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Veganuary Day 4: A Speedy Soup

Harissa and Chickpea soup, served with sourdough toast and hummus plus a wedge of lemon for the soup.
Old School Soup

It seems if you’re a vegan that prefers savoury breakfasts, the usual staple is a tofu scramble. There are as many variations of this as there are overnight oats. Maybe. I haven’t actually counted them or anything. We started our exploration with this tofu scramble with dijon. The piquancy of mustard and dijon was always going to be a winner for me, the addition of tarragon is a welcome bonus. It’s a pretty good substitute for scrambled eggs, and almost as quick. I like my eggs on the softer side, the silken tofu isn’t as soft, but it’s a good breakfast in its own right.

I have several soups in rotation that I’ve been making since I was a student. I was not such a good cook back then, and needed to rely on easy and cheap recipes. Today I dragged harissa and chickpea soup from the memory banks for lunch. Like my Smoky Winter Root Soup, I know I got this from a recipe somewhere, but like that soup the details are hazy. It might have been from a newspaper. I don’t know. I’ve probably made it mine in subtle ways in the intervening years. I share what I do with you below.

This evening’s dinner was really lazy. We both managed to work really late and were too hungry to think about cooking, despite having done an interesting meal plan. Luckily, the Big Guy had panic-bought a vegan bolognaise sauce, which we had with spaghetti. And a lot of extra chili flakes, to make it taste of something. In general, I want to avoid this kind of food. It had lentils in, but also a vegan mince/ ground beef replacement. We don’t eat food that processed normally, and I don’t want to start now. However, it has really got me thinking about my own version of a bolognaise sauce in which care is taken to layer similar flavour profiles as a meat bolognaise, without using facon or vegan ‘mince’. More on that soon.

Recipe: Harissa and Chickpea Soup

Serves 3 as a main or 4 as a starter
Prep 10 minutes
Cooking 10 minutes

The best harissa I can find

This soup could not be easier or faster, especially if you use tinned chickpeas. The harissa is the flavour in this dish, so get the best harissa you can find. I get mine from grocers that serve the Moroccan community, so I hope it’s authentic. It’s certainly complex: spicy, fruity and it has umami. You can also get rose harissa, which is further flavoured with rose petals and/or rosewater. You can also use rose harissa in this soup.


2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. I don’t usually cook with EV, but this will never get hot enough to reach smoking point, and it adds extra richness
1-2 onions, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped into roughly chickpea-sized dice
1 stick celery, diced
Salt to taste
Several cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced. I like garlic, so I used half a bulb (about 8 cloves) you can between 6-12, to taste. It should be quite garlic-forward
1-2 tbsp good quality harissa. You can use more, if you like
2 400g tins of chickpeas or 400g dry weight of chickpeas, cooked. In either case, you’re going to use the aquafaba/ liquid
Juice of about half a lemon


Warm the extra virgin olive oil a medium saucepan on a gentle heat.

Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pan with a good pinch of salt. Sweat slowly until the onion is barely transluscent before adding the garlic and cooking for another couple of minutes. You want the garlic to permeate the olive oil, but not to brown.

Add the harissa paste. Try and slightly go over the amount you’re comfortable with because it is going to be needed in the final dish. However, it will depend on your tolerance for spice. Stir the paste into the mirepoix, and cook for a minute until the fragrance hits you.

Put the chickpeas and the liquid into the pan. The liquid, or aquafaba, acts as the stock in this case. I prefer to cook my own beans, and do a no-soak method in the pressure cooker, to which I can add aromats, which also helps.

Cover the pan, and cook on a medium heat until the chickpeas are warmed through. Add the juice of half a lemon. Taste for seasoning, you may want to add more lemon juice or a bit of salt, depening on whether the chickpeas were already salted when cooking.

Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

This soup is great with toppings. At various times I’ve served this with:

  • Lemon wedges for squeezing into the soup
  • Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, mint, oregano
  • Green olives
  • Croutons
  • Hot sauce
  • Herb oils
  • Garlic bread – made by baking some bread in the oven , with olive oil and salt. When the bread is nicely toasted, rub a cut clove of garlic all over the face of the bread.

How to Store

This harissa and chickpea soup will store without toppings in the fridge for up to a week.
You could also freeze this soup, for up to three months. I have had the chickpeas break down a bit from the freezer, but not to a mush, there’s still plenty of texture.



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Taking a Break

Well, it’s time for a bit of a reality check at Edible Things. I’m going to have to take a break. I’m finding juggling a full-time job that involves a lot of travel and late night/ early morning calls and writing up all the lovely edible things a bit too much to juggle. So I’m taking a bit of a break.

I hope that it isn’t forever, but I can’t say when my schedule will be any clearer. But I would like to thank you all, near and far, for reading my little blog. I have met some amazing people, joined in some really fun challenges, and grown as a cook and a writer. It has been a fantastic trip so far.

I hope that sometime in the not-too distant future I can take up the mantle again. After all, when you’re as obsessed with finding, farming, feasting and fermenting as I am there are always a million and one new things to cook, discover and taste.

Until then, as the great Douglas Adams once attributed to a dolphin, so long, and thanks for all the fish…

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A Very Happy Christmas

Jul Hjart

Season’s Greetings

Well, it has been a little while since I posted last. I’ve been having a large dose of real life, but it has left me with no time and no inclination to come up with new recipes, so I’ve been relying on old favourites, as everyone does from time to time.

But, now things have settled down a bit, and I’ll be back soon with a Swedish Christmas staple for you all.

I celebrated Christmas in Sweden this year, and so Christmas is over for me already. I do know that many of you are cooking up a storm today, so I hope you have a lot of delicious edible things to enjoy with friends and family this holiday.

Wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate,  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.


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Experiments with Facebook

Mel Ediblethings

First Appearance

(c) H. Weiber 2013

This blog is a little under two years old now. It has been registered for longer than I have been writing, but it took me a little while to pluck up the courage to get going.
At the time, I admitted to being a little shy, but I have found a great community here, and have made some good virtual friends across the gardening and food blogs. Which has been great, and given me the confidence to try to do a bit more.

Now it is about time for a few new things for Edible Things.  Over the coming months and weeks, I’m going to be having a little  facelift, and adding new social media. This is largely an experiment at the moment, because I need to see how much extra time this stuff will take.

You may have noticed the first ever clear photo of me at the top of this post. This is the start of having what I hope will be a bit more of a profile. I will also be adding photos to the about page, and in other places soon. It was taken a barbecue that I held recently for my work team.

Another first is the new Edible Things facebook page.  It is also my profile picture for the Edible Things page.

You may or may not know that I also campaign on food isses, as well as forage, farm and feast on food. The facebook page will probably be about both of these things.  I’d really love it if you dropped by and joined in the conversation!

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Resolutions Revisited

A table laden with sparkling wine


A very Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you had the party that I had, but that you skipped the hangover that nearly felled me once and for all yesterday!

And what a year it has been, with weddings, parties, anniversaries, and significant birthdays. It all culminated for me with a new job, and throwing a retirement party and 65th birthday party for my Dad, whose birthday was on New Year’s Eve. I cooked a load of things for that, including more tarted up mince pies and many other things, including some gluten free bits; some of which will appear here soon.

I thought that I would start 2013 with a bit of reflection on what I got up to, with a look back on last year’s resolutions, and to make a few more for the coming year. I’d also love to hear yours, if you want to leave them in the comments.

Varzea Viva, Portugal

Viva Varvea! Permaculture in Practice

Last year, I resolved to go on a permaculture course, and get better at growing food. I had a lovely 10 days in Portugal, with a great bunch of people where I learned about permaculture design. I have since volunteered in a permaculture garden at home, and it has made me a more knowledgeable gardener. I put some of the theory into action in my own garden, mostly with a lot of companion planting, and I hope to blog a bit more about that for this year’s plants.

Purple Eye Potatoes

You Can Only Get ‘Em Two Tone if You Grow Your Own

I also joined the 52 week salad challenge run by Michelle at veg plotting, and started Seedy Penpals  with Carl. All of these things have made me better at successional sowing, and growing in general. I have been exposed to a lot of new plants and new varieties this year, and I’ve met some brilliant people. Although I still haven’t met many of them in person, I have come to look on some as friends, through here and on Twitter.

Mornng Glory

I Found the Story, and It’s Inedible

I had to visit Japan for work once, and the dashis and ramen that I ate there often contained a pretty and pungent leaf vegetable that the English translation often listed as Morning Glory. I decided to track it down to try and grow it for myself. I was given a packet, and was disappointed that they are, in fact, not edible. It turns out that the little leaf I had eaten so often was actually shiso. Luckily, I’d also got hold of both the red and green varieties, and have been enjoying it in salads all summer.

I resolved to investigate more Asian and Middle Eastern food. I have eaten a lot more than in previous years; including pho, Hom Bao, a Lebanese –Inspired Chickpea dish, and have some Persian flavours in some blog posts that will follow. However, I probably could have done better.

Sprouted chickpea bread

Salad as Staple

Something else that I have done as a result of a resolution made last year is bake bread, although not as regularly as I’d hoped. Much of it has been fairly standard, so I have not blogged about it. I did manage to make some nice sprouted chickpea bread, and some hot cross buns, as well as the Hom Bao, which count as a bread, because you make a dough that needs proving.

I had hoped to do some butchery. I didn’t quite manage a whole beast, as I’d hoped, but I have deboned and jointed birds, and a rabbit or two. I have some of the adventures in photos ready to type up, but have been putting it off, because I know quite a few vegans and vegetarians follow my blog and I don’t wish to alienate or upset any of you. I may go ahead with these posts, but make most of it only visible if you click through to the whole post, then you don’t have to see the photos if you don’t want to. I’d be grateful if you are not a meat eater if you could let me know if this would suit you.

I have brewed many things, from blackberry wine and liqueur, elderflower champagne, elderberry wine (which I have great hopes for, this batch is still not ready but preliminary tests have proved promising) up to flavoured spirits from foraged goods. For reasons that I am not really sure of, I have not blogged any of the brewing. Maybe I will just get on and do so; I would like to share them.

Finally, I had a long list of places that I would like to visit. 2012 was not really the year of fine dining, so I didn’t make it to any of those on my shortlist. Ah well, there will always be exciting new and good restaurants to eat at.

And so we come to the year ahead. I have had a lot of fun making the resolutions, and stuck to a surprising number of them, even if I didn’t achieve as much as I’d hoped. So for this year, I have another list that I think is pretty ambitious, but will be fun to try and achieve.

Again, in no particular order, for 2013 I would like to:

  1. Grow unusual vegetables and fruits – especially a lot more perennials.
  2. I’m going to blog more boozy posts. I am going to make nettle beer this year, to see how that goes. I’ve also found wild hops this year, so maybe a beer from scratch could be on the cards?
  3. I want to learn how to smoke food. I’ll have to get hold of a stove top smoker (or a wok with a better lid than the one that I have), and hopefully start experimenting with smoke. My neighbour has a larger smoker in his shed, so maybe I’ll be able to work my way up to smoking with him – although I expect that will take much more than a year.
  4. I want to experiment with cheese. I’ve made soft curd cheeses, but I am just curious about the process and what could be possible in small batches, and without anything in the way of specialised equipment.
  5. I have developed a bit of an obsession with Bath Chaps. It will probably be a challenge to source a well reared pig’s head, but I’m going to give it a good try, then I’m going to attempt a brine, and we’ll see where it goes.
  6. Given my new job I’m going to have a go at some Filipino food, although maybe not some of the most adventurous dishes.
  7. Finally, I’m going to say that I intend to eat out more this year than last, and revisit the resolve to eat at some fantastic restaurants across Europe. I’m not going to list them this year, but if I do get the chance to eat at some, I am going to blog about them.

So let’s see how far I get this time.


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This Little Blogger Went to Market

Edible Things Stall at Neighbourfood Market

Hot Potato, Hot Potato

Well, I did it!

On Sunday Edible Things stall had its debut at the Neighbourfood Market. It was a good turnout, despite changeable weather, which included both hail and snow at various points throughout the day.

The stall went well, and it was a lot of fun, despite first night nerves at the start of the day. Both kinds of Chilli were really popular. One person was really happy when she realised I could do her a vegan meal with olive oil instead of butter, that she also got all of her friends to come and order. I think offering hot food was just the ticket, considering the weather.

Jacket Potato with Veggie Chili

A Successful Practice Run

There were  couple of things that didn’t work out. Firstly, I couldn’t work out a way to keep the kale for the stamppot warm. I could have used other brassicas, but this would have had the same problem. I am sure we all remember the cabbage of our school dinners, that was over cooked by roughly a week, and unpleasant to eat and smell! I could also have used sauerkraut (zuurkool in Dutch) but I prefer kale. In the end, I decided not to offer it at all. This is the benefit of a test or two!

My First Customer

My First Customer (also a friend, which is not cheating)

Unfortunately, the homemade baked beans were not that popular as a choice. People with children appreciated them, because little people will often not like chilli (although one little boy of a friend couldn’t get enough chilli, so it definitely varies), but this is probably not one to offer to this audience in the future. Actually, that’s OK. I usually make tomato sauce from fresh, roasted tomatoes, and then usually have some in the freezer. Last year’s tomatoes got blight, due to us having the wettest summer since the 1920s, so I didn’t have any to hand. This meant I made the tomato sauce with passata, because I prefer not to encourage the use of the out of season greenhouse tomatoes you can get at this time of the year. As you would expect, this was not as tasty as the usual sauce. They are still superior to the tinned versions everyone is familiar with, but not as good as with my fresh tomato sauce.

More Happy Customers

More Happy Customers - also friends, but I had to take photos in the quieter times...

I didn’t get around to as many of the other stalls as I would have liked, but I did get talking to a few people who I hope will be able to give me some much needed advice. I was also the grateful recipient of a lovely cranberry and orange scone from Ben at the Calibakery, who was also doing his first market, as well as a food swap with Nina of Nina’s Kitchen.

All in all, it was a good day, and I had the support of some very good friends. I would consider it doing it again, although definitely not next month, as it falls on my birthday.I really put everything into it, and had to take yesterday to recover. I expect most of this was nerves, so this should be better next time. It is also why I am only posting about it now. I was shattered!

Things I will remember for next time include the white board to advertise my wares (we forgot it twice, then the big guy forgot the car keys before it arrived); to eat myself – I managed on a slice of toast and that scone for the whole day, but it wasn’t pretty; and finally if I buy sweet potatoes, I will remember to take them.

Does anyone have any good recipes for 5 kg of sweet potatoes, that will be good for someone who doesn’t really like sweet potatoes?


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Edible Things – Live and Cooking at Neighbourfood!

The Neighbor Food Market

The Neighbor Food Market

I have some exciting news, that I would like to share. You may remember that I was really inspired and excited by the Neighbourfood Market last month. I am delighted to let you all know that I have taken the plunge, and have arranged myself a stall for my homemade food. I have never done this kind of thing before, so I thought that this time I would try not to go overboard.

As I hope that you can tell from reading ediblethings, I love making home cooked food, from scratch. I want to do this for the people who come to the neighbourfood market, and share my love of food. Wherever possible, the food will be organic, but as I am just starting out, not all the food will be 100% organic this time.

I will be making Jacket Potatoes. There is not really a tradition of baking potatoes in the Netherlands in the same way as we do in the UK, at least in the shops and take aways, but so far market research has been promising. I want to do the ones we are used to, with a nice crispy outer skin. I have been experimenting with some jackets, and think I have the right one now.

The menu in full is:

Jacket Potato

or Baked Sweet Potato

with your choice of filling from:

Mexican Chile

Vegan Chile

Homemade Beans

Cheese & Chive

‘Stampotato’ with boerenkool- with or without rookwurst

There will also be a small selection of seasonal marmalade and citrus curds which I will be selling.

Because I am so obsessed with making jams and preserves, I am always on the lookout for jam jars. If you bring me jam jars, you can have a discount on your purchase from edible things, although I am still calculating costs, so details of how much will follow.

So, I really hope that you will join me at the Westergasterrein in Amsterdam this Sunday between 10 and 3. Of course, there will be loads of stalls, and other produce and food available, so why not check it out, even if potatoes are not your thing!

The idea is that we all have a mind for sustainability, so you are encouraged to bring your own plate and cutlery. Washing up facilities are provided. And they have made arrangements to donate the leftovers to the homeless. So, not only can you enjoy great food and a gezellig atmosphere, you will be reducing waste at the same time, and we all know how much I hate waste, don’t we?

Gezellig Good Food at the Neighbourfood Market

Gezellig & Good Food


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New Year Food Resolutions

Sydney Harbour Bridge New year 2012

Happy New Year!

I am not really one for making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I don’t think I can remember the last time I made any. However, I often decide that I should start to do more of this or more of that in my foodie life. So, I decided to make some food-related New Year’s resolutions, as it will be a useful way to record my thoughts, and interesting to see if I actually manage them.

So, in no particular order, in 2012 I would like to:

  1. Grow Better: I already grow a lot of food, but this year I resolve to try to be more organised in the garden, so that my stuff  gets sown on time, and I actually manage to reach the holy grail of good successional planting.
  2. Go on a permaculture course, hopefully to help me with number 1
  3. I am going to investigate more asian and middle eastern food. I was lucky enough to get a book of recipes from the Philippines, from a friend of mine, but I want to understand more about Thai, Vietnamese, Philippines, Indonesian, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, Afghani, and many other cuisines from these regions.
  4. I am going to source and try to grow Morning Glory to help me with number 3, but I will be otherwise adapting the recipes to use ingredients that I can source locally.
  5. I am going to cook bread more regularly. I love making bread, and actually a lot of it can be quite easy. I have made some wonderful English muffins that don’t require a lot of proving, and make the perfect brunches. I  have made spelt bread that takes two hours from the time you tip the flour into the bowl to the time you take it out of the oven. With just a little planning, bread baking need not be an arduous chore, and it need not take hours and a lot of kneading. Expect this to appear on these pages sometime soon.
  6. I would love 2012 to be the year I manage to source half a well-reared beast, and butcher it myself. However, I would need to go in with friends on this venture, so I may also need to find some friends with a large freezer!
  7. I want to continue on my adventures in brewing. Elderflower champagne is a must for this year, but I also want to try my hand at beer from scratch, and many other things. I also intend to brew me some interesting vinegars this year, from start to finish.
  8. I am absolutely going to eat at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner, but would also really love to give Michael Caines’ Gidleigh Park, Matt Moran’s Aria, Marcus Wareing at the Berkley, Ron Blaauw, La Rive, Marius, and Ciel Bleu a go. I intend to go back to Texture, which I thoroughly recommend if you are looking for a high-end London restaurant. I also want to start blogging about them here.

There are many other things I want to dabble with. I am currently being persuaded by friends to get into supper clubs, which I would love to try, but I am really scared of doing, but who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year when I pluck up my courage. However, the above list seems to be enough to be getting on with.

So have you made any New Year’s food resolutions? What are they?


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The Visitors

My garden has seen many visitors.

When we first moved here, all the neighbours told us that we couldn’t grow vegetables, because the area used to be industrial, and that there was heavy metal contamination. Our own investigations confirmed this. Plus, we are the lowest of the adjacent gardens, in a wet country, meaning the garden floods. Being stubborn, we decided this wouldn’t put us off, so we built some raised beds and invited some visitors, to come and help us with the large amount of soil we had ordered.

An awful lot of soil

(c) L. Vickers 2009

In towns and cities in the Netherlands, the houses are often built around courtyard gardens. Our visitors helped us to lug this soil through the house and out to the gardens, where they filled our twelve (large) raised beds

Filling the raised beds

(c) L. Vickers 2009

Without these visitors, we would not have been able to build the garden that we now grow from. The garden that (sometimes) looks like this

Our garden - mostly finished

(c) L. Vickers 2009

We have always been sociable people, and the garden has seen many visitors for many barbeques and parties. We have had visitors who have come to stay, for a weekend, and those who stayed a little longer. As far as I know, they have all had fun here.

Just over a year ago, we had an unexpected visitor who turned up in our garden.


I caught him, thinking some poor child would be distraught at having left the cage open, or that the local cats might get him. I put round flyers asking whose he was, since he had to belong to one of our neighbours, as there is no way out of the gardens here. The neighbour came to get him, but 3 days later he turned back up here again, and returning became a habit. Now he lives with us. We also got him a little friend. They seem to be happy here too.

Last weekend, we went away to the Dutch countryside. We had a great weekend in the fresh air, with friends. When we got home, we had another surprise visitor.

Mystery bear

Surprise II!

I have no idea where he came from, or how he got here. He seems to be quite happy in among the raised beds.

The point is that all of these visitors have been very welcome, and I have enjoyed having them here. I am also very grateful to those of them who helped us to lug all that soil, we owe them all a lot!

I have been writing this blog  for a while now, but have never yet dared to publish my writing. I have been too afraid to put myself out there, and to accept visitors if, indeed, there should be any.

I have had a lot of encouragement from a number of people. People that I consider good friends. Some of whom I know in person, some of whom I know only on the internet (Thanks especially to L, J, the Morning Claret and  Nip It In The Bud, who have all been particularly supportive). I have received some very kind words from you all, and I know that I have driven at least one of you mad with my worries and lack of public posts.  I would like to thank you all.

I am not really very good at being bad at stuff. I see food bloggers that I admire, and I think that my stuff is not as good as theirs. But why should it be? They have mostly all been doing it for years, and I have mostly just been thinking about it.

Recently, I also came across this blog post, that pretty much sums a lot of the things that I have been thinking/worrying about.

I have looked back over the blog, and really, I could continue to review and change things. I definitely need to stop taking those ‘plate from above’ shots that have populated the blog so far. Hopefully, tips like those on this page will help me stop that. I also need to get better at shopping for stuff like linens and pots that will help add interest, as well as learn some different camera angles. I am not entirely happy with the template/layout I am using, and will probably change it soon. But, honestly, I could continue to review and edit forever, and not be happy. I need to trust that I will get better, and so I am going to try.

So, thanks to all my lovely friends, and online inspirations, I have decided that now is the time to take the plunge. I am a hospitable person, and I love playing host to all kinds of visitors. It is always a nervous time, waiting for people to turn up. Even if they don’t, I have prepared food for more than I have invited, so no one will go hungry, or I will eat like a party queen for a week or so. I should add that it has never happened so far!

With this, even if no-one turns up, then at least I have a record of what I have attempted; how much better I have (hopefully) become at butchery, or brewing or whatever; and how much fun I had cooking  for all the visitors in my real life. Whatever happens, only time will tell.

So, I am going to spend a while going back over the old posts, and finally pressing publish. This may take me a little while, as there are quite a few of them, but if I don’t do it now, I never will.

In any case, I am proud to declare that Edible Things is open for visitors.

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Food, Glorious Food


Having been toying with the idea for a long time now, I thought that I would have a go at a food blog.

I am a British expat, who enjoys cooking, eating, growing, and foraging for food.

You could say I like Edible Things! I would like a place to challenge myself to try new things, and improve on my skills, so this is it.

Welcome to Edible Things.

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