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How to Make Your Own Vegetable Stock

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We grew up in a home that went to great lengths to avoid wasting food.

Peanut butter jars were scraped clean with the spatula, yogurt containers were not allowed to be thrown away until every. last. drop. of yogurt had been consumed, crusts were never thrown away and even the crumbled cereal dust at the bottom of the box was eaten.

So maybe you can understand where we’re coming from when we say that seeing food (or anything, really) being wasted really bothers us.  Like when we would watch a food fight break out on a T.V. show as kids the first thing that would come to our minds is “that’s such a big waste of food!” Yes. That happened.

And don’t even get us started on the amount of food that we see getting thrown away at work!  Having cooked/served at a few restaurants now, the amount of food that we’ve seen get thrown away on a daily basis at any restaurant is enough to make our 8-year-old selves speachless!

While a restaurant can’t really do much about the food that gets brought back un-eaten, one place we worked at had a great system for using up veggie “scraps”.  You know, the outer peel of carrots,  the stems of herbs, the ribs and seeds of peppers- all the stuff that ordinarily you would just throw away?  They had several “stock pots” sitting around the kitchen, and when you would finish peeling and chopping a bunch of carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc. you would throw the leftover parts that you aren’t using into the stock pot.  When the pot got full, it was covered and kept in the fridge and used later on to make vegetable stock.

What a great idea, right?

Since working there we have adopted a similar system, and now we always have healthy, low-sodium homemade vegetable broth on hand that costs basically nothing to make!  It’s a very simple process, so lets get started.

Step One: Get a plastic bag/bucket and fill ‘er up!

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So what usually falls into our stock bag?  Carrot peels, pepper stems, onion skins, the ends of celery stalks, cauliflower stems/leaves, herb stems, and when the bag is getting full and we know we’re going to be making stock really soon, we like to throw in some apple cores, too!  Just remember these two pointers:

1. Don’t put asparagus into your vegetable stock unless you know you will be making asparagus soup
2. Don’t put more than one broccoli stem into the pot, or else all you’ll taste is broccoli!

Step 2: Dump the veggie scraps into a pot and fill it with water.

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No need to measure, just fill it to about 1 inch from the top of the pot.  We also like to add a couple more chopped up garlic cloves at this step, to pump-up the flava!

Step 3: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for about 1 hour.

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As the stock simmers some of the liquid will evaporate, so you may want to come back 1 or two times during the simmering process to add a little more water back in.

Step 4: Strain the liquid through a colander.

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You’ll be left over with a reddish-brown liquid that looks like this:

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Now just pour the liquid into a few containers and place in the freezer.  They’ll keep for several months in there, and you can just pull out containers and thaw them as you need them!

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We usually don’t add any salt to our stock since we prefer to add it to the actual recipe when we’re cooking, but if you like you can feel free to add a dash or two in according to your tastes.

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And there you have it!  No-salt-added vegetable stock perfect for soups, stews, sauces, and whatever else you want to use it for!  And all those veggie “scraps” that ordinarily would have been wasted have now been put to good use.  You will never need to buy the stuff in the powder form from the grocery store ever again.

Cheap, healthy and easy?  Sounds about right to us!

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever made your own vegetable stock?  What do you do to avoid wasting food?

Part 1

Ok here’s the deal.

The next three posts are all connected.  These next two recipes are both components of the final product, so you have to make both of them before you’re ready for the final product.

We’re not going to tell you what the final recipe is, but we think if you put your detective skills to the test, you just might be able to figure it out 😉

And trust us, you want to make these recipes, because the final product will blow you away!  Thats how delicious it is.

So, first up, we bring you this dressing:

Classic Thousand Island Dressing.

Generally we are not big fans of dressing like this for a salad.  We’re more vinaigrette kind of gals (or a creamy tahini dressing works too, of course!).  In fact, neither of us can remember the last time we had Thousand Island dressing.

And you know what?  We’ll probably never buy Thousand Island dressing again.  Not when it’s this easy to make!

And we may be a little biased, but we’re pretty positive that this stuff id better than the store-bought variety anyways, and of course its much healthier! 🙂

So that’s it for today, but please, please go make this right. now.  We promise you’ll thank us in the end, if you don’t thank us for this delicious dressing right of the bat 😉

Oh, and if you’ve already guessed what the final product is, shh… don’t tell anyone- we wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise! 🙂

Thousand Island Dressing

Time: 5 min
Makes: ~1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 c. plain yogurt
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp extremely finely diced cucumber
1/4 tsp extremely finely diced capers
1/2 tsp white sugar
pinch of salt

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in the fridge until ready to use (it gets better and better when it’s been sitting!)

~twosaucysisters

Do you like Thousand Island Dressing? (we’ve never been big fans of the store-bought kind, but this stuff is delicious!)

From the Tree to the Jar

Remember back when we were talking about how much we loved apple butter? That time, we had a delicious locally sourced store-bought brand. Unfortunately, apple butter isn’t always the cheapest item on the shelf, and you can never get a very big jar of it, so it doesn’t last very long (especially at our house!). Luckily for us, our dad’s house is a 100 year old farm house, that back in the day was quite a large fruit farm. This means there are lots of different varieties of pear trees, berry bushes, and apple trees kickin’ around. The beauty of these trees is that we don’t do anything to them, and yet they still produce fruit! The pears are the best, somehow they are always gorgeous and bug-free, perfect for eating! The apples, however, are the very opposite.  There may be a handful that would actually be yummy to eat, and the rest (once you’ve picked through the rotting and insect-infected ones) will only do for cooking and baking. Naturally, we thought that these apples would be the perfect fit for some home-made apple butter! 🙂

A special thank-you goes out to our oldest brother who picked the apples for us and brought them to our home-meet a couple weekends ago. According to our mom he was talking to her on the phone while picking them, thoroughly grossed out by the nasty,wormy, rotting ones that appear fine until you grab them and they ooze all over your hand. So…. thanks big bro! 🙂

The other amazing part about this apple butter is that it barely cost us a dime! The apples were free, all we had to do was go out and buy some unsweetened apple juice. Not to mention it made a HUGE batch!

If you don’t have apple trees of your own to get your apples from, fear not! There are plenty of pick-your-own orchards, and many of them will have what are called “seconds”, which are apples they sell for less because they are not “perfect”, having discoloured spots, blemishes, etc.  A great way to support local farmers and get cheap, excellent apples!

This recipe is so easy, and has so few ingredients. Apple butter that’s easy, cheap, and contains no added sugars or preservatives.  Not to mention this recipe makes enough to last you the entire fall season. Need we say more? 🙂

Apple Butter

Total time: 8hrs slow cooking + 40min
Makes: ~4L

Ingredients:

14 medium sized apples
2 c.unsweetened apple juice
1-2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Chop up apples into small chunks.
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8hrs (we did ours overnight!).

In batches, add cooked apple mixture to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
In a large pot, simmer on low for 30min, partially covered to avoid splattering, stirring every couple of minutes.
Pour into glass jars and refrigerate.

-twosaucysisters

Do you like apple butter? What’s your favourite local farm/apple orchard to visit where you’re from?