An excerpt from Alana Chernila’s new cookbook

Alana ChernilaAlana Chernila writes, cooks, sells fresh vegetables, and teaches cheese making. She created the blog Eating From The Ground Up in 2008. In her second cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen, Alana explores making pantry staples such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, and also provides recipes and ideas for using them. Leite’s Culinaria recently praised The Homemade Kitchen, saying “The chapters…combine doses of infectious optimism with unfussy, ridiculously comforting recipes.”

View the World Calendar of Cookbook Events to see if Alana’s book tour is coming to your area, and enter our contest (US only) for your chance to win a copy of the book. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this brief excerpt from Alana’s cookbook, which discusses great ways to use items that would normally be discarded:

Ten Bits and Scraps Worth Saving

1. Parmesan rinds

Any time you have a strip of Parmesan rind, throw it in a bag or container in the freezer. Add a chunk to a pot of soup, and it will infuse the soup with a deep, ripe, and wonderful flavor.

2. Carrot tops

This one comes from my friend Jen Salinetti, who grows wonderful carrots and so has lots of beautiful greens. Make a pesto of 2 cups packed cleaned and chopped carrot tops (remove the large stems), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 chopped garlic clove, and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Process in a blender or a small food processor, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. Then add ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, and process again.

3. Chicken, beef, or pork bones

Save the bones in the freezer until you’re ready to make stock. Then pack the bones into a pot along with a leek (or leek tops; see opposite), a carrot, a few garlic cloves, a handful of peppercorns, a tomato if you have one, and any fresh herbs you have on hand. Just barely cover with water. Cook, covered, on low heat for at least 2 hours but up to all day. You can also follow this process in a slow cooker. Pack the cooker at night and you’ll have rich stock by the morning.

4. Old bagels, pita, and tortillas

Slice bagels as thin as you can (carefully!) and cut pitas and tortillas into wedges. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a 350°F oven for 12 to 18 minutes, until brown and crispy. Use instead of crackers.

5. Strawberry hulls

Toss those strawberry hulls into a pitcher of water. They infuse it with a mellow refreshing sweetness. You can barely taste them-it just tastes like the best water you’ve ever had.

6. Peach pits

If you’re making peach jam or pie and have a bowl full of peach pits, rub off any excess flesh and give the pits a quick boil to clean them entirely. (Drink the liquid you boiled them in-it’s delicious.) Then dry the peach pits in a 200°F oven for about an hour. Let the pits cool, then store in a jar at room temperature. Peach pit tea is good for whatever ails you. To make tea, combine 4 or 5 pits with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the pits dry out on the counter-you can use them three times before they won’t infuse tea anymore.

7. Root vegetable greens

If you buy beets, turnips, kohlrabi, or radishes with their greens, separate the roots from the greens when you get home, as they store better separately. Cook up the greens as you would kale or Swiss chard, put them all together for Garden Pie , or pound tender radish greens into pesto.

8. Leek tops and other veggie scraps

Treat leek tops and good veggie scraps as you would bones for stock. Keep a separate bag in the freezer and toss in scraps as you create them. When it’s time to make stock, throw them all in the pot.

9. Bacon fat

Whether you fry or bake your bacon, pour the grease into a jar, straining it through cheesecloth or a paper towel to get rid of any bits. Store the jar in the pantry and use it to fry pancakes, collard greens, and other foods that benefit from bacon’s smokiness.

10. Orange rinds

Stuff spent rinds into a jar and top off with distilled white vinegar. Let it sit for a few weeks, then combine the orange-infused vinegar with water for a homemade all-purpose cleaner. Or, use the rinds for an easy potpourri. Combine a few orange peels, a cinnamon stick, and a few cloves in a small saucepan. Cover with water and let it simmer away on the stove, scenting the kitchen as it evaporates.

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