Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables of my labor (simple stock, dashi broth)

Flip open the freezer and what so you see? I see bags and bags of half opened frozen fruits and vegetables, some baby food ice cubes, bread, veggie burgers, frozen herb cubes, and frozen ginger slices. Sometimes there's ice cream (ok, right now there is), sometimes pizza shells (love me some Olga's whole wheat pizza shells).

The other day I was feeling a little throaty, my throat was dry and my nose was wet. I blamed the shad tree blooms, but that's the tough thing about allergies, you just never know. For the first time all winter I was craving soup. I haven't craved soup since my first trimester on the soup diet. I linked my nausea with the soup, turns out I was pregnant. Soup is generally a quick food to make if you have the basics down, fortunately I can whip up a broth in about 15 minutes flat.

15 Minute Flat Broth
1/2 cup of dried mushrooms
(I use woodear, the texture is wicked slimy, so I don't use them for anything else)
1 sheet kombu (kelp) or 1/2 cup arame seaweed
1 package of bonito flakes
6-8 cups of water
bring to a boil and then simmer
strain out shrapnel

This is a super nutritious-high in minerals, broth. It is pretty much a dashi broth, but with a few extras thrown in. Once the broth was made I raided my freezer. Bag of frozen peas, corn, carrot, green bean mix- check (you know the mix, not super appealing in a lot of ways, great for a use like this). 2 parsley cubes-check. 2 inch piece of sliced ginger-check. Wild Maine shrimp, cooked and peeled 3 months ago-check. Chopped scallions that were about to go bad, so we threw them in the freezer-check. Then the cupboards. 1/2 bag of rice noodles-check. 1/2 cup of arame-check. Splash of soy sauce, few splashes of sesame oil, a dusting of garlic powder, and red pepper chili flakes- check check and check.

These are the benefits of having a well stocked kitchen, and the best part is- I really needed to go shopping. The freezer offered me a wealth of random foods that made a delicious and nutritious soup- so all that chopping, slicing and freezing paid off in such an obvious way this time. I save a lot of fruits and vegetables from going into the garbage by chopping and throwing them in the freezer, this way I always have a variety on hand, and we are always able to eat fresh.

I love to throw scallions on my rice and beans or fish tacos, but you only need 1 or 2, then you have a whole bag of them left over. Chop 'em and freeze 'em. Throw them in a soup, or in your fried rice-leave some fresh chopped in the fridge to throw on a salad.

Stocked freezer soup. Not the best shot, my camera's been acting funky lately.

Another way to keep fruits and vegetables from going the way of the landfill or compost is to get a juicer and then, to use it. The juicer I have is a Juice-man Jr. that I bought at a yard sale for $5. I found new blades for it online and have replaced them twice since I've owned it. No need for anything fancy, just something that will eat up your ailing vegetables and separate the pulp from the juice. I have not pulled my juicer out all winter, but this week I went grocery shopping when I didn't need to, and found, I had more vegetables than I could use in such a short time. I was trying to come up with creative uses for them when juicing occurred to me. Carrots, celery, strawberries, collard greens, radishes, apples, and pears all went the way of the Juice-man Jr.

A little embarrassing but true: the collards had already been strewn about the back yard (we don't have an official compost pile, but the crows due a good job with some things) when juicing occurred to me. No harm done, I just had to duck back out there and do a little collecting. There is something a bit humiliating and humbling about plucking leafy greens that you already deemed compost out of the grass for your juice, but I brought them in, rinsed them off, and definitely increased the nutritional content.

The ones that didn't make it, left them for the birds.

Trip-y Juice-man (Jr.)

After juicing you have all the pulp left over. Take the pulp and add to 6-8 cups of water, bring it to a boil and then let simmer for at least a 1/2 hour-the longer the better (you can add onion, garlic, etc to it as well if you like). Now you have stock! We've come full circle here, and we're back to soup.

Two beautiful jars of dark, yummy, vegetable broth-with just a hint of pear and strawberry.

1 comment:

Dulce said...

Happy Mother's Day!