La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, 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 we did and 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, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

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 voilà !
  • 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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cauliflower 'rice' - (45 cal) - 5:2

Cauliflower has been a life saver in my quest to bring down my blood sugar levels.
My low carb diet wouldn't be so 'easy' to maintain if it weren't for the different flavours and textures on my dinner plate. It is also low in calories, which helps
Just to clarify. It is not my own idea. I read about it on the internet and took it from there.

And no, it doesn't taste overly cauliflowery at all.

Serves 2 -  45 calories per person
  • half a head of cauliflower, +/- 450 grs  (20 cal / 100 grs)
  • a splash of water
  • seasoning
  • herbs, spices of your choosing
  • You'll need a food processor for this with grating attachment.
  • Grate the cauliflower and transfer to a microwave dish with lid.
  • Add a splash of water and nuke for 5 minutes on highest setting.
  • Stir and taste for degree of doneness, if necessary put it back for a couple of minutes.
  • When ready, stir in your seasoning, herbs and spices of your liking.
  • Put the lid back on and let it rest for 3 minutes to bring all the favours together.
Serve instead of rice or couscous.

Thank you for visiting.
Patricia xxx...x

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ratatouille with Grilled Prawns - (366 cal) - 5:2

When you get this kind of still life from your garden, there is only one dish that springs to mind. Ratatouille !  

Ingredients  231 cal per person
serves 4
  • 130 grs onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 850 grs courgettes, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 370 grs aubergines, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 330 grs red peppers, cut into 2.5 cm squares
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • vegetable stock 250 ml
  • red wine vinegar, a dash
  • 620 grs tomatoes, red and yellow, roughly chopped
  • seasoning
  • a pinch of sugar (or do what I did, use Stevia)
  • fresh basil, as much as you like

  • In a pan deep-ish pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and sautee the onions with the garlic.
  • In the meantime use another pan to heat up another drizzle of olive oil. Fry off the courgettes.
  • When they are nicely coloured, add them to the onions which are still on the hob on a low heat.
  • Next into the pan are the aubergines. Brown on all sides. Add to the onions.
  • Repeat for the peppers.
  • Now add bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and stock to the vegetables, together with the vinegar.
  • Leave to simmer till the veggies are soft but not falling apart (20 minutes or so)
  • You then drain the vegetables off the cooking liquid, preserving the liquid, which will go back into the pan on the hob to be reduced untill it tickens. Take off the heat.
  • Add the vegetables again with seasoning and stevia. Top with the tomatoes, lid on for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the basil and serve.

Prawn skewers  135 cal pp
serves 1
  •  12 frozen tiger (or other) prawns, defrosted and shell removed. 150 grs (shelled)
  • a drizzle of olive oil (you should have some left from the ratatouille)
  • season with seasalt, curry powder

  • Stick the prawns onto wooden skewers - 2 skewers of 6 prawns, each.
  • Drizzle with the oil and season
  • Put in a preheated griddle pan. Griddle on both sides till they have completely changed colour.
  • Don't overcook as they become rubbery.
  • Serve with ratatouille

Patricia xxx...x

Celeriac Mash, Quorn Steak and Beetroot Salad - (397 cal) - 5:2

It might not look like a f(e)asty meal to you but it was excellent and easy to prepare, which isn't a bad thing if you've been busy all day.

Quorn steaks were 113 cal/ 100 grs. We had 195 grs, each (yeah, I know !)
Prepare as per instructions on the packet.  There, that was easy, wasn't it ?

Beetroot  37 cal/100grs. 175 grs/each
I used the ones from the garden, but you obviously can buy them vacuum packed, already cooked and peeled.  If you use fresh ones, you will need to wash tem and cook in water on the hob till al dente. Drain and peel - the peel will just slide off.  Slice or chop, as you please.

Celeriac Mash 36 cal/100grs. 250 grs, each
You know the drill. Peel and cut into small cubes ( 1.5 cm)
Cover with cold water, add a stock cube of your choice (I used Kallo organic vegetable) and cook till tender.
Drain, but keep the cooking liquid, you can drink that at a later stage as a soup. Very tasty.
Now add seasoning (salt, black pepper and nutmeg) and mash to your hearts content. Please, don't add butter. You only add butter if you're not dieting.

"Do I not see dressing on the beetroot ? " I hear you ask.
Indeed. I made a dressing with the following ingredients
  • stem ginger, grated 40 grs
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped 50 grs
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard
  • squeeze of 1/2 lemon or the equivalent in white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning
  • a dash of tap water
That is a total of 235 calories, which you naturally only use a tablespoon off. The rest can be stored in a jar in the fridge for a couple of days at least.

The calories in this meal are so 'high' because I decided not to divide up my calorie allowance during the day, but have them all at dinner time.  It gave me the opportunity to also have two nectarines as dessert.

Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Intermittent Fasting - 5:2 - Part 4

Been having a few hectic days lately and it was not so convenient  for us to start our fourth fast yesterday (Monday) so we postponed  with one day.
Bert is having it difficult as we ( I ) decided we were going to fast the whole day and eat our calories at dinner time. Hu ho !  He has been fighting the hunger pangs with cups of stock made from half a cube, each.

Last week Wednesday we had a meeting with our estate agent who is trying to sell our house. Unfortunately we had few viewings over the last month and a half.  Summer holidays and bad weather, people booking last minute planes to the sun didn't help.  It has been quiet in general in the property sector.
Now most of the house viewers we welcomed thought the garden is not to their taste, too wild, too much work, too large, etc etc. 
We are now focussing ourselves on our garden which in all honesty has been left a little unkempt. With this lovely summer weather (ahum) every bit of weed has firmly rooted itself in our garden, even if we have weeded somewhat in between showers and mown the lawn fairly regularly.
Our hedges (the beech hedges we inherited when we moved here and of which some we have cut back drastically over the past three years) look untidy. We had also created some arches which were not yet looking at their best.  You get the picture, not conducive to a house sale.
Our estate agent recommended that we took down the ivy from the front gable of the house !  My heart jumped up into my throat. It's what made me fall in love withe the house in the first place.
They assured me however that 80% of potential buyers hate it.
With a heavy heart we removed the ivy from the house (only the front, mind) on Saturday and it went from this
to this

in a matter of hours.
I came across 8 birds' nests, old ones granted, but that means from now on the birds won't be nesting against the gable anymore. More heart break.
At least we know now that the ivy hasn't caused any damage to the bricks or pointing. It can only mean that the materials used for this house were decent.
Dilemma. How to get those sucker roots off.  A few google searches later we opted for the pressure washer, even if we read horror stories about damaging the bricks and/or pointing.  Worth a try at least on a small patch.
We don't own a pressure washer, so we needed to wait till Monday to hire one. 
Sunday we tried to made good use to tidy around the driveway and near the front of the house.  At around 4.30 pm all hell broke loose.  A text came in from the estate agent that they would come Monday morning, 10 am with potential buyers. 
Oh blimey ! Very, very short notice.  Took the vacuum cleaner aaaalll the way upstairs and started a cleaning frenzy ending when reaching the depths of the basement utility room. That was 10 pm. There are nicer things I can think of to keep me occupied on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon. Bert started the lawn mower around the same time as I started up the hoover.  He was ready before me, but the grass was long and he had to work till darkness fell. Ach, it is our own fault, we should keep on top of things, but time managment isn't one of our strongest points. Obviously.
We didn't even have time to have dinner before then, so we were very naughty and got chippie chips ! A small one, and it didn't satisfy me at all to be honest.
Monday, before 10 am, the house viewers and EA came.  They did the tour in less than 15 blummin' minutes and they had the cheek to not want to look at the garden !
It was obvious to me (judging a book by it's cover) that they were the type of people who want a trendy and very modern house with a very straight lined garden. Seeing the flashy car they arrived in  yes, flashy and pimped) Bert and I just knew. That's a no.

Having this clean house again and not being in time to go to the hire shop for a pressure cleaner, Bert dissappeared to his study and I went into my 'studio/craft room'.
Soon, my little niece, Sarah will get baptized and my nephew, Mathias will celebrate his 4rd birthday.

I bought them a puppet theatre in the second hand shop, which I will give a face lift and I also bought second hand puppets.

They all need a new wardrobe and I made a start yesterday.
I have four Little Red Riding Hoods, and this one will no longer be one. She will be cast in a different role altogether with a lovely flower print frock.

Grandma will no longer be ill in her bed, but will be in the kitchen baking pies and cookies, wearing a flower print dress and an apron with lacey frills.

The king will make an appearance in this story. But he's still at the taylor's as he still needs a Royal collar on his coat.
He'll probably be presenting his princess daughter at the debutante ball.
What a lovely day it turned out to be. Just relaxing and doing something creative with not much else on my mind.
This morning when I woke up, Bert had already dissappeared to the hire shop.  Once home he got started with the power washer, worked a treat ! Bricks and pointing (and the paint even) still intact and all the rough roots gone.
Now we hope that the painter will come on Saturday, as promised, to give us a quote for painting the front gable, all the windows and the roof overhang. I really dislike the dark brown windows. Luckily indoors they have been painted white-ish.
Whilst Bert was power washering a woman stopped and asked if she could go in the woodland next to and behind our house to have a look. Sure.
She phoned the EA there and then, made an appointment to view the house an hour later.  Well, she didn't seem to be scared off by the garden. That was a good sign. The house was still decent from the last viewing so all was good.
She loved the house and would contact us again after talking with her husband.  Wether that is just talk or not, we don't know, but viewings seem to be picking up again and we have another potential buyer lined up for Friday too.
Wish us luck !

Recipes from last week's fasting you can find here and here
We've had a tasty fasting meal tonight. The recipe will be posted soon.
Thanks for visiting
Patricia xxx...x

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