I admire the following practicals skills in people:
People that can garden
People that can talk to strangers at parties
You see I'm neither good at parallel parking and I'm terrible at gardening and I'm very shy at parties. Once upon a time I had a herb garden. And even as I type this I look out at my balcony garden which is populated with "Will not die" plants and shake my head because there are a couple of dead plants there. I've inadvertently killed them through forgetfulness (Mr NQN and I are both terrible at this). So while I used to have herbs on the windowsill and would pluck them when needed, now I have to buy herbs.
I try and use up the herbs as quickly as possible after they start to wilt but sometimes I have too many herbs and not enough dishes. Some herbs also wilt faster than others. One way to stop them becoming a slimy mess and to extend their life is through a tip I got from Annabel Langbein and that is to pluck off the leaves and make an oil that can keep in the fridge for another week or two. I tried them more as an experiment thinking that I had nothing to lose but the oil but I found them incredibly useful. Over the next week or two, I used the coriander in curries and dips while the basil was perfect for drizzling on top of pasta. The parsley oil was great for tabouli or other fresh salads to make a dressing and the chilli oil was shelf stable so I kept it in the pantry and use it to give dishes an extra zing to finish.
So tell me Dear Reader, what skills do you admire in people? And can you garden?
1 cup of fresh herbs-leaves only and not the stalk (you can use mint, coriander, parsley or basil)
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Step 1 - Pick the leaves from the stalks-the stalks turn the oil brown. Place in a colander and put a kettle of water on to boil. Pour the boiling water over the leaves blanching them and then rinse in cold water immediately. Squeeze the leaves to remove moisture and then place in a blender with the oil and salt and blend. Decant into bottles and keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks only.
1 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Step 1 - In a small saucepan, heat the oil and chilli flakes and cook for 5 minutes. You just need it to reach 120C/248F to kill any botulism spores to make this shelf stable. Allow to cool in the pot and then decant into a bottle.