On Saturday we made soup. It was a joint effort. I stared out into the garden (it was a cold day inside and out as misted window panes were being finally replaced and so it was like living in a barn as the saying goes) and noticed that there was still a small cluster of dwarf kale plants in the raised bed. Continue reading
In my kitchen there are two slim dogs. Mme L has been ill with pancreatitis and is now on a complicated regime of micro meals and vet stuff to line her little tum with so she doesn’t vomit all the time. Zeb is in rude health once more after his leather eating trauma earlier this year fortunately.
In my kitchen is a blackboard which usually says things like, buy chicken, or take parcel to post office. My blackboard was made by Andy at Arcadian Furniture who restores furniture and makes new pieces too. He made this board for us with just the right size ledge that it could hold a board rubber and chalk and made it out of the same wood as the kitchen, American Oak.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will note it says ‘Eat Wed pm’ at the bottom. This is because Brian has had the lurgi for over a week and the doctor said starve yourself for 48 hours and drink Dioralyte.
We are into 36 hours and I am joining in in solidarity till this evening, when we will partake of ‘clear soup’. Brian has decided we are going to have a Chicken Soup and has gone off to buy himself a chicken. The good news is that, so far today he feels better, so cross fingers the doctor gave him good advice finally.
So what else can I show you?
A stunning handful of fragrant frilly sweet peas grown by my neighbour. We are busily trading lettuce and flowers, cheesy buns and vegetables. My neighbour drives out to visit her mother who is now in a Nursing Home, she who likes my bread, and it is very near a wonderful vegetable grower called Mark Cox who gardens at the Walled Garden at Wrington.
My neighbour is allowed to pick what she wants more or less and she brings me treasure once a week; last week I had the most beautiful broad beans, chard, cavolo nero, newly dug potatoes, and a perfect artichoke.
I have baked more bread in the kitchen, mostly of the sourdough variety. Here is a particular fetching loaf, which someone on Twitter described as a Tin Tin loaf without the tin. A bread with a quiff!
At the moment as it is hot here, the easiest way to make the bread is to mix it in the evening, retard it in the fridge, shape and prove early in the morning and bake it. Works for me just fine!
In the freezer I discovered three halves of pheasant that I bought from a local butcher in pheasant season earlier this year, so I have made them into a casserole, once I had pulled all the bits of shot and feather out I could find. My casserole consisted of the pheasant, cut into smaller joints, sweet onion and carrots from the Walled Garden, two sticks of celery, herbs from the garden, silver thyme, Greek oregano, sweet Cecily, bay leaves, a few peppercorns, a couple of tablespoons of ancient Pontack sauce (made from foraged elderberries in times of yore) some Chinese rice wine, and vegetable stock. Pheasant is a dry meat to my mind but it is all cooked up now and boxed and back in the freezer for another day.
I also had a crack at making the claypot pork dish that Celia made from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse blog.
Here is a pile of bottles that I had to get in order to have a go at it. I already had a kg piece of belly pork from Thoroughly Wild Meat who supplies us with salt marsh lamb hidden in the freezer.
I don’t have a claypot so I made it in my regular casserole. It smelled divine while it was cooking but that too has gone into the freezer as it coincided with Brian and his Lurgi.
I have also made the fantabulous Ottolenghi turkey and courgette meatballs with sumac sauce, a recipe which is in his Jerusalem but you can probably find written out by someone or other on the net if you look. These little nuggets solve the mystery of doing something tasty with the incredibly boring meat that is turkey mince. I thought they were a bit fiddly to make but if you are set on eating turkey mince and have spare courgettes, then give them a whirl, because the end result is worth it.
In my kitchen were our first veggies apart from lettuce and rocket – three pale green courgettes – which I fried with garden mint in a little butter and oil about five minutes after harvesting them and had them with some rice and chard while Brian looked the other way.
I have been eating North Sea brown shrimp, odd bits of roast chicken, and lettuce and bread. Feeling guilty that I can eat and he can’t, though not that guilty that I couldn’t cruelly munch my way through half a bag of M and M’s last night while catching up on the White Queen on the telly box while The Hollow Man averted his gaze.
I also had a box of very special chocolates from Haigh’s hand-delivered from Melbourne from a blog friend who is visiting the UK. Lucky lucky me and I loved meeting her and her husband in my kitchen and plying them with cake, more of which another day. (There are no chocolates left of course!)
After watching the White Queen (historical drama based around the time of the War of the Roses) I always have to spend ages on Wiki looking up the Kings and Queens of England, the Kings all seem to be called Edward or Henry and all the queens Elizabeth. Many of them are a little stressed out. I have no memory, nor interest in retaining their names and who was married off to whom in political unions but I am enjoying the White Queen, chiefly because I like the way they roll their eyes in a thoroughly modern way when they marvel and gasp at each other’s Machiavellian ways.
But back to the kitchen – by the time I get to the end of this post it has indeed become Wed pm and we have made supper.
The man vet said ‘clear soup’ we translated that tonight into Canja de Galinha – ‘a soup for what ails you ‘ – as made in the one and only Bewitching Kitchen by Sally. A Brazilian take on a Portuguese soup, which hit all the right notes for Brian being substantial but super low in fat and super soothing.
Brian chopped the veggies and I poached the chicken and we cooked far too much rice, but we didn’t care. I invoked the spirit of my paternal grandmother Lily and got out her Willow pattern soup bowls which have nursed more versions of chicken soup than I can remember in their long life and hope that he is cured now. (I added a liberal splosh of chilli ginger sauce to mine as I hadn’t been on starvation watch, but I have never seen Brian attack a bowl of soup with quite such enthusiasm).
I realise it has been far too long since I wrote one of these IMK posts, but if you want to read a whole lot more or indeed join in, you should visit lovely Celia @ figjamandlimecordial.com whose meme this is and peek at her sidebar as there are lots and lots of kitchens to visit from her links.
The run-up to Christmas and those big meals is often a bit of an odd time and a hearty stew is one way to make something you can eat for a couple of days at least and keep out the cold!
This week I made this dish using half a leg of mutton from the Thoroughly Wild Meat Company. Andrew Moore raises lambs on the salt marsh and produces exquisite lamb. He is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. You can find him at the farmers’ markets in Bristol and Bath which is where we met him.
When Andrew told me he was having mutton from his sheep this autumn in addition to the lamb, I shared a box with Gill the Painter, an event involving a meeting in Gloucester Cathedral and a shopping bag on wheels…. felt like we had escaped from an Alan Bennett short story. Here is Gill’s balsamic leg of lamb recipe which she used on her mutton.
Here are my notes – easy to do if you have time and plan a little ahead.
Brown your lightly seasoned meat in a little oil in a large casserole on the hob. Once nicely browned add as much stock as you need to come at least three-quarters up the meat. I used a mixture of vegetable stock and some lamb stock that I had saved in the freezer. Fresh thyme is a good herb to use with this dish.
Squeeze two lemons and add the juice to the stock. We also threw in a jar of home-made fruit chutney . We weren’t quite sure what was in it, as it hadn’t been labelled, but probably it was raisins, apples, pears and onions in cider vinegar and spices, to give you an idea of what you might use. Maybe a little wine if you have any opened bottles could find its way in there too.
Bring to a gentle simmer on the hob. Cover and place in a warm oven for 3 hours. You will need to check the meat every hour or so and turn it over. Someone turned the oven down at some point, so we ended up cooking the dish for nearer five hours but you will know your own oven best. Once the meat has cooked and softened, add small whole onions and return to the oven for another 45 minutes or so. Then add 50 grams of spelt (farro) per person, check seasoning, cook for another 30 minutes. If you don’t have spelt, then try barley.
Serve with carrots, Brussels sprout tops or any tender green cabbage. You can either take the casserole to the hob and steam the vegetables on top of the stew, or steam them separately.
You can eat this one pot meal as it is, or serve with some fabulous bread to mop up the rich citrussy juices. Watch out for the onions as they explode when you bite them!
If you want to reduce the fat content of this meal, (and mutton can be fatty if you are used to eating very lean meat) the best thing is to cook the meat the day before, and allow the whole dish to cool so that the fat can be taken off the top. Add the onions and the spelt (farro) the following day.