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!
The title says it all really. We're back on the shopping topic...
But this time we're not talking about where you shop, we're talking about how you shop. Make the most of your money, while cutting down on our plastic usage. Woohoo!
Now there's a great idea! They taste the same, probably cost less as you're not paying for packaging and you're not clogging up your bins with waste.
Did you know some stores are aiming to ditch the packaging completely? You can bring your own containers along and fill with as much or as little as you need. No waste plastic and no waste produce either. Win win!
Chicken breasts - £5.19 per kilo. Whole chicken - £2.05 per kilo. Less than half the price... So why settle for 2 roast chicken breasts and 2 portions of chicken pasta, when you could have 2 roast chicken breasts, 2 portions of chicken pasta (thighs), sticky BBQ chicken (drumsticks and wings) and a family size pot of chicken soup!
Fruit and veg fans, you're not off the hook either. We looked at the same shop and found a pineapple for £1 and a packet of prepare pineapple for £1. What's the difference? You could have 5 meagre slices or a whole pineapple!
Buy in bulk...
There is plenty of produce we buy that either has a long date, or no date at all. Dried pasta. Herbs and spices. Toilet roll. So we experimented again, but this time we had to use a different store. The previous one doesn't stock bulk bags of herbs and spices which just made us sad. OK here we go... One little pot of 12g of oregano, £1. So that's 83p for every 10 grams. One bigger pot of 60g of oregano, £2.50. What?! £2.50! That's outrageous! Oh wait, that's actually 42p for every 10 grams. Almost half price... That suddenly sounds much nicer!
So there you have it. Some simple shopping tips to save you money while cutting back on plastic (or otherwise) packaging. Yay! Thumbs up and a pat on the back is required!
You can probably already guess where we're going with this one...
You remember that challenge we gave you to leave the car at home once a week? Still going with it?
Yes, great, congratulations! Keep up the good work!
Or maybe not...
It's starting to get a little colder so the walk home from work is looking a little less appealing? We only said you should leave the car behind, we didn't say you had to go wheel-less. Two wheels is usually faster than two feet and can be a great deal warmer too!
Naturally cycling has great health benefits but it's also great for the environment as you're reducing those harmful carbon emissions. Have some fun with it and make it social... Why not start a 'cycling bus' with your work colleagues? Join some local cycling groups to help you get in the spirit. Take your family out for organised rides such as the Yate Bicycle Safari happening on Sunday.
Better By Bike!
Yate and Chipping Sodbury is lucky enough to be supported by Bristol's Better By Bike scheme. If you're new to cycling, or even new to the area, it's a great resource. You can have a nosey at different cycling events, find fantastic cycle trips or use it's route planner. They will give you an easy to use map and route with all the details you need to know. They'll tell you where to hop onto a cycle path or even where to hop off your bike. Handy reminders to have, no-one wants to get caught out cycling where they shouldn't.
Helmets on everyone! Happy cycling!
Shopping. It's a very marmite thing isn't it? In one camp you have everyone who finds shopping a necessary evil... And in the other you have the retail therapy lovers. Whichever side you fall on there are a few ways of shopping that are kinder on your pocket and kinder on the planet.
We've only got time for a little one today folks... We've been having more than a few technical difficulties today, so please excuse us if anything looks a little odd...
But anyway, let's get to it!
We've had another case of the community coming forward with their own suggestions for Sustainable September. Keep them coming, we love to hear them all. Today's post is all about online peer support.
Who's heard of Working Towards Zero Waste - Yate and Chipping Sodbury Facebook group? Well we hadn't until the wonderful Paul told us about them. They're a growing online community group made up of local people all giving each other support with sustainable living and reducing waste. It's a fantastic thing to be part of because they value non-judgemental attitudes. You can search for advice and make suggestions of your own. Wondering what to do with your old holey tights? Just ask! Found a local group collecting bottle tops for charity, tell others! Post a comment to promote and support local campaigns and initiatives. It's that simple...
What are you waiting for? Hop on over to Facebook and take a look for yourself!
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.
The simple truth is that people love to talk. We're social, we're passionate and we're excited. So what do we do? We tell our friends what we're doing and then encourage them to take part too. One of the parents from Barnwood Buddies saw that the Abbotswood Action Group office was open, so popped into say hi and ask what we were up to. Alex said a little bit about Sustainable September, Sarah then went straight into her support for the fight against waste plastics and promoted the refill campaign... A few days later Alex was enjoying a laid on breakfast in Bristol attending the presentation of Refill's new pilot scheme.
So what's Refill?
You remember us talking about trading in your plastic bottles for reusables? Well Refill is promoting the same idea on a much bigger scale. World wide in fact. The idea is simple, recycling might not be good enough anymore. If we really want to win the war on plastics we need to go straight to the source and reduce our plastic consumption, not just recycle it. So the Refill team have produced an app that will let you search for places near you that will allow you to refill your reusable bottles with free tap water... And it's working! So it's time for us to get involved. Download the app for yourself, tell your friends and maybe even drop a few hints next at the cafe next time you're out for lunch.
But we can do more than that...
Taking the next steps...
The scheme has been so successful that it's time to expand. Starting with a pilot scheme in Bristol. That means us Abbotswood! Hooray! The new concept is to add more facilities to the app. So instead of pouring your coffee into a throw away cardboard cup, it gets poured into the reusable coffee cup you took with you. Or you fancy a bite to eat, so they'll put that hot cornish pasty straight into your lunchbox, instead of a paper bag. Takeaway salads in a plastic tub anyone? No. Takeaway salads in your lunchbox? Much better idea!
Here's your chance to take part in the pilot. If it's successful the scheme will be rolled out across the nation. You can get involved by downloading the app now. Anyone using it with a Bristol postcode will automatically be enrolled in the pilot. The more we can promote the scheme, the more businesses we can get to sign up as a Refill hotspot the better it is for everyone.
Find out all you need to know here: https://refill.org.uk/
So come on everyone, let's get Refilling!
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 label 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...
Enjoying your new swap shop with your friends? Great!
Let's take it to the next step shall we? You're getting the hang of things like this by now, so we'll keep this one short. How about taking it in turns to host your swap shop, followed by a film night? In the host's house of course...
Think about how expensive a night at the cinema can be. There's the cost of the tickets, the drinks and the cinema snacks. If it's friends you don't see that often you might decide to have a group meal in the restaurant next door first, or a drink in the pub after. You've all got to get there so that's the travel expenses as well. It soon mounts up...
Not if you bring the cinema home!
Browse your DVD collection and pick an old favourite, or that horror you're never quite brave enough to watch alone or maybe that one that you keep meaning to watch but is still sealed in the packet... We all have one of those right? If you've been making the best of your swap shop everyone will have different DVD's, so you get plenty of variety.
Grab your snacks, treat yourself to some fancy drinks, turn the lights out and hit play!
Let's talk socks!
And maybe hats. And scarves just for luck.
We're starting to get to that time of year where you feel the evening chill and argue with your partner about whether it's too soon to turn the heating on...
We can answer that for you...
It probably is to early to put the heating on. If you have to think about whether you're cold or not the heating can wait a little longer, reach for the extra layers instead. Save energy for the planet, and save pennies for you. It's amazing what a second pair of socks can do.
You lose most of your body heat from your extremities so grab the extra thick socks from the drawer. Shake the dust of off your trusty onesie and pull the hood all the way up. Shove your hands under the fluffiest blanket you can find.
Whatever works, wrap up toasty warm, treat yourself to your favourite hot toddy and have a cuddle with a loved one... Person, pet, teddy bear, who cares! Everyone loves a cuddle on a chilly night...
Tell you what. We'll join you!
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...