I’m more than old enough to know that not everything that I read is true (but wait! I read it on the internet AND heard it on talk radio, it MUST be true). Every once in a while, though, an idea expressed makes me wonder.
Recently I listened to The End of Overeating as an audio book, and it got me thinking enough to do a test of my own.
The book mentions the process used by most franchised, sit down restaurants of injecting the meat numerous times to break up the muscle fibers. That way a mixed bite (protein, veggies, simple carbs, etc.) will all be ready for swallowing at the same time. Basically, it is pre-chewing the protein for us. Gross! The next time I went out to eat, I recognized that phenomenon, which I had tested at home and it doesn’t occur when I’m preparing the food.
(Aren’t you glad I waited until after the holidays were over to bring this up!)
All of this reminded me of a post by HomeEc 101 (of course I’d read that blog!) called “Scratch Cooking: The Whys.” In it Heather talks about the reasons why she cooks from scratch including wanting to know what was in her food and trying to reduce waste. For me, I take great pride in preparing food and find chopping a relaxing activity – when I’m not slicing my finger! As all my long-time readers know, it is also a frugal thing. It costs me less to make things at home, and honestly, I think they taste better as well.
With time being a valuable commodity these days, I combine my cooking activities whenever possible. In my last food prep binge, I baked and pureed a pumpkin and made what Lisa at The Meaning of Me calls “garbage soup” – making veggie broth out of the ends, cores, and peels of vegetables that would have been either thrown away or composted otherwise (they are still composted after cooking). With all the sodium in the store-bought broth, I feel much better using mine.
Spending this time allows me on more busy days to still use ingredients that I prepared myself.
This is not to say that I don’t do convenience foods as well. Bisquick (the Heart Healthy kind) does live in my house and so do cream of mushroom soup, boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, and canned spaghetti sauce (sad as it seems, I prefer the kind in the can to the kinds in a jar). They are comfort foods, not for every day, but boy can they be yummy!
When I was discussing my propensity to partake of cheat meals (using boxed/canned ingredients and throwing them together), my friend Ms. M said that my version of cheat meals is what many other people consider to be cooking. It made me feel better about my guilty pleasures.
How often do you cook from scratch? or What is your favorite convenience food?
9 thoughts on “What’s Eating Me”
So I’m reading…got the to the pre-chewed protein thing, thought “ew”…kept reading…love the frugal stuff part…holy cow, was that my name??? Thanks for the nod! 🙂
Isn’t that homemade broth awesome? My Mom and I were just talking about it yesterday – she saw me tossing veggie scraps into my freezer bag as I was preparing dinner. We got to talking about the broth and she commented that she doesn’t use veggie broth much. I guess I didn’t really, either, but since making this stuff, I use it all the time! As a matter of fact, I have used all of my frozen stash from my last huge batch and am ready to do a new round this week – probably tomorrow! I use it for just about all of my soups – even if it asks for Chicken broth because why not? I use it for rice, quinoa, farro, whatever, instead of water. It’s essentially free, the ingredients are completely controllable, and it feels good knowing I’ve been thrifty and careful about food choices.
We also keep pre-fab sauce on hand (my Italian relatives are rolling in their graves) for those quickie nights when you just need that fast, comforting thing. And box mac and cheese? Please. Enter “mac and cheese” on my blog search and you’ll see why that is a staple here, no matter how nasty it is in theory – the Hub and Kidzilla love the stuff. It’s been the subject (or sub-subject) of many a post!
I don’t keep the cream soups anymore since I found a fast and easy substitute for them! No kidding, I use it all the time. If you’re interested, I’ll pull the notes.
I’ve done the roasted and pureed pumpkin thing this fall, too – isn’t that awesome? Made for some great smoothies!
I was so glad to give you the nod on “garbage soup.” I love that term! I’ve made it for years, but that label for it is the perfect definition. I use the veggie broth for everything, too. Why cook up rice (or quinoa) in water if you can give it so much flavor with broth you make for free?
Oooooooo, a homemade cream of soup? Wonderful! Maybe you can do a blog post on it. I’m sure I’m not the only one out here that would love it.
I can do that! It’s so easy and works just as well as any can of cream soup. Have to give the Hub the credit for the title “garbage soup” – that was all his, but it’s stuck!
Years ago I started reading labels, and stopped buying processed food. I was just appalled, and didn’t want the children eating any of that. When I started making everything myself the children’s behaviour improved immeasurably, one of them stopped wetting the bed, and my husband’s migraines and insomnia stopped. Magic! Those cans and boxes were poisoning us as it turned out, which makes me very, very angry about the food industry. Seeing results like that certainly motivates me to keep cooking..
What a remarkable turnaround your family has experienced! It is heartwarming for me to know that going back to scratch cooking can have so many rewards – the feel good factor is more than emotional; it can be physical, too.
I will definitely be using Lisa’s “cream of” soup recipe!
I cook from scratch almost all the time. I rarely eat out – especially during winter months when I have a bit of a phobia about everyone being sick and sneezing on what they’re cooking back in the kitchen, or the wait staff coughing into the same hands they set the tables with. NO thank you, I’d rather have food from my own kitchen. As you know, my hubs and I are traveling around in our RV = and one of the main reasons we travel this way is to have our own little kitchen where we can cook locally and from scratch = and to sleep in our own bed with our “just right” pillows and our own bed linens – but hten that’s another story in itself.
My favorite convenience food? Probably Gourmet White microwave popcorn. I can (and often do) eat a whole bag of it myself.
Mmmmmmmm …. microwave popcorn! Yummy!
How wonderful that your RV kitchen is big enough for you to have supplies on hand to cook with. Some of those kitchens are tiny. To be able to take advantage of locally produce all over the country … what an opportunity!
That’s cool that you cook from scratch. That’s definitely something I don’t do often enough. Usually if it doesn’t come from a box or comes ready to eat, I’m not going to do it. Every time I try to cook something, it just turns out weird and almost inedible. But I do have one recipe that I use that turns out well. Unfortunately it takes a while and I just don’t have the patience to do it too often so I end up cooking it about once a year.
By the way that pre-chewed protein thing sounds awful, but I wouldn’t put it past restaurants to do something like that. I’ll have to watch out for it the next time I’m eating out. Then again, would I want to know that’s happening?
I must admit that I was much happier not knowing that the restaurants were essentially pre-chewing my meat. I now notice it every time I eat at a restaurant. It freaks me out a bit.
I have some really simple recipes – mainly throw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot kind – that are really good and completely from scratch. I love how 10 minutes in the morning can make for a delicious meal 8-10 hours later.