Monthly Archives: January 2016

Soup season

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Winter is the best opportunity to eat soup, lots and lots of soup. And this is what we have been doing every evening in the past couple of weeks

I’m a fussy eater, so it’s not all kinds of soups I like, especially the ones with weird texture and chunky vegetables. 

A colleague from work passed on a brand new soup maker to me because he has “a pot, a blender and a sieve at home” and he didn’t want to add more clutter to his home. 

I wasn’t holding my breath to the soup made by a pot-blender-sieve machine until I made the first one. Actually, the second, as I thought that I was lucky with the first one.

The soup was quite tasty, but the best part was that the hard work was to select and finely chop the ingredients. Once you press start, you can do something else for 30 minutes and your soup will be ready, blended and sieved, all left to do is serve and eat. (And clean afterwards)

We have soup practically every evening during weekdays. My least favourite ones being the tomato soup (too acidic, maybe I should have added cream), a mix of mushroom, celery and spinach (needed to use the spinach, otherwise would go to the bin) and a slightly too sweet carrot-swede-onion-potato soup. 

The beauty of soups is that you can try all sort of combinations, really. Sometimes it might not work very well (like the spinach one, but it was still edible), most times it will. The only thing the manual doesn’t recommend is to put raw meat in it, but it doesn’t say anything about addind pre-cooked meat in the blender. I haven’t tried and prefer to add it at the end and keep the chunky pieces.

We have reduced the food wastage big time!

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The actual thing is basically a fancy blender. It boils the water first, then blends a bit, boils/cooks some more, blends, sieves while blending, until it stops.

The sieve is a small net cylinder in the middle of the cup, which holds the solids, while the water is everywhere. I find the capacity of the cylinder a bit small and our soups serve well 2-3 people. It’s ok, I guess, better finish it all and have that feeling that we want some more than to have left overs and risk throwing food in the bin.

 

the blender with just water. Can you see the sieve in the middle?

 
 

the ingredients go in the middle. Not too much space though.

 
 

In the middle of boiling and blending, half way through

 
 

You can open the lid (health&safety; it beeps and stops the process), but you can open the cup. Very hot and steamy!

 

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Some of the soups I cooked so far:

Potato + leeks + garlic + olive oil + seasoning. I used chicken broth as part of the water and added the chicken I cooked after it.

First day is always a mess. The food didn’t fit the compartment, it wasn’t enough soup, I made extra straight after the first batch and almost kissed my soup maker goodbye.
Lesson learned: the instructions say finely chopped for a reason; everything needs to be very small to fit in. And never ever repeat the procedure without cleaning it first.

  

Potato + spinach + carrot + garlic + onion + olive oil + seasoning + a tiny bit of courgette/zucchini (left over) and a few lardons on top

Learnings: potato based soups are very creamy but also seem to be the ones that accummulate more (burned) residues at the bottom, making the cleaning of the cup a bit of a mission. But they taste so nice.

  
 

Mushroom + garlic + onion + dried herbs + cream
That was probably my favourite as it was so unexpected.

Learnings: try without cream before. It might be good enough to save on the extra calories (I doubt it though). Also very easy to clean the blender, compared to previous days.

* I forgot to take photo *

Tomato + basil + celery + onion + carrot + garlic + stock cube + olive oil

Learnings: although it looks nice, I thought it was too acidic. Next time I’ll try with cream. 

  
  

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Bagnoles de l’Orne, France

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Last October, we took the half term off and drove to France. Hubby found this little place in Normandy called Bagnoles, know for its hydrotherapic baths. It wasn’t too bad to get there, despite the fact that we got a bit lost in France, with the GPS not recognising some of the roads. From Calais to Bagnoles it is about 4-5 hours driving southeast.

We had loads of plans, including visiting Mt Saint Michel, but you know how it is with family trips and plans, eh? Not a perfect combination. Beatrice got ill as soon as we got there, high fever, sleepy, not eating, you know the drill. For three days, I stayed in with her, until she finally got super good and could enjoy the place.

The town is so cute and we walked there every day. Our room was self catering, but we ate out a few times. We ended up at Le Lido, once to try, and a couple of others as the only option. It’s ok. The staff was super friendly and I think this was the main reason why we went back. We also ate once, at the end of the trip, at La Terrasse, which was really good. The place was next to the Patisserie Lebaron Jean-Claude that we went a few times for coffee and treats.

The weather was nice, I think it rained once or twice and the sun was very warm. We loved the resort we stayed (and at a very decent price, compared to holidays in the UK), we could have gone to the pool and sauna every day, but the town also has some lovely woods to go on walks (including one just behind the resort).

It was a lovely week, the right amount of time, and the right place to go with the girls. Highly recommended. People would generally speak some English (not at the Lido, but it was ok), and even if they didn’t we could communicate a bit, but Laura struggled to play with other kids. The vast majority of tourists were French.

Some photos:

View of hour hotel B’O Resort and Spa from the pool

 

The main swimming pool of the hotel (there is a kids’ one, very shallow and with some toys)

Note to self: sort the damn swimming classes asap

Those things at the back are massage/jacuzzi things. The pool is VERY nice

 

The way from our hotel to the spa, where I had a massage. The place is huge and so tempting to just spend the whole day (holidays) there…

 

The park in the centre of the town

Kids’ area at the hotel. You can drop over 3’s there and have some me-time. Of course having an under 3 meant that we had to stay with them…

 

Part of the park in the town centre

The lake and a hotel in the background

The lake and the Casino in the background

 

Laura and her fake smile showing the piece of croissant she saved to give to a squirrel – but she ended up eating it as she saw no little creatures.

Walk in the woods – there are a few of these around and so very pleasant to explore.

It only hurts when I breath

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I decided, together with another 2 billion of the population, that I would start exercising in the New Year. This is what you do after the binge eating and drinking of the festive season, right?

I didn’t start on the 1st as planned, because, let’s face it, the year starts on a Monday. Even though I was on holidays (back to work today, peeps, wish me luck) – or maybe just because of that – I started it. At home, but quite tough nonetheless. I found one of those 90-day-kill-yourself-exercising-and-pretend-you-will-have-that-great-body-on-the-cover DVDs that I bought years ago and never used it and decided to give it a go.

After four days of exercising, I can say it proudly: I SURVIVED! Just about. Every bit of my body hurts, even my soul. I was looking at the plan and the thing has limited resting period. One day every 6 or 9 days. I know I am rusty and with time (I hope) I’ll get better and fitter and will follow the classes without stopping so much, but at the moment, the feeling is that I want to quit.

I’ll try my best to go through the program, at least the 90 days it requires, especially with classes being between 30 and 45 minutes. I’m not sure about what is my goal here (lose weight? have a firm body? have more energy? improve my mood and my sleep? finally give up exercising for good?), but I’m hoping that if I carry on for a couple of weeks and see results, I’ll be motivated. I’m also eating slightly better (since Monday, that is), so surely something should happen in two weeks, right? RIGHT?

   

New Year’s resolutions

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Happy New Year, Y’All!

I was hoping to blog more frequently, but this blogging business is a tough one. You need to think what you will write, write, edit, revise and revise again, etc. And I’m not a fast writer and I change my mind about what to write all the time. I have about four new posts just as drafts because I can’t finish them or decide what I’m really going to write.

And there goes a whole paragraph talking about nothing. What I am really here to write is about my new year’s resolutions, which are inexistent, very atypical of me. I might not follow my resolutions, but I normally have them, even if just stuck in my head.

I’m not even going with the obvious “be a better person”. Or with the even more obvious “find a new job”. That is not a resolution for me, although it might happen. A couple of weeks ago, I was planning to have a break and only start a new job in June (like everything can be planned like that). My idea was to be free in May, when my mom is planning her annual visit, so I can spend some time with her. Well, this is still the idea, but I’m also still keeping an eye on the new roles that come up on LinkedIn. I applied for a couple. So, what I am saying is that if the right job comes up, plans will have to be changed.

This brings me to a recurring point in all my resolutions: FOCUS. Goodness, how this is such a hard thing for me. I complain to my girls that they don’t focus, but I’m just a more mature version of them. It’s like I’m a kid and the world is a giant Toys R Us shop with a huge pic’n’mix section. Where to look? What to get? Where should I start from? Aaaaaaah! Unlike my kids, who would be running around like crazy, touching, feeling, stealing everything, I freeze, I don’t move. Too.many.options. Not good. Either that or I pick the first thing I see just to get on with it.

The trick for me is to stay focussed but plan for flexibility. Allow room for some distractions, predictable, worthwhile, limited distractions. Also think about the possible outcomes, positive and negatives, to manage expectations (and don’t get frustrated about the negative outcome).

All nice when put on paper (or screen), but honestly, I have this speech for years and years and never got anywhere with it. I’m still trying though, as it is with losing weight, it’s something worth pursuing.

Another tempting thing to add to my resolution list is to find my passions. True passions. Every time I find something I enjoy (baking, editing videos for example), I either get off of it in a few months, or the idea of making it a career puts me off, or I just discover that I am not that good at it and 1. don’t have the patience to improve, 2. don’t have the time to dedicate to it, 3. not THAT in love to justify the “investment”. So I wanted to see if there is something out there that I am so passioned about to the point I could make a living of it.

The third item in my potential list is one that ruins it completely. Not to have resolutions. Not to have objectives I want to achieve at the end of the year and just see what happens. Let it flow, you know what I mean? Let life takes its course and only interfere as and where needed. That could be interesting. And tricky.

How about you? Have you thought about your resolutions? All in place and on track?