When I was growing up, one of my favorite bands of all time was Air Supply. They were so groovy and their songs were so beautiful to my 9 and 10 year old self. Not to mention, they had the best feathered hair of all time. Farrah Fawcett wishes she had that hair.
(Aside: If you ever want to feel good about how you have aged, just google images of your favorite rockstars in their forties and fifties. You will have instant self esteem.)
One of my favorite songs from Air Supply was the classic “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” To this day, I have no idea what that really means. All I know is that it sounds really romantic and sad, which makes it a winner in my book.
I sing this song all the time. Especially when I’m cooking, but in my head I change the words around a bit. Instead of singing, “Making love out of nothing at all” I usually sing “Making dinner, out of nothing at all.” It just feels right. And accurate.
I love the idea of making anything out of nothing at all. It appeals to my frugal side. Recycled art projects? Making crafts- out of nothing at all. Composting? Making dirt- out of nothing at all. When you get free fruit from your neighbors? Making jam- out of nothing at all.
But I think my absolute frugally favorite project is making broth- out of nothing at all.
I make a lot of broth, especially since I can’t have very much sodium. The broth you find at the stores, even the ones who claim to be low in sodium, aren’t. Usually I make broth out of chicken or cow bones. I’ve even make broth out of vegetable scraps before. But I’ve decided that my absolute favorite is making shrimp broth.
It could not be easier. Whenever you buy raw shrimp and peel them for a recipe, just save the little shell pieces. I put mine into a zip-lock bag and freeze them. Then when I have enough (usually from about four pounds of shrimp) I dump the frozen shells into a big pot of water, add celery stalks, carrots, a couple onions, and a few cloves of garlic, then gently simmer on the stove for two or three hours.
The shells will turn pink in the water, but keep on cooking. Your entire house will smell like Eat at Joe’s Crab Shack, but keep on cooking. And all the cats in the neighborhood will congregate outside your house, but keep on cooking.
Finally you will end up with a golden, brown stock that smells just like the packet inside a Shrimp Ramen Noodle meal. Only it won’t have a single bit of sodium or any crazy preservatives.
When you’ve simmered your stock sufficiently (yes, alliteration run amuck) just pour it through a tightly weaved colander or some cheesecloth into jars or containers. I usually freeze a large bowl of shrimp stock to use as a base for seafood soups or chowders. But I have also canned small jars of this deliciousness, in my pressure canner, to use in stir-fries or other recipes that just call for a bit of broth to make a tasty sauce.
Gentle Reader, you should totally make shrimp stock out of nothing at all and practice feathering your hair. These are two skills that will always be helpful.
And all the cool kids (from the 70’s) are doing it.