Pumpkin Soup Recipe and the Writing Disease

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~ Ray Bradbury

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. ~ Ernest Hemingway

I’m deep in a story right now.  Whenever writing grabs me by the throat like this I forget to eat, it becomes too much bother to cook, and when I do suddenly remember that I’m hungry I want something I can eat fast. It’s like an illness, this kind of writing. I breathe story, dream story, bleed story.  It’s all I can think about. Food? Yeah, when my stomach aches and grumbles I want to eat something that fills me up and nurtures me, but that also lets me get back to work again with a minimum of fuss.

The answer to my problem is soup!

I like to make an industrial-sized vat of the stuff, so that there is plenty to feed me, and anyone else who happens to be around, for at least one meal. In truth, if there is enough soup, and enough bread, I can exist in this writerly state for days…

My soup of choice today happens to be pumpkin.  Why? I have a triffid-like  jap pumpkin vine taking over my vegetable garden.  Jap pumpkin is sweet and buttery, easy to cut, and a great all-rounder in the kitchen. Once this writing frenzy subdues a little I might whip up a batch of pumpkin scones and share that recipe with you too.

Of course I also got to leave my desk and wander up the hill to pick a pumpkin, and some shallots (green onions) for my soup. I already had garlic hanging in the laundry from summer’s harvest.  Gardening is a very healthy and grounding pastime for writers!

Pumpkin Soup Ingredients:

Vary the quantity to suit the size of your crowd, but for four hearty serves you’ll need half a jap pumpkin (about 4 to 6 cups of flesh – you can also use any other kind of pumpkin with good flavour), a large onion, two bay leaves, stock (at least two cups, or a quality stock powder and some water – if I have none of my own stock in the freezer I use Massel brand chicken style stock – great flavour and it’s 100% vegan!) 3 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to season, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of honey.

To serve you’ll also need some good bread for toast, some plain yoghurt or sour cream (if you’re vegan or dairy-free try coconut yoghurt!), and some fresh herbs such as green onion, chives, coriander (cilantro) or parsley.

Method:

Take a large saucepan.  Peel and chop your onion and garlic roughly. Then skin and de-seed your pumpkin and chop into chunks. Dump into the saucepan with the onion and garlic.  Barely cover with stock, or a good stock powder and water.  Season with some salt and pepper, and add in the cumin and bay leaves.  Bring to boil and then reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for twenty minutes. Take off the heat, and allow to cool a little.

If you have a stick blender you can puree the soup directly in the pot.  Otherwise transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Return to a saucepan to reheat.  Test seasoning, and adjust if required, adding honey if necessary.

To serve, ladle into a bowl.  Add a dollop of sour cream or natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.  serve with hot buttered toast. Enjoy!  ❤

Feel motivated to grow your own pumpkins or herbs? It’s easier than you think. Maybe this will inspire you:

Virtual Vegan Potluck – Creamy Satay Hotpot Recipe

Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck: bringing vegan food bloggers together to share a virtual potluck, linked by a blog circle – and our love of cooking, eating and sharing. Participating bloggers will be posting recipes – from appetizers to desserts.  Many Blessings to Annie from the wonderful blog an unrefined vegan for bringing us all together.

Links for the entire Potluck at the bottom of this post. You don’t have to be a vegan to join in – the Potluck is all about fantastic healthy recipes celebrating plant-based foods.  Something for everyone!

I have served this vegan recipe at my spiritual and psychic workshops for many years, where it is lovingly referred to as ‘Slop in a Pot’. No matter how big a quantity I make it is always gobbled up.

This dish is great grounding food (not sure what grounding is, or how to do it – click here), and it really nurtures your base, sacral and solar plexus chakras. It is also light enough energetically to allow you to make strong psychic connection while staying in that grounded space.  Needless to say, I eat this kind of food often when I am working!

It’s one of those fantastic recipes, where, once you get the hang of it, can be easily modified to suit whatever ingredients you have to hand. I have often served it to great compliment from people who had no idea (and still probably don’t!) that it was meat-free.

Note to those people with peanut allergies: I have also made this recipe with roasted macadamia nut paste in place of peanut butter. It still tasted heavenly, and the macadamias bring out a real sweetness in the dish. If you choose to use macadamias don’t use strong flavoured beans, tempeh or chick peas as the macadamia flavour will be overpowered.

Ingredients to serve four:

Sauce: One can of coconut cream, 1/2 can of water (you may need a little more), 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter, 1 tablespoon palm sugar or equivalent sweetener, 2 tablespoons of your favourite curry powder, 2 large garlic cloves chopped finely, 1/2 inch of fresh root ginger grated (or use powdered ginger to taste), juice of half a lemon or lime, one sliced chilli or chilli powder to your taste (optional for those who prefer a milder flavour), one tablespoon of oil – coconut is great, but use whatever you have to hand.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add curry powder and stir well, then pour in coconut cream.  Mix well.  Add all other sauce ingredients, stirring well after each addition.  Adjust seasoning if required. Then add water to thin down sauce. (Hint – this sauce is also delicious on its own, drizzled over steamed, baked or barbequed vegetables, or cooled and spooned over a crunchy salad – just don’t add the extra water, so that it stays thick and rich.)

Vegetables: Two washed potatoes – skin on, one large carrot, one onion, one cup each  (or your best guess) of sweet potato and pumpkin, 2 cups of quick cooking fresh seasonal vegetables such as capsicum (peppers) corn, beans, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower etc

Additional protein: You can add a cup of cubed tofu or tempeh to this dish if you are looking to add more protein. Chickpeas also work delightfully well.

Chop all vegetables. Add root vegetables to the pot and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes on a slow simmer. Add more water if needed. Stir pot occasionally to prevent mixture sticking on the bottom. Check that the root vegetables are almost cooked before adding remainder of vegetables and any proteins that need to heat through. Cook for another five minutes or so until everything is done to your linking.  Remove from heat.

Garnish: While root vegetables are cooking dry roast a cupful of raw cashew nuts and set aside. Cut the other half of the lemon or lime into wedges. Chop some fresh coriander (cilantro) and a chilli (if you like things hot!)

Place a generous serve of rice in the bottom of a bowl, and then spoon the satay vegetables over the top.  Garnish with the toasted cashews, some coriander (cilantro) and chilli slices, and a wedge of lemon or lime. Enjoy! Namaste ♥ xx

To start at the beginning of the Virtual Vegan Potluck so that you can enjoy all the recipes and fun click here!

To visit the blog that precedes mine in the potluck click the image below:

To read the blog that follows mine in the potluck click the image below:

Home-made fresh Orange Jelly Recipe

This is a delicious old-fashioned jelly recipe that is firm enough to be used for a molded dessert. It’s quick to prepare and after you’ve tried it I’m sure you’ll prefer it to packet jellies. It can be easily modified to suit diabetics by using a sweetener instead of sugar, and is gluten and dairy free. If the oranges are very sweet you may not even need to use sugar, or may like to use a dash of stevia, natvia, agave syrup or honey instead if you are on a sugar-free and sweetener-free diet. (I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners but I’m suggesting it here for those of you who use them for yourself or loved ones.)

Vegetarians and vegans can substitute an equal amount of agar agar powder for the gelatine.

Ingredients: Four oranges, plus one or two extra if you would like to have orange segments suspended within your jelly. 4 tablespoons gelatin, 175ml (1/2 cup) of water, 175ml (1/2 cup) hot water, up to 4 tablespoons of castor sugar OR a sweetener of your choice.

Method:

Pare the rind from the four oranges OR zest them if you like a textured jelly. Place the rind/zest in a saucepan with the half cup of room temperature water. Simmer for five minutes to transfer the orange oils into the liquid.  If you chose to use rind parings remove them now.

Now juice the four oranges, remove the seeds and add to the water in the saucepan. Test for sweetness and add sugar or sweetener to taste.

In the half cup of hot water dissolve the gelatin, letting it sit for a minute or so until all lumps have gone.  A fork works well for stirring this!  Add the gelatin mix into the saucepan of liquid and stir through.

If you would like to add orange segments to your jelly ( a delicious textural addition and well worth the little bit of extra effort), use your additional oranges for this. The youtube clip below shows the easiest way to do this. If you are going to present your jelly in a bowl you could keep some of these segments for decorating the top of your jelly after it has set.

Make sure you have removed any seeds/pips from the segments before you add them to your jelly. Don’t add any extra juice though – just the flesh.

*At this stage you may like to add a dash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier for a tasty adult dessert. Up to a tablespoon works fine.

Lastly, pour the jelly into a serving bowl or a wetted mold. (If you wet the mold first it helps the jelly come out easily later).  I was recently given this funky silicone brain mold, and had been looking for a reason to try it out, hence the brain shaped jelly at the top of the page!

Cool in the refrigerator for four hours or until firm.  This jelly sets much firmer than a conventional packet jelly. You could actually slice it to serve if you wished.  It goes well with a good vanilla icecream, or you could whip a little cream and toast some almond flakes for a fancy finish.

I actually served this jelly with coconut milk yoghurt, for people who can’t eat dairy. Coconut cream would be another good choice. It makes an excellent flavour combination. Enjoy!