Saturday, November 30, 2013

Homemade Vegetable Bouillon

homemade vegetable bouillon

One night I came home and walked in to find the kitchen table covered in a pile of vegetables and my roommate busily chopping, weighing, and tossing them into a blender. She was, she informed me, making our very own bouillon. Our own bouillon, from scratch. Will the DIY miracles never cease?

Naturally, I supported this endeavour wholeheartedly. Our household is nothing if not foodie-project friendly.

I've never been a huge fan of the instant stock you can buy in the store, but I've also never been a huge fan of making my own stock, because in all honesty, I am a lazy, impatient cook. I always hated the idea of buying vegetables just to stick them in a pot of water, boil the life out of them, and then throw them away. I used to store vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer, and once it was full I'd boil them along with an onion and a few cloves of garlic to make a simple vegetable stock, but I've long since fallen out of that frugal habit.

This homemade bouillon, however, is straightforward, simple, and convenient. And bonus, you don't have to throw out anything. It's simply fresh vegetables, herbs, and salt blended together. There's no cooking time, and once you've made a batch, you'll have instant stock on hand for months. (We make double batches of the stuff, and our last batch lasted us about a year. No joke.)

This recipe has more of a French flavour profile, but I'd be curious to switch up some of the ingredients for an Asian-inspired stock, with ginger, green onions, bok choy, and even more cilantro. Feel free to play around and come up with your own personalized bouillon recipe - this recipe is quite forgiving, and there are endless possibilities.

Also, winter is upon us, and thus, the season of soup has begun. So make your own bouillon. It's worth it, trust me.

the base of bouillon

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Mother's Pumpkin Parfait

a recipe for nostalgia

My mother wrote this recipe down in her 4H club when she was just a girl, and she still has the recipe card, after all these years. It's travelled with her from girlhood to now, and for almost as long as I can remember she's been making it for Thanksgiving dessert. (I realize I missed Canadian Thanksgiving, but I suppose this post still makes it in time to be relevant to our southern neighbours. That still counts, right?)

Thanksgiving used to be the giant family gathering of the year. Our cousins would make the six hour drive to our home, often on a Friday night, arriving well after dark. Even as a little girl, I would stay up, eagerly waiting for them to arrive. When they finally staggered through the front door with suitcases and coolers crammed with food (because there can never be enough food, if my aunt has anything to do with it), we'd put the kettle on for tea and stay up a good hour past our bedtimes, catching up on everyone's news.

rainbow of leaves to camp fall arrangements
I went for a walk in the woods one day sun and shadow tree canopy

For us, and just about everyone else I know, the holiday was a family adventure in eating. Each day involved a concentrated group effort to produce as much food for consumption as was humanly possible. Each hour of the day seemed to be commemorated with a new snack or food item. My aunt used to bake entire rounds of brie in pie dough, which would then be sliced and served on crackers. To me, this was the most fucking phenomenal snack in the whole world. I probably ate an entire brie pie every Thanksgiving weekend following its introduction into my Thanksgiving snack lexicon.

Meanwhile, there was the almost constant dinner preparation that took over our kitchen for the entire weekend, because there was not one, no, but two Thanksgiving dinners. Saturday night was always the night of the glazed ham, studded with cloves, while Sunday was the night of turkey and presents. Yes, presents, because our Thanksgivings were the best. We all got birthday presents on Thanksgiving Sunday because my mother and her sister had the genius idea of just gifting everyone at once. It was like Christmas, except probably with more food.

After we'd all made it through the turkey feast and were spilling out of our seats, the bags of presents would come out, and shortly thereafter the table would be littered with newspaper (my mother, ever the economical present-wrapper) and all five of us children would be psyched to have new shit, while the adults were more sedate as they digested and drank more wine.

And then, to crown everything off, there would be dessert, because we each of us had by that point redefined the meaning of "full" and "too much." It was almost always this pumpkin parfait, which my mother would present in a clear glass bowl, a layered creation of beautiful deliciousness. As a kid, I thought it was fucking magical.

old furry girl puzzle time dedicated puzzle solvers

It's been years since I've spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family, but this past October almost all of us spent it together at my grandpa's camp, enjoying several days of sunshine and cooking in a temperamental oven (a fact that did not deter anyone from cooking even in the slightest). Throughout the years, my family's dedication to cooking feasts has remained as strong as ever.

Some of the traditions have changed. My brother and cousin did not play Goldeneye for the entire weekend, and the group-gifting has fallen out of practice, but on Sunday night my mother brought back the old tradition of pumpkin parfait.

While I couldn't rightly call it magical, it brought back delightful memories and was of course, in and of itself, delicious. I certainly ate my fill and then some. (In the name of tradition, of course.)

some good parfait eating buddies