Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is Not an Empty Pot

This is not an empty pot. You wouldn't believe what all lies underneath this steamer basket. There is a hearty stew here, piles of steaming hot, seasoned rice, simmering beans, a nourishing and healing drink to be served to a loved one feeling under the weather, a rich vegetable soup, a green smoothie, your daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Heck, there is even a great, chemical-free fertiliser for your house plants here. And I don't think it's too much of a stretch to tell you there's something for your pets too.

One of the things I learned in my permaculture course was that when a resource enters into a system (like water for example) you want to put it to as many uses as possible before it cycles through or leaves the system. I think about this a lot and wherever possible I try to practice this principle in my life. So whenever I take food out of the oven (in the cold seasons), I leave the oven door ajar allowing the hot air to escape into the room, thus putting that use of electricity to two uses: cooking food and heating my space. I collect my dish rinse water in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet. And when I steam vegetables (which I'm doing a lot of these days) I keep the nutrient rich, flavourful vegetable water left in the bottom of pot and put it to many, many uses.

This leftover vegetable water serves as a base for soups and stews. You can cook rice, beans and pasta in it. Add a splash to your morning smoothie. Season it with herbs, salt and pepper and serve hot in a mug for a nourishing beverage to sip on. I especially like to mix this with my homemade bone broth. I even water my plants with it. And if I had pets I would mix some in with their food. I freeze what I can't use right away. Rarely, a little might end up in the compost. But the one thing I never, ever do is pour it down the drain.

This vegetable water is from a steamed buttercup squash. It's so beautiful and tasted wonderful!


lizk said...

Do you leave your veggie water on the counter (covered), or keep it in the fridge?

Amber said...

Hi lizk. As soon as it's cool I put the veg water in a jar and pop it into the fridge right away and use it up within a couple of days. It would go off if left out. If I know I won't use it up quickly then I put it in the freezer.

Jerry said...

There`s just no end to how much you rock, lol.

Most of our vegetable water goes to feed pigs and chickens. The only other city dweller I have ever known to be so conscious of the nutrients in vegetable cooking water was my great aunt. I`ve always remembered that she would save it in milk cartons and send it out to the farm with us. I`ve begun to do the same while I live in town.

My family on the farm never uses much dish soap to wash dishes either, so this water goes to pigs and chickens as well.

With no access to farm animals, you have been very inventive in making sure to not waste those nutrients or the water.

Kudos, as always!

Amber said...

Hi Jerry. Thanks! Its not surprising that your family, as farmers, know the value of making use of every nutrient and resource they have and letting nothing go to waste.

It's funny you mention your great-aunt. A friend of mine has been providing health care to an elderly woman. She said the woman reminds her of me because she does things like drinking her vegetable water!