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How to cook with less water (stocks, juices, soups)

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One of my favorite books by Madeleine L'engle has a part in it in which she teaches herself to cook. A line that stuck with me was "I felt that one does not cook with water, so I kept my kitchen filled with stocks and juices."

This has always intrigued me. i am a rampant user of chicken stock in some basic pasta sauces and various forms of cooking rice; I use lemon juice, but just a taste or so. However, beyond that when liquid is required, I usually stick to plain old water. Help me move beyond my H20 ways and think creatively. What other liquids could I have handy and how could I use them creatively?

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  1. I freeze stocks in small (ca one cup) quantities to make it easier to use them, but I expect most of us do that. A splash of wine when you just need to deglaze a pan.

    Think about the flavors you're using and a complementary juice option may come to you. It's about enhancing, rather than diluting, the taste of the dish. I've been known to add beer to a soup when I was a little short of stock. Not everyone liked it as well as I did, though.

    There may be times when you do want to use water, to keep the final effect light.