Easy Vegetable Stock

Making your own vegetable stock is easy to do, and will give your soups amazing flavour.  I usually make some when I’m making a soup, and try to make extra so I can put it in the freezer for another time.  I don’t salt my soup stock – I wait until I put it into a recipe, and adjust the salt in a way that suits that particular recipe.

What you need:

1 onion

1 celery stalk

1 carrot

a small chunk of ginger

a few garlic cloves

1 star anise

1 bay leaf

pepper corns

What you do:

1.  Put all the ingredients in a large pot, cover with cold water, then bring to a boil.

2.  Lower heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

3.  Strain and use right away, or freeze for later.

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Lots of people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes on these cooler fall days.  Here’s a homemade version to warm you up.  Just whip up a batch of the syrup, then add it to your coffee with some hot frothy milk.  I know it’s supposed to be a shot of espresso, but I don’t have an espresso machine at home, and I drink decaf anyways… but this is still really yummy, and it’s waaay less than five bucks a pop!

Oh, and there’s actually no pumpkin in it.  Just the spices!

What you need:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 -1& 1/4 cups water

1 cup sugar

a piece of cheesecloth for straining

What you do:

1.  Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add the spices and boil on low for about five minutes.

2.  Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the liquid through it.

3.  Pour the liquid back into the pot and add the sugar, heating until the sugar has melted.  Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat.

4.  Once the syrup has cooled you can pour it into a jar.  Use a teaspoon or two per cup of coffee, depending on how sweet you like it.

I just make some really strong coffee, heat some soy milk, add it to the coffee along with some syrup.  I froth the last bit of the soy milk, then add a dusting of nutmeg to the top.

Oma’s Chicken Soup

There’s a tickle in the back of my throat and I’m doing my best to fight it off, so it’s time to turn to my Oma’s chicken soup for some healing.  At 98 years of age, she’s not making soup anymore, so I’ve gleaned her wisdom, and I’m doing my best to use the basic elements of her recipe.  Oma’s recipes are stored in her memory, not written down, so a recipe from her sounds like “a little of this, a bunch of that.”  Here’s how I make it, based on what my Oma has told me about how she makes her chicken soup:

Put the following into a stock pot:

chicken backs and necks and feet (yes, feet!)

carrot (I used one)

celery (I used one stalk)

onion ( I used one, skin removed)

garlic (I used two cloves, but only because I was running out)

ginger (this is a key ingredient for fighting illness – I used about 1/4 cup or more sliced)

bay leaves (I used two.  I keep them in the freezer because I think they taste better when I  buy them fresh & then freeze them)

star anise (I used two)

peppercorns (I used about 2 teaspoons)

this time I added some parsley stems because I had them on hand, but it’s an experiment

sometimes I add an apple or sun-dried tomatoes, depending on what kind of flavour I want to impart, and what I have on hand

enough water to cover it all up

I never add salt to the broth – I wait until I use it in a soup recipe

When it’s all in the pot:

Now bring to almost a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for hours – 4-5 if you’ve got the time.

To cool it I place the pot in a sink filled with cold water.

When it has cooled a bit I pour the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, and store the liquid in canning jars.  Refrigerate it until the stock is cold, then skim off the fat.  (My relatives would have saved this to make soap.  I just throw it away.)

I store some of the broth in canning jars in the freezer, making sure to leave some space for it to expand as it freezes – if you don’t do this you end up with broken jars and wasted broth.

When refrigerated, the best chicken soup broth will become gelatinous – all the chicken stock makers in my family, Oma, Tante Katje, and Mom, say that it’s really good for you.  No reasons why, it’s just “good for you.”

Oma served this with her homemade noodles – something I’ll try after the soup has healed me!