I just returned from a fantastic talk by Joel Salatin (Polyface, Inc.) at Stanford (thanks, Steph for the invitation!). I'm even more inspired now to start my container garden this spring. More on the talk and my city farming plans will follow soon!
Yes, I've even started making my own veggie stock.
I can almost see you rolling your eyes at your screen. Why? Two primary reasons:
1. It's not that hard.
2. It's a good way to use scraps or leftover vegetables from the 2 CSA's that we're currently receiving weekly produce from. That amounts to a lot of veggies! This way I don't ever have the sad task of throwing any of them away.
Homemade vegetable stock is beautifully imprecise. There are no hard prescribed quantities. If you have more or less of a particular vegetable, that's ok - add what you have to the pot. In fact, you can throw in pretty much any veggie you want. It tastes a little different each time. Your home will smell wonderful as it cooks. It's a world different from what you'll buy in the store.
That's not to say that I don't buy stock from the grocery store. I do. No one has time to make it from scratch every time, right? But I promise that if you find the time to do so (even just once), you will not be disappointed!
Here's the basic recipe:
Basic Vegetable Stock
makes about 8 cups
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5ish ribs of celery, chopped
3ish carrots, chopped (no need to peel)
4ish cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf*
1 tsp. whole pepper corns
1 tsp. salt
10 c. water
1/4 c. tamari
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Start chopping the veggies in the order listed above, adding them to the pot as you go, stirring occasionally. Once all of the veggies are in the pot, add the spices and water. Cover and increase heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
Add tamari. Let broth simmer uncovered for 3o minutes so flavors can continue to meld. Strain the veggies out. You'll be left with a super tasty stock that can be used immediately, kept in the fridge for about a week, or frozen (in an ice tray is a convenient way to do it if you don't want it to turn into a single frozen block).
You can literally throw in (just about) any veggie. If you enjoy the flavor of it whole, chances are you'll like it in the stock as well. Here are some not listed above that I've tried: leeks, spinach, kale, kale stems, potatoes, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy. You can also add fresh herbs: parsley, rosemary, thyme, and so on.
I find myself making stock this way about once every other week, then keeping it in the fridge and using it throughout the week. If you have leftover stock, consider using it in place of water for cooking grains (rice, couscous, quinoa).
Experiment and enjoy!
*Don't make the same mistake I did when first looking for a bay leaf about a year ago. You won't find it in the produce section of the grocery store, but rather with the spices. Yes, I actually had to ask a fellow shopper and then try to hide my embarrassment! I used to avoid recipes that called for bay leaves because I thought that meant they were too difficult. Ah, what a difference this past year has made!