Keeping warm

At this time of year, we need to keep the inner fires stoked as well as turning on the heating. Most of us start to want hot rather than cold drinks, and warming substantial food rather than salad. It’s a natural response to cold, wet weather and lack of light. But rib-sticking meals can lie heavily in the stomach unless they are tempered with aromatic herbs and spices.
These are not simply there for the flavour; they improve your digestion and stimulate your circulation as well. There’s a vast array to choose from, from the traditional English thyme, sage and rosemary with variations, to the subtle and complex spice mixes from India. Every region has its favourite flavours and combinations, usually based on what grows well locally, but they all do essentially the same job. Bringing light and warmth to the heavy – and often, in former times, preserved – food of winter doesn’t only add to the joy of eating it. It also helps your body make the best of winter fare, and benefits your health in the long term.
So don’t just add a pinch of this or that. Be generous with your herbs and spices, and they will be generous with their gifts in return.