My Easter Egg Fiasco

 

eastereggs6aI love ideas. I love cookbooks – because they are full of ideas. I love magazines- because they are full of ideas. I love hobby stores. Why, you ask? (I know you didn’t really ask, but work with me for a minute…) Because they are full of ideas. And now, for idea junkies like me, there is Pinterest – my own personal scrapbook in the ethereal cloud of the internet that can hold an endless amount of ideas and can be accessed in seconds. Wow!

Collecting ideas is great, no doubt. But putting them to good use can be another matter. Take Easter egg decorating, for example. Some years ago, when my children were younger, I read a magazine article about natural dyes you can make for Easter eggs with resulting soft pastels and gentle spring hues that looked absolutely stunning on eggs resting in an all-natural woven Easter basket. At least that’s what the picture looked like…

Determined to make that Easter particularly memorable for my children, I headed off to the grocery store, magazine article in hand. I returned with $16 worth of fresh cabbage, turnips, turmeric spice, beets and onion, all the recommended sources for natural dyes.  I chopped, pureed, boiled, smashed, and stirred my way into the stinkiest, smelliest kitchen mess I have ever created. The whole house reeked of cooked cabbage (soft green), boiled turnips (purple), blended cooked onion and turmeric (yellow), and pureed boiled beets (red). We had the windows open for fresh air and no one, especially my children, wanted to be anywhere near the kitchen. I insisted they join me for the actual Easter egg dyeing process (which, by the way, took 10 times longer than those nifty fizzy tablets in vinegar take.) The kids participated, with noses plugged, by dropping the eggs into the bowls of natural dye and then fleeing the kitchen as fast as they could. I remained there, cleaning up my mess and stirring the eggs for the next several hours as they ever so slowly took on the pretty pastel colors I had so eagerly anticipated. The next morning, Easter Sunday, I placed the dyed eggs in their plastic Easter baskets and then later we turned them into egg salad. Wow.

For some reason, holidays seem like the perfect time to incorporate all those great new ideas, whether it is a recipe, a craft, or a hundred new ideas on my Pinterest boards. However, I have an “S.O.S” signal sounding off in my inner person. A voice in my head speaking the words, “Choose a Season Of Simplicity, not a Season Of Stress.”  And I am beginning to listen.

As time passes and my life changes, I am learning that simplicity should be sought after as eagerly as productivity. Women are often presented with the perspective that “smart women have it all”, or “productive women spin many plates successfully”.  But there is another image that we as women have to look harder to find. The image of wise women who keep it simple. Women who know that life can sometimes be richer when we have less. Life can sometimes be more enjoyable when we do less. Life can sometimes be more memorable when we achieve less.

So, in the spirit of simplicity, I am attempting to choose more stress-free activities this year. Yes, we will maintain those special traditions we have loved for so long.  We will still enjoy our favorite recipes and activities together. But this year my S.O.S. call will not be a call to stress.  It will be a call to simplicity. I hope you will join me in choosing a Season Of Simplicity.  Happy Easter!

 

Gardening 101: My Sweet Potato Saga

sweet potato in jarOk, people – I have a potato problem.  A sweet potato problem, to be exact. You see, I love sweet potatoes, and I love gardening,  so I assumed growing my own sweet potatoes would be quite rewarding. But nay, on the contrary, it has become  quite distressing.
Who knew a sweet potato could be so high maintenance?  I ordered an adorable little orange gem from an experienced gardener in North Carolina who has been growing sweet potatoes from the same seed family for years. He even took time to send specific instructions to me, which I have carefully followed.  But North Carolina is not Ohio, especially in March and April.  I didn’t know  sweet potatoes like to be warm. Seriously?  I like to be warm, too, but that doesn’t mean I can sit around doing nothing until it hits 70 degrees!

But alas, sweet potatoes require a long growing season yet can’t be planted outside till the soil reaches 70 degrees. This means starting the rooting process indoors.  Remember those 4th grade science experiments with the potato in a jar of water,  being held up by toothpicks? Yep, you got it. For the last month my sweet potato science experiment has graced the front table in my living room, the only sunny spot I have.  And one month later all I have to show for this project is one root- one measly scrawny thread of a root- dangling from the bottom of my sweet potato, so thin it could break off in a weak breeze.

Lucky for me,  the weather has warmed up here the past few days and SW  has been able to sun bathe on my back porch. But this requires my remembering to bring him in each evening, as the nights are still too chilly.  Tonight,  as I retrieved SW from the porch to again tuck him safely inside for the night, I commented to my daughter that maybe I should just crochet him a blanket so he could  stay outside all night!

According to expert gardeners,  if I take care of SW properly, green vines will emerge from the potato’s top, which can then be planted outdoors in warm soil, resulting in an abundant harvest of sweet potatoes in the fall.  Pinterest even has a picture of a large wheelbarrow filled with stunning sweet potatoes grown from just 3 tiny seed potatoes.

So far I see no signs of green vines emerging anywhere on my sweet potato.  I’m just hoping that’s not mold on its pale orange skin. And I think I will be needing a smaller wheelbarrow.

National Doughnut Day, Country Style

donuts 5As I perused Facebook this morning to see what had happened in the world while I slept, I was alerted to the fact that today, June 5th, is National Doughnut Day.  I have no idea who decided to have a national doughnut day, but I am suspicious that somehow the culprit is connected to a national doughnut shop chain.  Nevertheless, this was all the reason I needed to justify indulging in this sweet doughy treat.  But the idea of standing in a long line at a donut shop with dozens of other hungry fans didn’t appeal to me.  Suddenly, I had the perfect idea – today I would dig out Grandma’s recipe and attempt to make her donuts that I  loved so much as a child.

Duane and wife 1a copy

My grandma and grandpa (several years before we made doughnuts)

On every spring break from school, my mom, sister and I would take a drive through the country to Grandma’s farm and spend the day making donuts.  The farmhouse kitchen was everything you would dream it to be -a large farmhouse table, lots of cupboards and counter space, wide windows overlooking both the front yard and cow barn as well as the backyard with an iconic outhouse from years gone by and Grandma’s flower beds.  When we arrived for donut making, Grandma would have already started the dough and most likely it was rising globe-like above the rim of her large kettle.  After punching the dough down, my sister and I began to cut out donuts with Grandma’s donut cutters. Grandma and Mom would manage the frying with great skill.  Then, when the donuts had just cooled, they were dipped in a sugar glaze and stacked on large trays all around the kitchen.  Eating those donuts while they were still warm and gooey was amazing!  After filling our stomachs, we would pack the remaining donuts into containers that would be delivered to family members so all could enjoy.

Some years later, the farmhouse burned to the ground.  Grandma never did make donuts again, though we still went out and spent time with her every spring break.  However, I did get the recipe from her, and several years ago I attempted to make them, without much success.  Thinking of Grandma today,  I determined to give it another try.  Some of the recipe’s measurements are unfamiliar to me. What is 1.75 lbs of flour?  How much is 1/2 ounce of salt?  This time I had the Internet to help and I was able to get the precise measurements I needed.  Also, I believe Grandma fried her donuts in lard.  I decided on the next best thing – a can of shortening.

After making the dough, letting it rise twice, and rolling it out,  my daughter and I began to cut out ddonuts 2onuts. Soon we were frying these delicacies and dipping them in the sugary glaze, impatiently waiting for them to cool enough to eat.  It was worth the wait! The crispy donut shell with the soft interior was perfectly highlighted with the glistening glaze of sugar, causing the donut to melt in your mouth.  Not only did I enjoy the taste of these treats,  I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer amazement that I had managed to make Grandma’s donuts almost as good as she did.  I was a little girl again, sitting on a stool in Grandma’s farmhouse kitchen, with sticky fingers and a happy heart.

donuts 4

Thank you, Grandma!  I think you are smiling down on me as I eat this treat in my suburban kitchen, sharing with my daughter the story of your farmhouse kitchen donuts.  I think we may have started a new tradition for National Doughnut Day.  And that’s a good thing!

Simple Pleasures: Porch Happiness

screened in porch 1 Life can be hectic, as we all know.  Even family life at home can be hectic.  Sometimes finding a place to be alone or to be quiet when everyone is home can be a challenge.  One of my favorite things about this time of year is being able to set up my screened-in porch for the season. Once the weather is even remotely warm, I sweep away the layer of dust and wood chips from a winter of stacked logs and get the porch ready for spring.  Today, after a busy day of teaching and yard work, I am relaxing on my porch, soaking in the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling softly in the breeze.

screened in porch 3Our screened-in porch has a whole lot of country built into it. When we put an addition on our house in 2003, this porch was included in the plans. But I wanted to give it a distinct look and feel. So we drove about an hour away to a place in the country that repurposes barnwood and barnstone. Upon arriving and inspecting the supply, we found the perfect match: stacks of tongue-in-groove barn siding from an old Ohio barn, still in tact and displaying remains of its traditional red paint. Soon we were on our way home with this treasure. My dad came over and helped us cut and install the siding on our porch.  It is still beautiful today.

screened in porch 2

Oops – the dog isn’t supposed to be there…shhh, don’t tell!

Since that year, I have been looking for just the right piece of furniture for my porch. I  had some wicker chairs for a time. I tried a few other pieces. But nothing quite fit my dream, which was to be able to take a nap on my porch. Nothing, that is, until this spring. Just a few weeks ago I was looking online and came across the perfect piece of furniture for my porch – this indoor/outdoor settee from Walmart.  I ordered it online, got free shipping, assembled it in about 30 minutes, and have been enjoying it ever since.

As I sit on my porch now and write, I am looking at a peony bush with pink blossoms  soon to burst open. I am enjoying the lilac bush now gracing the outside corner, and I admire a growing clematis vine that will soon reach the top of the screen panel and cover it with purple blossoms. Though my porch is only 12 years old, it feels like it has been here for a lifetime. Even the screened door squeaks like it hangs on an old farmhouse. No place else in my house gives me such a sense of peace and joy. That’s porch life. And I think we all need a little porch life once in a while.

screened in porch 4On this Memorial Day weekend, I hope you can find time to do some porch-sitting. It does a body good. As I celebrate this holiday with my family, I am thankful for a free country where I can enjoy these simple pleasures, and I am grateful for all who have sacrificed so much to make this freedom possible.  God bless America!

Beans and The Beast: Pressure Canning 101

About 8 weeks ago, as spring was first beginning to open her eyes to 2015,  my newest gadget arrived on my doorstep – my All American Pressure Canner, now affectionately named by the family as The Beast. Excited to learn something new, I began perusing Pinterest for pressure canning tips and recipes, all while keeping this large canning monster in my dining room. As fate would have it, I ended up having several rounds of both dinner guests and overnight guests during this time and, having not yet found a permanent home for The Beast, I continued to transfer it from living room to dining room, depending on what space was needed for company. At one desperate point I even tossed a placemat on top of The Beast’s box and topped it with a few books, hoping it would look like an end table. Fail.

But with the passing of time my curiosity increased and my bravery settled in. It was time to conquer The Beast. I decided my first attempt needed to be a relatively inexpensive experiment so that, if not successful, at least I did not break the bank. Thus, canning dried beans became my first pressure canning project.

I had acquired some beautiful organic pinto beans from Fresh Fork Market, directly sourced from the Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, Ohio.  Being assured by several Pinterest authors that canning dried beans was fool-proof, I spent a cool-weather May day canning pints of pinto beans that will later become the refried beans my family enjoys often. Yes, this was not as hard as I thought it would be…and no, the pressure canner did not explode (insert sigh of relief here!)

Here are a few pictures of the pinto bean canning process:

The Beast and the beans!

The Beast and the beans!

Don't these organic pinto beans look gorgeous?

Don’t these organic pinto beans look gorgeous?

After sorting and rinsing the beans, I placed 1/2 cup beans in each pint jar, followed by 1/2 tsp. salt.  Then I added hot water to the jars, filling up to the neck of the jar.  Once I added the prepared lids (following the typical canning instructions), the jars were ready to be placed in The Beast.

 

The beans in jars before canning

The beans in jars before canning

After placing the jars in the pressure canner (following the canner instructions carefully), I secured the lid, heated it up, allowed the steam to vent for 10 minutes as instructed, and then maintained an 11 lb pressure for 75 minutes.  Once this time had been completed and the canner was completely cooled down, I lifted the canned pints of pinto beans out of The Beast.

Looking delicious already!

After canning – looking delicious already!

Several recipes I looked at said the beans will continue to puff up as they settle.  These have a shelf life of one year without losing nutritional value.  Organic refried beans are now ready and waiting in my cupboard for our next Mexican Night!

With Round One finished,  I am even more excited to attempt pressure canning some additional recipes.  Stay tuned for updates on future projects with The Beast – I am hoping to can fresh peas soon!

 

 

 

 

Simple Pleasures: Mashed Potatoes

The sun is shining here in Northeast Ohio on this spring holiday weekend as many of us prepare to spend time with family and friends. Our family is headed out in just a short time to enjoy a delicious meal with both my immediate family and extended family.  My job is to bring the mashed potatoes.  In fact, now I offer to bring the mashed potatoes to most family meals.  This began after I found and tried this amazing Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe.

I love mashed potatoes, but I always hated the prep process – peeling, chopping, boiling, draining, beating, scooping – all at the last minute.  This process always resulted in me as the hostess sitting down to enjoy the meal all  while the potato kettle is cooling in the kitchen with mashed potatoes drying on the sides and the potato peels are turning brown in my Tupperware bowl. (I know, some of you are clean cooks and have this all taken care of before you eat.  However, I fall into the Messy Cook category.)

Then I found a make-ahead recipe for mashed potatoes. Today there are dozens of these recipes online, using either the oven or a crock pot/slow cooker. I actually do not remember where I originally found this recipe.  But they all are essentially the same, except for your choice of seasonings and method of reheating them.

So for those of you who have been assigned the mashed potato job for your holiday meal, here is a 1-2-3 recipe to make your job a whole lot easier.  Just beware – you might become the perpetual potato person for all future family meals!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes:

mashed potatoes 1 Step 1:  Peel, chop and cook cubed potatoes (5 lb. bag) in salted boiling water until cooked and soft, but not mushy.  (I am assuming you have done this part before.) Drain the cooked potatoes. Place 1 stick butter or margarine, 1-8 oz. cream cheese and 1-8 oz sour cream on top of the potatoes.  Allow these to sit and soften a few minutes.

 

 

mashed potatoes 2Step 2:  Beat the potatoes and extra ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Do not overbeat or they can turn to thick paste.  A few tiny potato chunks will let everyone know these are the real deal!

 

 

mashed potatoes 3Step 3: Spread these fluffy potatoes in a greased 13×9 pan.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  To reheat:  Remove cover and place mashed potatoes in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  (If using a glass pan, do not take pan directly from fridge to oven.)  Top with a dollop of butter and serve!  You can make these potatoes the day before your event or even just a few hours before your event, with excellent results.

There you go, folks – my answer to avoid the dread of making mashed potatoes!  I hope you and your family enjoy this holiday weekend as we remember the events of that Holy Week so many years ago when Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of humanity, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and rose again the third day – and is still alive for us.  What good news, what hope that brings in these days full of difficult news.  He is risen!

 

 

 

 

A New Season of Canning

The icicles are dripping, the birds are chirping, and Daylight Savings Time has begun.  Is it safe to say that spring is on the way?  When the crocus buds peek out of the snow-laden flower bed, another thought begins to poke its way into my mind – gardening!  I know some of you have already begun your seeds indoors. One of these years I hope to accomplish that. For now, I am content to drool over the gardening catalogs that seem to arrive in my mailbox daily.

Something else arrived yesterday – on my doorstep. It looks like something an alien might have dropped off. And be careful picking it up, because you could sprain a back muscle! But I am so excited to take on this new challenge for my gardening/preserving season this year.

Men have their tools, women have their gadgets…and mine is currently in the form of an All-American Pressure Canner. During the long harsh months of January and February here in Ohio I have been researching information about pressure canning.  My freezer is filled to capacity, for which I am grateful. However, some items in my freezer could be safely canned.  In theory, I believe canning more foods to make them shelf-stable will allow me to stock my freezer with more items from my garden and from seasonal sales that can only be frozen.  In this way I believe I can continue to save money and provide a healthy diet for my family.

So, here it is! Pretty impressive, I might say. Honestly, I am scared to use it for the first time. But hpressure canneraving read multiple reviews on this product and its safety, as well as a myriad of online posts and comments on proper handling of this equipment, I am ready to tackle this new challenge. I hope to try my first hand at it by canning some spring peas. We will see how it goes.

The online reviews I read on this product were incredible. One man spoke of using his grandmother’s All-American Pressure Canner which is now 100 years old.  He needed to replace the weight or the dial (I can’t remember which) and had it checked for safety – it still works fine. Others commented on how this canner is so well made they will be able to pass it down to the next generation. So as my son was lifting this giant out of the box for me yesterday, I told him to be careful with it because this might be his inheritance. He didn’t seem too impressed – I wonder why?

So here’s to a new season and a new gadget and new fun! If any of you are experienced pressure canning people, I would love to know your favorite recipes. I am going to start simple, but I intend to expand my horizons in the future. Thanks in advance for your input!

PS:  I have been watching this product online for a few weeks. On Wednesday a week ago (after midnight) I happened to check, and this product was marked down to $161!  The next morning I decided to order it. Much to my surprise, the price was back to $209. Later that week it went as high as $237. Determined not to pay that much, I continued to watch the price. Last Thursday (after midnight) I checked again – the price was $161, with no tax and free shipping. I ordered it immediately, saving myself $66 from the top price. I have never observed this price change happening before and do not know if it will happen again, but if you are interested in this product, it may be worth it to check the prices for a week to see what you can get.  The link included in the blog article takes you to the item I purchased.

 

A Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, but today feels a little bit like Christmas!  This afternoon I picked up my Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving package, which I had pre-ordered earlier this fall.  I generally knew what was in the package, but opening each box opened up new excitement and cooking opportunities.  An entire feast now sits in my kitchen and I never stepped foot in a grocery store.  My money has gone directly to a farmer or baker in the local area, and my family will enjoy healthy farm-fresh food on our dinner table for Thanksgiving and a few meals after.

Just to give you a glimpse of what I received in today’s package, I am including a picture of each box, with a few comments of explanation.

??????????????????????????????? Box 1 contains 2 stalks brussel sprouts, several winter squash, a bag of fresh broccoli and fresh spinach, 2 bags of freshly ground whole wheat flour, a 1/2 gallon apple cider and a freshly baked crumb top apple pie.

I have a great recipe for brussel sprouts I will share on the blog soon.  The fresh spinach may end up in an Italian wedding soup recipe we love.  Some steamed broccoli and winter squash will make a great side dish with dinner.

 

???????????????????????????????Box 2 contains a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread and 1 dozen homemade whole wheat rolls.  A bag of beets and a crumb top sweet potato pie join them.

 

 

???????????????????????????????Box 3 is the heavy one!  It contains 2 lbs carrots, 1 Hubbard squash, 2 butternut squash, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, a bag of onions, a bag of sweet potatoes, several fresh apples, shallots, garlic,fresh lettuce greens, and a dozen organic eggs.

 

 

???????????????????????????????Box 4 feels like the grand prize!  A 21 lb fresh turkey fills this box.  This turkey was roaming the farm fields until this past Monday, eating healthy greens and enjoying life.  Never frozen and minimally processed, this turkey will soon grace our table as a delicious centerpiece, with lots of leftovers to follow!

 

 

??????????????????????????????? I added a few items to this order that I needed for other meals.  2 lbs of fresh cut, nitrate-free bacon will be used for breakfast and for that brussel sprouts recipe I mentioned earlier.  The sunflower oil has become my new go-to cooking oil, replacing my olive oil and canola oil.  The heirloom tomato sauce will be served over linguine for a quick meal later this weekend.  And the fresh apple cider is so delicious I just had to get another 1/2 gallon!

 

 

I am grateful to those who have grown and prepared the food we will soon enjoy.  Their hard work and excellence allow my family to eat healthy and contribute to the local economy.  I am grateful for the abundance we enjoy, while also realizing there are many that go without such bountiful supply.  This is a reminder of how important it is to get involved with organizations that do help provide resources to families in need.  Our own church has a Family Resource Center which provides food and household items to those in need – we enjoy getting involved with this agency.  I am thankful for the fact that my table will be filled with family and friends over the next few days and I am reminded of those who are alone or who are experiencing distress or grief this year.  My heart goes out to you, especially at this time.  As my family gathers around our Thanksgiving table, we will pause and thank God for His goodness in our lives and remember to pray for others.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

The Flavors of Winter

???????????????????????????????We experienced our first snowfall of the season today here in Northeast Ohio.  Somehow the first fresh snow flurrying through the slate blue clouded sky always seems magical.  The roads were a bit treacherous and the plummeting air temps (from 65 degrees on Tuesday to 25 degrees today) made us catch our breath. Dreams of steaming soup and hot cocoa come to the forefront of our minds.  And Fresh Fork Market delivers the best when it comes to the flavors of winter.

This is my second pick-up in the winter program of Fresh Fork Market.  The program works a little differently than the summer program in that it is a once-every-other-week pick up rather than weekly, with the exception of these three weeks prior to Thanksgiving.  My bag is larger than the summer one and the fresh produce keeps coming, supplemented by frozen produce, meats and freshly harvested beans.

This week’s bag has ham-n-bean soup written all over it (not literally, of course!)  Freshly picked carrots, beans, and frozen ham hocks provide the basics to get me started.  Tomorrow I will use my crock pot to cook the ham hocks and beans, then add some veggies and let it simmer slowly all day.  I will have enough soup for dinner and some extra for the freezer, ready for another snowy day in need of a steaming bowl of homemade soup.

spaghetti squashIn addition to the soup ingredients, my bag held a spaghetti squash large enough to feed my family.  If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash yet, you are missing out on a treat.  Sliced in half and baked cut-side down in a shallow pan with a little bit of water causes this steamed squash to separate into small noodle-like strands perfect with a marinara sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. What a great option for lowering our carbohydrate intake without a loss of flavor!   Fresh greens in my bag will become a delicious side salad for this nutritious meal.

So don’t let the freezing temperatures outside put a freeze on healthy cooking for this season. Fresh Fork Market is a great way to stay healthy and enjoy fresh foods even while the snow flies!

Soup Season is Here! Homemade Vegetable Stock

???????????????????????????????There’s something about a bag of home-grown produce that makes me want to slow down and savor it all. Nothing comes pre-cut, pre-packaged or with cooking instructions tagged on it. Each veggie exudes a personality, a flavor all its own, and my job is to discover, or uncover, the best it has to offer. This takes time. The past few weeks, extra time is something I have had very little of due to a particularly busy schedule. I have missed my kitchen sessions where chopping, steaming, roasting and enjoying  new tastes has energized my body and soul. My Fresh Fork Market bag this week gives me a glimmer of hope as I foresee some free hours to be creative once again.

Before this last stretch of busyness,  on an unusually cool August day, I had time to prepare a recipe I have kept for years but never tried. The recipe is not a main course or side dish; rather, it is a pantry staple. This Rich Vegetable Stock is a full-bodied broth made without salt or other additives-just pure veggies. Stored in the freezer, this stock becomes an ideal base for homemade soups or cooked grains. You can even use it to steam vegetables for added flavor. Most of these ingredients came from my FFM bag. In fact, I plan to make more this week as I brought home a majority of these items in my bag again this week, with some to spare. I found the recipe in a book I read on vacation several years back, but unfortunately did not write the book title down. If anyone knows the source of this recipe, please let me know.  Here it is for you to try:

???????????????????????????????Rich Vegetable Stock

  • 1 medium leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 3 cups (4-5 leaves) torn romaine lettuce  **I used kale instead
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3/4 cup stemmed green beans, halved
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 1/2 cup quartered mushrooms **I did not add these per my family’s tastes
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 15 stems parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups canned whole tomatoes, with 1 cup of the liquid
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme **I used dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. whole peppercorns

In a large stock pot, place leek, onion, lettuce, cabbage, carrot, zucchini, green beans, celery, mushrooms if desired, celery leaves, and parsley. Add 12 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Then add tomatoes and juice, bay leaves, thyme (basil) and peppercorns. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let stock cool with vegetables and seasonings. Strain and refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for later.

Confession: I did not read the directions correctly and added all the ingredients at once, then simmered them for an hour. The stock came out fine.  Also, instead of straining the cooled broth, I ran the broth through my Roma food mill– which I absolutely love! -in order to get as much nutrition out of the cooked veggies as possible.

???????????????????????????????

(Side note:  If you are looking for a Roma food mill and live in Ohio, you need to check out Lehman’s Hardware, in Ohio’s Amish Country. They sell this food mill at a very reasonable price and keep all the parts in stock if you need to replace anything.)

After putting it through the food mill, very little waste remained – in fact, all the leftover veggie scraps fit in a 4- cup glass container.

???????????????????????????????

The gorgeous golden stock nearly filled four 1-quart containers.  With very little work and minimal waste, I have a healthy vegetable stock ready for soup season to begin!  This recipe offers some flexibility in veggies and seasonings.  If you make it, leave me a comment and let me know what you tried.  I would love to hear from you!

???????????????????????????????