With the cold weather here in full-force, I have been trying to welcome belly-warming foods into my diet as often as I can. I know I'm not alone in this, but SOUP is a bigger winter-time-winner for me.
3 or so years ago when Oli and I had just moved into our first place together, I began to seriously question my in-home habits. I studied philosophy in university, and once my degree was finished, my very active critical thinking habits continued to follow me everywhere. Honestly, sometimes to a fault; I began to not be able to do even the simplest things without seriously analyzing and questioning its details. At the same time, it also taught me that I can question, analyze, and make decisions about my own life whenever I wanted to...I simply just had to tune in. It taught me that I do not need to imply the same guidelines or rules to my life as I previously thought I did. I could do things my own way, and make up my own rules.
Although I didn't have much free time outside of working, I spent any extra time I did have either in my garden or in my kitchen. Thus, my food + kitchen habits were first up to be unpacked and questioned. I had recently started following a lot of zero-waste and eco-friendly accounts on Instagram that suggested really simple yet meaningful changes I could make in my home. Since it was the first time in my adult life that my home/surroundings actually felt like *mine*, it was really empowering to think about how that meant that we could make it exactly how we wanted it to be.
Most of us are taught our whole lives to aim for convenience; that if something ends up making life *easier* for us then it's worth it, regardless of the harm it may bring. We often don't think about the little day-to-day things we do, after we do them. Some things become a habit when we are young and we often don't question it again as time passes. Our own comfort always sits on the heavier side of the scale, and if something makes our lives *harder* or invokes any kind of discomfort, that it should be avoided at all costs. Living a more eco-friendly life can actually be really easy, and the habits needed to do so are not as difficult or tedious as some may think. I don't think that striving for perfection is ever the right answer, especially when it comes to changing really deeply engrained habits. We should allow ourselves the room to make mistakes and grow at our own pace, without feeling massive guilt. We should also, however, encourage ourselves to get back up and continue to try to change our own lives by inhabiting the things we believe in.
One of the very first zero-waste hacks I ever tried was freezer veggie-scrap broth!
I noticed that a lot of our waste was food-related waste. We eat a mainly plant-based diet, so we go through a ton of vegetables in a week! We didn't have space for a mini-composter, so I was determined to figure out ways that I could rethink the ways I use my vegetable scraps.
Now, whenever I cook, I always keep a bowl on the counter to collect bits of veggies - anything that hasn't gone mouldy or is too bitter will work. Some things get composted of course, but most is kept now!
Some of my favourite veg scraps to use are : corncobs, sweet or spicy pepper stems/ends, carrot and potato skins, garlic and onion skins, tomato cores, herb stems, celery/zucchini ends, potato skins, mushroom stalks, apple peels, etc.
I also like to add in whole peppercorns, bay leaves, dried chili flakes, and halved fresh garlic cloves too. Make sure you season with a bit of salt at the start, but do most of your seasoning at the end when you can taste the finished broth and add accordingly.
I also like to keep in mind what kinds of things I may be using it for in the near future. For example, I recently knew I wanted to make mushroom risotto, so I started a freezer bag and filled it will scraps that I thought would compliment the flavours of a mushroom risotto. That way, when I made my broth, the flavours of the broth complimented the dish perfectly.
Whenever I'm done cooking, I add the scraps to a bag or container in our freezer, and I try to collect enough to fill a good-sized pot. Once there are enough freezer scraps to make your desired amount of broth, give your veg a rinse in cool water to rinse off any icy bits.
From here you can roast your veg scraps first before simmering, or simply add them right into a pot. Roasting them beforehand will give the broth a much richer, darker colour and taste. Fill the pot with filtered water to cover all of the scraps, and boil it on low for an hour or so. I also like to add in my 'Lucky Iron Fish' for even more minerals in the broth. The longer you boil it, the darker and richer it will become.
Allow the broth to cool, strain it, and keep the broth in mason jars for about a week. If you don't want to use it right away, freeze your broth in jars or ice trays. If freezing in a jar, ensure you leave enough air space so that it doesn't explode! Also- make sure to compost the strained scraps afterwards!
As we move through this life, it is easy for us to fall asleep at our own wheel; to stop asking the question "WHY?" I know for me at least, my everyday habits are often my most overlooked. Sometimes a good place to start asking ourselves this question again, is whilst doing something as simple as cutting up vegetables in your kitchen.