Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lock, Stock, & Barrel

I only really learned to cook about ten years ago.  Sure, I could cook a few things from memory and follow a recipe for whatever else, but I really didn't understand cooking.  I would have been hard-pressed to just throw together any sort of interesting meal from what I had on hand.  Plus, although I didn't mind cooking, there were plenty of other things I would rather have been doing: reading, talking on the phone, watching endless re-runs of Law and Order.

 Really, I'd still probably rather do something else, but these days, with a kid and everything, I don't really have the option of just doing any old thing and not making dinner.  That's probably when I began to really like cooking--when it became as aspect of parenting.  And more to the point, when it became a break from direct parenting.  I could still take care of him but he didn't have to be actually touching me for awhile.  The choice was watch the kid for for the tenth hour in a row or make dinner.  Dinner won every time.  And it time, it became a kind of break for me.  Sometimes, cooking a meal was the only creative thing I did all day.

Since then, I've been doing some real cooking.  Hard-core mama cooking.  I even make my own vegetable stock.  I never thought I'd do such a thing, but there it is.  I save vegetable trimmings in the freezer and then use them along with a stock recipe.  Well, I sort of follow the recipe.  It almost always turns out at least fine.  A word of advice, though: don't use carrot greens.  They made that batch bitter city.  It's still in my freezer, actually, if you'd like to stop by and get it.  Also, I tried to save the odds and ends in the fridge, but if you don't use them fast enough, they turn into a nasty green mess that'll break your heart.

Tonight I made a mild stock for soup I'll be making tomorrow.  I used vegetable trimmings plus two onions, two carrots, a half a bunch of celery, two green onions, half a zucchini, a bay leaf, a teaspoon of salt, and a handful of parsley.  I saute the onion a bit in a little olive oil, then add the veggies and water.  Usually in the neighborhood of 4 quarts.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes.  I like to drain it immediately so it doesn't get a blech-y.  I'm pretty sure that's the technical term.

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