Winter warmers: Leek & potato soup

November 23, 2012

As a child I was forever requesting this meal. A while ago my Mum let me into her secret. Now it's not necessarily the most artisanal way of getting to the end result, but I can testify that it works and tastes irresistible!

What you will need:

Instant potato,
Spring Onions,
A stock cube,
Cheddar (lots of it),


  • Sweat off the spring onions and leeks ensuring they don't gain colour
  • Add in your stock cube and then cover with boiling water

  • Now pour into a microwavable pot and cook for 10 minutes- or until the leeks are soft
  • Blend the ingredients with a stick blender
  • Add in instant potato mash
  • Continue blending until smooth
  • Season
Make sure to add in more water/ potato as required.I personally like it to be nice and thick, (for a maximum comfort food feeling), but if you're after a thinner consistency then adjust a little. I haven't specified amounts because it genuinely depends on how you prefer it, it's not a recipe concerned with being too precise.

Now here is the very important part: add grated cheese and bacon, (lots of it)

I mean it, don't hold back.
The soup is nice enough on its own, but what really makes it is the combination of these three ingredients together.
Enjoy with a nice thick slice of bread.
Perfect, filling, and a little naughty.

What is your favourite winter soup?

Mr Darcy? No, Mr Tilney!

November 17, 2012

There is no better way of passing miserable wet November days than: cuddled with a blanket, feet toasted by some warm fairisle socks, listening to the rain, and reading.

'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen
This book is closely tied to the gothic genre which was highly popular in the early 1800s, as the 18th Century saw novels such as 'The Monk', by Matthew Lewis, and 'The Mysteries of Udolpho' by Anne Radcliffe. The Genre is known for its excess: in the form of language, as well as its typically gothic settings, (with creaking doors and cob-webbed corridors) and archetypal characters, (the vampire, the femme fetale etc). 

Austen dedicates some of her time spreading references concerning the contemporary reception of novels. Often overlooked by serious and respectable gentleman, who 'wouldn't have had time to waste' on foolish fictional books with nonsensical fancies, the novel in general was, by many, condemned- a fact that seems implausible now! Austen's view is pretty evident in characterising Mr Tilney as intelligent, and amiable, and subtly mentioning his fondness for novels. Her view comes across in this ironically styled passage:

'I am no novel–reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel.” Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it. '

What I enjoyed: Austen, as always, has a wonderful wit. Her depictions of certain stereotypical characters, that we all have a selection of in our lives, are uncannily accurate and timeless.

She truly has such a talent of vividly describing to us the interactions between her characters at balls and in societal meetings. She does this best, in my opinion, with the Thorpes. The Thorpes are so blatantly sycophantic, selfish, and fickle people. I say that, but I also adore the characterisation of Mr Tilney, (you think Austen only wrote of one handsome batchelor in Mr Darcy- think again.)

However much I share some feminist sentiments when approaching literature with regards to questioning the historical lack of female independence and autonomy, I can't help but like Miss Morland's very lack of it. There's something so likeable about an intelligent man guiding and teaching the naive and pure Miss Morland. Her views are infantile, but the high regard in which she holds human nature, their incapacity for deception or selfishness, is endearing. In fact, if anything, I should be more like her and have a little faith and trust in people's generosity rather than being convinced of some motive or another. 

What I'm saying is that I would not particularly mind being chastised by Mr Tilney, nor educated by him, maybe that's a bit of sapiosexuality there.

But Henry's teasing is just so irresistably witty, charming and playful:

“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again." Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might venture to laugh. "I see what you think of me," said he gravely -- "I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
"My journal!"
"Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings -- plain black shoes -- appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense." 
"Indeed I shall say no such thing." 
"Shall I tell you what you ought to say?" 
"If you please." 
"I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him -- seems a most extraordinary genius -- hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say." ...

If Mr Darcy wasn't your man, too aloof and cold, try saying the same about Mr Tilney..

Granted his tyrannical father might oust you from his house on learning of your penniless existence, but don't worry about that! My advice is that you...

Also, the film adaptation is really brilliant, very accurate to the novel, and I highly recommend snuggling up on a Sunday afternoon watching it.

Lastly I will leave you with a quote which I wholeheartedly agree with, by the wise Henry Tilney himself:
“It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible.”

Sources: Image 1, Image 2  

When young dawn with her rose-red fingers shone once more

November 03, 2012

The mornings here have been crisp and the perfect remedy to a student's tiredness. 
The grounds are beautiful with their autumnal colours.
In fact, last weekend I had a morning stroll to get some fresh air before a long day of reading. There is nothing better than walking around before the world is awake, watching as the light shines down gradually encompassing everything.

I find these Willow trees so enchanting. In the morning sun the golden ringlets draped down effortlessly from their branches.

In finishing my walk I popped into the quaint village to pick up a freshly baked treat for breakfast.

I came back with a loaf of bread which I lavishly coated in butter, with a drizzling of honey. This was all enjoyed with a wonderful cup of English Breakfast tea.

It is on mornings like these that I know the day won't be too testing at all.

(For anyone interested the title refers to a line in the Odyssey)