Friday, September 2, 2011

Stock up for winter!

I know, I know, we've barely turned the calendar page on August and I'm posting about winter. Makes me cringe a little at the thought, but you have to start loading your freezer now if you want to enjoy local summer goodness all year round.

I picked up 5 of those 3L Ontario peach containers, they were $2 each! Family and friends came over and they all asked what I would possibly be doing with all the peaches! Well, as it turns out, Mac & Flip are peach-eating munchkins. They must have eaten an entire basket between the two of them. For the rest, I tried making fruit leather. They were tasty but I definitely need to tweak that recipe a bit. The rest, I poached, peeled, pitted and froze. I don't think I've ever had so many peaches in the freezer before. Can't wait to come up with something peachy on a snowy day!

Tonight for dinner we had chicken. We love chicken here and we eat a lot of it. I buy whole chickens when I can, they're very affordable and you get so much out of them. I love to rotisserie them on the BBQ, chop them in half and grill them butterflied or even break it into pieces. I'm starting to get the hang of that but I'm no master carver just yet. I tried poultry shears and giant kitchen knives but what works best is a very sharp poultry knife. If you're going to be breaking up chicken into pieces, invest in one of those.

You know what's also great about whole chickens? The carcass. I love making my own chicken stock and it's so easy! Here's my recipe:

Chicken carcass and other chicken bones (local)
One large handful of carrots, chopped in chunks (you don't have to peel them but I take off the tops)(local)
Celery stalks 2 or 3, chopped in chunks (local) *tip: don't be shy with the celery. I've tried making stocks without it, it's so much better with it!
Two yellow onions, chopped in chunks (cut off the tops but leave on the outer peel) (local)
Salt, peppercorns (5 or 6) and bay leaves (2 or 3)

Place chicken carcass and bones in a large stock pot with carrots, celery and onions. Fill with cold water. Season with salt, add peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring pot to a boil, cover and simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the lid and let it reduce a bit. Let cool, strain and store in the freezer. I use plastic containers for the freezer. I have managed to crack my 1L Mason jars more times than I can count. I've tried refrigerating them first, freezing with cap off, tightening the cap after stock is frozen, they almost all cracked! So disappointed. If you have a tip please let me know.

This recipe will make anywhere from 24-30 cups of stock, depending on the size of your pot.

You can also make your stock in a crockpot overnight. It will make less but it's so convenient. A little word of caution though, the smell of warm chicken stock might wake you at 3 am :)

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