14 March 2015

Veggie Stock

  A few days ago there was a post on a blog that I really enjoy following. The post was about making soup stock. Here is the link if you want to read the post, Taylor Made Ranch. In the post, Tammy was making the most of a roasted chicken that she had prepared for dinner, picking the meat off the bones and keeping it for other meals, and then she squeezed the last goodness out of the bird, by putting the carcass in the crockpot to make soup stock.
  Back when we ate meat I used to do the same thing .It was satisfying to use everything but the "cluck", knowing nothing was going to waste and making rich yummy stock for use later! I don't make stock from poultry or beef anymore since we are now eating a plant based diet, but I thought it would be fun to share one of the things I do now to live up to my "Waste not want not" credo.

We store in bulk many of the food items that we regularly use so I have an outdoor pantry. During the winter months it stays stays around 40 degrees in the pantry. I store my 3 month pantry goods in there, but I also use it as a make shift of root cellar. I store my citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges, as well as bushels of apples, and bags of potatoes and onions, and ropes of garlic. It works quite well, but eventually things will reach the end of their freshness and they will start to grow tops or sprout eyes. So periodically I will go through and cull out any veggies that are a little past their prime, cut them into chunks and and roast them.
Culled veggies chunked for roasting
I put the chunked veggies, skins and all on a large tray that has a thin layer of melted coconut oil on it, then spray the tops lightly with my olive oil filled Misto to prevent charring. Then I pop the tray in a 400 degree oven and roast until the vegetables are done through and caramelized.

 Once they are all soft and caramelized I put them in a stock pot or crock pot, (depending on how many culls I have), and add the bag of vegetable tops,ends and juicing pulp that I keep in the freezer for just such an occasion. I will cover the whole business with water, add salt and seasonings like fresh or dried herbs and whole pepper corns and put the pot on to boil. I boil the vegetables, adding water as needed, until the vegetables are cooked to a pulp. As it cooks, the house is filled with the redolent aroma of roasted vegetables... M-mmm, it make me hungry to think about it!!

 At this point I let the contents of the pot cool and then put the vegetables and stock into a large cheese cloth lined strainer, with another pot underneath to catch the strained broth.
I strain the stock in batches, pulling up the corners of the cloth and squeezing all the juices out before sending the pulp to the compost bin.

The resulting stock is a lovely golden color, and the flavor is rich and full bodied. I usually can some for the 3 month pantry and put some in reuseable, stackable plastic containers, in the freezer. I use the stock for a soup base for many different kinds of soup, one of my favorites being Sambar soup. Sambar soup is a spicy, thick soup with its roots in Indian cuisine. It is great to warm you from the inside out on a cold blustery day! The stock is also a great base for a simple vegetable soup,vegan tortilla soup, or really, it is good enough to just serve hot all by itself!

Frozen, canned, or use it fresh, any way you use it this stock is great!

                                                         Sambar Soup

*Some of these ingredients may not be readily available in the local grocery store, but can be purchased at an Indian grocery or even a Middle Eastern market, or online.

*1/2 cup Toor Dal, (dried split Pigeon Peas, may substitute with yellow split peas)
3/4 tsp. turmeric powder
*4-6 drumstick vegetable, (found frozen at the Indian market, but can be optional... they are woody on the outside and must be removed before serving to the uninitiated, but once familiar with them, they can be split and the soft centers sucked out. It's flavor is a cross between a green bean and asparagus. It is optional but does add a nice nuance to the soup. Possible substitution? The stems of asparagus would do... and if you are just wanting to flavor the pot and pull them out it would be a good use for the tough lower stems of the asparagus that you would normally throw away)
*2 Tblsp. Tamarind paste, (can be found in Latino and Indian Markets, the Indian market carries tamarind paste that is in a ready to use resealable pouch. The Latino market usually sells the tamarind in a "cake" which you cut a chunk off of and soak before using to loosen and remove the seeds. If you can't find tamarind paste, a Tblsp. of dark molasses and a 1 1/2 tsp. of balsamic vinegar will approximate the tamarind flavor).
*1 1/2-2 Tblsp. Sambar powder,( purchase from the Indian market, online or do what I like to do and make your own! Recipe follows.)
*1/2 tsp. Hing, also known as asefetida, (translated is means" it smells fetid".It is optional, but may be found at the Indian market.
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tblsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. black mustard seed
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seed,( also known as Methi in the Indian store)
*10 curry leaves, (optional)
2 red hot chiles, split and minced, seeded if you want less heat. Use latex gloves or you will regret it... )
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 chayote, peeled, seeded and cubed (optional, but really nice addition, can be found in the vegetable section of many grocery stores, looks like a bright green pear).
You can also add some celery, onion, chunks of sweet potato... whatever suits you, but know this, the soup is supposed to be more on the soupy side than the stew side... so make sure to have lots of broth if you add extra veggies. 
6 cups of water, (add more if the soup is getting too thick)

Rinse the Toor Dal in a strainer until the water runs clear. Put in pot with enough water to cover, (not the 6 cups...that is for later), let soak 20 minutes, then drain. Add 6 cups water, 1/2 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp. Hing. Simmer until dal is soft. take about half of the toor dal and some of the cooking water and place in the blender, add Sambar powder, the rest of the Hing and turmeric, salt, and tamarind paste and blend until everything is liquified. Add back to the pot, stir well and add drum stick vegetable, carrots, potatoes, chayote, hot peppers and garlic. Add enough water to cover vegetables and cook over medium heat until vegetables are just tender. 10 minutes before removing from the heat, in a small skillet, heat the coconut oil to very hot, add mustard seed and swirl until the seeds start to pop, then add fenugreek and curry leaves. continue swirling over heat to keep from burning spices.When fenugreek is starting to turn darker, remove from heat and pour into soup. It will sizzle so be cautious. Stir in well and cook a little while to blend flavors, 5 minutes or so. Serve in bowls and top with chopped cilantro.

*Note: this is a spicy soup, if you are not able to stand much spicy heat, cut the Sambar spice back by half and leave out the red chiles. To keep from losing all your flavor when reducing the "heat", add 1 Tblsp. Garam Masala, or if you have to... 1 healthy tsp. curry powder.

                                                       Sambar Spice 

1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 Tblsp.cumin seeds
2 Tblsp.Channa dal
2 Tblsp. Dhuli Moong Dal (split mung beans)
2 Tblsp. Toor Dal (split pigeon peas)
1 Tbsp.brown mustard seed
1 Tbsp.10-12 black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. fenugreek seeds
25-30 dried red chiles
2-3 Tblsp. turmeric

Dry roast coriander, cumin seed, dals, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns and chiles 3-4 minutes in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, with no oil, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove from heat and place in a bowl . Cool completely. Transfer to a bullet blender or spice/coffee grinder, add turmeric and grind to a fine powder. Store labeled in an air tight container out of the light. I use this spice frequently so I make the whole recipe, but you may want to start by cutting the recipe in half.

Garam Masala

This is my favorite home made version of Garam Masala, it comes from The Passionate Vegetarian, which ranks pretty high on my list of favorite cookbooks too!

Makes a generous 1/2 cup

1/4 cup coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 sticks cinnamon, preferably Ceylon cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg

Combine all the spices, except for the nutmeg, in a dry heavy skillet. Toast over medium, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from skillet immediately to stop cooking process. Grate 1/3 of the whole nutmeg directly on to the other spices. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulverize into a fine powder. Store in a tightly cover jar and keep in a dark place. ** note although I try to eat as much as I can raw, I am not a stickler about condiments and spices, heat brings out the oils in whole spices and makes their essence more accessible. But if you prefer not to use the roasted spices you may just use them in their raw form and blend them without roasting.

You are welcome to re-post my recipes as long as there is a link to this blog post. Please don't copy my recipes without giving me credit.

Blog hop this post is linked to:
Clever Chick Blog Hop 130
Corn-free Every Day

08 March 2015

Using Your Canner Off Season

  Wintertime is a great time to dust off your neglected pressure canner and put it to good use. While there is much work for a canner to do at harvest time, often the canner spends it's winter sitting in the pantry with the extra empty canning jars and lids. But it is possible to keep the canner gainfully employed all year round. During the summer months and into the fall the canner is usually filled with green beans, tomatoes and other produce from the garden, the winter months offer a completely different fare, vegetable soup, chili, chicken pot pie filling, venison canned from a hunting trip, taco filling, assorted dried beans... The variety is endless and the time spent in the kitchen canning will give you a convenient assortment of home cooked foods at your finger tips for busy days.

One of my favorite off season canning projects is to put up dried beans. I am a real fan of black turtle beans, and use them frequently, but pinto, garbanzo, and cannellini beans also regularly have a place on our table. Having jars of home made beans on the shelf ready for use is a big help in meal preparation, since I don't have to remember to soak and cook beans before I can prepare a meal.

 Canning beans is really very simple and the end result is far superior to what you can purchase from the store. To can dried beans first soak the beans overnight, I usually do about 10 pounds of beans at one time, but you can do whatever amount you want. Usually 1 pound of dried beans makes 4 pints of beans. So determine how many pints or quarts you want and soak the corresponding number of pounds of beans. I use a 22 quart stock kettle to soak my beans, but a dishpan would work too. Once the beans have soaked overnight cook them for 1/2 hour. If you don't have a large kettle and used the dishpan for soaking, then you will have to cook the beans in your pot in batches.

While the beans are cooking, sterilize your jars. You can steam sterilize the jars in the pressure canner, boil them, or put them in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. The flat part of the two part canning lid also needs to be boiled and then kept hot until used.
Fill the hot, sterilized jars with the beans, settling the beans as much as possible, then add 1/2 tsp. of sea salt to each pint jar or 1 level tsp. to a quart sized jar. Ladle cooking liquid into the jars. There should be about one inch of head room from the liquid and beans to the top of the jar.

With a clean damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jars thoroughly. then put the flat part of the lid on the jar and screw the band on until snug but not tight.
With the jar tongs arrange jars in the canner so that they are evenly spaced and not touching each other.  Some canners have enough room for two layers of pint jars, other canners are only tall enough for one layer of jars.
Add water to the canner until it is two inches up the side of the jars. Do Not Fill  The Canner With Water!! Put the lid on so that it locks tight and turn the heat to medium high. Leave the weight off of the canner spout and wait for the steam to start pouring out of the spout. It must spew a solid stream of steam for 10 minutes, to evacuate all the air from the canner, then put the weight on the spout and watch carefully as the psi climbs.

When the pressure approaches 10 psi, lower the heat. Adjust the heat until the canner stays consistently at 10 psi. Set a timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes for pints and 1hour 30 minutes for quarts, and watch to make sure that the canner does not go above 10 psi or drop below it. Be careful to not let the temp. go below 10 psi, if it does no matter where you are in the process, you will have to set the timer to 1 hour and 15 minutes again. This is crucial so please watch your psi gauge carefully. Once the time is up turn the heat off under the canner and let it cool completely. Do not take the weight off the spout until the gauge reads zero and the pressure stopper drops, if you do the steam may give you a serious burn and all the liquid will be siphoned out of your jars.  Do not try to cool the canner by running water over it or putting cold rags on it, just let the temperature come down on its own.
 Once the pressure stopper has dropped and the pressure gauge reads zero, it is safe to open the canner. Please be cautious, there will still be steam in the canner. Lift the jars out of the canner using the jar tongs. Do not tip the jars, pull them straight up and out, any water on the lid will run down through the lid band and down the side of the jar so put a towel on the surface where you will be placing the jars. The contents will be boiling inside the jar for awhile, so don't disturb them until the jars are cool. You will know the jars have sealed when you hear a metallic pop, and the center of the jars are pulled down tight. If you press in the center of the lid and it can be pressed down and pops back up then the lid did not seal. Test all the lids and if any of them didn't seal refrigerate them and use them within a few days. If the lids are sealed, remove the bands, then wipe the jars with a soapy cloth, dry them and write the contents of the jars and the date on the lids.

  That is all that there is to it! With just a few hours of intermittent attention, you can have a shelf full of tasty ready to eat beans, waiting for you to use in your kitchen creations!  As always I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a comment!

This post is linked to:

Clever Chick Blog Hop 129
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