Friday, February 15, 2013

Food from Garbage

For a very, very long time, I resisted making vegetable stock.

It makes no sense. A box of organic vegetable stock is $3 at the store, and making stock at home costs the price of a bay leaf and 2 peppercorns.

It's ridiculous, really.

Was I just being lazy? Was it a case of misplaced trust? Surely those folks at Pacific or whatever know what they are doing and never, oh never, does a stray bug slip in the vat, right?

And so, I began a bag. It doesn't take long, really, to save up garbage ... ahem, scraps, for stock. You just keep throwing them in that same freezer bag until it is full.

My bag usually consists of celery, carrot peels and ends, onions and parsley. Sometimes, there will be some shallot or leek in there or a little pepper or tomato.

People say don't overdo it on the peppers, so I listen. People say avoid broccoli or cauliflower, or your stock will taste like nothing else. Sometimes I put a few stems in there. I'm a rebel.

Whatever is in the bag, gets thrown in a pot with a ton of water, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. And then I let is simmer until my husband worries I am going to fall asleep, at which time I groggily pour it into jars. (Pouring hot stock into jars while groggy is not like "life advice" or anything.)

I have heard a rumor that you can let stock go overnight in a slow-cooker.


I've gone from stock-in-a-box girl, to stock on the stove girl this winter. It took me realizing that vegetable stock is pretty hard to screw up. After all, you were just going to compost that stuff any way, right?

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Garden Goals

The garlic is sleeping. That's what I tell myself sometimes, that the garden and shallots we planted in the fall are resting under the layer of snow outside, waiting to peek through in the spring.

We moved to this house too late to get a true garden going, but as a housewarming gift, our generous friends made us a raised garden bed. Building a raised bed was something I had never tried because it seemed intimidating to me. My son will tell you what I have been saying for years when he brings a Lego construction to me with a question about where a teeny piece goes, "Give me just a minute here ... I'm not great with diagrams."

I would see diagrams of raised beds and think it was pretty complicated. It's not. It's a box. Inside you put some paper bags and some dirt.

But that little box is a start for us. I am so determined this year to grow, grow, grow (and put some seeds in soil to make vegetables, too).

In a perfect world, we would have an abundance of tomatoes to can at the end of the season. We would have fresh herbs, for cooking and tea. We would have cucumbers for pickling and eating, potatoes, Swiss chard and kale, green beans for a girl I know, zucchini for bread and muffins, peas, carrots, squash, radishes, onions, and of course, the garlic and shallots.

But those last two are already there.

They're just sleeping, remember?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Morning Calm

When the house is quiet first thing in the morning, I think that I could live here forever.

I look off our back deck and see neighbors, getting ready for work. They seem like nice people, but they are busy, so busy, and I'll probably never know them.

But here, in on our little city plot, we are discovering new things all the time in this new life. We don't have a sled hill, but the toboggan flies down the stairs that lead to our backyard.

(yesterday's discovery)

It is still new, being here -- a first winter -- a barely-winter at that.

And I love how this house seems to warm in minutes. In our old house, we'd usually come home to such cold. We'd drink tea, pull on layers, turn the heat up and wait. Usually we were long in our beds piled high with blankets before we'd notice our noses weren't freezing.

So why can't we stay here forever? We could, I think. But chickens probably can't. A goat might not be welcome. I know -- I read those books too about keeping livestock in your suburban backyard, and it can happen, I'm sure, through fights at city council meetings and explaining to your children that a trampoline takes up the donkey's real estate.

But all that has a very Step 2 feeling to me right now.

I'm still enjoying everything this house has to offer that our previous home did not. I still wake up grateful, and fall asleep happy that we are here. It isn't perfect, but it is 100 percent home ... for now.

This is a good place to launch dream.