Autumn comfort eating – Instant Pot Butternut squash soup

Today was a good day. E is almost 5 weeks old and it’s still very much a round-the-clock job looking after her. So days like today, when I’ve grabbed 15 minutes here and there to tick a few jobs off the list, feel like a triumph.

In the days straight after E was born, hot meals were hard to come by. My mum came to the rescue with stew and soup, and kept us going until we found our feet.

I’m still finding my feet, but making a concerted effort to start a routine, and part of that is home cooked food and a decent meal each night.

A timesaver and somewhat of a God-send has been the Instant Pot. If your food has finished cooking, then it automatically goes onto a keep warm mode – no cold food, and no burned saucepans!

Today E decided to have a quick 15-min nap after we’d been out for a walk, so I took advantage and threw together  some ingredients to make an earthy, autumnal soup. Perfect for these cooler days, and something I can store for a couple more lunches this week:
Cheap meals - Autumn Butternut Squash soup


  • 1 butternut squash, chopped & cubed roughly
  • 1 large floury potato (eg Maris Piper), chopped & cubed
  • 2 large onions ( I also added a few small homegrown banana shallots), diced roughly
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped & cubed
  • 2 – 2.5 cups of water
  • About two heaped dessert spoons of Marigold vegan bouillon
  • Liberal dash of cayenne pepper


1. Dice onions and add cooking oil (I use a mild olive oil mix). Press Sauté on the Instant Pot. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the rest of the chopped veg and continue to sauté for a few mins, sweating down veggies.

3. Add water and bouillon, then cayenne pepper to taste.

4. Place lid of Instant Pot on, set to Manual for 15 mins.

5. Once the manual programme has finished, allow steam to vent. Open Instant Pot and blend down ingredients to a smooth consistency.

6. Serve with crusty bread!


Autumn Treats


We have three apple trees at the Smallest Smallholding – a pretty useless crab apple that only really serves as a good bird feeding spot, a Blenheim Orange that I presume is on some kind of dwarf rootstock, and a Charles Ross.

The two trees that provide edible apples are both relatively slow growing, and let’s just say our yields from both trees are very modest indeed. But right now I’ll take quality over quantity and the Charles Ross has grown some stonkers (as in, good stonkers) this season. I’m guessing the mix of downpours and late summer heatwaves gave us some ideal apple growing conditions. I also knocked off quite a few small fruits off each bough earlier in the season, so the remaining fruits have gleaned all the energy and grown to a good size.

Though the Charles Ross could be classed as a dessert apple, I’m going to use both the tarter Blenheim Orange and Charles Ross as cookers. Simply because baked apples are one of my favourite comfort foods. I’m thinking given I have a baby in my arms for a good proportion of the day, I’m going to keep the baking simple.

Apple tart or apple crumble is the plan… Whether I have the time or inclination to pull off baking a simple apple dish this weekend is another matter altogether 😉



On demand


Sunrise bedfordshire

I’m sitting here sprawled on the sofa in 30 degree heat, baby spread eagled and snoring on my chest, Lilla our white polar bear of a cat purring by my side. Summer is having a last hurrah, and to be honest, I would much rather it packed it’s bags for good for 2016.

These days, since the birth of my daughter (herein known as ‘E’), it’s a monumental achievement if I can make it out of the house before midday, a rare occurrence that I remember (or bother) to brush my hair, or achieve anything vaguely non-baby related. E is approaching three weeks old and these early days are demanding. I know it won’t always be like this but I do miss routines and the ability to just potter at will.

A return to a new normality will come, I know that. But for my own sanity, I need to achieve a little something every day. Otherwise I feel like I’m just existing – sleeping, eating, a human milk bar, nappy changer, zombified parent who watches the days slip by.

A few weeks ago I invested in a bullet journal (“bujo”), which has been  used since to help track spending, baby shopping before the birth, meal planning, task lists, and so on. It’s been invaluable and a bit of a revelation. In a good way.

But where I was box ticking several items and achieving several tasks a day before E’s arrival, at the moment it’s a different story. Over the last week or so I’ve come to realise that there’s just no way I can do what I was doing before. So to retain my sanity I’ve decided to do keep it simple; do one thing each day.

Today, that task is weeding the front garden. Tomorrow, it might be sorting out the washing and putting it away. On Saturday, I might aim to plant up two plant pots for Autumn. The hope is that these baby steps will keep things rolling and I’ll head into winter having just about kept on top of things at the Smallest Smallholding.