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.  

Sunday, 31 December 2017

New Years Eve

As we leave this old year behind, I wish everyone who visits WFVM, a very happy and peaceful 2018


'In the walled garden' 
illustration by granddaughter 'P'

Over the Christmas season our youngest Granddaughter 'R' has brought my attention to the excessive and increasing amount of Palm Oil that is being included in our diets along with many domestic items found in our shopping baskets.
As a result I aim to check all product labels carefully during the coming year to see what they contain. If they have Palm Oil in them, I will not purchase - you may be as surprised as I was at just how many items there are. The writing on the labels is tiny so I shall have to carry my little pocket magnifying glass which I use to identify silver hallmarks.
Palm Oil is a huge source of profits for multinational corporations, whilst at the same time destroying the livelihoods of smallholders. It causes the displacement of indigenous peoples, rainforest destruction and loss of wildlife; it is the main threat to the survivial of the orangutan population. These changes in our biodiversity are all the consequence of our palm oil consumption. 
Here are a few of the products which may have Palm Oil in them,  and that is why I shall be looking carefully at their labels

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Happy Christmas to you All

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun.
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Winter Wonderland







 Arrived safely at The White Hart Inn and enjoyed a tasty festive evening meal. After breakfast the following morning, we discovered that the snow was already in retreat from the High Street.


However, the countryside view at the back of the Inn told a very different story. 

 The roads were mostly clear for the return journey home, unlike the day before. Then we encountered several hazards - apart from snow on the roads, there were some abandoned vehicles and large fallen branches unable to take the weight of the snow.

I don't normally relish snowy weather, but this was exceptional for our area, and much enhanced by wonderful skies and brilliant sunshine. A pair of cosy boots, warm coat, scarves and gloves found us ready to enjoy a walk.
Back home the Christmas tree in the garden looked lovely. This was a tiny tree when purchased nearly 20 years ago.













The late afternoon sun created a wonderful finale to the day. It lit up the snow and ice covered branches which twinkled like thousands of fairylights.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Winter has arrived

Like a thief in the night winter slipped in quietly taking us by surprise. It is 5 years since we last saw snow on this hilltop, and never before so early.

 We have a pre-booked Christmas night away at an inn, fortunately not too far. The journey could be intrepid, but hopefully all will be well. Fingers crossed, see you again on our return. 
 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

To Be or Not to Be continued....

 The comments received on the previous post were very helpful - thank you.
 Some thought that we might be putting ourselves in a dangerous situation or be compromised by what we might see, but fortunately that was never an issue.
It was the ethical situation only that gave us concerns. However, several blogger friends rightly pointed out that across the ages there are many countries that have a less than perfect record concerning their human rights. I only have to read the history of my own country to know that is correct.
We will continue to mull over the situation until the New Year, and then we will make a decision. 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

To Be or Not to Be!

Are our codes of conduct decided as we journey through life, or are they instilled in us from childhood?
We personally are currently facing an ethical dilemma!
There is a country that we have talked about visiting for years, and now an opportunity has arisen. However, since making up our minds to go, the current regime is treating a section of the population in a way that makes our blood run cold.
Do we go or stay away
Of course there are two sides to this coin as many other people in this country rely solely on visitors for their livelihoods - cooks, cleaners, farmers, shops, drivers, guides.
If you have been faced with similar challenges what decision did you make? 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Pyclets (pikelets) - a Childhood Memory

In 1864 Mr. Monk opened a Crumpet and Pyclet Bakery in Derby. He and his sons baked whilst the women sold them from a barrow situated beneath the large entrance archway leading to Derby's Market Hall.
via 
Interior of the Market Hall
As a child, trips into town with my mother, usually ended with us visiting Monk's barrow to buy pyclets or crumpets for tea. Sometimes she purchased their oatcakes too, which are large and flat like a pancake, then heated for breakfast with a topping of crispy bacon and an egg.
 via
Until she died in 1963, Emily Monk sold pyclets "every day bar high days and holidays". The baton was then passed to Rose (pictured) who continued the tradition until 1974. A combination of the Oil Crisis and the growing rise of supermarkets spelt a lack of interest from the younger members of the Monk family and Derby Pyclets passed into history.

 I was in our local Waitrose shop and to my delight discovered that pyclets (pikelets in the shop) have recently been resurrected.
Pyclets and crumpets are similar, both are made on a gridle, but traditionally pyclets are made using buttermilk, they are thinner, lighter and airy.  Crumpets are much thicker, equally tasty and good, but normally made using sourdough.
Pyclets like crumpets are eaten toasted then topped simply with butter; they can also have either a savoury or a sweet topping. A drizzle of honey, a spoonful of conserve, or even some lemon curd. A savoury topping could be marmite, stilton cheese with chopped walnuts or maybe a slice of smoked salmon accompanied by a spoonful of horseradish and dill cream. The connotations are endless, they are very versatile, but you can use whatever happens to take your fancy.