Taking Stock – January

Making : piles of things to take to the charity shop

Cooking : Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup from Olive magazine’s website – recipe here. It’s delicious. I doubled up the onion, garlic and red Thai curry paste. And used 1 kilo of (frozen) BNS cubes. If you like thicker soups definitely don’t use all the stock

Drinking : a mug of soup

Reading: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Wanting: to find out who’s who now. I’m up to 94% read on my ebook, the app estimates it will take 25 minutes to finish

Playing: Kermode & Mayo’s Film review podcast (they’re talking about the Bohemian Rhapsody film)

Deciding: what to read next

Wishing: for a smart Boden bag

Enjoying: cooking lots of new recipes

Not a new recipe, just a colourful tray of veg for roasting: carrots, yellow and red pepper and fennel with sprigs of rosemary

Waiting: for SNOW

Liking: snowdrops and croci appearing

This verge will be full of a host of golden daffodils soon

Wondering: when I’ll meet a rather lovely friend for lunch, we need to find a date that doesn’t clash with anything else. We’ll get there

Loving: ebooks – from the library! All without going to the library. Choose what you fancy on the library app, place a hold for a popular book, an email comes when it’s available and I use the Libby app to download and read it. They are FREE! ❤️

Pondering: posh coats, bags and leather gloves

Considering: a new foundation – do you use liquid/double powder or nothing?

Buying: I got a rolled eyes reaction when I got home from the dentist and a quick visit to one of my favourite yarn shops. Yes, I know I can’t actually use it at the mo, but you don’t pass up Rowan when it’s £2 in the sale! Sheesh!

Watching: Cold Feet, our old friends are back

Hoping: that varying the strength exercises will progress the healing of my hand

A cheeky G&T on Thursday night

Marvelling: at the slowly slow progress of my hand but it’s definitely improving. Had another Physio Hand Therapy appointment yesterday

Cringing: at how reconciliation, communication skills and empathic behaviour seem to be missing from some people’s emotional intelligence

Needing: chocolate

Questioning: whether I can keep thinking, typing and listening. Nope. See you later Wittertainment

Such a fun girl’s weekend away: so much chatter, laughter, tasty food, gin, prosecco and a large Baileys too

Smelling: my perfume

Wearing: a tunic with big front pockets, leggings, chunky red cardie

Following: so many things on TV, Netflix and Prime that I’ve written a list! We’ve stuck to the trad viewing habits of tending to watch an episode, or two at most, a week despite the constant availability of complete series

Knowing: binge watching can spoil the impact and enjoyment of programmes

Thinking: I sound like the forty something I am!

The fridge has spoken again

Admiring: bright colour wearers

Sorting: socks, I’m putting pairs together, then folding and folding them again, rather than pairing them into a lump. I wondered if it stretches the ribbing otherwise. I think my sock drawer looks pretty cool, (if that’s not a total contradiction of the definition of what’s cool….) with all sets in order and like colours together

Frozen single gloves seem to be in abundance on fence posts this month

Getting: nerdier by the year

Bookmarking: recipes, Guardian article and helpful quotes which I rarely go back to read

Coveting: a book of labels

Disliking: the book of labels and stickers I ordered online, they didn’t show many pages online

Opening: the book, wondering why I need a huge Bon Voyage or an Ex Libris sticker which take up half a page

Still going strong

Giggling: at The Navy Lark despite it not being very funny

Feeling: full of soup

Snacking: not necessary right now

Helping: Mum find the BBC World Service so she can record The Beatles Last Concert on Freeview tv (BBC R4 play a selection overnight of The WS programmes. It’s on tonight on The WS if you’re keen to hear it live)

Hearing: Someone saying “I thought you were going to put the heating on!”

Mixing: radio stations. I’ve tried Chris Evans on Virgin, Zoe Ball on BBC R2 and Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 during the early mornings

Mixing II: spices for curry powder

Worrying: it’s pointless, I try not to

Slicing: cucumber. It’s been in the fridge for weeks now

Celebrating: blue skies and sunny days

Forgetting: to put the heating on. Oops, but it’s an hour or more since I said I would, so it can’t be that cold in there!

Winning: nothing since a raffle at Christmas

Pretending: this time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires!

Sneaking: marshmallows

Embracing: birdwatching, though our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results on Monday included just the usual garden birds, no woodpecker like I ordered and which came one year, during the hour!!!!!!!

You? Tell me two things, three if you’re feeling particularly chatty

Warming Vegetable & Pasta Soup

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The other day I was looking in the pantry for pasta to go with my leftover puttanesca sauce (Recipe here from Nigella) and came across a bag of these little pasta shapes. They look macaroni sized, but are in fact much smaller, absolutely tiny. I bought them in a hypermarket in France last summer.

This morning it was 5oc which is 2oc up on yesterday, but it’s a bitterly cold wind which blows. Time for soup. I had a good Goggle for minestrone recipes, but nothing really grabbed me so I made my own up as I went along. It turned out to be a corker.

The Mister is away working in Stockholm this week and I do intend to save him a bowlful as a warming welcome home, but I’m not sure it’s going to last! He is texting about having rich and delicious moose meatballs for dinner. A couple of weeks ago he was in Toulouse and it was all cassoulet and sausages.

Here’s what I used, because you might fancy making some really warming soup too:

Vegetable and pasta soup

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 onion, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

1/2 red & 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

3 rashers smoked bacon, finely chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp mixed herbs

1-2 bayleaves

400g tinned tomatoes (best quality the better)

500-750ml vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want the soup)

2 handfuls of small pasta shapes (I have small hands!)

Seasoning to taste

——————-

Serves 4. Or 3 if you’re into really hearty bowlfuls!

::Heat oil in a large pan, cook onion till translucent, add rest of vegetables and cook slowly, covered, until softened.

::Add bacon and cook for a few minutes. Add smoked paprika and cook for a minute.

::Put rest of the ingredients into the pan and cook till vegetables tender. Stir now and then so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Serve. Try not to go back for ‘just a little more’.

** The peppers could easily be missed out, especially as you’re using the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery as a base for the soup. I just included them because I had a few to use up, and I love pepper. Instead of, or as well as, the pasta you could throw in some lentils, chick peas, cannellini beans or butter beans.**
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Who needs Swedish meatballs or cassoulet?

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Soup days

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Although the weather has been mild and warm lately I’ve already thrown myself into soup making. I really love trying different recipes, and old favourites, every autumn and winter. The week before last I made Curried Sweet Potato from the River Cottage Veg book, last week it was my old fave Chilli lentil and tomato soup. The recipe is here, blogged a few years ago, if you fancy making it. Times flies etc when you’re blogging…

This morning it’s so much cooler that I made a batch of soup for our lunch. It’s Moroccan tomato and chickpea soup with couscous from the Good Food website. Spicy and hearty this is a goodie. I used 400g of homegrown tomatoes, rather than a can, as we’re still ripening bowlfuls around the house. (My ipad is on 2% so this post is a race against time!)

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Moroccan tomato and chickpea soup with couscous

By Barney Desmazery

Serves 4

  • 75g couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • half a finger of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp ras-el-hanout
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste, plus extra to serve
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin chickpeas
  • juice ½ lemon
  • roughly chopped coriander, to serve

Method

  1. Tip the couscous into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir through 1 tbsp of the oil. Pour over enough hot stock just to cover and cover the bowl with cling film and set aside.
  2. Heat the rest of the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and carrot gently for 8 mins until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 mins more then stir in the ras el hanout and harissa and cook for another minute. Pour in the tomatoes and stock and give everything a good stir. Season, add the chickpeas and simmer everything gently for 20 mins until thickened slightly then squeeze over the lemon.
  3. Uncover the couscous and fluff up with a fork. Spoon the soup into bowls, top each with a mound of couscous, scatter with coriander and serve with extra harissa for those who want it.

    Recipe from bbcgoodfood.com

    :: I used only 1 tbsp of olive oil for the veg and none in the couscous
    :: I omitted the chickpeas, it was filling enough without
    :: Blended half the soup in my liquidiser as it was a bit ‘skinny’ for me with all the cherry tomatoes, it was a lovely consistency
    :: Used 1 3/4 tbsp of ras-el-honout as it was all I had left, but that was perfect for a good spicy kick with the harissa

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    What are you up to?

Roasted tomato & garlic summer soup

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I’m happy to class myself as a tomato bore at the moment! I don’t mind if you’re thinking it…

There are various bowls around the kitchen full of ripe and ready to eat tomatoes, alongside those still ripening. It’s fun deciding what to eat them with. We had bacon and vegetable risotto with roasted tomatoes (simply cooked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, nothing else, they are so sweet) last night.

When I got up this morning I really fancied making a light summer soup for lunch. The temperature has dropped by about 10 degrees in the last few weeks, instead of a blissful 28 0c it’s now 17/18 0c at best and feels so cold!
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There are many versions of this soup floating around the net and I’ve made own version; using homemade garlic oil. I always have some on hand for when I’m feeling lazy and use it instead of fresh garlic, or if in this case, I want an extra garlicky kick to a dish. It’s easy: just add 3-4 peeled and halved garlic cloves into a glass jar or small bottle of olive oil and leave to steep for a few days. When it’s all used up I throw away the garlic, wash the bottle and begin again with fresh.

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I love all the bright colours. Don’t worry about the amount of garlic in the recipe, when it’s roasted garlic loses it’s stinkiness and just becomes rich and sweet in flavour. I’ve just opened the door for a delivery and the guy didn’t recoil when I breathed over him to sign for the box!

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While the vegetables roasted I hung out a basket of washing, a lot of looking at the sky, muttering and toe crossing went on. So far it hasn’t rained…

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The tray of charred vegetables might not look like much, but they smelt delicious. Ok, so this next bit might not seem a good advertisement; but if you do have a smoke alarm I’d recommend keeping the kitchen door closed while you’re roasting the vegetables. That’s a little tip I’ve learnt when I make my roasted butternut soup in the winter time!

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Make sure you scrape the roasting tray out well;  you want to use every bit of caramelized vegetable that you can, to give the soup as much flavour as possible.

The black specks you see in the soup is ground black pepper.

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Yum, yum in my tum.

Roasted tomato & garlic summer soup

1 tbsp (garlic) olive oil
500g ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 large red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
1 bulb of garlic, divided into peeled cloves
1 red pepper (or 1/2 a red & 1/2 a yellow pepper) deseeded and quartered
600ml / 1 pint hot vegetable stock
3/4 – 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 – 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Fresh basil leaves to garnish

Preheat oven to 220 0c/400 of/ gas mark 7

::Put the vegetables into a large roasting pan, drizzle with the olive oil and season
::Roast for about 45 mins until the edges are charred. I gently turn them all over after 15 and then 30 minutes. The house fills with a delicious smell.
::Remove the tray from the oven and leave the vegetables to cool
:: Whizz the roasted vegetables with the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce (add quantity to taste, I’d recommend 3/4 tbsp of each) and stock in a food processor or a liquidizer
:: Put the soup through a sieve to remove tomato skins, easing the last of the liquid through by rubbing the vegetable skins etc with the back of a ladle
:: Reheat, scatter with torn basil leaves to serve

If it’s tropical where you are (lucky things!) you can serve this summer soup well chilled with a few ice cubes in the soup.

Serves 4

Enjoy!

Chilli & Lentil soupyness

It’s grey and rainy today. In the middle of our wonderful summer! Yes. This is irony.
I wondered about salad for lunch and then decided what I really craved was lentil and chilli soup. I just felt the need for something warming. It’s a BBC Good Food recipe that I’ve used time and time again, usually in the winter months!
It’s been a good chance to fill up my new masala tin while the soup gently bubbles away.20120716-133607.jpg20120716-133613.jpg

 

 

Do you fancy making this too?

Lentil & tomato soup

Heat a pan and dry-fry 2 tsp cumin seeds and a good pinch of chilli flakes until they smell nice and pungent.
Add a tablespoon of oil and chopped red onion, cook for five minutes.
Stir in 140 g of split red lentils with 850ml of vegetable stock and 400 g can tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes until lentils have softened.
Whizz in a liquidiser or use a stick blender until its chunky. Put back into the pan and add a few tablespoons of chick-peas. Makes 4 portions. Serve garnished with chopped coriander and a swirl of yoghurt/creme fraiche/double cream.

Yum!

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