Monday, April 22, 2013

Stock. It's easy!

Autumn is obviously leaning more towards the winter side here in Adelaide. If the last few days are anything to go by, it's going to be a cold and wet Winter.
I'm not complaining about the wet. That would be bad form after the drought that we are barely recovering from. However, I do miss Summer. Those long, hot days, with glorious sunsets over the ocean, turning the sky all orange, pink and purple. I just love being warm. The temperature gauge is known to sit anywhere between 30*C and 46*C here in Sunny Adelaide.

Last year on a trip to Norway, I found myself trying to convince a group of Norwegians who are quite familiar with the icy depths of a winter without sunshine, that it does in fact get cold here. It was upon this exclamation that I realised that maybe the reason I get so chilly, is the fact that I don't own any socks or indeed any jumpers. I also never turn on my heating.

This coming winter, I will be prepared. I have just spent a ridiculous amount of time discovering the addiction of eBay and purchasing jumpers, slacks, scarves, socks and shoes, all at bargain prices. This year, Winter, I'm ready for you.

Annually, I hold what I call "Sally's Soup Kitchen". I gather together everyone I know and invite them all to bring a bowl of soup to share. We usually sit by the fire, all snug and sip the night away on the various belly warming delights.

Being that we are about to hit winter, I thought I'd write to you about an easy way to make stock. Stock is obviously at the heart of anything delicious. I use it as a base for curry, soup, stews and often use it to boil rice and other grains. It imparts a depth of flavour that gives so much more to the dish.

Recently, our share house disbanded and all the rescue chickens and bunnies went to live with Kat & Amy. I missed being able to give them my scrap vegetables and felt it was such a waste throwing them away until I remembered my trusty, old slow cooker. Obviously you can boil these scraps on the stove to make stock, but the slow cooker gives us the ability to walk away and not think about it.
Here's what you do.

Makes: About 4-6 cups.
Time: 4-8 hours if using a slow cooker.

Ingredients:

• Your vegetable scraps and anything that's starting to wilt in the refrigerator. For example: chopped bits of onion, carrot, celery, fresh or dry mushrooms, turnip, pumpkin and any other vegetables that will taste good in a stock. You can use the flesh of the vegetable, the peel- any scraps you have left.
Remember that the flavour will be concentrated, so make sure you really like the veggies that you are adding the most of. I once made a stock primarily out of celery. I'm not the biggest fan of celery unless it's in stick form dug into beetroot dip, and I really didn't enjoy this stock or the subsequent soup, so remember to add flavours you enjoy.
You don't need more vegetables than what would to fill a quarter of your slow cooker.

• Herbs that will match what you're going to add the stock to. So, perhaps some garlic and bay leaves (always a winner) and perhaps some rosemary if this endeavour is for a nice potato and leek soup or ginger or kaffir lime leaves if for a curry.

• A few shakes of salt & pepper, to taste.

• 4- 6 cups of water, depending on the size of your slow cooker.

Method:

Place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Strain the vegetables and the liquid you are left with should be incredibly aromatic.
This can be frozen in a container or used straight away.

Here's to a tasty, toasty winter!

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