Even though my little sister lives far, far away in New Zealand I can still cook her some celery soup. Aren’t we lucky. Our mother became sick when my sister was only a little girl and I keep forgetting that she saw me in the kitchen more often than she ever saw Mum there. So she loves to read the recipes.
Our Mother used to make celery soup in the winter. Often for lunch. Not necessarily for the children. Celery soup was one of her comfort foods. I think it was a favourite of hers and it surprised her to find that some of her children loved it too.
We did not need an enormous garden at the beach like I do here. The surrounding countryside had and till has many market gardeners, (vegetable growers) usually New Zealand Chinese and they all had stalls on the side of the road that had fresh beautiful seasonal produce all year round. We were spoiled for choice and never ever bought vegetables in a store we always bought from the family who grew them. And for a while we had a vegetable man who drove his truck around the beach ringing his bell and all the local kids were sent out with a list and the money in little leather purses kept especially for running errands and a string bag that miraculously got bigger the more he put in it. He had a bell hung from a pole on the back of the canvas covered bed of his truck, the bell gently rang itself as he slowly drove. This was when I was very small and I loved the vegetable man.
In those days everything was delivered, the weeks meat was delivered in brown paper by a man in a stained whiteish apron, a paper was delivered twice a day, the mail was delivered by a man who blew a whistle, the milk in its clinky bottles was left in a special milk box at the gate. And I am not that old. This does not seem long ago to me.
Anything else we bought at the local corner store. There were no big supermarkets then. Every street had a little collection of stores, the grocery store, the butcher, the fish and chip shop and a chemist. Sometimes even a bakery and a tea rooms. Every Friday we had fish and chips wrapped in newspaper from the local fish and chip shop, collected by two children on a bike. One to ride the bike and the other to sit on the carrier holding the fish and chips. It was always a fast ride. No-one lived very far from a fish and chip shop in those days, we lived on the beach of a beautiful bay and the fish was always fresh on a Friday.
‘The Shops’ they were called and last time I was home the ones on the road we lived on were all still there. Their big windows still coated in sea spray.
When I was a young teenager and Mum had entered her decline, a small supermarket opened on the other side of the hill and Mum would dress and drive us there, she would give me the purse and I would have my list and Mum would wait in the car while the Littlies (the smaller three of my brothers and sisters – my little sister was one of them) and I ran in to buy whatever I needed. She must have already been sick then. But we all thought she was just very tired.
But back to the celery soup. If your celery is not very fresh pull the little strings off the stalks. Mine was fresh so I did not bother. Slice the celery into little crescents. Cover the bottom of your saucepan with about an inch of celery, then cover with three inches of water. It needs to simmer for about an hour until just soft. Add more water if you need to. By the time the celery is cooked most of your water will have boiled off. You do not want to strain it as Mum always believed that the water stole the nutrients so simmer it until the water is almost gone. Take off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter, stir ’til melted, then add two tablespoons of flour slowly – sprinkling and stirring as you go. Then add the milk or cream. Slowly. About four cups of milk ( I forgot to measure it) stirring and heating and adding more milk until your soup is thick and soupy. Mum and I made it quite thick. Add freshly ground pepper to suit yourself. I have always eaten celery soup with lots of pepper.
Traditionally this is eaten with a cheese scone.
Hope that makes sense.
I was working in the cellar yesterday, stacking jars down there.
And came across these two bad boys.
The peach brandy.
So I strained a jar, tasted it and it was all down hill from there. This is so good. SO GOOD!
And the most beautiful colour. I drank it straight and stirred with a precious rosemary stick. (I took this shot after too many sips! you can tell! ) Delightful. I have only decanted one jar. This wee dram is entirely too tempting!
I hope you all have a lovely day.
A lovely, lovely, lovely day.
Your friend (and big sister) on the farm, celi