Our new velux windows are fitted here in France and we're now on with decorating the master bedroom. It's a big job because it’s a big room. However the timing is right as the very day after the last window was finished off it started raining, so being confined to indoors seems like less of a sacrifice. On top of that we both have colds. As per usual Nick's has been mild but mine is what my mum would have called "a stinker". Neither of us has had a cold for three years so we're not going out and I had quite forgotten how much of a hinderance they can be.
On top of that we have another fuel crisis on this side of the Channel. The tanker drivers have "downed tools" (do tanker drivers have tools?) and supplies are patchy. I knew nothing about it until my Nick's sister mentioned it after seeing it on the BBC news. Filling stations are all a good distance apart in rural France and it's risky to head off in one direction only to find no petrol to be had. With our petrol tank already very low we managed to fill up but are conserving our supply for essential use. Going to buy more paint might be the next trip.
Consequently we haven’t done any food shopping for a while and are eating what we have in. The carrots looked a bit tired and there was one leek but plenty of potatoes and a huge bowlful of apples. A very tasty soup they made!
THE UGLY BAG - home made stock (broth in the USA)
For the stock I used home made. Never in a million years did I think I would turn into the kind of person that made her own stock but then I read somewhere about something called an "ugly bag". (At the risk of going against my own most recent rule I'll give the link for it here.) The idea is simple in that every time you prepare a meal you put all the carrot tops, onion trimmings, celery leaves, chicken bones, tomato ends etc into a large bag in the freezer.
When the bag is full you tip the contents into a large pan, cover with water, add any fresh herbs you have, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour, no longer. Strain through a colander into another large container and discard the veg. Fill sturdy freezer bags with quantities suitable for your needs and pop in the freezer. I even reuse the same ugly bag! Clever or what!
5 medium carrots
1 large leek
4 smallish potatoes
1 eating apple
350 ml home made stock (or use a stock pot/cube) - save your trimmings for your ugly bag!
salt and pepper
Prepare enough veg to fill the soup maker to the lower line. Add the stock and enough water to the top line.
Cook on smooth.
When it's done, add a little grated nutmeg, fresh if possible but otherwise from a jar. Add a good splash of sherry, season to taste and stir. Serve with a swirl of cream if you have any.
Makes 4 generous portions.