Friday, 30 November 2012

Tartiflette {cheesy potato & bacon bake}

Winter is on it's way in Paris, and the cold weather is begging for comforting, carb-heavy meals. I read on Twitter that someone was making it because it was so cold outside and I thought that seemed to be a very good idea!

Fresh and hot out of the oven, Tartiflette is a French staple on these cold winter nights. Originally from the Haute Savoie (Alpine) region of France, and supposedly invented by the Roblochon cheese makers to make excellent use of their cheese, it consists mainly of bacon, onions, and potatoes smothered in a cheesy creamy sauce. I didn't use a written recipe, but instead thought about what a Tartiflette should be like and improvised using the traditional ingredients, plus some spring onions (scallions) and crème fraîche for colour and creaminess, respectively.

Day 30: On the wall [wedding canvas]

Right after our wedding a couple of years ago, we had a large canvas printed of our favourite wedding photo - everyone's there and looking so happy, with the beautiful registry office building in the background.

It's one of the few where I don't think I look like an idiot grinning, so it had to be the one we chose to look at every day!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Day 29: Big [Euro centre, Frankfurt]

On the way from our hotel to the Christmas market in Frankfurt, we passed the Euro centre and its giant Euro symbol in front. It's quite impressively big but sadly you can't really tell from the photo.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 28: Vehicle [ICE train - Paris to Frankfurt]

Our mode of transportation between Paris and Frankfurt for this year's Christmas market in Germany. Four hours straight from the centre of Paris (Gare de l'Est) to the centre of Frankfurt HBF (Haupt Bahnhof). We had the German ICE train on the way there, which is so much more luxurious and comfortable than the French TGV we had on the way home. If you have an option, always choose the ICE train if you can.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Day 27: Tree [at the Christmas Market in Frankfurt]

As seen at the Christmas market in Frankfurt where we are currently visiting!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 26: In the cupboard [baby clothes]

As you know, we've been doing some frequent IKEA trips to get the final pieces we need to finish furnishing our apartment. We picked up this customisable modular wardrobe, part of the STUVA range, and I can say that I so very happy with it. In store, on display, they had one done up with different coloured drawer fronts. This isn't something I would ever have thought of to do and we ended up getting a white doors, and drawers in green, beech wood, white. It looks really quirky and fun! It actually makes it a pleasure to put her clothes back in the cupboard - something you'd never normally hear me say, as I hate folding clothes!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Day 25: Sky [dusk sky in Paris]

The dusk sky over the Italie 2 shopping centre in the 13th arrondissement in Paris.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Blue cheese, peach and bacon grilled open panini

My latest favourite movie is 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' - if you've had a baby (and even if you haven't), it'll make you laugh out loud at the funny-cos-it's-true moments. 

During the film, two characters (food truck owners) are arguing over the other including bacon in one of her dishes. She then mentions, that yes, she added bacon to her Blue cheese, peach and bacon grilled panini. It sounded like a great combination, so I gave it a go tonight, adding walnuts since they go so well with cheese. 

To the above photo, I would add more peaches and another rasher of bacon, which I've included in the recipe below.

Blue cheese, peach and bacon grilled open panini

Inspired by a dish mentioned briefly in 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'.

Serves 2

Blue cheese, about 150 grams
Half a tin of sliced peaches (or one fresh peach or two apricots)
a handful of shelled walnuts
8 thin rashers of smoked bacon
1 regular panini roll (split) or 4 slices of thick sliced bread

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (celsius) or on the grill setting.

Place the panini halves (or sliced bread) on a tray. Tear the blue cheese and place chunks randomly on the bread (remember, it will melt and spread). 

Place sliced peaches on top of the cheese and sprinkle with the walnut pieces, crushing them slightly in your hand as you sprinkle.

Ribbon two rashers of bacon on top of each one.

Grill until the cheese is completely melted and the bacon is crisp.

Serve immediately.

Day 24: A sound you heard (the washing machine beep)

The soundtrack of my life today is the sound of the washing machine. I have three loads (whites, colours, black) on the go over the course of the day, the vacuuming's been done, baby's bed sheets have been changed and the bathroom has gotten a good scrubbing. I'm very domesticated, as you can see!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Day 23: Black [fireplace]

Each liveable room in our apartment has a beautiful old-fashioned fireplace. Although no longer in use (the building regulations don't allow us to), they are lovely to look at and are the first thing people compliment when they see the place for the first time. We were lucky to get this apartment (although not in the best shape, we got it there in the end) and the original wood floors, ornate ceilings, and of course the ornamental fireplaces makes this a true Parisian experience. 

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Day 21: What you wore [ankle boots and tights]

Since it's quite mild in Paris at the moment, it's the perfect weather to work the tights and short ankle boots... I would never have worn this look a year ago, but somehow my fashion taste has snapped and I can't get enough now!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Day 20: Work/Play [Work Study Play]

Household chores, studying online, and taking the time to play with the Little Sausage - all in a day's work for this Kangaroo!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Monday, 19 November 2012

Day 19: Something awesome [Harry Potter references in Paris]

Any Harry Potter fan is going to recognise this immediately, no explanation needed. Everybody else - go read the Harry Potter series now (I'm surprised you haven't by now - you must. Go now!).

Located just off Rue de Rivoli, this street is crossed by Rue Pernelle, which is just awesome (again, if you don't know why, read HP now!)

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day 18: Happened this weekend [coffee and cake with friends]

I baked a walnut coffee cake and we had some of the Frenchman's friends over. A quick trip to IKEA on Sunday to get some bedsheets and wall mounted reading lights, and we're done!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Day 17: The last thing you bought [delivery from Nespresso]

Although there are a few Nespresso stores in the centre of Paris, sometimes it's hard for me to get there (prams and metro don't mix well). They offer a same-day delivery service which is very reasonable, as in: it would probably cost me that much to travel all the way there and back anyway - might as well pay for delivery.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Friday, 16 November 2012

Day 16: The view from your window

This one's pretty self-explanitary - the view from my living room window into the courtyard. You really need curtains living like this as everyone can see everything if you're not careful! I've seen more people roaming around their apartments in their underwear than I ever wanted to...

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Day 15: In your bag [all the essentials]

These days I carry a backpack as it's the easiest way of carrying all the things I need without a handbag getting in the way of carrying the baby (in either her carrier or with the pram). Just to leave the house I have to get myself, the baby, and her pram down five steps to the lift (which stops every half level - go figure!), open the heavy lift door, get in, etc... it's hard work and usually I'm in a sweat by the time we get to the ground floor. Thus, a backpack was one less thing I need to carry. I have a really subtle-yet-classy one from Longchamp (the colour is 'Myrtille') which I'm really happy with. It goes with every outfit and is really slimline. And, no, I'm not being sponsored by Longchamp!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day 14: Man-made [Escargot choco-pistache]

A fabulous example of man-made delights: an Escargot choco-pistache from 'Pâtisserie Huré' on Place d'Italie in Paris. One of my favourite concoctions, it is a sweet dough, swirled with pistachio paste and dark chocolate chips. Another bakery, 'Le Grenier à Pain' just around the corner on Avenue d'Italie does an even better one with croissant dough. I couldn't get there today, so the one from Huré had to do. And it did.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Day 13: Where you slept [our new bed]

Yesterday we finally received our new bed. For a while now, we've been on the mattress of the sofa bed, on the floor of our bed room. While convenient for the Little Sausage to play around on and hide under the covers when it's time for bed, not so great for our backs or our moral. Now our furniture aquisition is complete and we have all vital/key pieces we need.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Monday, 12 November 2012

Day 12: Drink [mocha at home]

Pretty self explanatory this one - homemade mocha (made with my trusty Nespresso machine)... a once twice thrice daily occurrence for me.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Day 11: Night [the Seine at dusk]

This was the view the Little Sausage and I had as we walked across the bridge on the way to pick up the Frenchman from work at 6pm. It's a good hour-plus walk but it's full of views like this... This kind of thing reminds me how different life is here from back home and that I'm lucky to be living in Paris.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Strasbourg / Kehl and dinner at La Chaîne d'Or

Last weekend, we drove the four and a half hours to Strasbourg for the weekend to revisit our former home and partake in a rare weekend sans-baby and to do some visiting and some shopping in Kehl (Germany) just over the river. The beauty of Strasbourg is that it's right on the border of France and Germany, and it's literally a short bridge crossing that takes you into the border town of Kehl where there's great German shopping to be had, including a fantastic supermarket ('Edeka') and a super bakery/café called 'Dreher's' where they not only bake really good traditional German bread, but serve German classic food in a nice cozy restaurant in the back. It's a major highlight of our infrequent trips there, but when we lived in Strasbourg, it was almost a weekly trip there to stock up on bread and have a snack.

On the A4 motorway to Strasbourg, each service station/rest stop had a row of vending machines serving the most peculiar beverages... banana syrup, dark chocolate pearls with a crispy centre, and "summer" café latté. What ever a "summer" latté is, I'd like to know... Strange combination...

The Frenchman at 'Dreher's' with the bread-basket-of-happiness after we'd finished with it...

Roasted goose with braised red cabbage and apples, Serviettenknödel (sliced bread dumplings) and chestnuts. Delicious, even though the goose was a bit tough, the rest compensated for it.

The new 'Depot' craft/deco shop in Kehl. More to come about this in a later post...

That night, after caving in to a craving for choucroute (Alsatian style sauerkraut), we went to 'La Chaîne d'Or', which is a traditional Alsatian restaurant which happens to be on the doorstep to our former home in the center of Strasbourg on the corner of Grand'Rue and Rue de la Chaine. Although the service is typically French (as in: we'll pretty much ignore you unless we need to talk to you and you'll wait patiently while we go for a cigarette break), the food was typically Alsatian. Below is my pork knuckle with sauerkraut, 'jus', a couple of boiled salted potatoes and some sharp dijon mustard to complete the dish. The meat was tender and fell apart with the slightest pressure from my fork. A bit fatty, as is the nature of pork hock, but I don't eat this kind of thing every day.

I ordered this as my main as part of their 3-course "formule" (set menu) for €17,90 which for this class of restaurant and the quality of the food was an absolute bargain. The entrées (oeuf mayonnaise) and desserts (crème brulée and chocolate fondant without the melty centre) were so-so, neither bad nor fantastic, but worth the price you paid.

The spectacular sky on the way home made the time driving more interesting. The two-hours (on top of the 4+ hours driving) sitting in traffic on the périphérique into Paris was not so fun.

All-in-all, a lovely weekend making us feel homesick for Strasbourg. We planned to move back eventually, as it's the best of both worlds for us - a German-Australian, and a not-so-French-but-totally-French-Frenchman, and our French-German-Australian-but-born-in-England baby. Ooof. Complicated!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Day 10: Something you can't (won't) live without [my dishwasher]

I love my dishwasher. I don't like to wash up by hand since I get horribly itchy skin when I do. So the dishes pile up until the Frenchman has time (or botheredness) to do them, and that leads to a very messy kitchen. Not good! So since buying our slimline dishwasher, it's been great. I really don't mind filling or emptying it, so it's actually a pleasure to get my kitchen clean... can't and won't live without one again!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Friday, 9 November 2012

Day 9: Small (the Little Sausage)

The Little Sausage and us, walking home from the bus stop after the rain.

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Day 7: Reflection [Mine]

This one's pretty self-explanatory...

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Day 6: A favourite thing [chocolate from Germany]

When ever we're in Germany, we make sure to stock up on our favourite foods, sweet or savoury. In this case, here is a small selection of my favourite chocolate/sweets from our weekend trip to Strasbourg/Kehl: Hanuta (hazelnut wafer slices), Duplo (chocolate covered hazelnut wafer sticks), Schoko-Strolche aka Mini Dickmann's (marshmallowy meringue sitting on top of a wafer, covered in chocolate), and last but certainly not least: Niederegger marzipan.

After typing that all, I couldn't help but notice that most are wafer-based... happy coincidence!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Monday, 5 November 2012

Day 5: 5pm [driving home from Strasbourg]

The view on the way home on the A4 from Strasbourg to Paris...

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Day 4: TV [in the hotel]

The view of the TV (and my toes!) in our hotel in Strasbourg where we were staying this past weekend. The hotel wasn't great, but the weekend was. The toilet in the background was turbo-charged. Every time you flushed it, it sounded like it was ready to take off!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Day 3: Breakfast ["McCountry"]

Breakfast "McCountry" at McDonald's in Kehl, Germany - sausage patty, egg, thick cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, and tangy sauce on a kaiser roll. It was great!

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Friday, 2 November 2012

Day 2: Colour [colouring my hair]

Since my natural hair colour is very mousey-brown, I like to dye my hair every other month or so to make it look fresh and vibrant. I've been most natural colours but I think my favourite for the winter time is a nice rich chocolatey brown with a hint of red to keep it lively. Funny how I like chocolate in my belly and on top of my head ;-)

I'm a big fan of the new mousse colourants as they don't drip and spread really easily through the hair making things infinitely easier when you can't see the back of your head. You'll see some 'after' pictures during the month...

Created by and thanks to #FMSphotoaday @FatMumSlim

Thursday, 1 November 2012

What's been happening lately - October update

It's been a while since I've updated but here goes...

The Little Sausage has been accepted into the part-time childcare ('Halte-Garderie') just as we'd hoped and is doing nicely... it took a bit of time to get her settled in and since the mornings are generally when she has her nap, she was a little grouchy to start with. She's been doing four mornings a week and seems to really enjoy getting out of the house and playing with different toys and children.

But now, thanks to the lovely ladies at the Halte Garderie, she will be doing five afternoons a week, starting next Monday. Thank god! A less grouchy baby and some free time for myself to study, read, clean/tidy, cook and bake! Hopefully I can also find some part-time work however the hours will not suit the limited hours she's taken care of and we'll have to find a solution for the rest... hmmmm.

She hasn't been speaking as much (or at all!) as the other kids her age and we put that down to her trying to absorb three languages at once... the poor thing has me speaking German with her; the Frenchman, his family, and everyone we encounter outside the house speaking French to her; and her hearing the Frenchman and I speaking English to each other (as well as us watching British TV and her watching British kids TV channel: Ceebeebies). Ooof! She has started mimicking certain German words and even though she deliberately doesn't say "Mamma" (I've heard her make the "ma" sound so when I tell her to say "mamma" she just smirks!), she addresses her pappa as "Gagga", and makes the sounds for "danke" (thank you), "da" (there), and "ja" (yes). She also shakes her head to say 'no', which is quite adorable. She responds to both German and French phrases such as "let's change your nappy' and 'let's go brush your teeth' by running in the appropriate direction and waiting in front of the changing table or sink. I'm sometimes surprised at how clever she is when I've asked her to do something that I'm not expecting her to be able to understand, so I guess she may not speak yet but it is definitely sinking into her tiny sponge-brain!

In other news, we're very close to finishing the refurnishing and settling in to our apartment - we just need to buy a bed and mattress (this weekend if everything goes to plan!) and we can stop sleeping on the sofa bed mattress on the bedroom floor! Success! The kitchen is 95% done, with a few minor adjustments to storage solutions and unpacking my beloved Magimix food processor when we have space for it. The Little Sausage's room is finished and is now a lovely space for her to sleep and play. Pictures to come when its done and tidy...

This Friday afternoon, we are dropping the Little Sausage at her grandparents house, and swinging by IKEA for the aforementioned bed on the way home. We'll then head off to Strasbourg for the weekend for some much needed mamma and pappa time, as well as re-visiting our former home. We love Strasbourg and will someday return there to live when things fall into place in the future... I think it's the best place for us since it's both French and German, satisfying my need for a more familiar home.

My sister recently came from London to visit for a week and she brought over a lot of things I had ordered online in the UK and had delivered to her house so she could bring them over for me. Things such as clothes and shoes are SOOO much cheaper in the UK compared to France (let alone food and electronics which is another story altogether!). The Little Sausage needed a whole new season of outfits for the Autumn/Winter and I needed some new things to carry me through the winter too. Also, since the children's clothes here in France are very neutral and stock-standard, the things I bought in the UK are a little more funky and playful so she doesn't look like a cookie-cutter toddler like the rest of the kids here. What I mean by that is that all the kids look the same, in the same cut/design, the same dull neutral colours, and nothing cheerful or playful. It's like they dress them as little adults and I want the Little Sausage to get her fix of being a kid until she can choose her own clothes when she's older. For now, I want her to be bold and have some fun with her clothes.

So that's the latest. I'll be trying to keep up with this month's photo-a-day challenge as much as I can to keep things more lively around here and to update the blog more frequently.

À bientôt ! ("See you soon!")