You know you've grown up when your weekend plans involve cleaning the house. I remember being frustrated as a child on Saturdays, wanting to go out and do exciting things but being delayed by my mom's to do list which included very boring things like washing the kitchen floor. Well life goes on and Stu and I spent this afternoon in domestic bliss. After some enthusiastic scrubbing and de-junking, things are sparkling and I'm full of optimism about the tidy week ahead.
Periodically we get really motivated, clean everything up and resolve to be perpetually neat. But before we know it the week's gotten busy and suddenly we've reverted to the faithful method of leaving everything at our backsides. Sad but true. There's a reality TV show on here (Brits love reality TV and the stations love it even more because it's so dang cheap to make) which features two super clean women preforming whirlwind transformations on the disgusting houses of some really serious dirt-birds. Sounds like must-see TV huh? It's perhaps slightly exploitative as these places are def-com bad, suggesting that these people have bigger issues than simple laziness and an aversion to the 'hoover.' Nonetheless, I watch anyway and enjoy how it makes me feel less bad about the dumping ground that is our spare room.
But enough about cleaning. Today being Sunday, I made soup which has become a bit of a tradition chez-nous recently (can you call something a tradition after three weeks?) I chose to make Carrot and Parsnip soup and Irish Soda Bread. Last fall my sister-in-law Ruth mentioned this soup to me and I subsequently found the ingredients on a website that I can't seem to locate again. This one was really good with a mingling of sweet and hot flavours - it originally called for more chili powder but turned out too hot so I've reduced the amount here.
Carrot and Parsnip Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic
3 cm root ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp chili powder (beware - this will give it a kick!)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper (again, bit of a kick)
200 ml apple juice
500 ml veggie stock (I use Marigold)
1 1/2 c chopped carrots
1 1/2 c chopped parsnips
200 ml orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger until translucent. Add the cumin, coriander, chili, cinnamon and cayenne and fry for about 30 seconds more. Add the apple juice, stock, carrots and parsnips and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes. When the veg is cooked through, remove from heat, add the orange juice and puree with a blender. Season to taste and garnish with a dollop of natural yogurt.
The big hit of the afternoon was the Irish Soda Bread. What can I say? When in Rome . . . This super easy recipe is from Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites and it turned out really well! The introduction to this recipe states, 'In many homes in Ireland, breadmaking is still an everyday affair . . . Always ready to be sociable at the drop of a hat, the Irish have perfected a number of quickbreads.' Ahem, I'm a bit skeptical about the everyday breadmaking thing but must admit that I was inspired to make soda bread by our very sociable friend Sara C (the original Irish domestic goddess!) who brought us a to-die-for loaf recently.
Irish Soda Bread
1 1/2 c white flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg white
1 c buttermilk (or 1 c regular milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the white flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Thoroughly mix in the brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands!) cut the butter pieces into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal.
In a separate bowl, bet the egg white until frothy and add the buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring just until the dough is evenly moistened, the dough will be very soft. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and, with floured hands, gently knead for just 30-45 seconds - overkneading will toughen the bread.
Mound the dough into a dome about nine inches across on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut an X about 1/2 inch deep in the centre of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is firm to the touch and golden brown. Serve immediately.