I am back to base after a beautiful break in Himachal Pradesh. The memory of the cool climate, generous people and great friends I made there are going to serve as tonic for a whole year before I head back again. I am writing all about the trek on Trivial Thoughts.
So, how difficult is it to settle down to normalcy after a break? It took me two days to accept the heat waves and three to venture out. Five days later I was still dreading a trip to the kitchen. I watched over eight movies during the last week, ate out twice (which is very reasonable!) and lived solely on fresh, juicy fruits for two whole days. Now that the family is whole again – my husband and kids having returned from Bangalore – I am actually enjoying the process of cooking, though not the heat in my kitchen. I guess the magic lies in the fact that I am not cooking for myself but for others and these others are people who love to eat what I cook. Isn’t that the greatest motivation of all?
Before I left I had cleaned out my refrigerator and left it empty as I was sure P would not cook much and I was pretty much right about it. I do not know a better way of using up left over vegetables than to stock them up, literally! 😀
A day before I left I just cleaned, peeled and chopped into large chunks whatever vegetables were left in the refrigerator. These included carrots, string beans, red pepper, peas and herbs like coriander, mint and curry leaves. I also added two potatoes and three onions to the whole thing. Making stock isn’t difficult and it is something I do whenever I find a little bit of this and that leftover vegetables. It is healthy, very tasty and handy when I want a quick soup.
Recipe: Weekend vegetable stock
12-15 cups of water (I freeze them in small containers so that I use up the whole portion at one go)
Any vegetables you have but do not add excess of radish or cabbage. These have strong odours.
About 1/4kg of white pumpkin, chopped into huge chunks
2 potatoes (peeled, chopped into big chunks)
2 onions (peeled and sliced big)
3 small carrots (peeled and chopped into chunks)
1/4 of a red pepper that was left from the previous day’s cooking ( Slit into two pieces)
About 1/2 a cup of peas
1/4 of a small cabbage, leaves separated
8 sprigs of coriander – I used the stems for the stock and the leaves for garnishing another dish
Some mint (2-3 stems)
Some ginger that was left
1 table spoon of olive oil
Pink salt / Black salt / Kala namak
A few crushed black pepper corns (1/2 tsp.)
I use my cooker when I make large quantities of stock.
Boil the water and set aside.
Warm the olive oil in a large wok and saute all the pepper corn, bay leaf and the veggies till they get even coated with the oil and turn aromatic. This takes about five minutes. You will have to toss them a bit or they will burn.
Tip the sauteed vegetables into the hot water and allow to cook for about two hours in slow fire. (Somewhere between sim and medium heat). Let the water reduce to half. Adjust salt and strain through a cheese cloth or a fine meshed strainer.
Store in small containers. This will help you use up one whole container at a time and minimize spoilage.
My recipe for creamy vegan soups is very easy and quick. More about the soups soon.
BTW, if you are using my recipe for your stock you can merrily be forgetful about adding flavours to your soup. It will still be full of herbal flavours as the mint, coriander and pepper will show up their individual sensations very well in the end product.
I bought plums for a kuchen and ended up feasting on them as always!! I am turning into a fruit glut these days:). I must go and get a kilo next time so that I can get round to baking!