We’ve been weekly regulars at the farmers market this year. Every Tuesday one or the both of us and sometimes the kids wander the aisles taking in the sights of our county’s bounty.
My husband has done the majority of our fresh vegetable shopping over these months, and it was always a surprise what he came home with. Sometimes, it was ingredients we needed for a specific recipe and other times it was whatever sounded interesting to him at the moment.
As we chopped and prepared and cooked these ingredients familiar and unfamiliar, we did something else. We saved the scraps. Instead of the tossing out the stems and ends of the vegetables, we tossed them in a sealed bag to freeze for later. Chefs in their cookbooks promised that these scraps could be used later, to make a rich and flavorful broth.
I waited until soup season arrived before I tested them on their promise.
Gathered before me on the counter were bags of scraps we had saved for months. Mushroom stems. Fennel stalks. Broccoli ends. Cabbage leaves. All of this was supposed to make something delicious? I had my doubts.
But I followed a recipe, more or less, and sautéed the scraps in a bit of butter and added water and let the whole thing simmer on the stovetop for hours. Sometimes my favorite recipes are the ones where I can put in a little effort up front and then walk away.
It wasn’t long before the house began to fill with a pleasing aroma. I could identify some of the individual smells, the fennel, for instance. I am not a fan of licorice, but fennel has a sort of licorice fragrance that is appealing and appetizing.
When the time was up, I strained the vegetables and sure enough, I had a rich, dark vegetable broth. I couldn’t wait to make soup.
As I discarded the vegetables, I thought about how I could have thrown them away months ago. But then I would have missed out on something tasty.
And I wondered if there are other kinds of scraps in my life that I’m quickly discarding, thinking they are of no use, and maybe they just haven’t had their potential realized yet.
Some days I feel like those seemingly useless scrap ends of vegetables. Nobody looks at the ends when they’re choosing a robust green head of broccoli. It takes an experienced cook to consider the value of the stuff the rest of us would throw away. Can I also trust someone with more life experience that the stuff I want to throw away from my life might have some later value?
The homemade vegetable stock was a culinary treasure I didn’t know I was missing.
Could it be that with a little time, a little preparation, a little seasoning, the same could be said of the scraps of life?