Yesterday (Saturday 21st August) I made chickpea soup. The spouse and the younger offspring were away camping in the west of Ireland, so I had to do the shopping, make the soup and cook the dinner myself. The choice had to be something quick and easy to prepare. Furthermore, I wanted to shift the cans of chickpeas that have been languishing in the cupboard (the spouse objects to this, saying they've only been there a week). The recipe calls for dried chickpeas to be soaked overnight but I didn't feel like making that much effort. The only overnight work I did was to thaw out a leg of chicken. The introductory text for this recipe mentions Shaun Hill of The Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny, who states that the chicken "makes this a questionable dish for your vegetarian friends - unless you are an accomplished liar."
Apart from chickpeas and chicken, other ingredients that go into this soup are olive oil, celery, onion, leek, garlic, white wine and lemon juice. I simmered the chickpeas and chicken together in 2.5 litres of water, as stated in the recipe, took out the chicken after 45 minutes, simmered the chickpeas again, then added the lightly fried celery, onion, leek and garlic, and finally returned the chicken meat to the pot. At this point the recipe suggests adding a little water "if the mixture seems too thick to blend." My concoction definitely was not too thick. Perhaps I should have added less water at the beginning. I wondered if using canned chickpeas affected the volume of water I needed.
The next stage was the blending, interspersed with the addition of the wine (the older offspring had to whizz down to the local supermarket to buy something cheap and cheerful), lemon juice and olive oil. I suspect that my food processor is approaching retirement age - the soup did not look as smooth as the photographed version in the book. Never mind.
The older offspring and I had the soup for our lunch yesterday. We enjoyed it - the wine and lemon tastes came through. We agree that it felt healthy. I've just had a second bowl of it for my late lunch with the spouse and younger offspring. The spouse and I agreed that it could have done with a little more reduction and that without the chicken it would have quite insipid (just as well I used the entire leg and not just the drumstick prescribed in the recipe). The younger offspring, who is not known to have any gourmet tendencies, said it tasted "like nothing." He had better become known for tact and diplomacy - and quickly.
On Facebook I came across this reference to The Soup Book on the Ginger Jar's site. The author is inviting anyone who bought the book to comment about it on her own site Ginger Jar Food.
Thank you, loyal MH, for the postcard from France with the Recette de la Soupe de Poissons. The ingredients are very similar to those in The Soup Book recipe (see blog of 24th July).
This morning the spouse invited me to join him and the younger offspring on a walk out in Killiney. The sun was shining and so I said yes. We have a book called Walking Dublin by Pat Liddy, which was published in 2004. Last year we followed one of the suggested routes (Phibsborough to the National Botanic Gardens), making a short film of our progress. As might be expected, Walking Dublin has a Dalkey and Killiney Hill route, so we brought the camera with us. I suspect that the views along this walk have changed due to the building work that has been undertaken in the years since the book was published. Two walks done, just another twenty-two to go. (Just a quick aside - will books influence all my future projects? Does it matter?) Is there a bee connection? There were bees buzzing around on Killiney Hill and I made sure I filmed a couple.
Bees in Literature
To be more specific, Bees in What I've Been Reading this Week. Reading indiscrimately is my life-long habit, despite my teachers' and lecturers' efforts. While in my twenties I came across Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love. I read it and enjoyed it, especially the caricature that is Uncle Matthew. I went on to read most of her other novels (Love in a Cold Climate, The Blessing and Don't Tell Alfred are far superior to her earlier books) and became interested in her and her sisters. While flicking through Love in a Cold Climate a couple of days ago I came across this:
"Linda, who loved to chat, found many congenial spirits in the carefree, pleasure-seeking London of those days .... Young men, pensioned off by their relations, ... clustered around Linda like bees round honey, buzz, buzz, buzz, chat, chat, chat."
In preparation for a course I'll be doing this autumn, I am reading David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I hadn't heard of him before but I intend to read more of his books. In a chapter entitled The Monster Mash, Sedaris describes his time spent in a medical examiner's office and it was here I came across a reference to bees:
"By this point in my stay, my list of don'ts [ie, things not to do if you want to live a long time] covered three pages and included such reminders as: never fall asleep in a Dumpster, never underestimate a bee, never drive a convertible behind a flatbed truck, never get old, never get drunk near a train ..."
- The spouse sent me this link to a photo of a birthday cake decorated with bees!
- And this one to a photo of a pair of legwarmers with a bee motif in a blog called Slipped Stitch.
- A few weeks ago someone called Carol Drinkwater contacted me to let me know that she was interested in bees too and suggested I look at her website. This link will bring you to the Bee Awareness page on her site.
- Bee box project - how is it going? Well, I'm sitting on the sofa typing and the older offspring is with me watching television and the plank is lying out in the garage.
- Surfing on sunny fields (Irish Times, 21st August) - a story about sunflowers in Co Meath.
- In Jamie Does ... Athens shown this evening, one of the items is about honey. The Greek bee keeper featured in the programme says that in areas where he has good reception for his mobile phone, he's losing bees (see blog of 14th August).