Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take Stock.

I was thinking long and hard about what I wanted to share with you today. 
Another recipe?
Baking? (which I am not that good at BTW)

This one might come under the category of ingredients.
It's stock (in case the title wasn't clear enough).

Now, let me start by saying I used to do the whole chicken carcass deal and will probably do it again. 
However, as life got busier, I got lazier in the kitchen.
I started buying stock (insert gasps here).
It's no big deal and you can get very high quality organic store-bought stocks these days. 
We've come a long way since the bouillon cube.

Let's go back a second... I didn't necessarily get lazy but I needed to simplify...everything. 
Recipes got stripped down, prep times took on a whole new dimension (no time for experimentation, just get down to it) and one pot dishes became my new best friend.
Things got easier as we found our stride and I started introducing some of the more...complex recipes and ingredients that we loved so much, back into our lives.
Including making stock.

I was chopping onions one day and as usual I had a bowl nearby for scraps (headed for the compost pile). Next, I started pulling stems off mushrooms and chopping a few other veggies. It occurred to me that instead of throwing this bowl-o-scraps in the compost pile I could throw it into a pot of water and have me some homemade stock.

So that's what I did. It was wonderful.
Stock doesn't have to be fussy. I don't always add carrot and celery. Sometimes it's just mushroom stems and onion scraps with a little salt and pepper.
Keeping it vegetarian keeps it simple. No cooling down time and skimming fat.
I just ladle it right into some mason jars and pop it in the fridge.

I use my stock for making rice, grains, polenta, braising liquids and soups. It adds so much more flavor (and nutrients) than just plain water.

Also, if I've collected scraps but don't have the time to start the stock right away (or the stovetop space) I keep the scraps in a container in the fridge until I have the 30 seconds that it takes to get it started.

Unfussy and uncomplicated!

A little sidenote: If you want to freeze your stock, leave room at the top of the jar for expansion and let the stock cool completely before putting it in the freezer.

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