Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pot Liquor

     When I was learning to read, I was allowed to help out in the kitchen by reading the instructions on packages and recipes to my mom or Grandmother. I remember the vivid colors on the box of the first Betty Crocker Cake mix.  I also remember reading the amount of water needed to make it come to life.  At age six I could not believe my grandmother took a dirty cup full of cloudy liquid to the sink and added more water to it then she poured it right into the bowl!  

     She saw the look on my face and told me to calm down.  She had steamed carrots for dinner and set them aside in the warming oven.  She then poured the liquid which was just water and carrot juice into the measuring cup.  She waited until we needed it it and added the water needed for the cake recipe.  We called that watery soupy stuff, pot liquor.  

     So, we had carrot flavored cake, I thought.  No.  We had cake.  You couldn't taste carrots in it.  I still thought Gram was a little tipsy or maybe a  it silly.  Who wants carrot juice in cake?  Well, I do.  
Since that traumatic Sunday dinner, I found my mother draining the fruit cocktail into a measuring cup when she made her fruit cocktail upside down cake.  Putting the juice of the pineapple back into the cake of pineapple upside down cake makes the neighbor lady a little jealous of your moist cake.
     As a prepper, sure you may think it is a habit of waste not, want not.  It is. But, more than that it is putting whatever nutrition you can back into the food you eat.  Of course this trick is healthier for you when you are not using store bought canned produce.  When canning your own fruits and vegetables, you will begin to use less sugar than the stuff on the market, and you will not be adding preservatives.  
     You may think this is a very good idea for the use of sweet fruits, as the pouring of peach preserve juices over cereal is a real treat.  But, with few exceptions like pickled eggs, the brine or juices of the veggies you have canned can also be used in cooking or baking as well as a flavorful vegetable juice mix.  Anybody ever heard of V-8?  You can hide a world of vegetable flavors ion any tomato based drink, soup or sauce. 
     Lately, in the pursuit of customers looking for a healthy quick food for their kids, Chef-Boy-Ardee has added a full serving of vegetables to each can of their tomato based canned foods.  Who wants to bet it's cauliflower?  Cauliflower steams up quick, mashes into a puree and disappears into stews as a thickener and into cookies as a way to get veg into kids!  Jessica Seinfeld couldn't get her kids to eat vegetables without a whine fest, so she hides them in cookies, cakes and fun food.  you absolutely cannot taste the cauliflower in mac and cheese and the apple sauce in cookies make them chewy.  

     Even if you are past the stage of getting your kids to eat better and stop fighting the healthy stuff, you can benefit from adding the fruit and vegetable juices that go down most sink drains back into your diet. 

     My kids are all in their thirties and they still don't know why they can't get food 'like at home' from the restaurants.  They don't know that Prince of Wales cake contains all of an apple except the seeds.  They don't know that their burritos had beef calves liver in them, that the Welsh meatballs were actually liver and every cake they ever ate either had fruit juice or the pour off from the green beans in it.  They didn't need to know, then.  Oh, yeah, I never liked pumpkin pie all that much, so most of the pumpkin pies they ate were sweet potato and a small white potato to lighten the color.  Sorry, guys. One time it was yellow squash and a sweet potato.  Yeah, I am THAT kind of mom!  Happy Mother's Day!  You didn't die.

     Now, I want the world to know.  You can pour the pot liquor back into the potatoes when you mash them.  It is also great for soup thickening.  The next time you bake apples for dessert, wrap a couple extra in aluminum foil.  Mash them into cakes and cookies, or throw their delicious vitamin C into the meatloaf or chili. Use the pot liquor.  Enjoy

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