Sunday, 15 January 2012

Soup and other disasters

When I was growing up, soup was a fact of life, not necessarily a particularly pleasant one, and it never came from a recipe. Soup used to evolve, and I think I may have commented to this effect before. Stock from a Sunday joint would be made into a fresh pot of soup, using up whatever veg was around, and would be eaten and added to throughout the next week – and beyond. As with other things, it is true to say that I absorbed this method of soup by osmosis. Soup made in this way can be delicious and it can be awful, but it was just how it was, and I’ve only recently really discovered that following a recipe can turn soup into something that’s really something to look forward to, rather than a convenient way of using up the sad and limp veg left towards the end of the week.

I’ve got a recipe for quick tomato soup which the children love, but soup hasn’t really featured highly on their list of favourite things to eat – possibly because of the approach I have previously taken to soup making. I recently discovered Sarah Raven’s mushroom soup as a means of cooking the results of one of the Husband’s foraging expeditions. I’ve also used it just for shop bought mushrooms, and very good it is too. Being that it’s winter, and cold, and soup is a great weekend lunch, I have decided to engage my quest for Veg (nearly Everyday), as a means to campaign for more soup eating, particularly as far as Blue and Pink are concerned. It also occurred to me that if I make a big pot of soup on a Friday night, it means that lunch is ready for Saturday, and I can freeze some in convenient plastic containers for the Husband to take to work with him for lunch. Anything that reduces the need for faffing around with packed lunches on a weekday morning has to be good in my book.

So first off, this weekend, Fennel & Celeriac soup with Orange Zest. There’s no magic in how it’s made – 3 fennel bulbs and some celeriac, plus the grated zest of an orange. Unfortunately, when I was making the shopping list, I forgot about the oranges, so it was just Fennel & Celeriac soup, but it was very good indeed. We had it for lunch on Saturday. Blue loved it and Pink ate what I’d given her. It’s a bit strange that she is my veg eater (as opposed to Blue who is less keen on veg but will eat fruit till it comes out of his ears) but isn’t great with veg in soup. Anyway, the rule is that they have to try, and it’s working well. This approach has meant that Blue in particular has eaten much more variety in the way of veg than I would have expected previously.

Saturday was a big veg day. The Husband and Pink went into Town on Saturday afternoon leaving Blue and I to prepare a curry feast, using Veg Everyday. In the end we did the cauliflower and chickpea curry and dahl along with more flatbreads. The curry was dead easy as was the dhal and the results were really delicious. The dahl in particular was really tasty and both kids scoffed it down. I have to say that I didn’t put any chilli in the curry, to cater for the kids, but it was fine without it. Perhaps this counts as wimping out, but I’d rather they got used to the flavours without being put off by something that was too hot. Blue made the flatbread dough pretty much on his own, but despite my intentions, in the end I did all the rolling out – by the time it was dinner time, I just wanted to get it on the table. We did the garlic oil to be drizzled over the flatbreads too and this was a great addition, although we would have floored any number of vampires by the end of it.

Spurred on by my success with Dab Lepard’s white bread earlier last week, I decided to make some of his wholemeal. I’ve long since given up making wholemeal bread – at most I’ll do half and half – because it’s just not great bread. But I was feeling confident, sure that if I followed Dan, all would be well. I’m afraid that my first attempt has not been a success. Just as brick like as ever. I’m sure I did everything as the recipe stated, but perhaps not. I was feeling slightly downhearted, (particularly as the alchemists chocolate cake I made on Friday turned out rather dense in the end – lovely but dense. Perhaps 2 large eggs does not equal 3 medium... Still, nothing a melted slab of green and blacks drizzled over the top can’t fix), and had to leave the rising loaf of honey and multiseed bread in the anxious hands of the Husband while I went out to babysit for a friend. It uses the half sponge method and also uses a kind of porridge of oats, seeds and honey. While I was out, the Husband texted me: “I’m worried about the bread”. “Just follow the instructions in the recipe” “But there are options” he said. “Feel the fear” I texted back – with hindsight, rather cruelly. The boy did good, though. The wholemeal may have been a disaster, but my faith is restored by the honey and multiseed loaf, and as I type, Pink and I are waiting for our ‘Toll House YoYos’  (a Dan biscuit) to bake – to be sandwiched together with a vanilla icing. Smelling good, and perhaps even better than custard creams...

****STOP PRESS****
the yoyos are ready...

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