May 28, 2012 by Sara
I’m in the midst of reading An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. So far, I have reached two important conclusions: (1) I want to be Tamar Adler when I grow up, and (2) I have been wasting a lot of food. For example, I have thrown out roughly one million onion skins, which I should have been saving and adding to pots of homemade stock, because the skins give the stock a beautiful rich brown color. Now I know better.
I’m only half way through the book, and it has already changed the way I think about things as I roam around the kitchen. And it’s motivating me to experiment more, instead of being wary of straying from recipes on the first go round. I’ve started savings all sort of scraps of things and making new meals out of them, which as Tamar points out is something our grandmothers were very skilled at doing. So, I’m going to aim to do a weekly post tagged as “making something out of nothing” featuring recipes that come from the scraps of things.
First installment: veggie stock. I’ve done this twice now, with excellent results. It’s not much of a recipe, but here it is:
1) Go to the market and buy a week’s worth of veggies.
2) During the course of the week, prep, cook and eat your veggies (watch Tamar do it here and swoon), but here’s the most important part: save your scraps! The stems from the kale/chard/spinach, the thick stalks from the broccoli, the ends and peels of carrots, the tops and stems of bell peppers, the juice you didn’t use from the jar of canned tomatoes, radish stems, mushroom stems, onion skins. Wrap up the scraps as you accumulate them (waxed paper baggies are great for this) and stash them in the fridge.
3) At the end of the week, pull all of your scraps out of the fridge. Rummage through your onion bin and grab any errant skins that are hanging out in there. Check your crisper, and if, sadly, there are veggies in there that are in that gray area of not fresh enough to be enticing but not yet spoiled, consider adding them to the mix (it’s better than chucking them in the trash). If you have an extra onion and carrot to spare, throw them in as well — no need to peel either, just cut them in half and throw them in the pot. Put all of the scraps in a large stock pot, and add water until it covers the veggies by about 2 inches; for me, this means that the pot is about 3/4 of the way full. Add a generous palmful of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. If you have any fresh herbs on hand (parsley, rosemary, thyme) add them to the mix too.
4) Put the pot on your largest burner and bring pot to a boil over high flame. Cover and reduce to flame, keeping the stock at a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When the stock is finished cooking, remove the pot from the stove and use a handled strainer to scoop the veggie solids from the stock; discard solids.
5) Place a fine mesh strainer over a heat proof container (i.e. a pyrex bowl, or another large pot). Carefully pour the stock through the strainer and discard any solids that are caught in the strainer. Repeat until nearly nothing in collected in the strainer (for me, this usually means to go rounds in the strainer). Pour stock into storage containers (if you’re using plastic containers instead of glass, let the stock cool completely before transferring) and refrigerate or freeze. Alternatively, you can use a pressure canner to make the stock shelf stable.