A simple and hearty soup to get this year of the B.H.K kicked off in substantial style. Sweet, nutty, with a good mustard poke in the oil. Jane is inexplicably, sunning herself on the beaches of Spain (she’s back now actually) and has left me her to hold the windswept fort. Granted, in her last email she did seem apologetic. I realise I live the life of riley, but Jane is at least matching me with her Spanish countryside retreats. My Dad has popped over from Durham to make sure that I am behaving myself and filling me in on all the woes of Sunderland AFC this season (this is a pathetic football team that is constantly flirting with relegation and spends vast sums of money on very pants players) and the combined and glaring failures of England Rugby and Cricket. Sport is so dramatic! At least it is in our family.
Wales has welcomed me back into its arms with plenty of rugged weather, but it’s been lovely to have walks again though in the hills and catch up with some of our wonderful friends. North Wales in an amazing place to be, but it seems that winter is still very much here and making its icy presence felt. Snow is predicted over Easter (!?) It was 5oC this morning in the garden, with a cross wind biting my bones. I am now unable to cope with this kind of glacial behaviour. I have just landed from the downtown 35occ heat of Delhi. It’s quite a shock to the system. Still the fire is blazing away and there’s soup on the hob to thaw me out. Life is grand. Summer is coming…………..(or just a sight of the sun would be more enough!)
Anyway, enough of the engrossing weather update, let’s move onto the more weighty issue of thick soups that warm things up from the inside out. Soup that coats the ribs and tickles the taste buds. This is a bowl of hearty sup which only has a few ingredients and an interesting combo of flavours going on. With the millet and parsnips, there is plenty of carbs there to get things motoring. Dad and I had this for dinner with some toasted flat breads and it was nicely filling. We eat like horses, so there will be plenty for leaftovers.
WE (heart) MILLET (muchly)
When are they going to start making keyboards with the heart symbol on them? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing, a huge, evolutionary leap forward. The ability to spread loving symbols at the push of a button.
They love millet in India, it used to be more popular than rice and has been eaten in many tribal areas for millennia. There are so many types over there; red, blue, white, big, small and slightly green-ish, they seem to change constantly from region to region (I show a keen interest in subtleties of millet variation when on holiday such is my dedication to the BHK cause!!!!!) Millet is superbly nutritious and naturally gluten-free. It also grows well in most places in the world and is cheap as chips to buy. We like to use it as a replacement for things like cous cous or bulghur wheat. More and more people are realising their intolerance to gluten and millet is a great replacement for other gluten-y grains. Millet is now getting wide spread support in India and is being planted instead of rice in many areas, which is good news, as rice is very thirsty and uses loads of water, plus the tastiest rotis (flatbreads) on the subcontinent are made with majority millet flour. I’ve tried black roti’s (see below) and recently had a deeply ochre puri (fried flatbread) that blew my marbles. Very different flavour and texture. Like a dark and delicious frisbee.
There is a fine lady name Vendana Shiva who we became aware of this trip in India, a fabulous environmental activist who travels the world and pioneers many new and visionary approaches to saving our poor Mother Earth. Vendana set up Navdanya an environmental education centre and farm which promotes the movement for biodiversity and organic farming methods. This is only one of the projects that the incredibly industrious Vendana has started, she is a real force of nature! We visited her restaurant in Dilli Hart, a market in South Delhi. The food is all organic and it acts as a huge store for organic seeds, pulses and spices. We brought a load of spices back to play with, many of them seeds so they last alot longer in the cupboard. Vendana is also very active in global seed harvesting which is becoming hugely important in many parts of the world in order to protect the diversity of crops and guard against the spread of GMO’s. Read more about it here. This will increasingly become a major issue as indigenous species of plants all over the world are wiped out by unnatural GMO varieties, sold by multi national corporations, that are actually barren and wholly alien to nature. These GMO seeds work in tandem with poisonous pesticides and fertiliser tailored to enhance the growth of these specific seeds only and do not enhance the soil or local ecosystem in anyway. This is a hugely narrow minded approach to farming and nature in general. Nature is a vastly complex system of tiny systems working together in harmonious fashion, or it should be without our interference. GMO’s are a huge threat to the future of food and nature in general. See Vendana Shiva talk more about this topic below and Navdanya’s hopes for 2015:
Back to soup-ville……I don’t feel the need for stock in this soup, cauliflower, millet and especially parsnip are packed with sweet flavours. The stock they make is seriously nutty and flavoursome, a little seasoning goes a long way. Parsnips can be a little tricky to store, they have a habit of going slimy. I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge in a plastic bag.
Buster Watch – no sign of the little guy yet, a friend was feeding him in our shed a.k.a ‘The Buster Suite’. He has obviously found a better deal, but when he smells the kitchen kicking out curried aromas and clouds of fresh bread wafts, he’ll know we’re back. (PS – If you are new to the B.H.K, Buster is a semi-wild, punk of a cat that occasionally lives with us and brings us too many joyous cat based shenanigans). We hope he says ‘hello’ very soon. Little grey furball that he is.
I don’t know when we stopped putting music on the B.H.K, but we’d like to start again. Below is a tune that sums up the feeling up in our little windswept village, Carmel, at the moment. ‘Ghost Town’. One of Dad’s favourites by ‘The Specials’.
So we are back (well one of us is anyway) and the Beach House Kitchen in back in the flow and ready to bash some pots and pans together, make up some interesting food shapes with strange, fresh and appetising angles. I hope you all had a magical winter, I’ll be posting some pictures of our trip around Turkey, Spain and India soon. I’m off for a cup of Brickie’s tea with soya milk in it, a supreme luxury that I have deeply missed.
I think this summer is going to be rosy!
The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls
3 tbs cooking oil
2 small onions (finely sliced)
2 medium sized parsnips (finely chopped)
½ medium sized cauliflower – roughly 250 grams (finely chopped)
2 teas Dijon mustard
2 teas black mustard seeds
1.5 ltr veg stock/ water
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
In a large frying pan, a 1 tbs of your oil and when warm, add the onions. Fry for 5-7 minutes on a medium heat until they begin to caramelise, then add the parsnips and fry for another 5 minutes. Now for the cauliflower, add to the pan, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the millet, Dijon mustard and stock/ water. Stir, pop a lid on and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the millet is cooked.
In a small frying pan, warm 2 tbs of cooking oil (rapeseed oil is nice) and add the mustard seeds, toss the seeds in the oil and fry gently for a minute, until they are popping. Set the oil aside.
Blend the soup in a food processor or use a trusty stick blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve piping hot, spoon over the mustard oil and serve with lashings of smiles.
Parsnips are actually indigenous to the Mediterranean and are normally harvested after the first frost. It is a funny time of year in Britain, there is not much available from the land, so I have no idea how these parsnips came to be. Soon the local organic farms will be back in bloom and fruit and we will be rich in delightful veggies. For now, we scrape by.
Parnsips are high in sugar, up there with bananas and grapes. They do however have great levels of dietary fibre, which lowers GI and are packed with anti-oxidants (poly-acetylene). Parsnips are also rich in vitamin B’s, K and E, as well as minerals like iron, copper and potassium.