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Thursday, 9 February 2017

APPLE, LENTIL AND BACON SOUP

Good Morning to you,


Recently, I have heard it said, that people are running to the hills, waving their arms in the air, because there are very few, Cos lettuces, left on our supermarket shelves.

.... actually, I'm only joking about 'people running to the hills'.

Although, there are some folk who are really upset by the lack of Cos lettuce available to us this winter.

I have to say, I was surprised to learn, that as a result of this, a certain supermarket had decided to limit  the amount of lettuce people could buy. Do you know, I really don't remember this happening before.

There has always been a plentiful supply of lettuce, as each year we import them from Spain, but during last year's growing season,  Spain experienced some very unseasonal weather.... it seems they had far too much rain, which has ruined this year's crop of lettuce. So rather than being plentiful, this winter, there is a scarcity of Cos lettuce. 

I had noticed when I returned from Chicago, that Cos lettuce had rocketed in price.  What had previously cost 56p was now costing £1.57p. I did not know the reason at the time, but as a canny shopper, I decided I was not going to buy lettuce, at the newly inflated price. I would much prefer to keep the money in my purse.

The way I see it is, salad produce, during the winter time, is a luxury and not a necessity.  Yes it's nice to enjoy a salad during the winter, but if salad produce is not available, then I will eat something else.

It seems we have become so used to eating what we want, when we want. That when produce is not available, people get very upset.

I decided to speak to Phyllis, my mother, about the problem to see what her reaction was.

She said, she really didn't know what all the fuss was about, because when she was a young married wife, lettuce wasn't available to buy during the winter months, so she never thought she was missing out. Phyllis also said, she felt we should revert to seasonal eating, which I have to say, I totally agree with, as eating fruits and vegetables which are in season, is much more of a pleasure, because they have not travelled far. She also added, that it was cheaper on the purse to buy seasonal food, because seasonal foods tended to be cheaper.

Phyllis carried on to say, that she remembered as a child, picking walnuts, apples and plums, with her brothers and sisters, from the trees in the family garden. She said that they were always so excited, to experience that first juicy bite, of the new seasonal fruit.

.... and isn't that what seasonal eating is all about. The anticipation of fruits and vegetables coming into season. When we lived in Cyprus, the fruits and vegetables were always full of flavour, because we ate seasonally. We knew in late October, early November, the fig tree would be ready to yield its fruit and I was always beyond excited to eat that first fig.

I admit, I have become a little lax since I returned to England.  I do buy a lot of seasonal food, but I also buy unseasonal foods such as mangoes and avocado which have travelled for miles, only to find, when eaten, I am disappointed with the flavour. When we ate mangoes in India, oh my goodness, the flavour was out of this world, I really enjoyed each bite, but invariably, I find, only 1 out of 5 mangoes, which I buy here in England, will taste anything like the mangoes I ate in India.

So I thought I would ask Phyllis if she had any idea as to what was in season at the moment, as I was curious to see if she could remember.  I really shouldn't have doubted her, because she named the following,

Parsnips, Swede, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Savoy Cabbage, White Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leeks, Onions, Potatoes and Turnips.

She said she always buys the fruits and vegetables which are in season.  Yes, she does buy salad in the winter, but that is because it is available and a good price.

Maybe, like Phyllis, it is time we did the same and returned to seasonal eating.

What do you think?

.... and there is nothing more seasonal, when it is cold, than,



a nice bowl of warming soup, such as this Apple, Lentil and Bacon Soup.

I had a few odds and ends which I needed to use up so I decided, as I often do, with odds an ends, to turn them into a soup.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,



a track from the Mike Wheeler Band album, Turn Up.  



Do you remember I mentioned last week that we had been to The House of Blues in Chicago, to watch the Mike Wheeler Band and how marvellous they were.

If you enjoy listening to blues music, then there are many Utube clips of the Mike Wheeler Band for you to enjoy.

.... and Edith, this is especially for you, because I know how much you love Blues Music.


INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO MAKE
APPLE, LENTIL AND BACON SOUP

Serves 4


150g red split lentils
1 large tart, eating apple such as a Granny Smith
2 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion
3 large carrots
1 litre of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper


HOW TO 
MAKE
APPLE, LENTIL AND BACON SOUP

~ Finely chop the onion.


~ Place the olive oil into a medium sized saucepan.


~ Add the chopped onions.


~ Cook until translucent.


~ Whilst the onions are cooking, peel and chop
    the carrots into chunks. 
    (Don't worry if the chunks are not uniform
     in size as we will blitz
 the soup when it has cooked.)


~ Peel and core the apple and cut into chunks. 


~  When the onions are translucent, add the


~  carrots


~  apple


~  lentils


~  chicken stock

and


~ the bay leaf.


~  Half cover the saucepan with a lid,
 and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the carrots, apples and the lentils are cooked.

~  10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, place the bacon under a grill and cook until the bacon is crispy.  


~   Cut into pieces. I use scissors for this as I find it makes the job a lot easier.


~   When the soup has cooked, remove the bay leaf.


~   Using a hand held blitzer, carefully blitz the soup whilst it is still in the saucepan.  Be very careful when doing this, as the soup will be extremely hot.




~  Ladle the soup into a bowl and add a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.




~  Add the previously cut strips of bacon




and


Enjoy.

Soups are a wonderful, money saving meal and they are so healthy.

You will have noticed that I did not add any salt.  The reason for this was, the bacon contains salt and also I had used 2 stock cubes, which already contain salt, so no extra salt was needed.

I would recommend that you do a taste test, as you might find you prefer extra salt.

Also, just as an added thought, if you find the soup is becoming too thick, whilst it is simmering, then please don't worry, just add some water to thin the soup a little.

Now, I feel sure you are wondering who Edith is, well let me tell you. Edith writes the blog,



Pop over and say hello, as I feel sure she would love to meet you.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,



and




As Always,  





Thursday, 2 February 2017

CHICAGO ~ THE WINDY CITY ~ PART 2

Good Evening to you,


I still feel a tingle of excitement, when I think about our recent visit to Chicago.

.... and one of the things, which really stands out for me, is the variety of food which was on offer.

Now I have spoken to you about the fabulous restaurant, Etaly, but now, I would like to share with you, a restaurant, with the most wonderful name,


Goddess and the Baker. When we walked through the doors we were immediately hit by the relaxed atmosphere. Natasha mentioned, that it was a really busy restaurant, and that we were lucky, because it was the lull, before the evening rush. I have to say, after an afternoon of shopping, Natasha and I were grateful for the peace and quiet, which Goddess and The Baker provided.

.... and you will not be surprised to learn, that our food of choice, was cake.


Yes, it had to be cake.  Sometimes only cake will do and what better way to end the day, than with a slice of the most deliciously, moist, carrot cake and a flat white coffee, which incidentally was the best flat white coffee I have ever tasted. It suited my palate perfectly.

Yes, I admit this is a large slice of cake... and yes, under normal circumstances, I freely admit, I could have eaten the whole slice, but on this occasion, I was very happy to share with my lovely daughter.... the cake was delicious.


.... and look at our surroundings.  Do you know something, in the 1970's, I had a curved lamp very similar to the one in the photograph, the only difference was, my lamp shade was oval.... vintage certainly has returned, and in a very stylish way.

Now if you have been visiting Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, you will know about my love of music. There is not one style which I love more than another, I am open to all forms of music. So when Natasha told me that there was a Blues club in Chicago, that we must visit, I was thrilled to pieces.

.... but not any old Blues club,


it was only The House of Blues... as you can see George was very relaxed, sitting between Elwood and Jake. He even wore a matching hat.... actually this is George's favourite hat.

Whereas,


I, look like, I really don't know what to do with myself.... maybe I should have worn a hat.


The music certainly did not disappoint, as the Mike Wheeler Band were brilliant.  They sang the most amazing version of 'Dear Prudence'.

Oh and I have to tell you, I discovered a new dessert, whilst at the House of Blues.... I told you we ate a lot of food.


Coconut Cream pie.  I adore the flavour of coconut and I have to tell you, I adored this pie. I have decided that this is a pie I am going to learn how to make.... I think I will have to increase my steps from 10,000 a day to 15,000 a day, just to ward off the excess weight.

So if you have a favourite recipe for Coconut Cream pie, I would very much appreciate a copy.


We also enjoyed walking, which is just as well considering the amount of food we ate.  Often we found ourselves walking along the river.

We found the river to be fascinating, because one day, it appeared to have steam rising from the water,


and another day, it was so cold, that there was ice floating on the river. Such a contrast.

Of all the wonderful things we experienced in Chicago, I think the number one thing, was meeting up with old friends again.

I mentioned last week that Kim, flew to Chicago, to catch up with us, but we also caught up with the lovely 'Sugarhill Gang' who drove 8 hours to be with us.... such a long way.

It was so lovely seeing the Sugarhill Gang again, as the last time I saw them, was when I took Phyllis to Atlanta to celebrate her 80th birthday.

.... and my, how the children had grown.  They are the most adorable children.

It was wonderful spending time together again, it was so natural, it did not feel like it had been 6 years since we had last seen each other. 

.... and the lovely 'B' surprised us with a tin of peppermint bark, which we absolutely love, and a beautifully tied bag, filled with the most deliciously sweet walnuts.... which I have to tell you, have long since been eaten.  Each year, 'B' takes the time, to create the delicious coating for these walnuts, then they are deep fried and cooled. I have to tell you they are scrumptious.

I knew that these walnuts, were a huge hit, with friends, who were lucky enough to receive them at Christmas time, but I didn't know that one year, there was great disappointment, when 'B' decided not to make them for Christmas.

Long story short, 'B's' friends, persuaded her, that Christmas would not be Christmas, if each person did not receive their supply of Christmas walnuts.  Much to everyone's relief, 'B' relented and each year these precious walnuts are made and given as gifts once again.

Christmas had been restored.

Our visit was full of wonderful places to visit, but the one which we all loved, including the Sugarhill children,  was to be found at the Millennium Park.... the Cloud Gate Sculpture, also, locally known, as The Bean,


On first seeing it, the Bean really takes you by surprise, as it is so unexpected. It has the most wonderful reflective surface, which allows visitors to create fun photographs. Can you see the reflection of the buildings.  When you look at the sculpture, there are no joins, it appears to be seamless.

Once we had our fill of the Bean, we watched,


the Ice Skaters having fun.  It has been years since I have put on a pair of skates. Part of me wanted to give it a go, and part of me was not sure.  To be honest, I was a little worried about falling down, so I decided it would be as much fun, watching everyone else skate.

.... and then it was time to eat.  Can you see a pattern emerging here.


.... and we knew exactly where to go, a place the children would love.

From Natasha's apartment, we could see a little frog on the roof of a building, which we came to know as Cha Cha.... and as the name suggests, a perfect place for the children.

The Rain Forest Cafe certainly lived up to expectations. We felt like we were sitting inside a tropical rain forest, with animals at every turn.  There was even the sound of a thunderstorm overhead. Little 'B' was a little uncertain at first, because the crack of thunder, took her by surprise, but once the thunderstorm was explained, she settled and did not seem to notice the sound of the ever present thunderstorm.

Before I go, I have to tell you about another new drink I discovered, and one which will certainly be replacing my Christmas sherry.


Eggnog.  I love the words 'spiked' written on the label. I felt that I was drinking something illegal. I have to say, I really wasn't expecting to like eggnog, because I had likened it to our English Advocaat, which I don't like,  but oh, I was so wrong. I have to say thank you, to Jolly G Boots, from Kentucky, because I love their Eggnog.  I am certainly hoping I can source it here in England, in time for next Christmas.... I'll let you know.

.... there is just one more thing I have to tell you, then I really must go.

Much to our surprise, when we flew back to England, we were upgraded to first class.  We couldn't believe it.  As you can imagine, we were over the moon. We boarded the aircraft and we were directed up the stairs, yes up the stairs and we were seated in the most wonderful seats.  The food we were served was fabulous, and you don't hear those words everyday concerning airline food.

So to which ever 'flying fairy', who so kindly, upgraded us, I thank you.... and I also thank the British Airways staff, who were so kind and who made our trip home so special.

Now I really must go, as it's time to cook supper. 

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As always,



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