Tag Archives: Thrift

Top Tips for making stock.

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Tasty looking stock

I know there are a million and one descriptions for making stock on the web and my basic recipe for meat stock will be the same as 10,000 others:

Bones of some sort

Carrots

Celery

Onion

Parsley (including the stalks)

Fresh thyme if I have it (including the stalks)

Few black peppercorns

Bay leaf

Water.

We make a lot of stock at Westwick but just recently we’ve been getting really really efficient at it.

1. Make stock in the slow cooker – it uses far less energy (most stock should be on the heat for 4 hours) and you can have it on overnight or whilst you are out in total safety. We haven’t been able to do this for ages because we are making such large quantities but if I ever have just one chicken then it goes in the slow cooker.

2. Make your stock in a jam Maslin – it is nowhere near as energy efficient as the slow cooker and you have to tend it, but for making a giant bucket of stock nothing is better (by which I mean bigger).

3. Leave the onion skins on – although I do wash and take off any really gritty or dirty bits of onion skin, if you leave the skins in the stockpot it give the stock a beautiful rich colour.

4. Just let it tremble – the best stocks we have made have been those where we have only heated the stock to trembling point.  The point where you can just see the occasional bubble break the surface and nothing more. If you do it at too high a temperature at this stage it can taste bitter [Thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for that one!]

5. Skim, Skim, Skim – it is dull and boring but the stock really is nicer if you take the scum off the surface.

6. Straining the stock – I used to use a sieve and I still do if I am pushed, but if I can find the muslin and it is clean then I’ll use that instead.  You get a much finer stock that way.

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Five litres of stock.

7. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce – once the stock has completed its 4 hour trembling process and been strained it goes back on the heat for a fast boil.  Getting it to reduce is the key to storing it and using it for us.  We used to have liters of stock taking up valuable freezer space – by getting 5 liters of liquid reduced to an ice cube tray is a revelation – then we add more water to rehydrate and dilute the cubes when we want to use them.

8. Make it in bulk – Stock isn’t difficult but it can need some looking after so we try and do a huge lot in one go.  The way I do this is by chucking my leftover roast (chicken or whatever) bones in a bag in the freezer, then when I have enough I set aside an afternoon to make the stock. [I totally know how lucky I am to have so much freezer space!]

9. No Salt – don’t add salt until the point of use in a recipe, this will give you much greater control over the final taste.

I don’t have a number ten right now… have I missed anything?

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Potting and pottering

It has been a long time since I did serious vegetable gardening since my last two planting seasons were taken up with a part time MBA and moving house respectively.  So this year I am feeling really excited about the possibilities of my vegetable garden.

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Having combination of heavy clay soil and (I believe) the wettest Winter on record I am trying to start as many things in pots as possible rather than sowing directly into the soil.  In its current state any seeds would rot before they had a chance to get going.

So far I have made over 100 pots using a similar technique to this: http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2013/03/newspaper-seed-starting-pots.html

These homemade pots are brilliant because they will bio-degrade over time which means I don’t have to pop the seeds out of the pots and disturb the roots.  Also it means I can make use of lots and lots of old papers lying around which would otherwise have just been recycled (this way they still get recycled but at home and in a way which benefits us more directly).

So far I’ve started off:

1 tray of Green Kale

1 tray of Cavelo Nero

1 tray of Kohlrabi

30 Dwarf Peas

30 French Purple Climbing Beans

19 Golden Sweet Mangetout (I’ll be doing more of these!)

Coriander and Parsley (for the Herb Garden not the Veg plot)

3 pots of chillis including Rainbow Fire chillis.

Lots and lots of tomatoes – 3 varieties: Costoluto Genovese, Dr Pink Carolyn and Gold Medal. So far all the Costoluto have germinated, only 1 Dr Pinks have made it (the seed was very very old) and the Gold Medal are still thinking about things.

But that is really just scratching the surface of my planting plans and I’m sure I’ll be making many many more in the next few weeks.

Next I’m looking forward to doing: Beetroot (Chiggoia and Perfect 3), Celeriac (Monarch) and Cucumber (Miniature White and Cornichon de Paris) but fear not – even this isn’t the end.  There is sweetcorn, potatoes, squashes, courgettes, florence fennel, chard, spinach, salad leaves, mooli and all manner of tasty things still to come.

Tete a bouche

Hello! Becky has pointed out I should introduce myself and make it clear I’m not her. I’m Josh, Becky’s glamorous assistant in green living. Errr. That’s that, for now.

Warning: The rest of this post includes (well, is, really) description and pictures of the creation of a pig’s head terrine (aka brawn). May not be appropriate for the squeamish among you!

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