Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pantry Clean-out

I went to my pantry and found one box of organic granola, with a couple of "unpronounceable", but natural ingredients. I found organic vanilla wafers, ditto on the ingredient list. And trail mix bars, ditto again on the ingredient list. Everything else is just food. Dried fruit, pasta, canned tomatoes, rice, oatmeal, etc. I have some condiments like Tabasco sauce and salsas. They're food, too.

My fridge is even better. I didn't find anything that wasn't food in there. I don't keep a stock of frozen dinners. I can make omelettes in less time than cooking a frozen dinner and we'd rather have that.

If I want to be strict about this, I will need to make granola and make my own granola bars. I have the ingredients and plan to make it tonight after dinner. I like a bit of it on top of yogurt and fruit. I use a teaspoon of jam instead of sugar to sweeten the yogurt and it's a really good snack. The brand of jam has to say "fruit spread" because there aren't any fake ingredients in it. Go figure!

I should make my own cookies, if I'm going to eat them. Normally I do that, but these were purchased for one of the recipes I got to test, but had my schedule change and didn't have time to make the recipe.

I guess I'm doing pretty well on the eat food front. I think I have recipes for a lot of the condiments and could make them myself, but I don't see the need, for the most part, because they pretty much are just food and the serving size is so small that I doubt it makes much difference. I like to make that stuff, but it's hard to find the time.

I found out that vegetable stock keeps almost indefinitely in the refrigerator if you boil it for 5 minutes every few days. You also can freeze it. I'm going to make a batch of roasted vegetable stock and a batch of mushroom stock. Some of the vegetable stock I'm giving to my mom so the friend who cooks a lot of her meals can use it. I don't add salt to the stock, so it's better for her salt-restricted diet. And it means that I won't have more in my house than I have space to store and use.

The thing about vegetable stock is that it's a good base for anything. If you need chicken, veal, or beef stock, you can put a little of the appropriate demi-glace in the vegetable stock to get the flavor you're looking for. Demi-glace is concentrated stock. It keeps in the fridge for a very long time. It seems expensive, but the cost per serving is actually pretty small because it's so super concentrated that you don't use very much at a time. It's a great way to boost the flavors of sauces and gravies, too. One thing to note is that you should add the demi-glace before you season the stock, sauce, or gravy. Then taste. Often there's enough salt in the demi-glace to season your dish without adding more.

You can make your own demi-glace. It's very time-consuming. You make a poultry, beef, or veal stock. Then simmer it for a day or two, until it's concentrated down. A woman I used to work with made some and I think 8 or 12 quarts of stock made something like 2-4 cups of demi-glace. And it took 2 or 3 days of simmering. I'm not super comfortable with simmering stock on my stove while I sleep, but I suspect you can simmer it all day, then cover it and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Repeat until you get the stock concentrated enough. But I doubt I'll be doing that any time soon. I need to make better use of my time, so I'm using the demi-glace I bought at Williams-Sonoma.