Monday, 11 February 2013

Trials of Dogs and Husbands - and a light but sophisticated supper ;-)


Quite often, we save our big meal for the evening on a Sunday and spend the day doing exciting things like shovelling horse manure into the allotment or moving greenhouses, but the weather was so foul this weekend that we couldn't think of anything to do outside except a particularly unpleasant dog walk for which (surprise surprise) there were no other takers (apart from the dog, of course). The dog couldn't care less whether it's wet or dry, grey, sunny, snowing - whatever. He doesn't do very well when it's very hot and slows down a fraction, but otherwise, well, as long as he's out and free: whoopee - he's a happy spaniel.

Yesterday as I tramped (or rather, sloshed) through the fields, and he frolicked ahead, I had one of those pivotal dog owning moments. The dog runs nose down following smells to wherever they may take him. One day he will run straight into something - a comedy tree, or concrete bollard randomly placed in the middle of a field but yesterday he hit a metaphorical pot of gold: fox sh*t. If you don't have much contact with dogs, this will be lost on you, but dog owners everywhere will sympathise when I tell you that even from 50ft away, I saw the look of ecstasy cross his face and through the gale, heard the sigh of contentment as he flopped, shoulder first, into the pile for a good old roll.

It's a measure of how far we've come, Fred and I, since the dogcatcher cake incident that he actually stopped, mid-shoulder rub, pulled himself together and (knock me down with a feather) - came back. Fortunately, that was at the beginning of the walk, and it was so wet that the rain actually rid him of the eau de reynard (sounds so much better in French) before we'd got home.

We ate our lunch and had a fun afternoon (actually, the kids had their mates round and built a better than Hot Wheels car run down the stairs using chopping boards with the aim of shooting the cars into the wellies by the back door rather than through the glass, while the Husband bemoaned the fact that he couldn't finish moving his greenhouse* and watched the rugby instead and I laid low and surfed the internet).
By the time the kids were in bed, the Husband was starting to feel hungry again. This is a problem with eating on a Sunday lunchtime rather than in the evening, especially when, like yesterday, the kids get their tea at a 'Messy Church' session that we go to once a month. I tend to forget that we might need to eat in the evening.

At the same time that I was staring into the abyss of the Sunday night fridge, the Husband decided to make like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and prepare some soup to feed us on Monday when we both work at home, using a haybox. If you don't know, the principle of haybox cookery is that you heat your food up to boiling and then transfer the pan to a well insulated box and cover it with an equally insulated lid and it cooks. While he was cluttering up the kitchen with the enormous polystyrene box he has somehow salvaged for this purpose, a great big enormous parsnip from the garden, plus (ridiculous to the sublime) his ipod Touch to access the 'app' which had provided him with the basic recipe for soup he was following, I was also trying to make like Hugh F-W, all be it in a more elegant, 'sophisticated light supper' way. The kind of thing the man himself might serve up in that gorgeous rustic kitchen of his...

I found mushrooms, leeks, some dill and a pot of double cream. Hugh would have been proud.

Sophisticated mushrooms on toast for 2

a little olive oil
250g button chestnut mushrooms (wiped if you can be bothered for that extra sophisticated touch)
2 leeks (thinly sliced)
double cream - perhaps 50 ml?
a tsp dijon mustard
some fronds of dill, finely chopped - to taste (frankly, in my case it was whatever I could salvage that wasn't only good for the compost bin)
salt & pepper 

slices of good sourdough bread (if you have it - and do please smite me for being smug), toasted - and possibly buttered.

Heat the oil gently in a small pan and sweat the leeks for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms and cook gently for ten minutes or so, stirring every now and then, till everything is smelling lovely. Add in the cream, the mustard and the dill, and stir together, still on the heat, for a few more minutes. grind in some salt and pepper, taste etc.

Serve on the toast. Feel sophisticated.


if you look closely, you can just see that it once held squash soup
*In fact, the Husband did progress the greenhouse project - he is in the process of constructing a heatsink which is something I am completely ignorant about despite him explaining it to me very slowly and clearly a couple of times. It involves pipes and rubble buried in the soil and a fan - and apparently my pseudo-tupperware. I am impervious to engineering, though, unless it's about cake or how to spatchcock a chicken, but so far this has involved him disembowelling a hard drive of an old PC for a fan, and inserting it into one of my valuable plastic tubs (valuable because he used one with a matching lid). The heatsink will somehow act as a heating system for the greenhouse by harnessing the sun's heat, but beyond that well - ask Brian Cox or someone who understands, to explain it to you. The Haybox soup was pretty good too.


  1. Loved reading this - the assorted random projects, green ikea tubs, experiments in haybox cookery (or in our case vacuum flask and camping stove cookery) all seemed very familiar! Glad to see other people are slightly crazy too... ;o)

    1. :-) slightly crazy is good - it has to be!

  2. I love that the lid of the Tupperware is like an archaeological dig of your past frozen suppers!

    1. Hey LoubyLou - all my tubs have messages of menus past scribbled on them!

  3. P.S. Toby wants to know if the heat-sink needs jump starting by a car?

    1. :-) - don't ask me! I'm sure he'll explain it to Toby over a beer sometime!

  4. You don't need a haybox you need a slow cooker!! (I made yogurt in mine the other day, I love my slow cooker).

    Anyway that mushroom on toast looks utterly yummy, I have been converted to leeks since trying The Hairy Bikers lasagne using leeks instead of pasta. Think I will try this on sweet potato rather than toast.

    1. Ah, but I have a slow cooker - this is the Husband cooking, not me!

  5. This looks seriously good- might try this for brunch this weekend


I LOVE comments - please leave one. Unfortunately, I have been getting hideous amounts of SPAM so please can you do the word verification thingy?