I've been meaning to write a post for a while to explain a little bit about my cooking style, so here goes!
One of my personal goals for this year is to try to stop eating "fake" food. I only use real butter, real sugar, etcetera. I'm also trying to get away from using pre-packaged, processed foods, like dehydrated potatoes, instant stuffing and anything with a "flavor packet". This is not an easy task! Just think about what is in your pantry right now, and how much easier it is to use these items than it is to make your own from scratch. Also, two of my guys actually prefer some of this "food" to the fresh foods I make. I think it may be impossible to stop using some of these items, but I'm going to make an effort to try.
I read a great article about what the experts won't eat and I'm trying to stay away from some of these items as well. This is also easier said than done. Organic anything seems to cost more than the regular counter part, so that is a challenge. Another problem I'm having is that all the organic potatoes I've seen just don't seem as fresh and they come in much smaller containers. I can't wait for spring to come so I can start going to farmer's markets to buy produce. Hopefully I will be able to speak with someone who works on the farm and ask some questions about how their food is grown. You would think it would be easy to stay away from canned tomatoes, but how do you know what is in a jar of sauce? I've read labels and it confuses me. The only ones I really feel safe eating are the ones that say "fresh tomatoes". I only wish I could afford grass fed beef, so that is a dream for another day. I don't eat farm raised seafood at all if I can avoid it. I'd rather have something else than eat farm raised salmon. Read the labels at your grocery store. Most salmon says "farm raised, color added". Why do they add color?!!! Maybe it's because so many people believe salmon should be a bright pink when in reality, a soft, light pink is fine. I wouldn't know how to avoid milk with antibiotics and such, but I really don't use much anyway. I only use milk in my cooking (as little as possible) and on cereal. I think drinking it is gross, but that's just me. I know lots of people who love the stuff.
I try to purchase most of my food from the outer aisles in the grocery store. Produce, meats, breads, real cheeses. *Hint* if the package says 'processed cheese food", it probably isn't real cheese. I don't eat white bread or much of anything made with bleached flour. I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but that's hard too. Read the labels on your food. You'll be shocked when you see how many items have that stuff in it, and as my husband says, "It's the white man's poison". I avoid soda, but when I do give in and drink one, I drink regular. I don't consume "diet" anything. I am by no means a health nut. I put bacon in my cookies! How could I be a health nut? I'm just trying to make smarter choices.
There are also a few items that must be in my kitchen at all times. Olive oil is essential. I always have a bottle of olive oil, plus I keep a spray bottle full next to the stove. I always have a block of Parmesian-Reggiano cheese in my fridge. I prefer the taste of freshly grated cheese to the stuff in the green can that we all grew up with. I have two cheese graters so that if one is dirty I have a back up. Chicken broth or stock is essential. I like to buy it in the cartons, and in case I don't use the whole container full, I also keep a couple of clean, empty ice cube trays in a cabinet. Simply pour the un-used broth into an ice cube tray and freeze. The next time you need broth, it's right there in your freezer. Garlic. I use garlic in almost everything, so I always have lots of fresh garlic on hand. Chocolate! Who doesn't love chocolate? We keep a couple of large chocolate bars in the fridge, and after dinner we have a square. It's a nice way to finish a meal and it helps keep me from snacking on large amounts of bad food late at night.
There are also a few essential tools that I can't get enough of. I love cutting boards! I have 2 wooden, 2 large plastic, 1 small plastic, 2 of the really flexible sheet style and 1 marble. Can you believe that I still want more? I would love to have more knives too. I have a few really nice knives, but more would be better. I have a few small bowls and ramikens that I would be lost without. I have very limited space in my kitchen, so I like to prep everything and have it in small bowls before I start the actual cooking process. This way I can clean as I go and maximze space. I also refuse to cook in a dirty kitchen. I have to clean before I can get started. As, I said, space is limited, and I can't stand working in a cluttered kitchen. It just makes the experience too chaotic for me.
Cooking and eating is not just about fueling your body. It is a joyful experience that should be savored.