Easy Arse Broth

Yes, another food post! No, I’m not apologizing! 😉 I’m sure you’ll get a slew of DIY or Mommy or budget or cat posts at some point soon, so it is what it is.

It also must mean that, although our weather is teetering on warm/unseasonable, I’m ready to jump headlong into autumn (and start thinking about Christmas…which, admittedly, I should’ve probably done several months ago). We even went on our first-ever apple picking family adventure today — none of us had gone before! If only Hadley had more than two-and-a-half teeth, he would’ve eaten his weight in apples rather than sucking and piercing them with his little chompers.

So, here’s a little non-recipe that only takes a little time and thought in advance, a tiny bit of prep, and some freezer space. SO EASY!!!

Homemade Vegetable Stock

– Plastic freezer bag full o’ veggie cuttings (ANYTHING; we had everything from celery to carrot ends to onion peelings to part of a garlic bulb that I roasted, asparagus ends, and I can’t count how many broccoli stems — but, literally, you can use anything as long as you have a good array)
– Water to cover the veggies+
– Salt (optional; I didn’t use any)
– Bay leaf (optional; I forgot to throw it in, so I’ll just use one if I make soup with this)

Every time you find yourself chopping some vegetables for salad (or anything else), put the (clean) trimmings into a freezer bag; I keep one just for this purpose. Once it’s full enough, fill your pot about 2/3 full with your veggies (throw the rest back in the freezer; I had to do this), then pour in enough water to cover it and then some. Bring this to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and allow to cook as long as you can, at least an hour. The longer it cooks, the more the vegetables are able to infuse the water with their yumminess. Seriously, Dave wouldn’t shut up about how awesome the house smelled. With just veg water? Yep. ‘Twas awesome.

Allow to cool a bit and strain the contents. Again, allow to cool further (to room temperature) before putting in containers to store. In this case, I froze the larger amounts and threw the smaller jars in the fridge to use when I make rice and sauces.

All in all, I made about 10 cups of stock. Oh, and when we buy stock/broth, we get low sodium to control what our intake is, which is why we didn’t use salt. Also, stock is technically unseasoned and ready for use in whatever you want (while broth is seasoned and yummy on its own), so it’s all in what you do with it that makes it SO GOOD!

All it took was some time (although it cooked while I was going about my normal what-not) and zero dollars. Win-win!

What would you use this stock for? A good, ol’ traditional soup? Or something more exotic? Share, share!

Preserving the Bounty

I’ve been doing a lot of reading (and a little bit of buying) on canning and the preservation of fresh foods, particularly produce. I’ve got canning jars sitting in the back of my car — and was super excited to find that they more often are sold with cool silver lids these days rather than the outdated brassy ones! I guess design and aesthetics interest me more than I’d like to admit… 😉 Still, the idea of canning (especially when it entails the use of a pressure cooker — which I don’t have, and are generally pretty pricey…and, can they really explode like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?!?!) was slightly intimidating.

So, how excited and serendipitous was it that my Nourished Kitchen newsletter today contained a Preserve The Harvest Challenge?! Pretty durn excited, I’ll tell ya.

The challenge is as follows:

In the month of August, we’re setting aside our pressure canners and we’ll be preserving the bounty of the summer season naturally while optimizing the nutrition of the foods we put up for winter. Over the course of 5 weeks we’ll cover sun-drying, oil curing, freezing, fermentation and salt-curing – traditional techniques that optimize nutrition and don’t heat up the kitchen like canning. Plus we’ll have some great prizes for participants! You’ll receive an email once a week covering a specific technique for traditional methods of preserving the harvest. So sign up, share it with a friend and hit up the farmers market! Who’ll preserve the most?

Last year, my family put up enough of summer’s bounty (without canning and its resultant nutrient loss) to last us until April! So let’s learn the lost art of traditional food preservation this August – filling our pantries, cellars and freezers with the rich fruits and vegetables of summer all prepared through time-honored techniques.

So, not only do I get classes on the different methods of preserving foods, I have an EXCUSE for shopping at the farmers’ market — actually, a guilt factor! Awesome!! 😉

I’ll let ya know how it goes. Oh, and I WILL do some canning. For now, we’re focusing on preparing for our annual garage sale, which will be this Friday and Saturday. Less than a month to go before summer school’s over! Lots goin’ on.