Journey to Mars

There’s no denying that we’re a pretty geeky family and Esme’s always been interested in astronomy and space travel, no doubt thanks to the Doctor Who obsession she’s had since she was a toddler. I’m always looking for different things to keep her interest peaked, so back in October we jumped at the chance to take part in NASA’s Journey to Mars program. We submitted our names to be etched on a dime sized microchip that will travel on spacecraft venturing to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars!

Journey to Mars

Our journey begins today when the Orion spacecraft sets off on its first flight – a four and a half hour, two orbit, system testing mission around the earth. To mark this rather momentous occasion, we had a space themed tea: red planet soup and constellation cupcakes!

Journey to Mars - Constellation Cupcakes

The constellation cupcakes are just a basic vanilla sponge with a vanilla buttercream and fondant icing – super yummy, and educational too! The wee one had fun trying to identify all the constellations, and hopefully she’ll still be able to remember them the next time we go star gazing.

Journey to Mars - Red Planet Soup

The tomato soup is simple and cheap to make, and with the addition of some pasta shapes it becomes a really filling, hearty meal.

Tomato and Pasta Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon oil (I use sesame oil for almost everything, but olive oil would be fine)
  2. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 bay leaves
  5. pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  6. 3 tins tomatoes
  7. 3 pints vegetable stock
  8. 30g chopped fresh basil
  9. 250g pasta shapes (I used these uber cute space shapes from Aga Foodhall)
  10. salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and fry the onion and garlic gently for five to ten minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock. Stir in the bay leaves, red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Season to taste and simmer for fifteen minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just al dente, about five minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves from the soup and blend until smooth. Add the pasta, and cook for a further five minutes. Serve with grated parmesan and fresh cream
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