I have a penchant for doing things myself.
Penchant might be an understatement. Some of you might look at my cheese , my butter, my pizza and jam, and shake your heads. No, Kristina, you'll say, it's not a penchant, it's an obsession. Well, maybe. But for the purposes of me not feeling like a nut, we'll call it a penchant. Bear with me.
I can't explain why I have this penchant, exactly. I'm not particularly distrustful of the government, I have no inklings of impending natural disasters or apocalypses. I'm not a survivalist. Nor am I penny pincher (anyone who's seen my latest credit card bill could tell you that).
All the same, I take great satisfaction in my makings. It's never about saving a buck-- it's about challenging myself, gaining some new perspective on something ordinary, and learning. And having fun.
But, of course, it does save a buck, now, doesn't it? Well. Yes. Maybe even two or three. And given the state of our Union (great reluctant buck-saving nation that we are), I thought it might be apt to start a series: Thrifty Kitchen.
Once a month, there will be a post here with a recipe, and some very easy way to trim a couple bucks. Easy. I promise. No cheese thermometers. No fancy kitchen gadgets. And in the end, there will be something interesting, rewarding, and delicious sitting there on your plate.
What you need:
A large-ish pot
A few handfuls of sorry-looking vegetables or kitchen scraps
Some dried herbs or spices, if you wish
Put your vegetables or kitchen scraps in your pot. (Garlic is a must; carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes are good too. Use strongly-flavored vegetables like cabbage, peppers, and broccoli sparingly.) Fill your pot the rest of the way up with water, stopping about an inch before the brim. Add some seasonings-- black pepper, dried thyme, and a bay leaf are a good trio-- and bring to a boil. Let the pot simmer, uncovered, for an hour. Strain your stock through a paper towel and you're done.
I love this for several reasons. One, the bouillion you buy at the store is mostly salt. Who wants to pay $.99 for a can of salt water? Two, stock making is the salvation of withered, sorry-looking vegetables everywhere. It hurts my heart to see food go to waste. Making soup stock gives me a way of using these guys, these vegetables non grata. I also really like the fact that you can make stock with kitchen scraps. I've taken to starting a big pot of water boiling before I even begin making soup, and peeling my carrots and potatoes directly into the pot. By the time I'm ready to make my soup, I have fresh, amazing, free vegetable stock. And into the soup it goes!
Vegetable stock can be frozen, canned (via pressure canning), or stored in the fridge to be used within three days.