Monday, June 28, 2010

Stone Soup

A cold miserable day today so what better than a nice bowl of piping hot soup for lunch, and what better than my favourite, “Stone Soup”. This is made using the traditional family soup stone, part of my inheritance from Granny. Granny was a master cook who had served, in her youth, in  the kitchen of “His Lordship” in County Derry, Ireland, (the old country) back in the olden days. The stone has been in the family for generations and I believe may have been a leftover from when Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway. I can't show you a photo of the rock (family secret don't you know) but here's a pic of the box we keep it in.

Rock on.
Usually it's just rock in the pot, a bit of salt and pepper, simmer till done. But sometimes a bit of variation is nice and since I had a bit of stock made from the carcasses of a couple of chickens I boned out yesterday, I started with that (the meat as well, don't want to waste anything). Now as this rock has done a fair bit of service a bit of thickening doesn't go astray, so I fired in a carrot, spud, apple and a bit of onion that I had laying around in the fridge. Rice, rice is good too so a handful of that as well, and, since I don't mind a bit of fire, a teaspoon full of curry powder just to sup it up a bit. Piping hot with some toasted home-made Chimichurri Bread you can't beat it, just the thing on a cold miserable day.

Stone soup is seriously good tucker, so good in fact I thought I should share  the recipe. Of course if you don't have a family soup stone all you will end up with is plain old Mulligatawny soup.

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium potato peeled and diced
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1Litre (4 cups) chicken stock
1/2 apple - peeled, cored and chopped
3 tablespoons basmati rice
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillet - diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch dried thyme
125ml (1/2 cup) very thick (45%) cream

Preparation method
Fry onions, ginger and carrot in butter in a large soup pot. Add flour and curry powder and cook 5 more minutes.
Add chicken stock and potato, mix well and bring to the boil. Simmer about 1/2 hour.
Add apple, rice, chicken, salt, pepper and thyme. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is done.
Stir in cream and serve.

Don't forget to put the rock back in it's box for the next batch, a good soup stone will last forever properly looked after.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stuff's happening but the blogger's been slack

Despite the winter chill things are moving along out here in the boonies, the gardens doing well with the bit of rain we had and the shed is nearing completion despite it. The frame is up and wind braced ready for the cladding, which should be done in the next week or so. I have made a few alterations to the standard plan so we are waiting for the extra materials to turn up. I have put a few extra roof girts in to take the weight of the solar panels I intend putting up there. I have also extended the eaves a bit rather than cut off at the wall, the standard with these sheds. I want to be sure there will be no water getting into the building.

In the garden we have broad-beans powering along, winter lettuce, cabbage, and Bok Choy. I've planted garlic, onion, peas, leek, and swede. A bug excluder has been constructed to keep the white butterfly from destroying my cauliflower and so far we're winning there.

The Laurence/Jones mansion has been bubble wrapped, we've taken a leaf out of Margo and Jerry's book and installed bubble glazing.

Simple, cheap and effective, well worth the effort, it has made a noticeable difference to the warmth retained over night. The bathroom especially has benefited, it's nice in there now and since I still wear the same PJ's I was born with (they're a bit threadbare now) the early morning dash is not such a chore (I'm happy with that). ;-)

Not totally kosher I know, we did buy a roll of the bubble wrap but will share it with any of our neighbors interested in installing it. We have used double sided tape to stick it to the glass, this allows a full seal and no problem with condensation getting between the glass and the bubble. We have covered all of the solid panes apart from one set of sliders that provide our main view and the Louvre windows in the bedrooms and office. I will make up some removable panels for the louvers as time permits, the main view window we can live with as is. More information on bubble glazing is available here

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