I’m not going to post a picture (you know what a smoothie looks like!) or make this a long drawn out post. I just had a smoothie containing a bit of fresh rhubarb from the garden and it was really delicious, so I thought I’d quickly jot down the ingredients.
Soya milk (maybe 2/3 pint?)
a small carrot (I like thick smoothies and carrots work really well to bulk them up and add extra vitamins – probably don’t work in a lower powered blender though)
a sliver of ginger (I’d frozen a box of these to add to smoothies, which works really well. They also grate into food more easily when frozen!)
about 3 frozen plums (I say “about” because they’d been sliced and were kind of lumped together)
1 Tbs flax seeds (optional, for omega 3 goodliness)
A section of rhubarb stick, about 5cm long? Not huge, but the stick was quite fat!
All that got blended up in my high-powered blender and made just over a pint. It was delicious, one of the nicest smoothies I’ve had for a while, not too sweet, not too sharp, a bit creamy from the soya milk and really fruity!
I’m not going out until later so there are no pictures of my sociable Saturday yet. Instead, here’s a soup I felt like making.
Sweet and Spicy Carrot Soup
(Probably serves about 4 as a starter)
150g chopped onions
2 tsps cooking oil
150g carrots, fairly finely sliced
35g dried apricots
500ml-ish water, divided
125ml hard cider – I used Weston’s Wyld Wood, which I got 3 litres of on special offer
100g cooked chickpeas
10-15g root ginger (depending on how gingery you like things!)
1 hot red chilli, de-seeded (optional – think this would still be nice without)
2 teaspoons bouillon powder
To garnish: Toasted flaked almonds
Chop onions and start frying them in the oil in a medium-large saucepan which you have a lid for.
Once they’re sizzling reduce the heat and leave while you slice the carrots up into thin rounds. Add those to the pan, turn the heat up and mix them up for a minute or two. Add half the water, and the bouillon powder, and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover with lid and simmer for a few minutes until the carrots start to soften, then turn off heat.
Put ginger, chilli, chickpeas, apricots, and cider into a blender, then strain the cooking liquid from the pan of carrots and onions into the blender container. If you like a completely smooth soup add all of the carrots and onions as well, but you might need some extra liquid. I wanted some texture so I only scooped half of the carrot-onion mix into the blender container. Blend until smooth then pour back into the saucepan. Add the other half of the water to the blender container and swoosh it around to get the rest of the blended stuff then add that to the saucepan too. Turn heat back on to gently reheat soup.
While waiting for the soup to re-heat, a quick and delicious crunchy garnish can be made by toasting some flaked almonds with seasoning of choice. I squirted my cast-iron frying pan with some Fry Light 1 cal sunflower spray, added a few drops of the liquid smoke I got from a rare visit to one of the few Whole Foods stores in the UK, and a dash of soya sauce for colour and flavour, then mixed them round on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until they started to brown and crunch up.
I probably don’t need to continue with the instructions, really! Put your soup in a bowl, top with some of the almonds, and enjoy!
Possibly due to the changing of the seasons a large number of people where I work seem to have come down with cold or sore throat type ailments. Sadly, I am included in the crowd of malady sufferers, though infuriatingly it’s not been bad enough for me to be able to take a sick day, rather I have a low-level sore throat and sniffle going on, and sneeze now and then for good measure.
Whenever illness strikes I, like many others, take comfort in a warm cupful of something. My daytime choice is a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of Marigold bouillon powder (I’ve mentioned this stuff before, because I have a massive tub of it. I’ve been known to enjoy Kallo brand as well, although it’s irritating that not all of their tubs are vegan.) and about half a teaspoon of dried ginger powder.
Because I have the humungous container of powder I’ve been able to transfer a few spoonfuls to a little jar to add to my stash at work. Not pictured: the remains of 100g bag of ginger I’m still trying to make progress on before its use-by at the end of next month.
Second in my line-up of soothing mugstuffs is a simple, comforting drink made from apple juice, hot water and cinnamon. It’s nice and easy, perfect if you’re not feeling too hot as it requires half a mugful of boiling water to be poured over a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon, then the mug topped up with apple juice and a good stir with a teaspoon. I can’t think of a more comforting drink, with the possible exception of my final suggestion.
Last on the list, for when feeling ghastly and in need of a soothing cheer – make up a packet of vegetarian jelly crystals, strawberry for preference, with the requisite pint of water. Then fill a mug or bowl with some of the mixture, get a soup spoon and start dipping it out in spoonfuls and just wait for it to start setting in the spoon. As soon as a jiggly skin starts to form, down the hatch! It’ll still be a bit warm, and brilliantly comforting to a sore or scratchy throat.
If none of these suggestions tickles your fancy (perhaps you are feeling particularly fit and well at the moment. Good for you!) I leave you with a picture of something I saw in a skip earlier today…
On Tuesday I posted my whole ginger beer recipe, but in reality I had only got up to the ‘leaving it in a big container for a while’ stage. Yesterday I sieved out all the ginger-chilli-lemon-zest, set the pulp aside, bottled the ginger beer up, and it’s been building up pressure nicely in the bottles.
So I’m going to go back to that bit where you have your drinks bottles and pour them 3/4 full (actually, you might want to make it 2/3 full even, depending how many bottles you have spare). Your squeezed bottles should look like this:
(only you probably want less blurry bottles!) Leave them for a few hours in a moderately warm place, and you should come back to find them looking something like this:
You can now unscrew the cap a little bit, squeeze out all the air and make them look like the first picture again. If you’ve left them for long enough that the yeast has been fermenting wildly, be careful how you open the bottles, as they do tend to fizz up quite a bit!
I generally give them an extra 24 hours to ferment in the bottles before refrigerating and probably relieve the pressure 3-4 times during that period.
(Alternatively, if you want to leave them for a while to ferment out of the fridge and won’t be around to relieve the pressure, you can get a bit of plastic sheet (e.g. a section cut from a zip lock bag, make sure it’s clean), wrap that over the top, and then secure it with a couple of rubber bands (2 in case one breaks). The rubber bands expand to let the gas out, but vinegar flies (which you always want to avoid when you’re making alcohol, unless you want vinegar instead), and mould and other undesirable additions cannot get in.)
A sieving doesn’t get all the bits of ginger and solids from the mix, so a sediment will start to form in the base of the bottles. If this bothers you, you can get some more clean bottles and carefully pour your ginger beer off the sediment or even rack it off if you want to be fancy! http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Racking has a good explanation. If you don’t want fuss and don’t mind the possibility of a slightly cloudy drink, just pour it carefully, trying not to disturb it too much, as you would a bottle-conditioned beer. You could also have lined your sieve with cheesecloth to get out more solids, although you’ll still get yeast sinking to the bottom even then.
Ah, solids… remember the ginger-lemon-chilli pulp set aside earlier? Well, you could dispose of this by composting it or something, but there’s still life in the gunk, if you care to use it! After I’d finished bottling yesterday, I decided to make bread. There’s still live yeast in the stuff that’s been set aside that is perfectly adequate to raise a loaf. I also had half a can of chestnut puree left to use up so I got some plain flour (320g, but that was the only thing I weighed, sorry! I only weighed it to get an idea of how much liquid to add, but in the end I didn’t need any because the pulp and puree added enough), added in the pulp, the chestnut puree, a handful of sultanas, a spoonful of blackstrap molasses, a pinch of salt, and some oat flour and rolled oats for texture and heartiness. This combination resulted in a delicious loaf! Not very sweet, but perfect for breakfast toast. Unfortunately the chestnut puree made it a bit on the brown side, so it’s not the most photogenic of loaves, but it really was very pleasant indeed! The white specks are oats, in case you were wondering.