The house I grew up in is a few steps away from agricultural fields and the landscape there can only be described as “flat”. I remember spending my childhood cycling along the paths surrounding the fields for hours, going to visit horses at the nearby stables, making tracks in the wheat and eating chunks of sugar beet straight off the field (although you’re not supposed to eat them, they are used for sugar production).
We used to roam the fields as if they were our own and we had a great time doing it! One time my friend Nina and I found a field full of discarded cauliflowers. There were hundreds of them, all chopped in half and obviously left there by the farmer to fertilise the soil. Well, to those two little girls, they were perfectly fine food and free for the taking at that! We promptly proceeded to collect as many cauliflowers as possible before realising that we wouldnt be able to lug them all home. So after some deliberation we decided to choose just one, adequately shaped cauliflower halve each. We proudly stomped off home and demanded cauliflower for our dinner. I can only imagine the look of horror on our mums’ faces- but at the time we actually thought we were doing them a favour by bringing home free food! My mum duly washed and cooked my lovely cauliflower halve- but in hindsight I wonder if she only pretended and cooked a shop bought one under false pretence? The next morning, while I was playing in the small wooded area near our row of houses, I found what looked suspiciously like one of our pilfered cauliflowers, half hidden under some leaves. My poor friend’s mum must have been less kind than mine…!
I recently spent a bit of time in my home country catching up with my family and friends. Whilst driving along one day, I noticed that the wheat had turned golden and was being harvested everywhere. The sweetcorn had grown tall and out of the cobs, wrapped in their coats of green husks, hung that straggly “hair”.
Seeing those fields reminded me of one time when a neighbour took all us kids from our street on a night time expedition. In reality, it was probably early evening and just getting dark and I hasten to add that all our parents were aware and happy that this was happening! I remember everyone having a torch and off we went to the field on our big adventure. After what seemed like a long and adventurous journey (a 5 minute stroll on VERY even terrain with 0% incline) we arrived at the corn field and plundered the place (everyone got to cut off 1 corn on the cob under strict adult supervision). Oh, the excitement when we returned home with our bounty and told our parents about our exploits!
Today, in hommage to my field roaming childhood, and because I can feel Autumn coming, I decided to cook a hearty soup. I contemplated cauliflower for a while but because I was fresh out of caulis, it had to be sweetcorn instead. What can I say, it was delicious – even my almost 3 year old liked it and ate a whole bowl! I kind of made it up as i went along but I’ll try to recall how.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated or finely chopped
3 chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1-1.5 l chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp Madras curry power (adds colour and a mild flavour)
1/2 tsp all purpose seasoning
1. Fry onion, celery and carrots in the oil on a low heat and let them sweat out a little.
2. Add chicken breasts to the pan and sear the outsides (carefully adjusting the heat: if too hot, veg will burn, if too low, chicken will leak out juice)
3. Add sweetcorn, seasonings and stock, simmer with a lid on for half an hour or until the chicken is cooked.
4. Remove chicken and a few sweetcorn kernels (if you can catch them) and keep them in a bowl while you blend and blitz the remaining soup to a thick, smooth soup. Return chicken and sweetcorn kernels to the soup and serve!