Saturday, June 24, 2006

taking stock - my first Weekend Herb Blogging

I can’t think of the last time I made vegetable stock. It hasn’t been in the last decade at least. I have grown accustomed to boiling the kettle and spooning in some concentrate. I read the labels. Avoid msg. But even the best of the rest contains hydrogenated this or maltodextrose that, and of course a liberal dose of salt. So this week I accumulated the dag ends of my organic vegetables, the off cuts and the bits that were a bit too floppy to eat.

Into the pressure cooker I put the delightful celery fronds that sprout from the top of the celeriac (last night's roast vegetables). The green parts of the leeks (the Buttery Leeks). Some of last week’s gorgeous miniature Dutch carrots that were going a bit soft and the remains of a bunch of parsley. In the garden I found my small bay tree in a pot had survived the builders decimation of the back yard, in fact it looked the healthiest I had ever seen it. I harvested a few of the top leaves that were dressed with raindrops and added them as well. The only other ingredients to go in were a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic.

I bought the pressure cooker for a couple of dollars at a garage sale in the 90’s. It was made from shiny stainless steel and looked as if it had been barely used. Nothing like my mothers antique aluminium one (that has no doubt done some unkind things to my brain) which made alarming noises, squealing as it let off steam. Mine tends to sit at the back of the cupboard and only get dragged out on those rare occasions I think of soaking and cooking beans. As one recipe I glanced at suggested a vegetable stock should cook for 3 hours, I reckoned this was a good job to do under pressure in half the time. The stock cooked for about 3/4 of an hour and I let it decompress for another 20 minutes while I started whipping up a soup. When I finely eased the lid off the liquid was still bubbling a little. What a marvellous invention!

The stock, unseasoned, tasted as it should – of each vegetable and herb mingling companionably. No weird oily residue. No odd sweetness. This way you add the salt and pepper once you have made the soup, to get the amounts just right for the dish.

There was enough stock for a big pot of red lentil soup and a bit extra for the freezer. The whole process was oddly soothing, involved very little preparation and can be done while completing a Samurai Sudoku on a wet afternoon.

Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Virginie.

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Blogger Virginie said...

Great, a healthy stock recipe... Welcome to the Week-end Herb Blogging !

11:37 pm  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Welcome to WHB. The veggie stock sounds lovely. When I'm feeling ambitious I keep my veggie scraps in the freezer until I get enough to make it, but making it from fresh is probably better.

12:22 am  
Blogger Anna said...

another aussie on WHB!!! welcome.

i don't think i've ever made vegetable stock before. we always use the liquid stocks in the tetra packs. i refuse to use the pwoder as it tastes much too salty.

i will have to try to make my own next rainy weekend.

11:54 am  

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