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©2011 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)
Every homestead kitchen needs the base ingredients for planning and rounding out meals. You can learn to make 5 basic kitchen staples as a base for all your meal planning.
- Chicken Stock—By raising your own backyard chickens, you can have extra meat for the stewpot, and stock for future soups and stews. Chicken bones, especially from chickens raised outdoors on forage, make the richest, yellow stock that is beautiful in and of itself. In a large stockpot, add water, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, garlic and the chicken bones. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for several hours. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. After several hours, strain out the solids and use the rich stock for a delicious soup. Freeze extra for future soups.
- Tomato Sauce—What to do with all those tomatoes in your garden? Make tomato sauce! Tomato sauce adds richness to recipes, especially fresh tomatoes that are homegrown. Cook fresh chopped tomatoes on low heat. Add a bit of olive oil, garlic and basil to spice it up. Slow-cook, then strain. Use as a base for a variety of dishes. Freeze extra sauce for your winter meals. A great way to take advantage of an abundant harvest.
- Freeze your Greens—Spinach, turnip greens, dandelions and lamb’s quarters are easy to grow, and easy to put up for meals all year round. Add the frozen greens to soups or casseroles for extra nutrition and flavor. Blanch fresh greens (stems removed), in boiling water for 2 minutes. Transfer to ice water to chill, drain and freeze in baggies.
- Mustard—Make your own mustard from the mustard seeds! Crush the seeds with water, sea salt and apple cider vinegar. You can experiment with flavors by adding lime juice, honey or stout beer.
- Kale Chips—Replace the potato chip binge with kale chips. Delicious and nutritious, kale chips are wonderful to snack on. Remove the stems and rinse the leaves. Dry the leaves either in a salad spinner or by rolling in a kitchen towel. In a bowl, toss the leaves with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. For extra flavor add ¼ red pepper flakes. Adjust the ingredients to the amount of kale leaves, ensuring they leaves are all oiled. Spread the leaves on a cookie sheet, giving space in between. Bake about 8 minutes at 350° for a wispy thin chip that has a salty and earthy taste. Kale chips are guaranteed to disappear fast, thus a great way to get your family to eat their leafy greens!
Ok, maybe the kale chips aren’t a necessary kitchen staple, but they do provide an excellent alternative snack instead of processed potato chips, which have become a staple in many kitchens. Tomato sauce, chicken stock and mustard are all simple essentials you can make on your own without depending on a supermarket. And, you will know they are the freshest and healthiest foods for your family, since you grew them yourself!