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.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Almost Back to Normal

Hello dear readers! I'm back from our short sojourn away from home, and you can read about it over here on the View from the Teapot. I'm trying to remember to do links between my two blogs, so that followers here can find out about other things I write about over at the Teapot.

As I wrote, I was slightly disappointed by the Tables d'Hotes that we had: it was perfectly adequate, but I was expecting something a little more "special" for the price that we paid. It was 22€ (£17.50/ $29) per person, which gets you a very good meal in several of the restaurants around here. Instead we had something that I could have cooked (and fairly regularly do cook!)(apart from the pudding) - mushroom soup, spaghetti bolognaise and crème brulée. No cheese course, and we had to buy our own wine! 

Anyway, I have started back meal planning, and after rather too much food while I was away I am also back to fasting twice a week - although when I start working on Monday and Thursday I will reduce that to what I call a "semi-fast" in that I have an egg for breakfast as well as a soup-y lunch. It probably goes over the prescribed 500 calories but it's still less than I normally eat!

SUNDAY (today): As I forgot to take anthing from the freezer, I'm going with what I've got in the fridge, so we're having cheeseburgers, HM potato wedges, coleslaw and salad.

MONDAY: (fasting): Vegetable curry and 25g dry rice. No recipe: just lots of veggies in a bit of bought curry-paste.

TUESDAY: Lemon pork pittas except we're having them in tortilla wraps, as I bought 8 for 35p (yellow label) when I was in the UK.
These will probably also be served with coleslaw if I make enough tonight to last through till Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY: It's Mr FD's birthday so we're going out to a restaurant where we know we'll get fed good food cooked by an ex-Michelin starred chef, for about the  same price as the mushroom soup- spag bol combo! Example menu being: 
Terrine de foie gras maison
Rable de lapin aux morilles, légumes et gnocchi
Assiette gourmande

THURSDAY: (Fasting) Beef with aubergines This is a recipe from one of my charity shop purchases: The Dukan Diet recipe book. 
It doesn't say how many calories are in it, and I can't be arsed working it out, but as it's mostly veggies + some meat I'm guessing it's not that many! I imagine it's hovering round the 400 mark, which is fine, thank you!
FRIDAY: "Something from the Freezer" says my menu plan. So something from the freezer it shall be! I don't know what though.
SATURDAY: Cheesy chops and chips I haven't made this in donkey's years, but we used to enjoy it, so I hope we still will! We'll be having this with a side of green beans.

Some of my lessons start next week, but I'm having a gentle start, as my full-on timetable doesn't start until the week after. I've already done quite a lot of my planning, so tomorrow I have decided I'm going to clear, clean, rearrange and change the kitchen cupboards...I'm not sure that they are being used to the best advantage, so I'm going to try to remedy that. I suspect it may take most of the day!
I have lost some of my pupils, as groups have finished their hours, or individuals have decided to stop, but I've picked up a couple more telephone lessons and one day a week of group work. That's down near Clermont - an hour's drive away - but for 6 hours work (with travel expenses paid!) that's okay.  So, from the week after next I'll be working 6 hours on Monday, 3 hours face-to-face and 1.5hrs telephone on Tuesday, 6.5 hrs face-to-face on Wednesday, 4.5hrs face-to-face on Thursday, and 2 .5hours telephone and 45 minutes face-to-face on Friday. Goodness me! That's practically full time!


Thank you, as always, for your comments - I love hearing from you!
To Marigold Jam, Vicki and Kezzie - yes, it is frustrating to have the fair right outside - the thumping music has started now (3.00 on Sunday afternoon) and we expect it to continue until late tonight (but hopefully not too late!). I don't know, but I guess there may be a restriction on how late it can continue on a Sunday night, wheras on Saturday, it's a free-for-all! Still, we discovered on Friday that our ear plugs are quite efficacious in blocking out the noise.

Claire: If you can get to Crosby beach "Another Place" can be easily viewed from the promenade...I imagine your mobility issues can cause you some frustration at times. Does it limit you severely, or can you find ways around it? It seems to me that the UK is more aware of disability than France is. The so-called toilets facilities for the disabled are often laughable! (Though, if one was disabled, I hardly think one would be laughing at them - rather screaming in annoyance and frustration!)

PomPom: Thank you for your lovely comment. I missed blogging too, so it's good to be back. I'm going to try to blog a little more often, but that just depends on how busy I am with my work.