Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mixed bean soup with orange, carrot and coriander

I made the worst soup ever last week. It sounded great, but unfortunately I put too much Pesto in it, and it was gross. So this weekend, to redeem myself, I've made a soup that I really liked.

This is a nice combination of fruity flavours and semi-spicy vegetables. The beans provide a large dose of protein and make the soup rich and hearty. Perfect for when you're about to head out into the cold.

Mixed bean soup


3 Satsumas or Mandarin oranges, coarsely chopped
Splash of orange juice, splash of sherry or cooking sherry
2 tbsp fresh ginger or ginger purée
1 cup of mixed soup beans (split peas, lentils, barley etc)
4 large carrots
2 medium onions
1/2 bulb of garlic
1 small red chilli
sea salt and ground black pepper
Fistful of fresh coriander


The bean mix needs to be soaked overnight in a large bowl with about 3 inches of water covering them. (If you're using canned beans you can reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes, and you don't need to soak).

Cook the beans in a pot with 6 cups of water, vegetable or chicken stock for about 40 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile fry the onions, garlic, chilli in a pan until soft, then stir in the ginger and leave to one side.

Put the carrots on to boil separately for 10-15 minutes until starting to soften, then put them to one side too.

Once the beans are soft, sieve out about half of them and put them in a blender with half the carrots and the fried onions, garlic and chilli. Blend for a few seconds.

Pour everything into the pot with the beans. Add the oranges and half the coriander.

Simmer for another 10 minutes until flavours are combined.

Serve hot with some fresh coriander on the top.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Overheard on the train

Snippets of conversations on the train recently:

Some girls talking

girl1: He's taking advantage of you. 
girl2: I'm only lending him the $800
girl1: But he only needs it to pay the cops, then he's going to dump you!
girl2: But...
girl1: And he's sleeping with his ex-girlfriend!
girl2: He's only sleeping on her floor while he's looking for a new place.
girl1: [actually slaps girl2 due to exasperation]

Some girls who work at Shaw technical support...

girl1:"I had a customer complaining that everyone was short and fat. And I thought he was a nut job. But it turned out he was watching everything set in widescreen on a normal TV."
girl2: "I spent an hour today trying to teach a guy how to turn his tv off. He said it was grey and not black. We figured out he was only turning his cable box off, not his tv."

A guy and a girl chatting

guy: I may be going to see Slipknot
girl: With your millionaire girlfriend?
guy: She's not my girlfriend.
girl: You should make her your girlfriend
guy: Well, she's kinda tall, and proportionally wide. Still, she'd pay my debts off for me.
girl: ...
guy: She told me she had a dream where she'd had sex with me. I said "How was it?". She said "I woke up happy."
girl: That's not ambiguous is it. You have to date her. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nice chicken curry

This chicken curry turned out so nice I took pictures of it, and even took the time to write this blog post...

From Chicken Curry

The ingredients were somewhat made up on the spot. I started with Pataks Mild Curry paste, which is tasty, but unfortunately it is mostly oil and salt. Still, I was hungry, and it has a good bunch of spices and herbs in it too.

Then I added some left over tomato sauce from Saturday, which was home made and salt free. This was cherry tomatoes (canned, but no added salt), onions, garlic and some Italian herbs.

The curry paste went into a pint jug with the tomato sauce, 1/2 a pint of chicken stock, some red wine, salt and pepper.

I fried up chicken breasts, and at the same time put some diced potatoes on to boil, and started up the rice.

After about 8 mins, the chicken was cooked and I threw some broccoli florets in with the potatoes.

Then I drained the broccoli and the potatoes and threw them in with the chicken, and poured the pint jug of good stuff over it all and stirred it all up.

Simmered for about 10 minutes, and then ate.

It would have been nice with some nan bread, but you can't have everything.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Science world

Corbey, Jamie and I went to Science World on Sunday to check out the new Fossils, Fins and Fangs exhibit. Really we just went to see the full size cast of a t-rex and genuine fossilised triceratops head.

Science World Fall 2008

We also checked out a movie at the Omnimax theatre there, called Journey into Amazing Caves. Really it's about a couple of amazing women, that climb and raft to the most inaccessible caves in the world to take biological samples.

See a clip here. Omnimax Theatre

Monday, November 3, 2008

Justin's Pumpkin Soup

Making pumpkin soup has become a tradition for me over the years. This is how I made it this year. It was a good year!

There are some rules for making Justin's Pumpkin Soup.
  • It has to have pumpkin in it
  • No salt, no sugar, no modified or processed crap
  • Everything has to be fresh (ground spices are okay)

From Pumpkin soup 2008


1lb Pumpkin, diced
2-3 Medium Onions
3 Large Carrots
6-8 Medium Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 a red pepper in questionable condition
1/2 a garlic thinly sliced
1/2 large ginger root, shaven into ribbons then chopped a bit
Few drops of lemon juice
1pt Chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine (cooking)
1/2 a green chilli (chopped finely) (more next year, this wasn't enough)
Glob of honey (a fairly generous glob)
Freshly ground Black pepper

From Pumpkin soup 2008


Half fill a large pot (at least a quart pot) with hot water, and add a pint or more of chicken/ vegetable stock. If you don't have real chicken stock then OXO or something is allowed. This breaks one of my rules doesn't it? But that's okay.

Bring the water to a boil then you chop everything up, and put it in the pot.

I usually simmer it for about 35-45 minutes. It's probably better to start with the stuff that wants to be cooked longer, like potatoes and carrots, but this year I didn't bother doing that and it was fine.

Erm. Well that's really it!

We eat it with a french baguette or something similar. Corbey, my wife, has cheese in it. Processed cheese at that. This is tolerated.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Henry James - Washington Square

I thought I should read something by Henry James, since I never have. His name often comes up in a short list of great novelists, or masters of the English language.

It's a very quiet novel. The main character being a young woman, Catherine, of apparently little character, who is suddenly courted by a charming handsome young man.

Set in the late 19th century, in 'Washington Square', an upper class elegant collection of homes, the book focuses on the relationships of Catherine with her father, and between Morris and Catherine.

I enjoyed, if that's the right word, the subtle intensity of these relationships. So much goes unsaid between father and daughter, and yet all her life she suspects he doesn't love her, and all his life he tries to hide that that he doesn't.

In steering her away from Morris, who turns out to have squandered a fortune already, he is protecting her from possiblly being taken for a ride and left penniless, but at the same time he is taking from her perhaps the one hope of happiness she ever had. Brought up to expect nothing, to sit in her parlour with her Aunt and listen to the gossip, I can't help thinking a marriage to Morris, however brief and eventually disastrous, would be at least some kind of life.

Catherine's father, who has suffered the death of his beautiful wife, has everything on the surface; wealth, success, a life in the fashionable upper class circles of New York. Yet he comes across as a bitter tragic and vindictive figure.

This novel, which he himself was apparently not fond of, is an enjoyable enough if somewhat depressing story. The characters and the sheer quality of the writing make it worthwhile.