A Hygge Butternut Soup

ingredientsWhen it comes to hygge I am off the charts and that was before it became a ‘thing’.  Here is a little  video explaining ‘hoo-guh’ and in a word it embodies coziness.  So it was no surprise to see a Butternut Soup Recipe in the “Art of Hygge” book.  Supping on a bowl of warming butternut soup on a cold day,with its slight sweetness balanced by a touch of curry feels like Oxytocin (bonding hormone) coursing through your veins thus the same as getting a 20 second hug.  You have heard when hugging you should hang on long for maximum effect right?

empty-pumpkinYou don’t need the cute munchkin pumpkin vessels but it adds to the coziness of the meal.  I suggest you cut off the caps, scoop out the pips and fill with boiling water.  In the spirit of zero waste, wash off the pips, pat dry and spread out on a baking sheet.  As you are going to ‘light the stove’ and you should have plenty of oven space I would say make the most of the heat and make yourself a little baked apple pud to finish of your hugge meal.  Place your hollowed out pumpkins, prepped pumpkin seeds and sliced apple (or 2) into a hot oven (180 ºC) .  Now with this baking you can turn your attention to soup making.  Keep your eye on the pips, shake them around if needed and take them out before they go dark brown (i.e. burnt).

Ingredients and method for a double serving of soup

  • Saute an onion in a tablespoon of coconut oil and then sprinkle in a heaped teaspoon or more of curry powder and fry to release the flavours;
  • I added a few whole cloves and a touch of coriander, which is optional but reminds me of South Africa;
  • Add half a diced butternut (scrub the squash and leave the skin on) and
  • A couple of carrots, scrubbed and diced (keeping skins on reduces food waste and maximises nutrient retention);
  • Let this sweat for a good 15 minutes in a cast iron pot.  Stirring every so often so it doesn’t scorch.
  • Then add a pint (about 600ml of water) of vegetable stock (see the instructions on the stock container).  In the absence of veggie stock use chicken stock but then it is not vegetarian, so be mindful of this if you are having veggie guests around for dinner.
  • Let this hard simmer for about 20 minutes.  Test by squishing the carrots and when they tender you are ready to blend.
  • If you have a electric stick blender, well done you but I simply mashed mine with a potatoe masher (minimalism smugness).  This is why there is no need to peel the butternut as you won’t even notice the skin.
  • If you doing pumpkin pots take these out the oven and carefully tip the water into the soup and scrape out the cooked pumpkin flesh, adding to the butternut soup.
  • Stir the soup, ladel into the ‘bowls’ and sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds on top.

For the baked apple I sliced 1 apple into a bowl, with a handful full of raisons, 25ml hot water and bake till tender.  Spoon onto custard and sprinkle with cinnamon.

There is some serious hygge to be consumed in these two little dishes and for us epitomises the art of living well.

Vel bekomme! translated directly is’well become’ which is my wish to you.

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How I cut this week’s grocery bill by a third

This week with some ingenuity and time I cut our weekly grocery bill by a third.  In my line of work, I see people’s budgets and often wonder, how is it possible to spend as little as they do on groceries.  To put this in perspective, for two of us my savings this week was equivalent to what the average couple people spend on food per week.  How the heck do you only spend around £60 a week (statistic 2015)  on food? [1]  This is an area of our family budgeting I hope to bring under control.


Enough of the statistics and let me get down to the nitty gritty.  While picking up some cracking deals in the Waitrose ‘Half Price September Sale Event’ I spotted their offer of £20 off on a £100 home delivery shop and free delivery.

I hot-footed it home with discount code in hand.  Not wanting to be caught out with the old trick of spending to save I fired up‘mySupermarketUK’.  I have the app on my phone which enables me to compare prices on the trot.

First I selected the store I intended shopping at and then I selected ‘organic’ under Lifestyle filters.  Hey don’t forget it is #OrganicSeptember.  One useful feature with the app is you can quickly see if the item is cheaper at any other stores and what the historic average price has been.  The things that float my boat.  You literally can’t beat 60 pence per tin of organic baked beans, which is apparently 38% below its average price at the time of my order.

Quite apart from the historic low price of baked beans, organic or otherwise I plan on making my version of Southern Style Baked Beans soon.  When it comes to recipes I follow less and improvise more.  So having browsed the blog post at thekitchn.com – beautiful-beans and filled with inspiration I rustled up a brunch of baked beans on toast.  Here is what I created out of baked beans having read Faith Durand’s blog:

Jenny’s Rustic Baked Beans Brunch

  • Fry some onion, sauté them if you must;
  • Slice less fennel and fry too;
  • Add diced bacon, a slice or 4
  • Once you are happy the bacon is cooked through toss in a can of baked beans. Turn down the heat and simmer, while making toast to lay the beans on.
  • Spoon the bean mixture onto the toast, sprinkle with extra mature cheddar cheese, caynne pepper if you like heat and grill until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.

Warning:  know now that you are more than likely to burn your mouth because you won’t be able to resist.

I have also bought Aduki beans, Red Kidney beans, Borlotti beans and Haricot beans and hubby reckons I am going to cook up a storm and just as well we tucked away in the countryside.  Joking aside I want to start replacing some of our meat dishes with a few more bean dishes as a way of being economical and environmentally friendly.

It wasn’t all hardship and scrimping as I added a ½ price Welsh Lamb Roast to my cart and some very nice organic wine for Sunday Lunch and have duly invited my favourite son and girlfriend over in a semblance of maintaining traditions.

img-20160806-wa0014Where we housesitting there is not one but two biscuit tins chock-o-block with treats.  We find them quite irresistible so this time I am prepared with our own snack size treats also on special.  I took the opportunity to stock up on my store cupboard supplies, including coriander, which is quite prominent in South African cooking.

A huge Ka-ching as all in all I saved £20 for ordering over a £100 of groceries and a further £38 off discounted items without compromising our standards aka organic as far as possible.

And as if that was not enough when I booked my delivery slot I picked one with a little truck symbol indicating the driver would already be in the area and thus more environmentally friendly delivery.  Not only do I get to feed my family nutritious home cooked meals I save the planet (even just a tiny little bit helps).

How you can save too but hurry to make the most of this

  • Register for Waitrose account
  • For 1st online shop £30 off £100 with code: AQ3H30£30 (before it expires) or pop in to a Waitrose near you and pick up the discount code on a van shaped flyer at the tills;
  • Create an account at mySupermarketUK and after selecting Waitrose as your store start adding items to your basket.   For a double whammy you can filter by goods on offer and if you drop down to lifestyle options you can select organic.
  • When you select an item you can see the average price of the item and how much other stores are currently charging.  If you find yourself a bargain on an item you need/want add it to your list;
  • Once you have £100 in your basket you can ‘checkout’ and send your shopping over the net to Waitrose.  Click on the button continue to Waitrose and be sure you have just over a £100 in case of missing goods.


[1] https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/minimum-income-standard-uk-2015