High-fibre beef & lentil chilli

img_3479Happy new year to everyone. Rather late in the day, being half way through January, but the year already seems to be racing past at speed.

We are back in Cornwall after spending Christmas and the New Year looking after the most beautiful black labrador in the Cotswolds village of Bretforton, while her owners went off on holidays for a couple of weeks.

Thrown in with the deal was a velvety black rabbit called Bumbles – a comical, cantankerous, unpredictable, dish-hurling, naughty, affectionate little diva. After two weeks, we came to an understanding – she could nibble my jumper sleeves as long as she didn’t nibble my wrists, and I would provide her with an endless supply of brussels sprout tops, kale, cabbage and the occasional stick of celery.  That seemed to work. To be fair, the dish-hurling only happened twice – unfortunately this then involved me crawling into the pen on my hands and knees, Christmas-enhanced backside in the air, trying not to kneel on rabbit poo, in order to retrieve it. We’ve had more dignified assignments. Oddly enough, Robin left rabbit care to me, though I admit he more than made up for this by taking on responsibility for the early-morning dog walks.
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Hot and sour Thai noodle soup

IMG_3417Despite the mostly inclement weather, we’re enjoying being back in Cornwall, and it is especially novel not sharing our house with the plumbers, carpenters and electricians. We quite miss them though – they are a happy and helpful bunch – though we don’t miss the early morning start time. They were here last week finishing off a few bits and pieces, but I think that is everything now until the summer. Robin is muttering about ‘getting up the floor of the conservatory’ to install underfloor heating, as that is our only dining space and it can be parky at this time of year. Personally, I favour a large rug. The thought of having the floor up fills me with horror. I am hoping he will have forgotten about it by the summer. Continue reading “Hot and sour Thai noodle soup”

Fresh pea-pod soup

IMG_2808.jpgI’m having a mangetout crisis. More accurately, I am having a NOT-mangetout crisis. I bought a large bag of what I thought were mangetouts in the greengrocer, but, when I got them home, they turned out to be something that is somewhere between a mangetout and a fully-fledged pea.

When we attempted to eat them whole, they were entirely inedible – stringy, tough and really not very nice at all. And the peas inside are so tiny that they are not worth the effort of podding.

Hating to throw away perfectly fresh veg, I browsed the web for inspiration and found a few references to a Julia Child dish for pea-pod soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though I was unable to track down an actual recipe. I might start my own version of this book – something along the lines of Mastering the Art of Cooking Whatever You’ve Bought When You’re Not Wearing Your Specs.
Continue reading “Fresh pea-pod soup”

Roasted sweet potato & butternut squash soup (vegan)

IMG_2645.jpg‘Greetings from snowy Cornwall’ is not a phrase that is uttered very often – we don’t get a great deal of snow around these parts, what with our southerly latitude and the Gulf Stream being just slightly to the west of our garden. Unfortunately the warming influences of the North Atlantic Drift are being ever so slightly outdone by Storm Emma at the moment, and we are stranded at the top of a lethal sheet-ice hill, surrounded by several inches of snow.

Last week, we were cheerfully going about our daily walks without coats or gloves, admiring the primroses and camelias, and smugly congratulating ourselves on living in the part of the country where Spring arrives in February. No doubt the current Siberian conditions being experienced by pretty much all of Britain are our due punishment – sorry everyone. Continue reading “Roasted sweet potato & butternut squash soup (vegan)”

Chicken and sausage cassoulet

IMG_2608.jpgI just noticed that my last blog post was back in January for December’s Cookery Calendar Challenge, more than a month ago. Several things have got in the way of blog posting – we were away for ten days in January, looking after a family of Greek rescue cats in the Midlands while visiting various branches of the Tassell/Pearson family and now (I can hardly bring myself to say this) I AM ON A DIET. Yes, the dreaded ‘D Word’.

While we were in Warwickshire, I met up with my old school friend Carole, who was about to embark on the Slimming World programme. Last summer’s pasty frenzy left about 50% of my summer wardrobe rather too snug for comfort – painfully aware that I will be needing to wear it in a few weeks time when we get back to Turkey, I decided I would keep Carole company. Continue reading “Chicken and sausage cassoulet”

Steak & ale hotpot

IMG_2552.jpgHappy new year to everyone – it is so hard to believe that we are already half way through the first week of 2018, yet it seems like only last week that we left Turkey and returned to the mayhem that is our house in Cornwall.

We’ve had a couple of weeks off from our lovely builders, who will be here with their boots shined (and coffee mugs at the ready) towards the end of next week, ready to start on Phase 2. This involves knocking down a wall (eek) and installing a new RSJ (not necessarily in that order, I realise, no need to write in to let me know that my house is about to fall down). I shall be glad to avoid the accompanying mess by being away in the Midlands, visiting friends and family, and cat-sitting for the same trio of Greek cats that we looked after back in the summer. In return for providing Claridges-style five-star catering and door-opening services for the Grecian trio of whiskered musketeers, we get to stay in Rosie’s lovely home in a pretty village on the Warwicks/Northants border, which handily means we are minutes away from our family and friends. Continue reading “Steak & ale hotpot”

Oxtail & pearl barley soup, and The Cookery Calendar Challenge

Christmas appears to be almost upon us, though it will be a quiet event in our household this year. Last year we went to Prague, having spent much of 2016 to-ing and fro-ing to various distant bits of the world, so we promised ourselves a much quieter year in 2017. That didn’t exactly go to plan, what with buying and renovating a house in Cornwall and going backwards and forwards between here and Turkey, so we shall be very grateful not to have to shop for – and entertain – legions of guests, or to be cooking (or eating) mountains of rich food. We have friends coming for the new year, but we’re looking forward to spending the next few days builder-free, not doing chores and generally chilling out by the fire with a book. Continue reading “Oxtail & pearl barley soup, and The Cookery Calendar Challenge”

‘Creamy’ tomato & roasted red pepper soup (vegan)

IMG_2206.jpgWe are back home in Turkey and I have an entire kitchen at my disposal: working oven, tick; working hob, tick; fridge on the same floor – indeed in the same room – as the rest of the cooking facilities, tick. Food in the fridge? Errrrr, scratch that.

It has been unseasonably hot since we got back and I’ve failed yet to make a raid on the greengrocer – shopping has been limited to a quick skirmish in the supermarket on our way through town at the beginning of the week, with meals mainly scratched together from the various things our house guests left in the fridge. Continue reading “‘Creamy’ tomato & roasted red pepper soup (vegan)”

Italian-style tuna and bean stew

IMG_2192 croppedStill  no kitchen, but things are moving along. Today, the carpenters magically constructed our built-in seating area, which is exactly as I had pictured it in my head. I showed them a photo of the kind of thing I wanted and they built it to fit the space – the seats even lift up so that we can store our outside cushions beneath them. When it comes to anything that involves a drill or a screwdriver, shall we just say that it’s better if I just stick to making the coffee, and it always amazes me that people can just knock up something like this from some apparently random pieces of wood in the space of a few hours. Continue reading “Italian-style tuna and bean stew”

A view from my cupboard (and spicy tomato, kale and bean soup)

IMG_2117After weeks of raking around the UK, house-sitting for various moggies and doggies, and catching up with friends and families, we have finally moved in to our new house in Cornwall. I use the term ‘moved in’ very loosely. Our stuff has been delivered from storage and we are camping on the ground floor while the upper floor is gutted and made beautiful again. We hope so, anyway. Continue reading “A view from my cupboard (and spicy tomato, kale and bean soup)”