If you really want to save money and eat healthier foods, make your own stock! Most bouillon cubes or even organic pre-packaged stocks contain a lot of salt, as a preservative. If you use the rule-of-thumb that a packaged food shouldn’t have more milligrams of sodium than it does calories, you might be disappointed when you read the label of your favourite prepared stock.
Stock-making is simple. One trick I learned from Ken Kostick. He suggested that as you peel carrots, onions, take the stems off aromatic herbs, and so on, that you should put them in a zipper bag in the freezer. (Give them a rinse first!) When the bag is full, it’s time to make stock. Sometimes I roast this mixture, other times I just use it “as is”. I like to use one of those pasta pots with the strainer-type liner, just to make it extra easy.
Put the vegetables in the bottom of the pot. Cover with cold water. If you haven’t used too many herbs during the week (really?) add some dried herbs – tarragon is nice, or savory, bay leaves…or some minced ginger is good, too. Bring this mixture to the boil on top of the stove and then turn down to a simmer, so it’s just slowly bubbling along. Let it simmer while you watch a favourite television show, or do a load of laundry, whatever. Check now and then so it doesn’t boil over.
Let it cool, and strain or if you use a pot like I do, lift out the liner. Package it up in convenient sized containers and store in the freezer. If you make some up in ice-cube trays, you can use those for times when you just need a tiny amount.
More on meat and fish stocks, another day. If you don’t feel like using this stock today…save it til tomorrow, throw in some cooked beans or chickpeas, onions, and whatever vegetables take your fancy. Simmer for half an hour or so, add a handful of whole-wheat pasta and simmer til tender and voila…delicious vegetable soup!
So we had good intentions of posting last night’s dinner, Black-eyed Peas with Pasta, but we got wrapped up in Earth Hour, playing SCRABBLE by candlelight, and other goings-on, and we forgot. Usually we spend the Hour on a walk around our neighbourhood, with candle lanterns. When we get home, we sit on the porch and make some (acoustic!) music. But this year it was unseasonably cold…not good for the guitars or the people. Hence the SCRABBLE!
So in lieu of that, today we’ll share the recipe for Megann’s Artichoke Pizza, featured on our first post. It’s a classic “Weekend Special” around our house.
After getting a taste of spring last week, we’re back in the deep freeze. So we were happy that, for whatever reason, we’d put Parmesan Chicken and Rice on our menu plan yesterday.
It has all sorts of things going for it – it’s light, tasty, healthy…and warm! The chicken came from Royal Beef (they’re about more than beef!) and the brown rice from Better Bulk. But both were in the freezer, waiting for one of those days when you’ve already shovelled twice and don’t want to venture out again.
(But just to show we’re hopeful spring will return…a salad with balsamic dressing)…
Every time I tell someone I’m making bread, they answer, “Oh, do you have a breadmaker?”
“Yes”, I answer, “This is it”.
I make bread the same way your grandmother made bread. (Assuming your grandma made bread). Two hands, some flour, and the best therapy money can buy. Old recipes are best – unlike the breadmaker, most of these are designed to make four loaves at a time. Of course they need some adaptations for today’s modern diet. Shortening or lard can be replaced by a more heart-friendly oil – olive if you’re making a savoury bread, or something with a milder flavour, like canola. Salt (which used to be vital when yeast was more volatile) can now be cut down dramatically, or eliminated from the recipe entirely.
This is a batch I made earlier this week.
I know, I hear you…who has time?! Well, while this bread was on the go I did some cleaning. Worked on my French homework. Watched some television. Not to mention that other than the oven to bake it, the only energy used was mine.
It’s full of delicious, tasty things. (I substituted some rolled spelt flakes and whole wheat flour). The last loaf has some dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds in it. Those things, plus white flour, yeast, and some brown sugar, came from Better Bulk.
So get your breadmakers working – it’s faster than a breadmaker. You get more bread. And the kneading is the best therapy money can buy.
If you live in Southern California, or Italy, or even British Columbia, fresh, local ingredients are all around you. Not so much in January in Southern Ontario. Even foods that should be in season can be hard to find – turnips imported from Texas, anyone? As we began working toward better health – mind, body, and spirit – we had difficulty grasping the logic of eating organic food that had travelled halfway around the world to arrive at our local supermarket. There had to be a better way. At the same time, we were also learning that to stay at a healthy weight, more fruits, vegetables, and fibre, and less meat, less sodium , and fewer meals prepared by others made a significant difference to our results.
Two years after starting our journey, we’ve continued to exercise, eat well, and enjoy the many delights our urban neighbourhood has to offer. We’re making great local food– that is, from ingredients that have travelled the shortest distance possible from field to fork, and are definitely available from stores within walking distance of our house. We hope you’ll join us for our walkable feast.