Making ingredients is a funny thing. You put a lot of energy into preparing something, but you can’t eat it on its own. All that energy gets expended in the service of expending less energy in the future. (Or, sometimes, in order to have a version of some particular ingredient that you can actually eat, because dietary restrictions mean it’s not possible to buy it already prepared.)
The past few weeks I’ve prepped a lot of ingredients. Not because I’ve had extra energy (I almost never have extra energy) but because I’ve had a ton of produce that was just not getting eaten in time. And this is the other function of making ingredients, also known as “preserving,” because it gets your food into forms that don’t rot, or freeze easily, or will actually get eaten.
My stockpile has included:
* Scrap Stock, batch V, my first successful batch since May (I had a failed attempt in late June). Because I canceled several box deliveries this summer, and have been away a lot, my scrap stock production has really slowed down. Additionally, tomato and zucchini trimmings don’t work for scrap stock because they rot before I can collect a large enough batch of scraps, so the scrap box I keep in the fridge hasn’t been getting full as fast as it did in the winter and spring. But at last I produced 4 cups of lovely pink stock (due to the beet trimmings from the turnip pickles, see below). And just in the nick of time! I am now cooking with my stock faster than I am making it.
* Turnip pickles, which employed beets and vinegar solution to turn my four large bunches of uneaten turnips into yummy pink, Middle Eastern pickles. Now, of course, I have 5 jars of pickles. They’re refrigerator pickles, which means they’ll get too strong if I don’t eat them soon. What am I going to do with five jars of turnip pickles? Have a pickle party? If you live in SF, let me know if you want a jar of really tasty turnip pickles. The texture of these little guys is incredible! They go amazingly well with falafel, but are also a yummy snack all on their own.
* Mushroom gravy, following a vegan recipe from Veganomicon. I bought a big bag of mushrooms at the farmer’s market a while back, intending to make mushroom-walnut pate with them. (YUM!) But then our Cuisinart died, and I had to quickly figure out a new use for them before they turned to sludge in the fridge. Mushroom gravy is the kind of thing that always balks me. If I see a recipe, like the delicious Another Sheperd’s Pie from Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites, that has a whole separate gravy-making component on top of the actual making of the dish, I will always skip it. (In previous, more energetic times I did occasionally take on these all-day projects, which is why I know how good that recipe tastes!) But now with several cups of delicious vegan, gluten-free mushroom gravy tucked away in my freezer, I have a leg up on all those hearty but time-consuming vegetarian classics.
There’s plenty more stocking up in this pile (including our new downstairs freezer finally getting put to use with all kind of grains and seeds and GF flours, courtesy of Rainbow Grocery and their 20% off coupons from the Yellow Pages). It does give me a secure feeling to have a little backstock of ingredients, and it gives me a happy feeling to know that they came from my own hands!