The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Write a post about how much you like winter and catch a cold. Typical.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on December 3, 2010

hopefully the cure to my cold...

Now, I have to admit. I got a little carried away on Tuesday. The first glimpse of snow always makes me go a wee bit mad. But I slipped on a patch of ice this morning on my way to Uni, fell on my backside and saw the light. What was I thinking? Winter is cold. Winter is wet. Winter is the time when every single person in the hemisphere gets a runny nose, accidents multiply, and the weather becomes so bad it precedes murders, wars and disasters on the evening news. And yet it’s sooooo pretty!

Actually I would probably still be enjoying it if it wasn’t for a bad cold and all the germs I have been carrying around since the weekend. I normally fly over the ice and skid around joyously. I love snowball fights and making snow-angels and snowmen. A couple of years ago I slid on a sledge and it was heaven. But it will probably be the death of me in the end. I am a natural-born germ catcher and I don’t tend to do things by half. When I get a cold, it usually degenerates to the point I end up feeding exclusively off cough medicine and breathing in puffs from various inhalers for weeks on end. I HATE it!

I think what caused it this time was going holly-picking last weekend. I was wearing a woolly hat, a thick jumper with a high collar, a scarf, mittens, a coat, two pairs of socks and wellingtons (along with the usual assortment of ordinary clothes, underwear etc)…. Retrospectively I must have looked a bit like the michelin man; with all those layers it’s even a wonder I could lift my arms above my head to reach the branches. But still I got the sniffles. Had I known, I wouldn’t have bothered; it wasn’t even that cold. And since I’ve come back to Clermont, I’ve been trying to do some damage control. But it may have been too late. I’m on the threshold of descending through the seven circles of my usual hypochondriac hell. Even as I sit here wrapped up in a warm fleecy blanket in front of a chick flick drinking herbal tea laced with something called “fervex” (to take care of the runny nose and headache) I wonder about this itch at the back of my throat… Should I not resist the urge and cough? Or shall I give in to paranoia: will that one little cough be the camel back-breaking straw which will irritate my throat to the verge of bronchitis?

(Ironically as I am writing this Cameron Diaz is sprinting towards Jude Law across snow-covered fields with a very deep V-neck and a proportionately very small scarf. I hope she gets a cold) Anyway, a bit of honey in the already weird-tasting mixture should help with the tickly throat. After that, straight to bed. Night-o.

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♪♫♫♪♪Well the weather outside is frightful…

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on November 30, 2010

Or so most people seem to think. This is where my weirdness shines through once more: I love snow! Is winter my favourite season? Hmmm, I don’t know for sure, but it is certainly a time when get to do a whole load of things I absolutely love! Going into the woods looking for the perfect christmas tree. Coming back home after a walk and warming your hands on a hot cup of tea (I even like that sensation when you suddenly recover a sense of touch and your skin burns  and itches). Snowball fights. Walking in the woods and shaking branches over people’s head to make them look like snowmen. Finding a patch of pure white snow and walk across it just for the sake of turning around to look at your footprints… And there are also so many indoorsy things to do as well: cooking and baking christmassy stuff that fill your house with the smell of spices and citrus fruits, decking the halls with boughs of holly (tralalalala lalalala)… And sitting snug and warm in an armchair sorting through the remaining Quality Street chocolates looking for something other than “strawberry cream”, and peeping through the curtains every now and then to say: oooooh what a dreadful weather!

But snow is really what turns it all into winter (and therefore pre-Christmas time). Everything that happens before the first snowflakes start falling is just preparation. Mise en place. Last weekend for example I made traditional mincemeat (for people who don’t know what it is, you’ll get an explanation further down), and stored it into jars. And I left it at that. But now… I feel like making a bit of pastry, bringing out my muffin tray and get cracking. And with that I’ll have a glass of mulled wine, please! The perfect winter snack: mince pies, a tangerine and mulled wine. Mmmmhh!

Over that same weekend I also went out into the woods to get some holly, ivy and fir branches to make the advents wreath. With the leftovers (and I had quite a lot of them) I also made a nice wreath to hang on the door of my flat. And at first I did wonder: “is this too early? Am I turning into one of those people who start decorating waaaay to early, so early it’s almost ridiculous?” But then today it snowed. And somehow it’s enough to justify Christmas decorations.

Soooo… Mincemeat and mince pies (Google kindly informs me they are known in America as mincemeat tarts..) I hadn’t planned on explaining them at first but it occurred that my french friends wouldn’t know what I was going on about, so a quick description is in order.  Basically mincemeat is a mixture of fruit(dried, candied and fresh), sugar, spices and BRANDY, and you use it as a filling to make mince pies. It is absolutely lush. I usually use Mrs Beeton’s traditional victorian recipe, with a couple of so-called improvements, which end up a bit like this:

200g chopped suet/ 150g raisins/ 200g sultanas/ 200g glacé cherries/ 200g crystallised ginger/ 200g chopped candied peel/ juice and rind of 1 orange and 2 lemons/ 200g apples, peeled and grated/ 250g soft brown sugar/ 250ml brandy, 1tsp each of dried ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice. (not fixed, you may add in or omit what you like)

Mix it all up in a bowl. Cover and leave for two days, stirring occasionally (this prevents it from fermenting later on), and then store in jars. If you want to be sure it’ll last, you can boil the jars afterwards to seal them.  Like most of Mrs Beeton’s recipes, this one could probably feed an entire victorian household (including the downstairs staff). But because it keeps so well (being only fruit, sugar and alcohol), you can keep it from one year to the next. Not that it happens on a regular basis though, I’ve never had difficulties using it all up. I love making traditional english Christmas recipes. And if ever another french person tells me this winter that it is oxymoronic to talk of english cuisine, I’ll just stuff a mince pie or tow into their mouths. It’ll have the double advantage of shutting them up, as well as proving them wrong and spreading the good word. Yay!

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