La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France. We chose it while on the road, moving home, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, that is back in Ireland.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In Use Again

That's our Wendy house for chickens, that is.


Our oldest and the only original one left (after foxes and mink had a go), Bluebell decided to retract from the newcomers in the coop and settle down to become broody. For the first time in three years.

She sat on two eggs and a few days ago we welcomed a little chick (only one) into the world.

Out came the Wendy house, but this time we've placed it on our patio area at the house, so we can keep an eye on her. We weighted the little coop down with 2 concrete slabs. Yes, it can be windy here, but the reason for this is that our dogs (or maybe a fox) wouldn't be able to lift it up with their noses.

I can't show you photos from the chick and her mama, because they don't venture out yet. I can tell you though that it is a black chick with a white patch at the front.
A bit like this :
Ha ha ha ! Honestly !
Funny that. The first time we noticed this kitten (Pixie) was in the hen house, before she decided to come and live with us for good.
If we didn't have a black chicken in the coop, and if Pixie wasn't a girl....or a cat... alrighty !


What have I been doing over the last week ?  Well, cutting up and dividing pork. Our last two pigs have now found homes into several freezers with several households. I've cut chops,loin roasts, thick pork belly slices, taken out the tenderloins, back ribs, spare ribs and cut 2 legs and one shoulder into manageable roasts. Two legs are curing at the butcher's for ham.
We've made about 25 kg of sausages and hopefully today I can start with the mortadella/bologna/luncheon meat.
I am in the process of dry-curing bacon and some of it will be smoked.  

Not much goes to waste as I have made brawn from the heads, and cooked all the bones too. The meat that was picked off the bones is for the dogs, and I can tell you, it is still a substantial amount that shouldn't be thrown away. 

Thanks for visiting.
Comments are very much appreciated, even if I don't always reply, they are always read.
Patricia xxx...x

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Project : A Mural


A masterpiece it is not...
But when my friend, Jutta said she wanted a mural with grasses on the wall of her physio clinic room, I said, in jest, "I'll do it". And 2 afternoons later, here we are.




Now, you'd better sit in a darkened room if you want to check out the pictures of this project.
The wall is a soft light blue with a spring-like feel to it. The other colour Jutta used on her walls is a light green very close to the blue. And if I had used that green it would not have been visible at all, so I added a brighter green to her original colour to get the desired effect.
Still, looking at the pictures in bright sunlight won't show you much, as I have experienced.


These two photos, Jutta took, with the light in her room off, and on. It gives a completely different feel.


I took this one coming into the room from the hallway.


A few close-ups.






Jutta is very happy with the result and it is just how she wanted it. That'll do me just fine.
Now they only have to finish off their new-build, so they can start enjoying it all.


It has been raining heavily on and off and it feels bitterly cold (I'll have to start wearing socks in my sandals again), The few veg in the garden are starting to curl up on themselves from the cold, as if they want to return to the soil. Can't blame them.

Keep well !
Patricia xxx...x

Friday, June 02, 2017

Gypsy No More


Oh, the kitten is still here, but since she is settled now we decided to ditch the name Gypsy.
Bert thought the name Pixie suited her so much better, and he is right.


We still don't like you, but we tolerate you. Just don't come too close !

I'm only concentrating on this water. Mine !



They've gone !

I'm the youngest and I always get my way.


Pixie is cute, friendly and funny. And she has a gap between her front teeth, both top and bottom.

Have a great weekend !
Patricia xxx...x

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Lawn


Slowly emerging from the depths of building rubble and hardcore, we can finally say we have something resembling a 'manicured' lawn.
There is nothing there that hasn't popped up by itself, mainly wild grasses and 'weeds' and we are okay with that.


What I love about a manicured lawn is the contrast it gives to the wild and rugged landscape beyond.
We can now use a regular lawn mower for the first time instead of a strimmer.

Obviously in a few areas around the land we (the royal 'we) still use the latter.

Simon, our English volunteer, who helped us out for 2 weeks made short shrift of the long grass around the chicken and duck runs and also near the poly tunnel and around the soft fruit shrubs.

It always gives me a nervous breakdown if anyone else but Bert does the strimming, because you can be sure one or more plants or trees will be cut by accident.



At the moment we have Marcus, from Canada, here and I think if he wasn't getting hungry at the time,  he would have gone on well into the night, he enjoyed it that much.

When I was looking through some photos yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised with what we have done in the four years we've lived here. Obviously, with the help of volunteers and paid labour. 



Just to show you the difference from just moving in in April 2013 (that's my mum, btw) and now.
Third photo is from July 2013 and then yesterday.

It sometimes helps to look back and see the difference one has made, instead of always looking at what still needs to be done. 

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and the coming week.
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Farm



Over the winter months our hens and roosters have been picked off one by one by a fox, until we had only 2 chickens left. We only have one of our first chooks still here, but she's not in these pictures as she's sitting on a nest. Good girl.



This big boy is Sigi and he's our fourth cockerel in the period of a year.  Around this time last year we had a visit from the mink and that beast killed  the boy of that time and four girls.
Our feathered friends are not allowed to extreme free-range in the garden anymore. They now stay in their run with 4 ultrasonic fox deterrents and electric fence, the latter is in the process of being installed.


Ah, the ducks !  We had 3 female and one male. Now we have only 2 girls and himself, Cyril.
One of the girls flew off, came back, flew off, came back..... flew off and never came back.  I think Cyril then went looking for her, because he also flew off and didn't come back either.  Luckily he was spotted at his old home at our friends/neighbours.  It was a full 2 weeks before he could be caught and was delivered back to his girls. Not before we clipped one of his wings though. We managed to do the same with the ducks just after he left for his holiday.

We still have 2 pigs, they've been with us for a year now, but soon it'll be time for them to go. 😩

I'll leave you with a picture of the cutest kitten


Okay, one more then...


Thanks for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Absence

I know. I've been absent for a few months.
My apologies for not notifying you about this break, but I wasn't planning on having one. It sometimes just happens. I opened the "new post" tab a few times, but it wasn't meant to be. I didn't know what to write about that might be of interest to anyone.

At this moment, I'm sitting here at the table, tapping away at the keyboard, with a cat curled up between me and the laptop.
A scrawny little thing, this kitten, which was sitting in the kitchen on Tuesday while I was pottering about. It had been spotted the day before in the chicken coop of all places, but ran away when I arrived with too much noise.


We fed her and checked her over, yes, it's a girl, with a snotty nose and some discharge from her eyes.
Afraid she is not and very friendly toward people and the dogs. She hisses at our other cats though.

Definitely not afraid of dogs

This photo was taken by our current volunteer, Simon.



On Wednesday, Bert took her to the vet to give her a once over and she has cat flu. Medication, food, water, rest and extra vitamin C seems to be doing the trick. She is 4 months old, or thereabouts. 


She is constantly hungry and even steals the biscuits from the dog's bowl. She gets food often but little  at a time.


She seems to be more lively today and started playing with fluff bunnies and whatnot. Took an interest in a stranded bee. 
She ain't planning to go anywhere. She's here to stay. (*)

Her name is Gypsy.

Hope you are all well.
Have a good weekend.
Patricia xxx...x

(*) Unless someone has lost this kitten which they love very, very much. But if you love this kitten so very much, why is it skin over bone and why is there no lost sign up anywhere in the village ?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Freezers Full

Two porkers arrived back from the butcher on Friday morning. Two porkers, minus 2 legs and a side, as they are being cured for ham and bacon respectively.
Thank goodness they were much smaller than our previous pigs. Still, we had our work cut out (scuse the pun), transforming the meat into suitable sized portions.


Luckily, our friend Sophie was here to help.

She's been such a trooper, grating nutmeg as if there was no tomorrow, peeling pistachios, sausage guider and linker, de-boning, slicing chops and dicing for stewing meat....


This time I asked the butcher to mince the meat from two shoulders. I have a meat mincer on my Kenwood food processor, but for such a quantity it is much quicker if the butcher does it.


We made three types of sausage. A Belgian style bratwurst with white pepper, salt and NUTMEG ! A curried sausage and a mild chorizo (see mixture in photo above)

 Belgian braadworst (Bratwurst)


We have acquired a sausage stuffer (see red contraption in photo above). It can handle 3 liters of minced meat at a time and it does a fantastic job. Again, much better than my Kenwood version.


And here they are drying for a few hours. Allegedly, this helps to tighten the sausage and skin together. I believe it worked. We've had some for dinner the other night and they were absolutely stonkingly tasty and firm.



Wait ! I'm not done yet !


This is my sous vide cooker. And what's in there is this :



Our own homemade luncheon meat or mortadella-esque Bologna sausage, with pistachios, pink and green peppercorns. No artificial colouring or flavour enhancers added. Only good quality meat, herbs and spices and pistachios.
We stuffed these on Friday and left them to settle in the fridge till Saturday. Then they went in the sous vide cooker for 3 hours at 60°C. Very nice they are, but next time I'll probably use less salt than what was stated in the recipe.

With that out of the way, it is high time to get the chicken and duck run electrified. The ultrasonic sensors seem to have helped so far (touch wood), but I'll be more relaxed with extra precautions.

In between, I have been sorting through my craftroom too. Moving furniture and folding fabrics. Neatly. A long way to go still, but we'll get there in the end.

Have a lovely week.
Patricia xxx...x
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