stock

The trick to my chicken and beef stocks is not how they are made, but how they are stored. I put the stocks in wide mouth in Nalgene® high-density polyethylene bottles and store them in the freezer.

Advantage? You can pull a bottle of stock out of the freezer, microwave on high for several minutes, and pour your homemade stock into a dish you are making within a few minutes. If you don’t use the whole bottle, put it back in the freezer for next time. That way, you know your stock. Much more than you know the stock out of a box from the market. You can make it preservative free, organic, salt-free, or seasoned as you like.

And it is less expensive. I made 8 liters chicken stock (8.5 quarts, 136 ounces), an amount equal to 4 1/4 boxes of purchased stock (packaged in 32 ounce packages), for $8.50 (an organic chicken). If you purchase quality, organic stock, that is about $15.

Another advantage is that you are storing the stock in a freezable container. Thus, you simply put it back in the freezer. When I use purchased stock from a box, I often store it in the refrigerator, thinking I will use the rest soon. But often I do not, and have to throw it out in a few days or weeks.

Plus it is a stock, not a broth. Stocks are made using the bones.

My stock is much more concentrated than the water-y stock I find in the store-bought boxes.

I took a large, whole organic chicken and put it in my big 12 quart pot. I added water to cover (and more, nearly to the top of the pot), some celery and carrots (not even necessarily chopped), some salt and maybe some oregano, and simmered several hours. I stop the simmering about the time the chicken is falling off the bone.

Then I strain it through a wire strainer. It might take several batches to strain all of the stock. When the entire pot has been put through the strainer, I “rinse” the bones, meat and skin with some water.

Next, I portion the stock into large, covered containers, like big rubbermaid containers with a good lid. I refrigerate it overnight. The next day, I take it out of the refrigerator and skim off the hardened fat.

The remaining stock is a bit viscous, so I let it warm up for an hour or two. Then, I funnel it into the Nalgene bottles.

I also make my own beef stock and store it in my Nalgene bottles. It is more expensive to make, and I typically use a pressure cooker and the following recipe:

Ingredients: 3 pounds beef shanks and oxtails, a mixture
Toss them in oil and then brown them in the pressure cooker (large one) on both sides. Add several carrots (not peeled) and a bunch of celery, peppercorns and 1/4 t salt. Fill pressure cooker to 2/3 volume with water, and pressure cook 50 minutes (start timing when the first hiss becomes apparent). Let cool before opening. Strain through a colander, then line a colander with cheesecloth and strain again.

This makes less stock than the chicken stock recipe, since my electric pressure cooker only holds 6 quarts. I treat my beef stock like liquid gold – it is dark brown and wonderful. So, so much better than common beef broth from the stores. Sometimes, if I have leftover beef bones from a rib roast or the like, I make my beef stock in a matter more like my chicken stock. But the small batch pressure cooker beef stock is the best.

Once I made fish stock. I got some fish bones from Whole Foods and followed a recipe from somewhere on the web. But it was stinky, and I don’t use it often, so I never made it again. I’ve made vegetable stock, I think, but I don’t use it very often and would have to find a recipe.

I do not keep any type of bouillon cubes or granules in my pantry any more. I spoil myself with my own chicken and beef stocks! The trick is storing them in microwave-able bottles in the freezer.

250 Cookbooks: Vive La Machine

Cookbook #114: Vive La Machine, Moulinex Products, Inc., editor Sue Spitler, published by Marketing Communications International, USA, 1977.

Vive La Machine CB“A superb collection of international recipes and menu suggestions prepared especially for the new breed of electric kitchen appliances.”

And what is the “new breed” of kitchen appliances? Food processors: counter-top machines that shred, slice, chop, and puree foods. They became available for home cooks in the US sometime in the 1970s. I got my first one in the 80s. It was a “La Machine”. Hence I own this cookbook!

But alas, that old La Machine bit the dust. It did a pretty good job of shredding: I used it a lot to grate cheese, zucchini and carrots. The slicer worked okay but it was often easier to slice small amounts of vegetables with just a knife. You had to hold a bowl under the spitter-shute because the shredded/sliced foods came flying out. I liked the nice small bowl with a spinning blade for dicing vegetables and grinding meats. A drawback of the  La Machine was that it was hard to clean, since the dirty parts were not immersible.

But the big issue with my La Machine was the funky connection of the top to the bottom.  I had to buy new parts at least once. I eventually replaced it with a Cuisinart brand food processor.

I kind of like this Vive La Machine cookbook. The recipes rely on freshly grated and chopped foods, thus recipes are from-scratch and up my alley.

For this blog, I choose to make “Fudge Brownies”.

Fudge Brownies RecipeI am going to re-name these “Chocolate Zucchini Brownies”. They are chocolaty, but not really fudgy.

My version is below: I halved the recipe and made a couple small changes.

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
makes an 8×8-inch pan of brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/8 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, lightly packed (about 1 medium zucchini, whatever that is)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a mixer, blend well the butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Add the milk and mix in. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until smooth. Add the zucchini and nuts.

Pour into a greased (I used non-stick spray) 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350˚ for 35-45 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick.

Chocolate Zucchini BrowniesThis recipe is a keeper! Yes I already have about a dozen great brownie recipes, but this one needs to be put in my repertoire. These are kind of light and fluffy and are especially moist. If no one told you zucchini was in them, I doubt you would guess. And the cinnamon – the cinnamon! It adds a . . . je ne sais quoi touch . . . never leave out the cinnamon.

These brownies fell just a little bit in the center of the pan. Since we live at 5400 feet, next time I will apply my high-altitude baking suggestions to see if it helps. Doesn’t matter a lot, these taste yummy!