Lockdown Lentil Soup

Yeah I know, not exactly exciting to look at but hello, we’re in lockdown – nowhere much to go and nothing much to see! So here is a pictorial record of the making of yesterday’s lentil soup from the initial smoked ham hock boiling to make stock, chopped vegetables waiting to join the red lentils and seasoning already added to the stock, the basic soup before and after cooking, and a lovely hot bowlful ready to eat on a cold winter’s day.

And the best thing about it was – I really could taste it! After a month of Covid blandness it was such a relief to actually taste something properly again, and hopefully fingers crossed this is the start of my tastebuds functioning like real tastebuds once more. I’ve got used to the disappointment of being able to discern little more than salty or sweet or spicy, relying on texture rather than taste to bring any enjoyment to my eating.

I do appreciate that there seems to be no rhyme nor reason with Covid recovery, no standard straight-line progression from sick to well. It seems to be more of a two steps forward, one step back dance of discovery around some symptoms coming and going, ebbing and flowing, keeping you on your toes – it’s exhausting and perplexing and just so damned frustrating to not know from one day to the next how you’re going to be feeling.

But in the meantime, at least I enjoyed my soup! 🙂

Mango and Ginger Cake Dessert

After a week of warm sunny weather, it’s much cooler today and we’ve had nothing but rain all day today. Bummer. Good for the garden though.

I was sitting on the sofa tonight watching TV and I fancied something sweet to eat. I checked the fridge, but found nothing tempting there. I looked in the larder cupboard, and found nothing there to fit the bill either. So I decided to make something using store-cupboard ingredients.

I took a tin of mango in juice and chopped the fruit into bite-size chunks, laying them in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. I quickly mixed up some basic cake mixture and flavoured it with ginger powder, vanilla essence and a little of the mango juice from the tin. I poured the batter over the fruit and stuck it into the oven.

While the cake was baking, I boiled up the remaining juice from the mango tin with a slug of apple juice, a dash of sugar and some more ginger powder and reduced it until it made a thickish syrup. Once the cake came out of the oven I pricked it all over with a skewer, and poured the syrup over the top and left it to cool a little.

I didn’t leave it for too long though, and was soon tucking in to a substantial portion warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… and it was yum! Guess who has a big contented smile on her face now, as well as something sweet in her belly.

Nice yummy surprise for my husband when he gets home from work at 10pm too! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Chicken Soup for Lunch

Today I want soup for lunch, so here it is in the making.

Being an old-fashioned sort, I always have a bag of chicken bones squirreled away in the freezer, added to bit by bit as I go along until I have enough of a collection to boil up for a big pot of stock. And in turn the resulting chicken stock makes whatever I fancy at the time. Usually the base for soup, but sometimes a hearty stew or a risotto.

But as today I want soup, I’ve added a handful of oatmeal for thickening, a handful of pearl barley because I love the creamy conststency it makes, chopped garlic, onion, carrot and sweet potato, and seasoning to taste. For me today that means black pepper, a shake of chilli powder, and a good dose of mixed dried herbs, parsely, and of course bayleaf.

My soup needs to simmer gently for a couple of hours, and then about half an hour before I want to eat it, I’ll add a decent portion of frozen sweetcorn kernels to cook through – and then after warming through some crusty bread to go with it, we’ll enjoy some yummy soup for lunch! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Want

Cee’s Fun Foto: Sense of Taste

Tonight’s Dinner

Fandango’s One Word Challenge prompt today is dinner, so I’ve taken it literally and am sharing a pic of my dinner with you tonight. We’ve got oven-baked scampi, petit pois, and cheese-and-onion-stuffed baked potato. And after a busy day out in the garden again we’re eating on a tray in front of the TV.

Last night I baked four potatoes and we ate two fresh from the oven with chilli salmon, tomatoes and coleslaw – yum!

So tonight I took the two leftover cold baked potatoes and halved them lengthways. I then took a dessert spoon and carefully scooped out most of the flesh, keeping a very small layer of potato over the skins to create a perfect potato skin bowl. I mashed the cold potato with grated cheese, pre-fried onions and seasoning to taste before heaping the well-mixed filling back into the potato skins and sticking them in the oven again to heat through and crisp up.

It’s a great way to use leftover baked potato, and I make it with cheese and onion, with cheese and mushroom, or with cheese and bacon – I really love it done this way so will often bake extra beforehand just so I have leftovers! PS The scampi and peas came straight from freezer to oven and microwave respectively 🙂

Weekly Smile: Simmering Soup

What’s definitely made me smile today is a big pot of soup simmering away on the stove – the pink bit at the front is a smoked gammon joint, and the rest is diced onion, leek, carrot, and swede with seasoning to taste (including a bayleaf). It’s pouring with rain outside, and I can hear the wind buffeting the swaying branches of the trees in the garden, but I’m warm and dry in my cosy kitchen with the wonderful wholesome smell of soup cooking for dinner tonight – yum! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Leek and Tattie Soup

So here I am on a typically damp and dismal Scottish Saturday morning, with a pot of leek and tattie soup simmering away.

I’ve always loved cooking, but since moving back to the North of Scotland from the South of England four months ago I’ve been finding myself drawn back to the practical and economical dishes of my youth, traditional tastes of the past all suddenly clamouring for attention again in the creative culinary section of my middle-aged memory banks.

Mind you, living with my parents for the first ten weeks we were back in Scotland meant inevitably cooking only the sort of meals my dad can eat – he’s 83, with mobility issues after four strokes and memory issues with ongoing vascular demetia, so keeping to an easily-recognisable-to-him menu is an important part of his ongoing care. And at least he still has a good appetite and enjoys his food!

So I cooked (and we ate) a lot of soup – lentil, leek and tattie, Scotch broth – and variations on a theme of mince and tatties or stew and tatties, and stovies, often with fruit crumbles and custard or bread and butter pudding for afters – yum! And now we’re here in our own house, with a big enough kitchen to cook in comfortably, I’m continuing in the same vein a lot of the time, sticking to the heart-warming farmhouse cooking I grew up with.

It makes me smile to be hearing my paternal grandmother’s satisfied voice so loud and clear in my head ‘Aye, that’s fine soup – gings roon yer hert like a hairy wurrum’ (Goes round your heart like a hairy worm). She was a typical North-East-Coast farmer’s wife, and much of my knowledge of traditional cooking and baking has come from spending quality time with her as I was growing up.

Although sadly she’s long gone, it speaks volumes to her quiet, steady influence on me that not only do I still use today the culinary skills developed years ago by her side, but also I’ve taught my children those same skills, and now my grown-up children are teaching my grandchildren in their turn. Too many people are unable to cook from scratch these days, and I’m proud that generations of my family can make a meal out of traditional ingredients, then, now and on into the future… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Loud

Fruit Crumble

A chronological line up of pics showing a day in the life of two types of autumn fruits progressing from plant to plate 🙂

The fruit on mum and dad’s plum tree is ripening nicely just now, as are the brambles growing along the side of the road by the house. So the other day my husband picked some of both and I made them into one big fruit crumble.

After cooking in the oven I could see the fruit had been far juicier than I had anticipated so the end result didn’t look the best with all the juice soaking right up through the sugary cinnamony crumble topping but oh, the smell – and the taste – was absolutely delicious.

We had it hot with custard on the first day, then cold with vanilla ice cream the next… yum! 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Line Up