Taking Stock!

I have a very good friend who has had what can only be described as a truly “crappy year”. Marion has been off work since this March with terrible symptoms of a disease which was only diagnosed in the second half of Summer. The diagnosis finally came in after many months of debilitating pain and it was determined that she had Lyme’s Disease.

The short-term solution was a course of antibiotics to kick the disease into touch, but there is a further 6 months of drugs required; if you go down the route of traditional medicine. The alternative was described to her as a “really strict diet” and I have to agree that it is quite limited. Essentially Marion has to train her body to accept foods in the same way you would when weaning a baby onto solids. Before this process can begin though it is essential to pack meal times with minerals, and these come from stock!

Now Mazza and I were in the same class together at cooking school and whenever we discussed making stocks, it was also impressed on us that a stock is to be simmered very gently and also not cooked for too long. Either of these things would destroy the nutritional content of the stock and you don’t want to do that. Interestingly enough, Mazza has been working with a Scandinavian doctor who specializes in healing the bodies ailments using natural methods. For the first week of treatment the food regime was 72 hour cooked stock – That was it! When I heard this I thought it was some special stock because nobody would surely cook a stock for 72 hours, but this is essentially what happens. Yes you lose the nutrient rich content of a homemade stock, but by cooking chicken bones for this length of time you drawn out the minerals and get them into solution, which helps line the gut.

After the first week you are allowed to introduce 1 new food a day into your diet and see how your system reacts. They are of course introduced in a carefully thought out sequence, and each item is first cooked in the stock, which makes it easier for the digestive system to assimilate the food.

It got me thinking about the importance of stocks in cooking and why people don’t make stock more often. Granted the brown stocks are a bit more involved, but vegetable stock and chicken stock are quite straight forward and don’t take that long to make. In-fact a vegetable stock only needs 20 minutes to simmer and doesn’t really require much attention.

One of the things I have noticed as I’ve been and cooked in other people’s homes is that you can be busy working away in their kitchen for hours making lots of intricate and wonderful things and as you’d expect people wander into the kitchen to make a drink or maybe lunch. This generally happens with little fuss and maybe the odd comment that something you’re doing looks quite tricky. However, as soon as you throw a few simple ingredients into a large pan and simmer it on the stove the comments get excited because you have evoked everyone’s sense of smell! As a cook in the kitchen it can also be a very therapeutic thing to have on the go in the background.

Homemade vegetable and chicken stocks are a great base for so many soups, and for me it’s just nicer to make your own stock instead of diluting some stock cube/pot that  may have flavour but any sense of nutrition is so diminished due to large-scale manufacturing.

Homemade stock will keep in a container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months. By simmering a brown stock to a reduced volume you also have the most amazing glace de viande for those truly glossy sauces you see in high-end restaurants.

Below are links to recipes for stocks, starting with a simple vegetable stock and progressing through to beef and lamb. The Christmas season is coming up and I guarantee you that your gravy will never have tasted as good as if you use the neck and giblets to make your base stock!

Top Tip

To cool stock quickly simple place your large saucepan into a sink of cold water and stir frequently until cool enough to bottle and place in the fridge. You may have to replace the cold water in the sink once or twice as the heat is transferred out of your beautiful stock.

Give these stocks a go. You’ll notice that there is little or no salt in them, unlike the stock cubes/pots you buy in the shops. The body does of course need salt for balanced function but I prefer to put salt in for seasoning during or at the end of cooking. Having a salty stock can make balancing the finished flavours of a dish difficult, which is essentially what will happen using pre-made stock.

I almost forgot to mention that Mazza is well on the road to recovery. It is great to see and hear that she is getting back to her former energetic self! The world needs more Mazza’s 🙂 x

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About richardpholden

Chef living in Henley-on-Thames working for Weber BBQ's UK. Passionate about food and championing local/niche suppliers. Available for private catering, in-home cooking lessons and menu consultation. In this blog I hope to honestly share some of my journey with you, the highs and the lows, as well as post thoughts that have provoked me and made me think about something in my life, or in the larger world, in a slightly different way. These are my thoughts and my interpretations and questions on any given topic. I love the kinds of questions that make us look at an aspect of our life and delve into it more than usual. I hope you enjoy!

Posted on November 14, 2013, in Me, Recipes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Rich,

    If you have any time this week I really encourage you to go to the following link http://theglutensummit.com/ and listen to a couple of the presentations. The presentations are only available on a daily basis for the remainder of the week, and do primarily focus on gluten. That being said I have listened to a couple that encompass an overall look at health, and I’m sure you would be interested in the information.

    They are having an “encore” day on Nov. 18th, with some of the most requested presentation, so that could be an opportunity to catch a couple from the first few days.

    I listened to a great presentation yesterday about the importance of the gut, brain, and health connection. Relating our gut to soil, and if the health of our gut (soil) is imbalanced, we aren’t able to generate a healthy body (plant). Really great analogy….

    Cheers,

    Karla

    • Karla! How are you flower?

      Thanks for this link. I have registered for the summit videos and have watched a couple already. I have also passed on the link to some friends who are celiac because the more we can know about general health the better. Our diets are too reliant on processed foods that are irritable to our systems and ultimately have not evolved to process.

      Love the analogy of the soil and the plant!

      Hope we get a chance to catch up when I’m over next month. Would love to chat if you get time inbetween family Christmas festivities?

      Richard x

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