Soups

Flavours. Sweet Potato Soup.

Five Element Acupuncture and Taste.

Including a great recipe for five-flavours sweet potato soup.

acupuncture chart

In five element acupuncture, the body/mind/spirit is divided into five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood.  Each element  houses different aspects of our physical being, our personality, our moods and emotions and our characteristics.  It is a system that is both complex, and wonderfully simple at the same time.  In this blogpost, I hope to elaborate on flavours.

Each element is governed by a particular flavour:

Fire: Bitter flavours such as coffee, raw cacao and certain herbs and spices

Earth: Sweet flavours such as sugar and fruit

Metal: Pungent flavours such as spices and certain herbs

Wood: Sour flavours such as vinegar, lemon juice, onions

Water: Salty flavours such as salt and tamari

Of course, lots of basic ingredients have more than one intrinsic flavour, for example, garlic is both pungent and bitter, and cherries are both sweet and sour.

When it comes to flavouring a dish, it’s very useful to use different flavours to enhance and/or rein in others.  Some dishes, notably many Asian dishes, include all these flavours, and, in the right quantities, they blend together to create complex and well balanced tastes that thrill the palate.  There is an art to this as it can easily go wrong.

Classic flavour combinations may only include two or three different flavours, which can fire each other up to create lively and exciting blends. It’s not necessary to add all five flavours to every dish, just put the right ones together.

A good balanced diet will include all of the flavours, in a creative, interesting and varied way.  An excess of any particular flavour in the diet is not such a good way to go.

What I want to say is this; bearing in mind these flavours, it’s possible to create really great dishes that have a complexity of flavour that exceeds the sum of the parts.  It only requires a little imagination, exploration and experimentation.

A recipe for sweet potato soup that uses all five flavours.

Ingredients: (amply serves 4)   Continue reading “Flavours. Sweet Potato Soup.”

Vegan, Vegan Cheese, Vegan Snacks

Tomato Skins…lol… #wastenot

What to do with tomato skins and a simple recipe for tomato and peppercorn cashew cream cheese.

This is a slightly odd one so I’ll keep it short!  Ideally you need a dehydrator and a decent spice grinder, but you can try it on the lowest possible oven setting, and grind with a pestle and mortar.  You also need enough tomato skins to make it worth the faff!

I grow tomatoes.  If you want to grow one thing, make it tomatoes.  You don’t need much space, they will grow very happily in pots and hanging baskets on a sunny patio, and while they need reasonable and consistent attention, it isn’t rocket science.

You won’t regret growing tomatoes because they always taste so much better than any you buy in the supermarkets.  Always.

To grow them, you need to do two things, google ‘grow tomatoes’, and investigate varieties for taste and size. I’m still exploring varieties, this year I grew Marmande Beef Tomatoes, and Black Cherry tomatoes.  My salad tomatoes got the blight.  However, I have had baskets of tomatoes on the kitchen table for over three months, and everyone tends to pop the cherry tomatoes in their mouths like candy.

I make passata to freeze, which is where this blog post comes in.

I personally don’t happen to like tomato skins in my passata and asian tomato sauces, so to make Mediterranean style sauces I either roast the tomatoes in a big roasting pan covered in foil, and remove the skins when they’re soft, before whizzing the pulp in the blender, or I blanche them in boiling water for ten minutes, and skin them before chopping and freezing for Asian dishes.  I’ve probably got about a dozen packs of tomato based sauces in the freezer now that autumn’s here….

So.  Call me mad, but I collected the tomato skins all summer long, and added  them to a bag and froze them.

Now the tomatoes are all gone, (and dearly missed they are too), I have retrieved my collection of tomato skins, defrosted them, laid them out on a parchment sheet on a baking tray and put them in the oven on the lowest setting for an hour.  Once they were less soggy, I transferred them to my dehydrator, again on parchment-lined trays, and set the dehydrator temperature at 40C.

If you dry vegetables at too high a temperature, they are liable to lose flavour.

When the skins were completely dry, (36-48 hours), I ground them into a powder which will keep for a couple of months in an airtight storage jar.
Tip: Once ground, if the powder is still even a little bit moist, put it back in the dehydrator (spread out on the parchment-lined trays) and give it another
blast for a few hours at 40C.

The powder can be added to anything that requires a tomato hit: sauces, soups, veggie stock powder, vegan cashew cream cheese, pizza……or anything else you can think of.

And that’s what you can do with tomato skins! #wastenot

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A recipe for dreamy cashew cream cheese coated in tomato powder.   Continue reading “Tomato Skins…lol… #wastenot”

All About Beans, Growing things, Vegan Ingredients, Vegan Snacks

A Celebration of The Humble Bean.

Tips on cooking beans, with a simple recipe for bean pate.

You’ve just got to love beans!

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It’s autumn here in the UK.  I am lucky enough to have an allotment, and I love it at this time of year, its decked in autumn colour, bathed in hazy sunshine or shrouded in fine mist (or is that rain…?), and still abounding in fruitfulness.  A few days ago, I stripped all the bean pods from the vines.  The pods are slightly damp and bedraggled, and coloured musty shades of brown and yellow.  I brought home a huge bin bag full of them, three different kinds: moonlight runner, scarlet emperor runner and borlotti. They look distinctly unpromising, which is why I am always struck by what I find inside. The pods split open easily, and inside, nestling in a smooth, silky, papery, white sheath, are lines of immaculate, shining, pristine beans.

It seems so improbable.

The task of the next few days is to shuck them into bowls, then leave them in a warmish dry room (but not too near the heat otherwise they will split).  Every time anyone passes, they perform a little ritual, which basically involves shuffling the beans around in the bowls.  It’s quite musical and very therapeutic actually!  To begin with, they sound dull and muffled. As the days go by, the rattle of the beans starts to change, until eventually it sounds like marbles rattling in a glass bowl.  The sound, after a few weeks, becomes absolutely clear and bell-like.

They really are like magic. It’s no wonder that they’re the stuff of fairytales and runes.   Continue reading “A Celebration of The Humble Bean.”