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Confessions: The Good & The Profane

October 4, 2017

It’s been some time since I’ve formally confessed on the blog. Or at least it feels like it has been.

Here’s the deal. I’m a pretty straight shooter. Like most people, I try to do good things. But I don’t always succeed. And when I fail, I feel the need to share those failures. It’s kind of cleansing to let all that guilt and shame out into the blogosphere.

Never forget, this blog was first and foremost is a mental health project for yours truly. The fact that it may also be useful, is a happy accident of fate.

Right. So what did I do this time? Well, let’s back up for a hot second and review some of my thoughts on what it means for food to be good.

Not to linger on Monday’s IL Faro event, but it was an Instagram post from the restaurant that made me realize I wasn’t quite living my truth. Actually, it was the hashtags.

#housemade
#freshneverfrozen
#prepackagedisforhomenotrestaurants

What I thought in my head was that prepackaged food is for institutions, and really neither homes nor restaurants should be cooking pre-fab frozen meals. Not too long ago I went off on a screed about frozen pizza. It’s been several years since one of those has entered the house. In fact, I don’t think we’ve had one since I started judging pizza contests.

I just can’t.

Good food isn’t that much harder to make. Or at least that’s the mantra. It’s also getting more and more accessible all the time. Yesterday was Tuesday, and it was one of the weeks that I got to bring home the CSA share. To make the bounty of seasonal produce more manageable, we share the share with another family, alternating weeks.

The vegetables we got this week were gorgeous as always. But gone are the days of tomatoes, corn, and other summer produce that can be easily eaten raw or quickly thrown on the grill for a delicious farm feast.

So when I got home and it was time to put together a quick weeknight dinner, I looked at the vast array of produce and just couldn’t make a dish materialize that took advantage of all this goodness. But I thought maybe I could do something a bit Asian with tatsoi and broccolini.

Remember how I said just a moment ago that good food isn’t that much harder to make?

Tatsoi is the worst. It’s full of stems. It’s absolutely filthy. And when you sauté it, the volume of food reduces from mounds and mounds of leafy greens into a few tablespoons of cooked vegetables. To make matters worse, it’s a vegetable the kids would resist. So I mixed these two local, seasonal, and sustainably produced greens into a frozen, processed bag of Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken.

This is one of our family’s guilty pleasures. I have no idea where in the world this chicken comes from, what the birds are fed, how well the animals treated, or the host of other concerns I typically bring to my meat purchases. The chicken pieces have been either pre-fried, or contain enough oil to get crispy in a 400 degree oven. Whatever the case, it presents as a fried food, which I’ve been trying to avoid. And the whole thing is slathered with more sugary sauce than I care to admit.

The only thing I can say is that it’s probably better than most of the Chinese takeout you can get around these parts, on all counts. And I suppose in my defense, I’ve found that one bag can feed the family of four when I supplement it with plenty of vegetables and a pot of rice.

Still, I can’t help feeling guilty.

It wouldn’t have been significantly harder to make something from scratch using either tofu or chicken. It’s just that I didn’t have any on hand. So maybe it’s a matter of planning better. Or perhaps it’s about thinking about different products as emergency dinner foods. Maybe I need to keep a stash of raw frozen chicken on hand.

Or maybe beef. Beef isn’t my first instinct. But right now it’s more top of mind since I’ll be headed out on Friday to meet some regional farmers as part of the New York Beef Tour, thanks to the New York Beef Council.

Regardless of the protein source, it would be very convenient to have a stash in the freezer. And somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I have a distant memory of doing just that. Although I suppose I would still fail the IL Faro hashtag test with frozen meat. Still, I’d feel better about more meals from scratch, and fewer out of a bag.

Anyhow, it’s something to think about. But I’m glad I got this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2017 10:45 am

    Happens to the best of us! You did better than most by adding some veggies to the frozen meal :-) All we can do is feed our families and work to be as healthy as we can, when we can!

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