Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Flying fur.

Hey-ho! Life with Jasper is getting a bit more violent. We've had some very nasty spats between him and the other cats recently - fur literally flying! I am going to book him in to have him castrated next week, but I think the hormones will still be "in the air" for a while. He is having time-out at the moment, having viciously got Bib cornered in the kitchen.Noone seems much worse for wear, though Jasper has a bit of a bloody nose from Bib's not unsubstantial claws!

Food this week is:
YESTERDAY: Pork, mushroom, leek and apple casserole, with mash & carrots.

TODAY: Mary Berry Speedy lasagne - I really like this recipe, and I think I prefer it to traditional lasagne.

WEDNESDAY: The rest of the casserole, with baked potato.

THURSDAY: Vegetable risotto with crumbled feta. I don't have a recipe for this, so will just make it up.

FRIDAY: Turkey pepper pasta bake. I'm not using turkey mince, but turkey fillet, having got 750g for half price when shopping. I divided it into three portions, and froze it (as it was short date). I'll use 1 portion for the pasta bake.

SATURDAY: It was going to be Thai fishcakes, but Super U had very little choice in the white fish area. A couple of types I've never heard of, and panga. I avoid panga like the plague - not only does it taste of very little, but I read somewhere that it's actually not great for the environment
I ended up buying some meat that was reduced to 30% and freezing that for Saturday. I will decide what to do with it later.

Is that Lemon...? Dover? It's as tasty as panga!

SUNDAY: Something from the freezer. TBH I don't know what's in there so this will make me go and look! I may even do an inventory.

I must dash. I've just remembered that I've not watched the TED talk that my next lesson is based on (the student chose it) I'd better go.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Burn's Night

Hello Dear Peeps!

I think my stomach has finally reduced to normal again after Friday night's Burn's Night Supper. It was an enjoyable evening and the food was good, but definitely "hearty"! It didn't help me that - to reduce the amount of wine I drank - I poured myself glass after glass of sparkling water. I think I may have drunk about a litre of the stuff!

The Supper was a joint event, organised by ChristChurch, but shared with an Association supporting Anglophone/Francophone connections. Mr FD & I ended up on a table with French people from the Association who we didn't know, but who were charming, and reasonably chatty.

So here is the room prepared:

and the menu as placed on all the tables

It was a tad tricky translating it for the French people on our table, but there is an Auvergnate dish similar to Haggis, so it wasn't completely unknown - although "clapshot" was harder to translate - especially as we weren't sure of the translation of "swede". The smartphone Google translate could only offer us "Suédoise" - which means Swede in the sense of "coming from Sweden"! We ended up saying "yellow turnip" which was at least vaguely understood!

The Haggis was duly addressed, with Caireen, the rector's wife (who comes from Scotland) reading the traditional Scots version, while Rob (the rector) read his own slightly scurrilous translation. Here he is sporting his kilt and a cheeky smile:

As a Canadian of Scots descent he wears his kilt with pride

(I don't know who the other two guys are!)

The Scotch broth was delicious but filling - full of pearl barley, carrots and turnip. Then, after being addressed, (and toasted with a dram of whisky) the haggis arrived:

 It was very pleasant- lightly spiced and peppery, although my clapshot needed more seasoning! The whisky sauce was also very nice. By now I was starting to feel very full, but who can resist sticky toffee pudding?!

The French were slightly bemused by the cheese and oatcakes coming after pudding - in France cheese is served before the dessert, but they gamely joined in, slathering chutney onto their oatcakes as if it was jam....Near-bursting point had been reached, and I was stating to feel a bit nauseous by now (though I still managed coffee and shortbread!!!)

There was a raffle - we won twice! I chose a pair of whisky glasses for the first prize, and the second time I insisted that the French couple who were on our table & hadn't won, went to choose. (Also I knew there wasn't that much on the table that I wanted - so I hadn't been all that generous!!) She chose a vegetarian haggis (the meaty one had gone!) She tried to press the haggis on me - not literally, you understand - but I was happy to let her keep it. 

There was a very amusing "Toast to the Lassies" given by Nick, from church, who is a very garrulous Welsh man. Here is Nick at the Convention a couple of years ago:

Lawrie's return "toast to the Laddies" wasn't quite so funny, but still very good. 

We left at 10.00 pm, before the dancing (I couldn't have danced anyway!) as we wanted to get home at a reasonable time. The cats were happy to see us. And Zantac was definitely welcome (twice!)

Maybe I'll try to get some tartan before next year!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Food and Cats. What more do you need?!

I posted yesterday with bits & bobs of news, so this really is an update on the menus planned for this week.

TODAY: We're having chilli/harissa lamb with a chickpea & spinach rice. There's a bit of ratatouille left from yesterday, so we'll have that too.

MONDAY: Turkey, vegetable & noodle stirfry. I've got chicory and sugar snap peas that need using up. I'll also throw in mushrooms, pepper , leek and tinned beansprouts. I brought some "Blue Dragon" stir fry sauces back from the UK so I'll use one of them - probably black bean.

TUESDAY: Harissa stuffed peppers - I first found this when I was following the 5:2 eating plan (which, if I'm honest, I probably ought to pick up with, but frankly can't be arsed with - not in winter!!! I feel I need all my calories - although I almost definitely don't!) It's a nice stuffing for peppers, and can be used in other things...

WEDNESDAY: Pasta bake made with the rest of the pepper stuffing, and some chopped tomatoes.

THURSDAY: Soufflés with a veggie sauce. We like soufflés, (similar to quennelles) and they are a nice comfort food. Alison is probably coming for aperos so this is good to prep before she arrives & pop in the oven to do its stuff. If I eat too many apero snacks I can save half my portion & have it for lunch tomorrow!

FRIDAY: Burns Night
(which reminds me of the time we saw "Burns Night" advertised outside a village hall, one Spring day. "It's nowhere near Burns Night" said Mr FD "That's in January!" Then we noticed that the poster had "St John's Ambulmance Brigade" across the top - it was all about dealing with burns, not drinking whiskey and eating haggis!)

SATURDAY: Chorizo One Pot. I will be adding mushrooms, no doubt.

SUNDAY: Thai Chicken & Coriander Coconut Rice
I'm not sure how coriander-y it will be. I doubt very much if I'll find fresh coriander, and although Carrefour sells pots of coriander "purée" I'm not shopping there at the moment. Because of theway my lessons are, Super U is the supermarket that is the most convenient on the day I have time to shop. It's not bad, but doesn't have the choice that the Carrefour hypermarket in Roanne has. In general, that's not a problem, but from time-to-time there's something I'd like that I can't get.

As always, Thank You for your comments. 
POMPOM - perhaps your son can send me (post haste!) one of his kilts! I hope that our Burns Night will be fun! I'm not sure what to expect, so We Shall See. I'm not sure I know what "pot roast" is - is it a piece of meat cooked in liquid? Was yours as delicious as it smelt?

BEVCHEN: TBH the potatoes here aren't that great for baking, unless I can get Agata variety. Size-wise I go with what I can get...so we sometimes have two small ones each! 

JAN: The leek-and-beer quiche was nice. Here's a link to a recipe (but it's in French)

I've been feeding the Poor Cats of the village this weekend - they really are poor cats in this weather. Minus 15° can't be good for them. I hope that they are finding vaguely warm places to curl up. I heat the pasta/fat/meat mixture that I make in the slow cooker (courtesy of the Butcher in the St Just Carrefour) so the fat is quite liquid. I mix a good lot of cat biscuits with boiling stock, so they go a bit mushy. I add an egg to that, and then mix in the hot meat mix and a can of cat fud. They seem to appreciate it! I always fill their water bowl with hot water, and give them a load of biscuits too. Marie-Odile generally feeds them during the week.

I'm also knitting wobbley blankets. I used to send these to Spanish Stray Cats, but the postage was getting too much. Now I try to take one a week to the local Cat Refuge in Roanne - 
I drop it off each week, with a bag of biscuits and some tins of cat food. It's not much, but it's something. I wish I could do more!


Don't forget, if you can, please pop over to The Teapot to help me choose who I should support...

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Situation Critical!!!!

I'm sure other people must have the same problem...

You know how teaspoons always disappear - you start the week with a complete set (and maybe extra) but somehow they just vanish into thin air. Well, I've solved the mystery.

They transform into plastic boxes!!!!!

The situation in our plastic box drawer has reached Critical Mass!

 I can't fit any others in. I suspect too that it's going to be a frustrating job trying to find the appropriate lid for each box too. I will obviously have to do lots of batch cooking for the freezer to fill up all the boxes and transfer them to another place! (Although there's not actually that much room in the freezer as we brought an inordinately large number of naan breads back from the UK, which are now nestling in the freezer drawers! )

Otherwise, apart from being a bit chilly (it was -16° on Thursday, which I know is mere peanuts to some, but is pretty chilly to us!) we're all fine. I haven't planned next week's meals yet, but I do know we're out on Friday at a Burns Night supper. I've never been to one before, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Apparently, through my father's maternal family, I am entitled to wear the MacLeish family tartan 

Possibly a bit too late to have a kilt made up in it! Maybe next year.

If I can I'll pop in tomorrow to update the menus - but it's the Church AGM, so that's likely to take forever! We will see.

And just before I go, can I ask for your help?
I need to make an impoirtant decision, and I'm asking my blog readers to help me - please go to the Teapot to see how you can help me.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Foodie Sunday

I am in the process of making a Sweet pôtato and lentil soup from this recipe.
Mr FD has started taking soup to work for his lunch, which is great, but means I have to make soup at the weekend...Which is OK if I have time/inclination/ingredients, but less so if I haven't! Anyway, today I had a few ingredients, including the sweet potato I'd planned to use but hadn't for some reason: so it made soup.

The other planned dinners for this week are:
TODAY: Beef and ale casserole, mashed potatoes, braised chicory.

MONDAY: Turkey fillets wrapped in bacon (we're having bacon sandwiches for lunch), potato wedges & tomato salad.

TUESDAY: The remains of the casserole today, with cabbage.

WEDNESDAY: Baked potato, with baked beans, mushrooms & grated cheese. I may throw together a salad too - although I'm not sure baked beans go with salad.

THURSDAY: Salmon and leeks, cooked with chilli and coconut milk, served with noodles and wilted spinach.

FRIDAY: Big veggie omelette (with maybe a bit of chorizo in it) and HM chips.

SATURDAY: Sausages (brought from the UK), baked potato, ratatouille

SUNDAY: Chilli spiced lamb and chickpea-and-spinach pilau. It's sort of this recipe for the lamb, with a ricey/chickpea/spinach mixture. 

We spent a good day with Danièle yesterday - thankfully, I didn't need to tell her the news about Olivier and Renée as she already knew. Also, during the afternoon, we discovered (as she was being kept up-to-date by another mutual friend) that the post-mortem showed that Renée had been killed by a massive blow to the head, and Olivier by a heart attack. Although it is still terrible that they died, at least they had not been burned to death, which was something we had feared. Both deaths would have been either instantaneous or very quick, which is something of a blessing.

Apart from that, we had a pleasant walk along the banks of the Loire, and a delicious meal. She had cooked a leek-and-beer quiche, then we had pintarde tagine, cheese and "deconstructed lemon meringue pie"
Source: https://joinmefordinner.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/shot-glass-lemon-meringue-pie/

As always, I want to say Thank You for your comments

Lots of different subjects in POMPOM'S comment - it's always nice when a cat attaches themselves to you....It sounds like you are Timothy's "human". I like the Hairy Dieters, because it is real, proper food, not fancy. They appear to be two fairly ordinary guys who love their food, so they try to keep lower fat food tasty! 

ARIL - I need to admit that the photo wasn't my dinner - althpough mine didn't look far off that. I think "rustic" is fine - people are there to eat your food, not to take photos of it. I can't be doing with all that faffing around. 

MICHELLE - thank you for your sympathy. I'm not sure that there is more sad news around, (after all, more people died of diseases like polio etc in the past) but I think because of social media we hear about it more. It's like the fear that parents have for their children - the number of child abductions probably hasn't risen that much, but due to 24 hour news services and global news, we get to hear about them on a frequent basis, so it appears that there are more.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Running to Catch Up!

 I wrote this on Wednesday, but half way through the computer decided to start playing Silly Beggars, and I ran out of time before I needed to leave for Roanne! So here is last Wednesday's news:

Hello Peeps!

Goodness me! Where does the time go?! I had all good intentions of writing a couple of blog posts this weekend, but here I am, three days later with nothing written!

On Saturday I went for a walk with a friend, her daughter and her dog, Marvin. It was cold but enjoyable. I took a long time to thaw out afterwards. On Sunday, I went to church as usual, in the morning, but then had a surprise invitation to lunch with the Rector after church. Two other people were going, so I joined them - it was very enjoyable, but I didn't get home till 6 pm! Poor Mr FD had been left alone all day!

My Wednesday morning student cancelled, so I have a little extra time today, which is why I'm writing this. I do have to go to Roanne earlier than I would though as I want to deliver some cat food and blankets (if I can find them!) to the SPA cat shelter. I also need to leave a "Chat Trouvé" poster, regarding Jasper-boy, just in case his owner is looking for him. There are posters at the Mairie, the Vet, and near where he was found, as well as in the little supermarket and the boulangerie, so if his owners are in the village they should see one of them. We've also put adverts on a couple of Lost Animal sites, so we imagine they might look there - if they care! Of course, he might have just been dumped, or shut out when they went away over Christmas, in which case they don't deserve to have him back! If we have had no responses by the end of January, then we're going to say that he's ours, and have him castrated!

Food this week isn't very inspiring (although last night's stuffed peppers with rice, mushrooms & feta cheese were very nice!) but on Friday evening our friends from across the square are coming for dinner. I'm doing a quick smoked salmon paté (smoked salmon bits, whizzed up with herb-and-garlic cream cheese) and salad to start. I can prepare that on Thursday evening. The main course is a Hairy Dieter's recipe: Spanish Style Chicken Bake which basically involves throwing everything into a roasting tion and letting it cook! Not too ,much effort when we get home from work on Friday!

We have saved some of the stilton & cheddar that we brought back from the UK, for the cheese course (plus a couple of French cheeses) and then a very quick cheats' banoffi dessert:

Crumble 4 chocolate chip muffins, and mix with a little melted butter. Chop 2 bananas and mix in. Divide between 4 buttered ramekins or a baking dish. Cover with foil and put in oven (180°) for about 15 minutes to warm through.
Put 50g light brown sugar, 50g butter and 75ml of double cream into a pan, plus some vanilla. Gently heat until thesugar dissolves. Pour the sauce over the muffin mix & serve warm with ice cream.

And there the post ends.

As it is now Saturday, I can tell you that Monique & Michel declared everything as "delicious". The dessert was nice, but certainly not very elegant! Mr FD thought it would be better to caramelise the sugar/butter before adding the cream - I'm not sure it really made a difference to be honest. I think it would make a nice quick dessert for a family, but ity wasn't "dinner party" dessert....however, M&M aren't really "dinner party" people, so that's OK! We had it with vanilla & Macademia nut ice cream which was lovely. Or maybe you could add some nuts to the muffin mix instead.

Today we are going to visit our friend who lives near St Etienne - she used to live in the village, but moved after her husband, Paul, died. It will be lovely to see her, but I'm afraid I'm going to be the bearer of bad news...

You see, I was casually reading the local newspaper (local to us, not Danièle, now) and was reading an article about two old people who had died, in a rather horrible car crash (the car left the motorway, rolled over two or three timers then burst into flames)  Then near the end of the article their names were mentioned, and - to my horror - I realised that I had known them. They were members of the church that Danièle & I used to attend, such lovely, kind people. It was a real shock, and I feel that I need to tell Danièle. But it's not a very nice thing to have to tell someone. If you are of a praying nature, please remember the family of Olivier and Renée.

Thank you, once again for all your lovely comments. I do appreciate them.

Much hilarity from Jan and Sandra over a LolCat - I recognised the cat's pain!
I will be visiting Jan's new blog so maybe you can too. 

Sandra - the pork & mushroom casserole was very nice. And really easy too. I suggest you try it.

PomPom - Jasper is settling in, althopugh there are still battles. Millie, however, is rather terrified of him, and spends a lot of time skulking. She also sits shivering onthe balcony most evenings, rather than come in to sit with us, so we feel a bit guilty over that. It is a shame, because - most of the time - we think Jasper only wants to play,but as she runs away, he chases after her and it all goes pear shaped!

Hopefully I'll be able to get back on blogging tracks now. At least posting once a week. Have a good week, dear friends, and thank you for coming to see me!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Food for a New Year!

Hello Dear Peeps!

Two posts in two days?! Whatever is going on?

Here is a Happy New Year greeting.

And, as I have planned next week's menus, I thought I would share them with you.

TOMORROW (Monday) - Gammon steaks, brought back from the UK, with a marsala sauce, baked potato and broccoli.

TUESDAY: Vegetarian SC lasagne.

WEDNESDAY: Pork & Mushroom casserole, with rice and carrots

THURSDAY: I'm out for lunch with one of my students, so I won't want much dinner. Mr FD can have liver (yuckity-yuck) which is in the freezer from last time he had liver (y-y) and I'll have egg-on-toast.

FRIDAY: Mushroom & Spinach curry with naan bread (also imported recently from the UK)

SATURDAY: Gnocchi bake - though with more veggies (courgette & pepper) and maybe no cream

SUNDAY Spice rubbed turkey breast with sweet potatoes and braised chicory.

Jasper-the-cat has settled in very well, and although there has been some growly noises there has been no violence between him and the other cats. Millie won't be in the same room as him, Bib will growl and hiss and then run away, and Pomme will generally just ignore him, although he growls at her. He likes to be close to me, generally following me around the house (but I think it's because he links me with the provision of food!) He is still eating at almost every opportunity, but we're keeping him off wet food, as he's a bit farty, and we think it's because the food might be a bit rich for him, especially if he's not been eating much over the past weeks.

We haven't given up on George returning, but it's seeming less and less likely as time passes. I went past a derelict house today and out of the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of a big ginger cat scooting away - I went in, and called "George!" but there was no sign. As Mr FD said, George may well have forgotten his name and our voices by now, so he might just be afraid. If, of course, it was him. There are at least two stray ginger cats, to my knowledge, in the village, so it could have been one of them.

And fnally, if you have made any resolutions I hope you are able to keep to them...