Last Sunday I spent some time making a list of all the recipes in The Soup Book after someone asked me how many more recipes did I have to get through. I counted 199 soup recipes and ten bread recipes, and I have made thirty-seven soups, including the most recent. So I still have some way to go. At this rate, it could take me five years!

So, Pichelsteiner. What is it? The Soup Book lists it as a German soup containing lamb, but suggests that it is "versatile enough to work with pork or beef instead of lamb." On looking it up on the internet (including German language descriptions), I discovered that Pichelsteiner (from Buechelstein, a mountain in Bavaria) is a mixed meat stew or Eintopf (one pot). Other recipes use a combination of beef, pork and veal, but not lamb; the common vegetables are onions and cabbage. The Soup Book's ingredients include lamb (shoulder or neck), onions, dried marjoram, dried lovage or thyme, vegetable stock, carrots, leek, potatoes and Savoy cabbage.

Once you have browned the meat and onions, and added the herbs and seasoning, you pour on the stock and leave it cooking for about forty minutes. Then you add the vegetables (except for the cabbage), season the stew and leave to cook again. About five minutes before you are ready to eat, add the shredded cabbage. The stew is served sprinkled with parsley.  It was delicious - the sweetness of the carrots, leeks and cabbage complemented the lamb really well. It's definitely more of a stew than a soup, and without the cabbage would be a decent Irish stew.

Having braved the icy footpaths for an afternoon of Christmas shopping in the city centre, it was a just reward for me. The Savoy cabbage was huge, but I shredded half of it anyway. I probably used about half of what I shredded and the plan is to use the remainder to make coleslaw.

Let it snow!

Outside Minnie's House, Sunday 28th November 2010
I have to say I have enjoyed the snow of the last week. Yes, it disrupts traffic and yes, it's bad for the economy, and yes, long-planned events have to be postponed, but it brings out my inner child. I like the quietness snow brings before the traffic gets going. Then the excitement in the air as parents start bringing their children to parks and hillsides. Being cold then going inside to warm up. Layers of clothes and unsophisticated colour combinations. People stopping to talk to you as you clear the footpath. The joy of children hearing that school is closed. I write all this while having the luxury of living on a main road, not too far from shops, and being able to work from home if necessary. Yes, I am lucky, so I might as well enjoy my luck.

Bee Charitable 

In the run up to Christmas, various charities are asking people to donate money to support bee hives in third-world countries, inter alia:

Closer to home, the British Beekeepers' Association is running an "adopt a beehive" campaign in the hope of raising money for research into the decline of the honey bee.


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