Autumn. Cold winds. Rain. Hail. Even a few moments of snow yesterday between bursts of hot sunshine. Walking on the South side of the hill in the woods it is suddenly no longer autumn but the end of summer. Off with jackets, faces to the sun then round the corner into the North and winter, now walking against horizontal hailstones. It is confusing… we need soup 🙂
Method: soak a cup of broth mix overnight, then cook up for an hour or so before adding chopped potato, carrot and onion. Cook until veg is tender, add some kale or other leafy greens and either a teaspoon of Vecon Concentrated Vegetable Stock or a few sloshes of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (like soy sauce but with less salt and all the protein). Simmer a few minutes longer then dish up and garnish with parsley or chervil. Be warm.
Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.
We will have been married 20 years this year… which causes me to reflect how far we’ve come, how much the world has changed in that time and to note the two items above. They were given to us as a wedding present by friends who I used to babysit for and here they are still with us, I don’t think any other dish we own has survived that long! The Cranks Recipe Book sparked my interest at once, as I had eaten in their restaurant in London while a student, and it called to mind lovely brick walls and earthenware plates of hearty soup (they now have one restaurant in Devon).
It really taught me to cook, being the only cookery title I had at the time (bit of a change there then) in our first flat that we loved so much. I was fairly clueless when it came to the culinary arts. I remember phoning my mum at times with questions such as ‘how do you cook a neep? I can’t even seem to cut it up’. With the book I learned to bake bread, make cakes and the wonderfully frugal crecy plate pie, prepare soups and casseroles got put in the dish 🙂 It influenced me in more subtle ways too. Being the one and only it got thoroughly read and I absorbed the health oriented nature of the pages, reading for example, how much adding fresh herbs enhanced the nutritional value of the food. I remember the excitement of planting up a small herb garden and reading more deeply into these subjects. Looking at it now I notice all the cheesy recipes but you could just use any one of the many vegan cheeses available now or leave it out altogether.
Bit different when we first went vegan – a vegan cookbook obtained from the library that shall remain nameless (mainly as I can’t remember it’s name, I think it was somewhat generic, but also I do not want to slander it as it may have had other redeeming recipes) was responsible for me making a vegan cheese out of marg and yeast extract 13 years ago – absolutely disgusting, totally foul!!
As for the dish, it still gets used though not as much anymore. The odd apple/rhubarb crumble is popped in it. I now favour my big Le Creuset that you can cook on the hob and in the oven with – very handy for making a sheperdess/red dragon pie base in and just putting mashed tatties on top and then into the oven it goes. I am very lucky to also have two similar cast iron AGA pans/casseroles given to us by another friend who had them sitting unwanted and unused in his garage, and these are my 3 usual dinner cooking pans now.
We’ve always been blessed with friendship 🙂 I am currently reading Walking to Greenham sent to me by a wonderful woman and friend… a fascinating book and I find myself contemplating the larger worldwide changing of the times. What will the next 20 years bring?
Cranberry, Orange and Ginger Sauce
3/4 cup/150g/5oz sugar
1/2 cup/150ml/quarter pint of orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (or half a teaspoon of dried ginger)
2 cups of fresh cranberries
pinch of salt
Place the cranberries, orange juice and ginger in a pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Give the berries a mash and add the sugar, zest and salt. Cook gently until all the sugar is completely dissolved. The sauce will thicken up as it cools slightly. Nice served hot or warm with nut roast or mushroom puff and parcel (on Yule page).