Sunday, 27 March 2011



If I can’t do
what I want to do
then my job is to not
do what I don’t want
to do.
It’s not the same thing
but it’s the best I can

If I can’t have
what I want then
my job is to want
what I’ve got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more
to want.

Since I can’t go
where I need to go
then I must go
where the signs point
though always understanding
parallel movement
isn’t lateral.

When I can’t express
what I really feel
I practice feeling
what I can express
and none of it is equal
I know
but that’s why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry.

Nikki Giovanni

Friday, 25 March 2011

Spring, Livestrong and Dukan week five

Spring has arrived here in Côtes d'Armor in full force. Every weekend you can hear the mosquito sound hanging overhead as dozens of men get out the lawnmowers and attack the lawns fed by the extraordinary amount of water we've had over the winter. Daffodils, hyacinths and crocus are everywhere and I got a lovely surprise discovering some grape muscats growing just outside my kitchen door. Lovely.
I had no idea they were even there!

The cats snooze in the sun...

And nap happily most all the day... so they can chase marbles around on the wood floors all night.

But their cuteness makes up for the odd awakening at 4 am.

Butterflies have appeared, flitting about, always a colourful but brief surprise so early in the year.

At first I ignored these berries, then my elder daughter pointed them out, "Look, Mum! Ladybirds!" And yes, yes they are, hundreds of them in the cypress bushes outside our local Maire. Not berries as I had originally thought.

The increased light, the sunshine and warmth, the new life bursting all around has lifted my spirits considerably. So even though I still have much to face ahead of me, I stay calm and focussed because I have peace and love in my home. That's what counts to me, most of all. The rest is just details, where the Devil resides.

I have been using this site, Livestrong, to track everything that goes into my mouth, the water I drink plus the exercise I manage to accomplish every day. I started using it way back on 12 September 2008, when I first began trying to get my weight back on track. If I count from then to today, I have lost a whopping 30kg/ 4 stone 10 pounds /66 lbs. But, in reality and for the purposes of this regime, I'm just counting what I'm losing on Dukan, and I saw a small improvement again this morning.

Slow and steady does the trick for me. The progress would be more significant if I could only manage to get out and walk more often, but, it's just too painful unless I load up on analgesics. My Kinésithérapist has offered to let me go in during office hours and use the stationary bike in her office. I did that one day this week. Now I just have to 'man up' and go in more often!

May I suggest you check out Livestrong if you too are in the process of becoming more healthy. It's a great resource and my regular commenters are welcome to friend me, I am LaCheshireChat there as well. My food diary is only open to people whom I have befriended, but on my public profile, you can look at the recipes I have posted.

I wish you a lovely weekend and a great week!

Friday, 18 March 2011

'Legal' Cioppino and Dukan Week Four

One of the enjoyable things about starting any kind of eating routine, be it moving to a different country, health necessitated or being on a structured regime, such as this; is the challenge of adapting my 'Old Recipes' to my current way of eating. Well, I find it fun. Yes, I should probably get out more, but anyway...

The following is my adaptation of one of my favourite dishes, Cioppino, which can be loosely described as a San Francisco-style Bouillabaisse. I always use an adaptation of an old Gourmet magazine recipe, but that uses much too much olive oil, so, I used an adaptation of one I found on The Food Network by chef Giada De Laurentiis. Also, just so you know, the above picture isn't mine, but one that most closely resembles what my Cioppino looks like. By the time I realised, last night, I should take a photo... it was mostly polished off. You don't want to look at dirty dishes or the remaining Tablespoon of my Cioppino!.

In this recipe adaptation, I mainly just removed the oil, using instead vegetable stock for 'sautéeing' the vegetables and I replaced the clams, mussels and shellfish with frozen seafood cocktail mix. I did this because: it's what I had and because I need to cook something that won't break the bank. When I'm trying to impress, I go all out with a variety of fresh fish and fresh shellfish. However, please do  feel free to add in fresh shellfish, mussels and clams, especially if you'd like the 'Wow' factor of the shells. Me? I didn't want to fiddle with shells and peeling prawns heads and carapaces from their delectable bodies, and frankly, I never do want that messy fuss, even in a restaurant; I just want to eat!

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis and adapted for The Dukan Diet Cruise Phase Veg+Protein day by Kitty

Prep Time: 30 min  -  Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: 6 servings

* 250 ml / 8 ounces / 1 cup reduced fat vegetable stock
* 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 large shallots, chopped
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 4-8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (You decide on amount, we happen to love garlic!)
* 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
* 4 Tablespoons / 2 ounces / 1/4 cup tomato paste
* 850 g / 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
* 350 ml / 12 ounces dry white wine (optional)
* 1 1/4 litre / 40 ounces / 5 cups fish stock (I use Fumet de Poisson + hot water)
* 1 bay leaf
* 500 g / 1 pound bag frozen seafood cocktail mix (avoid the ones with Surimi, mine had prawns/shrimp, mussels and squid)
* 250g / 1/2 pound fresh or frozen prawns/shrimp or another bag of seafood cocktail mix
* 1 kg / 2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, (I used salmon and Panga) cut into small bite-sized pieces
* A handful of finely chopped or shredded fresh basil (optional)

Heat half the stock in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, garlic and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, continuing stirring and adding more stock as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking. Add 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine (if using,) fish stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavours blend, about 30 minutes. The fennel and garlic should be tender.

Add the frozen seafood cocktail mix (and prawns/shrimp, if using frozen) to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook, until the liquid begins to simmer. Then add the fish (and prawns/shrimp if fresh) to the pot, simmering gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, while stirring gently, about 5-7 minutes more. Any longer and the squid will go tough. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle each bowl with some basil, if using, and serve. This goes wonderfully with crusty baguette!
(Note: To make this go further, add 500g / 1 pound of well-scrubbed small new potatoes when you add the bay leaf. Obviously this then changes the recipe away from the cruise phase!)

Now I'll discuss my week. It was pretty crap, again. I have been 'cheating' and it showed up on the scales. What have I been cheating with? Glasses of Merlot? Tablets of Chocolat Noir 70%? Or did I flip out and eat an entire Chaussée aux Moines? Nope, I've been having 50g of All-Bran Fibre Plus every morning with Non-Fat milk. Big whoopty-cheat. I stepped on the scales this morning and decided to can that breakfast cereal malarky right away. It's not been as 'efficacious' as hoped and it has completely put this week's results in the crapper. (Or not, if truth be told, *ahem*)

If anything, I probably gained 500g / 1 pound or so.
Ah well, just means I need to put out a bit more effort this week coming up.

I found this site on the internet called that is focussed on the Home Exercise movement. There are lots of short, intense videos that work all areas of your body, perfect for someone who wants to do a bit of exercise now and again through the day, and is stuck at home. I have to find something to do besides walking, I'm now barely managing 20 minutes at a time, and even if I go out twice a day, it's just not enough.

Obviously my former exercise routine of throwing my weight around, jumping to conclusions and pushing my luck is no longer applicable nor effective.

Have a great weekend and a fabulous week!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Saint Patrick's Irish Coffee

For those of you that celebrate the day, I wish you roads rising to meet you and the wind at your back and all that fun stuff. For those that do not, maybe you can be tempted to try this lovely recipe, which I learned when noght but a wee bairn at my Grandpappy's knee.

No I didn't, I learned it from a bartender in San Francisco, at the Buena Vista Café, the most famous place for Irish Coffees in America. At least it is if you believe their press.

The Buena Vista makes theirs according to the official recipe from Joe Sheridan, a bartender at Shannon Airport, who invented the drink: "Cream as rich as an Irish brogue, coffee as strong as a friendly hand, sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue, and whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land.''

The Irish claim they invented whiskey -- the ancient Gaels called it "uisce beathe,'' the water of life. The Scots have a few choice words for the Irish over that matter.

Whiskey has always been something to fight over. Even now, it is not a good idea to serve Bushmill's, which is made in Northern Ireland, to an Irish person from the south, nor to serve Jameson's, made in the Republic of Ireland, to somebody from Ulster.

But, I'll leave my audience to decide which Irish Whiskey to choose when making this drink, what's important is that you make it. And have one for me, please.

In a heat resistant glass, place one or two teaspoons of raw cane sugar. This is important because without the sugar, the cream will not float. You can also use liquid cane sugar, sirop de canne, it's faster. I know the Buena Vista uses C&H cane sugar, but I prefer raw cane sugar. No, you can't use artificial sweeteners. Just suck it up and use the real stuff, please.

Pour over the sugar hot strong brewed coffee to about 3/4 full. Not instant, ever. Stir to dissolve the sugar or skip that if you used liquid.

Add a shot or two of your choice of Irish Whiskey. Yes, it needs to be Irish Whiskey, not Scotch Whisky. There's a huge difference.

Then, using an inverted spoon held just above the surface of the coffee, gently and slowly pour unsweetened double cream so that it floats on top of the coffee. If you don't have double cream, you can try single cream, but it will probably 'mix in'. Still tastes good but the presentation isn't as nice. You can also try softly whipping the cream, just a bit, so that it floats easier. Also, cream that's a couple days old works better. No, don't use canned whippy cream, that's disgusting and an affront to the Irish Coffee gods.

You drink the Irish Coffee by sipping it through the thick layer of cream. Luscious.

Now, go find a special someone or other and make one of these for them. Even if they don't have Irish eyes, they'll still be smiling, and at you.

Mmmmm... Perfect.

Friday, 11 March 2011

My Dukan Regime: Week Three

I kinda felt I did pretty crap this week. Basically because I over-salted everything, which means I'm retaining even more water than usual plus I didn't drink enough water (and tea) to flush the excess salt out of my system.

Plus I had to deal with a whole load of crap-o-la this last week. Major stress. I probably came closest to cheating than at any other point. So, I 'cheated' with too much salt, I suppose, but kept strictly to the regime.

On the other hand, I'm now completely over single cream in my coffee. I always drank black coffee in the States, when I worked at a place that did freshly roasted, freshly ground Green Mountain coffee. Any milk would have hid the subtle nuances of the different coffees and blends, so, it was always black. Then I moved to the UK and was only ever offered a pale cup of instant (bleeeck, instant!) So I began drinking coffee with single cream to hide improve the taste. That was then, this is now. I'm only allowed non-fat milk in my coffee which is frankly gross. I tried it several times and just decided to can the dairy completely. Now I drink fresh black coffee made in my cafétiere every morning. I'm over milk and cream. So very over it.

So, with the water retention and the salt, I was really dreading stepping on the scales this morning, however, I was pleasantly surprised with a bit of progress.

I'm down to 90kg / 14 stone 2 pounds / 198 lbs. Yeah! I'm under 200 pounds!
So, to date I've lost 8 kg / 1 stone 3.6 pounds  / 17.6 lbs

I celebrated at lunch with a huge salad served with the Dukan Balsamic vinaigrette I make. Delicious!

Everyone I know has noticed a difference. Which is very encouraging to me. Plus I just feel, I don't know, lighter? Smaller? I still have the pain in my Achilles tendon, but hopefully that will be seen to soon. My doctor wants me to receive 'shock' treatments to the tendon using sound waves. I have to travel to Saint Brieuc to do this and if CPAM get their act together, it could happen in a matter of weeks.

My doctor is very happy with my progress. And so am I.

I will be getting another blood test done at the end of the month and we'll see how my blood sugar and my cholesterol are faring with the weight drop.

Tonight is my homemade ratatouille and chicken. Yummmm....

Have a great weekend and a great week!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Two weeks on Dukan

It's been two weeks, now, since I started my regime. I'm pleased with how it is going; my daughters say they can tell I've lost weight, one of my girlfriends said my neck and face look thinner, plus my clothes feel considerably looser. I have a leather belt which I purchased in 2004 when I was close to my thinnest, I had to get more holes put in it as I lost weight back then, and today it's on the tightest setting, but feels perfectly comfortable.

Here is the picture of my scale from yesterday morning, it would have been posted earlier, but I had misplaced the USB cord to transfer the photos over from my phone.

So, as of Friday 4 March, I have lost 6 kg / 13.2 pounds. Getting down below 95 was a big landmark for me since I've not been able to get below that since 2005.

Having vegetables again was such a treat for me after 10 days without. I went crazy with the taste of haricots verts! And now I know it's never more than 24 hours before I can have my salads and steamed veggies again.

I'm honestly having such problems getting the walks in, just because I dread the effect it will have on my Achilles tendon. I limp just about constantly now, unless I drug myself up on painkillers. I've done the painkillers before in order to cope with moving (and working) when I snapped my other Achilles tendon back in 2009. At the moment, there's not much else I can do; RSI, my Caisse Primaire (or Health Insurance) cancelled me without explanation. I cannot go further with my kiné or Physical therapy nor can I go see the specialist my doctor wants me to see because RSI didn't send me 'radiation' paperwork so I can sign up with CPAM, the Government Health Insurance scheme. Two weeks I have tried to sort this out with RSI and CPAM, they promise to call and never do. So, I suppose it means I need to take a trip to St. Brieuc soon and talk directly to BOTH horses' mouths.

In the meantime I'll try to stop from attacking a glass of orange juice...

Let's see how I do in the next week ahead, I have some majorly huge and worrying things occurring, I hope I can stay on course, I'm doing so well so far, maybe I just need to write more, that keeps my mind off things.

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." ~ C.S. Lewis
I love that quote.