Monday, 9 January 2017

What a Prize

I just couldn’t believe it, the very last prize called at the Cheval Blanc Christmas raffle was mine, but what had I won? A very large ham weighing just under 4 kilos that would feed our hamlet, never mind the two of us, but with the boys coming for Christmas we knew that a fair bit of it would be devoured.

Ham

Well, we’ve managed to eat some with salads, added it to pasta bakes, cauliflower cheese and I’ve frozen 3 big chunks but there’s still this much left. Guess what we’re eating in January with everything :)

Ham

Thursday, 5 January 2017

What we spent in November and December

Chillies

A slightly belated Happy New Year to you all. I thought I’d update you on how our spending went for our 2016 challenge. Well, we went over our planned budget but we managed to save 470€ on what we normally spend, so happy with that, but I know I can do better. We still have freezers packed with fresh fruit, veg, meat and lots of bits and bobs like pesto, breadcrumbs, pastry, cream cheese etc., more than enough to make plenty of meals in the coming months.

Coupons are a bit thin on the ground here in France, unless anyone can tell me otherwise, but when we bought our Christmas tree we were given a 10€ voucher to spend on anything. Surely there must be a minimum spend, surely I needed a loyalty card, but I couldn’t see anything on the voucher, apart from you had to use it in the store where you bought the tree and you couldn't buy more than 3 of something. Sounded straightforward but Roger was still convinced there was a catch, but I wasn’t going to let that voucher expire. So on our next shopping trip, I loaded my basket with basics, flour, sugar, eggs, tinned tomatoes, milk and a treat for Roger and would you believe it, everything came to exactly 10€. With fingers crossed I handed over the voucher, the lovely lady said thank you and I walked out very happy with my purchases. I need some more 10€ vouchers :)

Another way to save some pennies is swap what you have too much of. Friends from our French class grew the chillies above using the seeds they saved from chillies bought at Tesco, but they had so many they brought them in to share around. Mine were chopped and frozen ready to use when needed.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Burning off some Calories

After the indulgence of Christmas dinner and too many chocs we took ourselves off to La Verticale in Niort, the biggest indoor climbing wall in France, 42m long and 16m high. The boys climb often but it’s something we’d never done. I admit it, I was feeling a teeny bit nervous and Roger wasn’t that keen on how high the wall was, but we were determined to give it a go. For me the boulders were really hard, I much preferred climbing with the ropes even though I didn’t get that far up, it’s the wrists and arms that give out first. After some hesitation Roger went up to, but like monkeys the boys made it look easy, straight to the top in no time at all. A fun way to spend a few hours.

Climbing 1

The wall.

Climbing 2

Josh on the boulders.

Climbing 8

Darrel doing the same.

Climbing 3

Taking a break.

Climbing 4

Darrel near the top.

Climbing 5

Josh a long way up.

Climbing 6

Roger on his way up.

Climbing 7

And me, I got between 1/4 and a 1/3 of the way up.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Boudin Blanc

I was given the opportunity to help make the traditional white pork sausage Boudin Blanc with my neighbour Solange. Originally from the Champagne Ardenne region, Boudin Blanc is made with pork, eggs, milk, salt and pepper and is now a protected recipe but Solange had 2 recipes we were going to make, one with a slightly longer list of ingredients. The first recipe has pork, onions (lightly cooked), eggs, breadcrumbs, white wine, brandy,parsley, spice, salt and pepper and the 2nd was closer to the original but with added cooked shallots. For both recipes the pork is cooked in water for 1 1/2 hours, then cut into chunks and put through a mincer. Add the rest of the ingredients to the mince, then using a funnel or a machine if you have one put the mixture into sausage casings, tying each sausage off with string pushing out any air. Slowly simmer the sausages to a temperature of 75 degrees for 30 minutes in the cooking stock, remove and leave to cool. Having tried the supermarket versions which have a mousse like texture I was looking forward to trying them with a coarser texture. So a taste test was in order so one of each recipe were slowly cooked in butter. Don’t cook them to quick or they will burst as I found. The coarser texture was really nice but out of the 2 varieties we made I preferred the 2nd, they had a more delicate flavour.

Boudin1

Table full of ingredients.

Boudin2

Steaming hot pork.

Boudin3

Patou mincing.

Boudin4

Preparing the casings.

Boudin5

Here comes the sausage.

Boudin6

Tying off the sausages.

Boudin7

Freshly prepared Boudin Blanc.