I was right!

Yesterday I told you that we were going to a birthday party, and wrote: “Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!”

We arrived just after 8.00 and were one of the first there. We greeted our friends and then stood round like a couple of lemons – both Mr FD & I are introverts and useless at starting conversations. We drank either beer (Mr FD) or a wine-based cocktail (me). Lots of platters of pastry based snacks were being passed round, so we ate quite a lot of those, and we chatted together. Finally I was getting tired, so we sat at our table, until an English friend arrived and joined us. She knew another couple (Franco-Hungarian) and so we chatted to them too. Then Jean-Luc (the Birthday boy) and his band played a few numbers. Finally at about 10.00 the first course appeared – oysters! One of the few things I really don’t like (to me they are like eating snot in sea-water) and also raw shellfish really isn’t a good idea for someone with a dodgy immune system. I had a piece of bread and butter.

Then Jean-Luc and his band played a few more numbers…and the fish course arrived – marinaded salmon and green salad. It was really like raw fish, but cured in its marinade. I wasn’t totally sure about eating it, but I was getting a tad hungry. It was actually very nice, and I have suffered no ill effects. But I was getting really tired.

At 11.15, with no sign of the meat course, I had to throw in the towel. I was falling asleep in my seat. So, despite Mr FD urging me to see if I could stay for a while longer (I think he was still hungry too!) I had to insist we went home. If we were going by the rhythm of the rest of the evening, it would have been meat at 11.30 (at the earliest), cheese at midnight (or later!), dessert at about 00.45, champagne and cake at 01.30 and dancing until whenever.

Of course, when I was in bed, despite being so tired, I couldn’t get to sleep for ages, and Mr FD woke in the middle of the night with terrible acid indigestion from too much beer with not enough food!

It was lovely to be invited, it was great to catch up with our friend who we haven’t seen for ages, and to celebrate Jean-Luc & Traudel’s birthdays…However, I do wish French parties didn’t go on so long into the night!! I can’t manage them, even when I’m fit and healthy (although I might have held out until the end of the main course!)

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2018 40 Acts :: 6 :: Chocolate Tuesday

Hello dear ones.

I hope all is well in your world. We had a lovely meal out with Louis and Odette yesterday: I’m rather lucky, as Mr FD does quite a lot of sorting-out-of-other-peoples’-computers, and sometimes, instead of paying him in cash, they reimburse in kind, as it were. So last night Louis & Odette took us out, Traudel -who co-owns a restaurant with her Michelin starred husband – owes us a meal, the hotel round the corner also says that we can have a meal there…Thank you Mr FD!

So, last night I had feuilleté des escargots (snails in a lovely buttery sauce, in puff pastry), followed by magret de canard au miel et figues (duck breast with honey and figs). Then I had fromage frais, instead of ordinary cheese, then finally pannacotta with a raspberry coulis. Very delicious, and lovely to be out with good friends.

And now, it’s Chocolate Tuesday on 40 Acts.

Lots of people in the 40 Acts community seem to love “Chocolate Tuesday”, but I’ve never really taken to it. Maybe because I’d be a bit suspicious if I discovered random chocolate bars left on trains or park benches…There’s also the language barrier, trying to explain what I’m doing. Michelle left a comment saying: I’ve gotten the impression in reading about your 40 Acts over the years that the French are befuddled by “random acts of kindness.” Is a correction assumption? Is it totally absent from their culture or thinking?

To be honest, I don’t know! It could simply be that I am very poor at explaining what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it; also, I’m very shy about approaching strangers anyway, which makes it harder. Certainly when I look up gestes de bonté spontanés on Google,there’s nothing dated later than 2015 so maybe this isn’t a “thing” in France.

Anyway…

Giving away chocolate. Maybe it sounds a bit less radical than the last few days. But small, overlooked acts of generosity achieve big things. Today, take a bunch of chocolate bars with you wherever you go – five, ten, or twenty – and fling them, carefree, to anyone you come across.

Green, Amber, Red: You know the drill. Chocolate everywhere.

I have to go to the chemist today, to fetch my drugs for after chemo, so I will take them some chocolate. And I’m going to make some healthy meusli bars for me & Mr FD, full of dried fruit and seeds. I’ll make a few extra, and take them to the Hypnotherapist man this afternoon. A sort of thank you, as I get the feeling it was a bit inconvenient fitting me in today. Whether I’ll be able to explain why this strange Englishwoman is bringing him meusli bars I don’t know.

So, here in St Just, it’s not Chocolate Tuesday. It’s

Healthy Meusli Bar Tuesday!

New neighbours

Hello, Dear Ones! I hope all is well with you.

Yesterday I had a bit of a lazy day and a bit of a rushing about day.

I had two blood tests to have done: one at home, Friend Claire, who is our local nurse, came to do the first. We knew that she was arriving quite early, so I was up at 7.00. Then, almost as soon as she had done that, it was off to Roanne, to the hospital, for the second. I was going to go by myself, but as we’d had lots of snow, and the roads hadn’t been cleared (unusually), and I haven’t driven for over a month, Mr FD decided he would come with me and drive. I’m glad he did. The drive was okay, but he’s better than I in the snow.

We got back just before 11.00, and I got a phone call to say that my “front door” (as we’ve taken to calling the box for the Hickman line that’s going to feed the chemo into my body) won’t be fitted until 21st Feb. This is cutting it fine for having chemo before the Elbow concert (leaving here on 2nd March) – we shall see what appointment they give me for the first chemo session, but if it’s the week of the concert we may ask for it to be deferred.

This was the rushing about part of the day.

We then lazed around for an hour-and-a-half, until our friends arrived and we went next door to the Hotel de Londres

(that’s our house, to the left)

We haven’t been here for many a long year, as the previous owner was a bit of a plonker. (That’s the polite word) I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say none of the English in the surrounding area go there, and lots of the locals eschew the place too. He has sold it now, and yesterday was the opening “under new management”. The new management are a reasonably young couple who had been struggling in a restaurant some kilometres from here, where our friends used to go from time to time. As the couple had moved here, our friends wanted to come and support them, so we joined them. Any excuse to go out for a meal!

Gratifyingly, the restaurant was quite full of people, many locals (including the owner of the restaurant round the corner – sussing out the opposition, I imagine!), and the 13,50€ Menu du Jour was good value.

ENTREE: choice between a huge Salade Niçoise or 2 slices of paté en croute + salad

MAIN: choice between langue du boeuf ( beef tongue – shudders theatrically) or marinaded pork, plus pasta & sauce

CHEESE: fromage blanc, or fromage sec. The cheese course  (fromage sec) was three smallish pieces of cheese, but Mr FD said they were all nice. I had fromage blanc.

PUDDING: choice between pannacotta, tiramisu speculoos, chocolate pot, crème brulée.

The portions were enormous – perhaps they could cut down on the sizes a little – and I was able to take quite a few leftovers from our party for the Poor Cats.

After that meal, you can imagine that we spent the rest of the afternoon quietly dozing on the sofa. I was joined by a couple of cats, and I browsed some magazines Mij had brought me, and slept.

Today has been a bit (bit ) more energetic. A later get-up time, but then I did my 15 minute mile walking indoors. I then entered a few more competitions (all these holidays I’m going to win!!) and read a few blogs. A tad of admin left over from before Christmas…then help Mr FD unload the shopping. Thanks for doing it, Mr FD.

Then, I finally made myself get round to sorting out the top drawer of my filing cabinet – I’d done the bottom two with teaching resources, but the top one, for other paperwork, had just had stuff dumped in it. I needed to find some information, so I knew I had to tackle it…I’d been putting it off for weeks

So, I put 2 hours on my phone, & told myself I’d keep going until the timer went off…actually I finished (mostly) before the timer went off, which was very pleasing. I feel extremely virtuous now. I am going to try not to use my computer (except for inspiration/instruction) during the afternoon, but rather do craft/ reading etc. Says she, happily using her computer!! I will finish this, and then turn it off! Except I have to make a birthday card for my MiL, so it will be on for inspiration!!!

I’d better go and get on with it!

Sunday doings

Yesterday it was the Cycle Club AGM, so Mr FD, as treasurer, toddled off at 9.30 to help prepare the room. As I’m only a hanger-on I didn’t need to attend, so I had a lazy morning with a hot water bottle, a blanket, a cat and my Kindle – I’m reading another enjoyable book from NetGalley, which I’ll be reviewing soon – I also listened to the day’s meditation from Pray As You Go

which has been a great help through these past months.

Mr FD phoned me at about midday to say that the meeting had finished, and there was a Kir to be had, so off I went. Actually, although Mr FD had saved me a cup of kir, by the time I got there people were starting to drift away, so I had a few minutes to gulp it down and make a bit of small talk, before we all (including the hangers on) trooped over to the Hotel de la Poste for a meal.

The choice for starter was sausage salad, with beetroot, and potato salad, or gateau de foie de volaille. Although I’m not a great liver fan I chose this, almost immediately (but slightly too late!) regretting my choice! I can take chicken livers, whereas calves’ or lambs’ liver is beyond me, but I didn’t really fancy either choice.

It wasn’t too horrible: in fact the sauce was delicious!I managed to finish it all except what I thought was a mushroom perched on top, but is, in fact, a chicken liver. That got slid onto Mr FD’s plate!

Next, the choice was trout, or slow cooked pork. I chose the pork:

This came with some gratin dauphinoise, a few courgettes a couple of green beans and a smear of butternut squash purée. Delicious, but I could have done with a few more veggies!

Cheese was next:

From top to bottom: soft cows’ cheese with shallots, Brillat Saverin, and Cantal Vieux.

Finally the dessert trolley…we were sat in the middle of the “U” shaped table formation and were a little nervous, as here at La Poste one is encouraged to try 3, or even 4, desserts. We were concerned that they would run out, but it was OK, as at various times a waitresss would come out of the kitchen with another plate of something yummy in her hands.

I chose fresh fruit salad and Gateau Ste-Honoré, but from memory there was also: tarte aux abricots, tarte au chocolat, tarte tatin, tarte au praline, iles flottantes (soft meringues in custard with a caramel sauce),  pistachio-and-chocolate gateau, Black Forest gateau, a choice of ice cream/sorbet, raspberry bavarois, and tiramisu. We finished with coffee and petits fours.

There had been wine included in the price, which was 25,75€ per person (32$ / £22.50) Not cheap, but certainly not extortionate!

We walked home (all of two minutes!) and I prepared the Poor Cats’ food. Mr FD went for a walk while I went to feed the cats, and then as he watched the football results I fell asleep! I snoozed for about 2 hours – which put pay to my ideas of getting to sleep earlier (at the moment I’m lying awake until gone midnight, then waking up at about 8.15. It’s not ideal, really)

After a bit of bread-and-cheese, Mr FD asked what I wanted to watch on TV. Well, way before Christmas we had watched series 4 of “Line of Duty” – we’d not seen the previous series – and were seriously gripped by it! So Mr FD had ordered series 1,2 and 3 on DVD, but we never quite got round to watching them. They were just what I fancied, so we thought we’d watch the first episode of Series 1…and then we thought we’d just watch the second episode…and then, well, let’s watch the 3rd episode…!! If it hadn’t been 11.15 we might have watched the next one too! Series 1 is just as gripping as Series 4 was!

For those of you who enjoy police procedural series and haven’t seen this, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s on Netflix, aznd possibly also on the i-player.

We are now tantalisingly putting off watching the last two episodes until Wednesday evening (as tonight is catching up with Call the Midwife and Modern Life is Goodish, and Tuesday is Silent Witness night.)

Healthy-ish Eating

Another week starts – we had a good time yesterday. Mr FD came to church (“designated driver”) with me and then we went to Friend Alison’s for lunch. We took a bottle of champagne that we’d bought for Christmas, but hadn’t drunk…

So we started with champagne, and nibbles. Then we had a roast dinner – pork, roast potatoes, courgette gratin and carrots. Lovely! We don’t often have a roast dinner, and if we do, it’s usually a chicken, so this was a treat. Then Galette des Rois (still January! It’s allowed!) and coffee and macarons, that we had brought from a shop in Clermont. A relaxed afternoon chatting, while Mr FD helped Flynn with his new computer. I fed the Poor Cats, and then we relaxed watching TV.

Our healthy-ish meals this week look like this:

BREAKFAST:

MON Toast, low fat cream cheese
TUE Oatmeal supreme
WED Oatmeal Supreme
THU Porridge,honey,raspberries
FRI  2 toast peanut butter+ banana
SAT boiled egg + 1 toast + apple
SUN Porridge,honey,raspberries

I’ve stopped pretending I’m ever going to try Bircher meusli. It doesn’t sound appealing to me!

LUNCH:

Wraps with cheese & mushrooms/Soup
 Tomato soup + bagel + cream cheese
Soup + ham sandwich
Smoked salmon/light cm ch bagel
Mushroom omelette
Tabbouleh & ham
Smoked salmon/scrambled eggs

I’ve used a courgette soup from the freezer, and mixed it with some chilli, tomato passata and cooked red lentils. Hopefully it wil be edible. I seem to remember the courgette soup was a bit bland, so I hope the additions will perk it up.

DINNERS:

I’ve taken the IKEA Christmas ham out of the freezer to defrost today, so dinners & lunches this week will be mostly ham based. I’ll bake it tomorrow with a marmalade glaze.

Fish pie
Ham, baked sweet potatoes
Pasta puttanesca + grated courgette farmers salad
Harvest bowl + cubed ham none
Stir fry with Harvest bowl ingredients + extra veggies none
Aubergine layer + extra veggies green salad
Yesterday’s aub zuzzed + pasta

The “Harvest Bowl” is this recipe but instead of chicken, I’m using ham! There’s a surprise! And probably chicory instead of kale. I’m not a great sprouts fan, but I’ll try them in this.

I was visited last week by Friend Debbi from church who brought an enormous Shepherd’s Pie – it fed us for 2 days! – and some delicious “healthy” flapjack. They were from this recipe on the BBC Good Food site. If you like flapjack – the syrupy buttery type – it’s probably best to name them “Fruity Oaty Slices” or something, so you’re not too disappointed! They are delicious though!

 

 

Breakfast thoughts.

A few days ago I posted about our plans to try to eat more healthily. It’s been going  – sort of – okay, though the several boxes of chocolates are a constant temptation ( and, NO, Trish, I’m not going to throw them away!)

I thought that I’d just say a bit about the breakfasts. Here is the chart I posted:

Porridge,honey,raspberries
Oatmeal Supreme
Porridge,honey,raspberries
Oatmeal Supreme
Bircher Meusli
2 toast peanut butter+ apple
Porridge,honey,raspberries

Due to a failure on the buying frozen raspberries front, the order changed…but here are my thoughts.

1) OATMEAL SUPREME – definitely good. I did simplify the recipe a bit, by using apple juice, by using the spices only the first time, & by cooking for less time, but I did enjoy it.

Bev said in the comments The oatmeal supreme sounds delicious, but also like waaaay too much effort on any morning that isn’t a weekend/holiday.

She then explained she doesn’t have a microwave, and I can see that would make it slightly more fiddly to prepare. I also don’t think I’d be having this if I was rushing out to work afterwards, as it does produce more washing up than I would like to do. However, being in a lazy convalescent state, it was a good breakfast, and certainly kept me going until a late lunch.

2) PORRIDGE, HONEY & RASPBERRIES

We finally got round to buying frozen raspberries yesterday, so I had this today. I cooked my porridge (in the microwave) for 2 minutes 40 seconds, and then added the raspberries (about 15) and cooked for a further 1 minute. With a small amount of honey added this was also delicious!

3) PORRIDGE, NUTS & CRANBERRIES, WITH HONEY

Hold on, you bright sparks are saying, that’s not on the list. Well, no, you’re right, but Wendy suggested it, saying:

I ❤️ oatmeal. I buy the instant and heat my water in an electric kettle. A little cinnamon, honey, pinch of salt and some chopped pecans and it tastes like an oatmeal cookie! 

So I tried it – without the cinnamon, but with some dried cranberries thrown in, and a drizzle of honey for sweetness. Very good.

4) BIRCHER MEUSLI

Here’s a recipe from BBC Good Food I was going to use this, but never quite got organised to try it. I’m not totally convinced I would enjoy it, so I’ve been a bit reticent, to be honest.

In the photo, there’s an odd red juice around the oatmeal, and I can’t quite work out where it comes from – there’s nothing red in the recipe. Hmmm.

5) PEANUT BUTTER ON TOAST + APPLE

Not much to say about this one. I like toast, I like peanut butter, I like apples (Ariane or Pink Ladies) However, it didn’t quite keep me going as long as the porridge breakfasts. Note, I don’t add the apple to the PB on toast, I eat them separately. However…

…this photo from the BBC makes me think that PB with banana might be an even better idea!

What about you – what is your favourite breakfast?

Healthy Eating

Good morning, dear ones.

I mentioned a few posts ago about how we were going to start eating more healthily, after the last few (few?! There’s still three-and-a-half boxes of chocolates!) Festive Feasting leftovers were gone. But I then thought, well, why not start now? We can still eat the chocolates, little by little, but we might as well start trying to be healthier.

So with that in mind, I have drawn up a plan. From tomorrow, breakfasts will be:

Porridge,honey,raspberries
Oatmeal Supreme
Porridge,honey,raspberries
Oatmeal Supreme
Bircher Meusli
2 toast peanut butter+ apple
Porridge,honey,raspberries

The “Oatmeal supreme” is this recipe:

  1. Pour into a medium-sized nonstick skillet all ingredients except milk and oatmeal. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook oatmeal.
  3. Add caramelized fruit mixture and milk to cooked oatmeal, stirring until combined. Serve hot.

Sounds quite yummy. Let’s hope it is!

Lunches are also changing, so that we aren’t eating so much cheese and processed meat. The plans are:

Roast veggies/feta wrap
Soup + mushrooms on toast
Roast veggies/feta wrap
Salmon & slaw salad
Eggs on toast
Chicken/pesto wrap+soup
Chicken pesto wrap+soup

Some of these things are leftovers from the night before’s dinner (Salmon & slaw salad for example) & other things are from recipes on t’internet.

Finally, our dinners are:

Orange & tomato chicken couscous, green beans
Ultimate Moussaka spinach/orange salad
Salmon with hoisin sauce rice/ slaw
Veggified spaghetti green beans salad with garlic
Cumin rubbed chicken tomato salad
Vegetable lasagne green salad + chickpeas
Pasta & prawns cucumber salad

If you’re interested in any of the recipes, you can probably just google the title to find it, but you can also leave me a comment & I’ll let you know the link/recipe

You can see that I’ve planned sides of vegetables/salad too. The reasons are twofold – to help fill us up, but also to get more vegetables into us. My fruit will mostly be eaten at breakfast – a half/half water-juice combo, plus the fruit with the porridge.

We’ve also agreed to no more biscuit buying – if they’re in the house, we’ll eat them. Each weekend I (or Mr FD) will make a healthy cake/ batch of flapjack. Once they’re gone, they’re gone (and we’ll have to eat the three-and-a-half boxes of chocolates instead!!

I am a tad annoyed as I spent yesterday afternoon completing the plan for Week 3 – but forgot to save it! Bummer! Never mind, it will give me something to do in a bit.

No, you didn’t. They’re off the shopping list too!

And here
we have a table
that I put in the wrong place
and now I can’t delete it.
Hey-ho.
What it is to be
a Techno-idiot.