Feeling like a slacker

I read cookbooks and I read books about cooking and books by people exploring food choices. I just finished Year of the Cow by Jared Stone. Well written and enjoyable. He has some of the same cookbooks I do and he watches Alton Brown. I recently read 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake. Last year I read Vegan Before 6 by Mark Bittman. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And many others. One interesting recent read was The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. I’ve looked at diets, eating plans, and who recommends what foods to eat. But I just can’t follow these guidelines to the letter. I start out with good intentions but get lost in one or two or five or ten of the details.

The first detail is where to buy the food. I have a pie-in-the-sky ideal of being a locavore. When I had a commute I would pass by a farm market and I would buy fresh and local produce once every week; I no longer have that commute and that farm store is out of the way. I looked into CSA (community supported agriculture) but don’t have commitment to go, again out of my way, to a farm each week, usually during the day hours, to pick up a box of vegetables. There is a service that actually delivers from the farms and I am thinking about that. $45 for a box of unknown/uncertain veggie fare each week. That could be interesting. I shop at discount grocery stores. This saves me 1/3  to 1/2 of the cost of groceries from the chain stores. It would be a trek to Trader Joe’s and/or Whole Foods and I am not willing to invest the time, gas, or money for those trips. Maybe on occasion. Even at Trader Joe’s I could not find Cottage Cheese without additives and I had to read all the organic foods and found preservatives anyway. Daisy is the only brand for cottage cheese and I have a difficult time finding the cottage cheese. Next time I find it at my local Walmart my fridge will be full and we will be eating Cottage Cheese until the cows come home!

I am able to find reasonably real food at the discount stores. I do not always insist on ‘whole wheat’ for all the wheat. I will tolerate “cane sugar” in some foods that are generally made with sugar. I went through my pantry and found high fructose corn syrup in relish and sugar in roasted red peppers! That is just unnatural. We did decide to switch from half-and-half to whole milk since I do not like paying three times as much for natural (ingredients of cream, milk) and it is not always available. I no longer buy low-fat or non-fat creams, cheeses, sour cream, or yogurts. Some of my cans of beans had EDTA in them as a preservative but I am not willing to give them away. I will just be more selective next time. Here’s all that was left in my snack drawer and in my pantry when I cleaned out the “bad stuff”.

realfood! 002realfood! 003

I admit I did not throw away the bad stuff but shoved it to the back. I wasn’t sure where to classify my Craisins; they have added sugar. But I use them instead of raisins mostly because I really like them, especially in baked goods. There was even sugar in the olives! Some items just had too many preservatives. But there was not a lot of junk food there. In fact I think that it isn’t really bad. It’s just not all whole wheat and a bit more sugar and preservatives that most of my reading suggests.

Which comes to me being a slacker. I tried to get rid of eating anything that I did not recognize as real food in the ingredient list. I must say that my husband is into reading ingredients as well. I tried using only whole wheat flour, even King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat, and it did not work out well for pizza dough. I will use a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat for most items, except cake. Maybe not pie crusts. Not sure about cookies. Sometimes I chuck the whole notion and buy the crispy rice cereal because I have a bunch of marshmallows leftover from camping trips and I am going to make crispy marshmallow bars with added butterscotch chips. I did not even bother looking at the ingredients of the butterscotch chips!

But after my recent reading I decided to buy the grass fed beef package at my discount grocer. This cost three times per pound than my regular ground beef purchases. But we were game and wanted to determine if it tasted better and worth the money. I thought I might as well make homemade buns as well. I did not have the time to make yeast buns so I divided an Irish Soda Bread recipe into six buns. Well these burgers will be placed on scones but they are homemade so who cares!

clark art institute 008One pound of grass-fed beef. It may be grass-fed but it certainly isn’t local! I set it out to get to room temperature (to cook evenly) and form quarter-pounders.clark art institute 011

I turn on the gas grill and let it get hot. I plan to cook these medium rare so we can taste the beef.

clark art institute 013clark art institute 015

The burger looks nice. It is medium rare. Because it is grass-fed I am not as queasy as usual for eating rarer meat. It makes a nice cheeseburger. Neither my husband nor I are truly impressed.

Some of you may argue that because the beef came from international parts that it will not taste as wonderful as truly local grass-fed cows. That may be true. And if I come across some New England grass-fed beef for a reasonable price per pound I will gladly try this experiment again.

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