Doing things yourself takes the satisfaction of cooking to the next level – the more basic the starting point the more rewarding the finished product! This is the main reason I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer. It’s also easy on the budget, and allows full control over the ingredients that go into the foods you eat.
There are some great blogs that are full of exciting food-related projects. One of my favorites right now is Punk Domestics, though I may need to cut myself off before I fill our apartment with canning supplies!
Some of my experiments have been amazing, some less so. A few weeks ago I even made my own cheese! Some of these projects have worked themselves into my regular routine; I’ll share a few of those gems here.
Once you’re in the habit it’s almost too easy – every time you cut up vegetables, put the scraps into a bag in the freezer. Make sure they’re clean and don’t use anything you wouldn’t eat. For more detailed instructions, check out this Eating Rules guest post on Poor Girl Eats Well, another two of my favorite blogs.
When your freezer bag is full, peel a couple of cloves of garlic, quarter an onion and add to the scraps in a slow cooker with a bay leaf or two. Cover with water and turn the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. For non-veggie stock you can also add skins and/or bones from whatever animal you’ve recently partaken of. Once done, strain the stock (compost the remains!) and portion it into amounts you expect to use. You can even make handy stock cubes using ice cube trays!
Some people run the other direction when they think about fermentation in their own kitchen (microbes!? in my house!? NEVER!). I suggest you sit down with some yogurt or blue cheese and consider for a moment the glory of those tiny miracle workers.
I turned Doug onto sauerkraut with Bubbie‘s, which is magical stuff if you’re not up for making your own just yet. Once you’ve had real, live kraut you can never go back to that anemic, pasteurized stuff. I just can’t get enough of the good stuff.
I also have a ton of fun making it, which is ridiculously easy (as one friend said, the microbes do all the work!). The basics are simple: cut cabbage into strips according to your preference, salt it, weigh cabbage down, and wait. For detailed directions check out Wild Fermentation. For me, accidentally buying a giant “tofu press” that doubles as a pickle press was the perfect time to start experimenting. Yum!
Beans, beans, beans!
I know, the soaking and slow cooking can be such a pain. What I’ve started doing is cooking a big batch at once and freezing them into portions for later use. Once they’re cooked, I strain the beans and allow them to dry slightly before spreading them out over waxed paper on a cookie sheet (or a plate, our freezer just isn’t that big!). Pop them into the freezer for at least an hour before portioning out the beans into small freezer bags. I put about a can’s worth in each which facilitates measuring for recipes. With chickpeas for hummus or chana masala and white beans for a quick No-fredo sauce, our beaney needs are taken care of!
What are your favorite DIY tips and tricks around the kitchen?