Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stocking the Kitchen

Mister and I both like to entertain and feed our friends. I also like to make fun, interesting things that use up what ingredients we have. To that extent, we have three syrups in our fridge, not counting maple. We have Apple Cider Syrup, which we had accidentally left a pot of mulled cider on the stove when we went out, and Mister decided to experiment with syrup. The experiment was a success, and it is a favorite in hot toddies.

Last summer, I had attempted to make a large amount of iced tea to drink, and so had several large jars of sweetened tea-water in my fridge, taking up space and using jars. I reduced it down, steeped more strong black tea (using up some old tea bags that are of dubious nature), added that, spiced it, sweetened as needed, etc, and now have Spiced Tea Syrup.

We now have another syrup as of tonight: Cinnamon-Ginger Simple Syrup. I received a lemon in my stocking at Christmas, and as Mister was feeling unwell this evening, I finally got around to juicing said lemon. I mixed the juice with honey, ginger and hot water and he lounged around trying to feel better. I then removed the outer part of the lemon peel, and boiled it in simple syrup and cinnamon to candy it. It is drying as I type this. But then I had all of this excess syrup! So I added some ginger, and rewarmed it to infuse, strained and bottled.

As mentioned previously, these syrups are quite good in hot toddies (hot water, syrup, whiskey, lemon juice optional). They're also good mixed in hot water for a quick warm drink and you can use them any place where you'd normally use honey (drizzled on scones anyone?), but on the whole I use these for "Feel Better" drinks. There's nothing like a warm mug of something delicious and made with love. If it comes with cookies, it'd probably be better, but we can't have everything!

In an endeavor to use up what we've got, I finally got around to finishing a cordial I started 6/10/11. I steeped lemon balm in 63% rum, strained it in probably September, and mixed it 50/50 with simple syrup tonight. I had a bit of that with ginger ale for a candy-sweet but simple beverage.

As I've mentioned probably many times by now, we have a lot of peeled garlic cloves in our freezer that we got for free when a friend was moving and had to get rid of his food. I decided that tonight was a good night to make garlic soup. With a little help from Mister (who discovered some cheese that had gotten unwrapped), and a few softening potatoes, this became Cheese-y Garlic and Potato Soup. Simple really. Fry a chopped onion in bacon fat. Add a bit of flour and stir to combine. Let this cook a few minutes, stirring, until a slight golden color. Add in one carton of veg. stock (or chicken). Throw in one and a half handfuls of garlic cloves, or approximately one head of garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let this cook until nice and soft. If you're energetic, mash the garlic cloves and reincorporate. Chop a few potatoes and add to the soup. Add a teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce. When the potatoes are about done, slice cheese and add, stirring with each addition so the cheese doesn't clump. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve! This one meal used up: hardening cheese, soft potatoes, a lot of frozen garlic cloves, last carton of veg. stock, an ugly looking onion. And since I pulled two rolls out of the freezer and heated them, I also cleared out a bit more freezer space!

On the schedule for tomorrow: making veg stock with the massive amount of odds n ends in the freezer, clean house. Also go to Wegmans (a.k.a. the best grocery store in the world). Now if only I could learn to incorporate my pantry goods as well as my freezer goods...


  1. garlic soup sounds good - I wonder how long it would take me to peel that many cloves though! :)

  2. The way I made it last year was: take a head of garlic, slice off the top third. Dice what remains in the top third and fry with the onions. The bottom third, peel off any excess papery peel. Throw this is the stock and simmer until the cloves are very soft. Scoop out the head of garlic, pop out the cloves from their packaging, and mash them. Add them back in.

    No peeling required!