I hope you've all been keeping warm with the cooler change in weather. We've lit the fire a couple of times to keep cosy which is one thing I love about heading into winter - and now we have a dog to snuggle with too! Another thing I love about cooler weather is having warming soups. Because I have an allergy to garlic, I always make my own soups and stock. Making your own stock is great as you can control not only the flavour but also the amount and type of salt you use.
The recipe I always turn to is the Thermomix Vegetable Stock Paste (concentrate). If you don't have a Thermomix, it would still be easy to make - essentially just cooking up all the ingredients in a large saucepan and then pureeing in a blender or food processor. If you make it with salt it will keep for a couple of months in the fridge or it can be frozen and it will stay slightly soft so you can spoon out a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time. If you want to make it without salt, freeze it in ice-cube trays first so it's in easy to use portions.
Of course, I always change the recipe a little bit. If you can't eat onion, try green capsicum and I just left the garlic out. Essentially you can use any vegetables that need using up so feel free to experiment!
I was very impressed when I was able to find all the herbs for the stock recipe in the garden thanks to hubby. And it made me think how easy it is (for my husband) to grow herbs even with a small garden or just pots. It doesn't have to be fancy - the parsley has just seeded itself amongst some flowers, the sage is in the ground in the patio where a brick was removed, the basil has gone to seed in the veggie bed but the bees are loving the flowers so we've left it in for the moment and the rosemary is in a half wine barrel out the front. It feels fantastic to pick herbs from the garden and eat them straight away. Not just for the flavour but also for the energy and vitality they impart. Much more cost effective too!
Now I'm not the gardener in this house but here are some practical tips I've learnt...I must have actually been listening to hubby sometimes!
Think about what herbs you use the most and plant those. There's no point planting something fancy and then not knowing what to do with it.
Check what time of year is a good time to plant them.
Check if they're best grown from seed or seedling - your local garden centre will be able to help you.
Some herbs grow like crazy so are best in a pot otherwise they take over a huge amount of space in the garden - mint and coriander are good examples of this.
Make sure to plant them where they're quick to access from the kitchen - you don't want to have to walk far on a cold evening!
One teaspoon of dried herb is roughly equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh herb so if a recipe asks for a teaspoon of dried sage you can chop up a tablespoon of fresh.
Happy stocking and herbing!
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