Friday, May 15, 2009

Mmm ... Mmm ... Good! (a recycled article)

No, I’m not talking about Campbell’s Chicken Soup … I’m talking about delicious vegetable stock … not from a can or box … not from a cube … not from powder … I’m talking about wonderful, nutritious stock made from scratch … and it just happens to be earth friendly.

You know all those bits and pieces of veggies that you trim away and usually toss out? Well, they deserve a closer look. The skin of vegetables and the area closest to the root are just powerhouses of vitamins and minerals. One word of caution: if you’re not using organic vegetables, they can also be loaded with chemicals and pesticides so be sure you know where your veggies came from before using them in this way (we’ll talk more about organic produce in a future post). The trouble with the bits and pieces is that they aren’t usually pretty enough to be included on our plates. You could toss them into the compost bin but … why not reap the nutritional benefits instead.

It’s easy … when you trim veggies, make sure that you’re trimming a clean vegetable. Then, save all those clean bits and pieces in your freezer. When you have enough, toss them into a pot with enough water to cover them. You can add a bay leaf, herbs or any other flavorings that you like. Don’t add salt and pepper … you can add them when you decide how to use your stock. Now cook the broth, covered, until the veggies are pretty well used up … which means that all their nutritional content is now in the water. Strain out the veggies, put the pot back on the stove and reduce it until the flavor is intense … for me, that’s usually when the stock has been reduced by half.

Now that you have this wonderful stock, freeze it in one cup portions. Whenever you make a recipe which calls for stock, whip out a “block” and … you’re set. This is the time to season with salt and pepper (isn’t it nice to control the sodium in your stock and forego the preservatives.) By the way, did you know that kosher salt has less sodium than regular table salt? Yes indeedy!

So … how is this earth friendly? Well … anything which you buy in a store, especially items which are processed, use up a lot of energy to transform them from raw materials into the products you take off the shelf. Huge factories run day and night so that we never run out of these convenience items. And once the item is packaged and ready to go, it normally travels across country to our local supermarket. Most products also have way more packaging than is needed. For example, there is one brand of bouillon that comes in cubes … each cube is individually wrapped, the cubes are then placed in a plastic bag and the bag is placed in a box. Whew!

Sure … this takes a little effort … a little time … but … it’s so worth it!

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.