Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Lets’s Dehydrate

We’ve been given a fantastic present by our naughty friends Sue and Bob, a food dehydrator for looking after their house. It arrived just before Christmas, but due to visitors and our holiday I only took it out of the box properly a couple of days ago. With it looking very straighforward, I decided to start on the apples we’d been storing in the barn, which was an experiment to see how long they would last. Some of them had gone mouldy but there were enough to get me started, so I got my apple peeler out and prepared the apples for the trays. The dehydrater comes with 6 trays which you can turn to make the gaps short or tall depending on what you’re drying. I had enough apples for 4 trays but I probably could have squeezed them onto 3. Following the manual I set the temp at 55c for 6 hours and with a tip from Sue, changed the trays round half-way through as the lower trays dry quicker than the top ones and after 6 hours we had delicious, sweet, chewy apples slices, a perfect snack. I’m itching to dehydrate something else, but I want to use produce from the garden so I’ll have to wait until later in the year for that. I do have a sack of onions so will try those in the meantime. So looking forward to trying plums, figs, herbs and tomatoes and anything else I can find that would dry well. Any recommendations?

Apples 1

The new toy.

Apples 2

Our stored apples.

Apples 3

Peeled, sliced and on the trays ready for drying.


A yummy dried snack ready for munching.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Rubbing Down

Before we went skiing a wall needed to be put up between our bedroom and bed 3 before the existing wall can come down, but as normal it didn’t quite end there. Our beams upstairs had been varnished over the years a very dark colour, so after seeing some friends beams and how they had been lightened up, Roger had the urge to rub them down. Out came the drill and the sander, more dust filled the air but what a revelation. We think the wood is beautiful chestnut and rubbing them down had brought out the colour, knots, cracks and even some wooden pegs that I didn’t know were there. Again the urge to do a bit more revealing overtook Roger, but this time around the window. The surrounding stones and the wall had been covered with paint, plaster and cement, which seemed to fall away quite nicely after it was hit with a bolster and hammer SmileWe are going to stop there in this room and move onto ours once the new wall has gone up, so we will finish this room at a later date.
Bed 3 Beams
Beams before.
Bed 3 3
The varnish coming off.
Bed 3 1
What a difference, so much lighter.
Bed 3 2
Mucky work.
Bed 3 4
Starting on the other side of the room.
Bed 3 5
Chipping off the plaster and cement.
Bed 3 6
Some stones revealed.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Stunning Scenery

A lovely sunny day today after all the snow that has fallen, so here is a taste of our playground. The snow covered trees plus the white and blue are so beautiful and as a bonus most of the slopes are uncrowded. Perfect.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Bonhomme de Neige for my Sister

My sister Natalie asked me to make a snowman for her while we are skiing. Well here is the little fella complete with more hair than Roger :)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Minestrone Soup

Another leftovers recipe using bits and bobs in the fridge plus some little pasta. You can tweek the recipe as much as you want so I’ve just given a guideline below. I added in a rasher of bacon and some frozen tomatoes but add whatever you have. It was very filling served with crusty bread. The recipe below serves 3.
Ingredients Method
1 tbsp Olive oil
60g Mushrooms, sliced
1 Small onion, chopped
1 Clove garlic, chopped
1 Courgette, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 Potato, diced
1 Stick celery, sliced
2 Tomatoes, diced
900ml Vegetable stock
60g Small pasta shapes
1 tbsp Chopped fresh parsely
1 tbsp Grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the mushrooms, onion, garlic, courgette, carrot, potato and celery for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the stock and simmer covered for 50 minutes.

Add the pasta and parsley and cook for another 10 mins.

Serve spinkled with the Parmesan and salt and pepper plus lots of crusty bread.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

It’s nearly Finished.

I’ve had a few people ask how the kitchen is going, but as a reminder, here is what it looked like before with the orange walls, high tiles with blue grout and the hob about 5cm away from the sink.

Kitchen Before

The kitchen before.

Kitchen Before 1

The other end of the kitchen on moving-in day and very orange. Note the executive dining suite.

Here’s where we are up too. There’s still tiles to buy but we can’t find anything we like, so we have a piece of worktop as a temporary backsplash which is trying very hard to stop the fat going on the walls, but doesn’t always succeed, we must learn to turn the gas down a bit. My new toy, the oven is just fantastic, it’s so easy use, even though black isn’t always easy to clean, but if we ever move, it’s going to come with us. Another change was to sell the wood oven and swap it for a wood burner, which was definitely the right decision, it’s so toasty and we are never cold but there’s a blank space above it, where we would like to put a large picture. The windows are another job to be done, they are single glazed and a bit leaky and once they have been fitted, colourful blinds will be going up. Most of it is done and I’m so pleased with it, the orange walls have been painted cream, the shelf Roger made me is up and the cupboards are filled. It feels a lot bigger and is now a bright sunny room to enjoy, a far cry from what it was before.

Kitchen 1

After, much brighter without the orange walls.

Kitchen 6

No orange walls this end either.

Kitchen 2

The new wood burner.

Kitchen 3

All my cookery books.

Kitchen 4
Kitchen 5

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Banana and Choc Chip Muffins

After Christmas there’s always plenty of leftovers to use up and we are going to try not to waste a thing. Also the freezer is full of stuff from last year which needs using up before our veg garden gets going again, so some freezer days are on the cards. To start, lurking in the fruit bowl were a couple of sad bananas plus half a bar of chocolate in the cupboard. These were the perfect ingredients for muffins but it looks like a mouse has already had a nibble.
Ingredients Method
280g Plain flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1tsp Bicardonate of soda
1/2tsp Salt
2 Bananas, mashed
120g Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
85g Butter, melted
60ml Milk
100g Choc chips or
chopped chocolate.
Preheat oven to 375F/200C/Gas 6. Grease or line your muffin tin with cases.

In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In another bowl mix together the bananas, chocolate, sugar, egg, butter and milk.

Add the banana mix to the other bowl and stir until the dry ingredients are combined. Do not overmix. The mix will be a bit lumpy.

Fill the muffin tin or cases to 3/4 full and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until tops are lightly browned.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Our guests have Been and Gone….

…..just like our Christmas dinner Sad smile

Dinner Before Dinner After

I always find this time of year of hard, you have the build up to Christmas, the excitement of welcoming visitors, Christmas Day and New Year fun and then all to quickly they are gone and the decs are taken down. But we had the most fantastic time with ours sons Darrel and Josh, walking, playing games, chilling and eating way too much. On Christmas Eve we took them to Niort to visit the Christmas market but in Darrel’s words, he was underwhelmed, no atmosphere at all. Christmas markets locally have always disappointed, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know. Quality time with them was just the perfect Christmas present and one to be cherished. On the 29th Gary and Carole arrived to spend New Year with us but on the 30th the boys departed to spend New Year with their friends. New Years Eve was spent at our friends house with their nutty French friends where we enjoyed a fantastic meal, we ate pudding at 3.30am and then fell into bed at 5am. Then the following day we went back again to eat all the leftovers and have more giggles. Hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations were as good as ours. Happy 2016 to you all.

Nice Walk
New Year 1
New Year