CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION from May about camp cooking, recently we camped on a cobble beach on the Hoh River.
Enjoying the day, we didn’t notice our hunger until around 8 p.m.
By 8:10 p.m., we were snacking on cheese and olives, and ready to cook.
Planning a summer soup and salad, I had brought two quarts of frozen turkey broth and some random veggies left over from a busy week.
The vegetables were past their prime but perfectly edible: bok choy, carrot and celery.
We started heating the broth and prepping veggies.
At 8:20 p.m.., bok choy, celery and carrots went into the broth to simmer.
I tore up lettuce and sunflower sprouts (also left over from the past week) and tossed the greens into our bowls.
By 8:25 p.m., with soup simmering, we enjoyed our salad.
As we finished our salads, the soup was ready.
We re-filled our now-empty bowls with a second course of rich vegetable soup.
I poured a cup of wine, Rob cracked a beer and we enjoyed our summer broth in the still-blue sky while listening to the evening chorus of birds singing from above us in the alder canopy.
Cleanup happened in the morning after coffee, with one small sink of soapy water.
In 10 minutes everything was clean and stowed for next time.
So, isn’t this a rather mixed message: quick camping food made with laborious homemade broth?
Actually, once you get into the routine of making broth it really isn’t that hard.
If you have bones, make broth. Every time.
Every culture on the planet includes broth in its cuisine.
Our recent ancestors and neighbors around the world were thrifty and when they had meat, they used every part.
And so should we.
It could be chicken, beef, pork or turkey, fish or vegetable peelings.
King salmon is available now, and if you are lucky enough to have access to this miraculous food, do yourself a favor and make broth.
It’s good for your health, it’s good for the planet and it’s super convenient on camping trips.
Here is a simple recipe for making a beautiful fish stock, great for chowder, soups and sauces.
Strong fish broth from Epicurious.com
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 dried bay leaves
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves and stems
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons peppercorns
1 fish carcass (from a 10- to 15-pound fish) including head and frame, gills removed and rinsed clean of any blood
¼- to ½-cup dry white wine
2-3 quarts very hot water
Kosher or sea salt
Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the veggies and seasonings and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, which takes about eight minutes.
Place the fish head and bones on the vegetables. Pour in the wine, cover the pot tightly, and cook on medium low for 10 to 15 minutes, steaming the carcass until the bones have turned white. Watch carefully and add more liquid if needed to prevent scorching.
Add hot water to cover the bones. Stir gently and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, carefully skimming off foam as needed.
Remove from heat, stir once and steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and season lightly with salt. If you are not going to be using the stock within the hour, chill as quickly as possible.
After it is thoroughly chilled it will have a light jellied consistency. Keep refrigerated for up to three days, or freeze for up to two months.
Notes: some cookbooks discourage the use of salmon for stock making, preferring a more traditional, less oily white fish. I find the flavor of a salmon stock to be distinctive and delicious. Also – unlike poultry and beef broth, fish broth should not be simmered too long. One hour is more than enough to reap the benefits of the bones, any longer and the flavor will suffer.
Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at betsy@clallam canningcompany.com.