January 2020

Illustration

Welcome to 2020 and a new decade. I started the year with the publication of the latest in my ‘little concertina artist’s book’ series. This one features seashells and interesting snippets of mollusc-related information.

The book features 10 common shells, all of which I have collected from British beaches over the years. Made in the concertina fold format, the book can be displayed as ‘instant art’ on a window sill or mantlepiece.

As usual, I’ve also produced a postcard that comes with the book and also a co-ordinating greetings card – this time with a bright tangerine envelope.

I particularly like the format of these cards as it allows me to wrap the design around and onto the back of the card. I’m delighted that people have commented that my painted versions of the shells are more ‘shell-y’ than the actual shells!

And finally on the illustration front, I also designed another butterflies greetings card – this time featuring the British Swallowtail butterfly which we’re lucky enough to have living, and thriving, in Norfolk and a little Orange-Tip butterfly.

Again, this card features a design that wraps around to the back of the card, space to add a Painted Lady butterfly and hide away a snail. As always, the artist’s book and greetings cards are available in my online shop The Museum Shelves on Etsy.

Gardening

I’ve been using the occasional dry day to start to tidy up the garden. I like to leave seed heads and decaying foliage in place over the Winter to make the garden wildlife friendly, but now that new growth is starting to push through, its time to start on a bit of a clearance. Added to that, it’s time to continue with my programme of raising the crowns of the trees that I’ve planted. When working in the garden, it’s lovely to see the first bulbs starting to emerge.

Recipes

I initially developed this soup for Hodmedod’s and I’m pleased to say that their canned Carlin Peas are now increasingly available in shops as well as online. However, if you can’t get hold of them, just substitute canned or dried black beans.

This is a brilliant modern take on that old classic: pea and ham soup.  This version uses Hodmedod’s ‘Black Badger’ Carlin Peas with coriander, lime and a splash or two of Tabasco Sauce giving you a soup that’s deeply comforting yet with a fresh, contemporary taste.

This recipe is quick and easy to make, especially with the convenience of Hodmedod’s cannned and ready to use ‘Black Badger’ Carlin Peas. I usually have some pre-cooked ‘Black Badgers’ in the freezer ready to use for recipes but it’s easy enough to soak 300g of Hodmedod’s Black Badgers/Carlin Peas overnight and then put them on to cook (following the instructions on the packet) while you start the initial stages of this recipe.

An excellent way of making use of the stock produced by boiling a gammon joint, this soup is perfect to make in the Winter months. However, whatever the season, it’s difficult to express in words just how absolutely fabulously delicious this soup is!

Pea & Ham Soup

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped 
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cans of Hodmedod’s Carlin Peas, drained OR 300g (dry weight) Hodmedod’s ‘Black Badger’ Carlin Peas, soaked and cooked
  • ½ pack of coriander, including the stalks, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp Tabasco Sauce (depending on how much warmth you want)
  • 1.5 litre stock from a boiled gammon joint (or Knorr or Oxo ham stock cubes work well)
  • finely grated zest and juice of a lime
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD

  1. In a large pan heat the oil and fry the bacon for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Addthe onions and continue to stir for a further 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the sweet potato and stir well.  Turn the heat down and cover the pan with a lid and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Crush the toasted seeds in a pestle and mortar.
  4. Add the garlic and cumin to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Add the carlin peas, coriander, Tabasco Sauce and stock.  Bring up to a gentle boil and then turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Leave to cool slightly and then process with a blender to a smooth consistency.  Gently re-heat, stirring in the lime zest and juice.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Until February….

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