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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Collection of Artwork

Over the years we have acquired quite a collection of original works.
Some we bought, some were gifts from people who have touched our lives at one time or another. I cherish them. I even put most of them in mounting board ages ago. Wrapped them well for them to be framed in the future.
Picture framing was a part of my art supply business way back when. Now, after all these years, I have no idea where to get framing materials in or to the area where I live.
Obviously nothing will fit into standard size frames.
While rummaging in my craft room I unearthed them and looked through. Some are still okay. But unfortunately the etching prints show some foxing and in some cases severe foxing.

It breaks my heart and I am very disappointed in myself for not taking better care of them.

I'm afraid the severely affected ones will need professional help. But who ? where ? How to find someone ?
One of the downsides of living in the sticks, I guess.
Anyone out there who can point me in the right direction ?

Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wot's This Then ?

Is it a quiche ? Is it a sorta Spanish omelette ? A frittata  ?

Call it what ye will. I needed to use up eggs !
We're obviously not keeping up with our chickens. They are laying more eggs than we are prepared to eat on a daily basis. While I try to come up with a recipe that uses a hundred eggs in one go, they keep on accumulating in the pantry.
Sunday was the day I hard boiled fifteen eggs to use in an egg mayonnaise - salad type of thing.
But I also wanted to make something that would do as  dinner. Not too much fuss as I was still in the grips of a flu. With the feeling of a boa constrictor squeezing the bejeesus out of my chest, the only thing I wanted to do was lay down and play dead.
Unfortunately my appetite never dies so I set to work. Cooked everything in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan assisted)
Line a roasting tin with baking paper (my tin is 21 x 36 cm)

First step

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm disks
  • 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm disks
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Provençale or Italian dried herbs
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika


  • Put the potatoes, oil, herbs and spices onto a baking tray toss around that you have an even coating of oil and spices.
  • Put the tray in the preheated oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and set aside.

Second step
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced in rings
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced (in rings or  lengthways)
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp Provençale or Italian herb mix, 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Spread the veg out onto your tray with olive oil and spices

  •  In the oven with it ! For 15 minutes

  • Set aside

Third step
Ingredients plus of course yer roasted veg
  • olive oil
  • 200 grs goats cheese, sliced
  • 12 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • salt to taste
  • a small bunch of coriander leaves
  • Take your roasting tin with the baking paper and drizzle with olive oil
  • Layer with potatoes, other veg and goats cheese

  • Beat the eggs with the salt and milk. Add the chopped coriander leaves and pour over the veg.
  • Place it in the hot oven for 30 minutes or until the eggs have set.
  • Leave to rest for 10 minutes before lifting the 'whatever-you-gonna-call-it' out with the lining paper.
  • Slice and serve however you like.

I obviously made enough to have leftovers the next day.
A great meat free meal it was too. And while the written down recipe seems long, it was ready in no time (except for the hour in the oven)

If you don't like goats cheese, use another cheese.
If you don't like cheese, don't use any.
If you don't like coriander, use parsley or nothing of the sort.
If you don't like eggs, tough luck !

If any of my friends in the area want some free eggs, come and get some. I'm not going to start a delivery service. Capiche ?

Patricia xxx...x

Monday, January 25, 2016

Remember ?

Remember  the Christmas presents ?

I think I can now show you some of its contents.
 An insect/bee house for my brother, who loves this kind of stuff.

 A beautiful cushion for my mum, who loves chickens.

 For niece and nephew retro toys that are probably more loved by adults than this generation's children.

 This little bear in its sleeping bag, knitted by Pam Muller was just what I thought my niece Sarah would adore. Apparently, it hasn't left her side since.

For my sis in law I had a couple of fat quarter bundles of fabric and a notebook, which I forgot to photograph.

I got all of the pressies in The Green Chair in Sneem. Fantastic little shop !

Patricia xxx...x

Friday, January 22, 2016

Duck Breast with Asian Style Salad

If only you had made my Asian Flavoured Bread and Butter Pickle then this recipe would be a doddle. I used the vinegary brine as a base for the dressing for this salad, along with some of the pickled cucumbers, onions and chilli.
Never mind, you can still make a lovely dressing from scratch.

The dressing
  • small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
  • 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • a dash of soy sauce
  • Put all ingredients into a jar with lid. Shake it, shake it, shake it ! Ready !

The duck breast
  • 1 duck breast
  • 1 heaped tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • salt
  • Score the skin and rub the breast all over with salt and the 5-spice
  • Place it skin side down in a cold pan and fry over medium heat for about 6 minutes
  • Turn over and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes
  • Take it out of the pan and let it rest for 10
  • Slice the breast meat in thin slices.

The salad
You can use many variations of vegetables for such a salad. The choice is yours.
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • my pickled cucumber (you can use fresh cucumber and slice in fine batons)
  • 200 grs (or thereabouts) beansprouts. You can use them raw or slightly blanched.
  • a piece of both red and green pepper, sliced in thin batons.
  • red or green chilli (to taste),  sliced in rings at an angle
  • a handful of cooked rice noodles (cooled)
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, sliced at an angle
  • coriander leaves
  • Put all the ingredients (except the coriander) into a bowl and mix it well with the dressing.
  • Leave to stand for at least 15 minutes.
  • I arranged some lettuce leaves on a plate before spooning on some of the salad.
  • Add the sliced duck breast.
  • Sprinkle with some coriander and drizzle with sweet chilli sauce (if you have it)

Thinly sliced white cabbage and radishes would be a great addition too.
This recipe is enough for 2 servings as a lunch or dinner even. You can easily adapt the quantities  to your needs.
I was on my own when I made this - Bert was away (haha !). The next day I served myself the second portion like this :

And if you are vegetarian, you can always use some marinated tofu instead of duck, of course.

Have a good weekend all !
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Garden That Never Sleeps

We live in a part of Ireland where it hardly ever freezes. The temperatures are mild in winter. And summer.
From autumn through to spring storms batter us from the west, treating us to horizontal rain.  The sun doesn't come out as much as we'd like it to and skies are often overcast.
All this doesn't mean there isn't something to look at in the garden during this time of year. Some plants keep on flowering all through winter, like the calendula (marigold). However, I've never known hydrangeas to keep on giving.

Like this one. It sprang  a flower bud in  late autumn and came to full bloom. A bright blue splash of colour that I look at often through the window. It has started to get a bit rusty here and there from the wind though.

Another one,still in the pot, has now produced a bud.

This vinca (or periwinkle) was planted last spring/summer and has come on in leaps and bounds. Also producing its first flowers.

My white rose that just kept going from summer onward, but now seems to contemplate hibernating. Only 2 flowers at the moment.

A wild rose. Is it a dog-rose ? It was dormant for a while, but look at it now.

The wallflowers.

A lonesome feverfew flower.


Some of the daffies are well and truly about to pop.  I can't boast about mine, because my neighbouring friends down the road, Maggie and Richard, had some flowering two weeks ago already.

Nature might freak out if the weather does decide to give us a spell of frost. And it could happen of course. It's not because we live in a mild climate zone that we can't get the surprise of a cold snap.
We'll have to take it as it comes.

Patricia xxx...x

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

All Natural Medicine

For winter blues, colds, coughs, sniffles and general flu like symptoms.
Anyone coming into my home suffering from any of the above will be treated by moi to a mug of this. Generally the first few gulps will be accompanied by faces being pulled in all directions and exclamations like "Bleurgh ! This is strong. What is it ?" But as the golden liquid finds it's way down, you can hear sighs of relief by the drinker.
Usually I make it per mug, but this time I got myself a jug full, because I'm feeling a little meh! I can then reheat it throughout the day as and when.

The recipe for a jug (1.5 ltr)

  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of honey (and then some)
  • 6 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated (over a recipient to collect the juice too)
  • a little bit of cold water (150 ml or so)
  • boiling water to top up
Stir the first 4 ingredients together in a jug and top it up with boiling water. I always add cold water first, because you are not supposed to hit honey with anything boiling. Apparently it diminishes the healing properties. The feelgood factor will be received when you drink this hot, but is also very refreshing cold. 
I also like to spoon out the grated ginger that settles at the bottom of my mug. Feeling better already !

Patricia xxx...x

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bedroom Makeover - Part 1 - Planning Stage

The green light has been given by Bert to redecorate our bedroom and en-suite.
It's on my list  of things to do during the first three months of this year.
As I said in a previous post, we inherited the decor and furniture. Nobody had lived here before and the house was badly 'home-staged'. The furniture has long been repurposed elsewhere (just not in my home). The decor however, is still preventing me from a good night's sleep.

 Our guess is that this partition wall's only purpose was to hold the TV.
We don't watch TV in bed, so it was of no use to us, neither was the space behind the wall.
After a few months of living in the house we replaced the wall with a new partition.
Wider and moved it more into the room.
 It was never finished off and I've been looking onto this for two and a half years.

My idea for this wall ! Oh, have I got ideas ?!
Since we have built the house extension we don't have much of a view anymore. There is still light and fresh air from the windows but only a roof for a view. It made me look through umpteen websites with wallpaper posters. There are some great ones, but most are too generic for my taste.
Then I found this one, here in Ireland where I can upload my own photo. I only have to enquire if the resolution of my pic is suitable for enlarging.
And here is the one I chose.
If we tore down the walls in that direction, that would be our view (depending on the weather).
Anyway, behind that partition is our 'dressing' which will need a bit of tweaking too.

The en-suite as it was when we moved in.
As it is now. Not much has changed, only cosied it up a little.
We will be losing the tub. Not using it and there is still a bath in another bathroom.
The tiles in there are lethal and the grout is coming out in bits and pieces. There is too much movement in the floor, seeing it is OSB panels and not concrete underneath.

On Saturday we went window shopping for vinyl flooring which will be installed throughout bedroom and bathroom.  I need to be able to clean the bedroom floor with a mop and a bit of soapy water. Our first choice would be real wood flooring, but it isn't in our budget. So we kind of like the vinyl in the pic above.
You see, our style is somewhat different from what the house looked like when we bought it. It is after all a cottage in the countryside surrounded by mud and water, not some swanky villa in Cheshire.
Walls and ceiling will be painted in some shade of white or other. Maybe a muted blue or green behind the bed. The colour of the walls now is not necessarily offensive (it's beigey) but it doesn't reflect enough light for my liking.

That's it. I'm about to make some sketches and drawing up a few plans next. It's exiting  !
Patricia xxx...x
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