar wheat, then apple cakes and creme anglaise for dessert.
On Saturday evening we went to a local restaurant, that provided delicious food - the starter choices were all tempting, but I plumped for pan fried chorizo. After, I wished I'd gone for the petit camembert roti et flambé, but no matter, my chorizo was thickly sliced and delicious, served with roasted tomatoes. For main course, I chose magret de canard  - I love duck! This was really lovely: pink and juicy, with a creamy sauce. Because we still had lots of sweet stuff back at the gite, we passed on dessert, although they too sounded deliciously tempting!

I spent Sunday night with Floss's family, sharing another lovely meal - vegetable soup (all veggies from their garden!), and a turkey and sausage casserole. Dessert was a wonderful fruit salad, full of raspberries, nectarines, blackberries, physallis and other juicy fruity goodness.

I left Toulouse, full of good food, and full of things to think about. The following week then became rather manic, leaving me with little time to catch my breath, never mind blog! But we have eaten well (as usual!) I didn't fast on Monday, but we fasted as usual on Thursday. Mr FD cooked on both Wednesday and Thursday evening, due to my teaching commitments, and made a very good job of it: vegetable chilli one nigt and chicken in veggie sauce the other. We also had a very tasty vegetable-and-chorizo pizza (some left for lunch today! Huzzah!) made with a jar of something I picked up in Noz:
Quite frankly, I wish I'd picked up several pots! It was only 1€ and it made a wonderfully spicy base sauce (mixed with half a jar of olive-&-tomato pasta sauce) for the pizza.

Our planned menus for this week are using up a lot of the stuff that's in the freezer. I keep putting things in and never getting them out again! So there's maybe a bit more meat than usual:

SUNDAY:
Pizza for lunch
Magret de canard (again!!), with a mushroom/pepper sauce, roast potatoes, parsnips, leeks & carrots


MONDAY:
(fasting)
 Cuppasoup/ryvita combo for lunch
Lamb, spinach & tomato curry-like dish with a small quantity of rice

TUESDAY
Soup (made with veggies & the rest of the pasta sauce) + bacon sandwich
Jacket potatoes, with lardons/mushrooms/baked beans/cheese and green salad


WEDNESDAY:
Soup & tuna mayo sandwich in the car (not while I'm driving, I hasten to add! Soup could get messy!!)


Turkey brochettes, tomato & courgettes, rice etc. Maybe merguez too, if the Chef decides to cook them.  Mr FD is in charge of this one.

THURSDAY
(fasting)
Cuppasoup/ryvita combo for lunch
Prepared beefburgers (150g each) plus HM coleslaw and salad.

FRIDAY
Probably some kind of sandwich. Or maybe egg on toast
Courgette, pasta and tomato bake, with sausages 


SATURDAY:
Soup, again - I have a butternut squash waiting to be used - and sandwich
Salmon and seafood fishy pie, with a sweet potato topping, and probably some spinach in the sauce. 

********************
I like to reply to comments made on my blog, but I'm really not sure that one that appeared on my last post isn't  Spam. Forgive me, Obatherbalatasejantungkoroner, if you are a real person, but if you are, I'd try writing a more comprehensible comment if you want to be taken seriously! And I'm certainly not taking the risk of clicking on either of the links!

On other comments:
Pompom, you were right, I had lots of fun over the weekend, and it was great to meet Floss & her family. Her home was exactly as I had imagined it: homely, full of lovely troc-broc-and-recup'y things, and full to the brim of lively conversational young men! I had a really enjoyable time.

Fripouille: I'm sorry. Liver and other offal has never floated my boat. I can do small bits of kidney in Kate-and-Sidney pie, but that really is my limit! I like reading your blog, though, as it gives me lots of insights into France and its politics.

Thistle Cove Farm: I managed to clear my ironing pile, but mysteriously it has grown to epic proportions again!! Oh botheration!

John: I thought Glenn was a real cutie!
Such a nice smile!! Still, the Great British Bakeoff continues to enthrall - but I do find Ruby with her slightly sulky teenager look a bit too irritating!

***************
And finally...
Imagine 12 of these. That's how much weight I've lost in the past 5 weeks. I'm rather pleased!!!