Colourful leek and pepper soup

leek and pepper soup all ready

Since all my sons have left home for university and further afield (Oz), I have been making more soup – only Barney seems to like it so I didn’t bother cooking it very often.  I get a vegetable box from Riverford and so what goes in the soup is often fairly random depending on what I need to use up – getting a regular box definitely makes me creative!  The #trainticketart this week also reflected the abundance…

#trainticketart drawings of vegetables (cauliflower and celery).
I had lots of vegetables in the fridge so I decided to draw some of them for my #trainticketart challenge.

I’ve developed a fairly standard technique for soup over the years so I usually google whatever vegetables I have left to check that someone somewhere has already made soup with that particular unlikely combination and that the vegetables in it aren’t too incompatible – and then just ignore the recipe and throw in the quantities I have with any herbs and spices suggested.  I’ve never made leek and pepper soup before so that’s what I did.  This is what went it:

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 large leeks
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • about a litre of stock
  • about 4 cloves of garlic (the more the better in my opinion!)
  • about a tsp of cut up chillis (these had been accumulating from the box so earlier in the week I cut them all up and froze them so I could just chuck in a few now and then)
  • harissa spice
  • about a tbs of creme fraiche
Cut up leeks being rinsed in the colander to get all the soil out.
Cut up leeks being rinsed in the colander to get all the soil out.

I fried the onion in the butter until soft and then added the cut up leeks, peppers, garlic and potato.

red peppers cut up on a plate.
The red peppers cut up ready to go in the soup. Very colourful!

Once they were all covered with butter and oil (I chucked in a slug of olive oil too) I turned the heat down low and sweated them for 20 minutes.

leeks, peppers and potato sweating in pot
The leeks, peppers and potato sweating in the Le Creuset casserole.

Nice and colourful, eh?  Then I added the stock and spices, brought it up to the boil and then simmered for another 20 minutes.  Blended it with my stick blender, added the creme fraiche and this was the result:

leek and pepper soup all ready
The finished soup blended and ready to eat!

Yummy with with grated cheese melted on top… So that was yesterday’s lunch and two more portions in the freezer for later.  That’s my basic technique for soup – chuck in random vegetables, sweat 20 mins, chuck in stock, simmer 20 mins, blend.  Add salt and herbs if needed. Easy peasy.

yellow pepper #trainticketart
I drew this yellow pepper for one of my #trainticketart challenge days. Think the original was roasted in the oven with leeks, courgettes and cheese.

African Fabric Quilt

I actually made a quilt the other day!  And it is the biggest I’ve ever made – it is just a bit bigger than single bed size – not remarkable for most quilters, but even when I did City & Guilds the largest I made was a lapquilt sized wall quilt and most of the others have been art ones.

African quilt draped over chair
African fabric quilt all finished!

It is made from African Dutch wax prints fabric – it is very colourful, isn’t it?  The quilting wouldn’t win any prizes but I was pleased to actually finish something.  I quite enjoyed just mindlessly sewing without having to make too many design decisions along the way.

colourful quilt
Very colourful!
colourful quilt
Don’t look too closely at the stitching!

I watched a Youtube video on making jelly roll quilts and there was a pile of African fabrics on my shelves so I cut them into strips and rolled them up… The Missouri Quilt Company who made the video have a channel on Youtube with lots of others if you feel like a good browse…

jelly roll in African fabric
Not as neat as purchased jelly rolls!
jelly roll
Very colourful and inspiring seeing all these patterns rolled up together!

another view of jelly roll

Looks good from all angles… 
Sewing machine with some of the fabric
That particular fabric was used for the borders – DH bought it back from Zambia for me.

Eggs galore!

Well, I’ve finally restarted blogging and feel a lot more enthusiasm for it.  Well, time will tell… I’ve also spent a lot of this afternoon learning to use the new menu navigation on WordPress and finally got it how I want it.

The hens arrived at the beginning of April and have definitely made their mark – on the slugs, on the borders in the garden, and now on the egg production!

Here they are when they first arrived:

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This is Peggy.  She is a ranger. 

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This is Prudence, a bovans nera, which is a cross between Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock.  She has lovely markings.  She is also the most laid back and the peacemaker of the three. 

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And this is Lucy.  She is an amber star.  They are all hybrid hens.   

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They like perching on the garden bench.   Prudence was the first to start laying and now they’re giving us two or three eggs a day. 

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This is the Very First Egg! 

I don’t seem to have any very recent photos of the hens but I’ll be writing a review of the hen book soon so I’ll put a few on here then.  Don’t worry though, I am doing textile stuff as well!!  Just not so much as I do seem to spend a lot of time sitting in the garden these days…

A few photos of Crindau

When I finished the monthly reeds photography at the end of 2010, I wanted to replace it with another project because I seem to work best with particular themes (and of course it gives me something to blog about apart from how untidy my studio is!).

I decided to focus on an area of Newport called Crindau, which is fairly close to Shaftesbury Park, where I photographed the reeds.  It is an area which is, I think, under the Council’s spotlight for redevelopment – a new, huge Sainsburys was built on the derelict gasworks site last year and they have plans to built a marina on Crindau Pill, one of the inlets from the River Usk.  Whether it will happen in this economic climate is anyone’s guess, but I decided that it would be a good plan to capture the area in photographs before it happens.  There are a lot of derelict warehouses, as well as quite a few operational ones, there – it is a funny mix of residential and ex-industrial; lots of potential for distressed walls and arty rusted fences…

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There’s a lot of up and down so you get great rooftop views.

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And the odd bit of arty graffiti.

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I love these old derelict factory buildings.  Note the individual facades – none of your identikit shoeboxes here.

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And you turn a corner, and a flight of steps beckons you….

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To this street of Victorian terraces (can you see the Civic Centre tower on the horizon….

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But then you turn another corner and, in the middle of all those little Victorian terraced houses is Crindau House, this longhouse dating from about the 1500s!  I didn’t know of its existence until a few weeks ago when I came upon this plaque.

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When it was built, this house would have been in the middle of countryside – right up till the 19th century, in fact.  Now it’s enclosed by all these Victorian terraces, a secret medieval survivor.