Friday, September 24, 2010

Posh Nosh for Pence

We start with a photo of my jar of stock cubes. Meant to show it the other day with other uses for jars and containers - but forgot. Stock cubes boring? Well maybe, but one photo of something is better than none, and at least gives me a change to offer a few hints and tips.

Myself find it useful to collect all my stock cubes together, so that I can instantly see what varieties I have to choose from. Some stock cubes tumble out of the packet just wrapped in plain foil - as is the vegetarian one standing in front of the foot of the jar - as then have to use a pencil to indent the foil with a name or I would not remember what it was. You can just about see 'veg' on the cube above.

Normally I avoid cubes wrapped in plain foil, often - before I buy - peeking inside a packet to see if it the cubes have any symbols on them or coloured. As you see it is easy enough see the red (beef) OXO cubes in the above jar - and know the purple OXO is lamb flavoured. The best cubes are the ones that have the have the faces of animals on the wrapping - such as a cow, lamb, fish, beef, fish and even ham. These are the type I prefer.
To go into the larder to find the right pack then take out a cube, put the pack back , then go back into the kitchen takes time. Not a lot of time I admit, but having a jar of cubes on the worktop takes only seconds to find and remove the cube I want. Or perhaps 'efficiency' gets the better of me at times. However much of a slob I am around the rest of the house - efficiency and organization is the only way to get my kitchen working best.

One stock cube I never buy is chicken - as you know I always make my own - mainly because chicken stock cubes seem extremely salty compared to other flavours. Apparently some chicken cubes are now made with less salt, but home-made is so superior that everyone ought to make chicken stock themselves, as this can be used in a mulitude of dishes. When reduced down and frozen in ice-cube trays, we then have our own 'stock cubes'.

Stock cubes are really useful when wishing to add more flavour to a meal. Beef stock with lentils will make a good flavoured soup, and it bumps up the flavour when using a cube (or even half a cube) with a little mince (and a lot of veg) when making spag. bol.. If not vegetarian, then use a beef stock cube (or two) when rehydrating TVP mince. A ham stock cube cooked with split peas makes a very good soup (see recipe below), and saves a lot of time hunting around for a place that sells (cooked) ham bones.

At one time I used to have almost every flavour of stock cube sold - including the 'non-meats' such as 'pilau' or 'saffron' or 'chinese' cubes to add to rice and other dishes. Now buy only beef stock, vegetable, and lamb cubes.