more about us

February 8, 2016

some days I don't miss my family and some days I do | green bean, lemon & spinach soup

It has been a while. I'm not sure exactly what it is that has me writing here again, after so long. Perhaps it was making kefir yoghurt again from grains gifted by C, an ex-Melrose resident. Perhaps it was catching up with a fellow foodie friend A who reminded me of just how much I love food and cooking. Perhaps it was writing a bit about Maitland St and the food we made for the Triangle project of another now-ex-Maitland St resident, B. Perhaps it was J phoning me while in the midst of preparations for a dinner party to impress with a couple of guinness cake questions. Perhaps it is that I now have the challenge of cooking for myself each and every night, so the type of meals I make has changed quite a bit, and finding the motivation to cook can be even more of a challenge than it once was.

So many things have changed. I no longer reside at Maitland St, and neither does J. I'm now living on a different hill in a new but still old (1907) "house" that is really more of a mansion. I live in the old servants quarters with 3 other ladies, on the third floor of the original house; the lower two floors of which is kept as a museum/gallery and open to the public. As much as I love the new place, there are times I still miss Maitland St and my room with a harbour view from my bed. Maitland St was home for a wonderful and also challenging three years, and I'll always remember my time there with a certain degree of sentimentality.

So many things have stayed the same. I still work in a lab, which has taken over my life more and more with each passing month. I still sometimes need to remind myself to cook a proper dinner and eat proper meals. When you don't have the expectation or need to cook for someone else it is much easier to convince yourself that porridge / boiled eggs / cheese on toast is an appropriate dinner. And sometimes it is, but the habit of cooking is a good one to nurture.

I can't promise I will be posting any more frequently than sporadically or whenever I feel the need to write something that isn't scientific or poetry, but you might see a few recipes here over the coming year. Most likely focussed on easy but also delicious meals you can cook for one or two. As much as I miss cooking for six (the default amount as I first started cooking for my family when I still lived at home), when it's only you eating it's best to not let the leftovers situation get too out of control. Not to mention our fridge/freezer capacity is pretty much always at maximum. However, I'm still pretty fond of soups and other easily scaleable things, and so even if you cook regularly for a few more people than I, hopefully you might find something useful.

green bean, lemon & spinach soup

Of course it would be a soup recipe! I often find that it is difficult to use up produce before it goes bad, and soup is an excellent way to use up anything that is looking a bit past it (but not quite at the furry stage). This was inspired by the lemon, lentil and coriander soup I've previously written about, and is perfect for those unexpectedly cool summer southerly nights. 

300g green beans
1 onion
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 lemons (or more), zest and juice
200-300g spinach
1 clove garlic
butter/olive oil
about half a can of coconut milk

sunflower seeds
flaxseed oil

Dice the onion and garlic, and trim the ends from the beans. Heat the butter or olive oil in a heavy fry pan and sauté the onions for a while until they start turning golden. Add the garlic and stir so it doesn't burn. Add the beans and lemon zest to the pan, and fry for about a minute before adding the vegetable stock and water in small amounts. You may not need all the water. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the beans are starting to soften a little. Add the spinach - I used baby spinach, but if you've got the big kind just rip the leaves off the stalks first, and remove from the heat while the spinach wilts. 

Blend in batches and transfer to a pot. Heat the soup through. If it's a bit runny, let it reduce on the heat for a while. When you are happy with the consistency, add the coconut milk and lemon juice. I used about 3 lemons because I like the flavour quite lemony. Don't be tempted to add a whole can of coconut milk, it's just there to make the soup more creamy, not add any flavour. Add salt to taste - I added about 1 teaspoon. 

To serve, toast some sunflower seeds, crumble some feta over the bowl, add a spoonful of herb paste and a small drizzle of flaxseed oil. All of these additions are delicious but not necessary. Eat with toast or just by itself. 

This soup freezes well and you can even freeze it before adding the coconut milk and just finish it off when you defrost it. The recipe's vegetarian already, and also appropriate for vegans if you use olive oil rather than butter, and omit the feta. The amounts I've used made enough soup for a dinner for three, with bread, or two dinners and two lunches just for me. If there's more of you, just increase the amounts. 


So, perhaps I will 'see' you again soon. The only recipe I half-wrote in the blog hiatus (really doesn't seem like nearly two years!) was for borscht, something I got mildly obsessed with over autumn, so perhaps that will be what I write about next. Though I have also been testing out our new-ish oven with a few kinds of baking, so, you never know..

The two photos at the top are of a particularly special beach not far from the city centre. 

title from the mountain goats - wild sage


  1. Replies
    1. thank you! and hello, fellow thesis writer, hope it's going well! x

    2. I literally just saved it so I can print it out tomorrow for the panel (internal milestone) - my seminar is in a couple of weeks & then finally it should be ready for examination! What a process! xox

    3. oh goodness, well done! What an achievement. I'm so happy for you (and also a tiny bit envious, looking forward to that feeling SO MUCH!). Enjoy having that thesis-weight off your shoulders!

  2. Delicious, G. And so lovely to see you back. The best part of blogging must be these connections and moments of inspiration; a big beautiful circle of creativity. I popped over to your other page and was moved, as always, by the beauty of the words there. I still come back here in search of your delicious dhal recipe, which is back on our menu this week. Lovely to see another instalment, and to read between the lines a little of your life story. I can just picture that house on the hill, the smell of green beans and lemon wafting through the corridors! xx

    1. what a beautiful comment - as I said, I really loved reading your recent creative writing and I think that subconsciously spurred me back here - that and needing to write a few non-scientific sentences, where it's not necessary to agonise over every word and phrasing to ensure its accuracy. You are write about blogging and connections. I'm happy to hear you are enjoying the dhal!

  3. Happy that you've found your way back! And that soup looks wonderful, I could eat soup (with a good bread!) for every meal :)

    xox Lilly

    1. I'm a pretty big soup fan too, and I agree, good bread is a necessary addition. thanks, it's good to be back!

  4. Yes, I love soup (strangely, none of my kids are huge fans, which makes me sad, I'm hoping they'll grow into it). So happy to see you on here. How amazing to live in a house that is a museum. I hope to see you here when you can, I feel like blogging, although harder to keep up, is just a little more substantial than insta (as addictive as insta is). Im x

  5. Oh this makes me so happy. I am awakening from a long, long, blog hiatus too... feeling a bit awkward and uncomfortable, but I suppose that means I'm doing it right? Ha. You know, I don't make soup nearly as much as I should, and as for the amount of produce we waste, well let's just say I'm shaking my head in shame. Absolutely bookmarking this for those times I'm scrambling at the end of the week trying to come up with a meal. Thank you! (and welcome back!)