This week while leafing through old magazines, I found a tip I can’t believe I’ve never tried. It’s so obvious and simple. Chop onions, peppers, celery, or carrots and freeze on a cookie sheet, then pop the frozen veggies into plastic bags. When an ingredient is needed for a recipe, break off a chunk.
Well, of course. Celery regularly wilts in my fridge. Why haven’t I done this before? I freeze peppers when I harvest too many, why not the extras from the grocery store? I’ve taken this to heart and plan to fill my freezer.
Reading that tip reminded me of a trick I began when my children were young. In a large plastic freezer container I freeze vegetable scraps I don’t plan to use, celery leaves, asparagus and mushroom stalks, along with cooked veggies we didn’t eat or the water I cooked them in. Once my container is full I plop the contents into my Dutch oven, add water to the top and simmer. When everything is nicely stewed, I strain and freeze the broth in small containers or ice cube trays. Finally I pop the frozen broth into plastic bags and use it in soup or other recipes. Vegetable broth is expensive at the grocery store, and no matter what vegetables I use, this free version tastes better.
Oh, and I compost whatever’s left of those veggies at the end. Can we say earth friendly?
Along the same lines? If I buy a rotisserie chicken, I use the bones to make broth, strain and freeze it. It’s surprisingly good since the chicken is usually seasoned and the flavor clings to the bones.
Need more hints? I found this wonderful page of tips on the Internet at Nigella.com. With just a quick glance I learned a better way to handle a fresh bag of lemons or limes, and a great counterintuitive tip on removing the smell of garlic or onions from my hands after slicing. I bet you’ll find something to help you in the kitchen, too.
We started CHU with such enthusiasm, and many of you dug out the sadly orphaned cookbooks on your shelves to try a new recipe. I’ve succeeded in using four previously untried cookbooks, with more to go. But as we’ve continued, submissions have been fewer. This means, of course, that November will be a GREAT month to enter the giveaway, because you have an even better chance of winning the Piggy Wiggy Little Whisk and an autographed novel.
Remember, too, that even if you don’t win in November, every time you enter you’re in the running for the prize at the end of the year. Thanksgiving’s on the way. Why not pull out an old cookbook and try something different for the family feast, or something better to do with your leftovers? Just tell us about the cookbook, the recipe and your thoughts about both.
This week I asked my Facebook fans and Twitter followers to tell me their kitchen tips, and I’m already trying one of them. So next week, their contributions. In the meantime, please feel free to tell us your tips by commenting here.
And don’t forget. Exhume that cookbook and START YOUR OVENS.