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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Two Ponds Full of Water


Oh yes, it rained ! And then some.
The new pond is now overflowing. Most of it into the drain that leads excess water to the stream further along.

The other pond is not a pond, but full it was during the week when the moon was out in all her glory and we temporarily lost a chunk of our land to the tide.


 We also lost part of the boat that came with the property when we bought it. A good part of it stranded on what we call our peninsula (when it's above water)



Patricia xxx...x

Friday, October 30, 2015

Blue Cheese and Nut Bread






Ingredients
  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 2 tbsp provençale herb mix
  • 30 gr instant yeast
  • 200 gr mixed nuts or a single kind of your choice - I used hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts
  • 75 gr soft butter
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 20 gr salt
  • 500 ml milk
  • 200 ml water
  • 175 gr blue cheese


Method 
Note : I only add the walnuts near the end as they can give off a very bitter aftertaste when they get mixed in at the start.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, put the flour, yeast and mixed herbs
  • Mix them well with a spoon
  • Add the softened butter, honey and salt



  • And the nuts (except the walnuts) and the milk
  • Start the kneading process and add as much water as necessary to get a supple dough. I do this in stages, as sometimes the flour absorbs more liquid than other times.
  • Knead for about 8 minutes on a low-ish setting
  • Leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.
  • When it has sufficiently risen, you will see the texture has lots of air bubbles, like in the picture below


  • Divide the dough as you see fit onto a floured surface. I had one large tin and two small ones.
  • Gently press the dough out so that you have a flat surface. 
  • Sprinkle the walnuts over it and the crumbled cheese


  • Lift up one of the edges of the dough and start rolling it up on itself, enclosing the cheese and walnuts as you go.

                                                   
  • You should end up with a loaf shape like below. Tuck the ends in to prevent too much cheese escaping.
  • Put them in the bread tins seam side down. Dampen the loafs with some water and make some cuts diagonally with a knife.
  • Leave to proof for 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 210°C (fan assisted) 
  • Bake the bread for about 45 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when you tap it from the bottom (you'll have to take it out of the tin before doing that, obviously)
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack.



Never mind the holes. You can always stuff them with butter ;-) The cheese hasn't gone anywhere. It has just seeped into the rest of the bread.


Will you be having pumpkin soup this weekend ? This bread makes an excellent accompaniment. It also goes well with Celeriac Soup

Enjoy a Freaky Halloween Weekend.
Patricia xxx...x


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reupholstering

Transforming an armchair or couch with a new (or in this case, old) piece of fabric isn't for everyone. But if like me, you can handle a sewing machine and a staple gun a whole world of opportunities for your home will open up.
Even though this is not my first attempt on tackling reupholstery, I was a bit afraid to get started on this recliner armchair.

I disliked the colour of this one so much and to top it off the cats had scratched the bejayses out of it.
I found a large piece of vintage looking fabric that I bought over 20 years ago and fell out of love with it straight after. Now I thought "What the heck is there to lose? Get on with it"

        
Here is where Bert's help came in. He took the armrests off and also the leg and foot rests.

I set to work and got so engrossed that I didn't take any photos of the process. Never mind, I have one more armchair to go and I will post the work progress on another post as and when it happens.

Ta - dah !

The violet (yes, violet) velvet for the seat and front of armrests was a small piece of fabric that once belonged to my late mother-in-law. I am so pleased that I don't throw anything away, and certainly not smidgins of fabric.

I left the original fabric in place. It is easier and stronger. The 'new' fabric' is only a moderately thick cotton and it probably won't hold forever with all the house pe(s)ts, but I am extremely pleased with the result.
It has been done since April and it took me only a couple of days of fiddling. The cats have been 'reasonably' good. They try, but they know the'll get a right bollocking when we're around.

Thank's for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Visiting Seals

Last Friday we spotted a few seals near our land. There were 4 in total, but 2 came into the inlet reasonably close to the house.
Unfortunately, we (Bert) can't justify the cost of an appropriate lens for the camera in order to make a decent enough snapshot of the wildlife that visits us from time to time.
Until I can convince him, we'll have to make do with the photos I took with inadequate lens.




How amazing is this place ?
Patricia xxx...x

Monday, October 26, 2015

Celeriac Soup

If you've read through my blog every now and then, you might know which one is my fav vegetable. Yup, it is celeriac !
So when I was out shopping the other day and discovered 4 specimen in the supermarket, I was delighted. Three of them jumped into my trolley and one was left behind, all by its lonesome, hoping another 'adventurous'  cook would take pity and take it home.
Meals containing celeriac are comforting to me and at the same time they exude festivity.
So, what do you think ? Shall I give you the soup recipe now ?



Ingredients
I made double the amount of the recipe that follows, because I had a dinner party and wanted some soup for the freezer.
  • 2 tbsp butter, or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1 small sized (like in the pic above) or half a large one
  • 1 fat garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sprig of thyme
  • 2 ltr vegetable stock
  • 250 ml double cream
  • seasoning (salt & black pepper)
Here is how you go about cutting and peeling a celeriac.
Halve  the beast with a large kitchen knife and cut into 2 cm slices. Peel with a paring knife (a potato peeler is not up to this). Cut into batons, then cubes. 


Method
  • Melt the butter (or heat up the oil) in a large cooking pot, on the hob
  • Sautee the vegetables with the herbs and garlic for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the stock and bring to the boil


  • Let it simmer/rolling boil with or without lid till the veg are tender.
  • If you cook your soup without lid, the stock will reduce much more than when you cover the pot and you will get a much thicker consistency. You'll get the same result if you cook for much longer than strictly needed.  But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It is all a matter of preference.
  • With a stick blender, but not before you take out the bay leaf and woody thyme, turn this into a smooth soup. You can blend with any blender obviously, but why make life difficult for yourself. Invest in a stick blender. My second one in 30 something years has been going strong for nigh on 20.
You see this ? That is too thick for my liking. I don't want to use a knife to cut the soup.
No drama!
  • If you feel your soup is too thick, add boiling water to the pot and cook through again for a few minutes. 
  • Add cream too, if you so wish, and adjust seasoning with sea salt and plenty of black pepper.
Smooth and velvety. Dunk in a chunk of quality bread.
We like it with Blue Cheese and Nut Bread for which the recipe is in the making. So please come back for that at least.


Patricia xxx...x

Friday, October 23, 2015

One Job Done, Another to Begin

Forword : After writing this post, I was doubting whether I should post it or not. Looking over the photos, I found that the 'finished-for-now' stage looks like the dog's dinner. A cacophony of windows, wall finishes and a whole lot of everything else. 
I left this post in draft for a few days, before deciding to post it anyway. It is what it is and this blog is not supposed to portray a perfectly idyllic life with the picture perfect house and frou-frou cottage garden. Even if I strive, in my dreams, for our life and all it entails to be just that, it is the process to get there that brings you more satisfaction in the end.  So bear in mind, this is not the finished stage of this project. It is just one step closer to what I envisage for this house.


I wasn't expecting our new build addition to our house, to be painted any time soon. But Bert made arrangements with a local decorator to do just that.
I'm happy.
They started on Monday and finished Tuesday afternoon.

That is our garage and garage door. It used to be the kitchen door. Not in that spot, but around the back of the house.

 We like to save some pennies and reuse and hoard save what we can.

Come spring that door will be painted white !



The colour we have chosen is a strange one. Sometimes it looks grey, other times a little brown, but mostly, what I like to call, in a posh accent, 'a muted purple'





The front door (that is the one on the right) will be painted soon in the same colour as the newly painted rendering.
By the way, have you noticed we added a solar panel on the roof of the addition? It is not a photo voltaic one for generating leccy, but for hot water, especially convenient during the summer months. And of course, some days in winter.

Among the 'several' things I disliked about the house when we bought it were the brown Upvc windows with the window pane divisions in between the double glazing. Also the brown fascia and soffit.  
If all goes according to plan that will be changed come springtime. I want white window frames, fascias and soffits. It will make the house smile instead of frown. The window panes will be replaced and the frames will be painted with the appropriate products.

Now, about the tidying up around the house.  "Mum !"  

The question still on my mind : "should I have posted this ?"
I would appreciate your thoughts on this here project, so comments are welcomed.
Have a lovely weekend.
Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ready for Replanting


It is always a bit daunting when the diggers start scraping off all the green ground covering and leave a scarred landscape.
After the roadworks, the O'Brien brothers set to work creating a pond. This, to help drain a good part of the field where the pigs roam. And boy, has it drained already.

There has been no rain for a few weeks. This pond has filled to this level solely from seeping groundwater.
I can see daffodils and trees replanted at the back. And who knows what else. Maybe a gunnera plant or two.
Remember the before ?



This stretch is where the soft fruit will be replanted. The posts will be part of a structure to support bird netting. The path alongside the chicken coop has been widened and the garden bench has a more solid underground.
What a difference a day makes. Especially when you have topnotch digger people.
Remember the before ?

Let's get these back into the ground ASAP !

Thank you for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x
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