April in the Sidebar

Eagle eyed readers will have spotted a few new “faces” in the sidebar this month.  Remember, nobody pays to be featured in the sidebar, I just choose great stuff that I’ve tried and loved. When I sat down to write this I noticed there’s a bit of a masculine  theme to this month’s selection.  Three great companies that I’m sure you’ll be hearing lots about.

 

Let’s start with 9 Meals from Anarchy. I love these guys! I first met Tom and Matt when I interviewed them for a feature on their new veg box scheme a couple of years ago. Back then they had just taken over a tiny small holding on the edge of my village. Today they’re settling in to a new, larger plot and producing this fabulous vegetable stock. There are a few (and growing) stockists, but you can also buy it mail order. I can confirm the postal service is great, your stock will arrive safely wrapped and ready to add to stocks and stews.  We need more Veg Men in the world right now.

Next up is Lakeland Muesli. We first tried this toasted artisan muesli at the Cockermouth Food Fair last year and loved it. Even more I love their story. Like many people born and raised in Cumbria they’ve been trying to find their way back home and starting Lakeland Mues has been part of that “grand plan”.  There are plenty of stockists around Cumbria now selling it (But not enough), so if you’re heading up to the Lakes this year look out for it. It’s fuelling Mr T’s Fred Whitton training and I’ve had no complaints so far! My favourite is the Artman Classic  – but guys, if you ever want to trial a coconut free variety – I’m your gal! You can also buy mail order, so no excuses. It’s far tastier than those faux artisan cereals you buy in fancy cardboard boxes in the supermarket!

Lastly Nom Nom Chocolate. Made in Wales I first discovered it in my local farm shop. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for packaging – but once I tasted it – wow! It’s delicious! We’re partial to the salted caramel, but there always seems to be something new to discover. Once again, check out the stockists lists or buy online.

You can click on the links to visit the websites or find all three on social media.

Have a delicious  weekend x

PS I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’ve been quite overwhelmed by how many of you have shared your stories on here, Facebook, Twitter and particularly Instagram. There will be a follow up post shortly, but I think it’s pretty clear that we’re all struggling one way or another and it doesn’t hurt to say so occasionally.

A quick lunch on a cold day

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Hummus and crunchy veg, summer 2016

It really was a day for soup. A biting wind and a hard frost kept me indoors. Only a fool would have ventured out today! I craved soup, but the cupboards are bare. We only came back from a few days away last night and the only fresh veg we have is a sad looking cauliflower, and a couple of onions. We didn’t even have a can of soup or a stray tupperware tub lurking in the freezer.

Instead I made a big bowl of hummus. Served up with crackers and crunchy cauliflower it was a delicious lunch. I make mine with lots of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. It might not be the genuine article but it passes muster in this house. Everyone has their own favourite recipe for this tasty dip. I use canned chick peas for convenience and a big dollop of tahini. It’s easy to make if you have a food processor. You might like to try this recipe from Jamie Oliver as a starting point. If you have ten minutes to spare, Felicity Cloake wrote a piece for the Guardian about making the “perfect hummus”, which is a great read if you want to experiment.

Tonight we’re eating from the freezer, left over sausage rolls and Christmas Day veg fried up bubble and squeak style. Tomorrow the monthly “big” Ocado shop arrives and I’ll make a trip to the green grocers and the butcher to stock up – but I shall definitely be wearing “all the hand knits” if it’s as cold as it’s been today!

 

Recipe: Parsnip and Coconut Soup

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You might think this would be a strange combination, but it works. Using up the leftovers before we make our pre christmas visit to family, I found a bag of parsnips looking rather sorry for themselves. I fried 2 finely chopped onions, a clove of garlic and a small piece of fresh ginger until golden. Then I added chopped parsnips, a teaspoon of garam masala and poured on cold water to cover. The soup was left to simmer until the parsnips were soft. To finish, I added the remains of a pot of fresh coriander leaves and blended until smooth. Finally the soup was returned to the pan and I added half a can of coconut milk left over from last night’s thai chicken. Season to taste and serve warm with crusty bread. Now I need to find a use for some rather wrinkly carrots….

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Recipe: Lentil Soup

If you can stir a carton of soup you can make this. It started off as a way to use up some rather tired looking vegetables, but is now a firm favourite. Feel free to experiment with your favourite veg and flavourings. It also freezes very well.

Ingredients:

200g red lentils

1 litre of stock (or water if you don’t have decent stock)

2 carrots, 2 sweet potatoes and one onion

Oil or butter for frying

Salt and pepper

Method

Fry the onion in oil or butter until soft and transparent, add the water and the lentils, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the veg (chopped into small pieces or chunky depending on your preference). Continue to simmer until the veg is soft. Season to taste and if you like a smoother soup, use a potato masher or hand blender to  mash the soup gently and stir to a smoother consistency.

Pour into bowls and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and some fresh chopped coriander. This is comfort food at its best and easiest.

Variations:

Try adding a teaspoon of ground cumin to the soup while cooking or a handful of fresh coriander. We’ve also tried adding the zest and juice of an orange. The beauty of  cooking your own is there are no rules!


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  • I’m Tracey Todhunter. I’m a freelance writer. specialising in green / ethical living – with a “sideline” in craft!

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  • When you look up from the tv and realise outside is far more interesting! Happy Bank Holiday weekend everyone. I shall mostly be harvesting onions, drinking g&t and reminding myself how lucky we are to have this view.
#slowliving #thankful #girlgardener #mygardenrightnow #cheshirelife #thewayweliveinthecountry #permaculture Finished a new shawl. Far too hot to wear it, but luckily my shed is a great backdrop! Yarn is King Cole Riot. 
#crochet #crochetgirlgang #neverenoughshawls #sheshed #madenotmanufactured #crochetlove Free food! Next best thing to growing your own food is eating other people's homegrown. I'm looking after my neighhour's garden & boy does he have a lot of radishes just now! I have written a blog post about more of my favourite (almost) free foods. Link in profile, now I'm off to pickle these radishes.
#frugalfood #foraging #ediblegarden #growyourownfood #girlgardener #allotmenteering #eattheseasons #permaculture  #zerowaste #slowliving #gardentotable #organicgardening #forktofork I'll admit it, I grow this mostly for it's amazing colour - but the stems are delicious sauted with chorizo or streaky bacon!
#mygardenrightnow #girlgardener #girlsthatgarden #permaculture #growyourown #ediblegarden #bakingandmaking #slowliving #organicgardening I do love a formal garden. I walk through this one every Friday on my way to knit group.  Castle Park is a hidden gem.
#gardens #castlepark #parksandgardens Thanks @simplycrochetmag for featuring my crochet picnic basket :) The pattern is available  now in Simply Crochet celebrations edition. You'll need a cardboard box to upcycle & some chunky cotton yarn, I used DMC Natura XL & finished it off with leather buckles from Bag Clasps. 
#crochet #crochetgirlgang #upcycling #reloved #crochet #makersgonnamake #lovecrochet
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