Monday, 29 September 2014

Go, go, go!

This is just a quick post as I really should be working, but I want to say Go,go, go - to see the film "Pride".
We went last night and loved it - it is a funny, moving film which deals with an important issue. And what's great is that it is practically all true.

We laughed (a lot) and I certainly wept (a little) at the end.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

No Menus this week - but bits of chat

Hello, hello, hello dear friends!

And a special hello to Maggie, who has recently bought a farmhouse in France and is renovating it. You can read about her adventures over on her blog, Brambling in Brittany. 
It is lovely to have you join me on my random ramblings mmostly about food.

Don't forget I also have my blog at View from the Teapot which is a bit more general - and I blog there slightly less frequently than here.

I'm busy at the moment - I don't have much time during the week for preparing my lessons, so have to do it at the weekend. As my Sundays seem to be taken up with Church-y things (or cleaning in preparation for a friend's visit!!) I'm preparing on Saturday, which leaves less time for blogging.

Still, it's good to have work. On Mondays I am teaching 5 different groups at a factory in Riom, near Clermont Ferrand. Most of them are happy to be in lessons, but one or two are less-than-enthusiastic, which makes for some slightly awkward lessons. Still, I just ignore them and get on with it! Or rather, I ignore their mardy faces and get on with it...I do speak to them! This Monday I will have to leavevery promptly to rush on home because Mr FD and I are thinking about going into Roanne to see a VO showing of the film "Pride"

Wikipedia describes the film thus:
Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the UK miners' strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. The National Union of Mineworkers was reluctant to accept the group's support due to the union's public relations' worries about being openly associated with a gay group, so the activists instead decided to take their donations directly to a small mining village in Wales — resulting in an alliance between the two communities. The alliance was unlike any seen before but was successful

We have a Church "away-day" tomorrow, entitled "Living Stones" so I'll be out all day at that, and  I'm also preaching next Sunday...Nice to have the opportunity, but Lord knows when I'm going to write the sermon!! Hopefully I'll find nooks and crannies through the week when I can prepare lessons, giving me Saturday to write the sermon. I already have a couple of ideas bubbling away on the back burner, so I hope they'll develop over the next few days!

Food next week is of the fairly basic kind - or pulled out of the freezer! We are having a nice meal tonight though - Cordons bleus aux saveurs du Sud.... Veal escalopes, topped with a slice of aubergine, all covered in bolognaise sauce and grated cheese. With chips and corn-on-the-cob, and maybe green beans too. Yummy!!

Sorry, Kezzie, I haven't yet got round to sending the book off to you, but I hope I will soon. It seems to be impossible to get to the Post Office at the right time. POOH! Just remembered I meant to go to the bank this morning and forgot. Hey-ho. We need to order a new cheque book, as one of the VERY bad Kittens has now taken to peeing from time to time on the downstairs table where we used to keep a lot of our papers and things. The cheque book was in the line of fire. Although it has spent several days outside (weighted down by a plant pot) and been sprayed with anti-smell spray, I am still rather embarrassed giving people cheques that have a distinct  whiff of cat pee about them!

I wish they'd learn!!

And this is just because I love the drawings:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Insert snappy title here.

Goodness me! Life is busy at the moment - I don't have time to prepare my lessons during the week, so am having to do it at the weekend instead. I could do them in the evening, but to be honest, I prefer just flopping in front of the TV with a cat on my lap! I had too many years in mainstream education when I had to work all through the evening, marking and preparing - I don't want to do it again!! So this weekend, I shall be mostly working on my lessons tomorrow.

Last week I spent most of Saturday doing it, as we had the Church Barbeque/picnic on Sunday. This was a very enjoyable event - Nan and Scott opened their home and their barbecue, and provided mountains of pulled pork and chicken thighs; everyone else provided salads and other assorted goodies. It was a South Carolina-style event (so I believe!) as many of the church members are based at Greenville, S.Carolina, with Michelin. I ate far too much!! It was all so delicious. There was a silent auction too, and I offered some calligraphy and a Zentangle - but as many people bid on a Zentangle I've offered to do one for everyone!!

Today Alison and her children came for lunch, so we spent the morning cleaning (we needed to do it, and Alison's visit was a good nudge that we needed!!) and most of the afternoon eating. We had foie gras (I found a tin in the cupboard), pizza and salad and a fruit tart from the boulangerie

Of course we needed an apero, so enjoyed a peach sparkling wine beforehand! Together with a glass of white with lunch I'm feeling a tad squiffy.

I also spent a bit of time in the morning using up the 1.5kg of tomatoes that I brought back from the picnic last week. Some of them had started to grow little beards of white mould, but most were okay. So I made chilli jam with them. Here is the recipe I got from my MiL:

Pat's Chilli Jam

1 kg ripe tomatoes
4-6 large red chillies, with their seeds
6 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
3 thumbs of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
50g Thai fish sauce
450g unrefined caster sugar
125 ml red wine vinegar

1. Blend the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger & fish sauce in the food processor. The chilli seeds will add heat, while the tomato seeds provide pectin.
2. Put the purée in a pan with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down to a simmer & cook for about 90 minutes, stirring from time to time & skimming off any foam.
3. When it has reached setting point, pour into sterilised jars & allow to cool.

Great on cheese sandwiches, cheese-on-toast, with cold meats etc.

I didn't have enough chillies so threw in quite a lot (possibly too much!) piri-piri sauce that I had. Mr FD says it's fine, but I have a slightly more sensitive palette than he does!

Our menus next week look like this:
SUNDAY: Roti du porc aux poireaux (recipe in French) - roast pork with leeks - with roast potatoes and carrots. This is a recipe from a little recipe leaflet I picked up a while back. There will be pork left over, so I'll freeze this for another time.
MONDAY: (semi fasting) Griddled aubergine and courgette gratin - possibly with some of yesterday's pork, but probably not. It's only a semi-fast, because I take soup for lunch and I have scrambled egg for breakfast. I probably consume 700 or 800 calories, rather than the specified 500 calories, but with a long drive at either end of the day, I think it is better not to be fatigued by fasting!
TUESDAY: Chicken biriyani - one of the Hairy Dieter's "Fakeaways"...I can't find the recipe on line, but if it's nice, I'll let you know!!
WEDNESDAY - my Line Dancing night! I am really enjoying this, although my knees are complaining vociferously by the end of it! I join the Beginners group about 20 minutes in, then stay for the "improver's" group. I get home at 8.50, just before "Bake Off" starts, so Mr FD has my tea ready! Tonight it will be Hairy Dieters Salmon with chilli ginger sauce 
THURSDAY: This is my lunch-out-with-students day, so I probably won't have anything except soup tonight. It should be a fasting day, but it isn't going to be!! Pasta with sauce for Mr FD.

FRIDAY: Not-exactly-fasting-but-maybe-a-little-bit. We'll have stuffed peppers for dinner.
I may add a bit of chorizo...but I may not!

SATURDAY: Clafouti de legumes - or maybe not. Now I look at the recipe again it seems a bit meh. I'll see how I feel. there's meatloaf in the freezer, so I may pull that out and have it with chips and beans instead!!

Thank you once again for your comments - always nice to hear from folk!

Both Mags and Claire commented on the cheeseboard at La Poste - it is an excellent cheese trolley with the cheese being well kept  - although this time La Comtesse de Vichy (a local cheese) wasn't ripe enough, so was a little dissappointing.

 I look forward to finding out whether Kezzie tried the chickpea recipe and how it went down with her Beloved! Do tell, Kezzie! (We didn't have it in the end! I had a yen for something else, so we had that...though I can't for the life of me remember what it was!!)
News on the Giveaway - Kim didn't get back to me, so has lost out on her chance to win the Picnic book. So I pulled another number from the hat - number 4 which is Kezzie!!!  I do have your contact details, but to be fair, and to keep to the same rules as I applied to Kim, can you contact me Kezzie either by leaving a message or using my email. Then I can send it to you. You have till next Friday, or I will choose another person.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Mixed Bag

Goodness me! It's a long time since I've had to work on a Saturday! I'm starting teaching 4 new groups on Monday and only got the information about their levels on Friday afternoon! It doesn't leave much time for preparation!! Because last week (and all weeks for the foreseeable future!) was quite chocka with lessons, I had to plan and prepare today, finally finishing at 3.30. Phew! I took a short break to take some photos of the St Just classe - you can read more about that over at The Teapot

Here's a photo - if you're wondering what's going on, pop over and read all about it at The Teapot.

Tomorrow we have a picnic and silent auction after I need to make some cakes to take. I'm thinking some plain fairy cakes, to be honest, as I don't feel very inspired to do anything else!! 

We were taken out for a meal on Thursday by Alison & Gérome - to say Thank You for help that Mr FD has given them with internetty things and also as a Happy Birthday to Mr FD for last week, and me, for a few weeks hence. We went to La Poste, round the corner.

I had a ballotin of chicken with a pistachio stuffing, followed by a piece of beef in a wine and shallot sauce, fried potatoes and a few veggies, cheese and then a small piece of myrtille charlotte and a small piece of fruit meringue cake.  Very nice! 


This is the cheeseboard - how do you choose from that?!

Now: The Giveaway!!
I only needed you to comment on the post, in order to try to win a copy of the Picnic book

 There were 10 comments that I knew I could count - PomPom and Jane living beyond the Atlantic, I know I can't send it to you...I'll try to find a lighter book for readers beyond the bounds of Europe!!

The random number generator (me picking a number from the "hat") came up wth 7 - counting down the comments the 7th one was Kim Neville, so if Kim can let me know her address I will be able to send it to her. If I've not heard from her within 5 days I'll pick another number out, so get your skates on, Kim!

Thank you for your comments on my last post when I had a Senior Moment (or possibly a slightly drunken moment!) and tried to eat cold ratatouille for my pudding! It seems I'm not the only one to do something like that! 

Kezzie - did you try the chickpea stew? We didn't have it in the end as I found some Hoisin sauce that needed eating - we had duck and leeks in hoisin sauce with noodles...Yummy!

PomPom wished me fun with my line dancing...It was fun. I arrived late for the beginners' class, but they'd only just started. So I learned a dance called "Chippin' Away" - that was quite easy. Then I stayed for the next level up, the"Improvers", where they started learning a dance called "Stay, stay, stay" Oh my! That was difficult!! I have been trying to practise at home, but it refuses to stay in my head. Here is a link to a video of it: Finally we learned another called "Broken Heart" that was reasonably easy to pick up.

I've been practising all three dances, and am reasonably happy with two, but not "Stay..." I really need to put more time into that one!!

It's quite late now, so I won't tell you about food now - I had better go and make those fairy cakes! Maybe tomorrow! Maybe you will never find out what we eat this week...                         Who knows..

Sunday, 7 September 2014

I didn't expect that!

So yesterday I mentioned I would probably be having stewed plums and Greek yoghurt for my dessert...

As planned, I rummaged in the fridge and found the tupperware pot of stewed plums...put a couple of big spoonfuls in my bowl...added a dollop of Greek yoghurt...wandered back into the living room...put a big spoonful in my mouth...and discovered I was eating cold ratatouille!!!! Uuuurgh!

I blame the couple of glasses of wine I'd had with my dinner!!!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A little bit of this...a little bit of that...

Hello everyone! Thank you for all your lovely comments - I have responded below.

For a piece of shameless self-advertising, I direct you over to my other blog, View FromThe Teapot, to see some examples of my Zentangle Inspired Art
If you would like me to create one for you, do please let me know - as Kezzie did! It is nice to have a purpose to my creating. My most recent piece is this mermaid:

 and here's a close up of her tail...
I'm not sure I really like her - my ability (or lack of it!) to draw anything resembling hands is being showcased here I think! - still, she was enjoyable to create.

We have had some enjoyable food this week. I discovered that it's better to buy "proper" fish too. In the past few months, I have bought panga and ling, as alternatives to cod or haddock - trying to do my bit against over fishing, and TBH, over-pricing! But both have been definitely unpleasant, with Mr FD refusing to eat his ling. So I gave in and bought some sea bream (not sea bass, as I said in an earlierr post) to make Sea Bream with a compote of onions. It was very pleasant, and tasted like proper fish! I don't know if sea bream is becoming endangered, but, as it was quite expensive, I'm not sure we'll be having it very often. But it was good!

I went to the Doctor's yesterday, for various repeat prescriptions, and, as usual, he weighed me. Oh woe is me!! I have put on kilos and kilos!! All my good work gone to pot...So, when we have eaten the crisps, choccie and other assorted goodies that I brought from the UK, I'm back on the "proper" dieting. I have been fasting two days a week, but probably over-compensating on the other days!

I'm also going to join a line dancing group (I think!) There is an open evening next Wednesday, so I'm going to go along and see what's what. Unfortunately the Beginners group starts at 6 pm but I don't finish teaching until 6.20, so I won't be able to get to the group before 6.30.I'm hoping I'll be able to join in the beginners group, and then continue with the Elementary group at 7 pm - I have done line dancing before, but it was over 15 years ago!  I'm thinking it will be good for me, as I love dancing (and Mr FD doesn't) so for line dancing you don't need a partner.

Anyway, back to food...

This week I have planned the following:
SATURDAY (today): Cheesy chops and chips with green beans. I have some stewed plums which I'm having with Greek yoghurt for dessert.

SUNDAY: Hairy Dieter's Meatloaf with spicy tomato sauce, braised leeks, mashed potato

MONDAY (fasting) I'd planned the sea bream for tonight, but decided to eat it fresh on Thursday, rather than freeze it, so today we're having last Thursday's beef with aubergines, plus some kind of starch. I'm thinking a bit of pasta will be okay, and maybe another vegetable too...I'll see what it looks like!

TUESDAY: Hairy Dieter's Pan Haggerty (Lite) The link takes you to a non-lite version, but you can imagine what has been done to lighten the calories - half fat cheddar, less bacon, etc.

It is yummy! While the bacon adds a lot of flavour, I would imagine it would also work as a vegetarian dish without the meat.

WEDNESDAY: Salmon with old favourite that I haven't cooked for ages. I'm going back to my old recipe collection and using some of the recipes I've not used for a couple of years. In order to boost the vegetable content I will add a couple of sliced leeks to the coconut "soup".


THURSDAY (fasting)  Piri piri prawns with rice...The recipe is with a sweet potato, but we'll have 25g dry rice instead, plus a big green salad to go with it all.

Note the beer in the background: we won't be having any of that!

  Sorry about the row from a table...I inserted from my menu planning sheet by accident and now it doesn't want to leave me!

SATURDAY: Sicilean pork meat balls with pasta and a green vegetable. 

We had some bad news this week: Our friend Cathy, who has a second home here in our village, was due to come out here next week... She is a great catalyst for our social lives, and everyone was looking forward to seeing her.
Unfortunately, because her daughter-in-law has just had a baby, she feels unable to go back to work at the moment. She has her own cleaning company, and so Cathy is going to stay back in the UK and help Heidi keep the business going. Obviously family must come first, but we are a bit sad that she can't make it.
Cathy in her every day slob-around-the-house outfit!

Thank you again for your comments - it is always lovely when people bother to say something when they pop in...I really appreciate it! 
I'm not replying to comments made on the Giveaway Post(still time to enter!) but thank you to everyone who has entered so far.

POMPOM: I'm very glad our cats don't have the opportunity to catch birds...They have brought us lmangled butterflies (which is always sad) and a couple of times we have rescued a huge green grasshopper/crickety thing from their mouths. These must be either really strong jumpers to reach our balcony, or be blown on the wind!

KEZZIE: We used to eat the same thing over and over, but I find I prefer cooking (as well as the eating!) if we try lots of different things. Why not challenge yourself to try one of these recipes once a week? On a Saturday when you have more time might be an idea.

CLAIRE: I believe the chocolate brownie was good, but bizarrely, even though I love chocolate and chocolate biscuits, chocolate cake/brownies etc don't really tempt me - especially after a meal! So I was very happy with my fruit salad. And yes, food will always appear on my "Bliss List" - I love it (as my waist line testifies. Sigh)

EVERY DAY LIFE...I'd love to know what your Teenager thought of The Greengage Summer (and you too, PomPom - it's another Rumer Godden book!) Enjoy your greengages - we've not had any this year, although Reine Claude jam is a favourite of Mr FD!

And here's a LOLcats to finish with:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dinner out - yummy, yummy!

Ooh, look! I have another Follower. A big fat Dormouse welcome to Joy from All Made Up, where she blogs about her make-up and beauty finds. If you're into using make up then pop over to visit her, as she has lots of reviews and advice. I'm not really into make up, much to my friend Carlo's regret ("You look so lovely when you're made up!") - I am too lazy to bother with the faff of it all!

We had a lovely meal for Mr FD's birthday - thank you for the birthday greetings - unfortunately there was no cake provided, but we had a delicious salmon and salad starter, with a pesto dressing. There were crunchy grains of salt in the dressing and the salmon was thinly sliced and beautifully moist.

 Then we had jarret de veau (veal shank) with green beans and tiny fried potatoes - again delicious! Jean-Luc, the chef, had expected two of us, and was a bit put off his stride when our friend Corinne arrived too - would there be enough meat? We assured him that he could divide it between three and we were sure it would be sufficient - and so it was.

It didn't quite look like this - it was a little "fresher" with the beans - but this is similar.


Cheese followed - I just had a morsel of St Felicien and a sliver of fresh goats cheese - and then dessert. Corinne and Mr FD chose warm chocolate brownie with toffee sauce, while I had exotic fruit salad with lemon sorbet. Traudel, the chef's wife and proprietor of the restaurant, then brought us a bottle of champagne for us as a celebration of Mr FD's birthday, so we shared that with her (Jean Luc had already left in order to put the chickens to bed and feed the dogs!) They are friends as well as the owners of the restaurant.


Today I have been fasting - I have had a pear, a small bowl of soup and a crispbread so far today. We're having sea bass fillets with caramelised onions, green beans and a few new potatoes for supper. I am definitely looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Happy Birthday, dearest boy!

Happy Birthday to yooooooooooou!
Happy birthday to yoooooooooooou!
Happy Birthday to yoooooooooooou!!!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Kitchen cupboards reorganised! And a Giveaway!

Goodness me, that was a wearisome job!

I had found that the cupboards had got very untidy and, because they were not very well organised, it was difficult to find things and to put things away neatly. I'm not sure if they are better organised now, but we'll see.

This is the big larder cupboard in the corner of the kitchen. I used to keep my baking ingredients on the top shelf, "extra" items (Mr FD's English tea, bought in bulk in the UK, beans, gravy granules etc) & stock cubes/herbs etc on the second shelf, oils and the frying pan on the third, mixing bowls & the big stock pot on the fourth and recycling in the bottom. The bottom three shelves are still basically the same, but tidier! I've put my tins & jars on the second shelf now and the top shelf is for the raclette machine and the various mixing implements which had been variously scattered on whichever shelf had a bit of space. These are things I don't use very often, so it doesn't matter if they require a bit more care getting them soup zuzzer is right at the front however, as that's used at least once a week!

This cupboard is under the work surface. The recipe book shelf has not changed, but is tidier. The second shelf had contained the plastic bags/cling film/foil boxes, plus the raclette machine, electric carving knife etc. However it was always messy and you could never find what you wanted, with binbags tossing themselves on the floor at every opportunity. The top shelf held my baking tins ...because it's quite deep I had to take everything out to find the one I wanted, leading to a crash as the ones I didn't want joined the bin bags on the floor. Cue the rude words.
Now the middle shelf holds my spices tin, and various starches (rice/couscous etc) and packet sauces in an old cutlery organiser (hopefully easy to pull out). The boxes on the top shelf hold the "extra" supplies. Tea in the big one to the right, mango chutney etc in the smaller one. And crisps in the middle.

This is the corner cupboard, with a carousel thingie inside to make the most of the space. It is broken however, and so is rather wobbley, supported by an old cod-liver-oil-capsule canister, which sort-of acts like a wheel when you turn the carousel. On top I used to have tins, and the spices, which have been replaced by the baking trays, plastic bags and foil etc; on the bottom I had more tins plus the rice, pasta etc. Now it's my baking ingredients plus the overflow starches.

Now all I have to do is train Mr FD to put things back, neatly, in the right place!

Now for the Giveaway...
As you can see I have lots of recipe books, most of which I use at least from time to time. As I was taking them out to neaten them up, I found one which I have never used.

 It is a lovely book, but when I flicked through it, I have most of the recipes duplicated in one slightly different form or another else where. Although it claims the recipes are for outdoor eating, most of them can equally be eaten inside - they are not really "picnic" fare, in my opinion.

For example, these two recipes are for a dish made of aubergine stuffed with lamb, and a type of chicken satay, both of which would be lovely things to eat inside with friends or family.

It would make a lovely Christmas present for a foodie/for someone who loves cooking, or just a nice freebie for yourself. It isn't light however, so I'm afraid I'm restricting this to UK/Europe readers. I'll find a lighter giveaway for my US readers another time.

If you would like to win this, just leave a comment on the blog. I'll draw the winning name on Saturday 13th September....don't forget to make sure there is a way to contact you.