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.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Beautiful Irish Skies

I love a blue sky as much as the next person, but there is something to be said for the beautiful Irish skies.

I find the sky absolutely fascinating and when I sit in the kitchen (most of my time) I regularly look up. There are a whole lot of cracking cloud formations to be spotted and my camera always at hand.
All these photos were taken from just outside the house. 

Who needs forever blue skies ?
Not me.
Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bert's Pizza Oven

A few weeks ago, we decided to 'test' Bert's new pizza oven. He has never, ever made a pizza  in his life and he didn't make it now either. 
The oven is obviously meant to be used outdoors and the fuel used are wood pellets.

A torch is used to light the pellets and when they've caught on you just fill up with more pellets.

 As soon as the pellets are glowing and the oven is hot I started assembling the pizza. Ah yes, I always have a well topped pizza.
If you do this too early, it won't slide off the pizza peel.

Close the oven.
 Ticktock ticktock ticktock ticktock ... x 90  or thereabouts 

Ready !

Next time we won't be putting the oven in such a windy spot. The flames licked the pizza a tad too much. 
Very tasty, nonetheless. 

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do.

 That girl was me (old hag more like). And what did I do ?


The kitchen counter tops look (almost) like new again.

A good clean and scrub, before I oiled the wood. It is something that should be done twice a year, but we've let one year slip by.  It was high time.

We use Woca Oil from Denmark and it works very well.  So far we've had no stubborn stains from normal (and more intense) kitchen use. 

Since our worktop is Douglas fir and I don't want it to turn yellow or orange I use the white oil, which gives a nice patina.

The weather was fabulous and I worked with doors and windows open.

The dogs enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Millie had been lying most of the day on that spot, looking, relaxing and sleeping. I say 'most of the day' because she had a break when Bert took them out for a stroll over the land.

And that was my weekend. Now I can look forward to a relaxing week ahead ;-)

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, October 07, 2016

And We're Back in Autumn Mode

The crochet hooks and yarn have come back from their summer holidays (back of the sofa more likely) 
New projects have been started and the ladies who crochet have had their first get-together yesterday.

Lovely, as ever.

Patricia xxx...x

PS Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Little by Little...

And I mean very little by very little, I am organising (or trying to) the house from top to bottom.
After living in this house for 3.5 years it is time, isn't it ?
You move into a house that is actually not suited to your lifestyle (and clutter) and you dump all your belongings wherever you find a place. Then after building an extension onto the original house you get so used to things being stored in the wrong drawer, cupboard, wardrobe, room, which inevitably leads to days spent looking for this or that. 
But it has been niggling me for so long, I can't stand it any more. Thus, I made plans (in my head) to tackle one drawer at a time, one cupboard, one chest freezer....

I started with the medicine cabinet. They were stored in one of the original (deep) kitchen cabinets that now resides in the pantry. Too deep to find the things in the back and generally often used items ending up in the front to the extent that when you opened the door the lot would fall out. Bert I'm looking at you !
We have installed wall cabinets above the freezers and one of them is now the medicine cabinet.

It has made such a difference already, it is hard to imagine. And such a little thing.
All the meds for the pets are now also separate. No more rummaging through everything to get to a paracetamol for a splitting headache (not that I have many of these, luckily).
The wall cabinets above two chest freezers in the pantry. Note to self : paint walls.

Staying with the pantry, I've concocted a system for storing the eggs.

I found a sturdy piece of cardboard and glued  egg boxes onto it. First I cut away the lids of the boxes 

The eggs are pencil marked with the date and we fill from the left at the back and keep going, always from left to right.

Empty egg cartons are stored just above, where the medicines used to be.

We have 3 chest freezers, 2 in the pantry and one in the center of Bert's office.
They also got a sorting through (read, emptying and filling). One of them is now for pork, another for chicken, lamb and other meat. The third one is for vegetables, ready meals (homemade, of course) soups, cheese, .....

The kitchen was from the start reasonably well organised. The only thorn being the drawer with plastic containers. We found another unopened box in the attic which said plastic containers, still unpacked after more than 3 years. 

So far, so good. It's been tidy for several weeks now. I love those yoghurt pots. They are ideal for freezing soups and whatnot.

Something I did, before I received my surprise sewing machine was organise the sewing boxes.

 I just can't resist temptation when I shop at Lidl's and there are sewing materials on special offer.

It won't stay this tidy forever, I know, but it will for a while at least.

Have you organising tips to share, bar getting rid of all your stuff  ? I'd love to hear from you.

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, September 30, 2016

New Sewing Machine.

And I really, really didn't want one. 
I've been best friends with my sewing machine for 27-odd years and I have an emotional attachment to it. My parents bought it for me at the time when I had just moved in with Bert. I wanted to make curtains for the living room windows, you see, because it was right on the road and every passer-by could look in of an evening.
Before all that, I had used my mother's old sewing machine to muddle through various sewing projects. Unfortunately, that was on its last legs.

Anyway, back to the present. In my last few sewing adventures my old buddy has been playing up. When it started sounding more like an old rusty harvester than a sewing machine I dusted and oiled all the cogs and wheels, making for a much smoother running machine.
But thread kept bunching up underneath the fabric, whatever I did to remedy, it would do a good job for 5 cm and start bunching up again.
I had to keep going to finish off the promised Cinderella dress 

Now a few days ago Bert went to the post office to pick up a parcel. It was a new sewing machine !

It's a Toyota Oekaki Renaissance.
And it's red !
And I'll have to go through a uni course of four years to be able to work with it.

It does loads of stitches and can embroider.  

I'll have my work cut out trying to understand the workings of this new machine. I guess the best way to learn is to use it and practice. 

There is this handy contraption, that attaches to the sewing machine, with the various stitches and codes for the 'operation panel'. 

Here they are side by side.
I feel very disloyal to my old harvester, but we will get it serviced and hopefully fixed.

Has anyone of my readers ever used one of these new-fandangled machines ?

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, September 26, 2016

Whoa There !

Every now and then I surprise myself. Yesterday was such an occasion as I got off my lazy bum and made a bit of food for the freezer. Not for the freezer as such but for us, to eat at a later stage and to make dinnertime prep easier for when I am busy doing other things.
Like sitting on my bum.

Bert has recently bought a pizza oven via t'internet (I really should keep him away from the 3 w's). It works with wood pellets. Which is great because we have them hanging around the house, seeing we normally use them as cat litter. As you do.

Anyway, I decided to make a head start with the dough. Just in case there will be a day somewhere in the future, without wind or rain, when he lights the pizza oven.
I made two batches of dough and divided each into 6 balls.

I wrapped them individually and placed them in the freezer.

 Last week I also organised two of our three freezers, by the way.

I still had massive beetroots from my friend Sophie which I had stored in the fridge.
They had a good roasting in the oven while I was busy doing other things. I saw this recipe on line for beetroot ravioli and thought if I portion off the right quantity of roasted beets, they can be frozen too.

The oven was hot from roasting the beets and I made use of that by chucking in two loaves of bread.

With the kitchen a mess, I thought, "what the heck! I'll make shortcrust pastry too"

Six portions went into the, yes, freezer and I made one pastry case for a quiche for today and one beetroot, goats cheese and smoked salmon tart for last night's dinner.

Layer sliced goats cheese, roasted beetroot and red onions sauteed with balsamico.
In a hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Add fresh goats cheese blobs and return to oven for 5 more minutes. Leave to cool for 10. drape with smoked salmon and drizzle with reduced balsamico. Sprinkle with black pepper. I just wish I had rocket to set it off a bit better, flavour wise and for photographic purposes.

The pastry was yummy. There is a reason why this is usually served as a small portion for a starter. It's rich !

Patricia xxx...x
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