Sunday, 9 December 2007

Cooking on the Woodstove

It's been quite chilly here lately, and we've had the woodstove going most days trying to keep warm while still keeping the natural gas bill down. Last weekend I was making another batch of vegetable soup stock, and I thought I would emulate Ma Ingalls for a while and cook it on the woodstove. It worked out really well! I just had to keep the damper turned down a little bit so I wouldn't boil the heck out of everything. As you can see in the picture, I also kept the dutch oven a bit off to the side as well, where there wasn't quite as much heat. We recently came into a batch of wire coat hangers and so I'm going to bend these into a little grill type thing, like my mom used to have to keep the tea pot a little ways off the stove burner. That way I should be able to keep the soupstock down to a nice simmer.

It is unbelievably easy to make soupstock. I found some information on the main ingredients in a recent issue of Mother Earth News magazine, and I adjusted a few things to my taste and also depending on what I happened to have in the house at the time. Basically, I just fill my dutch oven with about 2 litres of water and then add some unpeeled potatoes, carrots, onions and their peels, some peppercorns, some sea salt, some parsley if I have it, some celery and the leaves, a garlic clove with its peel, and whatever dried or fresh herbs I have around, usually oregano, thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf or two. I let this simmer for 3 hours or so, and then drain the liquid off into canning jars. I usually get about 1 litre of stock which is enough for the two of us for a couple of weeks. I usually eat some of the 'potage' that's left, and the rest goes into the compost bin. I just love knowing what is, and isn't, in my soupstock. And I do like to pretend to be Ma Ingalls now and then too!


Chile said...

I hope to do that someday when we've got a woodstove! My Thanksgiving gravy recipe depends on a rich vegetable stock made with whole veggies rather than my usual made with peels and ends. I hated wasting the cooked veggies, so I starting pressing them through my food mill. It adds a little 'oomph' to the gravy and only leaves the fibrous stuff for the compost bin.

Theresa said...

Ah! A food mill! That is one more thing for my list of things to get. I could then use the veggie pressings for whatever soup I was making, for even more flavor and texture. I will have to try using it to make gravy too - I haven't really had gravy since becoming vegetarian and this would be a good way to have mashed potatoes and gravy again. Thanks Chile!