RESOLUTION 1: A FREEZER BAG.
Rachel Ray can have her garbage bowl. I for one am throwing all my veggie scraps from meals I make at home into a plastic bag with a sliding zipper thing (it closes securely) and stashing them in the freezer. Onion tops, bits of garlic, carrot stems, herbs from a package unused and drying out. When I have a bag full, I put them in a stock pot with water, throw in a few extra whatevers I've got threatening to go bad in the crisper, and I boil. In a few hours: 2 quarts free veggie stock. I am doing the same with chicken bits -- wings, trimmings whatever. Say hello to my little friend:
No waste, no guilt for not composting (I don't have the space in my yard but I have a very active contingent of possums and raccoons who would LOVE me if I tried) but delicious free stock. Then you do like the chefs say: freeze it in another freezer bag flat, then "file it" in the freezer.
This sounds very straight forward. It's not. The bags freeze to other things in the freezer and they get a little misshapen, but still so worth it when risotto time comes around. It always comes around.
Speaking of did I tell you my butternut squash risotto technique that has everyone just passing out from how good it is? The secret: roast and puree your squash flesh, then make risotto as you would normally (hot stock, wine, arborio rice, probably some sauteed shallots to start). At the last minute, stir in the puree and a little bit of heavy cream. Lots of Parmesan (freshly grated, please, not that crap in a box). On top, garnish with fried sage leaves (heat some olive oil, toss in the leaves, when they get crispy -- one or two minutes -- fish them out , park them on a napkin or paper bag, and salt them with coarse sea salt. Put the rest of the sage in the freezer bag with your butternut squash trimmings. Be sure your risotto is swishy rather than gummy. I think people think it should be thick enough to stand a spoon in, but it shouldn't. It should swish about like a little minx after your man.
Risotto brings us to
RESOLUTION 2: Buy Only Whole Chickens.
I think you are probably aware of my problem with industrialized chickens. Tortured in life, killed cruelly, they taste terrible and are basically heartbreak on a drumstick. I like my chickens happy, fat, pecking about in green fields, able to stretch their wings, then blammo. Quick dignified death at the hands of the folks who raised em, and to my plate or freezer the next day.
I get squeamish in grocery stores around the bloated white chicken carcasses that are sold for $1.79 a pound -- life should cost more than that. I want my chickens a little skinny and yellow (from eating lots of grass and bugs). And I want them whole. Whole means stock. It means ethically sourced wings (don't get me started about the massacres that happen to bring you a plate of hot wings. Lord). It means chicken thighs for a stew, chicken breasts for a saute, and fried drumsticks because yum. And then of coruse all that stock. And then you use that in the risotto. Perfect circle.
RESOLUTION 3: This has only tangentially to do with food but still. It makes cooking easier.
Clean out and organize your pantry. I did mine color coded so it's like I'm shopping in Williams-Sonoma when I go to set the table. Mason jars for dry goods to keep the icky moths out. I also organized the fridge and tonight I am doing the freezer. The trick: break it up into small bits and commit just an hour (or 15 minutes, or whatever) to it. It work and makes life nice. I find myself opening the fridge and pantry simply to admire them.