Monday, May 2, 2011

to the country

It's hard to believe it's already been a week since we got back from our little escape to the country. I promised some details on our trip to a friend's farm in Bathurst and now, after baking up a royal storm last week and eating a ridiculous number of scones and cucumber sandwiches, I'm finally ready.

So, on Good Friday, not too long ago, we hit the open road, wound our way through the beautiful Blue Mountains, discovered a magnificent pie shop in Blackheath, and emerged into sun-drenched, eye-stretching vistas on the other side. After a five hour or so drive we finally rolled up the front drive and set eyes on the farm.

It was incredibly beautiful and I could barely contain my camera snapping enthusiasm for most of the weekend, mainly because the light was just spectacular, changing throughout the day from cool tones in the misty mornings to bright gold at lunch and then deepening through the sunsets. The weather was pretty amazing as well, crisp, clear and sunny - perfect for bushwalks and some river weeding, as well as dog chasing with Tuppence, Moey and Poppy (the most hilarious dogs ever), endless cups of tea, checkers playing, wine drinking, star and planet gazing and of course cooking and eating.

Over the weekend we cooked up some big, hearty meals with produce from the local farmers' markets - spaghetti bolognese, sausages with mashed potato and peas, scrambled eggs...but some of the most memorable food was also the simplest, requiring only a handful of ingredients. The curried parsnip soup that Soph's mum made for lunch, from parsnips grown at the farm, and the corn blinis and mashed potato cakes with smoked salmon and loads of fresh chopped parsley keep coming to mind. We even enjoyed custard made with saffron we plucked ourselves from the flowers in the front garden.

It was wonderful to have such a close connection to the food we ate and it has inspired me to try and grow more herbs and vegies in our little backyard. There's something about being able to pop out and snip off some fresh parsley that is quite magical.

Now that the weather is getting noticeably cooler, I think this soup may be making a few appearances on our Saturday lunch time menu.

Curried Parsnip Soup
Adapted from Soph's mother's instructions and this recipe

20g unsalted butter
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 leeks (white part only), sliced
4 parsnips, peeled, sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
dash of milk (or pure thin cream)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the leek and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, then add parsnip and toss well to coat. Add the vegetable stock, season, then simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes until parsnips are tender.

Cool for 5 minutes, then whiz in a blender, in batches, until smooth and creamy. Add a dash of milk or cream if you like. Return the soup to the pan to reheat through. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of parsley and some crusty bread. Now close your eyes and imagine you're in the country.


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