Sometimes, in our first-world abundance, we can get unknowingly caught in a pattern of wastefulness. What we consider garbage may truly be a treasure to another in different circumstances. I think of Sr. Josephine explaining that when her family first immigrated to America from Italy, her mother would wash and iron the “good butcher paper” that wrapped their meats. The paper was cut and sewn into notebooks for school. Now this may be a bit extreme, but when considering the poor, we can especially think of our food waste.
There are many reasons to be thriftier with our food: good stewardship, respect for the poor, and household budget spring to mind. Composting is a good use of old coffee grounds, vegetable bits and egg shells. One of the most wasted and underutilized food product is the bone. Years ago, a chicken carcass, ham bone, or beef shank would almost certainly be made into soup. Now we just buy a can or box of broth at the store. Homemade bone broth is excellent for digestion and costs a fraction of purchased broth. You can make it from your garbage. And while you’re at it, put you onion ends, herb stems, carrots peels, etc in a ziplock bag so you can use that to flavor your broth. You’ll have an affordable base for soup or liquid for cooking rice, quinoa, or polenta, and you’ll have been a great steward. You can use the $10 you saved on the meal to feed 20 children through efficient charities like Orphans Rising one where 100% of your donation goes directly to poor, orphaned children.
It doesn't have to be a big sacrifice. Just think twice before throwing things away. You'll develop a thrifty habit that with the right spirit of stewardship and generosity for others, can be a true virtue. Here's a fun recipe for ham and pumpkin soup using leftovers and scraps and just a few dollars' worth of fresh ingredients.
Ham and Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Bone Broth:
- 1 ham bone (as found in a spiral sliced type ham)
- 1 small onion or 1 cup of onion ends
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 small carrot or ½ C of carrot peels
- 1 large stalk of celery or a celery heal
- 1 tsp salt depending on the saltiness of the ham
- A few sprigs (leftover stems are OK) of parsley, rosemary, and thyme ( or a tsp each of dried)
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
- Put all the ingredients in a stock pot and cover completely with cold water.
- Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 3 hours. Cool until easy to handle.
- Remove larger solid pieces and strain the broth.
- 6-8 cups of ham broth
- 1 tsp of chicken base or a bullion cube
- 1 small chopped onion
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp of dried rubbed sage
- 3-5 shakes of Tabasco
- 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
- 1 heaping Tbsp of creamy peanut butter
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Pumpkin seeds for garnish if desired. Mine were salvaged from the Halloween jack-o-lantern, washed and oven roasted.
- Add all ingredients but the pumpkin, parsley, seeds, and peanut butter together.
- Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Add the pumpkin and peanut butter. Blend thoroughly with a stick blender or in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Cook gently (barely simmering) for 15 more minutes.
- Add parsley and garnish with pumpkin seeds, if desired.
Tips for great homemade broth:
- Have a big pot. It’s great to have a really big stock pot. Think about getting the Thanksgiving turkey bones in there!
- You may be surprised how much salt you need to season up your broth (unless you start with something very salty like ham). Salts add flavor but also help break down the foods boiling in your broth. Taste and adjust along the way!
- A used lemon rind, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, cardamom pods, bay leaves, cilantro, dill, or parsley stems will all add flavor and depth to your broth. Think about the kind of soup you are making and work in that direction.
- A quick online search will help you get started with specific recipes if you are unsure of how to make broth, but keep in mind that this is a very open-ended process. Don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe.
- A really good bone broth (with the exception of seafood) takes 3 hours of simmer time. This is what it takes to get the collagen out of the bone.
- You will need a very good fine mesh strainer to strain your finished broth. A layer of cheesecloth can improve the straining process.
Do you believe that being thrifty is a virtue? Are you a kitchen recylcer? Share your tips with us!