Tag Archives: Soup

Try Something New Every Week

Full Of Vitamins, Rocking Dog

Full Of Vitamins

It’s tempting to stick to tried and trusted favourite recipes, but I do like to try something new every week. Usually the Cook section from the Saturday “Guardian” provides one or two new recipes for the week ahead. The benefit of selecting recipes from the latest issue is that the recipes are seasonal and use produce at its cheapest and best.

Some recipes are relished and filed, whilst others are abandoned after  their first outing.

Recently I made two “Guardian” soups. One was a Thai inspired affair which included coconut milk, lemongrass, buckwheat noodles and tofu (but prawns would be a good substitute). The other soup was given the briefest of introductions to the hob, and utilised little gem lettuces, corn on the cob and fresh herbs. I felt as if i’d had my five a day in one bowl! Both were really quick to prepare and will make it to the recipe file.

I am gradually beginning to look at recipes online, but still favour my shelves of cookery books.

Although I consider myself a competant cook I am not someone who wants to spend a day slaving over one dish. In my days of running “Heaven’s Cake” I once did a consultation for a woman who wanted me to cook for a large party. It became very apparent she had been on rather too many swish cruises and wanted everything done in aspic and served on mirrors! To recover from this rather awkward appointment I took myself off to a garden centre with the cheery thought of buying a topiaried holly. Alas, with a price tag of about £200 I decided that although I felt glum … the tree was a step too expensively far. I later fired off an e.mail to say I really didn’t think I was the right person for the job and hoped that she could find an ex-cruise liner chef (I didn’t really say that last bit). Oops! I then had to endure the most terrifying and balshy phone call from her. How very dare I not want to do her aspic’d party! How very right I was to go with my gut feeling of not wanting to work with this lady.

I cooked for some wonderful events and generally worked with some lovely people. However there are just a few jobs that are memorable for being led by bridezilla’s or clients with a touch of the “Upstairs Downstairs” mentality. I do not understand why fellow human beings cannot see that politeness and kindness mean that people will go that extra mile for them.

As for that arrogant bride’s father who whistled at me to get my attention…. don’t get me started!!!!

Yes, I have gone way off the beaten track with trying something new. Sorry. I hope you have a lovely weekend and hope that you put your toe in the water and try something new.

Love Rocking Dog x

Gathering The Harvest , Rocking Dog

Gathering The Harvest

Foodie Print, Rocking Dog

Foodie Print

Pretty Page, Rocking Dog

Pretty Page

Gosh! We’ve Tipped Into October!

All The Leaves Are Brown, Rocking Dog

All The Leaves Are Brown

Gosh! We’ve tipped into October! Please tell me how this has happened. Amazingly, it is exactly a year since I started my Rocking Dog Blog. This is my 186th post and it has been lovely having your company along the way. I will bare my soul and tell you why I started blogging in the next couple of weeks.

October is a real transition month, especially when we have been blessed with such beautiful weather. People are still in summer garb, meanwhile, the shops are filled with the last floaty dregs of summer clothing and the wools and tweeds of winter. Some retailers are unashamedly putting out Christmas stock whilst others are doggedly resisting until November rears its frosty head!

October last year, I was praising the humble pumpkin. It should be roasted, pureed, souped and not just carved! (I am a Halloween killjoy!) I was also cooking quince and extolling the praises of the fruits wonderful aroma whilst they stewed. It undeniably remains one of my most favourite smells … ever (but ripening tomatoes in a sun parched greenhouse probably is up there too!) Sloes were being picked, and this year i’ll be waiting for that first frost before heading out to pick them again this year. There appears to be a truly bountiful crop. Remember to keep the sloes after they have done their sloe gin magic. They are a fantastic addition to Rocky Road and for an autumnal take on Summer Pudding. They’d also add flavour to sauces and gravies to accompany a Sunday roast.

Last October we went on one last trip to the sea before tucking our beloved Pod up for the winter. Again, this October we hope to do one last toe curlingly cold trip. We will take hot water bottles, hot chocolate supplies, woolly socks and our Real Live Rocking Dog foot warmer! Bracing walks being battered by coastal winds what could be better? Some would say lying on the same beach on a hot summers day would be absolutely preferable. One Man’s Meat Is Another Man’s Poison as they say!

Oct 2014, last minute plans were being made to head off on our Italian holiday (does any other mad soul take their holiday in October/November?) Oct 2015, another trip beckons, – vintage textiles, olives, autumn sunshine, gondola’s, Vin Santo, and gorgeous friends. We are truly fortunate.

Last October Rocking Dog was busy making, wrapping, labelling, and somethings never change… but what I make hopefully does. So there are lots of sewing projects on the Rocking Dog work bench. I HAVE to organise some serious sewing time. Any other makers please give me your tips on how you schedule your day. Do you have a set routine, do you lock the door and turn the key, let the laundry bin overfill, not answer calls etc…. etc..? I think i’d rather like a sewing turret in the clouds!

So very nearly a year on from my very first blog I hope you’ll continue to dip in and out. Some of you I personally know and thank you for your love and support. Others of you I don’t know.. but thank you for reading, liking, commenting. If anyone wants a little personalised trek around Bristol or surrounds give me a shout. We can visit foodie, vintage and historical haunts in a city I quite know and love.

Have a very lovely October.

Dog Bowl. Rocking Dog

Dog Bowl

Comforting Bowl, Rocking Dog

Comforting Bowl

Making Plans, Rocking Dog

Making Plans

Seasonal Makes, Rocking Dog

Seasonal Makes

Quince Magic, Rocking Dog

Quince Magic

Avoiding Halloween, Rocking Dog

Avoiding Halloween

Working Lunch- Fridge End Soup!

Working Lunch, Rocking Dog

Working Lunch

I need to go food shopping but I cannot find the energy or inclination! Therefore yesterday’s lunch was a Lazy Liz favourite, Fridge End Soup.

Fridge End Soup generally consists of any vegetables that still look vaguely edible, cooked and whizzed to make something that is warming and rather delicious! The type of vegetables lurking in the fridge will ultimately determine the type of soup I concoct and its tasty outcome. So if it’s tomatoes, peppers and aubergines rather past their best i’ll generate a Mediterranean inspired roast vegetable soup, whilst ropey beetroots will be put to work in a Moro style beetroot soup.

Monday’s Soup consisted of the following, a large forgotten about butternut squash, a wrinkled piece of root ginger, a large papery red onion, two sad sticks of celery, and a forlorn looking piece of fresh lemongrass. If you want to try this at home with your fridge end vegetables i’ll give you the gist of this Rocking Dog soup. This will serve approximately 6 people or a working lunch for one over a few days! Store in a lidded container in the fridge and reheat thoroughly.

Peel, de-seed and chop your squash into dice sized pieces and roughly chop the onion and celery * Melt some butter or heat oil in a large deep sided frying pan or saucepan, add the squash, celery and onion, together with finely chopped lemongrass, grated ginger a teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1/2 teasp turmeric and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so * Add in a tin of coconut milk and approx’ 500ml stock (homemade, or water and a stock cube), bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes (the squash should be tender and mushable!) Take off heat* Using a stick blender or processor blend to a smooth and glossy consistency * Taste and season * Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of fresh coriander or a scattering of seeds* Voila!

I love to have an empty fridge before doing a bit of restocking so using up odd vegetables in soups, tagines or casseroles is a great way of dealing with these sad solitary bits of green grocery. A soup like this is so economical compared to commercially made soups, tastes so much better and is very quick to put together.

Sprout soup anyone!?

Seed Of Goodness, Rocking Dog

Seed Of Goodness

Rocking Dog Christmas Cake Quick Fix!

snow dome cake, rocking dog

Snow Dome Cake

Good morning! Hope everyone is feeling cool, calm and collected. I hope presents are deliciously wrapped, fridge decadently stashed, Christmas frock selected, and coiffure and manicure booked! Yes it does sound as if i’m stuck in a 1950’s Hollywood time warp and no no no, apart from the wrapped presents I haven’t scored highly on any of the other counts!

However, I did manage to get cakes made a little while ago. We try to get down to the beach for a barbecue (Sand Bay near Weston Super Mare) between Christmas and New Year to blow away the cobwebs and to be generally very silly. We usually take salmon and good sausages to burn on the disposable barbecues, a freshly made Greek salad some French stick, homemade soup and nibbles. Pudding is usually a hunk of Christmas cake which we eat through chattering teeth! When the BBQ’s have done the business we fill them with sand and use them as foot warmers. Some of us go in search of the sea (a rare sight) whilst others play with Real Life Rocking Dog and other doggy friends. Like Zac Efron who incidentally still hasn’t been found, the beach barbecue is fast becoming a Ferguson tradition.

Back to the cakes! for a good last minute cake Nigella Lawson’s Easy Action Cake is foolproof. The majority of the ingredients are heated up in a pan, fruits don’t need days of soaking and the baking time is pretty respectable. Pictured is the way I cook my cakes – tips from my lovely Mum. So it’s lining the tin with baking parchment and then with the mixture poured in, wrap the cake in a double layer of brown paper, held in place by non-plastic string. The top of the cake also has a layer of brown paper stapled in place with a hole to let steam escape. Finally I put the cake into the oven with a thinnish layer of newspaper under it. All these papery tricks ensure the cakes do not burn or dry out. To me the smell of baking newspaper really makes me feel Christmassy. Admittedly a candle from Jo Malone is a more attractive proposition … but the newspaper reminds me of home and my mum.

To decorate or not to decorate that is the question. I like my cake served nude of almond paste and icing, personally I love it with some Farmhouse Cheddar. My snow dome cake was executed VERY quickly. I am ashamed to say I bought ready rolled almond paste and icing, gummed onto the cake with apricot glaze. Decoration… crudely piped “Oh Christmas Tree”, Indian blingy braid and some bottle brush Christmas trees….Simple!

Oh well just to get through Christmas Day to get the much loved day on the beach and the wedge of cake! PS. the nude cake is safely stashed in a tin ready to be paired with some yummy cheese.

beach cake, rocking dog

Beach Cake

brown paper packages tied  up with string , rocking dog

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

snow domed, rocking dog

Snow Domed

I’m Dreaming Of a White Christmas!

snowy real live rocking dog, rocking dog

Snowy Real Live Rocking Dog

Yes, Real Live Rocking Dog is dreaming of a white Christmas. However, the lovely Carol Kirkwood doesn’t think it’s going to be, that’s unless you are hiking on some godforsaken Scottish peak. RLR Dog comes over a bit silly when there’s been a snowfall- he doesn’t quite know whether to eat the snow, roll in it or dash around in mad circles!

Two of the photo’s here were taken in the mid sixties when snow somehow seemed deeper, whiter, crisper, gathered in huge drifts and seemingly hung around for the entire winter! My dad Doug, adored the snow, or rather sledging, and would be so excited to bring out the sledge for its first voyage on unchartered freshly fallen snow. Our infamous childhood sledge was constructed by Doug, and consisted of basically a door on huge copper tubing runners, you could seat about four on it. How it didn’t seriously maim anyone heaven’s knows! We sledged on Frenchay Moor a.k.a. The Hilly Fields and we’d keep on going until we could not feel our fingers or toes any more! Heinz Tomato Soup would revive feeling to our extremities and then we’d possibly head out into the garden to build a snowman to get cold all over again!

The Putz House folk have snow already, lucky things. I love the old 60’s kitsch village buildings, but this one is a contemporary version from Rachel Ashwell’s shop in NY. It came back with me a few years ago in my hand luggage.

Well, if snow doesn’t look likely we can  spray snow 1970’s Dickensian style into the corners of the window panes. The thought of washing windows so early in the new year  (in fact anytime!) really does make that idea so completely and utterly unappealing! I really am no domestic goddess.

Have a truly wonderful weekend- it will soon be the time to scrabble around for the last Brussels Sprout on the shelf, perish the thought!

doug clearing snow 1960's, rocking dog

Doug Clearing Snow 1960’s

snowman building 1967 isn, rocking dog

Snowman Building 1967 ish

smug putz house folk, rocking dog

Smug Putz House Folk

Spare a Thought for Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Soup
Spare a thought for pumpkins! The shops are full of pumpkins in readiness for Halloween. I feel sorry for this species, they are often carved into some ghoulish creation, stuffed with tea lights for one night and then simply discarded. Whilst in New Zealand we were guests of the ancestors of our current home. Our hosts served up roasted wedges of pumpkin with the traditional Sunday roast…. delicious! Pumpkins can be made into a lovely soup but I don’t think i’ll ever love pumpkin pie (sorry American kissing cousins!) The book is an American party book (1963) and I love the Halloween pages. The gist of the editorial goes.. Little Jimmy helps his father carve the Jack o’ Lantern with a really sharp knife. Meanwhile little Milly makes popcorn balls with her mother before doing all the washing up…. well I might be embellishing slightly but Grrrrrrrrr! Have a wonderful weekend and pick up a pumpkin!

Pumpkins for cooking

Pumpkins for soup, not carving!

Vintage pumpkin fun

Vintage pumpkin fun