I have a funny relationship with celery. I really do not care for it in its raw state, but absolutely love the way it smells in its raw state, especially the scent it leaves behind on my hands after I harvest, touch, or chop it up. There is something so pure, earthy, crisp about it. Now, I completely love and appreciate celery as a flavoring in soups, turkey stuffing, stir fry. These things would not be the same without a couple of ribs.
The garden has been slow, as those of you who read regularly know. When not harvesting much from the garden we get our produce through Muir Ranch, a CSA run by a local high school, and from various farmers’ markets. When getting produce through a CSA you don’t usually get to choose what shows up in your box any given week. This is part of the fun I think. You get what the farms are harvesting, what’s in season. Winter means lots of things like leafy greens, carrots, beets, leeks and, well, celery. Lots of celery (and leeks). One can only do so much with celery (and leeks).
I have gotten pretty good at not letting produce wither, slime, or mold in my refrigerator. And, it pains me when something gets away. But, there the celery sat and sat and sat (good thing it lasts a while). When the leeks started to pile up too, I finally got to making my own vegetable stock. Better put them to use in stock first before going straight to the compost pile. And that is how I found myself putting up vegetables in the winter.
A quick search on the Internet taught me that vegetable soup stock is simple: onions, celery, carrots, herbs, and water. I started chopping. This photo is my third batch this week. I already used my first batch to make split pea soup. It turned out lovely. So, now, as I empty my freezer of pesto, roasted tomatoes, and peppers, I am filling it with vegetable stock.
There is a caveat though. Yes, the celery and leeks would probably go bad sitting in my refrigerator, but I still get a twinge when I see all those veggies boiled and then composted. It seems they should be eaten. Once upon a time I tried storing my scraps in the freezer to make stock from those. I think about two tablespoons of scraps have been in my freezer for the good part of eight months. Remembering to save carrot peels, onion scraps, etcetera is not a habit I have created yet. But, I think I may now be able to redouble my efforts. Because, while we have excesses of celery and leeks now, that won’t be the case in a few months.
Maybe soup stock will be the next thing I can boot off the grocery list, just like I did to spaghetti sauce last summer.
Basic Vegetable Soup Stock:
A bunch of leeks – white and light green parts sliced
1 or 2 onions chopped
3 or 4 ribs celery chopped
2 to 3 dried bay leaves
Handful of parsley or other herbs
Cover chopped vegetable and herbs with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool and strain into any storage container.