September 5, 2006
Two things seem to me to be key to the success of the vegbox enthusiast: a settled domestic life, and a settled mind. Both of these have been at a premium in our humble Norf London household of late.
The incomprehensibility of Polish builders (I think that’s the collective noun) who’ve been dismantling and cack-handedly re-assembling our poor bathroom have plunged our quiet routine into chaos. The kitchen is coated with an asthma-inducing layer of plaster dust. Taking a shower is a major logistical challenge. At least the ceiling mushrooms have gone, for now.
On top of this , the post-holiday blues has led to one of those periodic existential crises of purpose. You know, like, what are we here for? What’s it all about? Should we move to Andalucia and start a tile-importing company or buy a Cornish guest house and revive the lost art of the cream tea (homemade jam, hand-churned yak butter)? Or customise an old gas board van and tour the Outer Hebrides for the next 5 years? Or move to Argentina and set up an organic ostrich ranch? Decisions, decisions.
So, all in all it’s taking some time to get back to that mild and placid contentment which is, I think, the optimum vegbox mindset. But perhaps the best thing is to stop whinging and start cooking, so…
Celery and Stilton soup
(OK, it’s a bit humdrum… baby steps, baby steps….)
1. Chop an onion and a small head of celery into smallish pieces. Put in a pan with a healthy slab of butter and sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
2. Add a couple of teaspoons of flour, stir for a minute. Add stock or water, maybe 2 pints, you can always thin it down at the end if it’s too thick. I was lucky enough to have some good homemade chuck stock in the freezer (Hugh FW would be proud).
3. Simmer for a decent time, maybe up to an hour, to make sure the celery is good and soft. Blitz well. Pass through a sieve if you want a Wogan-smooth finish.
4. Mash the blue stilton, around 2oz or to taste, until it’s quite creamy. Add to the soup a bit at a time, allowing it to melt in. Make sure the soup is well off the boil at this stage or it will split. Season.
5. Serve with croutons and chopped parsley.
And now I’ve tipped my toe back in the vegbox pool it’s not so bad after all. In fact, I’m feeling mildly inspired again. Pass me the beetroot, mathschick.