Monday, October 3, 2011

A visit to my kitchen

It's now October, and suddenly our cooking habits turn from quick and light to comfort food it seems. With all of the apples, squash  and other produce, how can you resist ? Summer meals seem to be the stuff that you can grab and go or grill, but come the fall we all seem to crave meals that say slow down, linger and rest. The earth shows a brilliant display of colors before settling in for a long winter's nap, and our very instincts mirror that sentiment.  Here in my kitchen, it is time to start building up some serious resources so that our meals can be nourishing and frugal. An empty freezer is a terrible thing !

Let me show you one of the things I am proud of- my created pantry. This kitchen is small, high cabinets that are not very user friendly for my short legs, so I converted a coat closet right off the kitchen into a pantry space for herbs, flours, baking supplies and so forth

This is the view as you open the metal doors. Two bookcases and a rolling butcher's cart have been pressed into service here. The bottom rack of the butcher cart holds Tupperware containers of bulk flours, oatmeal, rice and so forth.On top is a book rack that holds my cooking herbs, and on the closet shelf I store those over sized cooking pans and bowls that are used but not every day. In the drawer rests parts for my stand mixer, frosting tips, food processor blades and so forth.

Close up of the herbs, bulk nuts , dried fruits and leftover junk food from the move - needed to have something available for quick energy during the move and for the very crazy packing and unpacking days. At times, junk food does have a purpose !

Second bookshelf  holding baking supplies, stock of teas, steam mop and so forth. Odd sized knives and the sharpener are also stored in here.

And here is the actual buisness work area of the kitchen. A caddy with cooking utensils, block of knives, can opener, timer, broom that I need to find a better home for and my trusty stock pot/pasta pot. Today it is being used to convert these guys into Liquid Gold

Chicken feet !!! Yes, actual feet of actual chickens. While they look disturbing and sound gross, they create some of the finest gelatinous stock. I am tossing these guys into the stock pot , along with a collection of chicken bones that I have been saving in the freezer for the last month. This will render about 30 cups of nutrient rich chicken bone broth. Once it has cooked on a low heat for about 12 hrs, I strain out th bones and veggies , and it is better than any commercially prepared chicken stock.

On the other counter, which is home to the rice cooker, crock pot, Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor, est 3 pie pumpkins that will be roasted in the oven, pureed and then frozen for soup, pies, pumpkin oats and a lot more. I am expecting to get 20 cups of puree from these guys. Mister crock pot is not getting a vacation today- he is going to work on these :

Ox tails ! These make a wonderful soup. In my childhood, oxtails were one of those dirt cheap foods that we would all relish. They are beef, but have an incredibly rich beef flavor. Sometime in the mid 80's their price went from pennies to several dollars per pound, and we stopped eating them, except for the rare occasion when they went on sale. I am making a big batch of oxtail soup today ( for dinner and the freezer) , and then tomorrow I am using the actual bones to make beef bone broth. Did you know that you can re-use bones for a couple of batches of stock ? I was not aware of this. Chicken bones can be used 3 times before they lose their flavor but beef bones ( tougher) can be used over and over and over. Considering the price of these , I intend to get as much bang out of them as possible. Between the stocks, soup, pumpkin, pulled pork that I made the other day and vat of spaghetti sauce I made last night and forgot to snap a picture of, I think I am getting a good start to this stocking up project.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen ! It's small but very functional. What is going on in your kitchen today ?


downsizers said...

You might like to try my recipe for home made vanilla extract. Get a fifth of vodka. I add two vanilla beans that I have snapped open along their length in a few places. Place this in a dark place for a month or so and you will have a fifth of vanilla extract. When it is about half gone I top it off with vodka and add another bean. It just keeps getting better. Enjoy.

Di said...

Lovely stuff- I have made it in the past, but my source of vanilla beans has been hard to get to for a while. The stuff you make on your own has such a better flavor ! I plan on making another trip there soon, and homemade vanilla extract will happen again.

magi said...

Great explanation, thanks for the posting!
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