Here is my latest Bristol Evening Post column which appeared in the paper yesterday...
Everywhere you look these days celebrity chefs and eco-warriors are telling you to make the most of your leftovers. Make bread and butter pudding with your stale loaves, use leftover rice to make a rice salad, put surplus veg and potatoes to good use in bubble and squeak.
I have been left with the certain knowledge that whatever I do, I should not put any food anywhere near the bin, or I will go to some level of purgatory specially brought in for non-recyclers.
Despite my mocking, I can actually see the benefits. I am a planet-conscious twenty-something who has been known to preach about energy-saving lightbulbs, and my poor father once incurred my wrath and wagging finger when he kept leaving the light on in the garage. But most of all, I like the idea of recycling leftovers because it could save me money.
This is how I found myself one night this week with three different meals on the go. Sunday’s roast chicken did not know what had hit it. I was going to turn this into not two, not three or four, but five meals.
Meal one: the Sunday roast itself. After the roast, the remaining meat was stripped from the carcass. Half was devoured cold the next day with salad, and half went into a tasty chicken curry for later in the week simmered with a tin of coconut milk, some grated ginger and some curry paste. And then, the piece de resistance – stock.
Making stock is a simple but satisfying task. All you have to do is put the chicken bones in a big pan full of water with any vegetables you have going – carrots, celery, onions (skin on) and peppercorns, thyme and a bay leaf. Bring it to the boil, skim off the scum and then cover and simmer for a couple of hours before straining it and using it to cook with or freezing it.
I froze mine in two batches, which one day – when I remember they are in the freezer – I’ll use to make chicken noodle soup, a mushroom risotto or paella.
I could have added the unusable rind of a block of parmesan and used the resulting liquid to make minestrone, or added a chilli if I wanted to pack a punch with a Thai broth.
I have a friend who freezes concentrated stock in an ice-cube tray, then throws them all in a bag when they’re solid before using one or two every time he needs a bit of stock flavour. There are plenty of options.
But don’t let my tale of success deceive you: this was my second attempt at making stock.
The first time went disastrously wrong, when after hours of simmering, I proudly took the pan over to the sink to strain it, only to do so by holding a sieve over the sink and letting all the stock go down the plughole. It was my worst kitchen moment, and not my greenest – after all that hob electricity going to waste down the sink, I couldn’t justify any finger wagging for quite some time.