Snow Day Soup – Purple Chicken

Due to spillover from last week, and plans going awry this week, I ended up with a large pile of veggies to be used up.  It was a rag-tag random collection – some looking a little sorry for themselves after two weeks in a freezer-cold vegetable compartment in the fridge but I figured what the hey, that’s exactly what soup is for, right? Throw in everything leftover which wouldn’t have made a ‘meal’ on their own and out comes tasty vitamin-enriched goodness.  Wonderfully perfect, too, for a snowy winter day!

Purple Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 sml red onions
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 80g broccoli
  • 250g red cabbage
  • 300g baby new potatoes
  • 100g green beans
  • Small handful of fresh cranberries
  • 3 stock cubes (chicken, vegetable or a mix thereof)
  • 800ml water
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 200ml milk

Directions

  • Chop up all of the veg roughly – quartering the new potatoes.
  • Heat a tsp of olive oil and add the celery and onion to it, covering and leaving to soften for 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken to the pot and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Add all of the other ingredients except the lemon juice, boil for 20 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, take the chicken out and shred, setting the meat from one aside.
  • Add the chicken from the other thigh back to the pot and blend with a hand blender.
  • Add the milk, heat and add the lemon juice.
  • Mix well and leave to sit for at least a few hours.

Extra Notes

I have to admit – this soup, when first made, was so-so.  It was not bad soup, just not overwhelmingly ‘Mmmmmm’.  However, on sitting it really improved in flavour =)

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Sunday (Honest!) Soup – Parsnip and Apple

This parsnip and apple soup from CookItSimply was one I picked at the last moment but I’m glad I did.  It was super simple to make, tasty and surprisingly light.

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Ingredients

450 g parsnips (about 4 medium-large parsnips)
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
250g Cox’s apples (about 3)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
850 ml vegetable or chicken stock
285 ml milk
Salt and black pepper

Directions

Chop the onion finely, slice the parsnips; core, peel and chop the apples.

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and cover with a lid to soften.

Once the onions have softened, add the nutmeg, apples, parsnips, stock and nutmeg, stirring well.

Simmer for around 15-20 minutes – the parsnips should be soft, but not falling apart.

Whiz with a hand blender.

Add the milk, season with salt and pepper.

Extra Notes

I sprinkled some chilli flakes on mine when done – it gave the whole thing a nice kick =)

Definitely a soup I’d make again – good quantities, simple ingredients and not too heavy.  Many parsnip soups are a little cloying but the apple seems to stop this one from being so at all.

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Cold Weather Planting

A few weeks ago I noticed that Linda at Slow Growing In Scotland mentioning buying garlic from the Really Garlicky Company and that they had hardy bulbs which were more likely to grow well in Scottish weather.  I’ve loved Really Garlicky garlic since I first had it – Andy and I are very much garlic lovers and were completely bowled over by the size of the cloves and the strong but not bitter or overpowering flavour of them.  I think this is one of the few ‘seeds’ I’ve bought where Andy has agreed instantly and wholeheartedly upon!

That was all well and good.  I ordered and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No parcel.  Hmm.  Went back to check my order reciept to see when likely delivery date was – no dice but I did notice something which made me face-palm. I’d put my old street address and my new street number – my garlic was probably in someone else’s hallway by now, or in their bolognese sauce… The reason that the post office wouldn’t even have a conflict with postcodes and addresses etc. is that our last house is only a street away – well within what I expect posties deal with post-code-wise on a daily basis – nothing that’d make alarm bells ring.  I put a wee note through their door and, thankfully, got a text saying I could come pick up my garlic that evening.

Happy reunion over, the garlic went into pots to sprout in the mini-greenhouse.  I’m pretty glad I didn’t put them directly outside, now, as we’ve had a super-frosty morning today and I want to get them going before exposing them directly to the chilly Scottish weather – hardy or not!  Much thanks to Matron, too, for stopping me from worrying too much over the fact I’m limited to  a plastic ‘windbreak’ instead of a proper greenhouse.  To give it its due, the wee thing does get pretty hot in the sun and I’ve put it in one of the warmest spots in the garden.  Might need to see if I can get a ‘frost cover’ for it, though, for starting things off next year.  Truly looking forward to not having everything germinating on windowsills ;)

Whilst I was potting the garlic up I noticed that some of the narcissus (‘thalia’) I had bought had started to grow.  I’d been hoping to have them as indoor decorations for late-winter and I’d taken a chance in grabbing a bag not quite realising at the time how long it required to cool them for winter forcing.  Apparently the cool shade in the shed has provided, though, and I’ve now got a tonne of small pots full of bulbs in various stages of sprouting.

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Sunday Soup – Curried Mango, Broccoli & Ginger

Sometimes when I see a recipe I must make it – this was one of those times.  Such an odd combination, for me, that I couldn’t resist finding out what it tasted like!

Adapted from this recipe at BBC GoodFood.

Curried Mango, Broccoli & Ginger Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thumb of ginger
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 250g broccoli
  • 150g spinach
  • 1 medium mango
  • 1 red chilli
  • vegetable stock
  • 142ml single cream

Directions

  • Chop the onion, garlic, ginger, broccoli, mango and chilli.
  • Heat the oil, adding the curry paste, and the above chopped items once heated.
  • Cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the stock and spinach.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Blend with a hand blender.
  • Add the cream, reheat and serve.

Extra Notes

  • I used spinach and broccoli mainly because I didn’t entirely pay attention when writing down quantities for this recipe and didn’t buy enough broccoli – thus the spinach can be replaced with an equal weight of broccoli.
  • The soup is lovely when first made but matures really well – it was super on the second day.

I had to take a picture of the pot of ingredients – it was such a lovely mish-mash of bright colours compared to the slightly white-green colour of the final soup.

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Storage

I was a little late this year in planting my much-waited-for Gladioli ‘Laguna’ and, because of that, I was worried about digging them back up too early in case they hadn’t had time to set decent corms.  I’ve been watching them like a hawk and when I saw some leaves starting to turn a little brown at the tips I was out there with my mini-fork digging them up.  I had a bit of a disappointing display from these bulbs, I must admit – but I’m now thinking I might have overcrowded them a little.  When I was younger I loved gladioli – especially butterfly species, because I could plant a big bucket full of them and up they’d come as an amazing floral display, not worrying about any staking for the most part as each was acting as a windbreak for the other.  I’ve never really understood the appeal of growing them in rows or as single flowers as they look beautiful in clumps and drifts – especially if you want to have some cut flowers for inside.

When I spied the ‘laguna’ variety I had to have it.  Really weird looking green flowers with purple tips?  Funky!  Unfortunately after one or two spectacular spikes the rest failed to thrive – most of them shrivelling.  I checked for thrips (as the commonest suggested cause for flower wilt) but there was no leaf discolouration and now I’ve dug up the bulbs I can see they’re all healthy (with thrips they’d have been damaged) so I can squarely place the blame on myself – next year more water and more feed, especially if I’m going to stuff a lot into a planter. When I grew mine ‘back in ye olde days of childhoode’ I lived on the west coast which is much wetter and I don’t remember any particularly super-hot years when I grew gladioli – meaning I only had to water them infrequently to get the correct moisture.  Over here, on the east coast, it’s so much drier than I’m used to and this summer was a scorcher which, combined with my having to lug water from upstairs meant that quite a few of my plants probably got less water than they should have.

I was also slightly saddened that as they matured the flowers became far more yellow than green, as you can see in the pictures above.  The immature, half opened ones are a lovely shade of green-yellow which looked nice against the omnipresent ORANGE fence.  You can also see one of the failing ones in the background of the first photo – the blooms never actually opened fully on that spike.

Luckily it doesn’t seem to have affected corm growth too much as I’ve ended up with double growth on most corms – some triple and one or two with four full sized corms from one parent.  They’re all big and healthy and are now drying out peacefully in the hallway before I clean and store them for the winter!

The planter that they came out of is now home to a pile of mixed daffodil bulbs for spring – not packed so tightly, though ;)

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Saturday Soup – Celeriac, Leek & Goat’s Cheese Soup with Young Leaves

What in the world are ‘young leaves’ you ask? Well, given the title was mouthy enough as it is, I decided not to add ‘and watercress and rocket and spinach’. I think ‘young leaves’ covers them well as all of them are picked when young and fresh – perfect for imparting a delicate, bitter or spicy flavour depending on leaf and cooking with the most minimal application of steam. This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food’s ‘Watercress and Celeriac Soup‘.  As you might notice, if you peruse their recipe – they also use a lot of leek but sortof leave it out of the title.  I felt this was a bit unfair on the poor leeks as they’re as much a part of the flavour as the celeriac!

Celeriac, Leek & Goat’s Cheese Soup with Young Leaves

Ingredients

  • 4 leeks
  • large knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celeriac peeled and diced (I used ~700g of celeriac)
  • 1½ l  stock
  • 200g bag of ‘spinach, watercress and rocket leaves’
  • 100g goat’s cheese

Directions

  • Heat the butter and olive oil until melted.
  • Chop the leeks and put them in the pan with the oil and gently cook for around 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  • Chop and add the celeriac and the stock (I used 1/3 ham to 2/3 veg stock).
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down and cook at a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, turn off the heat and put the bags of leaves into the soup.
  • Mix the leaves in, giving them a minute or two to wilt.
  • Add the goat’s cheese, season well then blend the soup with a hand blender.

Extra Notes

I mainly changed from using just watercress as was suggested by the recipe this is based on to using mixed bags simply because Tesco didn’t have any undiscounted bags of watercress.  Discounted bags, whilst super if you’re going to use them that day, aren’t going to last a whole week, even for soup.  However, if you can get bags of just watercress then go for it – the strength of flavour would probably make the dish a little less bland than it turned out.

I served it as the original recipe suggested – with a ‘crouton’ made from a slice of baguette and goats cheese – this was really nice, but the reason the rest of the cheese ended up in  the soup was because I can’t be bothered fiddling with that sorta thing every time I dish out soup ;)

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Cold-Weather Jobs

I love my shed – though I admit I keep eyeing up all of those sleek little glass greenhouses.  When we first moved into this house Andy thought he could have a music shed… for about half an hour.  Then he realised that the shed was a garden shed.  I might have had to repeat it about twenty times to get it to sink in but finally he realised the shed was not to be his.  Besides, playing a drum in there was ear-shattering both inside and for anyone nearby ;)

Finally got all of those saved-up tubs, egg boxes and bottles sorted onto the shelves instead of in bags on the floor, scraped all of the dust from a summer’s worth of potting off the workbench and dragged in the last of the current batch of saved seed to sort, clean and put away at my leisure.  The outdoor jobs are not done yet (I have garlic seed bulbs winging their way to me), but the nippy air and driving rain are definitely working towards keeping me inside.

That said, last Sunday was pretty nice in the morning so I did get to clean up a few of the plants which were clearly past it – some of the marigolds, some random, pretty self-seeded flowers left by the previous owner, a couple of cabbages which never really went anywhere and I also got to make my sprouts look like crazy space plants:

I’d always known sprouts ended the season looking like this, but I’d not realised that the leaves didn’t just… grow in that way, hehe. These are the two which are furthest on – there’s a third one which fell over when it was a seedling and, despite being planted right next to these two, is actually off-camera because it’s so bent over. There are also another two smaller ones which I’m not sure will make it far into winter – I planted them in the wrong place thinking they were cabbages and the denser group seems to have stunted them a bit. Oops.

Not looking forward to a winter without a garden to properly potter about in but I’m already making plans for next year and I do have some winter veg as well as some seeds come which will be early crops for next year – so only a few months until I’m sowing things again!

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