Another Salad

With a sweet edge.

Cored and sliced juicy pear.

P1060939Mixed with walnut pieces and some crumbled Stilton. P1060940‘Dumped’ on a bed of greens – spinach or lamb’s lettuce, rocket would be too strong for this salad combination.  Not pictured – sorry!  But sweet and savoury, crunchy and most enjoyable.  Very flavoursome.

Why aren’t there more lovely salad mixes for eating out…?

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A Little Something Cornish

Oh my word, and my wonderful Mother.

P1060802She brought me this delicious treat recently.

P1060801Cheese.

P1060799Cornish Yarg – see the nettle leaves with veins on the top…?

P1060800Totally drool-worthy.  The cheese is tangy, with an earthy flavour from the nettles applied to the edges.  The flavour is mild, strong flavours overwhelm it.  Bring to room temperature before eating, for the best flavour.

It seems – from internet research – that Yarg is not some Cornish word but the reverse surname of the chap who created it originally.  He he!  Mr Gray!

There is also a Yarg prepared with wild garlic leaves which I’ve tried – not so good in my opinion.

You like nettles with your cheese?

Autumn Vegetables

This is a recipe for the vegetable soup which we ate on Bonfire Night last year, with my sister and the family.  It’s thick, comforting and very tasty.  It’s great for a hearty meal, with crusty bread and some cheese.  It’s very nutritious.  And it will serve many – or freeze portions if desired.  Further discussion is below.

In the pot for Hearty Vegetable Soup(serves many!)

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

1 large leek, peeled, thoroughly washed and sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

1 medium swede, peeled and diced

1 large potato, peeled and diced

Chicken or vegetable stock – approx 500ml

Dried herbs – parsley, sage, thyme; or mixed herbs

Freshly ground black pepper

1 can chopped tomatoes

Optional – 1 can beans e.g. butter beans, haricot beans – drained and rinsed

Add the prepared vegetables to the pot, from the onion through to the potato.  Pour over sufficient stock to come level with the vegetables in the pot(this is usually approx 500ml).  Add plenty of fresh ground black pepper, and dried herbs to taste.  If using mixed herbs, use 1 teaspoon.  If using a mix use 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1/4 teaspoon each of sage and thyme.  Mix through and bring the pot to the boil over a high heat, then reduce to a rapid simmer for approx 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft, and remove from the heat.

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and whizz using a hand-blender, to achieve the desired consistency.  Add the rinsed beans and return to the heat – heat for 2-3 minutes over a moderate heat to allow the beans to heat.  Serve and enjoy!

I used several carrots which came from Dad’s garden – thanks Dad!  And small onions rather than one large.  The beauty of this soup is that any veg can be added – it would have been good with the addition of parsnip, peeled and sliced.  And veg can be omitted – especially for those with particular dislikes.  The potato adds thickness to the soup; and the canned tomatoes add a tanginess, and extra nutritional value.

As with most soups an extra flavour boost can be provided by sauteing the onions in a small amount of butter/oil before adding the rest of the veg to boil, etc.  It’s not essential to do this, and I didn’t on this occasion, but I think it provides a greater depth of flavour.

Use herbs which you like – dried mixed herbs are great for a balanced flavour but I had run out on this occasion, so used the mix I described.

I didn’t add the beans to this batch, but adding the beans increases the nutritional value of the soup, with protein and the extra vitamins and minerals found in beans.  The soup also becomes more substantial, and will satisfy for longer.  Beans add texture; and extra texture can be had by removing some of the veg before blending, and then  adding to the soup afterwards for chunkiness.

A good grinding of fresh black pepper is great on this soup, as it is full of warm flavours and the black pepper adds to that.

A bowl of the soup alone can be quite sufficient; but it can be extra special with a slice of cheese on toast, or cheesy French stick croutons on top; or simple fresh French stick with butter, and/or served with a strong Cheddar.

We’ve been making this soup for years in our family – it’s the one soup that my niece & nephew will eat.  That’s a great way to get veg into children!

Steaming hot soup for a cold Autumn day…

Autumnal Glory

We made our first ever visit to Westonbirt Arboretum which can be found in Gloucestershire near to Tetbury.  We had threatened to visit for a couple of years but never made it.  And I’ve always been keen to visit at the right time for the autumn colours.  We arrived later in the day due to a crash on the M4, and managed to walk only half of the Arboretum.  We were not disappointed.  Stunning.

Here follows photo overload.  No apologies.

Shade.  Light.  Shadow.  Colour beyond colour.  Height.  Shapes.  Texture.  Smells.  Sounds.  Glorious fresh air.  Autumn.  Total pleasure.  Healing for the soul.

A great place for bark rubbings.

Managed by the Forestry Commission – my Grandad worked for them  🙂  Many of the trees are labelled to assist learning.  We visited prior to the breaking news of the ash disease and subsequent legislation to help control the problem – so sad to hear of this.

Many places to eat and take afternoon tea – which we did.  A fabulous way to spend a day.

How is Autumn looking near you?

Autumn is Here

And the kitchen was hot last weekend!  The weather has become chilly, there is dampness in the air, laundry stays damp if it’s hanging on the washing-line after 4pm, there’s a smell of smokey bonfires on the air in the evenings(love!), it’s just not the season for regular salads anymore.  Something warming is needed.

Soups.

This little(big) beauty was on hand to be peeled, de-seeded and chopped.

I hate preparing Butternut Squash….it’s so tough.  But let’s be grateful for the food we can purchase and have on the table.  And for patterns in nature.

Chopped and ready to go.  With 2 onions – peeled and sliced – and 2 garlic cloves to be crushed.

Add everything to the pan and cover with approx 400ml stock(veg or chicken) and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.  Bring to the boil over a hot hob and then simmer rapidly(cover the pan with a lid) for approx 30mins, until the butternut squash is soft.  Blend/liquidise – I used a hand-blender – until smooth, and enjoy with more fresh black pepper over the top.

It looks poop-ey but it’s tasty.  Sweet, garlicky, savoury, satisfying and wholesome for the body and soul.  Add more stock for a more liquid soup.  I portioned this into 4 containers, and put several in the freezer.  Grind more fresh black pepper over the top before serving, for a wonderful pepperiness.

Enjoy  🙂

Cherries

Leftovers after my little niece and nephew slept over.  They adore them.  And admittedly this is because a slightly revolting technique was used to encourage them to try cherries for the first time(a few years ago) – spitting cherry stones!  They think it’s wonderful!  It’s now an annual competition – but the ultimate rule is whoever spits clears up the stone…  Yes it’s gross.  It’s also fun, and even funnier when they giggle!  But they tried a new fruit, and they now love something healthful for their little bodies 🙂

Food can be fun.

Simple Supper 3

Sometimes simple meals are the best – in terms of time, preparation, ingredients and flavour.  It’s good to be able to come home from a long day at work and quickly create something tasty, healthy and nourishing.  Fast food doesn’t have to come from McDonald’s, Burger King, the local chippie.  It can be found in the kitchen at home. It can be satisfying to check what’s in store and use up leftovers.  It’s wonderful to think about what your taste buds fancy, and respond to that.

This is what I call ‘throw-together-food’ – not really a recipe, but listening to your body’s desires and needs and throwing some food together to meet those needs.  Use the quantities of ingredients which suit your level of hunger.  Add a little of this and a bit of that…taste as you go along to get the flavours just right.

For a change I had purchased some big, fat, vine tomatoes rather than the cherry tomatoes I usually opt for.  They had ripened on the worktop for a few days and the smell of fresh tomatoes was powerful – really strong, so that when you twist the tomatoes from the vine your fingers smell of fresh tomato for a long time afterwards.  The pungent aroma of tomato greens.  Nature is all about our senses.

I fancied the fresh flavour with some pasta and extra virgin olive oil, and a background kick of fresh ground black peppercorns.  Simple flavours which complement each other so well.  Spaghetti is what I fancied but there was none in the cupboard, so I used tagliatelle instead.  Here’s roughly what I did.

Tagliatelle

Boil a kettle of water.  Add your desired amount of pasta to a pan, pour over the boiling water, add salt and cook as per packet instructions.  Meanwhile chop two fat tomatoes into chunks.  Grate a little cheese if desired – Cheddar or Parmesan.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander.  Gently heat approx 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in your pasta pan, and tip in the tomatoes.  Stir well, add a twist of salt and lots of fresh black pepper.  Mix well, add the drained pasta back to the pan and stir to cover with the tomatoes, oil and juices.  Tip into a bowl to serve, add more fresh black pepper, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!

I had this avocado in the fridge – it was perfectly ripe!  No brown bits, no soggy bits.  I dumped some scoops on top of the pasta for extra nutrition and freshness.  It was creamy and fresh and heavenly.  And colourful.

I like to cook my pasta al dente – undercooked – I prefer the texture, and I’m convinced my body deals with it better that way.  Some fresh basil would have been fantastic with this – alas, any basil I attempt to grow does not thrive.  And I had none in the kitchen.

Perfect supper.