The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Inc. Friday - Waste Not

Today concludes my fourth week in the journey of Food Inc. living. I have to admit that week three had me being pretty lazy. I went out to eat a LOT, but didn't order meat...OK, I ordered tuna a couple times. I don't know enough about seafood manufacturing practices to know whether or not there is something I should be concerned about. It's on my list of TO DO's to research that. But, I'd like to occasionally sleep and go to the bathroom once in a while, so time has not allowed me to check that TO DO off the list yet. I'll get to it. I will.

Anyway, this Food Inc. living is very time consuming. The planning and the shopping (at not JUST Meijer, but a thousand different' markets and online and everywhere in between) and the chopping and the research, oooooooh the research! Which explains why after two solid weeks of living this way, I was exhausted. Hence, my week three laziness. But, by the end of week three, I was back on track with grilling my organic chicken and sauteing yellow squash for dinner.

So, one of my goals that I mentioned from my last Food Inc. post was to not waste any food....something I have been extremely guilty of in the past. However, the organic carrots I purchased from the Clarkston Farmer's market....limp before I could peel them. The organic grapes I bought from Meijer...moldy on day three of sitting on my counter (store them in the fridge next time, I know). The left over roasted chicken and corn on the cob and green beans from dinner....add some whole wheat pasta and chicken stock and make it a soup (frozen for a crisp fall day).

But the broccoli? The broccoli that was left over from a veggie tray?? What to do with that when you really aren't a raw broccoli eater and when steaming broccoli just isn't your speed? TURN IT INTO BROCCOLI SOUP!!! Which you love!!

So, I researched how to make broccoli soup and I came across a formula that a blogger had posted. For any veggie soup you can imagine...3 parts stock, 2 parts veggies, 1 part dairy. Simple Simon.....except when you get the math wrong and you DOUBLE the amount of stock. Which meant that I had broccoli water after puree-ing the soup in batches in my blender, which previously had only seen use for smoothies and daiquiris.

WHAT?! Broccoli WATER? So, this morning I got up early to add some more veggies to the water, I mean soup. I cooked some more potatoes, cooked some cauliflower (which would have gone bad had I not used them), realized that HEY! I have two bags of frozen broccoli, I can add those to the soup!!! I did ALL of that work. More pureeing in batches in my blender, I added the purees to the water, I mean soup, and it turned out to be the PERFECT consistency! Cue choir of angels! The soup was saved!!

But since I added more veggies, I figured I should add some more dairy. Out of whipping cream, I threw in a couple dollops of sour cream and turned the enormous stock pot on medium heat (just so that I could melt the sour cream a little)....and then I left for the gym. And FORGOT. ABOUT. MY. SOUP. I returned an hour later to a boiling pot of waaaaaaaaaay overcooked soup. It was back to a watery consistency and the broccoli smelled burnt.

And I'm going to have to dump the whole damn thing. Easily two hours of my time, and a ton of FOOD, down the drain.

At least I'm trying to Waste not.

And guess what? I will NOT make this mistake again.

(Hits and Misses will be included in the next installment of Food Inc. Friday!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Food, Inc. Friday - The lesser of evils

As I've continued my Food, Inc. journey this past week, I've discovered that choosing the lesser of evils, in most cases, is really what this journey is all about for me.

For example, I want to eat meat that is hormone free, free range/pastured, grass fed (beef), and treated as respectfully as one would treat something that is about to become dinner. I also want to eat locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables with out the use of GMOs.

This, of course, only occurs 100% of the time in Food, Inc. Utopia. However, we do not live in a perfect world. So, I recognize that in many cases, especially at the beginning of this journey, it's about choosing the lesser of the food evils that are in front of me.

For example, when at a restaurant - Do I order the meat that I have no idea what's in it (probably hormones) nor how it was treated (probably poorly)? Or do I choose a veggie option that I have no idea what's in it (probably not organic) nor where the vegetables came from (probably not from Michigan)?

From my personal opinion, the vegetable option is the lesser of these evils. And that's what I've tried to do when I've gone out this week: veggie pizza after golf on Tuesday (and no, I wasn't golfing at a pesticide or chemical free course), side salad and potato wedges at BW3's this afternoon as the rest of the family (except for Jordyn) all chowed down on the evil chicken.

But even when I'm going for an all fruit/veggie option, I've found that I still have to choose between the lesser of evils. For example, at our local Farm Market, Harvest Time, I was hard pressed to find ANYTHING that was labeled organic. Although I did find several items that were from Michigan. So, do I go with the Michigan blueberries or the California organic oranges? OK, in this case I bought both, because I haven't really decided which of these two is the lesser of the evils. I'm leaning towards organic over locally grown. But, I need to do some more research to come to a conclusion that I'm comfortable with. For now, I'm comfortable with both choices, because at least I now have an awareness about my food that I didn't have before. And that's empowering.

OK, enough about evil schmevil....onto this week's Hits and Misses:

I went to the Clarkston Farmer's market (HIT!) on Saturday and found the Fresh Source Farm booth where I met Lindsay Maybee (HIT!), the owner and farmer who raised the organic, pastured chicken that I made for dinner on Monday. I found it very gratifying to be on a first name basis (OK, she probably forgot my name) with the person who raised my chicken. And - GET THIS! I roasted a whole chicken. ME! All by myself!! For the first time ever!!! When I mentioned this to my girlfriend Kim, that I ROASTED MY FIRST WHOLE CHICKEN CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!! I'm pushing 40 and I just roasted my very first chicken!!!! She confided that she also had never roasted a whole chicken. I'm not alone! Well, I wasn't alone. Let me just tell you, the meal was absolutely delicious, even though we only got two meals out of the 4lb, $12.75 chicken when Lindsay told me that she usually gets four meals out of her chickens (my mom turned the left over chicken and rice into a soup that we all ate for lunch through out the week). I am heading back to the Clarkston Farmers market tomorrow to put my down payment on a fall poultry share (12 chickens). And last week I put down the deposit on our Thanksgiving turkey. Super excited. Like, beyond excited. Actually, no one should be this excited about chicken. But, here I am. Excited about my chickens.

On Sunday, my cousin Glenn (who plants a garden in Utica that's roughly an acre) brought some of his bounty to our family reunion....zucchini, yellow squash, mini tomatoes, green beans, & jalapenos. Most of which we've consumed already this week (we had jalapenos on our nachos tonight, and WOW! were they spicy, fresh, and delicious!!) My mom recently told me about how my grandma (my dad's mom), used to slice zucchini, dip it in egg, and then dip it in cornmeal and she would fry it up. This is now on my summer bucket list. Fried zucchini slices a la Lennie. Maybe not the epitome of clean or healthy eating, but it sounds YUMMO to me and will connect me to my roots. I also was given a couple of green peppers and cucumbers from a friend and a tomato from another friend's daughter, bless her heart. Produce from friends and family is definitely a HIT!

When I was at the Clarkston Farmers market on Saturday, the selection of organic lettuces was out of this world; the variety and the quantity was just amazing. But, of course I didn't buy any then! And, of course, I wanted to make a steak salad for dinner Wednesday night (using beef that my brother in law had bought from a grass fed cow). So, on my way home from work I made a point to go off the beaten path, through the mess of construction, to hit the Lake Orion's Farmers market. MISS! What a disappointment. No lettuce. Maybe half a dozen booths. It was quite sad, actually.

Organic pea pods that I had purchased a week before at the Oxford Farmers Market went bad before I ate them. Wasting food is a TOTAL MISS! And, ashamedly, something that I am guilty of all too often. I am now on a mission to only buy what I think we will eat, rather than buying in bulk and having things go bad before I get to them. I want to waste as little as possible. This, I think, might be my toughest challenge, yet since it will involve more frequent trips to markets, a task that I used to dread, but now I'm not minding all that much.

Hoping for more hits than misses this week. And hoping for more good than evil.