Back to school today after two weeks’ holiday. It wasn’t a great fortnight – the weather was grim for the first twelve days of it, and there’s very little going on. However, the kids kept busy, and the time passed pleasantly enough. Benj mainly revised for his Bac Blanc exams this week, while Caiti, when she was well enough, did some fantastic baking. Recipes will feature soon! Ruadhri got up to all the sorts of things nine-year-old boys like to do. His guinea pigs got plenty of cuddles. Benj and Caiti are back at lycée for the week so food consumption will drop dramatically. I have to shop every five minutes it seems when everyone’s at home!

It’s time to get organised on lots of fronts. Our first anglers of the year arrive in three weeks’ time. (We offer fishing holidays via Angling Lines – see us at http://www.anglinglines.com/docs/ourvenues/lakes/alderlake/index.php and http://www.anglinglines.com/docs/ourvenues/lakes/notaires/index.php). So we need to finish off some jobs in the gite – replace the oven, tile the utility room floor and springclean the whole house. I’ve just finished organising the library, as I mentioned the other day. Every year we try to make little improvements so our visitors have a great time with us.

Alder Lake

The cabins down by Alder Lake need a tidy up too. These provide a composting loo and basic facilities for cooking and eating, and drying out if the weather’s on the wet side. The fishermen at that lake bring their own bivvies to sleep in. Many self-cater using the oven in the big cabin, or their own little camping stoves. But some buy our meal package. The first group of six anglers want us to feed them so I must start planning menus and buying in the food this week, and get what I can into the freezer beforehand. It pays to plan ahead, especially during term time when we have to get Rors to and from school on top of all the usual farm chores, but it’s enjoyable and earns us some extra money.

And I’m organised mealwise for us this week. One of the www.orgjunkie.com challenges is to plan the week’s meals. I know I said not long ago that was possibly too much for me to do, but I’ve changed my mind! (It won’t be the first time.) Here we go for a week’s evening meals. Perhaps some of these suggestions might tempt you too. Our breakfasts are croissants with jam or pains au chocolat every day (since we’re in France), and our lunches are usually sandwiches, fruit and yogurt.

Monday: we’re always tired on Monday nights as we’ve been up since 6 a.m. The bus for lycée leaves from Le Poteau, 11 kms away, at 6.45 a.m. Ugh. So something nice and easy. I’ve plumped for cassoulet de Toulouse which is basically just beans and sausages, but a bit fancier. This will come out of a tin and be followed by fruit.

Cassoulet

Tuesday: Pancake day, so guess what we’re having! Our favourite fillings are grated Emmenthal cheese and diced ham for a delicious savoury course, and chocolate spread and vanilla ice cream as a sweet treat. I make my pancakes using my fabulous free-range eggs with their ultra yellow yolks.

Wednesday: Ruadhri’s at home all day on Wednesdays, so we need a nice filling tea as he won’t have his usual four-course school dinner. He loves pasta so we’ll have pasta with bacon and mushroom sauce. Chris usually makes this up as he goes along, but here’s a nice recipe, which is very similar to what we have: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2329/bacon-and-mushroom-pasta. Banana custard for pudding.

Thursday: no question. David Lebovitz’s awesome tomato flan. Here’s the recipe from when Caiti made it for my birthday last year; http://www.bloginfrance.com/2010/august-celebrations/. We probably won’t need pudding afterwards, not if we have it with potato salad, but I’ll have some flapjacks ready in case we do.

Friday: Now, I’m taking Benj up to Strasbourg University for an open day on Saturday. It’s a seven hour drive from here, eek, so we’ll be leaving on Friday morning, staying overnight, and getting back very late on Saturday. Caiti might well come too. I’ll have to pick them up from lycée Thursday evening, but after they’ve had their tea there! So, Chris and Ruadhri will be holding the fort here and they’ll have homemade chips and kalimari in batter. Chris uses an egg-free batter mix which comes out very crispy: http://www.hub-uk.com/tallyrecip01/recipe0008.htm. A pot of cream pudding will go down nicely after that.

Saturday: we always have pizza and salad. Caiti makes it for us when she has the time, but this week it will be a shop-bought one, given the circumstances. Fruit and ice-cream to follow.

Sunday: time to use the venison we were given the other week by the local hunters. Here’s a nice recipe we like: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/venisoncasserole_83746. I have some apple pie in the freezer to use up tonight.

Bon appétit!