Slow Cooker Vegetable Stock

I love vegetable stock. I especially love to heat it and drink it as is. The store-bought stocks tend to be very high sodium, even the low-sodium ones, so I prefer to make my own. It’s very easy, and if you have a slow cooker (e.g. Crock Pot), you can leave it to cook while you do other things, like work. There are a number of vegetables you can put into your stock, and people often use odd ends and trimmings of vegetables, but I don’t use anything I would ordinarily feed to my worms (yes, we have a worm bin in our kitchen).

You need:

1 leek, 1 bulb fennel, 3-4 sticks celery, 1 large onion, 1-2 chili peppers of  your choice, 2 bay leaves, 5-6 leaves basil

How to:

  1. Prepare the vegetables and chop them into large pieces. (Click HERE for how to prepare various vegetables)
  2. Add them to your slow cooker.
  3. Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
  4. Add the herbs and chili peppers.
  5. Cover and turn on high for 5-6 hours.
  6. Pour broth into a container.
  7. Place the vegetables in a food processor and blend well.
  8. Pour into the container through a fine mesh strainer. Use a spoon to rub it in to get it all.
  9. Refrigerate immediately and use within 3-4 days.

If you want to store the stock, cool it in the fridge for a couple of hours, then pour into ice trays. When it is frozen, put the broth ice cubes into a Ziploc bag and return to the freezer. Use within 3-4 months.

CSA, and our garden

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Our share grew larger and a little more diverse. Our CSA newsletter warns us the heavy rains may have done some damage to the crops…we wait and see. As you know, when you buy a CSA share, you buy more than vegetables – you buy some of the farmer’s risk.

This week we got some kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, a zucchini, peas, collard greens, kale, Russian kale, garlic chives, green onions, and some other greens I forget. We also bought, at the farmer’s market, some very large green onions and some no-spray yellow tomatoes.

In our own garden, our Purple Cherokee tomatoes are growing large. We have planted those, Green Zebra, Early Girl, Orange Oxheart and yellow cherry tomatoes. All of them are fruiting, as are our four massive tomatillo plants. We also have some swiss rainbow chard, which is being eaten by something, basil, cilantro, chives, kadipatta (curry plant), mustard, habaneros, jalapenos, and a blackberry plant. Our neighbors mulberry tree branches into our garden, so lots of mulberries there. We also have, non-edibly, wildflowers, snapdragons, marigolds, a sunflower, clemitis, and sweetpeas, most of which are yet to bloom.

CSA 10 June 2009

What was in the bag: spinach, lettuce, collard greens, baby broccoli, baby zucchini, red radish, white radish, garlic chives, purple kohlrabi, and green onions.

For now, I used some of the greens in my stir-fry, which is still yummy, especially with the addition of coarsely ground peanuts.

The kohlrabi I will probably cook into a vegetable. Yesterday, for example, I cooked it with potatoes and made a curry sort of thing. It can be cooked in various ways – do a search for kohlrabi in the search window below.

I’m thinking, though, that it might be time to figure out something else to do with the other stuff. I’m already very pleased with my discovery that lettuce is good cooked.

CSA June 3 2009

What’s in the bag this week?

Baby kale, baby spinach, head lettuce, the little purple lettuce, green onions, and radishes. Extras were savory, which we’re going to bake into bread, and lovage, which I am still figuring out, but will feature in tonight’s stir-fry. It smells wonderful. It has a smell of celery about it, and our CSA farmer suggested to us that we drink Bloody Marys through the hollow stem 🙂

I don’t drink much, but that sounds like fun for someone who likes Bloody Marys.

In addition to the CSA bag, we bought some yellow tomatoes and some cilantro.

The Other Half is going to use some of the lettuce and the yellow tomatoes in a BLT, the B also bought at the farmer’s market.

Time for me to go cook dinner!

Edit: Go easy on the lovage…the leaves are slightly bitter, and too many don’t work. Try dropping them in whole and removing them when your food is cooked. Great flavor and smell, not so much on the taste.

CSA 27 May 2009, canning, etc.

Looks like this week’s CSA will contain much of the same stuff as last week – lettuce, tatsoi, green onions, pak choi, rhubarb, and garlic chives – with the addition of spinach, and with basil instead of oregano. Which, by the way, I sun-dried last week, and packed away in a Ziploc bag. I plan to rehydrate it when I use it. I will probably do the same with the basil.

We made a couple of highly successful stir-fries with the vegetables. Lettuce works wonderfully in a stir-fry. Just wash, chop into rough strips, and throw in at the end. Stir, and let it wilt a bit. It tasted great. Our first stir-fry recipe was vastly improved, actually, with the addition of lettuce, and also some baby corn, water chestnusts, and red pepper. We did use peanut sauce again, though now I am going to try to make my own, instead of using store-bought. It is very expensive.

We might buy some other stuff at the farmer’s market where we go to pick up our CSA share. The thing I like about doing the CSA is what most people dislike about it – all the lovely new vegetables that I wouldn’t otherwise have tried. I do realize how difficult it can be to cook veggies you’ve never encountered before, so I plan to experiment with different recipes and will post them here.

The other thing we are thinking about doing is canning, making preserves, etc. I am completely new to this – I have never done it before. However, I am going to try. There’s a couple of things I need to figure out, though. First, how to make low-sugar or no-sugar preserves. And second, I have read that people don’t like to use store-bought pectin. I want to know why, and what they do instead. So, if you have any ideas, do let me know.

Pretty Green Stir-fry

Our CSA this week contained more or less what I had said it would – tatsoi, little purple-green lettuce, garlic chives, spring onions, fresh oregano, and pak choi. Lots of greens. We did do a stir-fry, in the end, just because it was so tempting – all those greens! So we used all the ingredients listed above, except the lettuce. Here’s how:

You need: 1 bunch tatsoi, 2 bunches pak choi, 3-4 green onions, 1 red onion, 5-7 garlic chives, 2 tbsp soy sauce, black pepper, 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, 1 tbsp sesame oil (or not).

How to:

1. Wash all the greens (everything but the peanuts and red onion) well, and cut it into strips.

2. Cut the red onion into thin slices.

3. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok.

4. Add the red onions and bulb parts of the green onions, and stir-fry until done to your satisfaction (about 2-3 minutes usually works for me)

5. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peanuts coarsely.

6. Add the peanuts to the onion and stir. Add the rest of the vegetables immediately.

7. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper.

8. Stir quickly. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt, turn off the heat.

Serve hot over rice. You could also use peanut sauce in lieu of the soy sauce/sesame oil.

CSA Begins Today!

We’re going to collect our first CSA share today. For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, CSA refers to community-supported agriculture. Essentially, you pay a local farmer some money in advance, buying a share (or half, as we are doing), of their produce. Then, when they have stuff ready, they give you a bit of that. It works out cheaper than buying veggies in the grocery (at least for us). You also get fresh, seasonal vegetables every week, and you get to support local agriculture. Yay! Find your CSA here.

That’s the good part. The downside, if you are not an adventurous cook, is that you get a lot of strange vegetables that you never have heard of, let alone seen. You may get a LOT of them, and you don’t always know what to do with them. You will probably end up getting a lot of greens at the beginning and end of the season. So What I’m going to do here is to tell you what I got in my share every week, suggest recipes, and tell you what I did with them. Or that’s the plan.We also plan to invest in a freezer and canning jars.

I hear that this week’s share will contain pak choi, tatsoi, rhubarb, green onions, garlic chives, lettuce, and oregano.

I hear you thinking “Stir Fry!” and, indeed, that thought has occured to me. I will consult with the Other Half. We are neither of us big salad eaters, so I have to decide what to do with a full head of lettuce. Soup? Grilled? Stir fry? Wraps? I have a feeling the rhubarb might end up in home-brewed wine, but I do really want to make a chutney out of it.

Also, look here for recipes and other fun stuff.

Watch this space.