It’s hard going working out what to eat most days. The weather, what’s seasonal, and what’s at hand in the fridge and pantry all play their part.
Today, it’s cold outside – rain threatens. It's the last day of autumn and we're talking about lighting the fireplace for the first time this year. We have the whole afternoon ahead of us at home, a rare treat. This calls for a cook up. But we are low on supplies – with only a few hardy veges, and the usual staples of pasta, rice and some legumes in the pantry. I have been known to rustle something up with much less, but today I'm not feeling terribly inspired. I hanker for comfort food, but what exactly?
I head down to the local food market with my daughter, searching for inspiration. We walk around the Asian grocery, the butcher, the fish monger, the chicken shop. At the latter, I see a handmade sign, ‘’Broiling chicken – make you feel healthy. $4.40 a kilo.” I can’t help but smile. With an advert like that, how can we resist?
We take our chook home, wash her, and in the stockpot she goes; along with around four litres of water, the head of a celery, a few carrots, a couple of onions and herbs from our garden. When the water comes to the boil, I divest it of the scum that rises to the surface. An hour or so later I strain the stock into two pots. I add a mixed legume mix to one of the pots; around half an hour later, I add chopped carrots and celery, some tinned tomatoes. And around a half hour after that, zucchini, a handful of pasta and rice, some herbs. I come back to it regularly, checking, stirring, sniffing. A little extra water here, some seasonings there; but otherwise, it’s taking care of itself.
A few hours later, I am pleased with the results: two decent-sized pots of soup, one of which I dispatch off to my in-laws; eight tubs of stock to see me through the next few weeks of improvised meals; and a few tubs of soup for freezing.
The rain hits our tin roof outside, but inside the broiler has saved the day. I’m now ready for winter. Bring it on.