Where growing, making & good living come together


Posted by on Thursday 4 October 2012 in cooking | 3 comments

In an effort to get back into the habit of blogging regularly, I’m taking part in Blogtoberfest 2012 – at least one post a day on at least one of my blogs (full list of the posts).

I had to do something with all that great smelling stock, so today has been a batch soup making day.

We’ve got chicken, carrot and ginger at the front, all pureed up and ready to go, and still a bubbling away George’s Marvelous Medicine type tomato/pepper/beany soup at the back.

The former is one of my favourite winter warmer soups because of the heat of the ginger but also because the carrot keeps the soup at lava temperatures for ages (useful on particularly cold days!). I know it’s not quite winter yet and today was actually a really nice autumn day here, but the start of soup season is mentally if not physically upon us here, and what the hey, it’s just yummy ;)

The latter is a particularly special concoction because while I was picking some of the key beany ingredients I couldn’t find the can open so had to use whatever beans can in a ring-pull can… It’s packed with cumin and chilli too though, so I’m sure it’ll be fine!

Have you been soup-ing recently?

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The best smelling chicken stock I’ve ever made*

Posted by on Wednesday 3 October 2012 in cooking | 5 comments

* Well, you know, one of them. I don’t remember them all exactly but this one smells gooooooooood.

Hi again. It’s been a while since I blogged – too long – I hope you’re all well.

I’m taking part in Blogtoberfest 2012 to try to get back into the habit of blogging regularly – the idea is to blog every day, at least once a day. I’m spreading my efforts across this site, How Can I Recycle This? and my somewhat geeky only-of-interest-to-my-mum personal blog to make it easier on myself (but I’m keeping a list of all my Blogtoberfest posts to make sure I do one a day!).

ANYWAY. The chicken stock. The last chicken stock I made in my new-ish big slow cooker was a bit lacklustre so I’ve been saving the carcasses from our Swillington Farm chickens in the freezer to make a mega-stock – and this is it.

After roasting the carcasses alongside our dinner last night, they went in the slow cooker and the smell of it cooking made me drool. This morning, I separated it out and it smelled even better. It’s a bit fatty at this stage but I’ll skim it before I use it. As well as making stock, I also made some fluffy friends – Lily-dog got the chunks of carrot from the stock and she & the cats also got bits of chicken too tough for our soup :)

The bestest bit is that Swillington Farm birds are so huge that not all my carcasses would fit the pot in one go so I’ve got a second load on now – more yummy aromas! (The last bird we got from Swillington was over 3kg/6lbs 6 – each breast alone weighed 400g/14oz! Massive!)

The first lot was spiced with coriander seeds, black peppercorns, a garlic clove and some chunks of galangal. This one is second one is black peppercorns, szechuan peppercorns and galangal. I’m not exactly sure what either batch will be used for but, since it’s us, it’s likely to be something spicy/gingery/peppery so these should work either way.

What spices/flavours do you use in your chicken (or other) stock?

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Ten minute chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Posted by on Tuesday 13 September 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 1 comment

I wrote this back in August but it didn’t post for some reason. Now that soup season has properly started, we’re less interested in light soups – we want warming stodge! – but it’s still yummy :)

I usually make hearty, wintery soups but since it is technically summer at the moment, we’ve wanted lighter broths for our lunches. This chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup fits the bill nicely – not a giant overwhelming flavour bomb on our tastebuds but fresh & light, filling us up without the need for bread.

I make this whenever we’ve got some spare chicken stock – it’s a useful, quick lunch for us. If I’m thinking ahead, I put some vaguely suitable flavours in the stock – for example, extra black peppercorns, coriander seeds and galangal.

Quick chicken & sweetcorn noodle soup recipe

Serves 4 as a lunch

1.5ltrs of fresh chicken stock
150-200g-ish of chicken (either the already cooked bits stripped from the chicken carcass or a chicken breast)
A green pepper, finely diced
About 250-300g-ish of sweetcorn kernels
Pinch of chilli flakes/half a fresh chilli, very finely sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp of honey

A nest of egg noodles (or pack of ramen noodles)
1 tbsp of cornflour, mixed into runny paste with a little water
1-2 eggs, whisked together in a bowl
Black pepper (to taste – but a fair bit)
Salt (to taste)

Optional extras to serve
Rounds of fresh chilli
Rounds of spring onion
Coriander leaves

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Spicy onion soup recipe

Posted by on Wednesday 31 August 2011 in cooking, recipes | 10 comments

One of my fellow drama tutors, Kat, lives off cup-a-soups — she’s 19 and working about five different jobs so she can afford to desert us in a couple of weeks and go to drama school in that London. She’s always rushing from this job to that rehearsal and that’s where the cup-a-soups come in handy. Most of the time I have no reaction to them but the smell of the French onion soup one makes me CRAVE onion soup.

Thankfully onion soup is a fun soup to make — not quick but still easy and frugal. I used to make a (veggie but otherwise) strict version of Delia’s but as with many things I cook, it’s evolved over the years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my onion soup is now a little spicy. I do like my spice. Feel free to skip the chilli if you don’t like it hot – but the garam masala adds more flavour that heat, so do still use that.

I definitely recommend using a variety of onions if you can – include red onions for sweetness and colour. I used all boring white onions for the version pictured below because I got a big sack of them on a Ramadan special offer last week – I compensated by adding a little more sugar.

It takes a least an hour to make – half an hour for browning the onions then another half hour or so at the soup stage – but the slower the better really. A restaurant in Leeds used to make a 24 hour onion soup – talk about commitment! If I’m cooking other things at the same time, I’ll try for an hour for the browning then another hour at the soup stage but if I’m making it for lunch, it’s closer to an hour. Either way, the house smells GREAT. :)

Spicy onion soup

Makes about four portions
Costs about £1.20-1.50 in total, so between 30-40p a portion

500g onions
25g of butter
Two cloves of garlic, minced
1 chilli, finely chopped, or 2 if you want it properly hot
1-2 tsp of light brown sugar
1tbsp plain flour (optional)
1.5 litres of hot veg stock
1/2 tsp of garam masala
2-3 bay leaves
1tsp of worchestershire sauce


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Quick tomato soup with chorizo and beans (recipe)

Posted by on Tuesday 31 May 2011 in cooking, Featured, recipes | 3 comments

A common tip for people trying to eat less meat for frugal, health or environmental reasons is to use meat as a flavour not as an ingredient to add volume/bulk to the meal. I love chorizo for this purpose – the smallest pieces provide plenty of flavour. This soup doesn’t taste like a slice of neat chorizo, but the sausage adds a lot of depth to what is otherwise a pretty basic tomato soup.

Like our spicy tomato and lentil soup, this is a quicky and aside from the chorizo, is made from standard store-cupboard ingredients – so is a great last minute lunch soup. It’s not quite as frugal as the lentil one (because of the chorizo) but it’s still pretty cheap for something so easy and tasty :)

Quick tomato, chorizo and bean soup recipe

Makes 4-5 good lunch sized portions
Costs about £2 in total, or 50p a portion (would be cheaper using dried beans, they just need rehydrating first)

Splash of olive oil
An onion, finely chopped
A clove of garlic, minced
Chorizo – about 50g finely chopped or 10 pre-sliced slices chopped/torn up
A can of chopped tomatoes
About 300g (drained weight) pinto or borlotti beans
A litre of hot vegetable stock
3 tbsp of tomato puree
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional!)

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