Cooking without Oil
Have you ever thought, “how on earth do I keep food from sticking to my pan without oil??” The trick I learned during the Fall 2015 session of the Mercersburg Area Council for Wellness(MACWell) Everyday Chef class has saved me from ever having to worry or think about this again. The first step before you start cooking, get your pan hot! The rest takes a little bit of forethought, and very little money! The key to keeping food from sticking to pan is liquid – whether it’s coming from your veggies or added. While water works well, there can be a loss of flavor. Using vegetable stock as needed allows your food to stay moist enough to prevent sticking with out losing any flavor!
Start with the veggies that will give up their own juices – such as carrots, onions, celery. Toss them on the hot pan. They’ll brown some and start to give off liquid. Turn down to medium and stir with a soft spatula. When things start to stick, here’s where you add small amounts of liquid – just enough to keep things from sticking but still browning!!
If you have fresh stock on hand you can use as needed. Having frozen stock on hand (see below) makes the task even easier. Just put frozen cube (small container size) in with the veggies and it will melt as you stir, adding the necessary moisture to the pan slowly, so veggies will still brown. Making your own vegetable stock from food scraps makes this step super affordable!
Kitchen waste reduced
As I am chopping and preparing produce I normally take the ends, peels, and tough pieces to the compost for future garden health! The new trick I learned from Dr. Elizabeth George is to save those scraps, either to make stock right away while other items are cooking, or toss in a freezer bag in the freezer to make stock when time allows. This stock is sooooo easy! You will need produce scraps, a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, and a high powered blender or food processor if you just want to puree the scraps. I personally strain my stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and throw the remnants in the compost. Thus allowing me to throw 2 stones with 1 rock!
Keep it simple!
Just throw all your scraps in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and lower to a simmer for 45 minutes. When you are finished strain the stock through a fine mesh colander or a few layers of cheese cloth, or puree in your appliance of choice. If you are not going to use the stock with in just a few days you can either can or freeze your stock. I would suggest canning in a pressure canner as some veggies do not have the acidity levels required for boil canning.
If you are going to freeze your stock, I usually prefer to freeze in a variety of sizes. Voila! Stock – stored in various sized containers for easy use. Larger for when I’m making soup. Smaller for just a bit when I’m stir “frying” veggies w/o oil or roasting veggies and need a little extra moisture. Freezing in ice cube trays allows for small bits of stock available for those times when you are just reheating or making small portions.