Friday, October 14, 2011

Food Storage Friday - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So it was an up and down kinda week. It started on a high note, being Thanksgiving and the most perfect weather imaginable and it could't help but go downhill from there. My intentions to eat unprocessed were also a bit like a roller coaster- we had some highs, some lows and a bit of inbetween- here's the round up.

The Good:
Preserving continues- this week I did more tomato sauce, tomato salsa, tomato jam (sensing a theme here?) and red onion jam.

Last week's drying experiments all seemed to work out well so there are more trays in the oven and more jars filling out the shelves.
The most fun and interesting projects are the vinegars. I love having science experiments in the kitchen! I used the last of the white grapes, a bag of frozen purple grapes and some homegrown cider (from the apples I picked on Sunday) and set them to ferment on top of the fridge- all are bubbling like mad as the yeasts go to work on them. The screw caps are only loosely on; the gases produced as the sugars ferment into alcohol must be able to escape or they'd blow up!

The bad:

Thanksgiving was a chance to go to two different turkey dinners- one on Sunday and one Monday. I had no say in the preparation of either turkeys (as it should be when one is a guest) and could only contribute sides. For Sunday I prepared two pumpkin pies, made from whole pumpkins which I roasted and pureed, and homemade pastry made from store bought flour and lard- we'll call that one a draw.

For Monday's dinner we shopped at the Sorauren market for local veggies in the afternoon and prepared a roasted cauliflower dish, a root vegetable casserole featuring local carrots, beets and kholrabi, and baked sweet potatoes.

But at the dinner I also indulged in store made veggie and dip platter, cheese and crackers, pumpkin cheese cake, and gravy made from a packaged mix among other things. All of this was lovingly prepared by my sisters who spent the better part of two days preparing to feed a large group of people. In our family of 13 kids, we were brought up to eat what is put in front of us, and it is not good manners to critique someone else's food choices while scarfing them. Count this as a delicious fail.

The Ugly:

The Russian and I both worked a long physical day yesterday. When we got home at 9 pm neither of us felt like cooking. We still had some leftovers we brought home from Monday's dinner and hot turkey sandwiches seemed like the perfect solution, except we had no bread. I sent the Russian to the corner store and this is what he came home with:

Yeah that's Wonderbread. The epitomy of processed food. We weren't even allowed to eat this when we were kids- my mom had the sense to recognize that the amount of sugar and refined flour in it exceeds any possible nutritional value so we never bought it, even on sale. But if you're hungry and this is what's available, you eat it. Which is why things the October Unprocessed kinda bug me sometimes. It's all well and good to talk about eating unprocessed foods but many people just don't have access to these kinds of choices. Did you know if you get your food from a food bank KD (Kraft Dinner mac and cheese) is considered a protein source? And Beefaroni is both a protein and a vegetable source. I'm not suggesting this is a good thing by any means but choosing not to eat those things and then being smug about it seems a bit holier-than-thou sometimes. Most food banks can't provide perishables like fresh vegetables or dairy. And if you have to chose between paying rent or buying fresh veggies, which do you chose? Our weekly Farmer's market is full of locally grown, mostly organic crops but I sometimes can't afford to shop there. I know how lucky I am to have the time and the know how to make much of my food from scratch but if I had kids to think about, I know my priorities would change in a heartbeat. I know at least one participant in this challenge (Canadian Doomer) has small children (and a lean food budget) so her efforts to keep to it are much more impressive than mine.

Today find me in a bit of a riled up mood- this weekend has two major protest events going on in the Toronto area. Tomorrow,Oct 15th, the Occupy Wall St movement moves north to Toronto and Montreal among other Canadian cities. I haven't decided yet if I plan to attend. I support the idea of people making their voices heard and there are certainly many issues in this country that need to be addressed. However the lack of a unified message is troubling and the city as a whole is gearing up for this like it will be a repeat of the disasterous protests that occurred during the G20 summit last year.

Sunday's rally has a much clearer purpose and purposes to be an amazing event- Foodstock is a fundraising gathering to protest the building of a mega quarry in the heart of Ontario farmland and will feature over a hundred of Canada's top chefs serving up local fare accompanied by a program of great Canadian bands- all for a minum donation of $10. This event I'll be attending rain or shine!

But back to Wonderbread-we eat so little bread in this house that I've never bothered to bake our own. Last night made me realize that having a homemade loaf of bread (or even an unbaked one) in the freezer for just such times might not be a bad thing. Anyone have a good beginners recipe for bread?


  1. Very interesting post, I wish I lived close enough to go to the foodstock, I will do a post on my most basic bread recipe with photos this coming week, and if you like it, you are welcome to us it, it was the recipe I was taught as a child, I started making it when I was about eight or nine.

    I do understand where you are coming from about the comments about those that eat certain foods, I am a member of a fruit/veggie co-op once a month at my closest town, you pay ten dollars a share, we get two and you pick it up, I have a friend that has a large growing family and they are always a little worried about funds so I recommend this program to them, offered to do the drop off and pick up, so they didn't have to spend the gas or figure out the little ones etc, they turned down what can range between 30 to 55 dollars worth of fresh fruit and veggies for ten dollar investment because its not local or organic produce.

    They are not wrong, its not, they take our money and pool it and buy a selection of what is on sale, they do buy local in season but they are trying to get the most bang for the buck for those that really need this program.. it was a bit of a huh to me, There are ways to wash/cook and prepare things that reduce risks with non-organic foods, but the difference between the amount of fresh food available to the little ones would tip me over the edge.. they believe that to have less and show the example is more important..

    Still not really sure how I feel about that but its not my choice, all I can do to help is to help teach her to garden, offer extra's from our place, and teaching to can etc.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts FG. My nephew put it best for me when he said Oct Unprocessed is a good example of a First World dilemma.

    I wish your fruit/veggie co-op was available here- it sounds great! All of the CSA's available here are too pricey for our budget. Looking forward to your bread post!