Cooking my way through The Homemade Vegan Pantry & Truly Free-Range Chicken(less) Stock

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Sometimes you get a cookbook that you are so intrigued with that you want to make every single recipe. This happens to me all the time but I know myself enough to know that there is no way I’m going to be able to do that. However, I’ve finally found the book that makes me want to try.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner came out in June and, like most cookbooks, I always check it out of the library before making a commitment. It took me about two days before I knew I had to add this one to my collection.

I think my family is pretty good with not buying too much packaged food but I’ve always wanted to be better and Schinner’s collection of staples seems to be a good way to get back to the vegan culinary basics. The tagline for this book is: the art of making your own staples and I think that is a great way to get us to start using less packaged stuff – which will be good for us and the environment.

Since it is autumn the first thing I decided to make was the Truly Free-Range Chicken(less) Stock

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Over the last couple years (baby #3) I have gotten away from making our own soup stock. There is a fairly decent organic low-sodium vegetable stock that can be purchased by the case from Costco that will do in a pinch – but there is nothing as good as homemade soup stock. To be honest though, I’m sick of that stock and it tastes the same every time – packaged stock lacks the nuances of home made which tends to be a different every time you make a batch.

Making my own soup stock was something I got into the habit of doing when I lived alone during under-grad, and it doesn’t take as long as people think if you have all the ingredients on hand.  Soup stock is something that you can set up in the morning and let simmer on the stove all day (if you are home) or in the crockpot. My kids love it so much that they ask for it by the mug-full when it is fresh and that is before I even turn it into a soup.

I was once the person who always asked to take home the Christmas turkey carcass and would spend the next day breaking it down into as many pots as I could to turn it into stock. Thankfully, Schinner’s recipe is quicker, less messy, and more humane than wrestling with a picked-over turkey. After all, it’s the poultry seasonings that give it that chicken-soup flavour.

For my first kick-at-the-can from Homemade Vegan Pantry this one turned out really well. The flavour was rich and so was the colour. I used dried poultry seasoning (as recommended in the recipe) instead of fresh poultry seasoning herbs and I think I would go with the fresh next time. Schinner gives an oil-free option as well but I used the olive oil to give it a richer flavour. Plus, I have small children and since our diet is fairly low in fat I try and get it into them when I can. Winter is coming after all.

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One thing that always bothers me about making stock is throwing away all the vegetables at the end. I mean, sure they have been thoroughly decimated by the long cooking time but it still seems like such a waste. Schinner recommends making Curried Cream of Vegetable Soup by placing all the vegetables in a blender and adding some seasoning. I tried it and have to admit that I do not recommend it. It tastes like over-cooked vegetables blended and my kids gave me a pleading “do we really have to eat this?” look (no, they did not). I am not a big fan of blender soups – something about the aeration of them really turns my stomach, so that could have had something to do with it.

So I will definitely be making this stock again and again but am going to have to pass on the creamed veggie soup.