Something From Nothing

This is my new favorite segment. I call it ‘something from nothing’ which means we take something that is normally viewed as nothing — throwaway food scraps, headed-for-the-trash objects, anything that normally gets thrown away, and I show you how to turn it into something.

Let’s start with my favorite throw away: potential stock. I normally get this from poaching cheap cuts of chicken. What can I say, I poach a lot of cheap chicken.  I use chicken in any number of frugal recipes. To poach, I toss cheap cuts of chicken in plain water and poach until cooked through. Takes anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours depending on how much chicken and the cut. After the meat is thoroughly cooked, I cut the heat and let the chicken cool. Once I remove the chicken, I turn the stock back on. I sometimes do all of this in the slow cooker but either stove or slow cooker, I boil down the would-be stock until it is reduced by at least half. Note that I’ve not added a single thing at this point, not even salt or pepper.

Once I have my stock, I cool it down before deciding how to use it. Today we are going to use it to make something from nothing. Frugal confession time: I keep broccoli stalks in my freezer. Sometimes I dice them up before I freeze them but I always keep a supply of broccoli stalks in my freezer. Chop or dice if not already done and let’s add them to the stock. I then scour my cheese bin for any chunk of mature cheese that I’ve forgotten. I confess I am a bit of a cheese hoarder and occasionally will ‘forget’ some selection I bought. It may have become dried out or require removing some mold when I find it. I do whatever cosmetic surgery necessary and grate it up finely (the food processor is an excellent tool for this) and then I put everything in the slow cooker. Pepper and salt as needed. Let it simmer for a few hours and then cool and puree until smooth. A dollop of sour cream, full fat yogurt or a splash of heavy cream often helps.

At this point, I might rummage through my produce bin in the fridge and add in what seems to have reached the end of its shelf life; an elderly carrot, onions that have seen better days, even a few stalks of sad, wilted celery that I’ve diced and in order to wake up the flavor. The point is to use up anything that you would be throwing away and wasting otherwise.

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This is the essence of something from nothing, taking items in your kitchen that you would otherwise discard and waste and turning them into something wonderful. The result this time is excellent soup for next to nothing.

Next SFN installment: Them Old Bones.





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