Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From Scratch

One of my goals for this year is to eat more whole foods and fewer "food like substances" (for more on this topic, I highly recommend Michael Pollan's book: In Defense of Food). This means there will be more cooking from scratch.

I love to make food from scratch. It always tastes better and I enjoy the process of cooking it more. However, like everyone else, my time is finite so sometimes I compromise. I've often wondered how difficult it would really be to eat whole foods for an entire month. When we get back to PA and I have access to a good farmers market again, I plan to take that challenge.

For now, small changes. This week I tried two new things (new things intimidate me, so two in one week is a big deal!)

I've been making my own chicken broth for a while (aka freezing what's left in the crockpot after cooking a whole chicken) but I'd yet to do anything with it. There were weird floating bits of carrot and potato that I didn't necessarily want flavoring my tortilla soup!

Recently, however, I purchased a very sophisticated, expensive piece of kitchen equipment that allows me to deal with this: a strainer (also known as a metal colander). It was about $3. I originally purchased it to strain Caleb's baby food (which it does nicely in combination with a rubber spatula and some pressure. But I'm also finding lots of other little uses for it like steaming veggies and of course, straining weird bits out of my broth! I love multi-purpose items.

So this week, I used my nicely strained broth to make a big pot of tortilla soup. Since I have a nice case of the sore throat/ sniffles right now (hence the increased couch time and # of blog posts) it really hit the spot.

My next adventure was one I've also been meaning to try for sometime: making my own salad dressing. Most store dressings are full of things I don't really want to be eating, but what actually drove me to make my own was the fact I couldn't stand the idea of buying a special flavor of dressing for one salad (being cheap frugal often drives my efforts to eat healthier...)

Strawberries are in season here in Florida so I decided to make strawberry salad (spinach, red onions, strawberries and feta). I usually pour a poppy seed dressing or balsamic vinaigrette over this. Since I wasn't feeling creative enough to try the poppy seed, I went with the balsamic dressing.

My basic recipe was:

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey

Adjust measurements to taste
Shake well in tupperware

It turned our great. Even David thought it was a winner. I'm looking forward to trying other combinations!


annied24326 said...

lol! you really like that salad don't you ;-)
you can make the poppy seed dressing fairly easily with mustard, honey, poppy seeds and some milk. Play around with the amounts to see how you like it. Oh, and I used goat cheese in the salad I made for you, just fyi. Walmart sells some good goat cheese that works well. You know, if you throw some pan fried chicken breast (just fried in very little olive oil with salt and pepper) on the salad, you got yourself a whole, very healthy meal. I do that a lot with different kinds of salads.
I try to cook as much from scratch as possible too. We almost never eat fast food and I find that every time I do use some kind of food that has been prepared I don't like it and I get frustrated because I know I could make it better, arrogant I know, sorry ;-).
keep it up, it does pay off. And keep sharing your recipes pls ;-). I will try your vinaigrette for sure.

Sarah_Joy said...

Thanks for the encouragement Annie! I will definitely try that poppy seed dressing now : )

And yes, I love that salad for so many reasons, not least of which that it reminds me of being preggo with my little guy!