Saturday, 22 March 2014

Fridge Raider Veggie Soup

This is more of a "theory of soup" post than a recipe, but it's one of my favourite methods and seeing as it's grocery day tomorrow and I wanted to clear out the fridge, I thought I'd share some veggie soup with you.  This is what I had in the fridge:

A couple of carrots, a couple of parsnips, an improbably long leek (seriously, that bad boy was wider than the veggie drawer, had to bend it to get the fridge closed), half a swede (turnip, rutabaga, y'know the fat purpley-yellow one), and half a celeriac.  There was also half a red onion which I forgot to photograph, some Marigold Vegetable Stock, a splash of oil and some recently boiled water.  The oven was turned on to about 130C.

I used my big old Le Cruset casserole because it can go from the hob to the oven, and my stick blender won't scratch it.  So I heated up a little oil in there, roughly chopped the onion and chucked that in first.  Whilst that had a little sizzle, I peeled the rest of the veg and cut it into biggish chunks, chucking it into the pot as I went.  I totally remembered to turn the heat down a little after a while so the onion wouldn't get burnt (nods).

After the onion didn't burn, I poured in maybe half a kettle of water, finished off the veg, and added a couple of teaspoons of the stock powder and some salt & pepper.  The pot had come to the boil:

so I put the lid on and bunged it in the oven.

Now, this is the variable bit - you can cook it for as long as you like (the longer the better, I've found).  I've put this in at about 4pm, planning to eat it at 6ish, but if I needed it earlier I'd put the oven temp up a bit, if I had longer I'd just leave it in there (checking, and adding a little water or stock if it was drying out).  I usually turn the oven off about half an hour before I want to eat because the residual heat will keep it cooking for at least that long.

I'm a lazy sod, so I love my stick blender.  I took my casserole out and set it on a tea towel on the work surface over by the free plug so I could just blend away until I was happy with the consistency:

If you don't have one of these handy wee doofers, you really ought to let the soup cool a little and blend it in batches in a goblet blender.  I'd advise against a food processor - I've had soup go up inside the blade, down the spindle, and out through the bottom of the motor housing, which is not healthy for you or the machine in question!

So here it is - Fridge Raider Veggie Soup:

If you have some nice crusty bread, dunk it in!  I also like to dunk plain white sliced bread made into a sandwich with a thin slice of cheese.   Mmmmmm!

Other veg I'd chuck in would be celery (the leftover leafy bits are the best for soup) potatoes or swedes, and I have no worries about altering the ratio of the veg I use depending on what I've got left in the fridge.  It's also really good with cheese grated over the top, or crumbled in if it's my favourite Lancashire.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The path of least resistance.

Oh, I had plans!  I had things upon things I was going to get done over the last 7 days. 

I was going to parcel up and send off some yarn that a ravlery friend wants - I need to get to the post office to ask about the most efficient way to divide the weight of it, or whether I'd be better just sending it in one big package.  If I didn't have Little B with me, I could take some packing materials and spend twenty minutes at the post office sorting it out . . . but I've always got Little B so I put it off, and then it doesn't get done.

I finished my crocheted shawl from my previous post, so I was going to photograph it, and then block it and take more photos - there was going to be a whole blog post about how I planned it and put it together.  It was going to be a pretty one!  But to get some space to photograph it, I really ought to tidy up a little, and maybe I'd better hoover the living room and sort out the coffee table, and really that  bathroom needs cleaning too, and, and, and . . .

And double glazing company number 2 came again last Monday for a second look at the garage, and company number 3 (who where the no-shows week before last, I'm not sure about then at all) had a look around on Tuesday, and company number 1 came by again on Friday "just to remeasure because the new sales-chap who measured last time made such odd notes" . . . and I still have no firm figures to plan around . . . I did realise, however, that one of my neighbours owns (or is a director of, not sure!) a company which might be able to sort out the falling concrete from the edges of my tiled roof, so that might be a more reliable route to getting that job done at least.  I shall investigate!

One goal we did manage to achieve is that we've sold the motorbike, thank goodness!  It used to take Hubby to work, back when his commute took him over the Severn bridge twice a day.  It saved time and money for a good few years, but then he changed jobs, and it didn't get used at all any more.  It's impossible to arrive in a smart shirt and tie after travelling in an armoured bike jacket for any length of time!  So the Honda went on ebay and we've been nervously watching the price wobble up over the last seven days, to roughly what we thought it ought to have cost.  The buyer seems sensible, and he wants to pick it up next weekend, so that's a weight off our shoulders (and a big old bike out of our garage).

This week I've got one goal.  Get more stuff done.  Yep, that'll definitely work!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Current crafting!

My first blog post with pictures!  And the uploading process was easy!   Whoop!  Here goes . . .

I've been breastfeeding Little B through a chilly and gloomy winter, and when I got the chance to treat myself a couple of weeks ago (during a rare baby-free visit to the shops), I picked up a couple of balls of something pretty, and I knew just what I wanted.  Something to keep my neck warm!

So this is what I'm working on at the moment - it's a shawl based on motif 38 from Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman - I mapped out a plan for a fat crescent-ish shape made out of hexagons and am joining as I go in the ch3s and the picots in each corner, see?

 The yarn is rico creative reflection yarn in pastel, and I'm using a 5mm hook.  Isn't it lovely!  It has a lurex strand running through it, and has a lovely soft halo.  I'm finding it a little splitty, and the lurex seems determined to catch against the plastic crochet hook I'm using (I'll maybe use a wooden hook next time), but I think the results are worth it. 

I took these photos a couple of days ago when I still had a full ball of yarn to show how it looks in the ball vs in the garment - the first photo has one ball's worth of hexies already made.  I'm halfway around the last row of motifs now, another 6 hexies to go, and then I suspect the whole thing will benefit from a stern blocking to flatten out all the little points around the outside and open up those lovely oval-shaped holes in the negative space between the motifs.  I'm going to need a LOT of pins!

The dolls house I'm working on with Madam is still in it's infancy.  The largest box, which will be the main body of the house, has been divided into six rooms.  We've used kids shoe-boxes (from the local scrapstore, we didn't go on a shoe shopping spree!), and a couple of food packaging boxes to make the divisions, and to reinforce the whole structure.  We've been cutting spare corrugated cardboard to size and packing out the floors so we've got a flat surface to put the actual floor coverings on (that's what's being held down with the bulldog clips in the photo whilst the glue drys), and we'll do the same with the side walls soon.

Then I guess we'll have to have a think about doors, stairs, windows, wallpaper . . . not to mention the attic, garage, and stables which Madam is planning on adding on to the outside of this box.  I'm trying not to be too "in control" of this project.  Madam has a lot of her own ideas, and whilst I'd be happy to be noodling about with chintsy scrapbook papers and fancy shabby-chic style stuff (and it'd definitely end up looking lovely), that's not really the point of making stuff with your kids!  If we end up with orange furry walls, so be it!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A week of ups and downs.

We ran out of oil last weekend, so we had a pretty chilly start to the week.  I'm always reminded of just how lucky we are to have central heating most of the time, and to be able to switch to using portable fan heaters pretty darned easily if needs be.  

So we had a regime of keeping the living room warm most of the time, with the smaller fan heater warming the smaller areas as needs be - bathroom in the mornings, kitchen in the afternoon, bedrooms at night.  A minor hassle, and to be honest Little B seemed to appreciate the white noise.  Glad to get our delivery on Tuesday though, and to get life back to normal.

It is useful to know though, that when an oil website says 24/7 phone line, what they mean is that it still rings 24/7, but outside of office hours an answer phone picks up the call.

On Monday, completely coincidentally to the heating being off, I had two friends ask me to their houses.  The morning was spent with a friend who is learning to knit, chatting about random stuff and generally having a nice time.  She was ready to try purling, so I did my best to explain whilst holding a wriggly baby.  After ducking home for a quick sandwich lunch I went to another knitting friend's house for a chat and a nosey at her back garden studio, which was rather lovely and full of yarn and knitting machines. 

I am quite determined now to get this studio thing done, by hook or by crook, and hopefully not by cowboy!

The central heating on Monday gave me an excuse to put off Mr double glazing company number one, who I feared was hoping to push me into making a decision this week (he kept telling me about how it would be cheaper if we would boost his sales figures for this quarter) so I have rescheduled his re-measure for next week.  Company number two want to bring their surveyor out next week too, to look at the garage before they finalise their quote.  There was going to have been a company number three by now, but they didn't show up when they ought to have done on Thursday (and were very apologetic about it afterwards), but now they haven't phoned back to reschedule when they said they'd call.  I don't think they're going to be my number three anymore!

Husband is of the opinion that we ought to stop asking for quotes until we've done a major clear-out and tidy - the process of having sales-people in the house is not something he enjoys - but I fear that unless I have a deadline to get things done (by having a start date for the building work) things will just keep sliding.  I'm going to try to get through some cupboards this weekend anyway . . . but I'll maybe just continue with the search for the right contractors at the same time . . .

And the ups for the week?  Well on Friday Madam's school celebrated world book day, which was great fun.  I love seeing all the kids dressed up and smiling!  This year Madam went as the Little Skeleton from Funnybones, which was darned convenient seeing as she had a skeleton top from halloween.  I did not have the time or the inclination to sew a new costume with only a fortnight's notice!  What I have had the inclination to work on is my shawl - I'm making a join-as-you-go hexagon motif shawl using Rico Creative Reflection and a 5mm hook.  It's looking lush!  Seven more hexies to go and I'll be all done bar the blocking!  I've been taking photos as I go , and I'm hoping to write up a proper explanation of how I've put it together.

I've also been listening to the wisdom of Pinterest and have gotten myself some coconut oil which, having used it only for a couple of days, seems to be doing wonders for the eczema I've been suffering with on my hands since halfway through my pregnancy.  I definitely should have tried this earlier!  Oh well, I guess you live and you learn!