Walking the walk

So, you have seen the proposal for my MALS final project. I am writing about how we eat and what we eat - and attempting to find a more ethical way for us to do so. Since I am working on this project, I am starting to experiment more with how I prepare food, where I buy it and what effects my shopping and consuming habits may produce.

As it has finally started to cool off here (last night it was below freezing), I decided to make some vegetable soup. Not Campbell's in a can, mind you, but actually make the soup. As Mike and I are huge fans of Alton Brown, I pulled his recipe for Garden Vegetable Soup off FoodTV. At Trader Joe's on Sunday, I picked up a few items for the soup - organic veggie broth, organic tomatoes, organic green beans, organic corn (still on the cob) and fresh garlic. I decided I was going to make the soup from all organic ingredients - that was, until Mike and I went to Harris Teeter last night. Since the Farmer's Market is only open on Saturday, I didn't buy any of this stuff before hand. Therefore, I had to hit the Teet.

Organic vegetables are ridiculously expensive. I admit, I normally buy conventional - I wash my veggies thoroughly and keep my fingers crossed that nothing too weird made it into the internal parts of the veggies. I needed: carrots, leeks, celery, and parsley to finish my ingredients list. After price checking, let's say the only organic vegetable that ended up in the cart was the parsley. The leeks were astronomical in price, the carrots were about $3 a bunch, and the celery looked like it had already been chewed.

So yes, I do understand that even if the veggies look rough, they are still probably good a lot of the time - but I have been groomed to look for the most perfect, the most round, the greenest, the most intact vegetables in the store - even though I will chop them up into unrecognizable pieces. How on earth did we get to this stage???

Anyway, Mike and I were having spaghetti and salad for dinner last night, so I spent a good 20 minutes chopping veggies for the sauce and the salad. Once dinner was ready, we ate that and watched a bit of TV. After we caught up on an episode of Boston Legal, I headed back to the kitchen for the 45 minutes of prep Alton gave me for the soup. Alton - YOU LIE. I think I cut vegetables for at least an hour and a half - maybe longer. Peel and cut the carrots. Peel and cut the potatoes. Clean and cut the celery. Clean and snap the green beans. Clean and cut the leeks (which are very dirty, let me tell you). Clean and cut the tomatoes. WAIT.

The tomatoes. I bought organic tomatoes at TJ's. They tasted like crap. Luckily, we had in the cupboard two cans of San Marzano tomatoes. We actually got them on clearance at Kroger for $1 a can. Who on earth priced them like that must have been nuts - these easily sell for $3-5 a can, depending on where you buy them. Anyway, I substituted the San Marzano's for the TJ tomatoes. Again though, cleaning and chopping them as well.

Last was the corn. I cut it all off the cob and dropped it into the pot. My idea was to use the crock pot and cook the soup starting last night and through the day today. This may be a terrible idea - we will see!!!! When I get home about 6pm, I plan on turning the soup off and letting it get to room temperature. I am hoping that allows some of the flavors to marry a bit. Then, for dinner, I will reheat a few portions for us. I hope it is tasty.

The whole point of this is, no wonder Campbell's came in and saw a market to make a killing off soup. We all like soup, it's good for us, and it can be made in very large quantities. But making it from scratch takes quite a while - especially in our busy lifestyles today. After working all day, hitting the gym, getting groceries, making one dinner - THEN starting on the soup, I didn't really get to relax until almost 11:30pm. Cooking well is hard to do - so how do we find a good middle ground? I don't know, folks, I don't know.

NOTE: Please do not think Mike was sitting idly aside while I did all this. He was hard at work preparing a workshop for today, as well as the class he is teaching this evening. He needed work time, I needed cook time. It worked out perfectly.


Anonymous said...

You just need to become a housewife. You learn to chop veggies pretty damn quick when you got three kids at your teet and a husband demanding more beer while watching football on the couch.

It just takes a lot of practice. If I, the woman that burns water (literally), can learn to become a speedy and somewhat decent cook anyone can do it.

And screw organic. We can't feed the entire world by growing pesticide and fertilizer free food. It's nice in theory but it just ain't feasible.


Anonymous said...

Whoops! I meant to add that the first paragraph is not a description of me. :) I just love the stereotype and have fun poking fun at it.

I hope the soup turned out well. :)