Saturday, March 03, 2018
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Some food talk
I was listening to an interview with Michael Pollan last week when he was asked what one thing people can do to help them eat healthier and be aware of what they are eating. He thought for a moment and said he thought everyone should know how to cook... at least the basics.
He said that the very process of cooking from scratch puts us in touch with our ingredients. I thought of that tonight as I was preparing new potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for a boiled dinner (along with an msg free polish kielbasa). How different this meal is than when one is in a rush and microwaves a prepackage meal assembled in a factory.
Pollan was a nature writer who began to get more and more into researching how our food has become industrialized. You may remember him as one of the narrators of Food, Inc. He is one of those writers that I am certain we are of different opinions about politics and religion but we certainly agree on the subject of food.
One of his famous quotes is, "never eat anything our great-grandmother would not recognize". In this interview, he also said "never eat anything to fuel your body that you buy at the same place where you fuel your car". ;)
I do a couple of large grocery shopping trips at the beginning of each month. Yesterday was my Meijers shopping, this morning it was Aldi's, and I expect there will be a trip made to Kroger's frozen food section for some veggies not purchased elsewhere.
It's a different way of meal planning than I did when kids were at home and we had a biweekly income but I've done it so long now that... while not perfected... it works most of the time. The one flaw is when I forget to write something down on the grocery list I keep on the refrigerator when I run out of something. If it is not in the budget, it may have to wait for next month. (Which is another reason I usually purchase an extra for the pantry.)
Most of my meals these days are very simple, either a small amount of protein with veggies, soup, or the occasional favorite casserole recipe. The simplest meal our family has always enjoyed is cheese, fruit, and a good quality bread. Sometimes I would include something like a good salami or ham. That was often our picnic menu, along with something cold to drink in summer.
My pantry now reflects this way of cooking. It makes stocking it easier since we eat much of the same menu in season. One never gets bored when it is a new season and soon asparagus and strawberries are no longer expensive, Meyer lemons and clementines are available in winter, fresh green beans and melons are cheap in late summer, and some of my favorite foods are harvested in the fall.
I still stock almost everything I need to bake favorite recipes, although I don't do as much baking as I did since our son and his family moved about an hour and a half away. If I don't share... I eat more. Especially if it is chocolate anything.
I do sometimes still enjoy perusing one of my cookbooks and deciding to make something special. I budget for the ingredients and enjoy the process of the preparations because I love to cook. The reason I love to cook is that, through the years, I have gained a lot of knowledge about cooking. So it is a source of creativity.
Anything we consistently learn more about and practice doing will get better each time we do it, whether it is painting a picture or making a quilt or creating a beautiful dinner. (Well, I could take years of music lessons and still not be able to carry a tune.)
Pollan is one of those people I would love to meet for coffee and talk about those things for which we definitely agree. Like the danger of chemicals in our food and the horrors of factory chicken farms and the value of local bees and raw honey and how the process of chopping and slicing vegetables is like a prayer, even if he does not pray to my God.
I haven't read any of his books, although I've seen Food, Inc. a couple times. However, two books sharing similar ideas that I love are An Everlasting Meal (probably the most influential food book I've ever read) and The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week). Yes, that is the title of a book!
Until next time...
Mentioned in this Blog Post
Food, Inc... here.
An Everlasting Meal... here.
The Feast Nearby... here. (I bought this for the Kindle a few years ago, it is much cheaper that way.)
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate Links.
Image: Apple Pie Harvest by Janet Kruskamp