Well, we had a most splendid day today!
Our visitors arrived from the ferry, guided by the wafting aromas of soup into the Community Room, where we more than adequately filled the room.
It was wonderful to see so many spinners in one place – and not all of them women.
In addition to soups and home-baked bread, there was the usual provision of spinning cakes. We had Spiced Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato; Lentil, Carrot and Sweet Potato; and Leek and Potato Soups. The recipe for the first of those was requested, so may be found at the foot of this page (such as it is, it’s more a set of guidelines…)
We had a video presentation on blending fibre with the drum carder and took along three carders and fibre to play with, plus the blending board. The Blending Board in particular excited a lot of attention. The little E-spinner was almost as popular and the Country Spinner also drew admiring glances. The E-spinner went out on hire for a month! KnitPro needles also went out of the door, together with plenty of blended fibres and several fleeces.
We really enjoyed meeting new friends, and also putting faces to former Internet-only contacts.
Our visitors left us to visit William Sichel at Orkney Angora, but not before inviting us to pay a return visit. We in turn suggested that they come back again next year and that we perhaps make this an annual event. Next time I think we shall hire the big room!
The day was a huge success, not least because of all the help that we received. I would particularly like to note our thanks to Jennifer for demonstrating so enthusiastically and to Jasmine and Molly for their tireless kitchen and waitress duties. Also, many thanks to Hugh for coming out and setting up the AV equipment for us, and to Duncan for able assistance as porter.
Now I need a hot bath and a quiet cuppa.
Beth’s Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
All quantities are approximate and the soup will take no harm when adjusted in any direction.
De-seed where necessary and cut into large chunks:
- 1 small to medium Butternut squash
- 2 medium Sweet Potatoes
- 2 onions (peeled)
- As many cloves of garlic as desired (for this quantity I typically use 3 or 4)
- Also a red pepper or two if desired
Place the veg in a heavy roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season if desired (I use black pepper and a little salt to draw out the juices), then roast in a medium hot oven (I set mine around 180C fan-assisted) until the veg are nicely charred and the skins of the squash and sweet potato will lift off easily. There’s a lot of sugar in these veg, so keep a close eye on them to ensure that they don’t end up as cinders.
Discard the skins if desired, though there is no real reason not to blend them in. I do discard mine, though to be honest have no idea why I do that!
In a large soup pan, toast some cumin seed – maybe a teaspoonful (more if you like the flavour). Add a little oil (you can take this from the roasting pan if you want to keep the amount of oil down) and some grated fresh ginger, stir the ginger around a bit before adding some dried chilli flakes. Half a teaspoon of chilli should be enough but add more if you like a kick. As for ginger, I’d use about a tablespoonful but I like ginger very much. Throw in the veg.
Rinse the roasting tin out with vegetable stock or water and add the rinsings to the soup pan. You can simmer this mix for a while, but it doesn’t need long, just long enough to develop the flavours.
Blitz. Taste. Adjust seasonings if desired.
If you overdo the chilli by accident, this soup is delicious with Mascarpone added. It does make it highly calorific but will calm the spices beautifully.