Tuesday, September 14, 2010

GIVEAWAY - Bakerella's "Cake Pops" Book...

(This giveaway is now closed, go here to see who won.)

I just couldn't help myself with this one.  I love www.Bakerella.com and so when this book was set to be released, it made perfect sense to pre-order several copies, with one very special copy ear-marked for one of my amazing readers.*   (You can read about the book here).

Entering the giveaway is easy.  Simply leave a comment on this very post (scroll to the bottom and click on "leave a comment"), and tell me what has been your favourite post on The Mucky MacBook for this year.  The winner will be drawn using a little widget I have that will randomly select a winner from all the comments left.

Entries close on the 30th September. The draw will be made on October 1st, the day after I am back from my holidays (14 days cruising the eastern Mediterranean don't you know, daaahlings!)

So get entering, and tell your friends so they can enter too!   Oh, and good luck.

LM xx

*(As with all my giveaways (unless stated), the prize includes delivery to anywhere in the world, so no matter where you are, enter away!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jucker Farm...

We had a family day out today at Jucker Farm, which is the most amazing place to take your kids.  This time of year the place is entirely devoted to pumpkins, which will become apparent as I share some pics with you.

We took the Horgen- Meilen Car Ferry over and then made our winding way (ignoring the GPS to our own peril) through the most beautiful Swiss countryside, all the way to Seegraeben.

The view from the ferry across Lake Zurich to the alps...

And here are just a few pics from our day at the farm...

Yes, that's a dinosaur made of pumpkins.

And another... 

And another...

Climbing on the straw bale hut...

The streets were lined with pumpkins...

I just noticed the pumpkins on the roof...

And then there were the pumpkins for sale...  all things weird and wonderful.

oh, and apples too...

These were my favourites...

And if all this has given you a hankering for a little pumpkin soup, check out my thai curry pumpkin soup recipe from a couple of posts ago.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Strawberries to eat, strawberries to sit on...

Today I made a juicy little discovery.  I had successfully grown a strawberry!  What's more, it looked pretty perfect, unlike so many of my other attempts at growing edible things.

It's late in the season here and a fresh strawberry is a real treat.  So of course I gave Miss S the honors (because she is much cuter eating a strawberry than I).

She said it was delicious!

And for those of you southern hemispherers heading into spring (and those of us holding on to the last of the summer), here is a great little free project to keep some strawberry magic alive.

Photo borrowed from www.purlbee.com

It's from one of my favourite sewing/ knitting blogs www.purlbee.com.  Click on the picture to go through to the site.  I'm going to try and make a couple of these for Miss S for Christmas.  I think you'll agree that they are too cute for words.

LM x

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In the Slow Cooker: Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup...

Autumn is here and I have a secret.  I love it.  Even more than summer.  There, I said it!  I love the fresh apples, pumpkins, the changing trees, the crispness of the air and the decadent cosiness of extra blankets.  Also it helps that autumn in Zurich is just unbelievably beautiful.

Oh my gourd... pumpkin perfection!

So I thought in celebration of the season of "mists and mellow fruitfulness", I would share one of my favourite slow cooker soup recipes.

These tiny pumpkins won't be eaten, but I am determined to make something decorative out of them!

I developed this recipe during one long winter when Miss S was a little baby and we lived in a teeny cold house on a very tight budget.  It's warming, flavoursome, easy to make, and has a little exotic twist which makes it special.

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup
Serves 8+

1.8 - 2 kgs (4 - 4.5 lbs) pumpkin
2 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 tbs Thai green curry paste (to your taste and depending on the heat of your paste)
2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
2 -3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 heaped tsp dried basil
1.5 litres (6 cups) liquid chicken stock (fresh or made up from cubes/powder. Vegetable stock is also good if you prefer.  Note for vegetarians below*)
250mls (1 cup) coconut cream
1 - 3 tbs fish sauce
Fresh basil or coriander for garnishing (optional)

Peel and de-seed your pumpkin and chop into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.  (I like to deseed my pumpkin with an icecream scoop, but that's just me).  Place cubes in the bowl of your slow cooker.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium/high heat.  Add the curry paste, chilli sauce, garlic, basil and ginger and stir to heat until fragrant and sizzling a little, about two minutes.

Add the chopped onions and reduce the heat a little.  With the lid on your frypan, cook the onions slowly until transparent, stirring occasionally.

Tip the cooked onions into the slow cooker bowl.

I added a few peeled and chopped carrots today as I had some to use up.  That's one of the great things about this recipe, you can add a few extras and play around with it a bit.

Pour over the stock and stir.

Cook on a low temperature until the pumpkin is fully cooked and tender.  This will take 3 - 7 hours, depending on your slow cooker.  It doesn't matter if you leave it cooking a bit longer.  You can cook on high for 3 - 4 hours if time is short.

Once the pumpkin is cooked, remove one cup of the stock and set aside.  You can use this to adjust the texture of the soup once it is all whizzed up.

Using a stick mixer, process the soup until smooth.  Add the coconut cream and the stock you set aside, if you want to adjust the texture.  I think this soup is nice quite runny as it is not supposed to be a traditional thick pumpkin soup.

Reserve a little of the coconut cream if you would like to use it for serving, as below.

Adjust the seasonings by adding more fish sauce if you like it a bit more salty. You could also stir through a little extra curry paste at this stage if you feel it needs it.

Garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of coconut cream.

Serve with toasted baguette or Roti.  This soup freezes really well so leftovers can be consumed at a later date.

Mmmmmmmm... tastes like autumn.

* Note for vegetarians.  This soup can be made vegetarian easily by substituting the chicken stock for vegetable, and by replacing the fish sauce with either a vegetarian fish sauce (available at some vietnamese and thai food stores), or just with salt.
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