This is a very basic element in the pantry, and one which I have always taken for granted. Growing up, turkey carcasses and often chicken bones, ham bone or other inedibles were boiled for stock. I assumed this was the general way of things, but then when I went off to university, friends found it rather odd that I boiled bones for stock, so I thought that it might be worth including.
Stock is very simple to make a tremendously versatile. Veggie stock I have only started making recently but I am finding it very enjoyable. Stock cubes are useful, but I always find them over salted, and using them I give up some of my own autonomy of flavour. Meat stocks I tend to keep very simple so that I can have the greatest freedom of flavour when using it. At most I will add a bay leaf or two.
Vegetable stock though is always different as it depends entirely on what vegetable off cuts I have on hand. The different flavour notes of the fresh stock on the stove have prompted a few meals recently, as when Hubby tasted a vegetable stock that had some ginger peel and off cuts as part of its base, paused and declared that it needed something. "Hmm. Oh, I know, miso!" Based on that diagnosis he decided to use the fresh stock for ramen with a tea stained egg. Using our own veggie stock adds an additional layer to dishes.
For meat stock:
Boil bones in water for 1-2 hours until they have given up their flavour. You can boil them with a bay leaf, onion or celery too for added flavour. Once the stock is fully steeped, fish out the bits. If there was still meat on the bone, you can pick it off the bones and leave it in the stock.
For vegetable stock:
Save the off cuts of vegetables in a container in the fridge (not too long or they will spoil!). I use almost anything: onion peels, carrot tops and tails, celery leaves, ginger peel, pepper tops and seeds. The only thing I have found which really doesn't work is citrus peel. It makes the stock very bitter.