Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Recipe: Carrot and vegetable soup with ginger

Recently I had a craving for carrot soup. I'm not exactly sure why that came to mind, but when writing out the weekly meal plan I remembered that I had some carrots that needed to be used and a sweet potato that wasn't looking as lovely as it could. When doing the grocery shopping, pumpkin was on sale, and so I decided that a carrot and other orange-vegetable soup would be delicious.
I made it up as I went along but it turned out rather nicely - it's pretty hard to mess up soup! The ginger added a nice kick. Mr Fork thought I was a bit heavy on the seasonings, but I personally enjoyed it as is. It's the sort of thing you can play with and tweak to your own tastes, and was delicious served with some fresh out of the oven ciabatta bread on the side.

Carrot and vegetable soup with ginger

Ingredients:
  • 1 onion, diced
  • generous knob of ginger, finely sliced
  • 4 medium carrots, skin on, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 400g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, turmeric and curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Put a generous lug of olive oil into a saucepan and add onion. Sauté until softened.
  2. Combine carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, ginger, spices and stock with the onion. Bring the mix to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer it all until the vegetables are soft (about 15 minutes).
  3. Blend to your desired consistency.
  4. Return to the heat and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Serve with chopped coriander, parsley or shallots.
Notes:
  • I was shelling some for Jimmy, so I also added some edamame beans to my bowl before serving. They sunk to the bottom so you can't see them in any photos, but I liked them in the soup, and they added some texture.
  • The seasoning is very versatile. Add more or less, or change it up to suit your tastes. I think it would be good adding some chilli in as well, but my children aren't good with too much spice yet.
  • It was particularly good with some fresh bread on the side to help wipe the bowl clean at the end.
  • I'm a big believer in not having food go to waste, so the next night, I added the soup leftovers to a creamy sauce I was making for a macaroni pasta bake. Excuse the terrible lighting, but it turned out beautifully.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What's in my kitchen, August 2016

Although our usual hostess Maureen is not formally hosting the IMK event while she focuses on getting well, I'm still putting up a (late) post. I know that I've let my blog post frequency slip of late, but reading (and writing my own) kitchen posts really is something that I look forward to each month. It seems that the year is just flying by. Where did July go? How is it August already? With that said though, bring on Spring! If I'm honest, the weather in Brisbane has been unseasonably warm for Winter so it's almost as though Spring is here. Some of my colleagues from Melbourne were up recently and they were happily walking around in short sleeves and soaking up the sun while I was shivering in tights and a trench coat. It's what you're used to I guess!

The 'cold' weather has been playing havoc with my sourdoughs lately (hence the lack of posting results online) but I am discovering other things that I can ferment...

In my kitchen is...

The beginnings of kombucha and a weird looking scoby. I recently attended a food fermentation workshop and came away inspired to have a go at making my own kombucha. While I'm a little grossed out at the way scobys look, I can't deny that I like to drink the results, and so I decided to give it a go. The workshop included a bottle of kombucha to take home, so I drank most of it and then used the last of it to start a scoby off. The first picture was taken a few days after I made up the jar of sweet tea, and the second picture is perhaps two weeks later. Probably could have given the jar a clean before I took the photos though...

I have since bottled my first batch, and the second is well on it's way to being ready. I still think it looks horrid, but I can get past that. Mr Fork despairs that I'm taking up significant kitchen bench space with all of my food projects, but I think home made deliciousness is worth it! 
In my kitchen is...

A new dishwasher. Our old one finally just gave up. We couldn't repair it anymore and all of the tweaks and love that Mr Fork tried to give it didn't work either. I think it had a good run - it was in the house when we bought it, and I'd estimate it's age at about 12 years, so that's pretty good for something used with frightening regularity (frightening because we go through an astounding amount of dishes here).

We procrastinated about replacing it as I wasn't sure I really wanted another one, but I'm happy to give up having to hand wash everything (see previous frightening amount of dishes comment), and it's quite exciting to have a new appliance. I'd thought that dishwashers were a standard size, but turns out there are small variations. This one was a mm or so too small for our existing space, but Mr Fork was able to take off part of the top cabinetry to make it fit. It's only obvious from the angle that I've taken this picture from, otherwise you don't see the gap.
In my kitchen is...

Cashew and dill cheese. I'm always excited to support local companies, and Peace Love and Vegetables from Byron Bay tick loads of boxes for me with their ethos, products and general way of doing business sustainably.

I haven't tried many commercial non-dairy cheeses, but this is so dangerously more-ish. It was good as a dip with vegetables, spread on a sandwich and even eaten by the spoonful. It was creamy and just really, really good. It wasn't cheap, so it's not something that I'd have very often, but for a treat and an occasional luxury, it's definitely something I'd get again.
In my kitchen is...

Again from the Peace Love and Vegetables company is a jar of sauerkraut. It was another attendee bonus from the fermentation workshop, and I've been adding it to just about everything in small amounts. It's a mild tasting kraut, and I've not found much that it doesn't go with. It's even quite nice and not too overpowering on it's own. When I've finished this - quite large - jar I'm well convinced that I'd have great fun mashing cabbage and salt about to make my own sauerkraut too. Stay tuned for that adventure :)
In my kitchen is...

A Costco find, a large box of vegan felafel sausages. While it's quite odd to me to have felafel in anything but ball form, I can't deny that it's super handy to have this sort of product on hand. One of the first things that I do after a Costco shop is to divide the large packages into normal portions. These sausages are now packaged in pairs in the freezer. I find them quite tasty - not too dry and certainly flavourful.

They were great for a quick meal of hotdogs one night. Mr Fork had meat dogs, and we made a variety of sides to share - sliced mushrooms fried up, sliced onions just on the cusp of being burnt (Mr Fork's favourite way of eating them), cheese, sauerkraut, tomato sauce, mustard. Everything was put in the middle of the table so that we could all make hot dogs to suit own personal tastes. Dinner win all around!

There is no official link up for the In My Kitchen this month, so I'm just going to throw it out there to all... what's going on in your kitchen this month?

Monday, August 1, 2016

How does your garden grow, August 2016

It's been awhile since a garden update, so one is long overdue I'm sure. Although it is still technically winter, my garden is very confused this season. Brisbane winter has ranged from the occasional single digit temperature up to almost 30 degrees, so it's no wonder my garden doesn't know what it's doing. Despite the confusion, there is a range of things happily growing away.

I've got some seriously prolific parsley happening (actually it's still the same plant from a year ago!). No matter how much I use, it just seems to keep on growing. The plants have huge stems and are spreading across almost half a garden bed. I keep thinking about cutting it back, but it's not woody, and it's pretty healthy looking, so I'll just continue eating parsley with everything! Perhaps another batch of parsley pesto is on the cards.

My in laws gifted me a couple of their hot chillies after I admired them at family dinner one time. I saved some seeds and planted them, and this hardy plant was the result. The chillies are lovely and spicy, and as you can see from the picture, despite being fenced off, the chickens also like them, and find a way to eat all the leaves they can reach. This plant is a great producer and I've been so time poor lately that I haven't been using all the fruit and sadly some has been left to dry on the bush. Probably it will self seed and I'll be overrun with chillies soon, which won't be a bad thing I'm sure!

Coriander shoots from seeds I'd saved from a particularly tasty plant have come up. They're looking lovely and healthy, and I've been sure to plant these far enough from the fence that they're definitely out of the chicken's reach. I love coriander on everything so I'll be pleased to have a source of it close by and on demand.

My eggplants continue to flower away. They're such lovely little flowers. I haven't had much fruit from the plants this year; I'm unsure if they're just not loved enough, or perhaps the weather has had a hand in it. I'm hoping these flowers will turn to fruit though, even though the weather is heating up significantly.

I threw a few bok choi seeds that I'd saved from last year's plants into the garden and had quite a few of them take. I snip the leaves as I need them, similar to lettuce, but it seems that something else in the garden is also a fan!

My little rough leaf pineapple plant looks to be sprouting a new pineapple. At the rate they grow, this one might be ready by Christmas. I used to have a lovely collection of pineapple plants, but the chickens got to all but this one, probably because it's tucked safely into a pot. Sometimes, laziness does pay off then (that, and those leaves are deadly and I decided it was happy where it was and I didn't need to unnecessarily cut my hands to shreds for no good reason).

My lime tree is covered in blossoms, new leaf growth, and what I suspect might be scale with those yellow leaves. Of all my citrus, the lime is the happiest, and is the only one that has ever given me any fruit. Perhaps my soil isn't suited for fruit trees in that location, but I remain ever hopeful.

My geranium has lots of little flower buds appearing. The trick will be convincing my children to let them bloom on the plant instead of plucking them at the first hint of colour as they're sure that mama needs flowers all the time.

Still to do:

  • I need to pay some more attention to my compost heap and start preparing my garden beds for the change in season.
  • I have grand plans to move around some of the front garden to make a feature section and tidy up the path. I keep putting it off as it's quite labour intensive and I can't decide exactly how I want it to end up yet though.
  • I have some lovely heirloom tomato seeds I've been gifted so I'll have to start thinking about when and where to plant those beauties.
How does your garden grow lately? Is it confused like mine, or producing as expected? Any tips for getting rid of citrus scale naturally?

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