Monday, 7 January 2013

Salty thoughts

I was a terribly picky eater as a kid. My favourite meal was steak, baked potato and canned spinach. Other than that, dessert. I never liked fruit or vegetables and really only ate so I was permitted to get to the sweet at the end. These bad habits were only reinforced by never feeling hungry. (I've ALWAYS had irritable bowel, and without getting into graphic detail, it meant that I was nauseated almost every day till my mid-40s. Really). So on average I only ate about 3 "meals" over two days and if I was traveling, I barely ate at all - which WAS helpful when I was a very poor student!

I asked for my first recipe when I was 15 from Glenys' mom. I had reluctantly tasted the chili and was surprised that I liked it. Serendipitously I started a wonderful gift to myself - recording that recipe and many others followed. I've collected extra tasty recipes as I've run across them, and only ever been turned down once! It took some time in the 1990s, but I put everything together in a cookbook that I titled "But I Just Fed Them Yesterday!".

20 years ago I read that the average family cooks about 10 meals in rotation. So if that average family improves the nutrition of just one meal at a time, that's great progress. I've thought of this often as I have cooked for my gang. And this past few months, I've started a new tradition that is SO easy I must share. It started, to be honest, because I was so blinkin' mad at companies for selling horrendously salt-loaded chicken broth. And if it was sodium "reduced", check out the fat content... oh sigh.

YESTERDAY (after 4+ years with this appliance, I found out that the freezer door tilts out for easy of access... who knew!)

Clean Out Your Fridge Broth
The advantage to this broth is that you clean up that carcass, you empty your fridge of oldish vegetables, and make something healthy AND useful!
  • Start with the a chicken carcass or ham bone, cooked OR raw, it doesn't matter. (I have also used raw chicken wingtips, necks and backbones when spatchcocking/ butterflying a chicken for BBQing)
  • Throw it in a big pot.
  • Rummage through the fridge and snag anything that looks useful, especially if it's on its "last legs". I usually include:
    • onion
    • carrots
    • celery
    • bay leaf
    • peppercorns 
    • enough salt to make it 'sweet', but not overtly salty
  • Other items could be (only limited by imagination)
    • carrot and pototo peel
    • ginger
    • mushroom stems
    • peas, beans, celery 
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for a few hours.
  • Strain out so only liquid is left. Usually this is at night so I put it in the fridge overnight.
  • Ladle into muffin tins. Don't be tempted to make 1 and 2 cup (and larger) freezer units. Big ice broth blocks are much harder to use. Muffin tins are about 1/4c each - a perfect size to melt quickly when you need broth. Pop into the freezer. 

After they are frozen, pop out into a freezer bag, label and store in the freezer till you need it. By using 1/4 c pucks, it's EASY to add the correct amount to a recipe!   

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