Why You Should Try Making Vegetable Broth

The vegetable stock you buy in the grocery store is pretty good, so do you really need to make your own from scratch? Generally speaking, the answer to that question is a resounding no. However, you will often find that you have some leftover carrots and celery in your fridge that are getting past their prime and you don’t really need and/or want to use them in any dish you are planning to make in the next few days so they are probably going to end up in the garbage. In that case, you are no longer choosing between homemade and store bought vegetable broth but between throwing vegetables in the garbage or using them to make about two months’ worth of vegetable broth. When you look at it that way, you may find yourself making homemade vegetable broth. You aren’t making a broth from scratch so much as you are cleaning out your fridge and cupboard.

When making your own broth you can use almost any vegetable you have lying around, but the ones that are best suited and should form the base of all your broths are onions, garlic, celery, and carrot. These happen to be among the most frequently used aromatic vegetables and the ones most likely to be lying around somewhere in your kitchen. There are other vegetables that make good additions, such as bell peppers or leeks. There are other vegetables that just don’t belong in broth, particularly starchy and a lot of leafy vegetables. Don’t ever put potatoes, chard, or kale in a broth; if you really don’t want to throw them in the garbage after they are past their prime, start a compost or give them to someone who owns a horse.


  • 2 pots (one to make the broth and one to sterilize the mason jars)
  • A couple of half litre mason jars for bottling
  • 1 knife (technically even this is optional as no fine cutting is required. If life has been unkind to you it is possible to simple smash and snap the vegetables with your hands, although I would not recommend it).
  • Tongs


  • 8 cups of potable water
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • Couple cloves garlic
  • 2 or 3 onions
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • Whatever celery you have left over in your fridge
  • Any leftover Sage or Thyme (but no other herb, except maybe parsley)
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp salt


Chop up all of the ingredients and throw them in a pot with the water and simmer for a few hours. Taste at some point to see if it has enough salt. When you are finished simmering the broth, pour it through a strainer into another pot, then rinse and fill with water and bring to a boil. Continue simmering the strained vegetable broth as the water in the second pot comes to a boil. Boil the jars and lids for minute or two in the boiling water, and then carefully lift out the jars and dump out the boiling water. Fill with the vegetable broth and then use the tongs to place the lids on top of the jars. Use a dish towel to tighten the lids. After the liquid cools check to make the lids are tightly sealed. The lid should have snapped down as the air inside the jar contracted.

You Should Cook More Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the most useful dishes to keep in your regular meal rotations. You can feed a small army with it or freeze the leftovers for later. Much like chilli, it’s also perfect for cleaning out your fridge and freezer. Anytime you have some leftover mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers in the fridge is the perfect time to make lasagna. Have a couple of frozen sausages at the bottom of your freezer and you can’t remember where they came from? In they go. And lasagna is one of those dishes where you can cut corners without sacrificing taste. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t buy the oven ready lasagna noodles. There is absolutely no difference in taste and if you are in a rush you don’t need to reduce your meat sauce because the dry oven-ready noodles will absorb the excess liquid as it bakes. You also don’t need to mess around with some kind of fancy, time consuming cheese sauce for the filling; just mix up a tub of ricotta cheese with some spinach and some fresh basil.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausages (casings removed)
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 container Ricotta cheese
  • Half dozen or so fresh basil leaves
  • Teaspoon black pepper
  • Package? Mozzarella
  • 1 red pepper (or whatever you have left over)
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic


  • 1 large lasagna or rectangular casserole dish
  • 1 large pot or Dutch oven
  • Some toothpicks or short skewers



Add the ground beef and sausage to the pot on medium heat and dice the onion. Be sure to break up the sausages with your mixing spoon right away while the meat is still soft. Once some of the fat starts to render out, strain out most of it and then add the onion. When the meat is cooked through, dump in all of the rest of the meat sauce ingredients. You can crush the canned whole tomatoes with your hands, but you don’t really need to; you can smash them up very easily with your spoon once they simmer for a bit in the pot. While the sauce is simmering, mix together the spinach, ricotta, chopped basil leaves, and a generous dusting of grated parmesan. After the sauce has simmered for about 15 minutes or so, spread a thin layer on the bottom of the baking dish, then a layer of noodles, then a thicker layer or sauce, another layer of noodles, then the cheese sauce with a thin layer of meat sauce, then more noodles, and then spread the rest of the meat sauce on top. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter them over the top of the pizza (or grate it, depending on how hard or soft it is) along with a dusting of grated parmesan. Place some skewers in between the noodles to keep the tinfoil away from the cheese and bake covered in the foil for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered or until the cheese starts to turn a golden brown in places. Allow to cool for 15 or 20 minutes before serving with a generous glass of red wine.

00 Flour Pizza Recipe

Everyone likes pizza, but despite being relatively easy to make, it is rarely made at home, perhaps because there are so many pizza places who will not only cook it for you, but deliver it right to your door. There is nothing wrong with takeout pizza, but making your own pizza allows you to customize it exactly the way you like it and you don’t have to worry about the personal hygiene habits of the 17 year old who topped your pizza for you. For me, making your own pizza is not just about the right combination and amounts of ingredients, but also about the dough. It is very difficult to get an authentic Italian style thin, chewy crust at a takeout, which too frequently offer an inch thick, bready crust. If you want an Italian style pizza, make sure you get yourself a pizza stone or, better yet, a cast iron pizza pan. Using 00 flour works best but if you only have regular all-purpose it will still turn out fine.  The sauce is the easiest part of a pizza recipe and it is even easier if you have an immersion blender puree everything right in the pot.

One final note on pizza. If like me, you’ve done some research online about the best way to make pizza, you will probably have noticed that celebrity chefs almost universally caution home cooks to not to use too much cheese on their pizza. This is nonsense. If you like cheese, then use it generously; the more the better. Unless you are having a celebrity chefs over for dinner, your guests will never complain about too much cheese on their pizza. Celebrity chefs tell you not to use too much cheese for the same reason that they tell you to always serve meat rare, tuna uncooked in the middle, and to use a whole head of garlic instead of a clove; they are doing it to differentiate themselves from unsophisticated home cooks. Do yourself a favour, be unsophisticated and go crazy with the cheese and while you’re at it, go easy on the garlic.


  • Heavy cast iron pizza pan
  • Small to medium sized pot
  • Immersion blender


For the sauce:

  • 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 small diced onion (or 1 tsp onion powder if you are in a hurry)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic (or half teaspoon garlic powder if you are in a hurry)
  • Small can of tomato paste

For the dough:

  • 1 and ¼ cup 00 flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 electric mixer


  • Lots of whatever you like on pizza


Stir the yeast into one cup of warm water and set aside for 10 minutes while the yeast proofs. Mix together the salt and 1 cup of each flour. When the yeast and water mixture starts to foam, pour it and a tablespoon of olive oil into the flour and salt mixture and mix with the dough hook attachment for about three minutes. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes and then mix again for a couple of minutes. Add the quarter cup of 00 flour onto a work surface and then knead the dough by hand until all of the flour has been absorbed. Then form into a ball and place in a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Turn the dough ball around until it has been coated in the oil. Cover with a moist cup towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 3 or 4 hours in a warm location. If you are doing this on a weeknight, allow to rise in the fridge overnight.

About a half hour before you are ready to make the pizza, place the cast iron pizza pan in the oven and set it to 500 degrees or has high as your oven will go. Dump all of the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a pot and simmer. After 10 or 15 minutes when everything has softened, blend with the immersion blender and then simmer on low until ready.

When the dough is finished rising, sprinkle some flour on your work surface and dump the dough on it. Cut it and half and make two dough balls, then form them into thick discs with your hand. You can use a roller to stretch out the dough but it actually works best if you spin the dough in the air just like you see it done on TV. The dough will be strong enough that it shouldn’t tear. Once it is strong enough, place it back on the work surface and use your fingers to raise up the edges. Take the cast iron pan out of the oven and give it a generous sprinkle of olive oil (be very careful with the pan as it will be extremely hot). In order not to stretch the pizza out of shape, fold it in half, then fold it in half again by folding one corner over the other (see picture), then lay it on the tray and unfold it (again, careful with the pan). Use a BBQ brush to give the dough a light coating of olive oil to prevent the sauce from making the dough soggy, then place the sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and whatever else you want on it and place it in the oven for about 9 or 10 minutes or until the cheese starts to form nice golden brown patches. You can make the crust a little crispier by letting the pizza rest on the hot pan outside the oven for a few minutes.