cooking · pumpkin · recipe

Never Say Never…To Pumpkin Soup!

I’ve never met a child yet, or adult for that matter, who enjoys every single food item offered to them. Children in particular will favour certain foods over others and simply refuse to eat some things.

As a child, I absolutely refused to eat two vegetables; brussell sprouts….and pumpkin. They were two food items on my list of I-will-never-ever-eat-those!

That isn’t to say that I don’t admire the growing process of pumpkins. There is no more a homely site than seeing a pumpkin vine growing, twisting its leaves, branches and tendrils up and over a backyard garden shed, leaving a newly growing pumpkin or two firmly atop the roof!

Therefore, knowing my lifelong dislike of pumpkins from a first-hand point of view, you can imagine my surprise when my own sister suggested we make up a pan of pumpkin soup for our dinner one night, whilst on an overnight visit to my home!

In my efforts to show myself to be an agreeable hostess (but totally against my better judgement) I agreed on a trip to the supermarket to purchase the required ingredients. There were obviously no stray pumpkins lying around in my kitchen, waiting to be transformed into a pot of soup!

My sister and I worked together, preparing what she assured me I was going to enjoy…..I made no promises to that effect!

By the time my sister began ladling the blended concoction into bowls, I must admit that the smell of this soup wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

Maybe just a little, tiny, weenie taste….

To cut a long story short, I have enjoyed pumpkin soup from that day to this! I have even ventured as far as baking pumpkin in the oven, along with other vegetables, on nights we have a roast for dinner.

The moral of the story? Never say never…especially to pumpkin soup! 🙂

Pumpkin Soup

3 teaspoons butter

1 brown onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 whole butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed

4 cups of chicken stock

2 teaspoons of finely chopped marjoram

1 bay leaf

Pepper to taste

1 cup of buttermilk or milk

Parsley to garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic, onions and celery. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.

Add the pumpkin, stock, marjoram, bay leaf and pepper. Raise the heat slightly and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. Remove the bay leaf.

Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes and puree the soup, either in a food processor or with a hand held blender. Return the soup to the pan.

Add the buttermilk and stir through the soup until blended. Heat gently, without boiling. Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish with parsley.

**Tip** If you wish to freeze the soup for later use, do so before the buttermilk is added. When thawed, heat the soup, add the buttermilk and gently reheat again.

cooking · recipe

Fashionably Unfashionable Quiche Lorraine

There are certain meals that I like to prepare for my family, which I never tire of preparing, or eating for that matter. Quiche Lorraine is one of those meals.

Yes, I know, quiche is out of fashion, having its height of popularity during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, but what can I say? I’m just an old fashioned person! I also favour wood grained furniture and flannelette pyjamas, but are they fashionable…..? No, I don’t think so.

Whilst watching the cooking channel on television recently, chef and restauranteur Rick Stein made the comment that following fashions in food is silly really. If you were to eat only the fashionable foods look how much great food you would be missing out on!

I agree wholeheartedly with Rick Stein, especially so where quiche is concerned.

My recipe is so easy to make (and yes, I have been making this very same quiche since the late 70’s!) The pastry is smooth and easy to work with and there is no need to “blind bake” the pastry case before adding the filling.

Quiche is so versatile. It is a wonderful choice for Sunday brunch, a perfect accompaniment for a picnic lunch and is equally satisfying served as part of your main dinner at the end of the day.

Enjoy your quiche….and enjoy being fashionably unfashionable, just like me! 🙂

Quiche Lorraine

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

Pastry ~

1 ½ cups plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

60g butter

3 tablespoons water

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and water and mix together to form a dough. Knead lightly on a floured board, then wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until required.

Roll out the pastry to fit a 20 or 23 cm fluted pie plate or tin. Press the pastry well into the fluted edge. Trim the pastry level with the top of the plate, being careful not to stretch the pastry as you trim the edges.

Filling ~

5 rashers of bacon

4 eggs

½ a cup of milk

¾ cup of cream

Pinch of salt and nutmeg

½ a cup grated cheese.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and fry in a small frypan. Drain away the fat and sprinkle bacon into the bottom of the pastry case, along with the grated cheese.

In a bowl, whip together the eggs, milk, cream, salt and nutmeg. Carefully pour over the top of the bacon and cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the egg mixture is firm and golden.

cakes · cooking · Mum · nostalgia · recipe


Staying with the same theme as my last food post for Eccles Cakes, I have another recipe from England, also my mother’s recipe and another recipe that I enjoyed making as a child and teenager myself.

In fact, as a teenager, I would often make Parkin on the weekend to take to work with me during the following week for my morning tea each day.

Parkin is at its best two or three days after baking, by which time the flavours of the ingredients have had time to “marry” and the flavour of the ginger is intensified. It will keep for two to three weeks, stored in an air-tight container.

The history of Parkin is of interest to me, as it originated in Yorkshire, England and is also widely eaten in Lancashire. Although my mother came from Cheshire, her mother’s (my grandmother’s) family came from Yorkshire. Which leaves me wondering, did my grandmother pass this recipe on to my mother?

Parkin is traditionally served on bonfire night, known as Guy Fawkes Night in England. It was at a bonfire night that my parents first met.

With so much personal history associated with Parkin, is it any wonder that I love it so much myself? 🙂


110g self raising flour

220g fine to medium oatmeal

110g brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

80g butter

220g treacle

1 egg

5 tablespoons milk

Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees C.

Mix together in a bowl the flour, oatmeal, ginger and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan, heat together the butter, treacle and brown sugar. Stir over a low heat until the butter is melted.

Add the treacle mixture to the dry ingredients along with the milk and egg.

Beat together until you have a smooth batter.

Place the batter into a greased and lined 18cm x 28cm baking tin.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the cake is firm. Leave in the baking tin to cool. Cut into serving sized squares a day or two after baking.

Australia · autumn · gardening · herbs · pecan nuts

Autumn In My Garden

“What was Paradise? But a garden, an orchard of trees and herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights” ~~ William Lawson.

When autumn arrives, my life takes on a whole new meaning. After the long, hot, humid summer that I must endure every year over the Christmas season, it is such a pleasure to once again venture out into my garden!

How beautiful the garden is looking right now, as if all of my plants have collectively heaved a sigh of relief that the heat is over and they have all burst into flower at their happiness!

Most of the days now are warm and sunny, allowing me to spend all day hard at work outside, without so much as breaking into a sweat! I must admit, though, that when I am in “garden zone” I lose all concept of time and reality, becoming completely ensconced in my outdoor paradise.

It has become a regular occurrence that I will often be temporarily startled by a rustling noise nearby, only to discover a friendly bird has dropped by to say hello. I’m amazed at how tame the birds in my garden are! Or is it just momentary confusion on the bird’s part, believing me to have grown in the garden also, having spent so much time out there??

My most recent additions to the garden beds have been broccoli, cauliflower, marjoram, oregano, lemon grass, pineapple sage and lavender. We have collected bucket loads of pecan nuts and have enough limes to last us for months! I am especially proud of this year’s tomato crop. They are planted companionably next to my basil, perhaps being the reason they have been particularly generous with their crop this year.

When my home grown produce makes it to my kitchen I am constantly searching through my recipes, often feeling rather indecisive as to what I will make next. Decisions, decisions….I want to make them all! 🙂

Helper on a Break
cooking · dad · Mum · nostalgia · recipe

Eccles Cakes.

When I smell dried fruits and spices they remind me of happy days, spent with my mother, baking in her kitchen. When heat is added to the fruits and spices, the aroma is even more intense.

These are my memories now, as I bake Eccles Cakes again.

Mum never baked them often enough for my liking. Funny though, I have only realised today that my own children do not know the pleasure of tasting a freshly baked Eccles Cake! I’m sure they will enjoy them as much as I do.

Dad knew Eccles Cakes by another name, “Dead Fly Pies”, but don’t let that name put you off trying them!

Not surprisingly, these delicious delights originated in Eccles, being first sold commercially at a corner shop in 1793. Eccles is a town in the City of Salford, which is part of the greater Manchester area. My own family originates from this area.

A similar recipe for Eccles Cakes has even been discovered which dates them back to 1769 in Cheshire, however the recipe I am sharing with you today is my Mum’s recipe, origin unknown.

Footnote :  I made my batch of sixteen Eccles Cakes today at around 2pm. It is now 6pm and there are only two left. The decision is unanimous, my family all want more Eccles Cakes! 🙂

Eccles Cakes

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.

Mixture in the rounds

Mix in a small saucepan over a low heat –

100g currants

60g mixed peel

60g melted butter

50g brown sugar

A pinch each of nutmeg & mixed spice

Stir until butter has melted and allow the mixture to cool.

Cut 16 x 10cm (4 inch) rounds out of 4 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry.

Place 1 teaspoon of cooled mixture into the centre of each round of pastry. Draw up the edges of the pastry around the mixture and pinch together to seal. Turn over and gently roll the rounds until the imprint of the currants show through the pastry.

Ready for the Oven

Cut 2 slits in the top of each round and glaze with a lightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle the top of each round with raw or caster sugar.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Eccles Cakes