‘Oh dear,’ my readers say, ‘she’s lost the plot. She’s become one of those mad American survivalists, stockpiling the supplies like a wee demented squirrel, for when the bombs fall, or yon fella with the orange face presses the button.’
In fact, no, what I’m advocating today is to get using up all your leftovers to create some soups and stews and stock your freezer. My SWB followers will know that I’m not keen on buying folk stuff they don’t need. I do, however, like arriving at their homes with a pot of soup or tub of spaghetti bolognese when they’ve just pushed out a baby and can barely stand. Who wants to be cooking dinners when their lady bits are still in tatters? I would much rather have a lasagne, or, as my good friend Maureen Boyle arrived with, a veritable vat of chilli con carne, which I’ have since tried to replicate, but never succeeded. Thanks Maureen, for ruining all chillis that have since passed my lips.
Births and deaths. Surprisingly these have many similarities, as both, when they occur, leave you wandering round like a somnambulant, confused and disorientated. When my grandmother died in 1998, I still remember a family member bringing homemade broth. It was indeed, chicken soup for the soul. It lasted for days, and though none of us felt much like eating, we could always manage a bowl. My mother in law passed away in February, and same again, people came laden with soups and homemade bread and it was a gesture of such infinite kindness. Even if you almost expect it, death blind sides you. The bringing of food helps steady and nourish a shattered soul.
Back to pumpkins. I had three of those bad boys, now I’ve whittled it down to two. I NEVER, NEVER appreciated how much flesh was in a pumpkin. Who needs the gym? My right bicep is well defined after some hefty sawing and slicing. Last night we had roasted pumpkin and potato with a chicken dinner. ‘That’s actually quite nice,’ said LSB. ‘Who knew.’ This evening I knocked up a soup, and ever so easy it was too. I fried one onion in butter, threw in a third of a pumpkin, added chicken stock and seasoning and then, here’s the fun bit, two small grated apples. Whizz, whizz, went LSB with the stick blender, and we were all astounded wit the results. Sweet and nutty and quite surprising, if I’m honest. I potted some up for my friend who has just lost her father. ‘I never want to see another madeira cake,’ she sighed today when we met up for coffee. We got 26 of them at the wake. We took them to the local homeless shelter.’
Yesterday, when chatting to Gráinne and Jackie at the City Hall, we discussed how the making of food can be a great way to reconnect with neighbours. ‘I think it’s four months since I’ve properly spoken to my neighbour,’ mused Jackie. ‘Maybe I’ll make something and take it round.’
Gráinne once gave me a huge bag of Jerusalem Artichokes from her allotment. I had never even seen a Jerusalem Artichoke prior to this, but BBC Good Food came to the rescue, and I cooked up a storm that Friday for the yoga mums. This weekend, I’m making more soup, and hopefully a pumpkin laksa too, I have lemongrass and ginger at the ready. I’m going to sort out my utter embarrassment of a freezer, and organise myself, so I have pots of loveliness at the ready.
(No more posts about soup after this. I promise. Though I may complain a bit about pumpkin preparation. (‘Put that knife down,’ said my sister in law on Sunday. ‘You’re f**king terrifying me’).