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Friday, 31 October 2014

Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Cumin Soup

Given we’re all getting our pumpkin carve on this week, I thought I’d share a lovely recipe to use up that leftover orange flesh. Granted, it’s a bit smelly when it’s raw, but add a few warming spices and pair it up with its robust cousin, the sweet potato and you’ve got yourself a comforting bowl of sweet and spiced goodness. It’s also cheap and cheerful, so perfect for those of us crawling to pay day! 

To make enough to feed an army of trick or treaters:
2 onions
1 large pumpkin (or I used three small ones)
2 large sweet potatoes
Handful of cumin seeds
Sprinkle of ground cumin
Stock to cover & fill the pot
Salt & pepper

Cut open a little lid in the top of your pumpkin, and hollow out the inside, scraping all the seeds and pulp into a bowl. This bit’s fiddley, but remove the seeds (adding a bit of water can help most of them float to the surface) and leave to one side. Using a bigger pumpkin probably helps as there’s more flesh to seeds!

Peel and chop your sweet potato and your onion, and fry together with the pumpkin until it’s got some nice colour. 
Make a little well in the centre and add in your cumin seeds to the dry pan so they toast for a few seconds, then stir in so the vegetables are all nicely coated. 

Cover with your stock (I used beef and vegetable), a good sprinkle of ground cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Leave to boil with the lid on until all the vegetables are soft and breaking apart. 

While your brew is bubbling away you can make sure your pumpkins have some suitably scary faces. I modelled these on myself, my sister and my mum. Quite a likeness I think! 

Blitz up your soup so it’s smooth and velvety, adding more seasoning if it needs it, and reducing down if it’s a bit too thin.
Serve in big bowls with a dollop of sour cream, a scattering of toasted cumin seeds and some fresh crusty bread.

Simply bewitching.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Antiques & Flowers

On Friday we crossed the river to have a girlie day with my sister in her new area. Hampton Court Village in Molesey is just gorgeous.  Pretty little streets lined with boutique shops, restaurants and organic food caf├ęs serving ‘babyccinos’; it’s a bit plummy, of course, but the antique and vintage shops are ideal for a good rummage. 

With a wedding nearing and new homes to spruce up, we are always on the hunt for lovely things. Hampton Court Emporium is an Aladdin’s Cave of wonders; piles of silverware, lanterns, vintage clothes, antique lights, jewellery, toys, guns, stuffed animals… you name it, they have it.  If you ever need a exquisitely crafted wooden train or a set of teacups, you know where to look.  Just be careful to leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind you… 


The buildings in Hampton Court Village are very sweet too, some are mismatched and very old, making the whole place feel quite charming. 

You have to pay top dollar for such a pretty place so close to the city (the bunting costs extra), but you know you’ve made it when your local quilting shop has this many pots of buttons… 

While we mooched around we spotted a florist with stunning displays in the window. Looking for inspiration for a bridal bouquet, we ducked inside and started chatting to the friendly owner of Honeysuckle Rose. 

We found out she actually did the arrangements for the Olympics, and she had the most perfect Prince Jardinier roses. Their perfume was so strong and so sweet, I had to snap up a few stems to take home. Their blousy appearance is just stunning, and I love the pale pink colour.


I then had to purchase a jug to put them in, and luckily found this simple porcelain addition to our kitchen. 

What did you get up to this weekend?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Disobedient Objects

A few weeks ago I met up with my friends to go to the V&A. Meryem needed inspiration for her Art & Politics essay so the Disobedient Objects exhibition was perfect for some thought provoking material. It's all quite heavy, so I needed another cup of tea first. 

The mood the curators have created is powerful. The music thumps and whines in the background and when you look around, the pieces are quite ugly.  Dolls and mannequins with monkey heads leer down at you, crude posters and boards shout their messages, and thick iron bar structures create a cage like atmosphere in the centre of the room. 

On first impression, it was oppressive and quite scary, even. The collection of badges, banners, paper clippings, posters and films all signified something important to hundreds or thousands of people, but I felt like I was missing the point a bit. Without experience of what all these people were fighting for or against, without being there or going through what they went through, I felt that I could not ever fully understand. Reading a plaque about the history next to the piece wasn't enough to know the true reason why these people had been fighting, but the feeling as an outsider was clear to me; anger. 

The people behind these stories had clearly been pushed as far as people can be pushed and they were fighting back in whatever way they could. Through protests, defacing currency, hunger strikes, organised movements, social media, even children's games or sewing, the exhibition was a result of pain, suffering, isolation, and oppression in some form or another. 

These tapestries really struck a nerve for me; sewn by Chilean women under the General Pinochet dictatorship, these 'Arpilleras' became a medium for story telling and resistance during this time. With thousands of men missing, dead or in prison being tortured, it fell to the women to lead the fight, and they did so through these moving pieces. I don't get anger from these, but sadness and loss and the innocence of people. 

Whatever your opinion on the history of these objects, one thing can be said; people having the right to an opinion and freedom of speech is something we should surely never take for granted.   

Disobedient Objects is showing until the end of January and is free to view. The website is here if you want to learn more. 

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