Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whatcha cookin'?

I'm almost too full to type this...wow! Do you remember the braised pork hock they made in this spectacular "how to cut up a side of pork" video? I made that Tuesday nite and it was stunning. Honestly I don't think I can move from the couch. And superDUPER thanks to whoever gave me the link to that site - but I can't remember who did! Lemme know if it was you and I'll give credit where its due.

Anyway, my extra yummy dinner almost entirely came from the yard. Easy, cheap, good, and good for you. You could probably even make it in the crock pot if you were gonna be gone all day. What could be better? It reminded me of a funny conversation I had with someone recently.

This person was telling us that we should never, ever trust Big Food Company X. Ever. Then they turned around and said they were on Weight Watchers and were doing great on it.

Us: * blink blink *  "Um.. so you know that Big Food Company X probably manufactures most of what's in them snacks and shakes and frozen boxes of whatnot you're eatin, right?"

And I think you know my feelings on what WW's is pushing lately.

Then the conversation turned an ever more troubling corner when they went on to tell us that sure, now that they were retired they could put a little more effort into controlling their high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and weight...but you know... its so much easier to just take the pills for it and continue their life as it has been, didn't we agree?

Us. *blink blink*  "But..um... are you sure about that?"

When we have visited them we've always been shocked at the amount of prepacked, factory made "food like substances" they have in their house. Almost nothing they eat is home made. I mean nothing. Not even cookies. They buy cookies. From Costco. In a huge tub. There's only two of them.

I find this very odd.

I have to wonder why would anyone live like that... especially after watching the news and hearing them squawk on and on about how we're all getting too much salt.  And this is hot on the heels of the report where some fool wants to treat sugar like a controlled substance. In both cases it was reported that much of the sugar and salt comes from commercially produced "food."

It might surprise you that I'm not actually against Big Food. Someone has to feed all these people. And I think one of the highest security priorities for this country is to keep food production (literally) in and on our soil. So Big Food has a place. I just think they are making the wrong thing. Mostly because people buy it.

Lets face it. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is sad. Filled with soda (diet or regular), food groups that don't exist in nature (like the "itos" food group), and sticky sweet who-knows-what's-in-that-food-like-substance. But it tastes good and its easy, right?  Not only is it sad, we think its kind of silly.

I admit it. We like to make fun of the "food" in the grocery store. Some of the more hilarious items we've found are pre-packaged spices for making one meal. You get an over-packaged plastic thingy with 4 or 5 separate, common spices that are pre-portioned so there is none of that tiresome measuring. White sandwich bread scares us both pretty badly. And don't get me started on packaged, pre-cooked bacon. Now that is a crime. Who wouldn't want to cook their own bacon?!?

We feel like we are lucky because we grow most of our own food. But even if you don't, or can't, the least you can do is eliminate the sugar and salt by starting with raw ingredients and making it yourself. And be careful about what you buy in a can. You might wanna check out the frozen aisle for bags of veggies that don't have any extra stuff in them. And not the frozen, tossed together 'meal's - just get the veggies. Mass produced pasta sauce? Stop it. Read the label - see all that salt and extra sugar? Move down the aisle 10 feet and get no or low sodium crushed tomatoes and make it yourself.

Heading over to the meat section? If the guy behind the counter is crying its because we were just there screaming with laughter over their meat selection or asking each other "Hey! do we need ham?" We think we are hilarious. But seriously, check the packaged meat carefully. If there is a label that says something like "Moist and Meaty" then be careful that it hasn't been injected with who knows what.

What if you can't cook?

Friend, here's where it gets hard. Everyone over 12 should know how to cook. I know a 10 year old with exceptional knife skills. You don't need to be a four star chef, but everyone should know how to take care of themselves. At the end of the day you are responsible for what you eat. You either make an effort to do it yourself or shove off the responsibility to someone else but either way its your choice. I love Ruhlman's rant on cooking. He also doesn't really believe America is too stupid to cook.  Neither do I.

If you won't cook, then shame on you. I know people who "won't" cook. To me that's like saying to your family that its 'good enough' to live under a tarp in the front yard. Technically that is shelter. But that's not really living, is it? Technically those packages of stuff you put in the microwave are food. Technically those bags of stuff you get at the second window after yelling your order into a clown is food. But that's not really living is it? If you won't cook, then go ahead and stand on principal while your family's health suffers. I'm sure you're making a point to someone.

If you don't know how to cook then let me introduce you to my friend Rachael. She is fun and has easy-to-make meals. If you are organized you can make these meals in about half an hour. If you are just getting started it might take longer. Set your DVR or Tivo or what not and record her shows. Watch them.  She starts making supper about 20 minutes before the show ends. Go ahead and fast forward to that point.  Then do what she is doing. And you can run right out and get her books - this one here and this one also. I don't have this one but it looks good also. See? Easy peasy. You can cook.

Once you get your confidence up then you can move on to other things. But you get extra points for making food starting with raw materials and that does not include the instructions "remove container from the plastic wrapping."

Back to my dinner and the folks we know who'd rather take the pills. My supper took less than 5 minutes to put together. It took me longer to unload the dishwasher than it did to put everything in a pot and shove in the oven. I went away for a while and came back and the house smelled like heaven. So I find myself unable to agree with them that its just easier, or better, to just take the pills. I'd rather have real food that I cooked myself.

Now what are you cooking today? What's for dinner? Snow is in the forecast so I have my mind on a complicated bolognese sauce made entirely from ingredients that came from my yard. It will take a while but it will be worth it.

Have a great Wednesday everyone, now get out there and make your supper. Don't believe the lie that its easier just to take the pills!


John Amrhein said...

What a great rant! I'm so thankful my mom taught me and all my brothers to cook. Today it's my wonderful wife making the homemade macaroni and cheese with farm-bought cheese. Now I just have to try my hand at making pasta and that'll be another package we don't have to open.

darius said...

Fantastic video, thanks for sharing it! I haven't watched the dvd's on gourmet butchery I won... dvd slot is jammed.

Glad to see more bloggers railing against junk food!

Traci Sumner said...

Homemade Italian sausage with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and fresh mozzarella. yum

Blue Feather Micro-Farm said...

I made a big pot of ham and bean soup. The broth came from a cooked down ham bone. The beans started as dry, were soaked and lightly fermented in whey before being tossed in the slow cooker. The onions in the soup were caramelized in butter. All of these things came from the grocery store, but I don't have room to raise my own pigs. However, this soup is delicious, inexpensive and HEALTHY. It just takes TIME and planning. It aint rocket surgery :D but you do have to be able to think more than 3 minutes in to the future.

Anonymous said...

Well said OFG :-)
Dinner tonight; roast chicken with broccoli and cauliflower tossed in olive oil and sea salt roasted then finished with a spritz of fresh lemon...and a salad, dressed in good olive oil and aged balsamic.
Nothing home grown but nothing from a package.

freemotion said...

Great rant!!! I just had a bowl of rooster soup that started in my yard, progressed to an incubator, then back to the yard, then a few months on pasture, finally into the freezer with the help of my dad. Finally, I threw the soup together using convenience ingredients such as the scallions I grew, chopped, and froze last spring so I could just break off a chunk and throw them in the soup.

What is better than that? And why skip the wonderful step of rubbing dried rosemary (that you grew & dried yourself)between your palms to crush it....then sniffing your palms every few minutes until the lovely aroma finally fades. Can't get that from a plastic packet.

You also need the time for your body to prepare itself to digest the food that is coming...that doesn't happen in the microwave, for sure!

Tabatha said...

Posts like these made me fall in love with your rants.

PeterPansDad said...

"White sandwich bread scares us both pretty badly."

From "Our Farm of Four Acres"

"...our bread was always made from the best flour. We all liked it much better than bakers' bread, and it was much more nourishing. Indeed, when I was once in Kent during "hopping," and saw that the women who resided in the neighborhood always gave up half a day's work weekly for the purpose of going home to bake, I used to wonder why they did not purchase their bread from a baker in the village. I was informed by one of them to whom I put the question, "Lord, ma'am, we could not work on bakers' bread, we should be half-starved; it's got no heart in it."

And a little later...
"It is not only that other ingredients than flour, yeast, and water are mixed in the dough, but it is seldom sufficiently baked..."

Chai Chai said...

How did you make it all the way through this post and not mention you home produced honey?

This will scare your friends, maybe they will kick in and help you buy a cow if you share the milk!


David said...

Excellent post! Just knowing WHAT you put into the meal is important.

While salt is an important ingredient - I find one always uses far less than the prepackaged crap.

Funny, I too have marveled at the spices prepackaged for individual dishes! The same company that makes those also charges up to 5X more than the same dried herbs and spices cost at the ethnic market. Scandalous!

Cook for yourself, cook for your loved ones, feed your souls as well as your mouth!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Great job John's mom! Making food for your family is so important.

Thanks Darius! Drat on the dvd player.. boo!

Traci, sounds delish! Great work!

BFMF - Its not rocket surgery for sure - and you are just right, ingredients can be found in the grocery store... if you can get past the packaged crap.

Anon - that sounds heavenly! Gotta love a roast chicken...yum!

Thanks, Free, I love that you said the convenience foods are in the yard! How convenient is that - right outside your door!

Aw shucks, thanks Tabitha.. *hugs*

PPD - THANKS for the quote. I checked out Our Farm of Four Acres - online - and I love love love it! And yes. White bread = kinda weird. Very weird. Ick.

CC - GREAT link, wow. Goofy goats - I need a cow!

Mary Ann said...

I loved the rant until I got to this part: "It took me longer to unload the dishwasher than it did to put everything in a pot and shove in the oven. I went away for a while and came back and the house smelled like heaven. So I find myself unable to agree with them that its just easier, or better, to just take the pills. I'd ".... A DISHWASHER??????

Happy Farming Momma said...

I just wanted to tell you that, aside from the fact I have always wanted a farm, reading your blog and two others is what has givin me the push, ambition, motovation, and the desire to actually puch and make ends meet to do just that. Reading your blog is like a pep talk to me. I know this sounds weird but for me it is great! I am 27 with 5 kids and my mom never cooked, my dad did. But when she left it went from cooking to living out of the microwave. So when I had my kids as a teenager with his "guidence" my kids did too for a while. Then I met my husband and now he does most of the cooking, oh so good and I bake alot!
But with the combo of your blog, and my want for more animals ha ha, accompanied with the thought of making my kids healthier and provideing for them other than with money, I am now up to two pigs, 9 chickens and counting (love them) setting up for my milking does and will be raising rabbits for meat! The garden and actually cooking are the two parts I am most affraid of. But I can dress animal with the best of them no problem... I guess all this bable was me saying thanks, Thanks for being my pep talk in the mornings that helps me feel like I got this and makes me wanna get up and go! These thanks come from my self and my family weather they know it or not.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

MaryAnn.. you dont want to see me without a dishwasher... or a clothes dryer. ;-)

HFM - Aw shucks - THANKS and so glad that you found me! Those babies of yours are adorable - and with the Great Dane! What a scream! You are gonna love every second of having your own critters. *hugs*

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