The Perfect Winter Soup: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice

I had this craving one day a few weeks ago. I needed warm, thick, carb-laden, wholesome chicken soup. I needed celery and carrots and onions swamped in gloopy, glorious chicken soup. I needed it for my soul.

I also needed it to happen in my crockpot, because I had a lot going on that day. I have a lot going on every day just at the moment. Today, I am hunched over the computer while I put together essays on equine anatomy systems. Just maybe, by Friday, I might be done with school. Maybe?

I headed to the one place you can be sure to find crockpot goodness on the internet: Pinterest. It was awash with recipes, but a lot of them had one crucial flaw. Continue reading

Simple things: Avocado Toast

Yesterday, I was at home unexpectedly, and Cowboy was out at work all day, so I found myself with a bizarre burst of energy that only comes with an impromptu holiday when you weren’t prepared for one. It was like some kind of summer snow day.

I got a few dull but essential tasks done – I finally got my name changed on my Social Security card, now that I have the required pieces of paper, and I stopped in at Bed, Bath & Beyond on the way home and bought a towel hanger, a hook, and a shelf, towel hanger thing that hangs on the back of the bathroom door. I’m not going to admit how long it took me to put these things together and get them put up, because it’s embarrassing, and I don’t want to taint the sense of accomplishment that came with the eventual (slightly wonky) victory over hardware and power tools. Continue reading

Nutritious and wholesome fail

Cowboy has gone away for the weekend to work cows, and has taken two of the horses with him. I am at home with Richard and Blue Dog, and Sunshine is learning what it is like to be at the bottom of the hierarchy as the two new training horses bully her.

I immediately intended to eat nothing but fruit and vegetables all weekend, as a gesture to my food freedom when I don’t have to feed a cowboy. I waved him off and wandered inside, intent on having the most wholesome and nutritionally rich breakfast I could muster.

Then I put Dance Moms on the tv and ate a huge bowl of frosted Mini Wheats, and had a sugar rush and a bloat for an hour or so.

After tinkering about on the internet, looking at kitchen cabinets and chia pudding and 26 life hacks for cat owners (none of which will entertain Richard in any way), I pried myself away from Dance Moms and managed to go outside and enjoy the glorious, warm, bright sunshine. By this, I mean I stood and watched the hose slowly, slowly fill up the water tanks in the main fields and thought “Well, golly it is hot today. I am going to have to take off a layer. This is terribly inconvenient.”

Sometimes it is impossible to just enjoy oneself when one is British, and thus genetically programmed to find at least one bothersome thing about any situation.

I tutted to myself, shrugged off my hoodie, and then complained to myself at how I was now perhaps just a shade too cold.

I cleaned stalls, because shovelling shit is weirdly satisfying, and decided at around 3pm that I should probably eat something absurdly nutritious and wholesome for lunch, because the healthy eating thing had better start now, so I can make the most of it before Cowboy gets home.

Then I put two slices of white bread in the toaster, and fried up some bacon for a bacon sandwich. Ketchup counts as a portion of fruit and vegetables, right?

Sunshine and I took some time to hang out together, while the weather is Not Rain, which is what it looks likely to be for the next couple of days. We didn’t ride, but we did some low energy brain work in the round pen. She was in a bit of a mood about having been chased about all day by the new horses, and not terribly keen to defer to me too, but we did get some work done, and she got some more of her winter coat rubbed off.

“I should probably have a healthy sort of snack,” I thought to myself once I had put her back out in the field to enjoy the rest of the sun. Back in the kitchen I found left over disaster cookies (I tried baking thick, gooey chocolate chip cookies the other night, and what came out was a thin, messy sheet of sugar, with chocolate chips bundled in the middle), and munched through half a pan of those, with a mug of milk.

After going out to feed the horses this evening, I came back in with a firm determination that I was going to have a good supper. Something green and nourishing and tasty.

I ate the rest of the disaster cookies and another mug of milk.

I suppose the wholesome nutrition starts tomorrow. I have prepared a small vat of chia pudding for breakfast. My kitchen is now paved with good intentions…

Recipe: Spicy cauliflower and carrot soup

Soup soup soup. Yesterday, it was lunchtime and Cowboy had his go-to food of tortillas with melted cheese and some chopped onion (usually he has salsa, but we don’t have any right now). I was hungry, but I’ve been so saturated with American convenience food lately that I just couldn’t face anything that was quick and nutritionally empty.

I raided the fridge. I found: carrots, half an onion that Cowboy had left, a small, radiant, yellow cauliflower that I picked up at the farm shop because it was pretty, and some broccoli with rather more stalk than usual. Soup was the only logical step from there. I’m obsessed with spicy soup.

First, roughly chop the onion and throw in a large saucepan with a good glug of olive oil.

Chunk up the carrots and throw them in too. I didn’t even bother to peel them. Extra fibre!

Chop up the cauliflower and throw the florets in there too. I wanted to save most of the broccoli florets for supper tonight, so I chopped off the stalk, chunked that up and threw it in the pan along with two or three broccoli florets, for a bit of green.Untitled

Fry it all up for a while, and add a good teaspoon or so of curry powder, and about half a teaspoon of turmeric (I wanted to preserve the yellow colour). Cook the spices for a moment.

Add chicken stock – I used just enough to cover the vegetables in the pan – and simmer until the veg is tender.

As a side note, Cowboy and I went to look at some model homes yesterday, as a bit of amusement, and there were several lovely kitchens with roof lights right over the islands, and I thought how lovely it would be to have good light when I’m cooking, rather than squinting under the hood with barely any light at all. One can dream.

When the vegetables are cooked and soft, blend it all up. Mine came out pretty thick when it was blended, and I added a little more water.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then this next part is completely optional – but it will change your life.

OK, life-changing is probably a tiny exaggeration.Untitled

Get out the Sharwood’s Mango Chutney. Fish around in the jar to avoid the chunks of mango, and drop in two good dolloping teaspoons of chutney. Stir it in, it will melt and disappear in moments. What it will leave behind is a hint of tangy, sweet spiciness that goes wonderfully with the cauliflower and curry.

The colour is divine.

It would even make a good curry sauce to pour over chicken and rice instead of a coconut milk based sauce. Not exactly authentic Indian cuisine, but still tasty.

Cowboy had to leave the house at this point, as curry isn’t really his thing.

I snarfed down a bowl of goodness with a crusty white bread roll and butter. It was just the job on a damp and slightly chilly day, and it kept me going until after 9pm. It also satisfied my vague craving for curry without having to leave the house. A win all the way around!

Plenty of leftovers to eat today, which is another classic Pacific Northwest grey and damp day.

Enjoy!

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Photography fail

For some reason best known to itself, my (not so) trusty iPhone switched itself off when it had 40% battery remaining, and refused to switch back on again until I plugged it in to some power. I was on my way out when it happened, taking Cowboy’s shoeing stand to him, and I had a bunch of other errands to run while I was out.

Of course, I then came across several moments where it was ideal for a little photographic capture, and I had no way of doing so. Bah.

Still! Just imagine the picture of my impromptu and delicious lunch that I snarfed down when I got home, of a spinach wrap filled with homemade houmous, grated carrot, spinach and sun dried tomatoes. It looked very beautiful. I wish I could have shown you. But I couldn’t wait for my phone to charge even a little bit. I just snarfed. I’m weak-willed where food is concerned.

Then I wanted to take some pictures of the horses when I went out to clean stalls, because the sun was out and they looked all golden and glowing out in the field, and Sunshine managed to only be muddy on one side of her body, but my phone was still in the house, charging… So you’ll just have to imagine how beautiful they were, too.

Imagine the thrilling picture I wanted to take of my new toys – a pastry cutter and one of those tapered rolling pins with no actual handles. Imagine the pictures of me putting them to use when I tried making homemade tortillas for supper. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe, lard and all. She encourages some dogged determination in the face of disaster, and I will certainly need some more practice before I can say I have tortillas in my repertoire.

Delicious, though.

I did step outside the front door this morning to capture the sun coming up over the mountains, so no need to imagine this moment of glory.

Good morning! I didn't have to get up at 5am today, so this 7.30 sight was all the more glorious.

It was made all the more glorious by the fact that I didn’t have to get up at 5am to get to school at 9am today. Exams have their perks. Wish me luck!