Saturday, August 11, 2012

Winter Warming

It may be August and we have had a few days that have made us believe that Spring is in the air, but it is still very cold & August winds are blowing. It's still Winter!

Winter, for many people, means sitting in front of the fire, rugging up in hats, coats and scarves and eating comfort food. For me, turning on the oven and cooking warming food is the essence of winter. In summer it is often too hot to turn on the oven, you don’t want to add extra heat to the house. In winter, the oven warms the house and fills it with the scents of your food. The scent of the cooking food welcomes those that enter the home, inviting them to draw up a chair and enjoy a bite to eat.

In Eastern culture food is described as possessing certain qualities such as a warming or cooling nature, possessing certain flavours such as pungent or sweet, or acting on our body in a specific way. The eastern view of nutrition is concerned not so much with ingredients but with latent energetic properties that are released in the human body through digestion.
Below are some interesting Eastern ideas about food.
  • Plants which take longer to grow (e.g. root vegetables, ginger) tend to be warmer than fast-growing foods (e.g. lettuce, zucchini).
  • Foods with a high water content tend to be more cooling (e.g. melon, cucumber).
  • Dried foods tend to be more warming than their fresh counterparts.
  • Chemically fertilised foods which are forced to grow quickly tend to be cooler than their naturally grown counterparts.
  • Some chemicals added to foods may produce heat reactions as may artificially ripened foods.
  • The temperature of food will also be influenced by the cooking or preparation method.
Longer and slower cooking methods will also produce more warming effects than quicker methods i.e. a stew will be more warming if it is cooked slowly than if it is cooked quickly. 

So in keeping with slowly cooked, winter warming food, I have included here a recipe I have adapted from Herbies Spices.

Old Fashioned Lamb Stew – Serves 4
1 Kg lamb, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon oil or butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons Herbies Sweet Paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon Herbies Bouquet Garni, or 1 Bouquet Garni ball

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  2. Peel and chop onion, carrot, parsnip, celery and garlic. 
  3. Place paprika, flour, salt and meat in a clean plastic bag, twist top closed, and shake to coat meat with seasoned flour.
  4. Heat oil in a heavy-based, oven-safe pot and saute onion and garlic over medium heat until soft but not browned.
  5. Increase heat, add meat, and turn pieces so that all sides are sealed. Remove from heat.
  6. Add chopped vegetables, 1 cup water and the Bouquet Garni, to the pot, stirring to combine.
  7. Heat in oven for 2 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.
  8. Serve over fluffy mashed potatoes.

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