Sunday 28 January 2018

Spick and Span

 "A most terribly tidy little mouse always sweeping and dusting the floors" so wrote Beatrix Potter in her book The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse.
Well! I have to admit that for the past three weeks I too have been similarly engaged having turned the house upside down and given it a good shake, but a helper in the form of Mrs. Tittlemouse would not have gone amiss. Apart from cleaning, some decluttering has been completed along with the purchase of new mattresses and some smart storage. Having now almost finished the house my thoughts have been turning to what this year might hold.
During 2017 we had decided that a trip to Myanmar (Burma) was on the cards for 2018, a country that we had been contemplating visiting for some time. Subsequently though, and as a result of the horrific treatment inflicted on the ethnic minority Rohingya people of Myanmar by the Burmese military, we began to question our intentions. Nobody has any particular interest in whether or not we condone the treatment meted out to these people, but our consciences are quite another matter. After much consideration, we have decided not to do the proposed visit, and are turning our sights elsewhere. There are so many alternatives - countries filled with wonderful landscapes, nature, architecture and cultures for us to explore and learn about. Currently we favour the month of May, and with luck, will hopefully have an alternative trip organised within the next few days.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Winter Vegetable Soup with a Difference

A glut of vegetables at this time of year equals soup to us, but to make it more interesting I delved into my hoard of 'eastern promises'.
Use whatever vegetables you have or fancy - I used 2 white potatoes, 1 sweet potato, and 1 large carrot - all of which I par cooked keeping back their cooking liquid to add to some vegetable bullion for stock. Whilst they were cooking I chopped 2 red onions and 3 shallots, crushed 3 cloves of garlic and then cooked them in a little rapeseed oil. Once they became translucent I added 1 chopped fresh green chili, some chopped red pepper, some freshly grated ginger root, and then topped it all off with 3 sticks of chopped celery. To this mix add a small teaspoon of turmeric, a generous grating of nutmeg, some ground black pepper, a small amount of crushed sea salt, a little chili powder, and the juice of 1 lime
Combine the root vegetables along with the stock to the onions and then add a 400g can of coconut milk. The thick creamed coconut tends to sit at the top of the can and it is best to spoon this out first letting it slowly melt and blend into the vegetables before finally adding the coconut liquid. All of this was then placed in my Slow cooker and left for several hours, but cook by whatever means you prefer

I wanted to keep some of the texture rather than making it completely smooth so before serving I used my potato crusher to gently reduce the large lumps of potato etc. 
Serve with chopped parsley and a spoonful of Crème Fraîche - suitable for vegetarians but omit Crème Fraîche for vegans.
The addition of the coconut milk, fresh root ginger, lime juice, fresh chilli and additional spices lifts the humble vegetable soup to another level.  

Saturday 13 January 2018

Answer to the Quiz

I am fond of my antique nutmeg grater which considering it is over 200 years old is in lovely condition. The screw thread attaching the top to the  bottom works like a dream, and the little grater held in place by a circle of bone or ivory also screws perfectly into the base which in turn holds one whole nutmeg. I have contemplated who the first owner might have been and it is most likely to have been a Georgian gentleman. He would have carried it in his coat or waistcoat pocket on a daily basis so that he could freshly grate some nutmeg on top of his mulled wine or food. Nutmeg became a very desirable c17th ingredient consumed medicinally and also as a culinary delight. During the plague demand was at an all time high as it was believed to offer protection!
My small nutmeg grater was skillfully carved from a cocquilla nut being the fruit of a Brazilian palm - these small articles made from Cocquilla nuts and different hard woods are known in the antique trade as 'treen'.
Eight people answered that it was a nutmeg grater, and some also correctly knew that it was 200 years old and carved from a Cocquilla nut. In the order that they came in and well done to you all, but also thanks to everyone else who gave it a try:-
1. Jim - Road to Parnassus
2.Mary  - A Breath of Fresh Air 
3.Polly  - Olive and Pru
6. Annie - Back to Bodrum
7. Catherine - Kilmouski and Me 
8. Mariette -  Mariette's Back to Basics 

Sunday 7 January 2018

A Quiz to start off 2018

It is some time since I did a quiz. As usual I have turned 'Comments Moderation' on. Any correct answers will be held back until I post the result so that everyone has an equal chance.
match shown only to indicate scale
This object, resembling an acorn, sits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
1. How old is it?
2. What is it made out of?
3. What is it used for? - this is the main question requiring an answer.