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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Stocks & Soups From Trimmings

Root Vegetables

Chicken Stock

Soup From Trimmings

[1] Lots of trimming to come (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen). [2] Stock, ready to use or freeze—or season it and enjoy a cup of broth (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Plan B: Instead of stock, turn those trimmings into a purée of vegetable soup (photo courtesy Botanica | LA).

 

When we were quite young, a friend of the family was watching our mom cut vegetables for soup, and toss the trimmings. He had grown up on a farm in Sicily, and said: “We never threw away anything edible, not the smallest part. If we could have saved it, we’d have cooked the ‘oink’ from the pig.”

That’s how it’s been through history, except in affluent homes in affluent countries, whose denizens weren’t scraping for every bit to eat.

Modern cooks who want to minimize waste know that they can add flavor to homemade stocks by saving the carrot peels, celery leaves and trimmed ends, the last scrap of onion before the root, parsley and other herb stalks, wilted herbs, sprouted garlic and onions, the tops of scallions, and many vegetable trimmings.

Consider anything that isn’t rotten or moldy, or on the “Avoid” list below.

Limp vegetables? Stock. Herbs that have begun to yellow? Stock.

Wash and trim the vegetables as usual. Then set the trimmings aside and let them dry a little bit to remove moisture before you bag them.

Toss the ends, leaves, peel, roots and stalks into the same freezer bag—and feel good about not wasting money or contributing to a landfill. (If you’re planning to use them in a week, store in the produce drawer with the air pressed out of the bag.)

When you’re ready to make stock, plan for 2 cups of trimmings per quart of stock from vegetables.

And note that the venerable chef Jacques Pépin, an instructor at French Culinary Institute in New York City, always checks his students’ waste bins to see what they’ve thrown away. For him, scraps are more about flavor and less about thriftiness (although his wife has blocked the process at home; it drove her bonkers).

SAVE THESE TRIMMINGS

  • Ends: asparagus, celery, chard, green beans, spinach.
  • Green tops: beet greens but not the rest of the beet (it will color the stock red), carrot and just about any root vegetable.
  • Herb stems: cilantro, parsley (basil and mint stems are best reserved for pesto or chopped into salads).
  • Onion family: garlic, leeks, scallions and any type of onion.
  • Peeled skin: cucumber, eggplant, potato, summer squash and zucchini, winter squash (unless you like to bake them—our Nana sprinkled them with cinnamon as a snack for us kids).
  • Root vegetable trimmings: except for the bodies of beets (color leaches in) and turnips (not everyone likes the way it tastes in stock).
  • Stalks: celery, chard, fennel (we’ve never tried rhubarb).
  • Other trimmings: bell peppers, bok choy, corn cobs, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, napa cabbage snow peas, sugar snap peas (we’ve never tried the pods of green peas).
  •  
    AVOID: COMPOST OR TOSS THESE TRIMMINGS

    What not to use: vegetables with very strong flavors:

  • The cruciferous group: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Ditto, artichoke trimmings (but the cooked stem is delicious to eat).
  • Anything that will color your stock, unless you don’t care*, such as beet, tomato or the papery skins of onions (they’ll turn stock brown) and garlic. But here’s what you can do with those skins.
  • ________________

    *That being said, we once cooked a ton of beets and had lots of leftover red “beet water.” We reduced it and used it to cook white rice. It was fun.

     

    PLAN A: READY TO MAKE VEGETABLE STOCK?

    The difference between stock (photo #2) and broth is that broth is seasoned and ready to consume. Stock is left unseasoned, to provide flexibility for different recipes.

    You can use vegetable stock in braises, poaching, sauces, soups, stir fries and stews etc. We use it to cook rice and grains, including risotto: half-and-half water and stock (or all stock, if we have too much).

    Season it for udon or other Asian-style noodle soup.

    Substitute for cream in mashed potatoes, add to the vegetable steamer to infuse flavor, and many hundreds of other ideas.

    Ingredients For 2 Quarts Of Stock

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups of vegetable trimmings
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed, halved crosswise
  • 6 sprigs parsley (if you don’t have stems in your trimmings bag)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3-5 minutes or so.

    2. ADD 4 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the stock is reduced by half. This should take about 1-1 1/2 hours.

    3. STRAIN the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard the solids. Let cool.

    4. USE immediately, or transfer to pint or quart containers (or freezer bags, if you prefer), portioning it based on how you think you’ll use it. Ideally use frozen stock within three months.

     

    Soup Used As A Sauce

    Root To Stalk Cooking

    [4] Trimmings cooked, pureed and turned into a sauce (photo courtesy Vital Choice). [5] This cookbook has delicious recipes for every part of vegetables (photo courtesy Ten Speed Press_.

     
    PLAN B: READY TO MAKE SOUP OR SAUCE?

    Make soup. Cook the trimmings (in stock or broth) and turn them into a puréed vegetable soup, like the one in photo #3.

    You can also turn the pureed vegetables into a sauce (photo #4).

    Good news: Plan B lets you use all the cruciferous vegetables. All those broccoli stalks and cauliflower stems: delicious! We cook them even when we aren’t making soup.

    Cook, taste and season. Dilute as desired with stock or milk and voilà: Your trimmings are now a tasty soup.

    And you’ll feel good about that!

     
    MORE FEELING GOOD

    There’s an entire cookbook devoted to using every part of the vegetable (photo #5): From Root To Stalk.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: National Hummus Day: Try A New Brand!

    Hope Black Garlic Hummus

    Salad-Topped Hummus

    Chocolate Hummus

    [1] Black Garlic, one of 11 delicious flavors of Hope Hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods). [2] One of our favorite ways to serve hummus: topped with salad ingredients and, as a lunch dish, with a hard-boied egg (photo courtesy Shayla | NOLA). [3] Woo hoo, chocolate hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods).

     

    May 13th is International Hummus Day.

    Over the last two decades, hummus has evolved from a mezze at Mediterranean restaurants to the hottest, most nutritious dip and spread at supermarkets nationwide. It’s the darling of nutritionists, nutritious and versatile, and a better-for-you snack.

    Hummus is Arabic for chickpea. The more long-form name for what we refer to as hummus is hummus bi tahina, chickpeas with tahini. Tahini is a paste made of toasted, hulled sesame seeds, which can been joyed as a dip on its own.

    The recipe for hummus is simple: chickpeas, tahini and seasonings (including garlic), mashed and puréed*.

    THE HUMMUS RENAISSANCE

    Two decades ago, the hummus available in the U.S. was the classic: plain. If you didn’t order it at a restaurant or live near a neighborhood with an international market that carried it, you made your own the recipe is easy, once you found a store with tahini).

    But since the hummus renaissance, stores have been sagging under the weight of so many brands and so many flavors. We’ve counted more than two dozen flavors among different brands. Our personal favorites: horseradish and black olive, which we found at Trader Joe’s.

    But, we like everything. So we were very pleased to receive samples of a new brand from Hope Foods. If you head to the website now, you can enter to win a year’s supply of hummus.

    HOPE FOODS ORGANIC HUMMUS

    There are 11 flavors of hummus. We tried three of them, all especially delicious.

    First, the consistency is wonderful, like well-mashed homemade hummus.

    While we enjoy the ultra-smooth texture of big brands like Tribe, we welcome the return of toothsome texture, like Grandma used to make (if your grandma’s ancestry was in the eastern Mediterranean).

    Second, the flavor selection is a bit more interesting, with black garlic, Thai coconut curry, and spicy avocado hummus (the most popular flavor).

    The line is preservative free, certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Certified, OU kosher and USDA Organic. There’s a store locator on the website.

    HOPE HUMMUS FLAVORS

    Currently, the line of hummus includes:

  • Black Garlic Hummus
  • Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus
  • Kale Pesto Hummus
  • Lemon Peppercorn Hummus
  • Original Recipe Hummus (nice and peppery)
  • Red Pepper Hummus
  • Spicy Avocado Hummus
  • Sriracha Hummus
  • Thai Coconut Curry Hummus
  • Plus, Dessert Hummus

  • Dark Chocolate Hummus
  • Dark Chocolate Coconut Hummus
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    While we haven’t had Hope’s chocolate hummus, we have had other brands: Thumbs up!

    The company also makes guacamole, which we have not yet tried.

    “Spread” the word!
    ________________

    *Some brands also add olive oil.

     

    THE HISTORY OF HUMMUS

    Chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic have been eaten in the Levant† for millennia. Though widely consumed, chickpeas were cooked in stews and other hot dishes. Puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear before the Abbasid period (750 to 1517 C.E.) in Egypt and the Levant.

    The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus bi tahina are in 13th-century cookbooks from Cairo.

    Some food historians believe it appeared a century earlier, prepared by Saladin, the first sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174–1193); and if so, it was more likely created by a cook in his kitchen, the idea of the warlord Saladin-as-cook being tough to swallow.

    Recipes for cold purée of chickpeas without tahini, but with vinegar, oil, pickled lemons, herbs, spices (but no garlic), appear in medieval cookbooks; as do recipes with nuts vinegar (though not lemon), but it also contains many spices, herbs, and nuts. [source]

    Whomever and however, we’re grateful that it came to be part of our [almost] daily diet,

    ________________

    †The Levant is an English term that first appeared in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.
    ________________

    WHAT IS/ARE MEZZE?

    Mezze (MEH-zay) or meze is the singular form for a number of small dishes served in the Middle East to accompany drinks (add an “s” for the plural form in English). In some countries, an assorted mezze plate is served as an appetizer.

    Each country has its favorites. The ones most often found in the U.S. are:

     

    Mezze Platter

    Hummus Platter

    [4] A mezze plate in California: babaganoush, feta, hummus, olives, pita and a local touch, pickled carrots (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [5] Hummus itself is gluten-free, but not the pita. This gluten-free hummus plate from Glutino Foods offers other options.

  • Babaghanoush, mashed eggplant mixed with seasonings.
  • Dolmades can take many forms. In the U.S., they’re usually Greek-style: grape leaves stuffed with rice, chopped mint and lemon juice (these are also called sarma). In some countries, eggplants, peppers and zucchini are stuffed, often with the same ingredients plus minced lamb.
  • Falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
  • Fattoush – salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread.
  • Feta cheese or other local cheese.
  • Halloumi cheese, sliced and grilled.
  • Hummus, a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas.
  • Kibbeh, a mixture of bulghur, minced onions, finely chopped meat, and spices. Depending on the region, it is shaped into balls or patties and fried, baked, cooked in broth, or served raw (tartare).
  • Souvlaki, bite-sized lamb cubes, grilled on a skewer.
  • Labneh, strained yogurt that is more tart, like sour cream.
  • Tabbouleh, bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, green onion, with lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.
  • Taramasalata, a carp roe dip based whipped with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes, mashed potatoes or bread are added to stretch the recipe. We buy the Krinos brand, which does not add fillers.
  • Tzatziki, a dip made from plain yogurt, chopped cucumber with finely chopped garlic and mint leaf.
  • Yogurt.
  •  
    They are typically served along with Greek-style olives and pita, or other flatbread.

    MORE HUMMUS

  • Beyond Dipping: More Ways To enjoy Hummus
  • Black Garlic Hummus Recipe
  • Carrot Hummus Recipe
  • Hummus Sushi
  • Make Your Signature Hummus
  • Rancho Gordo Hummus Recipe
  • Turn Plain Hummus Into Flavored Hummus
  • 20 Ways To Make A Hummus Sandwich
  •   

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    TRIVIA: National Egg Month

    May is National Egg Month, a time for some consciousness-raising.

    We look for Certified Humane eggs and don’t mind paying the premium for them. You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of mass egg production.

    We buy from Pete and Gerry’s whenever we can: eggs produced on small family farms with a commitment to the humane treatment of the chickens.

    Pete & Gerry’s eggs are also USDA Organic, OU kosher and B-Corporation Certified: committed to sustainability.

    They shared these fowl facts with us:

  • There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The color of the egg is actually determined by the color of the hen!
  • Young hens produce smaller eggs. The medium-size eggs come from pullets, hens that are less than a year old.
  • The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell. This makes them easier to crack (no fragments to fish out) and, for hard-boiled eggs, easier to peel.
  • What creates a double yolk? In a young hen that is just learning how to lay eggs, two eggs merged before the shell was formed.
  • All eggs aren’t equally flavorful. Aside from freshness (e.g., farmers market eggs), the tastiest eggs come from free-range hens they have real access to grass, where they can peck for worms and other insects that contribute to the flavor.
  • Fresh water, the space to roost and access to earth so they can dust-bathe are also essential. Cage-free and conventional hens spend their lives crammed together indoors. Cage-free hens aren’t confined to sit in a tiny cage, but are crammed onto the floor of a building with no room to move.
  • What’s the deal with cholesterol? In the 1980s, news warned against the consumption of eggs for people with high cholesterol. But the new news is, research has returned to the side of egg consumption. Don’t steer clear of eggs because of cholesterol. (If you have an issue, consult with your healthcare provider).
  •  
    That’s good news, because…

  • The egg is a nutritional powerhouse, with 7 grams of high-quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, including the disease-fighting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the macro-ingredient choline. Yes, there are 5 grams of fat, but only 1.6 grams are saturated fat (types of fat). And all for just 75-78 calories per large egg.
  •  
    Now for the fun trivia:

     

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    Tufted Araucana Chicken

    These eggs are all natural in color. The colors come from different breeds of hens. Those breeds don’t produce eggs as economically as breeds that produce white and brown eggs, so they are not sold commercially, except by some farmstands (photo courtesy The Egg Farm). [2] This tufted arcauna chicken, originally from South America, lays pale blue eggs (photo courtesy Awesome Araucana.

  • Why are eggs sold by the dozen? In England and other European countries from as early as the 700s and continuing until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. There were twelve pennies to a shilling, which meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
  • By the Elizabethan period (1550-1600), selling eggs by the dozen was the standard practice. The English who emigrated to North America brought the system with them. Other countries have their own standards.
  •  
    TIPS

  • To crack an egg: The best technique is to tap it on the counter, not on the rim of the bowl. You’ll avoid fragments, splinters, or whatever you call those exasperating little pieces that drop into the bowl.
  • To check if an egg is fresh or stale, raw or hard boiled: Just spin the egg on the counter. If it wobbles, it’s raw. If it spins easily, it’s hard boiled. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.
  • Egg sandwiches: A fried egg sandwich with bacon was popular in our youth. These days, one of our go-to quick meals for breakfast, lunch or light dinner is a sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich on rye toast. We buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled (a great time saver!) and use an ever-changing variety of seasonal fixings (a favorite: roasted red pepper (pimento) with baby arugula) and mayo flavors. For weekend brunch: a slice of smoked salmon.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS

    If you think of eggs as either white or brown, check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. There are 10 choices in chicken eggs alone!
     
    SOME EGG-CELLENT LINKS

  • Egg Salad Recipes & The History Of Egg Salad
  • How To Make The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Egg Nutrition
  • Quail Egg Recipes
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Things To Change On Earth Day (Pick 1)

    April 22nd is Earth Day an opportunity to make small changes to our eating habits to contribute to a healthier planet.

    The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 (here’s the history). It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

    Forty-seven years later, the need to save the planet is even greater. You’ve heard all this before; but if you make even one of the following changes, you’re helping the cause.

    Here are 10 little changes you can make. Pick [at least] one!

    LOOK CLOSELY AT WHAT YOU EAT

    1. Add more plant-based protein into your diet.

    Industrial farmed meat has a higher impact on the environment than any other food group. For a healthier and more environmentally friendly protein, try beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds instead.

    Meatless Monday only goes so far: If you consume cheese or other dairy products, they still come from animals that require deforestation and excrete methane, a greenhouse gas.

    Action Steps:

  • Smaller portions of meat, larger portions of vegetables and grains.
  • Aim for two veggies at lunch and dinner (a salad counts as one).
  •  
    2. Go locavore.

    You don’t have to have a diet of 100% local food; in fact, if you drink coffee or tea or eat bananas, it’s pretty impossible.

    But seek out local foods when you can, or at least those grown and made in the U.S.A. (photo #2). It’s the best way to lower your carbon footprint.

    Bonus: Locally-grown crops are typically fresher and often taste better compared to foods that are shipped across the globe.

    Here’s more about locavorism.
     
    3. Eat seasonally.

    This is a corollary to eating locavore. Foods that travel across oceans are often those from the southern hemisphere that are out of season in the northern hemisphere.

     
    4. Eat more raw foods.

    You don’t need to embrace raw foodism; simply enjoy more raw fruits and vegetables.

       

    Nutritious Dinner

    Fresh Green Asparagus

    Apple Pie

    [1] Less meat, more veggies: better for you, better for the environment (photo Tara Donne | Food Network). [2] Americans demand asparagus year-round; but except for spring’s domestic asparagus, it’s shipped in from Chile (photo courtesy Baldor Food). [3] Apple pie: tempting, but… Fresh apple: better for you, better for the environment (photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association).

     
    The environment benefits by the savings on energy to cook the food, as well as the packaging of, chips and cookies. You benefit from all the hydration and nutrients in the raw fruits and veggies.

    The next time you’re thinking about packaged snacks instead of crudités, or apple pie instead of an apple, make the raw choice and tell yourself: “I’m saving the planet.”

    Bonus: fewer calories.

    5. Cook once, eat twice.

    Make double batches when you cook, so you’ll have leftovers for another meal. Even though you might need to reheat the food, even freeze it, the net energy saved is tremendous.
     
     
    REDUCE THE DISPOSABLE PACKAGING ON THE FOODS YOU BUY

    6. BYO Bags & Containers To The Store.

    We always have two fold-up nylon shopping bags at the bottom of our backpack or purse. They come in endless colors and patterns, and you don’t have to take bags from the store (photo #4).

    If you want large-haul reusable bags, we like these collapsible boxes (photo #5).

     

    Reusable Produce Bags

    Collapsible Grocery Bag - Box

    [4] Embrace reusable produce bags (photo courtesy Bekith) and [5] grocery bags and boxes.

     

    7. Avoid excessive packaging.

    Look for foods with the least amount of packaging. While cardboard boxes can be recycled, certain types of plastic cannot be—including the plastic produce bags.

    You don’t really need them: The cashier will weigh your fruit or vegetables without a bag.

    But if you prefer the convenience, get a set of these reusable produce bags, which go from shopping cart to refrigerator.

    Yes, this might keep your food fresh and protected, however the excess packaging only ends up in landfills and adds more pollution to our land. Try buying produce that is not in a package.

    8. Carry water in a reusable bottle.

    Bottled water doesn’t necessarily mean its cleaner or better for you than tap water. Look for a filter system to install in your kitchen sink or even a water pitcher filter will work well.

    The fewer disposable plastic bottles we use, the cleaner our planet will be. There are so many attractive, efficient, reusable water balls on the market. Just pick one and use it!

    If you buy bottled water because you don’t like the taste of your tap water, consider a faucet-based, countertop or under-sink filtration system.

    If you do need to buy a bottle of water, bring home the empty and refill it. Give it a life beyond Day 1. See the infographic below and the bottled water crisis.

     
    9. Get a Sodastream.

    If you drink a lot of carbonated beverage, you’ll save on empty bottles and lugging both, with a Sodastream carbonater. The flavors are delicious and the carbonation units are recycled.

    10. Reuse plastic containers.

    We do purchase fresh prepared foods packed in plastic containers, but we reuse those containers for everything from leftovers to storage.

    Make Every Day Earth Day!
     
    Bottled Water Chart

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bone Broth For Breakfast

    Breakfast Soup With Hard Boiled Egg

    Chicken Bone Broth

    [1] A hot, hearty, nutritious breakfast (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] You can buy bone broth in multiple or individual serving sizes (photo courtesy Appetite For Health).

     

    Over the last couple of years, bone broth—made from the bones of beef or chicken—has become the nutrition du jour, for lunch, dinner, and for breaks during the day.

    How about for breakfast? In Asia, soup is a breakfast standard.

    It’s hot, hearty, nourishing comfort food.

    And you can make it with whatever you like.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Good Eggs.

    You can substitute whatever broth you prefer (miso, pho, etc.). You can buy the packaged broth, and even individual portions of it (such as with Nona Lim’s and Pacific brands).

    If you have other vegetables in the crisper, or a piece of leftover chicken, just cut or shred them and toss them in.

    If you’d like tofu instead of ramen, ditto.

    And if you’d like to have the broth for lunch or a snack, no one will question your judgment.
     
     
    RECIPE: BREAKFAST SOUP WITH BONE BROTH

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 12 ounces broth
  • 5 ounces (one packet) ramen
  • 1 head bok choy or ½ head chard or kale, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts chopped roughly
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly (substitute mint, basil, parsley, chervil)
  • Optional: hot sauce or other favorite seasoning
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the broth, diluting with water as desired. When the broth boils, add the ramen and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the greens and scallions, and any extra vegetables or proteins.

    2. SIMMER for another 3-5 minutes, until the greens are bright and tender but still have texture.

    3. BOIL a small pot of water, add the eggs and simmer for 7 minutes and 20 seconds. Remove from the water and place in an ice bath. Peel them when they are touchable.

    4. PORTION the broth into bowls, along with halved egg. Garnish with herbs as desired.
     
      

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