Saving the Water and the Honey Jars

I have taken to saving my vegetable braising liquids and packing them into my recycled raw honey jars.  I am hoping it’s not a slippery slope.

The story goes that my great Aunt Myra would let you know plain and clear that you were wasting a Kleenex if you blew your nose on both sheets; two ply meant one for the nose and one to save for later to mop a small spill off the floor, or to shove into a hole in the wall to keep the breeze from coming in.  My grandmother was raising three children on her own and working the graveyard shift at a factory and if there was an extra dime at the end of the week, she might just buy a bottle of soda for the kids with it to have on a Saturday night.   She left a pair of pretty pajamas, a small corner hutch and few figurines.  I don’t think my  Aunt Myra even had a job–she amassed a small fortune and left it to the Hearing Dog Society.

My Kleenex habits will never lead me to money.  My braising habits on the other hand are a cash cow.  Last night I took two beautiful artichokes, peeled the tough outer leaves (saved them for lunch today) and then cut off the pointy, sharp tips.  Then I peeled the stems, and cut each artichoke into eighths.  I rubbed them all with lemon, and with the knife, slipped off the bit of choke (the hairy bit) in the centers.  On the stove I had on the simmer a big pot of water with a spill of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a thyme sprig, and a parsley sprig.  I added the artichoke hearts (stems attached) and let them go until they were nearly tender.  Nearly is the operative word here.  Done, is too late.  I lifted them out with a slotted spoon and saved the cooking water.  In a saute pan, I got one rinsed, chopped leek going with a sprig of thyme, a few tablespoons of chopped parsely, and another few tablespoons of ripped basil.  As soon as it was softened, I added the artichokes.   I charged up to medium, just until the artichokes were the tiniest bit golden.  I cooked the orchiette in a pan of salted water at a rolling boil, and when it was NEARLY al dente, I drained them and added them to the saute pan.  To finish, I added some of the braising water, just to take them to exactly al dente.  A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a handful of my new love, Parmigiano di Bufala.

Today: transform the braising water into Italian chicken and dumplings.   And (cooking)life goes on.

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