Monday, November 10, 2014

Real food staples

Last post, we talked about why preparing your own food is important.  Today, I want to share with you some of the things that have become staples in our kitchen and improved our cooking (and eating :) 

1. Chicken Stock
We usually roast a chicken once a week, and then use the leftover bones to make chicken stock.  While the stock will have to cook for several hours, the amount of hands on time is about two minutes.
  • Throw chicken carcass into your stock pot.
  • Put one to two onions (don't bother peeling, just wash, halve and cut off the ends), carrots (washed, unpeeled) and celery stalks in.
  • Add a bay leaf and a few pepper corns.  And a dash of apple cider vinegar. 
  • Cover with water and simmer for three to four hours (or more if you like).
This is super, super easy and adds tons of flavor to homemade soups and sauces.  If you are a vegetarian, you can make homemade veggie stock.

2. Homemade Applesauce
I like to put applesauce in my oatmeal every morning during the cold months.  This stuff is so much better than the canned variety.
  • Slice/core your apples.  You don't need to peel them.  I usually use about nine apples at a time.
  • Throw them in a pot.
  • Sprinkle in some cinnamon, nutmeg and a couple of cloves.
  • Simmer until the apples are a little mushy, and then throw in a blender or food processor.

3. Whole Wheat Bread
See recipe here.   Whole wheat flour, honey, molasses, salt, water and yeast.  That's it.  Good for sandwiches and spreading jam on.  Once you taste homemade bread, you will never go back.  For those weeks where we are very short on time, we do get bread from the bakery, which is still a much better choice than the prepackaged, preservative-filled breads on the store shelves.

4. Yogurt
Homemade yogurt is very easy to make.  Heat up some milk, add a little bit of pre-made yogurt, let sit overnight.  See recipe here.  Not only is this great with fruit in the morning, it also can be good as a dip (add a little lemon and dill!) and a nice addition to salads.

5. Salad Dressing
Most likely, you have everything you need to make a nice salad dressing already in your pantry. I use the recipe here, except instead of white wine vinegar, I use balsamic.  I recently used this on a kale, beet and barley salad, which was AWESOME.

This week, I challenge you to pick one thing you usually buy prepackaged, and try your hand at making it yourself.  It doesn't have to be complicated (it could even be just soaking and cooking your own dried beans!).

Let me know what you are going to make this week in the comments!