My first blog posting. I'm almost as nervous as the moment I set off down the luge track on the Calgary Winter Olympics park for the one and only time. More on that, perhaps, on another occasion.
I'm going to use this space to share thoughts and experiences from my work as an independent consultant on technologies for learning and also my passion for cooking which I have far more time to indulge since retiring from full-time work recently.
Combining the consultancy work with house husbandry is an interesting experience. I'm now expected to prepare evening meals for my partner and our two grown-up (but still at home) sons. Whilst I may have spent yesterday reading and preparing for this morning's teleconference with the Expert Council of the Skolkovo Foundation in Russia; as far as the rest of the family is concerned, I was at home and therefore had plenty of time to prepare an evening meal of a sufficiently high standard to meet their expectations. This has become the norm.
This morning, number one son announced that he had caught a bug from his girlfriend and would not be going to work. The sounds of sneezing, groaning and occasional farting could be heard each time I passed his room. He emerged just before noon and announced that he could just eat some mushroom soup if I had time to make it. The assumption being that I had lots of time on my hands despite the incessant pinging of my Blackberry to announce the arrival of another email.
So here's my recipe for a quick and tasty mushroom soup that isn't so thick you could trot a mouse on it. More on the mouse in a moment ...
Invalid's Mushroom Soup
Finely chop a 250g pack of chestnut mushrooms and a large onion.
Melt 40g of unsalted butter in a saucepan, add the mushrooms and onion, cover and sweat for 5 minutes over a medium low heat (4 on our induction hob).
Boil the kettle and make 1 litre of chicken stock using a couple of Kallo Organic stock cubes.
Remove the lid from the pan, sprinkle in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour, turn the heat up a notch and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the stock.
Add a bouquet garni, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then put the lid back on the pan and leave it to simmer over a low heat (2 on our hob) for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, take out the bouquet garni and stir in 150 ml of milk and the same amount of single cream.
Blend using a hand blender or liquidiser then reheat gently.
I served this with croutons made with stale white bread (crust removed), cubed, tossed in a little olive oil and cooked on a baking tray on the top shelf of a hot (220C) oven whilst the soup was on its 20 minute simmer. It seems to have done the trick because the invalid is now sufficiently recovered to be hogging the living room sofa whilst marking end-of-year geography test papers.
Now, back to the mouse. Last Thursday afternoon, whilst Kendal was rapidly submerged by an apocalyptic downpour, I sat in a first floor flat in some local, sheltered accommodation with Ken and Marjorie. They are both in their late eighties,Geordies born and bred who moved to Kendal a few years ago to be close to their daughter. They are both gifts for any oral historian of the North East, but someone needs to get to them quickly. Anyway, I'd popped in for a cup of tea and Marjorie was telling me how their daughter had taken them out for lunch the previous week to a local golf club. Vegetable soup was on the menu and was Marjorie's choice of starter. When it arrived, she looked at it and said to the waiter, "I can't eat that. It's thick enough to trot a mouse on!". To his credit, he immediately offered to return it to the kitchen and get the chef to let it down with some stock.