Sunday, 8 February 2015

A winter wander and cooking with carrots

Today I went out to explore more of my patch, the bits of Stivichall Common I hadn't yet explored and a wander around the War Memorial park in search of useful trees and plants.  I didn't find much although did come across a fine Rosa Rugosa I had previously missed.  I didn't find any horse chestnut trees, which is a tree I need to find this month in order to harvest buds for chestnut bud flower essence.  However I did meet a man who saw me wandering around with my clipboard and camera who asked me what I was looking for, who gave me a tip where to find some horse chestnut trees locally as he used to pick the conkers when he was little.  So it just shows it is worth chatting to the people you meet around your patch, they may well know where to find what you are seeking.

 Surveying my patch

Rosa Rugosa

 Hazel catkins

 Twisty hawthorn trunk

 Ivy berries

Yesterday I made a soup and a cake to take to my local Grove's Imbolc celebration.  I had brought back lots of carrots and parsnips which were left over from Imbolc Camp so I wanted to make things using them.  I made carrot & parsnip soup and carrot cake.  The carrot cake recipe came from Nigel Slater the soup recipe I created myself, with some ideas from Nigel Slater's tender a great book about growing and cooking vegetables, which gives ideas about what goes well with each vegetable as well as specific recipes.

Carrot & parsnip soup recipe - for 4

125g onion - chopped
2 large cloves garlic - finely chopped
400g carrots - chopped
400g parsnips - chopped
100g celery - chopped
4 teaspoons sunflower oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons English mustard
bay leaf
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of caraway seeds 
Vegetable stock powder
1 litre water
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil, toast the cumin
Add onion and saute till soft
Add the carrots, parsnips, celery & garlic, sweat until softening
Add stock powder, seasonings & water, bring to boil & cook till soft
Remove the bayleaf and check & adjust seasoning
Blend in blender or with hand blender, if you don't have one use a potato masher
Serve with fresh bread

Carrot & parsnip soup

 Carrot cake