Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Recipe, chat, food and cats. A bit of everything!

I had a very busy weekend - on Saturday I was down in Clermont Ferrand making palm crosses, and then helping tidy and organise the Church offices. I then went to see "Selma" and finally sang at an evening of prayer for Africa. Due to weird timings my food consumption was not very healthy, by a long chalk - breakfast was fine (fruit juice, toast-and-cheese, yoghurt and dried fruit-and-nuts), lunch was a chicken/salad sandwich and a yoghurt/fruit bar (200 calories in the bar alone!) eaten hurriedly before the film, and then dinner was a cheese panini and chips, scoffed in a small park near the church (while being watched by slavering dogs!)

Sunday was a late get-up (clocks going forward) a bit of domestic activity, and then writing letters for 40Acts Day 31. I then became so involved in writing more Ninja notes (as I'd delivered all my spares around Clermont) that I found that I didn't have time to blog. I'm way behind writing up my 40 Acts reactions over at The Teapot.

Yesterday was all day work, and today I've got planning to do, cat litter trays to change, kitchen floors to wash, chicken casseroles to make, and a cake to make to use up some stewed plums that I took out of the freezer to fit something else in.

This one, copied from another blog, sounds as though it might be the ticket, especially as a commenter noted that she'd used stewed plums with no problems. 

A pudding cake of honey, cinnamon, and plums 
adapted from Ripe by Nigel Slater
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 slightly heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (220g) golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup (125g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (125g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 12 ounces (350g) plums
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon into a bowl.
Warm the golden syrup, honey, and butter in a pan until the butter melts. Stir in the brown sugar. Halve the plums, or cut them into quarters if they are large, and remove the pits.
Break the eggs into a bowl, pour in the milk, and whisk to combine. Pour the golden syrup mixture into the flour and mix with a spoon. Pour in the eggs and milk and continue stirring until you have a loose batter without any traces of flour.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, scatter the plums in the pan, and bake for 35 minutes. Place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the pan and leave to cook for 15 minutes longer. Switch off the oven, but leave the cake in for a further 15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool.

Baking this on a Fast Day might not be the greatest idea yet, as I may be forced to try it! However the oven will be on for the casserole and for today's dinner (sweet potato and spinach bake with a tomato sauce - and not as much cheese as the recipe suggests!) so I should make the most of the heat! 

Right! I need to get back to my planning now! Take care my Lovelies!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Yes, I'm still alive!

Sorry, sorry, sorry dear Peeps! I had all good intentions of blogging on Tuesday, but I had a preaching appointment (for this Sunday) sprung upon me, so I wanted to get that under my belt. It's a good job I did, as I found it a bit of a struggle, to be honest! I finally found an old sermon - last preached in 2001 - that gave me a springboard for the rest of it! I'll post the sermon on The Teapot tomorrow, if you're interested (it may be my Pause In Lent contribution!) but I thought Mags and her Rend afficianados might like to know that I'm hoping to play one of their songs during the service...so maybe we'll get some more fans!

"Create in me a clean, clean heart"

Several of this week's meals were focussed around ham, as we had the ham last Sunday. It really was delicious, and I'm thinking I may go back to Ikea to buy one more before stocks run out - they were Christmas hams,already boiled, just needing a 30-40 minute roast to be truly scrummy. They had a use by date of May 2015, so they will need getting rid of shortly! 

This week may be focussed around a joint of pork that I'm cooking tomorrow. I'm hoping on two meals (for two) plus small leftovers to supplement aanother meal. It rather depends on how much the joint shrinks during cooking!

TODAY: Scouse, leftover from last month's Pot Luck Supper. I may (if I can be bothered!) make pickled red cabbage. Otherwise I may just make braised red cabbage to go with it.

SUNDAY: Roti de porc aux pommes This wasn't the recipe I was planning...but it might be now!!

with red cabbage and some carrots.

MONDAY: Asparagus risotto (from a packet mix!) with cold pork.

TUESDAY:Fasting: Red bean and mushroom burgers, with lots of salad, and maybe some pork.

WEDNESDAY: Rougail de saucisses - which is a slightly curried tomato-and-sausage stew. I'll prep this on Tuesday and Mr FD can just heat it up in the evening. I'll be out dancing.

We learned two new dances (can't remember their names!) in the 2nd (Improvers) group last week - I was very pleased that I picked them up quite well. There are two other dances I can't get my head round though - Celtic Kittens (now renamed Septic Kittens as I really hate it for its nifty footwork that I can't do!) and "Just Add Moonlight"...That one is less tricky but I need to put in some work on it this afternoon.

I bought these boots last week which do look a bit clunky for dancing in, but actually they're great! I know they're not cowboy boots, but with my dodgy feet I can't do pointy cowboy type boots. These are so comfy and slightly slippy, so I felt great dancing in them on Wednesday. Mine are in silver rather than bronze.

THURSDAY: Chorizo, potato and Spinach bake - basically, chop up some new potato type potatoes (firm flesh) and par boil. Slice up about 100g chorizo plus cut an onion into wedges and a thickly cut red pepper. Mix together & cook in oven for about 20 minutes or so. Throw in a few cherry tomatoes, should you feel so inclined. Then either wilt some fresh spinach, or defrost some frozen spinach. Mix everything together. Make sure it's all piping hot and serve. We'll probably have this with some frozen mixed vegetables.

I'm trying hard to up my vegetable/fruit intake, by making sure that we have a side serving of veggies no matter how many vegetables are in the main dish. So although yesterday's lentil shepherd's pie had carrots, tomatoes, lentils, spinach and leeks in, I also had a serving of mixed veggies. Lidl sell good packs of microwaveable vegetables like this:

Very convenient and quick to prepare - and not too expensive. They were selling at under 1€ last week.
I'm also adding 4 dried apricots and a handful of nuts to my breakfast. I've reduced my fruit juice intake, and now have about half-and-half juice and water, which I find fine. In fact straight juice tastes too strong now! With a vegetable soup at lunch time and an apple too I'm not doing too badly!

FRIDAY:Fasting:  Southern Style Rice, with a little bit of added chorizo - and vegetables!

I haven't been weighing myself for ages, so I don't know how much weight I've lost doing 5:2, but I do know that my "aspirational jeans" (which are a small size 16) are almost all-day-wearable. That is to say, I can get them on, I can zip them up, I can bend down in them, but after a couple of hours they feel a bit uncomfortable!  But having said that, another pair of size 16 jeans are too loose around the waist (it's my tummy that causes the problems, not my waist!) so I am feeling happy to continue with 5:2 as I am pretty sure it's working. It would work even better if I didn't have wine and chocolate on non-fasting days, but hey! There you go!

Talking about jeans...
Is there anyone out there who would be interested in buying a pair of black jeans size 20. I bought them when I was at my biggest, and they have hardly been worn, but now they do just fall down. They are very good quality BUT unless you are 6 foot, you would need to take up the legs, as I bought them at Long Tall Sally. If you're interested (or know anyone who might be), let me know in the comments section and we can negotiate!!

As usual thank you for your comments...

 Lots of you commented on my exploits at the Post Office! It seems that all over the world The Evil  Slot of Package Measuring is becoming common! I'm definitely going to have to learn to find thin, light things to send for swaps. I don't want to stop doing them, but I am going to have to curtail my random purchasing, and think more cleverly. Christmas will be fun!!

I haven't forgotten about the scarf giveaway...I bought a new one (NO!!!) when I was shopping for my boots, so I will get round to sorting them out soon - promise! Of course, scarves are quite flat so postage shouldn't be too bad! (I hope!!)

I hope everyone has a good week, full of good food, good friends and good times. thank you all for visiting. Do let me know if you try any of the recipes - and what you thought of them.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

What did we have for Sunday lunch?

We have just eaten well, with my rector & his wife. I'm too well wined to write very much - I'll try to tell you about the week's menus tomorrow (or more likely on Tuesday) but we ate well today -
River Cottage Tahini dressed courgette & green bean salad
Spinach & feta cheese filo pie, potato gratin, salad (courtesy of Caireen), and baked ham for the meat eaters
Cheese and then Panetonne pudding, courtesy of Mr FD.

Good wine plus a snifter of Cu Dhub single malt means I'm heading off for 40 winks!!

Have a good week, dear friends. I'll be more compus mentis tomorrow...honest!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fun and Games in La Poste

Oh! You wouldn't believe the laughs I had in the Post Office yesterday! 

Well, okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but the man behind the counter and I bonded quite well!

You see I'm taking part in a blog swap, organised by Creative Chaos, and my swapee is Elaina over at A Little Bit Country. Elaina lives in New Zealand, so I prepared a fairly light package for her, rejecting seeds as NZ is strict about what goes into the country, and a book, as being too weighty. I took it to the PO, and the man slid it (or rather, tried to slide it) into a sort of slot-like contraption.

"Too thick for a letter", he said. "It will count as a package. That will be 28€"

Squeal! 28€ is quite a lot more than the contents are worth... I'm really not sure about this.

Well...he said, you could try squeezing it a bit to make it thinner. 
Which is why, after a quick consideration of the contents to ensure there was nothing breakable, I was sitting on a seat bouncing up and down on the package.

We remeasured it. Getting better, but still not sliding into the measuring slot.

I know! he said. Scotch! (No, thanks, it's a bit early in the day for spirits..I thought before remembering that "scotch" is the French equivalent of sellotape. A brand name that has become the common noun) 
So I leant heavily on the package while the PO man wound sellotape round and round the parcel. Success! Cheers from us both when the measuring slot accepted the parcel. It was still not cheap, but it was more in the ball park of what I was expecting to pay for postage.

Then only the customs forms to negotiate - new rules for sending stuff from France to other countries meant that forms had to be completed in duplicate - same info on both forms - how much do you say handmade cards are worth? Do you write exact cost or round it up? Oh! Doesn't France love burearocracy!?

Finally I finished and left the parcel and its contents in the hands of La Poste. It was only as I was walking home that I remembered that was actually something in the package that was, if not exactly fragile, at least possibly breakable if caught at the wrong angle. Let's hope my flabby backside or the combined weight of me, a PO worker and yards of scotch aren't the straw that breaks the possibly-breakable-thing

(No, Elaina, I haven't just sent you an empty box!)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Food is an important part of a balanced diet*

* according to Fran Lebowitz. You can't argue, really, can you...?!

Hello, hello dear Readers! I hope you are all well! We have been basking in very mellow temperatures today (and yesterday too) which has meant going out without a coat for the first time in yonks. Driving to church today I almost felt spring had arrived - there is certainly that slightly fuzzy green look on the trees, and there have been one or two intrepid spring flowers poking their heads up. FINALLY! Although I do know that March can be like a false lover, as someone said, and can be faithless and suddenly change, so I won't get too excited yet!

We had very nice fish cakes yesterday, with a spicy mayonnaise, wedges and salad. I, however, did not thread them onto lemongrass stalks, but plonked them on the plate! The presentation may not have been great, but the taste was!

TODAY: I bought some sprouts (yuckity yuck!) for Mr FD in the market on Thursday, so he will be having sprouts. I will also let him have some of my roast beef, yorkshire pud, broccoli, carrots and roast potatoes! (If he's good...!)

MONDAY: Cold beef, chips and baked beans. 

TUESDAY (fasting): Marinated beef and vegetable stirfry This will use the rest ofthe beef up, so it won't quite be the same recipe.I'm not sure if the marinade would "take" on cooked beef. Still, on verra I'm using red cabbage too, as I have half a one to use up, so it will be quite a dark dish!

WEDNESDAY: Chicken in cider This is a Nigel Slater recipe that we had over Christmas - very delicious. Mr FD will be down at Alison's, giving her a lesson in how to use her new phone & I will get back late from dancing. I can prep this before I go (several cancelled lessons on Wednesday morning) so he can just pop it in the oven on a lowish heat. We'll have it with bread.

THURSDAY: I'm out for lunch in Clermont - I'm going down with Alison as I have an opthamologist appointment. Then we'll look around the shops and have lunch out. What fun! Mr FD will have a pasta/chorizo/vegetable combo for dinner (did I buy any chorizo?!) while I'll just have soup.

FRIDAY (fasting): Spinach, sweet potato and lentil curry On Fasting days I really enjoy something spicy and I think this will hit the spot!  It will be prepped before I go to Roanne teaching/shopping and won't take long to heat up when I get back. If I can find some naan or pita bread we'll have one with it.

Here is a stylish cat in a scarf. I am giving away scarves...If you'd like one,(a scarf that is, not a cat wearing a scarf. SORRY PomPom!!) then do please feel free to pop over here and sign up...You've got at least another week.

Thank you, as always for your comments. They truly are appreciated!

SANDRA: I think you should try the pannetone pudding - it's even better than plain old bread-and-butter pudding (well, I think so!)

ANGELA & MAGGIE - did you try the recipes? Did you like them? Did you? Did you?! (Actually, I don't suppose Ang was doing any cooking after her nasty fall! Maybe when it's better...!) And Maggie: if I can find blue, blue it is!

POMPOM: I think Graany does need a kitten...but there is that awkward problem of allergies. Could you go to your local shelter and cuddle some kittens for a while? I used to do that. 
Would you like another scarf? Let me know!
FISHCAKE RANDOM - what cake did you make? I meant to make one this weekend but never got round to it.

MARIA: Now you know about scouse day you'll have to try making it!!

GILL: the place is set for you. See you soon!

JOY: I am sure I can find a scarf for you!

MICHELLE: Garlic bread is thought of as Italian/French in the UK too, but I know that many Brits think it's a French thing. 

KEZZIE: You may have many scarves...but would you like another?

Have a lovely week, dear Peeps. Don't forget, I may not be posting here, but I am posting most days over at The Teapot.

Okay, okay...Cute Cats overload. Stop NOW!!!


Thursday, 5 March 2015

A Little Giveaway!!

Monique and Michel from across the road came for dinner last night, and we had a very nice time. I cooked a "typically British" main course of chilli (!!) with garlic bread. They were much taken with the garlic bread which they had never had before - which is bizarre as so many British think of it as a French invention (presumably because it is often made with a baguette)

We started with a River Cottage warm salad of butternut squash, mushrooms and blue cheese (Très orginale was the verdict), the chilli, garlic bread & guacamole, cheese (including some cheddar I had in the freezer) and then Pannetone pudding. I used a BBC recipe, not the one Mr FD uses. Mine only had 3 eggs in, instead of Mr FD's 6 egg concoction. No wonder mine didn't taste quite as rich!!

A very pleasant evening...and in their usual generous way, they brought lots of gifts - homemade marmalade, home made Vin de Pamplemousse (grapefruit wine - nicer than it sounds!), chocolates, a bag of little brass charms from their antique shop, and a lovely scarf for me. Which I am wearing now.

Which brings us to the Giveaway...I have LOADS of cotton or silk or polyester or whatever thinnish scarves. More than I can wear, more than my holder can hold. If you would like a scarf just leave a comment with the basic colour you would like (if I have it!) I will count up the comments & the scarves on offer and divvy them out. Then I'll contact you for your address  (if you're successful) and I'll send you a scarf. Simples.