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

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Making Waves

They were so utterly happy when we opened their pen, yesterday morning.
It took them about three minutes before they ventured out, but found the pond straight away.

 Look at his wingspan.

Loads of fun and I could have stood there all day, just watching them. Unfortunately the sitting room called me to start painting. Pffft. 😓

Have a fab weekend !
Patricia xxx...x 😸

PS Did you notice ? Blogger has emoji 🙌

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ducky Business

Here we are. Ready for business. 
Adding to our livestock. 

It's a boy ! And 3 girls. 
They are Muscovy ducks.

Cyril, is his name, with his ladies, safely tucked in the pen for the next few days. 

After that, they can make use of their larger enclosure which also contains the pond.
Their wings won't be clipped and they might well end up back at their former home at Maggie & Richard's (our friends and neighbours). At least they will be able to escape predators and that's all that matters in the end.

Patricia xxx...x

Saturday, November 12, 2016

More Window Stuff

These are just a few more photos of the work in progress. 
Later today the sitting room will be ready for me to clean.

This post was (and still is) 4 cm out at the top, compared to the bottom.
Nothing to do with the window company, but with the builder who erected this house. 

As you can see the damp proof membrane was lying flat, bridging the cavity and bringing rain right into the inside wall. 

 We had a leak in the ceiling around this time last year. Which had been temporarily fixed (or so we thought). The damaged ceiling has been cut out...

...and replaced with new plasterboard, ready to be skimmed.
Now that we know the damp proofing under the windows was bodged, we're certain that the leak comes from the windows upstairs. But we'll have to wait and see.

Oh dear. Ha ha ha ! What fun it's going to be to get everything back in order.

 The sliding door.

Would you believe the window company made all these windows smaller than the original ones ? 
And that is why they didn't want or need to chisel away at the plaster to fit the windows. They could skip that step by literally breaking out the old windows.

The blown plaster has been removed and will be redone.

All the other brown windows, fascias and soffits will also be replaced with white, but in a few weeks time. 
At least the sitting room will soon be ready. Clean and redecorated.

Have great weekend.
Patricia xxx...x

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Window Saga

It's okay. The work started yesterday morning. 
It is a very slow process and lots of dust, but our motley crew of  very skilled craftsmen/builders are doing a fantastic job. They are from the village and we know them well.

Not a destroyed window in sight. So far so good. 

You just gotta love this picture. Ha ha !

You've got to wonder how on earth the window company were going to fit in the new windows without chiseling away plaster and rendering. 

A bit of rubble and a lot of dust.

The old windows were fitted abysmally. The damp course membrane underneath the windows were lying flat underneath the indoor sill. No wonder we had water seeping in with the wind driving the rain through. Our team will fix this. 

This is a gap around the old windows. No insulation like expanding foam. Just simply plastered straight up against the window frames.

It won't be so draughty anymore when the new ones are in.

Thank goodness we put our foot down last week as all of us are certain we would have ended up with quite a bodge job from the window company.

Patricia xxx...x

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Making Sauerkraut

My mum used to make it around this time of year. But she gave me her Sauerkraut crock and to my shame I have to admit  I only produced my own once (a long time ago).
I have used the crock to make elderflower champagne a few times, mind you.

When I made the Sauerkraut before we were living in France and had a fantastic harvest of organic white cabbage. I never fancied making it from shop bought cabbage. It just didn't seem right to me.

On Saturday I harvested some cabbages from the veggie garden and decided to have another go at it.

They are absolutely nothing like the specimens from France and we had to share the ones here with slugs, millipedes and earthworms. A lot of cleaning was involved. Firstly I removed outer leaves (of which I kept the largest and nicest ones for later use) and placed the whole cabbages in the sink with cold water to which I added some salt.

I quartered them and placed them yet again  in slightly salted cold water.
Whatever is lurking underneath will soon be trying to escape from the kitchen sink or find its way to the bottom.
After removing the core, the cabbage then is finely sliced in long strips. I used a knife instead of food processor, just to makes sure there wouldn't be too much protein being smashed up and make it all the way through the fermenting process.

After another good wash, the cabbage, together with apples and onions is placed in a dry, clean recipient (in my case the sink once again with the plug in da hole) 

Salt, juniper berries and caraway seeds are mixed and massaged into the veg and left for 30 minutes or thereabouts.

Hello ! Hello ! Hello !
Sparkling clean crock.

 The cabbage then has to be placed into the crock bit by bit and pressed down really well.
The liquid that has been released in your recipient (in my case the sink) has to be scooped out and poured over the cabbage. 
The cabbage should be completely covered with liquid. If you don't have enough, top it up with mineral water.

Here is where the kept aside outer leaves come into play. They go on top. 
But that's not all.

 The pot comes with two weighting stones.

Above you'll notice the channel at the top of the crock. That needs to be filled with water before the lid goes on.

It makes the pot air tight. 

Off to the pantry with you. Blummin' heavy it is too.
Start the fermentation process. Soon we'll be hearing blubblub blub coming from the pantry.


  • 6 kg cabbage - you can use a mixture of white and savoy or green cabbage, ratio 4 kg white and 2 kg other
  • 300 gr onion
  • 700 gr apples (acidic)
  • 70 gr sea salt
  • 25 juniper berries
  • 10 gr caraway seeds
  • Remove outer leaves of the cabbage but keep the largest/nicest ones aside.
  • Halve or quarter the cabbages and remove the core. If the core is woody discard. If it is fresh and crisp it can be grated to go in with the rest of cabbage.
  • Slice the cabbage in thin long strips and wash in cold water.
  • Peel the apples and onions. Slice the onions thinly. Apples can be either grated or sliced.
  • Drain the clean cabbage.
  • In a large enough recipient (or clean sink with plug) mix the apples onions and cabbage together.
  • Add the salt, caraway and juniper berries. Massage well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  • Layer the cabbage in the crock pot and press down each layer really well. 
  • Fill the pot up to max 10 cm underneath the edge.
  • Add all the drawn out liquid that has been released in your recipient. Fill up with mineral water to about 5 cm above the layer of cabbage.
  • Cover with large outer leaves and put weighting stones on top.
  • Fill the rim with water and close off with lid.
  • The crock should be placed in a room where the temperature is about 20° to 22° C for a week. That should start the fermentation process.
  • For the next three to 5 weeks the pot needs to be standing in a cool place (4° to 8°)
  • After a total of 4 to 6 weeks the Sauerkraut is ready for use. It can be kept for a few months, provided the cabbage stays covered with the liquid and is stored in a cold place.
  • Never throw away the liquid ! It is full of goodness and can be used as a refreshing drink or as a starter for the next batch of Sauerkraut.

I am really looking forward to this meal.
It is a photo from our time in France and I was cooking for a crowd. Served with mashed potato on the side it is a winner.

Patricia xxx...x

PS While writing this post (Sunday) I can already hear the blub blub blubbing coming from the pantry. The fermentation process has started.

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