Clean plates and good intentions

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Throwing stones into crashing waves is some of the best fun you can have (my brother, niece and nephew).
Throwing stones into crashing waves is some of the best fun you can have (my brother, niece and nephew).

 

Thank you so much for your kind comments and good wishes for my mum. She did make it home before Christmas and even managed to come to us for lunch on the day itself which involved a few strong men/boys, a wheelchair and ropes (we’re on a steep slope), a good sense of humour and a few stiff drinks once she was safely ensconced. The signs are positive for a good post-op recovery this time. Fingers crossed.

Well, Happy New Year to you! I hope you’ve had a wonderful festive season. Ours has been a bit of a whirlwind, to be honest. BC (before children), I used to love the peaceful days after Christmas Day when there was nothing much to do. Back in those days before life was stored on a phone, I would settle down to transfer dates to my new diary and calendar and enjoy the feeling of being ready for the year ahead. If I had time off work, I would go out to eat, meet up with friends, lounge about. Nowadays, this time is all about seeing relatives and friends (ours and the children’s), entertaining and cooking (cooking, cooking), hosting get-togethers and socialising. We’ve had non-stop house-guests and it’s been non-stop eating and drinking. I do love to see everyone but this year, more than ever, I feel the need for a breather. I am knackered. I have eaten my bodyweight in mince pies, Christmas cake and chocolates, eaten too much meat, drunk alcohol every day for over a week (which my poor liver is not used to) and I’m totally over the festivities.

We had 11 people for lunch today, so I concocted a warming carrot and parsnip soup (*recipe below), using up veg from the bottom of the fridge, and David made crusty wholemeal rolls. For dinner I made Jamie Oliver’s fabulous veggie chilli. This is a firm favourite of ours and I often substitute butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and use different beans. It’s one of those meals that is easy to bulk up if needed and any leftovers freeze well.

Come Monday morning, the house will be empty apart from me and the animals. I will be clearing the decks: the tree and all the wilting greenery outside for composting; decorations back into the loft; laundry into the washing machine; furniture back where it should be. I don’t make new year’s resolutions as such – I’m rubbish at sticking to them – but I have a large room to decorate, crochet to master, two pieces of furniture to finish painting, garden borders to clear, plants to move in case there is a cold snap, new planting plans to make and (this is the biggie) a new job to find.
How about you?

 

* Carrot and parsnip soup (serves 10)
a good glug of olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 level teaspoon ground coriander
1 very heaped teaspoon ground ginger (add more if you like)
approx 8 large carrots, peeled and chopped
approx 5 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 litres vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
pouring cream, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat, and cook the onions and garlic together for about 10 minutes, stirring, until translucent (don’t allow to brown). Add the spices and stir well to coat the onions. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir well, bring to the boil and reduce to simmering. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the chunks of veg are very soft. Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to whizz together to form a velvety soup. Season to taste. Serve with a drizzle of cream on top (unless you’re being healthy) and plenty of crusty bread to mop it up.

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40 thoughts on “Clean plates and good intentions

  1. I made a huge pan of carrot soup today, I think it was in recognition that perhaps we need a bit more veg to counteract the fruit cake eating……..
    I often make that chilli recipe, it’s a good one isn’t it!
    good luck with your not resolutions, especially the job hunting, sounds exciting x

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  2. So glad that your Mum made it for Christmas! I am sure that you were all really pleased and it surely has to help her health to have had the day with you. Enjoy the peace on Monday!! I will be looking forward to peace next week too. Hope that the job hunt goes well! Happy New Year! xx

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    1. Ha, yes! Thank you Annie. My toe is fine now and my middle son is about to go to rugby training any minute – his foot is healed and I’m hoping he’ll stay out of trouble… Just mum to go now 🙂

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  3. We’ll be having a squash soup tomorrow, also using up some bits from the produce drawer. Your soup sounds delicious, thank you for the recipe. I’m so enjoying my fresh, clean house these past couple of days since we put Christmas away. It was lovely, but I really like the tidiness after it’s all over. Continuing to think positive thoughts for your mother. Happy New Year!

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  4. Lovely Sam. As much as I love the festivities I also love cleaning up the debris, packing away the tree, clearing the fridge and generally getting back on track. I hope you are enjoying a little peace and quiet now x

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  5. Ahh, the days of a new diary and calendar with a fresh clear new year stretching ahead. It’s just not the same when everything’s on a screen and updated automatically.
    Good luck with your New Year Intentions and let’s hope we get a cold snap so it’s worth moving those plants.

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  6. Mmmmm ….. that soup sounds the perfect concoction for a day like today Sam. Hope that all your new plans pan out to your satisfaction and that you have fun along the way. Happy New Year!

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  7. That sounds good. A nice soup is just what we need just now, I am so sick of rich indigestible food. I don’ t want to see a mince pie again ever.
    It is fun to set a few goals for the new year. I have several that I won’ t talk about unless I can make them happen. But one thing I have decided to do is walk the Peddars Way in Norfolk. Part of it goes along the beautiful north Norfolk coast. It is 93 miles so I won’ t do it all at once but in nice manageable chunks.
    I am interested to hear about your quest for a new job. I hope you will still have time for your blog.

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    1. That sounds like a fine plan – the north Norfolk coast is beautiful and great for birdwatching. Writing plans in my blog is a good way to spur me onto actually doing them! I’ll definitely keep writing as long as I can because I enjoy it so and it’s become an important to me.

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  8. Your soup sounds good! My hubby and Tavi and I went out for lunch and a long walk today. It felt as if it was the first time for ages doing something on our own! It is nice to celebrate and catch up with family and friends but it also good to get back to normal! So pleased your Mum managed Christmas and is doing well. Sarah x

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  9. Glad to hear you made it through all in one piece. Love your beach photos too. I always want to purge myself at this time of year and this week at least we are eating no meat. I’ve made a good start with stuffed squash (Sarah Raven) served with savoury lentils (Annie Bell) and a watercress salad on the side although I fear I am about to undo some of the good with a piece of Monty Don’s windfall apple cake! Happy new year Sam and good luck with the job search. It is lovely being able to work from home but it is good to have the comradeship of an office too.

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    1. Cake doesn’t count if it has fruit in it 🙂 Your veggie dishes sound delicious. I do crave healthy food at this time of year and it’s good to pack in plenty of vitamins and minerals to ward off colds, etc. Now the children are older I do feel the need to step out into the wide world again… We’ll see.

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  10. I like it when Christmas is back in the attic and life returns to normal. I might send the link of this post to my 12 year old, she loves carrot soup and it looks like a good recipe for an young chef. Happy New Year! It looks like a busy year ahead. Good luck with the job search. x

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    1. Thanks Christina. It’s a very simple soup recipe and I’m sure your daughter will be able to customise it with whatever veg you have and tinker with the spices. I’ve had a few failures ending in brown nondescript soups but it’s good to experiment.

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  11. Ok, I will admit I am a little jealous of your empty house on Monday – that time to quietly get on with things without distraction, with just your own thoughts for company. That’s one of the things I miss since I went back to work, the solitude.

    I’m really glad to hear your mum was able to join you for Christmas. I know what you mean about overdoing the meat and alcohol – I am cooking mainly veggie dishes and both John and I are doing Dry January. Happy new year to you. xx

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    1. I confess I have become quite solitary over the years and do enjoy being in the house on my own. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not! Good luck with Dry January. That’s a good idea.

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  12. Happy New Year, Sam (belatedly) – wow, sounds like you had a full on christmas! It’s good to enjoy the moment and then put it all behind you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having my son home from uni and cooking all his favourite suppers and puds. Actually, it’s been nice to have the down time to be able to cook properly rather than throwing salad into a dish which is what I do when on my own. Thanks for the chilli recipe, I’ll check that one out as chilli is a firm favourite in our house. And, yes, soup is good – home-made cream of mushroom here, using up the beef stock from the freezer, dished up with slices of toasted home-made bread. Totally yummy! Good luck with the job hunting! C x

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  13. I’m happy to hear that your mother is doing better. Good luck on your job hunt. And, I highly recommend going back to a paper calendar/diary. Phones can’t compete with the tangible record of days and events in a real calendar book (especially one with photos or artwork). It’s a daily pleasure and something to keep.

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  14. I love your title, ‘Clean plates and good intentions’. It sounds so purposeful! You are heading for a busy 2016 by the sound of it. Wishing you all the very best with your plans, I do hope you still find time to blog! X

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