Using Up Wilty Herbs

You know those bunches of herbs that collect at the bottom of the fridge crisper? They get wilty and we feel guilty for not having the time and motivation to use them faster. But don’t worry and don’t throw them away. Instead, wash them, compost any yellowed or gross-looking leaves, pat them dry, and toss them in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Use this delicious green sauce as a dip for chips or crusty bread. Or with the addition of some vinegar or citrus juice, use it as a marinade for pork chops or steak. Add it to salad dressing or hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-14put it on pizza crust or polenta pie with some feta and onions. Or add ground toasted nuts and grated Parmesan for a pasta topping. Have too much? Freeze it for later and now you have the beginnings of a quick meal.

What can you use for green sauce?
– parsley or cilantro leaves and stems
– other soft herbs like marjoram
– arugula
– kale
– and of course the traditional pesto ingredient, basil
– a mix of any or all of these is good too

Real pesto from Genoa, Italy is traditionally made using a marble mortar and pestle with basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, Parmesan and pecorino sardo cheeses and olive oil. I don’t like to mess with tradition. However, I DO think that it’s okay to make something out of what you have in front of you, which is why I call my parsley and sunflower seed green sauce “New England Pesto.” (On the topic of authenticity in food versus following the original spirit of a dish, I like this article by chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt.)

New England Pesto (with Parsley & Sunflower Seeds)

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh parsley, including stems – flat-leafed variety preferred*
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry pan or 350° oven until golden brown
2 large garlic cloves, grated or mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Directions:pesto-cropped

Knife option
1. Chop parsley finely with a sharp knife.
2. Grind the toasted sunflower seeds in a mortar and pestle.
3. Add to parsley and mix in salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan if using.
4. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Food processor option
1. Add all the ingredients together and process until smooth. 2. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Serve on pasta, veggies, or on a slice of bread.

*You can substitute other herbs and greens you may have around – see above.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed and Vital Communities staff

Easy Eggplants

I’m sharing my two favorite ways to cook eggplant. They’re both easy and interesting, and are a good way to make eggplant delicious.

The first is simply to slice an eggplant lengthwise – from stem to bottom – into 1/2 inch slices. Salt and oil the slices well on both sides, and spread on a baking sheet, place on an oven rack near the heating element, and roast on the BROIL setting until one side is golden brown. This only takes a few minutes! Then flip each slice with a fork and broil on the other side. You know they’re done when a fork pierces the flesh like a chainsaw through butter. Under-cooked eggplant is like eating a wet sock, so aim for a golden, almost crisp outside and a creamy inside. Plenty of oil makes them delicious and brown well.

Now take them out, let them cool enough to handle, then chop into chunks (leaving the skin on) and throw into pasta sauce, onto pizza or sandwiches, or with dressing for a salad.

Okay, now for the impressive but easy eggplant dish in the style of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean mothers and grandmothers. This is essentially what’s known in Arabic as baba ganoush, the famous smoked eggplant spread for pita.

Do you have access to an open flame, either a gas stove, a grill, or an open fire? Great. If not, I have directions for using an oven, though it won’t have the smoky taste.

Smoky Eggplant Spread (baba ganoush)

Ingredients

  • 1 large or several small eggplants, any variety, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total
  • the juice and grated rind of half a lemon, or lime if that’s on hand
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed or grated
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • Small bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper, dash of cayenne, or chopped fresh smokey-eggplant-spread-croppedhot pepper (OPTIONAL)
  • Spoonful of sesame tahini (OPTIONAL)

Directions

Open flame method
1. Place whole raw eggplant(s) onto a grill or DIRECTLY over the low flame of your gas stove.
2. Let the skin closest to the flame char, then slowly rotate the eggplant with a pair of tongs until the whole thing is blackened and very soft. DON’T LEAVE IT UNATTENDED!
3. Make sure you get the eggplant ends and all sides blackened and soft. Juices may drip out, and that’s okay – just wipe up the stove afterwards.
4. Transfer the eggplant (now floppy and burnt) to a cutting board to cool.
5. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop off the stem and peel away the charred skin with your fingers or a butter knife. Leaving a few flecks of blackened skin is fine – it’s hard to get it all off!
6. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Oven method
1. Heat oven to 400° F.
2. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over.
3.Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
4. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Add to the cooked eggplant
To the finely chopped cooked eggplant flesh, add the remaining ingredients. Mix everything together and serve on top of warm pita bread or on crackers.

No, it’s not very pretty, but it’s delicious.

How to choose eggplants

Choose eggplants that are firm, glossy, and smooth. Once they sit around and start getting soft, dull, and spotty, they don’t seem to cook as well.

The round pale purples ones (“Beatrice” variety), the small stripey ones (“graffiti” variety),  the long slender Japanese ones and the hard to find tiny “Fairy Tale” variety are my favorites to cook and eat. But any and all are good, as long as they’re fresh!

– Bethany Fleishman

Photos: by Molly Drummond and Vital Communities staff

Beautiful Blueberry Galette

Blueberries are my absolute favorite local food! I’ve been loving blueberries longer then it’s been known that they have amazing health benefits – long before they were cool. Fresh, right off the bush is my preferred preparation (or lack of preparation… ), but baked into a breakfast treat or a sweet dessert is fine with me, too (especially if you add some Strafford Organic Sweet Cream Ice Cream). In salads, salsas, sauces – all good.

Blueberry season is here and the picking is great. Search for blueberries on the online Valley Food & Farm Guide to find pick-your-own farms near you or grab a pint at your farmers’ market or farmstand (grab a couple extra pints and freeze them for a winter treat).

 

Rosemary Blueberry Galette

adapted from lisina of Food 52

Julia A Reed food photos EDC shoot Aug 2015 (2)
Rolling pin credit Julia A Reed1700x500
Rosemary Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups all-pupose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • tablespoons fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
  • tablespoons turbinado sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups ice-cold water
  • egg, beaten, for glazing the crust

 

Blueberry Filling
  • pints fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon, juiced
  • tablespoons flour

Blueberry galette process400x250 credit Julia A Reed

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Mix together first 5 ingredients. Cut in the cubed butter (you can use knives, and food processor, a pastry cutter, your cold hands) until it resembles course corn meal or the butter is the size of a pea.
  3. Add the ice water and combine until the dough JUST begins to come together (use the pulse function if using a food processor) – don’t over mix or the crust will be tough.
  4. Turn the crust mixture out onto some plastic wrap, then wrap it and flatten it into a disk shape. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
  5. Combine all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix well, so that the sugar and flour coat all the blueberries.
  6. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge. On a flour dusted piece of parchment large enough to cover your baking sheet, roll out the dough until it is between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick.
  7. Spoon the filling and its juices into the middle of the crust and spread it out, leaving a 2-inch border of crust. Fold the border of the crust over onto the filling, creating rustic edges.
  8. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with sugar. Slide the parchment and galette onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

blueberry galette process credit Julia A Reed

 

 

One Pot Meal: Sausage, New Potato & Vegetable Hash

This is my favorite thing to eat in August when corn and green beans are ready, there is lots of summer squash, and new potatoes are just coming in. It’s colorful, full of bright flavors, and totally satisfying for breakfast, lunch, or supper. It’s good cold as leftovers. It practically makes itself, and unlike many of my recipes, this one contains neither garlic nor Parmesan.

Everything but the salt, pepper, and olive oil can be found at Upper Valley farmers’ markets and farm stands or maybe your CSA or backyard. Buy locally! Eat seasonally!

Sausage, New Potato & Vegetable Hash
Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients
4 pork sausages – ideally Italian or garlic
1 red pepper, sliced into strips  (green or pablano are fine too)
1 large red onion, cut into chunks (other onions or equivalent amount of leek or scallions are fine too)
1 pound new potatoes, skins on, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.
1-2 yellow summer squash or zucchini cut into slices or small chunks (yellow crookneck is my favorite, but hard to find unless you grow them yourself.)
Kernels from an ear or two of corn (use up day- or days-old ears that are drying up in your fridge)
Handful of green beans cut or snapped in half (kale or broccoli are fine in a pinch)
2 T olive oil or fat (lard or chicken fat works well if you have some sitting around)
Salt & pepper
Handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I like cilantro or parsley)sausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A

Directions
1. In a large skillet (10” or so) brown sausages on medium-high heat.

2. When sausages are half cooked, add onions and peppers and some salt.sausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A (4)

3. Let peppers and onions get nice a nd browned before stirring.

4. When sausages are just cooked, remove them and the onions and peppers and set aside. Pour ¼ cup water into the pan to “deglaze” it – that is, get all the tasty browned flavors and bits off the pan. Add this pan juice to the sausages.

5. Wipe out pan to remove any sausage bits left. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil on medium high and add thesausage potato and late vegetable hash credit Julia A (8) thinly sliced potatoes in a single layer. Salt well. Let them brown them well before turning.

6. Add corn kernels, and summer squash. Let veggies brown before turning.

7. Break apart sausage into chunks and add sausage, onions, peppers, and pan juice back into hash along with chopped green beans.

8. Cook until green beans are tender and sausage is heated again. Test a potato too to make sure it’s cooked through.

9. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs. Serve with hot sauce.

Let’s talk about skillets
This hash is ideally cooked in a large skillet so that the vegetables sit in a single layer to brown equally.

Don’t have a nonstick pan? You don’t need one if you add ingredients to a sizzling hot cast iron or steel pan. Then lower heat to medium and don’t turn the ingredients until they’re browned, when they’ll start to release on their own.

Keep an eye out at yard sales or thrift stores for old cast iron or steel skillets as more healthful, more beautiful, and longer lasting alternatives to nonstick pans. (They’re not cheap if you get them new.)

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Beeroness Stout & Sriracha Barbecue Sauce

 This yummy sauce is courtesy of The Beeroness and goes deliciously with Slow Cooker Pork Ribs.
Yield: 2 cups

 

Ingredients

1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sriracha
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup Stout
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder

Slow-Cooked Ribs - BF

Instructions

  1. In a pot over medium heat, add the oil and allow to get hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and stir until you can smell it, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Allow to cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  2. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.

 

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

This recipe is courtesy of The Beeroness. Cook up some Stout & Sriracha Barbecue Sauce to go with these for your next dinner.

Ingredients

2 lbs country-style pork ribs
1/4 c tomato paste
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
12 ounces beer (high ABV dark beer like porter works best)

Slow-Cooked Ribs - BF

Instruction

  1. In a small bowl whisk together everything except the beer.
  2. Add the ribs to the rub and coat. Put the ribs and sauce into a slow cooker and add the beer.
  3. Cook on low for 6-6 hours or until the starts to lightly fall off the bone.
  4. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce or try Stout & Sriracha Beer barbecue Sauce.

Bethany’s Luncheonette: Polenta Pie

I used to make cooked lunches twice a week for a handful of friends and neighbors. I called it Bethany’s Luncheonette. I would e-mail a menu out Sunday night for Tuesday and Wednesday. Everyone who ordered a lunch got it school-lunch-style in a reusable and returnable container labeled with their name in Sharpie on masking tape. It was fun – my friends loved it, and that made me very happy. Someday I will start it again.

Polenta pie was one of my favorites from Luncheonette. Since wheat doesn’t agree with me, this is my version of pizza. It’s super delicious hot or cold.

The recipe is a slight adaptation from the Moosewood Cookbook (a classic 1970’s vegetarian cookbook from a restaurant collective in Ithaca, New York). Thank you, Moosewood and Molly Katzen! Still such good recipes.

polenta pie credit Julia A Reed (4)This isn’t the fastest recipe out there, so if you’re pressed for time, don’t bake the polenta – instead just cook it the first time and serve it in a bowl with the veggies and cheese on top (see photo to left). But better yet, wait until you have time to do the whole thing through. You’ll be glad you did.

Please experiment with different toppings. Master the polenta crust, and then you have a base for any seasonal veggie toppings. See end of post for suggestions on variations.

I haven’t tried it, but I bet you could make a few polenta crusts ahead of time and freeze them for quick pizzas later on. Don’t forget that you’ll need a decent sized pot and a sturdy whisk to make a big batch of polenta.

Polenta Pie
Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

Crust:
1 ½ cups coarse cornmeal (there are several Vermont and New Hampshire farms that sell cornmeal in local grocery stores)
1 t salt (or more to taste)
1 ½ cups cold water
2 cups boiling water (in a saucepan)
A little olive oil
One clove of crushed garlic (OPTIONAL)
A couple spoonfuls of grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Topping:
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ a thinly sliced bell pepper (or use the whole one if you want)
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ t dried oregano and/or thyme OR a handful of chopped fresh herbs
A few leaves chopped basil OR a spoonful of basil pesto (OPTIONAL)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound mozzarella, grated (feta, cheddar, goat cheese, etc. are good too.)
2 small (or 1 medium-sized) ripe tomato, sliced (OR, a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce if you have that on hand instead)polenta pie credit Julia A Reed

Directions:

  1. Combine cornmeal, salt, and cold water in a small bowl.
  2. Have the boiling water on the stove in a saucepan, and add the cornmeal mixture, whisking.
  3. Cook 15-20 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. It will get very thick. Taste it for salt.
  4. Add garlic or Parmesan now, if using.
  5. Remove from heat, and let cool until handleable.polenta pie credit Julia A Reed (8)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 10-inch pie pan or a pre-heated skillet.
  7. Add the polenta, and use a rubber spatula and/or wet hands to form it into a smooth, thick crust over the bottom and sides of the pan.
  8. Spread the surface with olive oil, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
  9. While the crust bakes, heat 1 T olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to soften.
  10. Season with salt.
  11. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms and zucchini, and sauté until everything is tender, but not too soft. (Use your own judgment. There are no rules!)
  12. Add the garlic, herbs, and some black pepper, and sauté just a few minutes more. Add more salt if needed.
  13. Turn the oven to broil.
  14. Sprinkle half the cheese onto the bottom of the baked crust (okay if the crust is still hot), and add the tomato slices or tomato sauce.
  15. Spread the sautéed vegetables over the tomatoes, add the basil or pesto if using, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  16. Broil until brown (about 5 minutes) and serve hot.

This is also tasty cold the next day, and it reheats well.

Your farmers market shopping list:
Coarse cornmeal
Garlic
A small onion
A bell pepper
2 small tomatoes
Mushrooms
A small zucchini or summer squash
Cheese
Fresh herbs

Some variations:
Sauteed or grilled onion & pepper plus Italian sausage
Chopped cooked spinach, sauteed or grilled onion, and Feta cheese
Or try any of these other toppings: grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, cooked sliced asparagus, steamed or grilled broccoli or cauliflower, cooked or roasted kale, arugula, any fresh herbs lying around, sautéed leeks, etc.

Keep in mind that the broiling time is only to melt the cheese, so use precooked vegetables rather than raw ones. Using raw veggies will result in lukewarm crunchy veggies under melted cheese – gross!

Dedication: Written July 24, 2016, on the 100th anniversary of my grandmother’s birth. Happy birthday, Mimi! She was and will always be the best provider of food I know. I dedicate my food blogs to her and her mother, Olga.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Simple & Stunning: Blueberry Fool

Fool – a deceptively delicious English dessert – is one of my favorites. It’s easy, so tasty, and can be made with Upper Valley ingredients. When served in clear serving dishes, it’s stunning enough for a party.

Here is the recipe-less version: swirl together equal parts whipped cream and slightly sweetened berry puree. You can cook the berries before pureeing or puree them raw. You can strain out the seeds or leave them in. You can sweeten the cream, add yogurt or mascarpone, or leave it plain. Try different berries or fruit.

If you want a recipe, here’s one for blueberry fool. All of the major ingredients can be found at farmers markets or farm stands here in the Upper Valley – right now!

Blueberry Fool
Adapted from English chef Nigel Slater
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
2 cups (= 1 pint/1 pound) blueberries , retain a handful for a garnish
3 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup or to taste
¾ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk yogurt (Greek or regular)
A squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, and a drop of vanilla extract (OPTIONAL)

Directions
1. In a small pan over low heat, simmer the berries and sugar or maple with a scant spoonful of water for about 10 minutes until they burst, and the juice begins to blueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (2)evaporate.

2. Either crush berries with a fork, pass them through a sieve, or puree them.

3. Let it cool so the puree doesn’t melt the whipped cream.

4. Once cool, adjust the sweetness and add a few drops of lemon juice, vanilla, and pinch of salt if it needs a boost of flavor.

5. Whip the cream into thick soft peaks.

6. Stir the yogurt until smooth.

7. Fold the yogurt into the whipped cream.

8. Then swirl the blueberry sauce into the cream mixture so it’s nice and marbled. Spoon into a clear serving bowl or into individual cups.

9. Ideally let it chill for an hour before serving.blueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (15)

10. Garnish with whole berries. I like mine topped with something crunchy too, like crushed amaretti cookies.

Other Fools

RASPBERRY: Red or black raspberry fool is amazing. Whether the berries are cooked or left raw, for optimal eating experience, push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Try a combination of blueberries and raspberries. Keep them separate for purple and red swirls, or combine them as one puree.

For both raspberry and blueberry fool, it’s nice to leave a handful of the berries whole, either for garnish or to mix in with the puree.

RHUBARB: Cook chopped rhubarb with sugar into a sauce, and either use as is, or puree. Try a combination of strawberry and rhubarb – yum! Use our strawberry-rhubarb sauce recipe.

GOOSEBERRY: There are the traditional berry used in England for making fools. Give it a try if you can find them. Here’s the BBC’s recipe and a useful translation from British English: caster sugar = granulated sugar, icing sugar = confectioners’ sugar, and double cream = whipping cream.

RED or BLACK CURRANT: These are best cooked rather than used raw, and they require more sugar than do blueberries or raspberries, because they’re sour and strong tasting. I like their weird piney taste, but some people hate it – to play it safe in a crowd, mix currants with other berries.

A note about currants and gooseberries: Do you wonder why you’re suddenly seeing gooseberries and black or red currants and why you never heard much about them before? They’re coming into vogue in the U.S. after a long ban was lifted on their cultivation due to a pest these berry cousins carry that allegedly threatens pine trees. Both have been long enjoyed in other parts of the world. Gooseberries are native to Europe, parts of Asia, and northern Africa. And currants are common in jellies and desserts in Northern Europe. My Danish great-grandmother – apparently a recurring character in my food blogs – passed down her recipe for rødgrød med fløde, which means “red berry porridge with cream” and is usually made with red currants.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

Easy Berry Cobbler

I found this remarkable easy cobbler recipe at Divas Can Cook and was so surprised by how delicious it was and that the ingredients include only what you typically have in your pantry. The original recipe is for strawberry cobbler, but I’ve made this with every type of berry (sometimes, even a mixture of berries). Using fresh berries is best, but even frozen berries can be used to make this an easy dessert you can whip up year-round.

hands holding strawberries credit Julia A Reed

photo credit Julia A Reed

Easy Berry Cobbler
Adapted from Divas Can Cook
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh berries, diced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries
  • ½-3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter, melted
 blueberries credit Molly Drummondgolden raspberries in hand
 photo credit Molly Drummond
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease a 9-inch casserole dish
  3. In a medium bowl, mix strawberries and sugar, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  5. Add in milk, vanilla extract and melted butter, stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter evenly into greased dish.
  7. Spoon berries evenly on top of batter. Do NOT stir.
  8. Baked for 35-40 minutes or until golden.
  9. Serve warm or cold. Even better with a little ice cream 😉

Feature image photo credit Julia A Reed

Getting ready for Pot Roast

Take Stock

Stock – essentially a long-cooked infusion of bones, meat scraps, or vegetables – embodies several of my favorite qualities: thrifty, healthy, old-fashioned, and delicious.

Thrifty: Stock is made with leftovers and scraps. Most of us in America have gotten used to throwing away bones, onion ends, and carrot peelings, but these have an important second life.

Have picked-over roast chicken bones? Or slimy raw bones and skin after cutting up thighs for a stir-fry? Save them all in a plastic bag in the freezer. Peeling carrots or cutting up celery for your kids’ lunches? Save the scraps, and put them in another plastic bag in the freezer.

Make stock when you have time and enough scraps saved. Then freeze it until you need it. I freeze mine in old quart yogurt containers – it’s the right amount for a batch of soup.

Healthy: Stock is touted for its health benefits since the slow cooking of bones extracts nutrients from the connective tissue and bone marrow. When it’s cool, stock should be somewhat gelatinous.

Called “Jewish penicillin” by some, the comforting and healing properties of chicken soup – and indeed any soup made with bones – are recognized around the world. Once a barista in San Francisco recommended his native Iran’s home remedy for my torn knee meniscus: a stock from chicken feet (for maximum gelatin and connective tissue). I still make that from time to time, and I make regular chicken stock and other meat stock to heal colds and flu.

Vital Communities Feb2016 SMALL-62Old-fashioned: My Jewish grandmother made chicken soup full of matzo balls, giblets, and lots of yellow chicken fat on top. My Scandinavian/German grandmother made all sorts of amazing soup from chicken, pork, or beef bones. No matter where you’re from, you likely know older folks who make soup this way. Use the knowledge of the ancestors.

Delicious: Stock can be used for the base of a soup broth or for various sauces. It makes things rich and tasty. Use it if you can, and you’ll notice a subtle but real difference. Chicken soup made with long-cooked roasted bones and plenty of onion is perfect food.

The Recipes:

Meat stock

Use cooked or raw bones, or a combination. Skin is good too. Raw bones will make lighter stock with a more delicate flavor. Cooked – particularly roasted – bones will make a darker richer stock. There are all kinds of subtleties, rules, and small steps that you can take to make a restaurant-worthy stock, but we’re just at home and making normal people stock.

  1. By weight (roughly) combine one part bone, skin, and meat scraps and two parts cold water in a stockpot.
  2. Put the pot on very low heat, and cook uncovered for hours. Overnight is good if you feel comfortable doing that. Otherwise 4-6 hours is fine. Add more water anytime if needed.
  3. Ideally, the heat should be low enough that the stock only bubbles every couple of seconds. Higher heat is okay but your stock will be cloudy.
  4. If you’re adding vegetables, do so only during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. They will lose their flavor if cooked longer than that.
  5. Skim off foam as it’s cooking.
  6. When it’s done, strain, cool, and skim off the fat (you can save this for cooking).Vital Communities Feb2016 SMALL-70

Vegetable stock

  1. By weight (roughly) combine one part vegetable scraps and two parts cold water.
  2. Simmer uncovered for 30-60 minutes, then strain, cool, and you’re done!

It’s important to choose your vegetables wisely. I said scraps, but don’t use rotting or moldy pieces. Use the bits that are just too tough to chew or are less pretty – like the tough outer layer of a peeled onion.

Vegetables to add to stock/broth for delicious flavor:
– onion and garlic scraps
– carrot ends and peels
– celery leaves and tough outer stalks

– fennel scraps, stems, and fronds
– corn cobs
– mushroom stems
– leek and scallion scraps
– tomatoes
– parsley stems

Things NOT to add unless you specifically want these attributes:
– beets – weird color and flavor
– cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc. – yuck, cabbage tea!
– strongly flavored herbs
– people say you can add onion skins to stock. I tried it for the photo here, and it gives a nice dark color, but I found it made the stock bitter.

By Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

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