Scottish Lentil Soup

Cheap, nutritious and easily vegan. My camera isn’t working at the moment so no pictures this time. This should make about three portions but mess with the proportions all you like as I measured by eye.

  • One onion
  • Two carrots
  • One rib of celery or celery leaves
  • Red lentils
  • Veg stock or ham hock
  • Frozen peas (optional but added because more veg is good)
  • Mixed herbs or thyme and parsley to taste

If you want to make it more delicious then fry the aromatics after you’ve chopped them before boiling it all up. If you’re looking for healthier just dump them all in the pot, it’ll still taste good. Make sure you boil the lentils for ten minutes to denature the enzymes. It also freezes well and if you don’t have celery to hand it’s still good without it.

 

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More Plant Necromancy

Its been about two months since I came back to a dead looking avocado tree whose leaves had all dried up and fallen off. Because the stem was still green I didn’t get rid of it, continuing to water it and hope. Today its put out little buds.20161015_145959

Apologies for the blurry photograph, I’ve drunk slightly too much coffee today so there was some camera shake involved.

Moral of the story, if its still green there’s hope.

Plant Necromancy

Before I went to Ireland in the Summer I managed to give most of my plants to friends to take care of. Unfortunately the person who was meant to take custody of my spring onions and avocado tree didn’t turn up so I had to leave them to die in the sun.

I noticed when I got back that one of them still had a green bulb under all the straw so I lazily decided to put off uprooting the rest for a while only to discover they were nowhere near as dead as I thought.

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So I continued to leave them, with regular watering, and more of them resurrected themselves than not.

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The moral of the story is that often your plants are not as dead as you think. The avocado tree still has no leaves but the stem is also still green so I’m waiting and seeing.

 

Winter Prep

Before it gets really cold I like to stock pile a series of ginger based cold and flu cures.

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This is literally just chopped ginger put in honey. I let it soak in like this in the fridge and use a teaspoon full in hot water to make a really throat soothing, sinus clearing tea. The juice flows out of the ginger, thinning the honey and making a sort of syrup.

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This is my Ginger Soup, loosely based on Hot and Sour soup and something I’ve been inflicting on sick friends since undergrad. Of course as its my secret remedy there’s no one to make it for me when I’m the one whose sick so I like to keep two tubs of it in my freezer (that’s all I have room for).

You will need;

  • One large thumb of ginger
  • Four spring onions or one white onion
  • Six cloves of garlic
  • Two chilis (less if you like spice less)
  • Oil of your choice
  • Rice vinegar (I’m using Chianking)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Stock of your choice

This is really easy to make and I like to use it as the base for a lot of soups. All you have to do is dice the vegetables and brown then in the oil, then add everything else and cook until the flavours are dispersed.

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Castle Leslie

I’ve just come back from cousin’s wedding in Ireland so I’m going to take a brief detour from my usual themes and talk about the wedding venue: Castle Leslie.

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Castle Leslie is deeply intertwined with my own family’s history. We’re descended from one of the original architects, Thomas Kerr, who was brought over from Scotland for the project and then chose to settle locally and marry a Monaghan woman. I mentioned I was going to write this blog post to one of the staff and he actually took me to see some of the original plans so I could photograph them.

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Thomas’ descendants have continued to work for the family, most often as jewellers, although my great grandmother also upholstered most of the furniture at one time. According to my grandfather, who used to play on the grounds while she worked, some of that furniture is still there. (I completely failed to get a picture of it of course). I do have a picture featuring the original wallpaper however. Its crooked because I took it in a hurry but isn’t it and the fireplace beautiful?

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The portico outside has four arches with relief profiles of the first owner’s four children,. He had three daughters and a son and I think its nice he wanted to celebrate all of them like that.

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The grounds themselves and much of the interior are inspired by the Italian palazzo’s, and the weather was so unnaturally good for Ireland that it actually felt a little like being in Florence.

I would love to have that conservatory to write in.

The best and weirdest part of the place are the bedrooms, because each one has been redesigned uniquely. One of the cousins had the haunted disco bathroom (by the time she showed me my phone was out of power so no pictures sadly). Its a basement bedroom where the previous lord’s disco equipment (he was a big fan) is all set up in the bathroom, so you can turn out the main lights, turn on the flashing red and green ones and have a bath under the disco ball. We’re not sure who the ghost is though.

Another bathroom had LED constellations set over a jacuzzi while one of the rooms, which once belonged to an actress had murals of her painted on the wardrobe and a mirror covered in lights, Hollywood style. The room mum and I were in is the old Nursery and it was creepy as anything. We actually thought it was a prank the cousins were playing on her at first because she hates clowns and things like that but apparently we were given the room at random. It looked like this:

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With the bathroom built into a life size playhouse (that had a scary parachuting clown in the toilet).

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My favourite part was the delightfully classist alphabet border.

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Lughnasadh Away Weekend

But Archivist, I hear you cry Lughnasadh was almost two weeks ago! I know, but the Beltane Fire Society Lughnasadh away weekend starts tomorrow and that’s where I’m going to be all weekend.

While our forbears celebrated with sporting contests, grand markets and artistic performances we’ll be building a bonfire, burning a wicker man and eating a feast someone who isn’t me will have cooked! Expect lots of pictures and a not at all hungover Archivist returning on Sunday.