Blogs » The World is My Napkin » Make stock with your wilting vegetables

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If you're anything like me, you've got a fridge full of food, but never have enough time to eat it all before it goes bad. After a day at work, you might come home, peek into the fridge and see nothing but raw veggies that need to transformed into a meal. That's when the Taco Bell around the corner sounds perfect for dinner and the pile of plates in the sink are giving you more reason to hop in the car and spend a few bucks for a cheap appetite suppressant.

The next day, you might be run through the contents of your crisper drawer and the cold shelves of your fridge when you realize you need to eat that celery now because it's no longer as crisp as it was the day you bought it. Or maybe you've got those last two carrots from the bag begging to be eaten, but you're not in the mood for rabbit food.

But I want to offer you another idea. Instead of adding to you compost pile, or wasting a couple a bucks on old produce, turn it into something you can use later on. Make some homemade stock.

This way, you can get what you paid for and you can use it at a later date, since, like I said before, you probably don't have a lot of time to prepare a meal all the time. The stock can stay in your fridge for a few days while you catch up at work. Then, when you're ready, use it to make that soup, cook some rice or braise a chicken.

It's pretty simple. You take the odds and ends in your fridge, a few ribs of soggy celery, those last two carrots you left in the bag, half an onion you didn't use and some clove of garlic that you keep on hand for everything. It can be a hodgepodge of goods cooked together to extract all the flavors you bought them for and put them into a liquid form.

I made some last night with some celery, ribs and leaves included, onion, carrots, garlic and broccoli stems. Throw some butter in the bottom of your pot and cook them over a medium-high heat until they become aromatic. The whole house smelled wonderful, like I was cooking stuffing for Thanksgiving in the middle of summer. Once the veggies brown just a little, or become slightly tender, add a few cups of water. There should enough water to for the veggies to float just off the bottom of the pot. At this point, I'll add a generous amount of salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, a few bay leaves and some ground coriander for flavor.

Let it cook a while longer and taste it as you go. My stock had a subtle taste, but a strong aroma of celery and onion. Most of the veggies in the mix were celery tops and onions, so it gave off a lot of scent. Adjust the flavor as needed. Add more water if you need to dull an overwhelming flavor, or add more seasoning.

And get adventurous. Add red chile flakes, or some jalapenos. Better yet, if you want a heartier stock, make a chicken or beef stock. I like to buy my chicken from the grocery store whole, then break them down into smaller pieces and portion them as needed. It's less expensive and I can use the bones to make stock. Any chicken I can pick off the bones, I use in chicken salad or in a quesadilla. I add the same mixture of veggies and most of the same seasonings as the veggie stock.

A batch of chicken stock I made with chicken bones, celery, carrots, and onions.

When it's all done, I strain it all into Tupperware or Mason Jars for storage. Then when you need it, it's ready to use. Stock is a perfect replacement for water in nearly any recipe. You can use the stock instead of water when cooking rice, soups or to steam veggies.

Let me know how your stock turns out, or share your take on it. Email me at jrodrigo@vicad.com or tweet me @eatseatseats.