Soup. Also known as a very grown up way to use the inside of your Halloween pumpkin!
The great thing about soups is that they are such flexible recipes. Using our very basic guide you can make any number of inventions. You could use home grown veggies straight out of the garden, oddments you've found in the fridge or pull out one of those freezer boxes you prepared a few weeks back. It' even up to you how you cook it, if you fancy some quiet time in front of the hob then carry on... Or if it's a lazy Sunday afternoon, then fire up the slow cooker and flop on the sofa. Like we did!
Our basic ingredient guide:
Your ingredient pile might end up looking something like this:
The plan was to make a spicy pumpkin soup but apparently we're too early in the season... So we improvised! Do us a favour, when you tell your friends about this amazing recipe, can you tell them it was pumpkin for a spooky Halloween soup please?
Step one: Deseed and peel the squash (cough PUMPKIN cough) and cut into chunks. Season with pepper and chilli flakes then roast for about 30 minutes in a 200 degrees C oven. If you can't be bothered to roast it, fair enough! Put the roasted (or not) squash in your slow cooker pot or pan on the hob.
Step two: Roughly chop your remaining vegetables (or open your freezer box) and add to the pot/pan.
Step three: Add your stock. How much is up to you depending on how thick you want your finished soup. If you're using the hob about a pint is a good place to start. Slow cookers need less liquid so we used a mug and a half of stock. You can always add more water later on if required. Add your seasoning.
Step four: If you're using the hob, leave to slowly boil for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If you're using a slow cooker, turn it to high and take a four hour nap or turn it to low and take a day trip.
Step five: Blend to the consistency you like.
Step six: We're hoping the Queen might call in so we primped our soup with garlic oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.
Hints and tips:
The main flavour - make sure this is the bulk of your ingredients.
The secondary flavour - Use odd little bits of whatever you like, but if you want to make your soup look pretty at the end, use vegetables that are similar colours to each other.
Dried pulses - Dried lentils, beans or chickpeas are great thickeners but just be careful. They can take more cooking than you think, so soak them first and follow instructions on the packet.
Dairy - Cream, cheese, yoghurt or crème fraiche are all excellent options for thickeners or garnishes, but remember they reactive differently depending on how you are cooking. If you're using a hob and want to add cream or cheese then add it with the stock and stir occasionally. However if you're using a slow cooker you are at greater risk of the soup mix splitting and curdling so add it just before you blend the soup.
Have fun improvising with your harvest this Halloween!
Keep a look out for a post closer to Halloween. We have a carved pumpkin alternative for any crafty grown ups out there, but thought you might have read enough for one day... Check back soon...
Halloween is swiftly approaching... So it's time for pumpkin carving! Hooray!!! But it also means a lot of yummy pumpkin going to waste! Boo!!!
Ask yourself this, how many pumpkins do you think you've eaten compared to how many you've carved? They're a little bit like marmite aren't they, love them or hate them... But we all love a carved pumpkin even if we don't fancy eating it.
So we've come up with a few alternatives this year! We may have gotten a little carried away so it's in two parts. Fun for the kids today and fun for the bigger kids tomorrow!
Yummy Little Ghosties...
You will need:
Hmmm. He looks like he may have been modelled on Freddie Mercury... Dependant on the variety some apples can ripen off in the trees right up until November. If you've still got some growing near you these little Halloween treats are a great way to use them and they're easy to tweak. If you add a touch of orange food dye you can make pumpkins or swap out the icing for decorations of your own choice. Raisins or melted dark chocolate perhaps?
You will need:
Again, there are many ways to personalise this crafty little lady. You can use paints instead of pens and add as many decorations as you like. If you're really feeling fancy and have a steady hand then you with a sharp knife you could carve the face as you would on a pumpkin.
Remember we don't like to waste anything so save the juices and pulp that you scraped out. You could use it to flavour jellies and truffles as an extra treat. If you've carved your orange that's pretending to be a pumpkin that's pretending to be a witch, then you can also use the peel later on. Use the zest in cheesecakes and brownies or make some preserved and candied peel ready for Christmas!
It might be early but happy Halloween folks!
We had fun last Friday. A few of our chirpy volunteers spent a little time outside Wellesley and Abbotswood Primary schools talking to locals for our yearly community consultation.
This year we may have added a cheeky little incentive, free food! Barbara had been out foraging Abbotswood apples and Nessa had been busy making mini jars of jam from local fruits. The jam went down a treat and we managed to convince a few people to try apple foraging for themselves. So we'll help you out...
Here's the apples...
And here's the jam...
Nessa's Yate Bramble Jam: Nessa used local foraged blackberries and apples for her recipe. Knowing that we were doing a giveaway we bought the jam jars, but there is nothing stopping you recycling the jars you've already got at home. If you do that then all you have to buy is the sugar! Hooray! Nessa used 2 bags of sugar, which made about 5 pounds of jam. By using foraged fruits, and reusing jars that's 5 pounds of jam for a teeny tiny £1.28. What more could you ask for?
Jam can be a great introduction to home preserving as you can tweak this basic recipe to your heart's content...
1 lb granulated sugar
1 lb fruit
Step one: Place the fruit and sugar into a large pan over a low heat. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved.
Step two: Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes, the jam should start to thicken.
Step three: Remove the jam from the heat. Spoon some of the mixture onto a cold plate. Leave for a few minutes and then push the mixture with a spoon handle or your finger (clean hands please!). If the jam wrinkles, you're good to go. If not, put the jam back on the heat for a minute or two before trying again.
Step four: While the jam is still hot, pour into sterilised jars. Do up the lid while the jam is still hot, the jam will thicken in the jar and the lid should start to create a dip as it cools. This means you can keep it safely in your cupboard for up to 6 months. It could stay there longer but might start to lose flavour. If you don't see the dip in the lid, keep the jam in the fridge and use within a few weeks. What a hardship that would be right?
Anyone hungry? Because it's recipe time!
Apples and blackberries have been particularly abundant in and around Abbotswood this year, so we've been out foraging and made a batch of wild fruit scones to have on Wednesday's Wild Owl TV Garden talk. They were the favourite from the refreshment table with none leftover, so we thought we'd share with you.
The original recipe came from the National Trust Book of Scones, but as recipes so often are, it's been tweaked here and there.
You will need:
Step one: Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. The amount of cinnamon can be pretty flexible depending on your taste, but a teaspoon or two is probably a good place to start. Add the butter and rub in to create the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Step two: Peel and dice the apples, add them to the mix and give a quick stir.
Step three: Stir the milk and egg together, before gradually adding to the dry ingredients. Add a little at a time. The mixture should come together to a slightly damp but not sloppy dough. Add a little extra milk if required.
Step four: Add the blackberries and mix until they are evenly spread throughout.
Step five: Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 3cm thick. Stamp out the mixture. A 7cm cutter will give you about 10 scones. You can use whatever size cutter you like, just remember this will affect cooking times.
Step six: Place the scones on a lined baking tray and bake in a 190 degrees C oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Ours took 18 minutes. The cooked scones should be well risen and slightly springy to the touch.
Step seven: Cool slightly, then munch away! Best served warm with lashings of clotted cream... and maybe even a dollop of bramble jam if you fancy.
Chef's top tips...
After several mishaps Alex has learnt a few scone making tricks and she's kindly sharing them with you.
We're all aware of savers accounts at the bank, but why should saving only be about money? We're talking about saving scraps of food. When thinking about sustainability and reducing food waste the freezer should be one of your best friends. You've probably heard TV chefs talk about batch cooking so you can make your own ready meals, but plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are freezable too. With some clever thinking and pre-planning you can save all of those little scraps left at the bottom of the fridge.
Here's the secret...
Treat yourself to some freezer safe containers.
Alright so it's not a very exciting secret, but it's well worth it. We're over halfway through September so it's over to you to do some of the work. It's OK don't panic, think of your favourite recipes you already know and love. Then abel up a couple of empty tubs. As you stumble across some sad looking fruits or veggies in the fridge, chop them up and add them to the most relevant tub. Simple. When the tub's full, whip it out and get cooking.
Here's some examples of what savers tubs you could make:
Go and have some fun experimenting. You know you want to...
How's the foraging going everyone? There are plenty of apple trees ripe for the picking around Abbotswood. Why not go and grab some then try this cheeky little recipe? It was given to us by Barbara, who was offering samples to guests at last year's Autumn Day. It's wonderfully simple, no complicated cooking involved, all you need is a grater and microwave!
Step 1: Peel and grate the apples. Put the gratings into a microwave safe bowl.
Step 2: Add the sugar and combine. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Add lemon juice and cinnamon to taste. Mix well and microwave for another 2 1/2 minutes.
Step 4: Have a sneaky taste! Add extra lemon juice and cinnamon if necessary.
Step 5: Get munching! Cool and store in the fridge or freeze for later.
It tastes great and there's plenty of scrummy things you can do with the sauce. Why not try some of these examples from our community:
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...