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, December 27, 2012

Puppet Theatre Makeover

I have a nephew - Mathias (5) and niece - Sarah (1.5) who are both cute as pie and misschievious in equal measures. 

My dilemma is what to give them on special presents days, like birthdays or christmas.  They have so many toys that I don't want to add to the pile unless it's educational, something that releases their creativity or something that they will treasure forever.
So I came accross this puppet theatre in a Recycle Shop. Bought it for peanuts and gathered up a load of second hand hand puppets at the same time.  We still had some hand puppets at home that once belonged to Bert from when he was a wee little lad.
I revamped the puppet theatre with a lick (or two) of paint and new curtains.  Some of the puppets got new clothes that I made with pieces of fabric that I had lying about (read : had been hoarding) and got their faces washed thoroughly with soap and water. The other puppets will be given to them in dribs and drabs over the coming couple of years - hopefully before they have outgrown the theatre (blushes)
So here are the pictures of the project.

A rather insipid and tired looking puppet theatre.

Meet the puppets.
Grandma & Granddad
Granddad & his dog
Granddad's dog.
The Twins (they were Little Red Ridinghoods, but I changed their profiles, seeing I have a whole tribe of them)

King and Queen
My guess ? Winnetou who got a real suede outfit.
We gave it as their Christmas present and boy did they enjoy it !

 Look at his litlle face
Granddad's dog has the most success
Not always used as was meant but fun nonetheless.

Their parents were going to leave it at ours till the next day, but Mathias insisted it traveled home with them that evening and he started lifting the theatre himself to bring it to the car.
Mission accomplished ! Could not have hoped for a better reaction.

Thanks for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overview of 5:2 Recipes

I thought that as an interludium in my blog I would put the low calorie and low carb recipe links in one post. Making it easier for you if you to find if you needed them. 
Oh, I've got plenty more recipes written down on paper. The problem is getting them on this blog (I could do with a secretary ;-) )Sometimes life just gets in the way of the things we really want.

Halloumi Salad - 255 cal

Tofu Stir Fry - 235 cal

Grilled Nectarine with Quark - 50 cal


Thanks for stopping by.
Patricia xxx...x



Monday, November 12, 2012

Spiced Chicken Meatballs with North African Aromas - (295 cal) - 5:2

Very odd quantities,agreed, but that's just how the cookie crumbled.
serves 6 on the IF diet - 295 calories per person - 4 meatballs per person

Chicken Meatballs
24 meatballs
  • 692 grs chicken mince (174 cal/100 grs)
  • 350 grs grated courgettes (30 cal/100 grs)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Put the grated courgettes in a colander, in the sink, sprinkle with some salt and cover with a plate and a weight on it on top. This is to extract as much water from the courgette as possible.
  • Leave for 10 minutes and squeeze the bejayses out of the courgettes.
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together well. 
  • I would not add any salt to the mince mix as the salt used for the courgettes will still be there to some extent.
  • Divide and shape into 24 balls.
  • Set aside (fridge preferably)
North African spiced sauce

  • 130 grs onion, chopped (44 cal / 100 grs)
  • 290 grs carrots, cut into rustic chunks ( 43 cal / 100 grs)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated (15 cal / clove)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 5 crushed cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • chillies, fresh and chopped or chilli powder (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp tomato concentrate (77 cal /100 grs)
  • 1 tin (400 grs) peeled tomatoes (19 cal /100 grs)
  • 1 chicken stock cube) (15 cal /100 grs)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (100 cal / tbsp)

  • Heat oil in the pan and add onion, garlic and carrots.
  • Sweat down for a couple of minutes before adding the spices and tomato concentrate.
  • Cook out the tomato a little before adding the tinned tomatoes and stock cube.
  • You may want to add some water if the sauce gets too tick.
  • In any case put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes, till carrots are pre-al dente.
  • Place the meatballs and place on top op the sauce and cover up again with lid.
  • Simmer for a further 15 minutes. The meatballs should be cooked through by this time, but you might want to open one up to check.
  • Serve with rice or cauliflower 'rice' (recipe to follow).

Thanks for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trip to Sneem and Intermittent Fasting - 5:2 - Part ???

I really am not the most consistent blogger in the world, I know that.  And I assume you were all thinking that I had given up on  my low carb - IF diet.  Right and wrong !
Dieting is hard. Dieting when on holiday is nigh on impossible.
But I had semi prepared myself and had 3 fast days before we left for Ireland.  Still, in the weeks before our trip I've kept myself busy with baking my mother's (who turned 75) birthday cake, I obviously had to 'taste' it.

I cleaned the house, did a pile of laundry and ironing, cooked some chicken and rice for the cats and dogs as a 'haute cuisine' treat for when we were away, got 'some' food in for our pet/house sitter (my mum - it was her birthday present, the house sitting ;) ).
How I love going on hols, NOT.  It's all the prep that I have to do beforehand, not to speak of emptying the suitcases when coming back home.  Blergh!
That's why we (I) just prefer to move house to another country, at least then you have all your furniture and stuff with you. Ha !

Yes, our holiday to Sneem wasn't just a social visit to all our friends and acquaintances. We also went house hunting.  Some of you may know that we have accepted the offer on our house in Belgium and we now needed to start looking for something in our beloved Sneem.
We have put an offer in on two properties and they have both been accepted, so we are on the right track.

Two properties ? Well, yes. One in Sneem village as an investment and one near the Sneem estuary right at the water's edge, to live in.
I just adore the place on South Square, the building has a lot of charm (and a lot of work too) and has sitting tennants (comercial) who will stay. It has a small garden (full of Japanese knotweed, 5 old mattresses, rotten  wooden dressers and all the other stuff we haven't seen yet). But it also boasts a stone barn with a beautiful arched gateway.  We heard it used to be a butter factory, but I can't seem to find any information about it on the net.

It is ripe for restauration and I cannot wait till we can get the whole place spruced up. To make it the gem of Sneem village.

The house near the water is a 'new build'. From the outside it looks okay-ish, the interior is far, far too modern (think Kelly Hoppen-esq ) with near white wall to wall carpet in all the bedrooms and living room, highly polished white floor in the kitchen that give me the feeling of walking over ice cubes, black kitchen.  The windows are uPVC, wood imitation with 'fake' crossbars between the double glazed window panes. They'll have to go !

We'll also need to add a garage/tool shed as there isn't any. Every house needs a tool shed. 
Whatever we paid for the place, it's going to cost us an arm and a leg to get it to work for us in the style we like. But it will be worth it in the end as the land is pituresque with stunning views over the water and the mountains.  Added bonus, it has a stream and a pond too !

From past experience we know that till completion of a sale lots of things can happen, so we prepare ourselves mentally for that and hope for the best.  Fingers crossed.

Now about the diet.
While we were in Ireland we stayed in the  Sneem Hotel.  I kept my cool and didn't over eat on bread, sweets or any other carby fillers.  For breakfast I usually ate yoghurt (lovely and creamy) topped with almonds, walnuts and prunes (that'll keep the bowels moving), then a cooked breaky of sorts : egg (always egg) either poached or fried, tomato, mushrooms and white pudding (which was very tasty indeed).  Right, sometimes I did give in to a slice of toast with a good lump of butter.
For lunch we usually had a filled sandwich on the go or at one of the many coffee shops.
Dinner, either at the hotel, D O'Shea Bar (which serves great food) or at friends (I couldn't resist Jo-Anne's cake or Pam's scones smothered in jam)
So yes, I did sin a bit, but not as much as I did this Saturday when we were already home.  I made some lovely starchy risotto with butternut squash. I also ate a whole (200 gr) bar of chocolate filled with hazelnuts on that day ! It didn't seem to weigh that much to be honest as the nuts felt very very light. ;)

I recovered from this blip on Sunday. No more carbs. I have it out of my system, with a fast day yesterday and today.
Some of my recipes ? I'll try and get them on this blog soon. That's a promise I'm hoping to keep.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roast Vegetable Stack with Smoked Trout - (374 cal) - 5:2

Opening a packet of smoked trout is easy, but great to accompaniment my roast vegetable stack.
For the vegetable stack I used meager pickings from the fridge and garden. Therefore the quantities of the veg I used may sound odd.  You might want to use different quantities, so I'll give you the calories per 100 grs of each ingredient.
You'll need a ramequin or a chef's ring, but you can use any bowl that can stand the heat of the oven.

serves 1 - 219 calories
  • 103 grs fennel - the bulb variety  (36 cal/100 grs)
  • 54 grs courgette  (30 cal/100 grs)
  • 47 grs aubergine (24 cal/100 grs)
  • 38 grs red pepper (48 cal/100 grs)
  • 100 grs tomato (16 cal/100 grs)
  • 50 grs ricotta (165 cal/100 grs)
  • 45 grs spinach (24 cal/100 grs)
  • 1 tsp olive oil ( or spray) (33 cal/tsp)
  • seasoning, sea salt and black pepper
  • a smidgin of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp horseradish (if you happen to have some lurking from the deapths of your fridge. I hadn't so didn't use it)
  • Wilt the spinach and blend or chop fine.
  • Mix it with the ricotta, nutmeg, salt, black pepper and horseradish (optional)
  • Set aside (easy)
  • Slice the vegetables in rings (or something that would fit your ramequin/chef's ring) - half a cm tick (or thereabouts)
  • Heat your griddle pan on the hob (alternatively roast in the oven)
  • Brush the vegetables with the oil. You'd be surprised how far the oil stretches if you use a brush for this.
  • Griddle all the veg, bar the tomatoes, on both sides.
  • Preheat you oven to 180°C
  • Take a baking sheet and line it with baking paper.
  • Put your rings on top and start filling it with layers of each vegetable.
  • In between every 3rd layer or so, spread out a spoon of the riccota mixture.
  • Start with the courgette and end with a spoon of ricotta before topping with a colourful slice of tomato.  If using a ramequin or bowl you put the tomato at the bottom and courgette at the top.
  • Press down firmly and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Once out of the oven, leave to set for 5 minutes.  Get your plates ready, arrange the trout and capers, if that's what you're having it with.
  • Slide a spatula under the vegetable rings and transfer to the plate. Slide of the ring and voilĂ  !
  • If you used ramequins, you'll have to turn it over onto the plate. Should be easy enough.
Note my courgette was the size of a marrow, so I used it separately and put my vegetable stack on top a griddled fat slice.

I ate it with 125 grs of smoked trout - 155 cal. 
A great fast day meal.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Low Carb Pizza

I read about this pizza crust on a forum. I was intrigued and would definitely give it a go sometime down the line.
Well, that time had come and I trawled the internet to get a more specific idea of what was required.
Cauliflower !
Yes, cauliflower ! And cheese, and egg.
Come to think of it, it is basically a cauliflower and cheese omelet/frittata cooked in the oven.  Now, if you don't need to watch your carbs (which in all honesty we all should) it might not be for you, but if you are on a low carb or glutenfree diet this is a grand alternative. 
The texture is quite pleasant and the cauliflower .... I could not taste it in the finished product.  I love cauliflower, but I admit to being a little wary of cauliflower flavoured pizza. But as it turned out, there was no reason to be anxious.  So, try it out !

Cauliflower Pizza Base 
23 cm round pizza tin (with a slightly raised edge), lined with baking parchment - per person - 360 calories. 
Preheat oven to 230° C


  • 120 grs grated/riced cauliflower - 24 cal
  • 60 grs grated cheese  - mine was gouda and gave me 246 cal - You can use a lower fat cheese, but you need some fat for 'melt factor'
  • 1 large egg - 90 cal
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil (yes, dried works best for this)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • freshly crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste
You can obviously vary the quantities of your herbs to your own taste.

  • Grate/rice the raw cauliflower in a food processor, it is fast and efficient.
  • Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes in salted boiling water.
  • Drain in a colander.  Shake well to get more water out.
  • Return to the pan on a low heat to evaporate any excess moisture. Alternatively, you could press the water out with a clean tea towel.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Beat loose the egg.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and pour into your lined pizza tray.
  • Smooth it out evenly.
  • Cook in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Leave to set slightly or cool completely to be topped at a later time. I made more than was required so I could store some in the freezer.
  • Choose your favourite pizza toppings and put under the grill/broiler for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it may burn quickly.
  • Leave to rest for 5 minutes till everything has set before slicing and serving.
  • Yummy !

Have a lovely week !
And just so you know, I hate the new blogspot interface. Urgh!

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, September 17, 2012

Intermittent Fasting - 5:2 - Part 5/6

Not much has happened in the last 2 weeks concerning the diet. We've fallen nicely into a routine of fasting on Mondays and Tuesdays, eating kind of normal all the other days. With normal, I mean still low carb and counting calories as good as I can.
We also seem to have one day a week were we go a bit bonkers. Usually a Saturday or Sunday.  Like yesterday for instance. My niece, Sarah got christened and my nephew, Mathias had his 5th birthday party. Obviously there was carb overload in which I played a big part,  because yours truly baked a cake for Sarah and cupcakes for Mathias.

Two top layers were red velvet cakes and the bottom one was frangipane .

For Mathias I made a pirate ship from a shoe box, inspired by this one , an island from half a styrofoam ball covered with sugar paste and then his pirate cupcakes.

And here he is waiting to blow out the candles that his uncle Eric is trying hard to light first.

Today it is back to the fast and I am dying to get stuck into my dinner.  We're now having a go at saving our calorie allowance for dinner and dessert.  Dessert is not cake or chocolate ! Oh no ! Fruits or maybe a yoghurt is what we have.  I'm also trying to keep fast days meat free and use soy protein or quorn one day and fish on the other day.
We don't own scales to weigh ourselves, so last week I used my mum's and it looks like I have lost a few kilos at least.  My clothes also seem 'less full', if you know what I mean.

And another bit of news that I just cannot keep under cover till a later time. I might jinx it, but whatever happens happens. 
We have buyers for our house ! Yeah, I know, exciting !  Deposit paid, promise of purchase signed!  There is just one catch.
The buyers asked to have completion on April the 30th at the latest.  Whilst that is still a long way off and it might just be easier to move house and country in the spring time and not in winter, it leaves me feeling a bit anxious. 
They seem like the right people to move into our house. They love it and they love the unkempt garden.  We are supposed to let the ivy grow up the gable again and they do not want us to use any kind of weed killer.  They will adopt our chickens and Arthur the cockerel.
Fingers crossed for a completion without hickups.

A week Ireland has been booked and I'm looking forward to it !

Thanks for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

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