You can’t always get what you want

… or even what you expect.

For several weeks now I have been planning a Friday market trip, with the intention of buying winter vegetables to make some soup for the freezer. Two weeks ago we had torrential rain, so I decided to give it a miss; last week I had so much editing work on tight deadlines that I didn’t have time; but this week the weather was good and there weren’t too many piles of work to get through. So, I set my alarm clock and was leaving the house just after 7:30… before arriving back three minutes later because I’d forgotten to pick up the insulated cup of tea that I’d made to take with me in lieu of breakfast.

When I got down to Newcastle Emlyn, I was a little disappointed to discover no nets of leeks or parsnips. I could have bought a huge sack of swedes, but I really could not think of anything I might want to make with 20 of the things. So, I browsed around and discovered lots of nice veg in smaller quantities (they sell both big boxes and small amounts), so I selected some sweet potatoes and squashes (both always good for soup), some onions, six big fat red peppers and a couple of cauliflowers (Mr Snail loves cauliflowers and I’m rubbish at growing them)… and then my eye was caught by some boxes of tomatoes. Since, in my experience, it’s not possible to have too many jars of passata in the cupboard and it’s nearly six months since I last made any, I though I couldn’t go wrong at £2.50 a box, and bought two. And throughout my visit, I kept being drawn back to the boxes of limes (another thing that Mr Snail loves). What could I possibly do with a box of limes? We don’t like marmalade and even I can only drink so much gin. But I simply couldn’t resist – and for the same price as a box of tomatoes.

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My haul of not exactly winter vegetables

When I got home the tomatoes were quickly sorted (there’s always a few bad ones, which is why they are so cheap), washed, halved and the first batch put in the oven to roast. I made a big pot of soup – spicy squash and sweet potato (eight portions) – and I counted the limes – 59. And then I had to do some paid work.

On Saturday I got the passata mill out and processed all the roasted tomatoes, then bottled them: 11 half-litre jars and five quarter-litre jars. I made a second batch of soup: roasted red pepper, sweet potato and squash, with chilli, ginger and garlic. And I finally decided what to do with four of the limes: a lemon surprise pudding; the surprise is supposed to be the sauce that forms in the bottom, but I provided a second surprise by making it with lime not lemon.

So, today I’m going to zest and juice some of the limes and store the results in the freezer for subsequent cooking. I’m also going to quarter some of them and freeze then for use in g&t and other drinks and for (defrosted) squeezing over Mexican food, plus I’ll keep some in the fridge to use for cooking over the next couple of weeks. None of them will go to waste.

So, my winter veg shopping trip turned into something completely different, plus when my alarm clock went off on Friday morning I woke to a bedroom filled with orange light, and when I looked out I was greeted by the most glorious sunrise:

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good morning sunrise

So, it’s quite true – you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, instead, you get sunshine and limes.

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26 Comments

  1. I think the swap from leeks to sunrise and limes was a jolly good one.

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  2. Oh, I think you did very well! One needs to be light on one’s feet and adapt, and you did!

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    • It was very early in the morning, but at least I didn’t come home with totally random things… a friend of mine once sent her husband out to do the food shopping and he came home with a jam pan and an accordion!

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  3. I must go to the market one day but between getting up so early and having nothing on over the weekend so there’s time to use it all it hasn’t happened yet. Your haul sounds excellent.

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  4. You’ve got me thinking about passata now. But I would make lime curd. Oh, yum, in a pie or on a scone or toast…I can’t grow cauliflower either. It gets too hot here too fast. I’ve tried winter growing and that’s a bit better, but not worth it when they cost $4 in the store…

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  5. I’d be zesting a bunch of those limes before juicing as well, as I find the flavour is much more intense if you freeze the juice with the zest in it too. It’s a bit laborious but definitely worth it. Also, I find if you’re making a cake or pudding, then adding the flour to the bowl into which you zested the limes makes the flour absorb all the essential oil from the peel and adds flavour too.

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  6. You are so industrious! Your haul was great and I was going to suggest lime curd too – what a treat!

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  7. I’m with you on the swedes. One in veggie soup is good, but 20 of them? I’d pass too. Can you make something in the way of lime cordial with your limes? I’ve never thought about making it (some sort of syrup I imagine) but I love drinking it. Have fun!

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  8. All in all, sounds like a pretty good trip. What a fantastic price for the tomatoes! We would never get them that cheap in Maine, even if the whole box were rotten. Food is very expensive here.

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  9. Sounds like your plan went just perfect. Those soups sound like a great way to end this dreary winter. I think it’s time to give it a try myself. You have inspired me.

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  10. This sounds great, what a good market to be able to get to. I’d love to have a whole box of limes to work with.
    Lime pickles maybe?

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  1. In the limelight | The Snail of Happiness

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