It's been pretty breezy here over the last few days, as we get the tail end of the hurricane coming through, but at least we're getting the cobwebs blown away! We can't live on fresh-air alone though, so we really like cooking whenever we can at Windmill, especially when that means enjoying some of the lovely veg and herbs we produce.
Today, there was an ulterior motive for the cooking. Tracey wanted to try out a very old technology, the hay box. Whilst the rest of the volunteers prepared the ground for our Jubilee Hedge (which will be planted in December - watch this space!), she got to work in the polytunnel, and made a paella. Ideally, the food would have been heated on the rocket stove, but we discovered last time it was windy that the fire can get blown the wrong way, so with today's exciting wind speeds, the table top stove was the better bet (at least for the cook who doesn't want to get flambeed along with the food!).
So - here is how to make no-hassle paella.
First dice a large onion and 1 large stick of celery. Cook in a little oil or butter until the onion starts to look see-through. Add 1 diced red pepper and a finely chopped carrot. Cook for around 5 minutes more.
In our case we then transfered the onion mix into a larger pan for the next part. Add 2 cups of brown rice and stir into the mix. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, paprika, a pinch of saffron, and oregano and thyme to taste, along with 3 heaped teaspoons of stock powder. Add 4 cups of boiling water and bring the whole to the boil with the lid on, (though you'll need to stir it a few times to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom).
|The polytunnel kitchen in action|
|Let's play "hide the pan"...|
Cover the pan with more of the hay / straw and close the box and then leave to continue cooking at least 30 minutes.
|A lucky dip with only 1 prize!|
When the food has finished its cooking time, just dig it out of the hay. For the 1/2 hour that rice takes, it should be almost as hot as it was when it went in. In our case we then added some peas and some cooked prawns to finish off the paella (prawns get a bit small and tough if you cook them for a long time).
|The proof is in the eating!|
The volunteers, fresh from their digging, enjoyed their meal (well at least everyone had seconds, which Tracey takes to be a sign of approval!). Even new volunteer Austin cleared his plate. Now we just need to repeat the exercise with the cooking part done on the rocket stove to have a really climate-friendly, renewably-fueled meal.