Today’s tip comes to us via the French. They are not known to be cheap (as far as I know), but they are known to be notoriously good cooks, come hell or high water.
And sometimes, in the history of the French people, both hell and high water have licked at the doorstep.
Therefore, this suggestion, which provides another justification for buying organic vegetables: Recycle the veggies you cook.
On the cutting board at right are the beginnings of tonight’s slow-cooker dinner. In fact, most soups and stews of a classic European or French origin begin the same way, with a mirepoix. During the winter, when our household is being well-behaved and cooking frugal dishes in the slow cooker, many an onion/carrot/celery combo crosses our cutting board.
Each of these meals begins the same way, with a melange of cut-off ends of carrots, onions and celery, and onion and carrot peels.
Each of these ingredients also forms the basis, with some parsley, pepper and thyme, of a classic vegetable (or chicken) stock.
The traditional, and recycling, thing to do, then, is to salvage all those bits and peels and ends and throw them into a re-sealable container in the freezer. Add other things, too, like bits of mushrooms or potatoes or what have you. When you have enough, toss them into a pot (or the slow-cooker stoneware), add seasonings and water, toss in some bones if you like (the frugal non-vegetarian chef will also have a freezer stocked with the remainders of boned chicken thighs, a roasted carcass or other previous meals), and you’ve got stock in the making. Add more vegetables if you like.
And when you’re finished with your vegetable stock, recycle again by adding the wilted parts and peels to your compost pile.
Voila, easy, cheap, healthy and green.