Friday, December 10, 2010

It Really Worked!

Anything that makes my life in the kitchen easier excites me beyond belief. Couple convenience with frugality and we have a real winner...and this post is about just that...

Before I go on, have you ever come across an idea that sounded good, the blogger claimed it works, only to discover she must have some secret knowledge that you don't after you tried it? Being skeptical and not wanting to waste my time and resources keep me from jumping right on in with every cool idea under the sun. But this one had my interest so I gave it a shot and it totally worked and is something I will be doing from now on. This idea I've peaked your interest about is making stock at home as found here:

Per Kelly's instructions I faithfully saved a baggie full of 'junk' and once that baggie was full I dedicated a day for this project. I pulled out the largest pot I own and filled it:

After letting it cook and  then cool, I strained it per Kelly's instructions:

And then finished cooking it down...which I did not take photos of the finished product. Oh, and did this process make the house smell heavenly! It should come with a disclaimer: "Warning! Doing this will make you hungry!" Yeah, it smells that good while cooking!

After sitting in the fridge over night I put the stock into freezer containers in 2 cup increments (it yielded 12 cups for me) and then used them in everything from brown rice to soups and casseroles. It was such a nice variation from adding plain water and so much tastier than store-bought stock or bouillon cubes. When using the stock I simply took it directly from the need to defrost it if you are putting the stock directly into a hot dish. If you've mixing it into a casserole to go into the oven you'll want to defrost it first then.

One of the dishes I used this homemade stock in was Chinese Spaghetti:
This simple dish was born out of the need to use a little this-and-that from the fridge one night at my house. Now, keep in mind I do not have actual measurements as this is done to my family's taste and honestly each time there's a little variation as what I have on hand varies. With that being said here's the generalities of the dish:

1 box whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
Left-over turkey or chicken -chopped or shredded
Veggies to suit your family's taste
Dry mustard, ground ginger, soy sauce, corn startch
1 can chunk pineapples in juice -optional-
2 cups homemade stock

While the spaghetti is cooking -break the spaghetti up as you put it into the pot of boiling water, stir-fry whatever fresh veggies you have on hand in an electric skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil (just enough to keep the veggies from sticking to the skillet). Some options are: onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, etc. Just use veggies to suit your family's taste. There are times when I have frozen, not fresh broccoli, so I'll throw that in. Other times I have used green beans. On occasion I'll even through in a spoon full of left over veggies directly from the fridge.
Once your veggies are tender-crisp (or well-done if that's what your family prefers) you will add the dry mustard, ground ginger, and soy sauce to your family's taste. Some people like a more robust flavor, some like just a hint. Stir well. Then add the stock and meat. Heat thoroughly.
In the meantime, drain the can of pineapples, reserving the liquid in a small bowl. Add the pineapples to the skillet. Mix well. Add cornstartch to the pineapple juice (usually heaping tablespoon is enough) and mix well then set aside for a few minutes.
By this time the spaghetti noodles should be done and drained. Before adding the noodles, add the reserved pineapple juice containing the cornstartch. Stir until the liquid in the skillet is slightly thickened. At this point add the cooked noodles and stir well, making sure the dish is heated through. Once it is, enjoy!

Now, if your family does not like pineapples (my husband does not so I omit them when he's here for supper), no worries...omit them and use some of the stock, or a little bit of water, to disolve the cornstartch in. Over-all, just play around with the ingredients until you find a winning combination for your family. There really is no right or wrong way to make this dish!

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