You know what’s great about buying organic produce? The ability to save the seeds and know that they are going to grow.  Especially when buying varieties that might not be commonly grown in your area and the seed is not as available. Recently I picked up an organic Red Kuri Squash at our local Whole Foods. In France, Red Kuri Squash is is called potimarron – poti for pumpkin (potiron) and Marron for chestnut.  When cooked, Red Kuri Squash tastes like a pleasant combination of the two.  What’s especially neat about the Red Kuri Squash is that the skin is edible.  No having to roast the squash first then spoon out it’s inner from it’s shell, no having to meticulously peel thick skin (I’m talking to you, butternut squash) with [... To read more, click here ...]

 November 12, 2012  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Autumn, One-Pot Meals and Soups Comments Off
Mar 042011
 

So it’s been my plan for the last few months to make roasted vegetable stock this spring to fill up our pantries for Lent and meatless Friday meals. One of my favorite books for simple, Lenten meals, Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, uses vegetable stock often for added flavor and now that I know how to can stock, I thought, why not?

Until I opened my pantry and saw row after row and jar after jar of turkey and poultry stock, produced over the last few months, just looking at me. Pregnancy fatigue was getting me down and it just seemed like too much to have to consider making and storing more stock, sanitizing jars, buying another box of lids, and hauling out the canner from the basement. Don’t get me wrong, for meat-based stocks, the canning process is fantastic, my new favorite thing, and I use it all the time. But for vegetables? Sigh, I was getting tired just thinking about it.

And then I remembered those lovely little jars of bouillon I used to buy and keep stocked in my fridge before I realized they were all full of MSG. It was so simple to just heat up some water in our electric kettle, add a spoonful or two of bouillon and voila! Instant soup, or flavor to any dish, from jambalaya to minestrone to risotto.

So I decided to make some. Bouillon that is. One extra ingredient on the list, five minutes of chopping and two minutes of processing and I was done. With a full quart of bouillon in my fridge, just waiting for our next meatless meal. . .

 

Ahhh . . . stock. Watch any cooking show on TV, read any mainstream cookbook or food blog and you will come across that beloved ingredient . . . stock. Chicken stock. Beef stock. Veal stock. Vegetable stock.

Stock is nourishing. Stock is flavorful. Stock is frugal.

It’s the best of all worlds.

And, if you make it at home, it’s even better. A simmering pot of chicken stock is pretty much de rigeur around here the day after I roast a chicken, and T. knows better than to disrupt my bags of frozen chicken parts, awaiting their turn in the stockpot.

But then, once you’ve made it, how does one store stock? Sure, at the store, it comes in nice, cute, little, shelf-stable boxes, but at home it’s a bit more difficult of a storage problem. I’ve frozen it, with great success, in both freezer bags and glass jars, but I didn’t find it as useful for me. I’d forget to defrost it in time, or it ended up taking too much space in my small apartment freezers. When we moved to our new home, my freezer got smaller still, but in the interim, I inherited a pressure canner from my grandma, and oh, the places I can go with it!

My favorite (and what I use it the most for) pressure canning recipe? Stock.

It’s changed my life.

Feb 162010
 

Lent starts this week and we are on the lookout for great vegetarian meals to round out our Friday meals.  I’ve been on a bit of a Thai kick lately and recently made this pumpkin and coconut soup (pictured to the left – picture is from the cookbook as it is much prettier than my picture was!) to GREAT reviews and I look forward to making the omelette soup, below, from the same cookbook in the weeks to come.  Thai is such a nice, refreshing way to eat meat-less that you don’t feel like you’re missing out too much, plus both soups are quick and easy to make with little preparation (other than shopping for the ingredients!)  Enjoy! Pumpkin and Coconut Soup from Thai: The Essence of Asian Cooking serves [... To read more, click here ...]

 

Imagine you’re sitting in front of a crackling fire. Suddenly, you smell something delicious coming from the kitchen. Creamy, a little smoky,   A perfect meal for a wintry night, lightly melty over a forkful of sourdough french bread. This is not your typical, “traditional” fondue.  First, I add the smokiness of my caramelized onion marmalade which I make in a big batch in advance in the crockpot and store in the fridge.  Second, it includes cream cheese, which isn’t in a standard traditional fondue, but is a fixture in my fridge, plus I often use cheddar if I don’t have gruyere.  And you know what?  This cheese fondue is amazing.  Creamy, smoky, delicious.  I’m thinking I’m going to start using it in place of my standard roux-based cheese sauce [... To read more, click here ...]

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