Soup for vampires

This was my attempt to recreate the beetroot, parsnip and horseradish soup I used to eat across the road from my old work. It ended up a bit different but tasted really good and the texture was lovely and thick.

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It’s all gone now, so time to rummage through the veg box for something else!

Organic goodness

Yesterday I received my first organic veg box from Riverford Organic.

I have been thinking about getting one for a while but at my old flat delivery was an issue, as the building was difficult to get into and there was no guarantee of anyone being home. That’s what I thought, anyway. Turns out in this area Riverford deliver on Saturdays!

So yesterday the lovely Riverford delivery man Paul turned up on my doorstep with a box bursting full of organic goodies. He was so friendly, too, it felt like a step back in time to when the local greengrocer knew everyone’s name. I’m a sucker for the personal touch. And I love receiving deliveries – it always feels special. He even checked whether 9am was too early to deliver (I’d answered the door in my pjs as I didn’t want to jump in the shower and miss the delivery!). Definitely going to like this scheme. I also love the idea of receiving things I wouldn’t normally buy in the supermarket, because it can be so easy to get into a rut. This way I get fresh seasonal vegetables at their peak, and I get to use my creativity and competitive spirit (must use up veggies before the next box arrives!) to come up with ways to use them all!

As well as some tofu and eggs which I’d ordered seperately, I received the Small Winter Veg box:

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The box’s contents were a little different from that promised on the website, which warns that sometimes they have to make last-minute substitutions depending on what is available. Which is fine by me because I rather like surprises. So here we have some chestnut mushrooms and purple sprouting broccoli on top;

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and if we delve a little deeper we find a cauliflower, a couple of small but perfectly formed savoy cabbages, a handful of onions, plenty of carrots, a few large parsnips and a massive swede!

Due to the curry being larger than anticipated I still have some other veggies waiting to be used up too! So I already had a massive bag of onions, a bunch of beetroot, some parsnips, leeks and carrots. So this week is going to have to be a vegetable extravaganza.

Woodland eggs were also on offer at Sainsbury’s, so now I had 18 eggs! Rest assured I am not giving them up for Lent so don’t have to use them all up by Tuesday, although pancakes are definitely on the agenda.

So first up, I decided to make a caramelised onion tart. I looked up a recipe on the internet which told me to blind bake my pastry case. Usually I don’t bother and I am regretting it this time, as it came out a bit hard. I was also a bit stingy on the butter. I normally use about 75 grams of butter which makes for a lovely flaky pastry.

The filling, however, was divine:

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I cooked the onions in olive oil and a little bit of sugar for as long as I could bear it, about 40 minutes or so I think, over a very low heat. I let them brown a little and spread them over the pastry. I made the custard with four eggs, some milk, a spoonful of wholegrain mustard, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a few handfuls of grated cheese (sorry, we don’t do precision in my kitchen). Plenty of sea salt and pepper. If I’d had any parmesan I would have grated it on top but another couple of handfuls of cheddar did the trick.

And I ate my tart with some of the broccoli and one of the cabbages:

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Yum! What’s up next, I wonder… I see more soups and stews in my near future! But I also have the tofu so I think a stir fry involving mushrooms, broccoli and carrot may be in order.

Sprung

Spring is such a literal word, conjuring up images of long-dormant bulbs miraculously coming back to life and bursting through the soil, or or lambs cavorting in a meadow.

London is waking up. The sun is shining its joyous rays down upon us, and the earth is stirring.

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It’s lovely to be able to take photos in natural light again!

Guerilla knitting

Well, I was nearly on Richard and Judy last week. They put out a call for ten knitters, and they were even going to pay us! Getting paid to knit would be like a dream come true, getting paid to knit on the telly? Even better!

And then it turned out they were looking for granny types, not hip young things like us (we’re the epitome of cool, doncha know? Top Shop magazine turned up at Stitch and Bitch this week, we’ve obviously made it).

So anyway, that was a bit disappointing. But then on Friday there was another call put out, for guerilla knitter-types to join Magda from Knitta on a wee jaunt around London to prettify (and subversify) our lovely city. And then it turned out that Magda had been flown over here by none other than Richard and Judy! Apparently they had managed to find three granny knitters, although why they wanted grannies for a piece about guerilla knitting is still a mystery…

Out came the tension swatches, the failed scarves, the acrylic blobs, and squares hastily knitted for the occasion. Then down the South Bank we trooped!

A railing near the skate park under the Royal Festival Hall was the first thing to receive our warm fuzzies:

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while Magda gave a bike lock her special attention:

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Later, a signpost got the treatment:

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Sadly at this point I had to leave, but if you wander around the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s you may see some other works of art!

It was neat watching people’s reactions to our work, and watching the tourists pose for photos after we were done!

Strangely, on the same day, on the other side of the world, a similar thing was happening… So wherever you are, don’t be surprised if you see a little bit of knitted love on your nearest tree, street sign, or bollard.

Food, glorious food

On Wednesday Kash and Guillaume came over and joined me, Ea and Tomasso for the next Allegra McEvedy cookalong. Here are my lovely guests about to dig in:

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(I just noticed the computer mouse still there on the table!)

It was absolutely delicious, but Allegra recommended doubling the recipe and since it was meant to feed four and there were five of us, I did. I then ate curry three times yesterday and fed it to a guest, and there’s still plenty left… today was going to be soup but now it has to be curry again, and I still have a lot of veggies to use up before my first organic vegetable box arrives tomorrow! And I have to make more chutney, last night’s guest polished it off!

Scarf

I finally finished Steph’s scarf last week. It’s actually a completely different scarf from the one I started. Soon after I started the scarf, the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits came out and I loved the Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf pattern. I didn’t actually buy the magazine until I went to New Zealand. Most of this scarf was knitted on my holiday, but then I ran out of yarn and had to wait until I got back to buy another ball and knit the last few rows.

I managed to get some self portraits of it but haven’t quite figured out how to focus my camera when there’s nothing to focus on… here is one:

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Maybe I can persuade Steph to send me a picture of her wearing it! Hopefully it has arrived in Amsterdam by now, I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

Broccoli and chard soup

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And homemade country grain bread. The soup was very, very good. And so simple. I used one onion, one stick of celery and one clove of garlic, cooked them in a bit of olive oil until soft, added a chopped head of broccoli (just the florets, I saved the stalk to freeze as I’m planning on making some stock later in the week) and a few handfuls of chard (the chard was getting a bit old; the rest of it is destined for the stock now too). Added a little bit of water so they stir fry steamed for a bit, then added some stock made from my favourite standby Vecon. Seasoned and voila! Who knew something so simple could taste so good? This is going in the repertoire.

The bread was fun too, I made it using some instructions from the authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes that I found on the internet. I hope the fact that I keep plugging their book will make up for the fact I have no intention of buying it myself (I have the basic recipe now, I can figure out any variations I need).

African beans!

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This is another of my favourite meals, and I was halfway through eating before I remembered to take a photo. There’s enough left in the pot for lunch and possibly dinner too. Which reminds me, I’m hungry!

You can get the recipe for this one in Alison Holst’s excellent Meals Without Meat. It’s basically black eyed beans, coconut cream, and tomato paste (although I decided to use tinned tomatoes this time). And yummy spices, including plenty of my delicious Hungarian paprika.