Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Vegetable Stock

High on my list of the problems of living in the land of butter and Crisco and ice cream and deep-fried everything is the astonishingly dismal lack of variety at the local grocery stores.  One of my chief complaints about life in Utah is the craptastic grocery stores in which you won't find anything more ethnic than tortillas and soy sauce, and in which there are 84 kinds of ranch dressing and two kinds of vinaigrette.  It is beyond maddening.    

One of the things it seems nearly impossible to get my hands on up here (without paying exorbitant prices, which is something I am allergic to) is low-sodium vegetable broth.  Back in Las Vegas, they carried it in every store and charged no more for it than they did for chicken broth.  I was BAFFLED when I first visited store after store upon moving to Utah and was unable to find the stuff.  When I finally did, it was nearly THRICE the cost of chicken broth.  And that was just not happening.  As I've said before, I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat, and when we're eschewing the meaty goodness, I like to go all the way.  For whatever reason, if I use chicken broth in a veggie soup, I feel like I might as well serve it with a big smoldering slab of steak.  (Oooh, steak.  Yum.)  SO.  Rather than subject you to further ranting and beside-the-point tangents, even though tangents make life fun, I will get to the point.

I was in need of low-sodium vegetable broth.  I was not paying two dollars a can or five dollars a box for it.  I was tempted to ask the next friend visiting from anywhere outside Utah to bring me a case, but decided against it, which left me with one practical option:  make it.  But making broth sounded so intimidating.  Broth is the base of many a dinner in my household, and if it sucked, well, that would be a giant waste.  Also, I imagined making broth to be an arduous process.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  Very, very, wrong.  And that actually makes me happy.

After turning to my trusty internet to do some method research/recipe scouting, I happened upon a blog called Casual Kitchen and this post, and instantly decided that it was the Vegetable Stock Gospel Truth.  And so, armed with my new knowledge, I went forth and modified (because that's the fun, right?) and then conquered.  

Here's my very slightly modified version of the recipe:

Vegetable Stock

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2  1/2 yellow onions, peeled and halved (I had half an onion left over from a previous dinner)
4 celery stalks, in 2-inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 small bunch of broccoli, cut into pieces but not chopped
3 Fuji apple cores (saved & frozen from earlier apple-slicing)
1/2 bunch parsley, stems and all (not chopped)
12 cups of water, or enough to cover plus a few inches (my stockpot is narrow and deep, so it required a significant amount of water to do this)

Combine all ingredients except salt in a large stock pot, bring to a simmer, cover and let cook for at least 7 hours, stirring on occasion.  Add salt to taste.

When stock is done, strain out the vegetables and reserve the liquid.  Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator or the freezer.   I measured mine into two-cup portions and froze it. 

I have since used almost all of the broth and have loved it.  The addition of the apple cores provided a touch of sweetness, of which I am a fan.  Next time, I might experiment with adding something seasonal and offbeat like rhubarb, or seasonal and not-so-offbeat, like artichoke. We'll see.  But given the simplicity of making the stock and how freaking domestic it made me feel, I will definitely be making it again.  

OH!  And in the original post on Casual Kitchen, one of the commenters suggested keeping the cooked vegetables to puree and use in soup.  Do it.  I did, and I adored the results, which I will be posting about soon.


Damien Stepick said...

I love you Mrs. Garlic Lady... and I love your stock ;)

Mary said...

Seven hours??? Okay worth it right?

Wendy said...

Seven hours basically unattended, Mary. Just a stir once in a while. But, yes, I think it was worth it. I love knowing exactly what's in my food.

Daniel said...

Happy to find your post--I'm glad you found my vegetable article recipe useful! There is NOTHING like a homemade stock to accentuate any recipe. I can't go back to the store bought stuff anymore.

And I love your modifications. As I like to tell my readers: go forth and modify! :)

Casual Kitchen