Things are not well in the world of Belle’s blogging. Technology is on the blink, photos are falling short and clumsiness rules.
For a start, I had to change internet providers, and to cancel my account with the old provider was a real pain (is it ever anything else?). Luckily, the new provider is proving to be quite good.
Secondly, my lovely slim Casio Exilim camera started over-exposing all my photos, so that they turned out completely white. Apparently, it is a problem that happens sometimes with that model of camera. So I had to trawl the net looking at digital camera reviews, compare prices, visit camera stores, etc. I managed to find a new one – a Canon Ixus 980. Not as svelte as the old one, but very nice.
Finally, and most drastically, I spilt a full mug of green tea onto the desk where my laptop is, and some of the liquid seeped underneath and ruined the all number keys, as well as T, Y and Backspace. I mean, Backspace is my most used key! And it’s not until you lose them that you realise that numbers are critical to everyday life – in passwords, calculations – and the little ‘at’ sign above the number 2 is needed for all your email addresses! Again, I was fortunate to borrow an external keyboard from my brother. It now sits elegantly on a piece of felt on top of the laptop.
As these things only happen in threes, I have had my fill for now. The birds are singing again and all is right with the world.
To celebrate this small victory over technology, we had a ‘Yuzu no a nothing!’ from Adriano Zumbo. Looks like a pine lime Splice, tastes like a pine lime Splice. It was so tangy that I had to have a green tea chaser afterwards. Several metres away from the computer, though.
And the jar of Vegemite in the background is a reminder that just because something is salty doesn’t mean you need to tax the hell out of it (ooh, topical!).
I had such wonderful intentions of having a picnic on New Year’s Day. So much so that I spent most of NYE chopping, stirring and baking in preparation. The weather report was most encouraging for the three days before new year’s – sunny and 29 degrees. Perfect!
So imagine my annoyance when the temperature soared to 35 degrees – not so perfect. Needless to say, it was too hot to venture out, so the picnic lunch I’d prepared sat waiting in the fridge.
The recipes are from Gordon Ramsay, specifically for alfresco dining. We had the chilled soup that day anyway, as it was absolutely perfect for the hot weather, served straight from the fridge rather than a Thermos flask.
We had the chicken and couscous a day later, microwaved in the plastic containers I’d put them in, then transferred to a civilised plate for eating in front of the TV.
Here is the recipe for the soup – it is a real winner; give it a try on the next hot day!
Chilled cucumber and dill soup
Make this soup a day ahead, transport it to your picnic (ha!) in a flask and serve in small teacup-sized bowls or punch glasses.
1 litre (4 cups) good-quality chicken stock 2 baby leeks or 1 regular leek (white part only), finely chopped 2 eschalots, finely chopped 8 whole white peppercorns 2-3 parsley stalks 2 ¼ large telegraph cucumbers 2 tsp arrowroot (I used cornflour) 1 tbs finely chopped fresh dill 200ml crème fraiche ¼ small red onion 1 tsp lemon juice
Bring stock to boil in a saucepan. Add leeks, eschalots, peppercorns and parsley stalks, and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
Peel 2 of the cucumbers. Halve them lengthways and remove seeds with a teaspoon. Cut flesh into 1 cm slices, then place in a colander and season with freshly ground salt. Stand for 10 minutes to draw out any excess water or bitterness from the cucumber.
Rinse in plenty of cold water and drain well. Add the cucumber to the stock and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Transfer to a blender, process until smooth, then return soup to the pan.
Mix arrowroot with 1 tablespoon water and add to the soup. Heat gently over low heat, stirring until soup begins to thicken – do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add dill and crème fraiche, mixing well – you may wish to use a handheld blender.
Chill in fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight.
For the salsa, finely dice remaining cucumber, place in a bowl with the onion and lemon juice, and season well. Cover and chill.
Pour the soup into a flask. At the picnic, serve soup topped with the salsa.