Homemade Vegetable Stock from Scraps

You’ll never want to toss out veggie scraps again after finding out how easy and frugal it is to make your own vegetable stock! No more buying stock from the grocery store, which is basically just flavored water with additives anyhow.

If you are squeamish about handling raw meat and bones and therefore not ready to make your own chicken or beef stock, then this recipe is for you. Besides eliminating the ick factor when making stock, another nice thing about homemade vegetable stock is that it requires much less simmering so you can make it the same day that you need it for a recipe.

Probably the best thing about making your own veggie stock is that it’s essentially free as you are using veggie scraps that normally would have ended up in the trash can. Think of all those nutrients that have previously just gone to waste. Not any longer!

As you cook throughout the month, just toss veggie scraps into a gallon freezer bag and store it in your freezer until the bag fills up. You’ll be surprised at how fast you accumulate enough scraps to make your first batch. Make sure the veggie scraps are clean though! No one likes gritty dirt stock! Toss in ends, peelings and anything that is wilting. Just make sure to avoid using scraps that are moldy or going bad.

Collect & Freeze:
Carrots peelings and ends
Onion skins and ends (onion skins will give the broth a darker color)
Celery ends
Garlic scraps
Potato peelings
Tomato scraps
Herb stems
Mushroom ends
Squash & Zuchinni scraps
Leek ends
Lettuce ends

Not all  scraps make a good tasting stock so be sure to be selective.

Avoid:
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
Beets
Asparagus
Anything that has started to rot or mold


I was prepping the above veggies for a meal and made sure to save and freeze the peelings and scraps.


Vegetable stock is a great way to use up that leftover bit of garlic that gets left in a garlic press. Just peel it out and toss it in your freezer bag.

Homemade Vegetable Stock from Scraps

Ingredients

  • Frozen Vegetable Scraps
  • Filtered Water

Instructions

  1. Place scraps in a stockpot and pour enough filtered water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Line a large bowl with a strainer and pour stock through it to strain out vegetable pieces.
  4. Let stock cool and pour into glass jars.
  5. Refrigerate and use within 3 days or store in freezer for long term storage.
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/04/homemade-vegetable-stock-from-scraps/

I was able to make 2 quarts of vegetable stock from the bag of frozen veggie scraps.

Shared on Down Home Blog Hop, Real Food Wednesday and The Homestead Blog Hop.

The beginning of our first garden!

One of the things that John and I are really looking forward to once we buy a house is to have our own garden so that we will be able to grow some of our own food. We both grew up with our parents gardening so that is something we would like to do as well.

Unfortunately, we live in a condo so we have zero yard to work with at the moment. We considered a balcony garden but that’s a no-go as ours gets very minimal sunlight. I thought I’d just have to settle for a few potted herbs on the windowsill until we become homeowners, but then we thought, why not ask if our parents will allow us to use their yard for our own garden for the time being? John’s parents were happy to lend us some space as last year was the first time they didn’t garden at all and they missed it. John’s dad said he will be happy if we just give him one fresh picked tomato 🙂

Emily, my future sister-in-law (her wedding is in 1 month!!), let me borrow her Square Foot Gardening book by Mel Bartholomew. She said she used this method years ago and it was a success. I read the book and looked up some resources online to become more familiar with it. The method seems easy enough and if you do a Google image search for Square Foot Gardening, you’ll see lots of beautiful examples.

John put together our 2 garden beds last Sunday. It was a very cold day, but he got it done. Our first stop was to Lowes to buy wood and nails. We wanted 2 beds so we purchased 8 pieces of 8 foot long wood boards. Lowes cut them in half for us so that we have the perfect measurements for two 4’x4′ gardens.


This patch of grass right off the driveway is the most suitable plot as the rest of the backyard is a bit hilly. We still need to remove that black rubber border and  the flowers behind it. John will take care of that this weekend while I’m at my bridal shower.


Here is John putting together our 2 beds. It was really cold out that day, but we are glad that it’s finished now.

Here are our beds! They will be pushed back more once John removes that black rubber border. Next we need to purchase soil and get that going.


We still need to sit down and discuss what we plan on planting but John’s mom already bought 3 plants. It’s a bit hard to tell in the above photo, but it’s a tomato plant, a jalapeno plant and a banana pepper plant (Can’t wait to have homemade pickled banana peppers!).

Disney’s Tuna Sensation

Have you ever been to Disney World’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival? If not, then you should strongly consider going if you ever get the chance! It’s a food lover’s heaven! John and I have been lucky enough to experience it twice and we hope to re-live it again and again in the years to come.

It’s a festival held yearly at Epcot and you basically walk around drinking and eating cuisines from all over the world. Each country has a booth where it offers 2-3 small authentic dishes and some beer and wine pairings. The food and alcohol prices range from a couple dollars to $7.50.

I get all into it and read The Disney Food Blog about a month before the trip begins. I make notes of all the booths and write out a list of all the dishes I want to try. This helps me make sure that I don’t miss out on anything! I am such a dork but whatever, it’s worth the extra work!

Our first time going was in 2010 and it was all made possible by John’s friend, Lisa. Lisa is one of the most kindhearted and caring people that I know. Prior to the trip, she had never met me before but yet welcomed me into her home and showed us an amazing time at Disney World. I felt like I had known her for years even though I had just met her! She invited us again 2 more times, but we were only able to go once more in 2012.

John and I at Disney World in 2010 and 2012.

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Coconut Garlic Rice

When we want rice as a side dish, this is our go-to recipe. It’s so delicious and savory. This dish is one of the main reasons why I like to make Coconut Milk in bulk. I always want to ensure that I have plenty on hand so that I can whip this up.

Using homemade coconut milk is ideal, but if you don’t have any then try to find the best quality canned version you can, preferably organic and with the least amount of additives.

Coconut Garlic Rice

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Jasmine Rice (dry)
  • 1.5 cups Coconut Milk (homemade is best, or use one 15oz store-bought can)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Water, filtered

Instructions

  1. Rinse the starch off the rice by placing it in a pot and adding enough water to cover it by a couple inches. Take your hand and swish the rice around. Pour off the cloudy water, being careful not to lose the rice. Repeat 2-3 more times.
  2. Add rest of ingredients to pot with rice and stir.
  3. Place a lid on pot and bring to a full boil over high heat. Once the rice reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Let rice simmer for 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow it to rest for 15 minutes without removing lid.
  4. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.
http://www.acasablog.com/2014/03/coconut-garlic-rice/


We had the Coconut Garlic Rice with Moroccan Chicken and a salad.

Too much going on!

I knew once the new year hit that the wedding would be fast approaching! I’ve long taken care of a lot the big details but there’s still so many little things that need to be done. On top of that I’ve been spending so much time and energy fighting with the bridal boutique over my dress and veil. John and I ended up spending Valentine’s Day going in there to tell them how I really feel. After a number of phone calls to both the shop and my dress designer, and 2 in person meetings, I feel like we are making some progress. The short version of the story is that I ordered my wedding dress 13 months before my wedding and the owner is telling me that it will arrive 6 weeks beforehand in late April! That doesn’t work for me at all! There’s more to it, but I don’t want to get into it.

My time has also been taken up by a photography class that I’m attending with my mom. We’ve wanted to do this for a while and I’m so happy that we signed up, but what was I thinking to do it in the middle of wedding planning? Luckily, we are learning a lot and really enjoying it so it’s ok 🙂 Here are some recent photos I took while the weather was nice here:

I wish I had more time to blog but between wedding planning, fighting for my dress, helping host a couples shower for my brother and his fiance, Emily (he is getting married 1 month before me!), working, taking the photography class and still cooking at home from scratch, it’s been hard to find any extra free time. Emily and I were recently joking about what we are going to do with all our free time once our weddings are over.

Homemade Coconut Milk


Who knew you could make your own coconut milk at home? It only requires 2 ingredients and the instructions are so simple.  Now you have no more excuses to buy the canned version!

I’ve chosen to make an effort to cut down on as much commercial canned food as possible so having the option of homemade coconut milk is great. One of main concerns of canned foods is BPA (bisphenol A.)  in the lining.

What’s the big deal about BPA?

“BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.” – Mayoclinic.org

The above explanation is very simple, but there is more to it than just that. I do encourage you to do a search on BPA to learn more about it’s harmful effects.

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Homemade Chicken Stock


As you can tell from the above photo, chicken feet made an appearance in this particular batch of chicken stock! They are definitely an optional ingredient, but if you do have them available to you, then please don’t skip out on them! Tossing chicken feet into stock is a great way to ensure that it will gel! Your great-grandma knew this and had no issue using all parts of the bird, so you shouldn’t neither!

Making homemade chicken stock is just as easy as beef stock. The basics of the how-to are essentially the same with just a few minor differences. As with homemade beef stock, homemade chicken stock is also going to be much healthier than the organic canned or boxed options at the grocery store.

Despite the convenience of cooking with already cut up chicken, it’s best to buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself. Not only will you save money by doing the labor yourself but you will also have the back bone of the chicken for a future batch of chicken stock (as seen in the video below).

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Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass is an ancient lacto-fermented drink of Russian origin and is prized as a blood and liver tonic. In my opinion, it’s a great first fermentation project for newbies because the process is so simple. All you need is beets, whey, salt and filtered water.

One warning though is that Beet Kvass is an acquired taste! The slightly effervescent, crimson liquid has a very earthy taste, in fact, it pretty much tastes like dirt! But good tasting, mineral-rich dirt. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll know what I mean when you try it (if I haven’t scared you off yet!)

I find it very refreshing. My body craves fermented drinks like kombucha, beet kvass, and ginger ale now (my future sister-in-law has a great recipe here), which is weird because before getting into Real Foods, I only had a taste for water. Sodas and juices never interested me so it was strange to actually have beverages in my fridge. Fermented drinks, like Beet Kvass, give me a natural boost of energy and I assume my body is getting much needed nutrients from these drinks because of how strong the cravings can be.

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DIY All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

It’s really easy and fun to make your own eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner. It’s also a great way to use up leftover citrus peels that normally would have ended up in the trashcan.

Save and freeze citrus peels in a gallon freezer bag. You can use all sorts of citrus like lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, and clementines. Once the freezer bag is mostly full you are ready to make your cleaner.


When saving peels, make sure to remove the inner flesh and pulp. You want just the peel and pith as the second lemon slice in the above photo shows.

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How to Soak Nuts, Seeds, Grains and Beans

Did you know that nuts, seeds, grains, and beans have natural protective mechanisms built in so that they can survive until good growing conditions arrive? Once they come into contact with rain these protections are broken down and washed away so that the seeds can germinate. This also releases more enzymes and nutrients to support their growth. That means that not only do we digest soaked nuts, seeds, grains and beans better, but we also intake more nutrients from them!

The most commonly known protector is phytic acid (aka phytate), which as previously mentioned helps prevent the seed from prematurely sprouting. This is wonderful for the plant, however it’s not so great for us humans because we  lack phytase. Phytase is an enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid is known as an anti-nutrient because it binds to minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc. Once bound, these minerals are less likely to be absorbed by our intestines thus contributing to mineral deficiencies. Phytic acid also inhibits enzymes we need to digest protein, starch, and sugar.

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