Friday, March 8, 2013

Rock That Stock!

Bite Club rule #2: Never pay for something from a store when you can make it for less at home with ease and a little prep.

Like nearly every other student on the planet, I'm on a budget. I try to make money wise choices when I'm at the grocery store, so that I can make bad money (and health) choices after a night out. (3AM poutine, anyone?) I like to do little things to save money, like bringing my AM coffee fix in a travel mug from home, cutting up my own veggies instead of buying them pre-chopped and well... I keep a close eye on my stocks. The yummy kind, not the Wall Street variety. 

Stocks are awesome, because they're so versatile. They come in chicken, veggie, beef and even seafood varieties, and they go into just as many, if not more dishes. Stews, soups, chilis, rice pilaf, rice, risotto, cous cous-- any savoury application that water does, stock can do better. A box of it from the grocery store is a few bucks, and sure, that's not a lot up front, but it's more than making your own for (close to) free. Intrigued? Read on, friends.

I've been doing this for a few months now. It's stupidly easy and a  great way to make use of something you would just throw out otherwise: scraps of vegetables headed straight for the compost bin. A lot of people buy veg specifically to chop them up and throw it into the stock, but since that seems counter productive to not spending money, I started saving the misfits and scraps, freezing them and then then using those instead. At any given time, there's usually a giant ziploc in my freezer filled with onion stubs, broccoli stems, carrot tops and beet bottoms, just waiting to be boiled down. (Am I the only one who chuckled at 'beet bottoms'?)

This method produces a different stock every time, which I like, because I live on the edge. Lately, because beets are in season, I've been using a lot of those, which seem to be lending my stocks this warm ruby hue. Gorgeous, dahling. Let's get to it.

Basic Vegetable Stock

Makes about 10-12 cups stock



1 large ziploc full of vegetable trimmings
Salt, to taste
Dried Herbs, if desired

1. Take a large soup pot and pour the vegetables into it. Place it on a burner, turned to high.

2. When the veggies begin to sizzle, add enough water until they're all covered. Add in any of the dried herbs right now, if that's what you're into. I've used rosemary and thyme on different occasions and they both worked it, HARD. Now if you like it, put a lid on it. (And if you don't put a lid on it, anyway.)

3. When the water begins to boil, remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour. Don't stir it. Seriously, leave it alone. Go off and live your life. Sing in the shower, watch Friends reruns. Stalk your ex on Facebook while you stock your cooking repertoire with this recipe.

4. When time is up, turn the heat off. Strain the mixture once through a sieve, out of the stock pot, into the fi--err... something easier to pour with. I used the bowl of my stand mixer!

5. Add salt, to taste. I added about a tablespoon. This step is technically optional, as I know some cooks who salt the dish and not the stock, but in the name of seasoning the seasonings... To the salt!

6. Strain a second time a second time into jars, and store in the fridge until you have need of it! See? Easypants.

Voila! Stock will keep for about a week. Keep your eyes on the prize, I'll be posting a recipe for you to use your lovely vegetable stock as soon as I can! Happy Friday, kids!

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