Tag Archives: lentil soup

In whom we trust…..

In my last post, but one, called Short Stories, I promised to provide recipes for the featured spicy lentil soup and easy fruit and nut cake.  I dealt with the soup in my previous post, so now it is the turn of the cake. Whilst the soup recipe had its genesis in my trusty Edmonds Cookery Book, the fruit cake recipe comes from another trusted and reliable source of everyday cooking wisdom in New Zealand; Dame Alison Holst. ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/new-years-honours/4504137/Dame-Alison-Holst-Queen-of-the-cookbook/ ) A food writer and television chef ( and oh so much more, in my opinion ) she produced the first of her many cookbooks in 1966. Today, there are approximately  four million of her books in print.   Again, like the Edmonds Cookery Book, that would equate to about one Alison Holst cookbook for every person in New Zealand!

The fruit cake recipe is from ‘Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” by Alison and Simon Holst, first published in 1998 by New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd P1020775The recipes that Alison and her son Simon present are meticulously tested and are fail safe.  They are utterly reliable and delicious, easy to prepare, and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like.

The ingredients for Easy Fruit and Nut cakeIngredientsThe method (with apologies for the poor photos)  and the final result.

Dame Alison, who was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Home Science and was a lecturer in Home Science before she began her present career. Over the years, as well as cook and write, she has raised over $4 million for charities.  She is a ‘star’ in New Zealand and held in such high esteem that, one year, it was  rumoured that she was to be appointed as our next Governor General. She was not, but, this year, she was placed 4th on the annual Reader’s Digest  most trusted people list. (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1306/S00264/new-zealands-most-trusted-in-2013-revealed.htm)

At the top of the most trusted list is  Sir John Kirwan, former All Black, coach, and depression awareness spokesperson and advocate.  Next comes Willie Apiata, soldier and Victoria Cross winner and, in third place, is  Richie McCaw.  He was the All Black captain who brought home the all important Rugby World Cup in 2011!  At the time, he was akin to the saviour of the nation.  The current Governor General holds the position of the 8th most trusted person in New Zealand, well behind Dame Alison, the cook.

Now, the most trusted list is  not something I take very seriously but I do find it interesting. And it’s fun to compare our list with the Reader’s Digest list for America where the top positions of trust seem to be held by actors and news anchors.( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/readers-digest-announces-100-most-trusted-people-in-america-206435821.html)  In both countries, politicians occupy lowly places on the list, which makes me wonder, at least in the case of our country, why we vote for them at all,  if we don’t trust them!  In fact, it seems quite nonsensical.

Perhaps we would be  better off if we simply voted, via the likes of Reader’s Digest, for John, Willie, Richie and Alison to lead the country. Under the guidance of these multi talented individuals,  we would most likely be a fitter, healthier country. Alison would see we were well nourished, John would guide us mentally and physically, and Willie and Richie would  help us maintain the  team spirit  to fight the good fight for the nation’s wealth and prosperity. Indeed, with these four trusted leaders in charge,  the governing of our country could become efficient and economical and ‘common sensical’, just like one of Alison’s good, wholesome, everyday recipes. With our improved health and nutrition and fitness, the Ministry of Health would have very little to do; as would the Transport  MInistry, because, with our new-found energy,  we would all be able to walk so much further and faster than we do now. Alison, with her teaching skills and home science degree, could organise the education and budgetary needs of the country; Willie could take care of security and defence, with a little policing thrown in; and Richie, being a lad of the land, could take over all matters agricultural. Lots of politicians and massive Government bureaucracies would be surplus to requirements. What a saving; there would be enough money freed up to provide everyone with a living wage, and a lot else besides.

Joking aside, Sir John, Dame Alison, Willie Apiata and Richie McCaw, and many others at the top of the list, are wonderful examples of fine citizenship. We are lucky to have them. They make a fine mix.

Enjoy your cake.

Photos from these sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Apiata

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_McCaw

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/sir-john-kirwan-most-trusted-kiwi-5470276

http://alumni.otago.ac.nz/page.aspx?pid=782

© silkannthreades

Recipe, as promised

Substantial

Spicy Lentil Soup

As promised, in my previous post, here is my recipe for Spicy Lentil Soup:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a large, heavy duty saucepan. Add one onion, one carrot and one stalk of celery,  all coarsely chopped. Add one clove of garlic, peeled but whole. Stir. Then let these ingredients ‘sweat’, or gently cook, with a lid on the saucepan, for as long as you can be patient.  Do not let the mixture burn or brown. I sometimes let my ingredients ‘sweat’ for about 15 to 20 minutes because the longer I leave the carrot, onion and celery and garlic, the sweeter the soup will be.  Remove lid and add 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/4 tsp of chilli powder and one dried, red chilli.  Stir for a minute.  At this stage, I add 3 or 4 slices of bacon*, chopped in to large pieces. Stir and cover for another minute.  Then add one cup of washed, red lentils. I stir and cover for a few seconds whilst I open a 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes in juice. In go the tomatoes, another stir and cover, and a few more minutes to allow the lentils to be coated with the tomatoes etc.  Lastly add 4 cups  of liquid stock and half a cup of bulghur wheat* . I use chicken stock made from stock powder or cubes. Add salt to taste. I  use  a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer covered, on very low heat, until the lentils and vegetables are soft; usually about 30 to 40 minutes. Once cooked, remove the slices of bacon and blend the soup till smooth. (Remove the whole chilli too, unless you want a really spicy soup!) Chop the cooked bacon into smaller pieces and use for garnish, along with some chopped parsley.

* I haven’t tried to make this soup without bacon but I am sure it could be made without.

* The bulghur wheat is optional but it does make the soup superbly thick.

My spicy lentil soup is adapted from the Spicy Lentil Soup recipe  in Edmonds Cookery Book, 45th Deluxe Edition, 1999.P1020772The first Edmonds Cookery Book was published in 1908 by young Mr Thomas J Edmonds who had established a thriving business selling baking powder to New Zealand housewives.  He promised the home baker that, with Edmonds baking powder, their baking was ‘sure to rise’ and so it did, and has continued to do so ever since.  He made his  first sale of baking powder in 1879.  Edmonds became a trusted name in our country’s households. In the last 50 years, or so, over 3 million Edmonds Cookery Books have been printed, which equates to almost one copy for every  person in New Zealand 🙂

Thomas Edmonds built his first factory in our city, Christchurch, in 1922. The factory and the company’s trademark  “Sure to Rise” slogan are featured on the cookery book cover. The factory was not only famous for its products but also for its beautiful gardens. Even when the factory was demolished in 1990, the site continued, and developed, as a garden for the public to enjoy.  Thomas Edmonds was an enlightened employer and subscribed to that lovely philosophy of a beautiful workplace to enhance the lives and working standards of his employees. He also wanted to live in a beautiful city and, to this end, was a prolific benefactor to the city. Sadly, some of his gifts to the city were destroyed in the recent earthquakes and have since been demolished. Amongst them was the Repertory Theatre, which began life as the Christchurch Radiant Health Club.( http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/radiant-living/the-origins-of-radiant-living)

Thomas Edmonds believed in the therapeutic qualities of the sun, and in the study and practise of diet.  I think I would have liked him. And I am sure he would have enjoyed a bowl of my soup,  followed by a bowl of my custard.  Good healthy, economical, everyday fare.

Such a pleasant, sunny piece of our city’s history. I wonder what Mr Edmonds would think of his successful home grown business, now in the hands of multinational, Goodman Fielder. Would he be pleased, philosophical or pragmatic about this development?  Or would he be worried, just a little, like me, about a company that will not tell me  why it proudly proclaims on the back of its Edmonds Sure to Rise Baking Powder that this important “Part of New Zealand’s Heritage” all “started in Lyttleton”, when clearly it did not; there being no such place. Thomas Edmonds first footprint on New Zealand soil was made in Lyttelton. (Spot the difference Lyttleton (wrong); Lyttelton (right) )

And can you spot the common denominator on the custard packet and on the cover of the cookery book?

So, here’s to the sunshine and soup  in our lives. Hopefully, we will see the sun again tomorrow.

http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Publications/ChristchurchCityCouncil/ArchitecturalHeritage/LegacyofThomasEdmonds/

http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Practical-Living/People/E/Edmonds-Thomas/

© silkannthreades

Short Stories

Rain

Rain

viewed from my window.

Soup

Soup of Substance of Substance and Sustenance, Lentils and Spice.

CakeNutty Fruit Cakeeasily made with Fruit and Nuts.

Rain, Soup, Cake; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Like the soup is sticking to my ribs 🙂

Footnote: Recipes for soup and cake in my next post.

© silkannthreades

Glum crepusculum and other twilight zones

Twilight, or the crepuscular hours, can be beautiful.  The twilight of a warm summer’s evening,  the twilight of a desert dawn, or the brief twilight following a tropical sunset, are especial favourites with me.  But twilight that starts around eight in the morning, before a sunrise that barely happens, and  then  seems to go on for the entire day, as it did today, is altogether a case of glum crepusculum.  Today was the fourth day of winter; assuming that winter’s official start was 1st June. It was wet, dreary, cold, grey and sunless.  I am already over winter.  And it’s only just begun.

What to do?  Glumness is too dull to bear. Well,  I made a hearty, spicy lentil soup!  That was a bit cheering. But not quite cheering enough. So I made a golden, creamy custard which we ate for afternoon tea with homemade apple sauce and whipped cream.  Not my usual ‘cuppa’ for  afternoon sustenance but I figured that, if I was living in a twilight zone, a dessert, in place of tea, was neither here nor there. And it was delicious. One helping wasn’t enough. We had seconds.

Then what? Having fed my body, I decided to feed my mind, which is when I googled  ‘twilight’. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crepuscular  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight).  And I discovered that cats  exhibit crepuscular behaviour which explains that cat you always see sitting at the gate, watching the world go by, shortly after sunset. That crepuscular activity is vespertine  which I think is a lovely, languid, slinky word that perfectly describes  that cat that sits and waits as the evening draws in.

Back in the realm of the ‘twilight zone’, I was amused to learn that another meaning for twilight zone is an “area of a city or town, usually surrounding the central business district, where houses have become dilapidated’.  That meaning  aptly describes  the state of the centre of our city,  post earthquakes.

But glum and gloomy as the day was, I have to admit the obvious, which is  that twilight is never completely dark; it cannot be, because in every twilight there are always degrees of light. That is the essence of twilight. So to lighten the mood, and feed the soul, here are some photos.

The first series features my beloved Tibetan carpets. They are a riot of colour and joy and light up my life every time my eyes alight on them. And strange to think that such vibrancy came from the hands and hearts of Tibetan refugees, who had moved from one twilight zone to live in another in their temporary home in Nepal.

The big picture:In full lightThese second photos were taken last week  to celebrate the birthday and enlightenment of The Buddha.

Now, as I end this post,  the true dark of night is here, and we again await the next twilight hour.  It  will be a matutinal twilight and, perhaps, will hold the  promise  of sunlight.Brilliance© silkannthreades