Saturday, 27 July 2013

Cold courgette soup

I know, sounds revolting.... and the pictures of it do not look appetising either..... but seriously, this soup is delicious!

Normally cold soups leave me, well, cold.  If I think of gaspachio I think of cold insipid onion flavoured red water. Blergh!  Not my thing at all.

This however is packed with flavour, refreshing and can be eaten hot or cold.  Much nicer and really easy to make in big batches when you have a glut of courgettes. Simply freeze the excess and thaw for hot or cold soup another day. 

Foods that can do double duty are important to me right now as I have run out of freezer space already, so anything that is going to be squeezed in now, has to be worth the effort of rearranging and making fit in any available centimetre.  Think there is going to have to be a new (bigger) freezer budgeted in before the end of summer to be honest.

The garden is bursting with goodies now.  I have countless kilos of beans (of many types), super sweet peas, sorrel, herbs (too many to list), kale etc etc in the freezer.  We have started getting fruit from the trees, and the hedgerows are starting to fruit as well.  The little wild plums are soooo cute and such a deep purple.  The little cherries are quite tart and nice to snack on while I work in the garden.
 I am in heaven!  I love foraging, and love being able to go in to the potager, or for a walk to the forest and to look at what needs picking and plan our meals around that.  Bliss!

As summer has hit with force, and we are experiencing temps in the mid to high 30's, something cool and refreshing for dinner is perfect.  This has been in the mix every week since the courgettes started fruiting.  Another favourite is melon de Charentaise (our region of France) with dry/smoked ham and feta cheese.  Full of flavour, but cooling and refreshing after a long hot day.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Cold Courgette Soup

This is not really a recipe, more of a guidline.  I normally see how many courgettes I have ready, then pull up a potato plant.  Some of the spuds go in to the soup, the rest for another meal.  When I don't have enough parsley in the garden I use lemon thyme.

1 or 2 potatoes - depending on size
5 or 6 courgettes
pinch of white pepper
half teaspoon (or to taste) of nutmeg
fresh parsley

Wash veg and cut into smallish chunks.  Do not peel potatoes - that is where the fibre and vitamins are!

Put in to pot with a cup or so of water and bring to boil.

Add pepper and nutmag and parsley.  Cook till potatoes done.  Do not overcook or you will be left with a grey flavourless sludge!!!!

Whiz in blender or with hand blender.  It should be a lovely green puree.... which unfortunately does not photograph very well....hmmm.

This is the perfect stage to freeze excess. 

To serve, add some sour cream/soft cheese (eg; laughing cow, etc)/sprinkle of parmesan/croutons/herbs whatever you fancy.

NOTE:  Yes, there is no onion, garlic etc in this recipe.  This is because I am not allowed these vegetables.  My recipes are relying on herbs and other flavourings to give them a boost at present.  Feel free to add it if you like, but the nutmeg flavour will be masked.

You can make it a thick or thin soup by adding more liquid after pureeing.  It is nice as a hot soup with a bit of milk added to thin it slightly.  Makes it more substantial and filling.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Before and After

We have been working continuously to restore and renovate our fermette over the past 8 months.  Some of it is not clearly evident, such as the rewiring of the electricity, while other parts jump out at you.  This is the case with the chicken coop area.

I had to get some help with this space.  It was too much and too overgrown for me to manage on my own.  Luckily I had met someone who does this kind of work, and so they kindly agreed to take on the challenge.

The results speak for themselves.  Where initially there was a tangled wreck of chicken coops, pigeon house and rabbit hutches surrounded by jungle, there is now a pleasant open space ready to be fenced in and used. ... well after reroofing the chicken coop of course.

So here are the before (above 2) and after (below) shots to keep you amused.
As you can see there is a huge difference!

A lovely friend has also gifted us the roofing materials, so we can reroof the chicken coop and rabbit hutches now.  Very generous of them and greatly appreciated!

Recipes at end of week as I will be baking and cooking ready for an afternoon tea/sausage sizzle on saturday.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Whilst awaiting the renovation of our chicken coop, I spend time each day with the neighbours chickens. 

I love chickens

One of the hens recently went broody, and hatched a clutch of 13 chicks, or poussins as they are called in french.  They are soooo cute!  Peep, peeping around the garden and running  hither and yon.

The mother was very pretty and a super hen.  Unfortunately, she was attacked and killed by one of the dogs in the village a week ago.  Wish people would not let their dogs run free, especially hunting dogs - as this one was.  It entered the garden, which is completely fenced and secure, and killed the hen and 4 chicks....  leaving its trail of destruction through the garden before escaping and returning to its home.

Anyway, the remaining chicks are doing well and hopefully will survive to adulthood.  I managed to pat one of them last thursday, and friday had them follow me in the garden.  Super cute!

Finally, we are experiencing summer weather here, and the veg garden is starting to show results.

I spent this morning picking spinach, lettuce, green beans and courgettes.  Along with much weeding.  Hopefully things will start to crop more heavily and I can put away the produce for winter.

My corn was decimated by deer and hares.  I have about a third of it left.  The strawberry plants have been eaten to ground level by the deer as well, so no fruit from them this year.

If this keeps up I have decided the only cure is to eat more venison........ home grown of course.....

The neighbours raspberries have been fruiting like crazy.  There have been numerous friends coming over to pick fruit, and it still looks like the bushes haven't been touched!  I have made a few batches of jam, and frozen a few kilos of fruit for making frozen drinks and ice creams etc later on.  Some of the fruit was bigger than my thumb.  Enormous and absolutely delicious!

There is a sureau at the bottom of the terrain which is in full flower.  However, this year there will be no elderflower champagne..... not after last years adventures!  Instead I will hold out for the baies and make jelly and syrup.  Much safer option.
I promise to post some more recipes soon.  There is a salmon recipe with sorrel that I want to share, and a spinach dip which is obligatory at all parties with our friends as it is sooo delicious.