Sunday, 11 October 2015

Welcomes, food and spelling mistzakes

Hello, hello dear Peeps! This blog post comes to you courtesy of Mr FD. You see, I knew that my two jobs for the weekend - my turn, so no complaining! - were to clear, sort & dispose of the recycling, and clear, clean & replace the litter in 6 distinctly whiffy cat trays. I get home from church to find dear, dear, DEAR Mr FD had done both jobs! Sadly he hadn't done my ironing too, but I think that vwould be taking husbandly devotion too far!

So I have a window of time to post here. Huzzah!

So I have to say a big, Fat Dormouse WELCOME to my newest Follower, Pam, from A New Life In Wales. We are swap partners in The Twelve Days of Christmas blog swap. So she will be stalking me, and I her! For information, Pam, there's another of my blogs over at The View from the Teapot.

My Followers list says I have 131 Followers, but I don't have anyone between Vintage Maison, who I welcomed as my 129th Follower and Pam, who is my 131st. So if you've snuck in and I've not welcomed you personally, I do apologise.

Life is very hectic, but I'm remarkably grateful for the work - I have 8 groups of 3 students, all of whom are jolly and motivated. I had a terrible time settling in, as I had to keep trying to find spaces to fit people who couldn't come to planned lessons. One group got changed from one time to another andf back again. They were most miffed and a bit grumpy, but I bought chocolate to apologise and I grovelled lots. I think I've been forgiven! And now it has been agreed that I no longer have to tie myself in knots to find extra spaces for those who miss lessons. If they can't come, tant pis!

On Thursday I'm off to Paris for the Episcopal Church in Europe's Convention - I'm lay representative for Church. I'm rather nervous, but hopefully it will be interesting & rewarding. I thought I was going to be leaving on Wednesday, but it's now Thursday: I'd cancelled my private lessons already, so rather than reinstate them, I decided to keep them cancelled. That gives me an extra day to get planning sorted for the following week.

I went for a walk with friend Alison yesterday - really warm! I went out in a thick jumper but soon took it off. It was nice to catch up and have a natter. (Disclaimer: this is not ther wxalk we did. I've shown you this photo before.)

Anyhoo...Food for this week.
YESTERDAY: fish pie, with a breadcrumb topping from my disastrous bread making exploits. Not good bread, but fab breadcrumbs, coming out really crunchy!

TODAY: Fruity Turkey Tagine

MONDAY: Pasta, meatballs and pasta sauce. I'm afraid I have bought the meatballs and thepasta sauce, but Mr FD will jazz it up with some fresh(ish) veggies. It's an aubergine sauce, and there's half an aubergine to use up.

TUESDAY: Turkey tagine again.

WEDNESDAY: I wasn't expecting to be cooking today! I was due to be in Paris!! We have some Kangaroo steaks in the freezer, so I think I'll make a Kangaroo Stroganoff.

 It's not snowing yet, but I have started to disinter my winter clothes.

Then Mr FD is on his own until next Sunday evening. I think he'll mostly be eating out of the freezer, but he does have a calves liver meal planned...It's something I loathe, and won't cook, so it's his special treat when I'm not here. I suspect there might be a visit to the pizza van on Saturday evening too!

As ever thank you for your comments.

MICHELLE: the curry was lovely! Mr FD is actually a very good cook, but I do try mostly to make it easy for him, as he has been, working most days too.

KEZZIE & JAN both expressed their thoughts on "real life" getting in the way of blogging & wished me well in my busy-ness.

JEAN - I thought I had missed your blogging. I hope you're okay too, and just busy enjoying life!

POMPOM mentioned my cards - from the 40 or so I'd made, I sold just under 30! I'll have tro make some more I think (Lord knows when!) Enjoy the grand-kitten! What day are you round this week? (Just so I know to set an extra place!)

KEZZIE: Did you enjoy the last two week's Doctor Whos? I thought they were very creepy, and I'm not totally sure I understood everything that was going on, but never mind!!

JO: the Sausage Bake-y thing was good! Mr FD threw a few extra things in too, which added to the flavour. How's the knitting getting on?! (Mine has ground to a halt as every time I get out the wool and needles I have to fight off the kittens!)

JULES: I'm glad you like the blog - are you my mysterious 130th Follower?!

Well, I'd better go and do my ironing.

Please forgive any speeling mistakes. My new keyboatd is smaller than my last one, and while the keys are the samle size (I assume!) I seem to hit neighbouring keys more oftenh than I used to, which givres some weird spellinbg patternsd. (That was a demonstration!)

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wake Me Up On Friday!

Oooh look! Two new followers. How lovely. I will give you a proper welcome next time but for now: Hello!!!

 This is a really quick post to say I haven't gone off anywhere and I'm fine but that last weekend was VERY busy and next weekend might be the same. During the week I won't have much blogging time either, so I apologise for Bloggy Silence!

Mr FD made a lovely curry tonight - one pot potato and mushroom curry. He's cooking more as I'm out later working more. Honey-mustard chicken tomorrow (from yesterday's dinner) Yummy! Cooked in the slow cooker on Sunday; ding cuisine tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

For fun and food and friendship...

...we give you thanks, O Lord.

Hello to my dear Readers - good to have you here, Peeps!

This week has been reasonably calm, although I do marvel at how I manage to while away hours and have not-a-lot to show for it! Still, I have (so far) made 24 Thanksgiving cards to sell for church funds - we have ca lot of Americans in the congregation, & I thought I'd get in early, in case they were thinking of having family send packs of cards from the States! They are fairly simple, either using a zentangled design of pumpkins from last year (photocopied, stuck on cards and fancied up a bit) or some Thanksgiving themed designs I bought cheap about 3 years ago, which I hadn't used.

Planning for next week has been completed. I know I keep banging on about how busy I'm going to be - which for you full time workers is probably producing the reaction "So what?" but it's a long time since I've done anything approaching full time work!! It was never in the plan. Still, I know it's only till Christmas, so I should just be very grateful, and save up the pennies while they're coming in!

Food has been as planned, although I swapped a few things round. Lots of meals put in the freezer to aid Mr FD in preparing meals. He's a perfectly able cook, but I feel that, as he's working too (although not full time) I want to make things relatively easy for him - because I'm so kind-and-nice!

I'm slow-cooking another meal at the moment - for tomorrow and for a future couple of meals - then I'll prepare tonight's meal (plus two for the freezer) this afternoon. I really need to
(a) defrost the freezer
(b) complete an inventory of what's in there.

Anyway. This week's meals are:
TODAY: Chicken Tagine - this  links to another recipe, which, I think I will use instead of the one I was planning on using. The one I'd planned on using is another of the trumpeted "5 ingredients only" recipes, burt quite frankly, what's the point of it being only 5 ingredients if it lacks taste?! I'll go for more ingredients, I think!!

SUNDAY: Paprika Beef. I'm actually at a Church Parish Away-Day where a meal is to be provided. Last year's meal was a bit of a disappointment, in this land of good food - a ham-and-cheese puff, tinned ravioli, a wedge of camembert and a choc-ice. However, I suppose we are helping to keep the Diocesan Centre going (it's a facility we hire from the RC diocese), so we should not complain. But let's hope tomorrow's offering beats tinned ravioli into the proverbial cocked hat! So Mr FD will have paprika beef stew for his main meal, and the rest will go in the freezer for another time.

MONDAY: Turkey ragu sauce - in the freezer - with pasta.

TUESDAY: Lamb pilaf from last week. I'd planned to eat it twice, but instead we had the postponed chorizo/sweet potato/egg hash yesterday. The pilaf went in the freezer. It will come out again.

WEDNESDAY: Hairy Dieter's "smashed up chicken"  This is a full-on Mr FD will have to prepare it meal. Once a week won't hurt him!!

THURSDAY: Thursday is my only planning day, but I have two phone lessons to give as well. And we go shopping at 4.00. I've invited Alison & her children for apèro-diner...that is to say, apèros with slightly more to eat than just nibbles. I may do some puff pastry bits, and maybe some pizza and barbecue-sauce-sausages. We'll see what we can buy that's quick to prepare!

And on that note, I have a 3 hour pause - today is the "Classe" of St Just . Everyone (who wants to join in) whose birthday this year starts with a 0 has their Classe today. It starts with Mass, then a procession through the streets with a band, and everyone wearing hats with a certain colour band (or, this year, feather boas for the ladies). The procession goes up to the Maison de Retraite (old folks' home) to fete the people there (a 70, an 80 and a 90 year old this year). It's my friend Alison's classe plus her daughters (10 and 50) so I went to wave and join her as the procession passed the house. There was kir flowing, and so everyone was already a bit wobbley on their feet. Alison suggested I went with them for the Apèro - everyone welcome! - so I did. Several plastic cups full of vin-peche and some dancing later I too am a bit wobbley on my feet! I've had lunch though, so I'm feeling slightly better now. A slice of nut meusli cake & my cup of coffee and I should be fine (ish!). The Classe people have gone on for a long and no doubt very boozy lunch at the Salle des Fetes. Mr FD is off being fit-and-healthy and riding in a bike race with Louis. 
 Part of the procession 2012
and 2014
2014 again - the 60 year olds.

So again I thank you for your comments from the last couple of posts...

POM POM wanted to come for dinner last Thursday - any time, Pompom. You'll be welcome! We had the pasta/pesto combo as planned. It was nice; we had it with gnocchi, rather than pasta.

Thank you FISHCAKE RANDOM for best wishes on my healoth. By Friday I was almost back to as-normal-as-I'll-ever-be.

KEZZIE asked my opinion on the first Doctor Who episode. I enjoyed it, & look forward to the resolution, but I am a bit bored with the Daleks now, and would be happy with a break from them. But I don't do a lot of heartsearching and comparing with the "story arc" or whatever lots of people do. I enjoy the episode and then move on! The Thai chicken was good, although I did change the recipe, which left me with quite a lot of coconutty sauce, which went into a butternut/sweet potato soup. Nomnom.

MAGGIE - I know what you mean about being careful getting out of bed. I'm rather nervous still while in bed, as that's when my vertigo appears to start!

MICHELLE: I'm not sure quite how encouraging my stories are re faith...but if they help you (or others) then more power to them!! 

Then lots of people commiserated on my failed bread making attempt.

JO suggested no-knead bread, which I may try. My soda bread isn't too bad, though I say so myself! But slow cooker bread may be left as a one-off (failed) experiment!

JANE-AND-CHRIS thought that maybe the bread knew I was afraid of it. I'm not sure I was afraid, but certainly I was sceptical. Maybe it knew that!!

POMPOM was resolutely sympathetic. Thank you.

MICHELLE has given me a recipe to try (when I'm feeling less sceptical, perhaps!!) Thank you, Michelle, let's hope I'm as successful as you are at it.

KEZZIE joins me in the ranks of disaster bread makers, and FISHCAKE RANDOM, thank youi for your kind encouragement!

SANDRA (at THISTLECOVE) - Mr FD had half of it toasted and said (through a mouthul of toast-and-plum-jam) that it wasn't too bad. I crumbed the rest, and have to say that claggy bread makes wonderful crispy breadcrumb topping!!

Have a good week, peepos. I'll see you next weekend (as I doubt if I'll have time midweek)

Monday, 21 September 2015

First Foray into breadmaking... unmitigated disaster!!

I had read about slow cooker bread, so attempted to make it. There were several contradictory recipes on t'internet, so I kind of mixed them up. (Possibly first error)

I used bread flour plus baker's yeast. Following the instructions on the back of the bread flour I mixed the flour, yeast, salt and water. While kneading, I read the back of the yeast packet which said I should have mixed the yeast with milk and left it to ferment for 10 minutes before use. (Possibly second error)

I put the bread in the slow cooker on "low" and after about half an hour went back to see what was going on. Yipee! It's rising beautifully! Switched onto "Auto" then after 10 minutes changed my mind and switched to "high" (possibly 3rd error)

Went back after about an hour - Opened lid to have ca look (Possibly 4th error) But, all looking good. The edges are starting to bake/become crisp, the top is becoming more breadlike, the rise is good. After another hour I went back - opened lid again, and the centre had dropped - or did it drop when I opened the lid? Started to look stodgey...

Removed and put into mini-oven for 20 minutes. (Possibly 5th error)
Took it out when browned. Cut open and had a slice (definitely an error - I have a lump of it stuck in my gullet!!) Stodgey, looking most unappealing.

We now have a lot of breadcrumbs to use up, and no bread for lunch!!

Paul Hollywood would definitely be very disappointed in me!

I'm not sure whether to try again or not! Any advice from better breadmakers than I?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Fish fingers and custard? Not tonight!

Hello dear Peeps! Thank you for your good wishes/comments yesterday. The vertigo continues to improve, being better in the afternoon than the morning, and things here in the Dormousehold are generally good.

 Mr FD is currently working part-time back at Sh-Carrefour, where he was last year. This is because the guy who had taken over as manager got fed up of waiting for our friend Gilles to retire as owner, and walked out, taking his girlfriend-assistant with him. Gille's girlfriend Sylvie gave up her job to take over as manager, but needed Mr FD's computer skills + shelf-stacking at least at the present time. This is good for us, as, while I have 240 hours of work between now and Christmas it doesn't begin to kick in until the beginning of October. Without Mr FD's paycheck this month could be a bit thin-on-the-ground. I am grateful for God's provision.

Food last week was a bit hit-and-miss, as I wasn't up to cooking between Sunday and Tuesday, and rather uninterested after that! Still, Butternut  Boulangère Baked Chicken was simple and enjoyable. It was from a series in Good Housekeeping which trumpeted the fact that all the recipes only needed 5 ingredients. A bit of a gimmick though I think, as I had the feeling that it could have done with something else. Not sure what though!

1 butternut squash
Small bunch of thyme
400 ml chicken stock
4 chicken breasts
350g goats cheese (I used soft garlic/herb cheese as Mr FD considers goat's cheese to be the food of the Devil)

1. Peel, dessed & slice the squash. Reserve the seeds (I didn't)
2. Layer the slices in a baking dish. Scatter the thyme leaves & seasoning. Pour over the chicken stock. Roast for 15 mins at 200°C
3. Make a pocket in each chicken, breast & put the cheese in the pocket. Rub chicken breasts with oil.
Put the chicken breasts on top of the squash. Sprinkle with the seeds.
4. Cook for a further 30 minutes or so. Serve.

We had this with some baked potato and braised endives.

This week's meals are planned thuswise:

TONIGHT: Chorizo One Pot - another 5 ingredient recipe. However we are being tempted away from this towards pizza from the van. Supporting local enterprises, don't you know?! All the ingredients are tinned/preserved so nothing will be wasted through not being used.

SUNDAY: Church picnic/barbecue. I've gone mad and bought a steak, which I will put in a bag with a marinade. I've also made coleslaw to take and a white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. 
Mr FD can have his steak with coleslaw, salad and chips (He won't come to the picnic). I have prepared 3 small cheesecakes for his puds through the week.

MONDAY: Thai chicken with coriander coconut rice

TUESDAY:  Pasta/aubergine/courgette bake-y thing. Possibly in the slow cooker. Possibly made up on the spur of the moment. I've not really thought it through!

Mr FD will prepare this (or maybe I'll have time to do it before I head down to Roanne for a day of teaching/dancing. I missed dancing last week, thanks to a spinning head. I ought to try to do some revision on the dances we did (although there's a fair chance we won't do them again!) One had the very bizarre name of "Bottle Your Crazy Up" I am often called upon to translate the titles into French; I failed with this one as it makes no sense in English!

THURSDAY: Quick bacon/mushroom/pesto pasta when we get back from teaching/shopping. We do the Lidl shop together, then Mr FD gets the other stuff in big Carrefour while I teach Adal. Who is lovely, but really not at all academic. He is willing, but has struggled with the presentsimple for a year. Sigh.

FRIDAY: The rest of the lamb pilaf, I think.

As always...
... for your comments. 
They are always appreciated!

POMPOM, KEZZIE & ARIL commented on the Bosworth Jumbles that I made. They weren't bad, and although I made a lot they disappeared fairly rapidly. I didn't take a photo of my "drizzled" with chocolate ones (well, blobbed might be a batter word!) as they weren't very photogenic!

TRISH asked if the ribs turned out okay...Yes! I really liked them; although Mr FD declared them as "orangey" he didn't really elaborate as to whether that was a bad thing or not!

POMPOM offered advice on essential oils for vertigo - frankincense and peppermint. I realised afterwards that I certainly had some frankincense from my Christmas essential oils that I didn't use much of last year. Never mind! 

KEZZIE: Our tortillas were nice - but, as usual, I didn't make the chilli mix spicy enough. I always forget to taste stuff as it's cooking, so it's too late to find out it's not spicy enough when we're eating it!
not my chilli, I'm afraid!

VINTAGE MAISON - I can't believe your house smells cat-pissy! Not with all those lovely linens and things. We have found a spray at Carrefour which seems to be the most successful at deterring them, but we need to remember to spray the stairs where they pee at regular intervals.

POMPOM - see! There are disadvantages to cute kittens!

Mr FD is watching the Rugby World Cup.Oh good. Several weeks of rugby to look forward to. (said in slightly fed up tones) Never mind. Doctor Who starts tonight!!

Oh my! David Tennant AND a cat. Be still my beating heart!

 If you're not a Doctor fan you won't understand this one!

I hope you all have a good week. Enjoy your food! Enjoy your friends!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Catching up

A great big fat Dormouse Bonjour et Bienvenue to  my 129th Follower, Vintage Maison,who has a lovely blog full of Frenchy vintage-y stuff. If I was anything like houseproud I would be buying lots of things from her to pretty up our house. Instead it's a rather messy, untidy home (which smells faintly of cat pee as one, two, three or ALL of the cats are rubbish at using the litter trays. But maybe you don't want to know that!)

(not quite that bad!)

 I am typing this with Bib sleeping on my left arm. I feel guilty when I need to type a capital letter! Pomme is sleeping on the amplifier at my feet - because it's warm!

I just thought I'd pop in to update you on my health - thank you for your concern. There's a full update over at The Teapot where you can also see lots of cards that I've made recently.

I hope to blog my menus as usual tomorrow. Now I'd better go and make my messy house a tad less messy by vacuuming and washing the kitchen floor. We have vegetarian chilli tonight, with tortillas, avocado, grated cheese and creme fraiche. It's already cooking in the slow cooker and I'm right looking forward to it! 

 Mind you, I think ours will be a lot sloppier than this neat looking tortilla!


Tuesday, 15 September 2015


I hate vertigo! Started Sunday morning and still here. Normal service will be resumed when my head has stopped spinning.