Category Archives: parsley

My Kitchen Garden

I love this time of year, although this year, this time of year has come a little late due to what seemed like the lack of early Spring.  When the soil starts to warm up I get my seed packets out from seed I have saved from last year & beyond and a few fresh packets from the garden centre and start sowing my socks off!

This year, however, apart from the flowers I am only planting Cherry Tomatoes, Pomodoro Tomatoes, Medium Tomatoes (we love Tomatoes and use a lot in the kitchen), Courgettes, Chilli’s of varying degrees of heat (Jalapeno, Chilli Cayenne & Scotch Bonnet), Basil, Oregano and Parsley.  Our garden has gone through a bit of a metamorphosis in the last couple of years and I’m not equipped for more than that this year.

The Tomatoes all popped out quite quickly, the Courgettes the same but the Chilli’s took a long time to germinate and to date the Scotch Bonnet are still keeping us waiting!

I grow some vegetables every year but have always wanted a dedicated kitchen garden where I can grow most of my vegetables and herbs, I don’t have time for an allotment even if I could get one.  This small, but perfectly formed kitchen garden is a start and what we can’t eat we will swap with the neighbours, I’ve already been offered some beetroot, love it, all organic and fresh!
How does your garden grow this Spring??

Flavour Packed Vegetable Stock

I’ve been making my own vegetable stock forever especially in the colder months and this year being colder for longer I’ve made a small batch this weekend. It’s so simple to do and it’s a great way to use up excess vegetables.  Carrots, celery and onion make up the base of my stock and from there I add different vegetables depending on what’s usually in the fridge, parsnips, leeks and sometimes cabbage, swede and mushrooms have made their way into the pot.

I use parsley, bay and black peppercorns but also have used thyme, garlic and other herbs, there really is no set menu for making your own recipe vegetable stock.  The stock I’m making here is perfect for tiny tastebuds too, mine doesn’t like garlic very much yet so will leave it out of this batch.

Today’s pot of goodness includes:

2 organic carrots, chopped – I don’t peel, just give a good scrub
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 parsnip, peel and cut lengthways
1 small swede, chopped
1 leek including the green part, trim the end off and cut lengthways
3 cabbage leaves, the very outer greener ones
small handful of parsley including stalks
a few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Put all the vegetables into a pan, I’m using my trusty old (and it is very old but still so good) Le Creuset pan and add 2 litres of water.   Depending on the size of your pan you can add more or less water, more will, of course, produce a more lighter flavoured stock and with less the stock will have a more concentrated infusion.  2 litres fills my pot nicely and produces a delicious, well-flavoured stock.

Simmer for 1-2 hours, I know this seems a bit vague but an hour is fine but if I have the time I do like to give it a bit more simmering time.  Stir occasionally to further blend the flavours.

For extra depth of flavour you can also fry the vegetables gently first in a little oil before adding the water.  For soups though I prefer a simple, fresh and light stock.

Take off the heat and strain through a sieve and leave to cool.  The stock liquid can now be used as the base for soups or to make rissoto, quinoa, etc. 

Once cooled the stock can be frozen, mine is used up pretty quickly as I make a lot of soups which are fabulous for the 5:2 diet which I am still doing every week, it has become a habit now, part of my week and having low-calorie, highly nutritious soups to keep my appetite satiated has been amazingly helpful. 

The cooked vegetables can also be blended down and included in many recipes.  The vegetables will still contain plenty of fibre and a huge shame to waste.  I use them in soups for the tiddler, blended down or added to casseroles.  We also make veggie burgers, mixing the mashed vegetables with breadcrumbs and egg, seasonings and sometimes cheese.  So many uses for extra veg!