Saturday, 28 December 2013

Planning Ahead for Weight Loss

Well, we have had a fine few days of eating and enjoying ourselves with friends!! Our friends, due to come today, came yesterday, and we had the wild boar haunch that my student gave me - it was delicious! I reproduce the recipe I used (with its slightly bizarre translation!) for anyone else who might find themselves with a leg of wild boar to cook:

Cuissot de Sanglier rôti
Marinate one night in 1 or 2 bottles of 75 cl of classic strong red wine. The marinade must reach at least half of the leg, so when you turn it up (every 3 hours), all parts will have been eventually

In the marinade, put:
- A spoon of wine vinegar and 1 of olive oil.
- Onions in slices
- Crushed garlic
- Carrot sliced.
- 1 branch of celery, bay leaf, pepper, and from the hills of
Provence: thyme, rosemary and a few of these juniper black berries.
On the D-day, take the piece of venison out of the marinade, and any time well before: Strain all the onions, carrots etc...  Take a casserole, put olive oil and butter and dry and colour all
the strained onions etc... Add two big spoons of wheat flour on this, mix and let get it brown. Pour all the wine and first boil strongly then keep gently boiling until well reduced. Add if you want a small glass of brandy or Armagnac, and a small piece of peeled lemon skin. Keep this on fire for an hour. At the end it must look like a thick sauce but in good quantity. Strain to keep only the liquid part. Do not try to correct or re taste, just keep it warm. Keep your meat all day out of the refrigerator. Pre warm your oven and place your venison on a steel dish. Put pieces of butter on top, salt, pepper, herbs, and garlic "en chemise" on the steel dish.
Cook like a roast lamb leg for at least 1h30, more if bigger than the usual lamb leg. Pour small glasses of water or white wine in the dish during the stay in oven. When you think that your leg is cooked, take it out and put the dish on a gas to scratch all juices and do your best with water or
white wine to obtain good concentrated tasty gravy. Put all the gravy obtained in your wine sauce and now make the correction of salt and pepper. Add also the blood obtained from the cutting mat again in the wine sauce ... NB: The sauce must be obtained in good quantity for the following reasons: 1stly it is good and guests will use a lot with what they eat. Then a leg of wild boar is rarely entirely eaten during a dinner. When the dinner is finished, you must cut all the meat in thin slices, and you will put everything in what remains of sauce. The next day you just have to reheat this to finish your cuissot. You can serve along, celery puree, or sautéed chestnuts or chestnut puree, or even simply rice or boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes.

As advised, we made plenty of sauce, and although we did our best to eat it all, there is enough left over for our meal tonight. We'll have it with more mashed potato, I think, as the sauce needs something to mop it up!

I am very tempted to ask my student-the-hunter if I can buy some more boar from him, as we enjoyed it so much! (and hopefully, he'll give it to me for free, as he seems to have more than he knows what to do with!)

While we are going to be still enjoying delicious food up till January 2nd, I know that I have to go back on the healthy eating bandwagon soon. I went to see the rheumatologist on Christmas Eve who has confirmed that I have arthritis quite badly in one knee and the beginnings of it in the other. He has advised that I lose weight and take up Vélo d'appartement - exercise bike - Mr FD is delighted as he has been nagging me to do this for ages!! We don't have an exercise bike, but my road bike can be put up onto rollers and used in the same way: the trouble is, the downstairs room is so cold that one feels disinclined to go down there, even all bundled up. I just have to do it, I suppose!

I have gathered, collated and organised menu plans, recipes and low calorie tasty treats for the month of January (starting on 6th, when I go back to work and Mr FD starts back at college) and I'm going to stop buying biscuits and start making cakes/muffins/biskits, of which I will be allowed one a day, and none on fast days. If Mr FD wants such things, he'll have to buy them himself & keep them in the car!!!

While being on the 5:2 did work to a certain extent - I lost about 8 kg since I started - our non-fasting days were getting too self indulgent again, which meant that the good done on two days was all unravelled on the other days. My plans have been gathered from the 5:2 recipe book, the Hairy Dieters and from the internet, so I hope I can manage to keep to them... 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A teeth gritted Pause on Christmas Eve

Teeth gritted because the wibsite has decided to play silly buggers, & is refusing to connect, so I can't post my promised Christmas Eve poem over there.

So, here will have to do...Mybe some of the Teapot readers also read over here too, so will be able to read this beautiful, heart wrenching Christmas poem by Dorothy Parker:

Prayer for a New Mother
Dorothy Parker

The things she knew, let her forget again-
 The voices in the sky, the fear, the cold,
The gaping shepherds, and the queer old men
 Piling their clumsy gifts of foreign gold.

Let her have laughter with her little one;
 Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing,
Grant her her right to whisper to her son
 The foolish names one dare not call a king.

Keep from her dreams the rumble of a crowd,
 The smell of rough-cut wood, the trail of red,
The thick and chilly whiteness of the shroud
 That wraps the strange new body of the dead.

Ah, let her go, kind Lord, where mothers go
 And boast his pretty words and ways, and plan
The proud and happy years that they shall know
 Together, when her son is grown a man. 


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Up to my ears in Icing!

On Thursday I put almond paste on my 4 Christmas cakes (one for us, a bigger one for friends, and two tiny ones for little Christmas presents for our French friends to try). Yesterday I made my Christmas terrine (Duck and Pork with cranberries & pistachios) We'll be allowed to eat it from toùmorrow onwards (though I have had a little sneak taste of the main meaty bit, without the cranberries and nuts, as there was a mini terrine made from the bits that wouldn't fit in the loaf tin. It's not bad, though I say so myself) and I also made the dough for my Christmas cookies.

And today I made the Christmas cookies, having let the dough rest overnight in the fridge. They're not quite as spicy as they should be, as I ran out of AllSpice. Never mind. I also set to and made gallons of icing - rather too much, if truth be told - following Delia's recipe. Unfortunately I don't have any glycerine, so the icing might be rather hard and crunchy! I beat in a good couple of tablespoons of agave syrup, in the hope that it might help keep the icing softer...we shall see.

Here are some pictures:
1) One of the mini cakes:

2) Our Christmas cake, decorated with gold-and-silver sugary strands round the outside and little stars on the inside:

3) A selection of the Christmas cookies, with icing smeared "decoratively" on top, and more of the gold-and-silver sugar strands (You can see a glimpse of my Christmas table runner)

4) The dining room table covered in my icing efforts, 4 cakes and about 30 Christmas cookies:

I'm going to put some of the cookies on two decorated wooden plates for Monique & Michel. I was going to give them a Christmas cake until I remembered I'd soaked the fruit in alcohol, & Monique doesn't drink alcohol. Not knowing why, we thought it best to avoid alcoholic cake, just in case it's a medical reason (or a taste reason!)

I've put the left over icing in the freezer. I don't know if it will freeze (& defrost) successfully, but I didn't want to just throw it away!

Tomorrow we're off to the covered market to buy our cheese at the fantastic Mons Cheese Store

plus some exotic fruit for our simple desserts - Mr FD has recently stated a liking for fresh lychees, so I shall try to find some.

 and then it's off to see our friends for our first Festive lunch!!

If I don't get to write another post before now and Christmas, I'd like to wish you all a very happy Christmas

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Festive Food

I'm sorry I haven't blogged here for a while - I have been quite busy with work, and on Sunday, which is my usual blogging day, I was helping on a stall at a Christmas Market all day. It was the Artisans stall (craft work) and they didn't sell much. I, on the other hand, made 30€ with my "free" bookmarks.

These are free - if people don't give me money, it's fine - but often people will throw  a few coins, or a euro piece into my little bowl. The kids come over in droves, once they realise that they are free, and get one for their mum...their brother...their teacher...their granny... Sometimes I have to bite back the "What - another one?!" comment, but, as I said they were free, then free they must be. After all, the card was rescued from the recycling bin at Michelin, and the stickers were 50 cents for 3 sheets in Noz, and I haven't had to pay for my table, so really I can't complain. And it does give the kids extraordinary pleasure!

Anyway, I have now planned our festive menus for next week, so I thought I would share them with you...
My Christmas cooking starts today, as Mr FD has asked me to make some flapjacks for him to take into his computer course tomorrow. They are having a Christmas lunch together, & we thought flapjacks were traditionally English. I have some ready made pastry, so IF I can be bothered (a big if there!) I might make some mince pies too. I think we'll have quiche and baked potatoes and salad for dinner, so the oven will be on. I might as well make the most of it!

Over the weekend I will be marzipanning and icing the Christmas cakes (marzipan on Friday evening, time to dry out a bit, icing on Sunday). I've been looking for kitsch decorations, but didn't find any, so I've got sugar stars and edible gold and silver sprinkles instead. They should be pretty!

I will also be making our Christmas terrine over the weekend. I've chosen a duck and pork terrine with cranberries and pistachios from the BBC site

This will be eaten at lunchtimes/ light suppers with parsnip-and-apple soup, and some delicious cheeses. We are going to go to the Market in Roanne on Monday (23rd) to buy our cheeses, and other goodies


and then we're going to have lunch with Mij and Bill, at their home. I may take some more of the delicious cakes that I spoke about over here. They were expensive, but... it's Christmas!!

So, our menus look like this:
MONDAY 23rd: Lunch with Mij and Bill / terrine & soup

TUESDAY 24th: scrambled egg & smoked salmon for lunch - light but a treat!
In the evening, Corinne and her daughter Josie are coming for dinner. Otherwise they would have been alone and Christmas Eve is quite a big deal in France. Corinne's dad is quite ill (early onset dementia + other more physically debilitating illnesses) so he isn't up to all-night family celebrations. Instead they plan a family lunch on Christmas Day, so we've invited them to us on Christmas Eve.

We're having: pumpkin & chilli soup to start, followed by beef stroganoff, rice and green beans. I have a special wild rice mixture that I got in Noz, so we'll have that. Then cheese, and then Mr FD's Pannetone Pudding. He usually makes it for Christmas Day and then we are too full to enjoy it, so we're having it on Christmas Eve instead. Well, I say it's Mr FD's Pannetone Pudding, but here's the recipe . It's just that he always makes it!

WEDNESDAY 25th: Following our usual one-meal-through-the-day tradition, we'll start with a brioche breakfast. Later on, smoked salmon paté, toasts and fizzies. The paté is a bit of a break from tradition - usually we just have slices of smoked salmon - but why not kick against the traces once in a while?!

Then, maybe after a walk, we'll move on to the foie gras, with  a sweeter wine. This has special little brioche (or sweet spice cake)-type toasts to have with it, plus onion marmalade and/or fig chutney. I've already bought the two condiments and the foie gras; just the toasts to buy

The piece-de-resistance is the filet mignon of wild boar. Served about 4 pm, we're having this cooked simply with an armagnac/wine reduction, green beans, goose-fat-roasted potatoes and roast squash.

And through the evening we'll nibble on cheese, christmas cake and chocolates.

THURSDAY 26th: Friends are having a drinks-and-nibbles party - of course, there will be vast numbers of nibbles, so we'll eat well. I'll probably take some of the smoked salmon paté on toast, some foie gras and some frozen appetizers from Lidl. 

For the other meal, we'll have soup, terrine, cheese and salad (MUST get some fresh veg in somehow!!)

I will need to start marinading the haunch of wild boar (two days resting in a marinate of 2 bottles of red wine & some veggies and garlic) for Saturday.

FRIDAY 27th: So far, there's no visits planned anywhere, so this may be the day for a walk/ cycle ride - if the weather's good. If not, it may be the day to stay at home reading and watching TV!!

But we'll still eat well! A simple light meal, as the others, eating up the left overs. 

And for the other meal: Brie en Croute  - oh, my! This sounds delicious but...!! I'm going to adapt this recipe, omitting the sugar and making two small, individual portions, rather than using an entire Brie. Then baked salmon with a pistachio crust, potatoes and veg, followed by fruit and Christmas cake

SATURDAY 28th: Alison, Gerome and the kids are coming for either dinner or lunch - not sure which yet. We're going to have: a big salad with preserved duck, comté cheese and croutons, followed by the haunch of boar, served with a gratin dauphinoise, carrots and green beans, plus some sausages, just in case the kids don't like the boar. There is likely to be a lot of boar left over, so this will be sliced and frozen with some of its gravy, as well as being used up over the next couple of days...This may be our version of the Christmas turkey that hangs around a bit too long and outstays its welcome!!

Cheese and then a child friendly (= without the alcohol!) chocolate fondue for dessert - with bananas, apple, grapes, marshmallows and madeleines to dip in! 

That's as far as I've planned, but I'm guessing boar might feature heavily in the coming few days!!

There are Christmas poems over at the Teapot, as part of the Pause in Advent series. I have two great poems planned, one for the last Sunday in Advent, and one, that is heart wrenchingly beautiful, for Christmas Eve. I hope I remember to post it! I've got an appointment with an arthritis specialist on 24th about my knees, so with that, plus cooking for Corinne I might be pressed - but I really want to share it with you!!

I must dash! I've got a phone lesson in 5 minutes!

Have a lovely Christmas, whatever you're eating! (This post makes me sound really greedy, doesn't it?!)

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Just popped in to say that I'm not posting much today - I have a really bleuchy head cold and don't feel like much.

I have posted my Pause in Advent over at the Teapot though.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Wot you said...

Mary Callan (from A British Mum's Kitchen) thinks the aubergine and tomato pasta looks good...well, we shall see! I'll report back on it later! Nice of you to join us, Mary! There are some lovely sounding recipes on your pages too.

Mags commented on the picture of the Mad Hatter stuffing theDormouse in the teapot. Poor Dormouse!! (Maybe they are helping him get ready for hibernation!!)
Trish, PomPom and Chrissie left kind comments about my cards...I rather liked them - and will have to send them to cat lovers this Christmas. I must get on with wrapping the final presents (FINALLY found something for my BiL!) and writing cards. I'm not sending many this year, but - as I like receiving cards - I assume other people do too!

Angela, Elizabeth D and Mags commented on my "Food & Drink" post. As I said we had the duck - not as good as I remembered - and the Mozzarella Penne Pasta dish needed something more - some chorizo, perhaps, or some bacon. It was okay, but, a bit "meh". As Elizabeth said, cookery programmes are different now: there always needs to be an "angle"...I think they tried to bring back the Food & Drink format, with Michel Roux jnr (he of the twinkly brown eyes) but it wasn't very successful

On my rather rushed post, Mags, PomPom and Kezzie wished me to have some time to myself. Well, this week isn't quite as hectic, so Thank You, ladies! I can breathe again now.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner was nice. My friend Danièle really enjoyed the service, saying it reminded her of Church services when she was in England, and she wants to come again. It took us quite some time (and several loops of Clermont's one way system!) to find the school where the meal was being held, but we got there in the end. We shared a dining table with a lovely English couple and we chatted over a bottle of wine, and our meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, puréed pumpkin, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. Delicious!! I sampled several desserts, including pumpkin pie, brownie and pecan pie. All in all, a lovely day.

Mags & Kezzie remarked on the wonderfulness of Doctor Who. I agree, & we finally watched The Day of the Doctor (on the computer, as our satellite dish isn't behaving itself) on Saturday. Wonderful, wonderful!! I must watch it again soon!

Marigold Jam, Pompom and Mags sent warm wishes when we had the power cuts. Unfortunately the on-off-on-off-ness of the power cuts meant that the "candle" on our granule burner is kaput, so we are waiting for a new one and the fitter of the new candle to arrive. So we are relyiçng on expensive electric heaters, microwave slippers and the downstairs wood fire (which desseminates some heat through the whole house) to keep us warm. And blankets, slankets and cats, of course!!

Pompom and Mags both sounded rapturous over the Lemon Pudding recipe - have you tried it yet?

My planned "White Queen" fest came to naught in the end. Mr FD drove down to St Etienne on Wednesday evening, planning to avoid the forecast snow and to be in the right place for his course. I settled down with a glass of wine to watch episode 1. Fine so far...Half way through, the phone rang and it was Mr FD's tutor saying that the course had been cancelled for Thursday, due to the forecast snow. So I rang Mr FD, and told him to come home again. He arrived home about 25 minutes into Episode 2. Sigh. I will watch it sometime!!

I think I'll read the book again, as well.

Jane & Chris remarked on knowing what snow felt like - I should think they do, way up in the wilds of North America! I'm not sure I'd like to live where there is permanent snow for the entire winter - but I guess if yiou're used to it and prepared for it, then it's not too bad! It's mostly melted now, I'm happy to say, but I think there's more to come!!

Lots of lovely comments on the cat post - lots of my dear readers and commenters are obviously cat lovers (Bib has just joined me to explore my desk, play with pens, sit on my notes and get in the way of the computer screen - but all the time she is purring very loudly!)

Thank you everybody for your lovely comments. I enjoy blogging, but I think I enjoy reading people's comments even more! I'm sorry when I'm not good at replying to your comments OR commenting on your blog. I will try harder.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Menu Plans for this week

But first a Big Fat  Dormouse WELCOME to new followers Kathy and Cottage Dreaming (do you have a name, or shall I just call you Cottage?!) I hope you enjoy your visits to Fat Dormouse. You can also pop over to my other blog, at The Teapot, whenever you wish!!

Here are our menu plans for this week:
We had the Michael Barry duck dish that I blogged about a couple of posts ago. It was okay, but it definitely had a 1980s feel about it! A little bit too sweet, I think it needed some onions in the mix and maybe a bit less orange flavour. The cornflour also made the sauce a bit "claggy" - but it was quite fun revisiting a past favourite!

We're having a 5:2 chicken and spinach curry for dinner. I haven't done too well fasting today - I was gagging for a drink during my lesson today and there was no water available, only canned drinks in a machine. I had a Schweppes "Agrumes" (citrus flavours) but it was 94 calories in the can. With my morning egg, my apple & banana I'm fairly high up already in the 500 calorie count. I think I'll just coun this as a "low calorie" day, and not worry too much about hitting 500 caories only.

Squash with red bean sauce  (not quite the recipe, but near enough!) I think we might have this cooked as enchilladas, with avocado and yoghurt plopped on top.


I'm not sure if we've got capers...but we can always throw in olives instead. This is Mr FD's cooking turn as I won't get home till gone 7 pm tonight. It's a relatively easy dish.

Pork steaks with piri-piri coleslaw.
(Just regular coleslaw with a bit of piri-piri sauce thrown in!) 

Potato pie, sausages and beans.
Potato pie is a not-very-good-for-you Auvergnat dish
Potatoes in a creamy sauce, encased in puff pastry. The butchers about 6 km from here makes these. They are lush!! I'm going over there on Thursday afternoon (no lessons!) to buy the Christmas santons for my friends' Christmas presents. I have to pass the butchers. It would be rude not to pop in to buy a potato pie, wouldn't it?!
Mr FD will be popping this in our (new from Lidl!) mini oven to warm up with the sausages and baked beans. Real stodgey comfort food!! I'm drooling already (partlybecause I'm fasting today!!)

Don't know. Something with the left over potato pie (if there IS any left over!!!). Maybe cold meat and salad? Or perhaps a raclette. I don't know.


I know I keep promising to respond to comments - and I will, honestly!!!- but I've got a lesson in 15 minutes and I need to prepare.

Maybe tomorrow I'll just do an answer your comments post!!