Note: The P&P Almanac knows that our readers are busy people. So we’ve been compiling random bits of helpful information designed to help you cheat and fake your way through everyday kitchen tasks and make life a bit more delicious.

I’ve discovered a few handy tricks in my days as a cook, but never in all of my days have I ever considered saving my my dirty vegetable water. I thank Robert Reynolds for this brilliant idea.

A few weeks back, I approached Robert, the culinary educator and chef behind Southeast Portland’s Chefs Studio, and asked him if he would be willing to share a bit of kitchen wisdom with The Almanac. Besides being classically trained in French and Italian Cuisines, his passion for food is undeniable. I had no idea how he would respond to my plea for kitchen advice, but I knew that whatever he chose to share would be good.

I was not disappointed. Robert provided me with so much more than advice – he gave me a heaping dose of perspective. “Food has truth,” he said, “The taste of the earth speaks the truth, so in the same way I think that food has truth.” He talked about the merits of growing food all the way from the seed to the plate, and spoke of the inherent honesty in the process.

And then he gave me a bit of his own truth, a simple and wonderful bit of kitchen advice: he told me to save my blanching liquid. “If you have lovely winter greens, such as escarole or chard, and blanch the leaves in an inch or two of water. That water, which is usually thrown out, is iron rich and flavorful. All you need to do is season that water with a little salt and the flavor will present itself immediately.” He recommends adding a drizzle of high quality olive oil, and a generous dollop of persillade.  “Serve it like a consommé, and it will be perceived as a wonder,” he finished. “You will smile, knowing that this is blanching water, which is usually thrown down the drain.”

Truth be told, I’m smiling just thinking about it. All this time, I’ve been ditching the leftover greenish liquid that’s left in the pan and I had no idea that it could be repurposed in such an interesting way. Leave it to Portland’s resident culinary expert to open my eyes to such a simple truth…

The next Forklift dinner is on Saturday, March 24th, and features Robert Reynolds, along with Kristin D. Murray (formerly of Paley’s Place) at Little T Bakery. Kristin and Robert will be instructing on the building blocks of menu construction, with a focus on seasonality. For tickets and information, please visit the Forklift site

By Lindsay A. Strannigan of