Vegetable Stock – and a cooking failure

This has been the first year (since culinary school ten years ago) that I have really been making my own stocks from scratch. It has been a satisfying cooking experience. It has added another level of flavor to my cooking and also a new kind of personal satisfaction from using my own stocks. I also have been playing with a Presto pressure canner so not only do I make stock but it can keep for a year after canning.

Each time I made a chicken or beef stock, in the back of my mind I would have visions of a glorious vegetable stock filled with leeks and carrots and onions and all sorts of great vegetable flavors, but for the longest time it was just that, a vision, in my mind. Well, now that I have a bit more reason to stay at home, I figured it would be a great time to finally make my vegetable stock a reality.

Now, I try to be flexible in my cooking endeavors. I realize that at any moment you may have to change your cooking route or re-organize your ideas. But, for vegetable stock, at least this time – I had one unwavering requirement – I needed leeks in my stock. Which, surprise surprise, were not the easiest thing to find during this time of surplus shopping. Nevertheless I found them and my vegetable stock journey began!

So initially I thought that I would do a relatively short extraction with the vegetables (simmering them in liquid to get their flavor) at first I thought that 4 or 5 hours would be enough to get a good flavorful stock, but in the end I felt that the stock really needed more time to get more of a color to it. It really was quite peaked and not very appetizing looking. Since I started my stock pretty late in the evening, around 5 pm, I decided I would let it go overnight and see what I had in the morning.

Morning time came and I was so excited to discover my stock at last had an acceptable color to it, and I felt it was ready to can.

The best part of making and canning this stock is that I will be able to really experiment more with vegetarian and vegan cuisine. I’m thinking of lentil soups, vegetarian rice pilafs and risottos, all sorts of things. I can’t wait to start creating.

My stocks fresh out of the canner, labeled, and ready to go!
I use pints and quarts when I’m canning stock. Two of the most commonly used amounts I find

Ok – now for some cooking real ness. I’ve been cooking for so long and just want every one to know that we all make cooking mistakes, including me!

I was taking these pictures and was so sure this would be great, but alas! I was wrong!!! The puff pastry though, was on point. I ate all of that. Look at those laminations!

Case in point – my recent rendezvous with steak and ale stew. I have made different versions of this before with great success, and I must have been feeling like I could do no wrong – because I had the GENIUS idea to just use straight up beer as the stew base, which I still feel like would make a great braising medium – I just need to tweak this a bit, so one 16 oz ale beer into an instant pot with potatoes, carrots, short ribs later and a 40 something pressure minute cycle later I was feeling pretty sure I was on the verge of a viral worthy recipe here. So I plate it up, did I mention I made some puff pastry dippers for this? Made the puff pastry from scratch, it baked up so nice and beautiful, and as I’m taking these great pictures, there is virtually no question in my mind that this will taste great (do you see where I’m going?) So I dig in, the short ribs are tender. The instant pot really does a great job of cooking things. However the sauce is pretty much just hot thickened beer.Which to me was bitter in a way that salt could not fix. So I ate all of the beef and as many of the vegetables as I could and will feed the rest to Myrtle and Basil in the morning.

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