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.

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


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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cats are Weird

Roisin in full action mode.

Excuse the dirty windows. It's cat spittle or something like that.
They have been cleaned since taking the photos, I promise.

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, January 16, 2017

And So 2017 Has Arrived

It's been a while since I've come onto the blog - too long, so without further ado let me wish you a very sound, healthy and happy new year !

The festivities all come and gone and it is time to take stock of what's been happening.

Obviously, after the windows had been fitted, the sitting room needed a few coats of paint, which we did, and finished just in the nick of time for the Christmas decorations to go up.
Nevermind the messy sofas. It's their default state of being.

The tree and other decorations went up just in the nick of time (again) before the arrival of my mother, Irma.

She obviously didn't arrive by rollator.

My mum has one at home, in Belgium, and we decided to get her one for when she visits. My gosh, she's fast, when she's not sitting down.

On Christmas day we had dinner at our friends, Sophie and Rudy. It was so lovely. The food, company and atmosphere were fantastic.

We hosted a dinner party on the 28th and that was also a success. I didn't take photos this year, I forgot ! Ah, but the memories are there.  
I did take photo before the party however. We we were setting the tables, Fergus was delighted with the little nest we laid as a centerpiece.

In other news, one of the female ducks flew off and came back, flew off and came back... A few times until she decided to stay away for good.  Then Cyril, the drake left. He didn't come back and was being spotted at the friends/neighbours, where he originally came from. 
It took almost two weeks before the rascal could be caught. He's now back since Thursday and one of his wings has been clipped. We did the same with the 2 other female ducks and all is well.

The fox has visited a few times, maiming one chicken, who eventually died a week later. Most probably internal injuries which we didn't notice. We kept her inside and treated her broken skin to no avail. Next time we'll have to take a more drastic measure quicker. We live and learn.
He must have come back a few days later and took our beautiful new cockerel. It breaks my heart.

We now have 4 sensors with ultrasonic deterrent, strategically placed. Fingers crossed, so far so good.
But we also ordered and received battery operated electric fence to place on the outside of the chicken and duck pens. Soon to be installed.

Two of our piggies went to the butcher's this Tuesday, so it'll be a lot of work in the coming week. I already got the heads back and I've turned these into brawn.

Last Friday the other windows were fitted, bar one. It is only 20 cm to tall ! 😭 Can you believe it ?
Oh well, the window company promised to send someone this week to check it out.

Since I also have a new window in the craft room, I decided it was time to reorganise the whole lot again. I've been busy with that all weekend and it'll need a good few more days, I expect.

That is all for now. 
It's good to be back.

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, December 12, 2016

Finally !

The windows fitted, some of the walls re-plastered, ceiling and all walls painted.
And the Christmas tree is up and bedecked. 

It took us longer than expected to get here and that's why I have been missing from the blogosphere  for a while.
I have a lot of catching up to do with reading all your blogs. I'll get to it shortly.

Patricia xxx....x

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Good Morning !

It is pretty seldom that I crawl out of bed before sunrise, but it often pays off when I do.

The air is crisp and clear, the grasses are frostbitten and the highest mountains covered in their winter attire.

Just lovely.

Patricia xxx...x
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