Thursday, January 29, 2009

WINE WITH DINNER – The Missing Ingredient

So here we are right in the middle of the coldest part of the winter and what would be more natural than an article about some great wines to go with hefty winter soups and stews? ………But, when I got to thinking about it, I wondered how many of you know what goes into the making a really great soup or stew? Of course, the answer to that question is a great stock. Basic Soup Cooking Rule No. 1 - It is really hard to make a bad soup (or stew) out of a great soup stock.

So, I’m one step away from where I started. Hmmm, but how many of you know what the missing ingredient is in most stocks? It’s not anything that you cut up and drop into the pot. It’s not even the water that you use (although fresh well water is better than chlorinated water). In fact you don’t even start with water! You start with a base vegetable stock.

So, now I’m two steps away from where I started. Well, it’s too late now. Let’s talk about base vegetable stock and how easy it is to make. All you need is a little freezer space, a large plastic Ziploc bag and a little discipline. It’s really quite simple. Just don’t throw away your eggshells, vegetable trimming and peelings, onion skins, carrot and celery scrapings, etc. and tired veggies that you sometimes find in the bottom of the vegetable bin. They all go into the zip lock bag instead. The only veggies or veggie parts that don’t go into the bag are anything from the cabbage family. You’ll be surprised at how fast the bag will fill up.

When the bag is full, pour it into the top of a double boiler, cover well with water, add a little salt, a quarter cup of white vinegar and slowly bring it to a boil. Then let it simmer for an hour or so and turn off the heat. When the liquid cools down, remove the upper part of the double boiler and throw out the contents. Now pour what’s left in the bottom of the double boiler throw a fine strainer and into large freezer containers. Cool them in the refrigerator over night and the next morning put them (labeled) into your freezer.

Now you’ve got hearty vegetable stock ready to go whenever you want to make a hefty soup or stew. I never use water when I cook; I even make rice using base vegetable stock! But, alas, I’m out of space and still two steps away from where I started. Oh well, maybe next time I’ll get into making great soups and stews. Jay Roelof –

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