When you live in the countryside or spend any time gardening or on the water fishing or clamming, you often think about the earth as it is before you at all times. It is the proximity to nature that gives us the the opportunity to harvest and maintain its bounty and the result of this existence lends the opportunity to bring nature into our lives as a whole. How often we shop for groceries, how we stock our pantry and even how we clean our kitchens. However, many of us live in larger cities and are separated from food sources by distance and hectic schedules. As a result, grocery shopping needs to be infrequent and cooking is done without a plan which often culminates in bad choices, wasted food and diminished health (physically and financially).
So I am hoping that today, April 22nd, Earth Day, we can all reflect on what we can do to nurture the earth by thinking about sourcing better food in a way that is kinder to the environment as well as not wasting any of it. We can all do what Chef Tom Colicchio does at the end of every week — use everything in the fridge to make a soup or a pasta before shopping for more; or you can use all of your leftover produce from the week to create a vegetarian dish for Meatless Monday!
A great base for a soup is my garden stock recipe that I always use as the base for any soup recipe in my restaurant including our vegetarian French Onion Soup. It is made from garden trimmings, peels and scraps that may otherwise have ended up in the garbage. So when you think about Earth Day and how you can contribute, you can start by reducing food waste in your own home by just eating it! Tune in tonight for “Just Eat It”, a documentary that examines the ways that rigid commercial standards lead to food waste, on MSNBC followed by a panel discussion featuring Chef Tom Colicchio, and Happy Earth Day!
5 to 6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
A small handful of chives
1/2 cup of carrot peels and ends
1/2 cup of celery trimmings or leaves
One of two Corn cobbs
One whole small onion
One tomato or pieces of assorted tomatoes (whatever is leftover)
A few peppercorns
2 to 3 bay leaves
One teaspoon of olive oil
One quart of water
Add teaspoon of olive oil into stock pot and heat. Quickly add all peels, trimmings and herbs and herb stems and stir. This releases the aromas and will make a richer stock. You can add other herbs but be careful because stronger herbs like rosemary, basil or sage can take over the stock and make it less versatile.
Once the trimmings and peels begin to sauté, add your water and boil for 20 minutes.
Remove stock from heat and set aside. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Strain through colander into a pitcher. This will make it easy to pour into ice cube tray or other containers for freezing.
This will reduce and give you about a half quart of vegetable stock which will keep between 2 to 4 days or up to a month if frozen in ice trays, then removed in cubes and stored in zip lock bags.