Processed Food

Now that my kitchen has been completely cleaned up and out and reorganized I am committing myself to running it more like I did when I had a catering business just out of college. I was poorer and smarter. Like working in a restaurant, when you cater you don’t waste anything. Regular humans are terrible about wasting food, sometimes because they don’t know what is food. Those cilantro stems actually have more flavor than the leaves, but I digress.

One habit I am trying to get back into is that of processing food at the right time. Processed food you say? You don’t eat processed food? Processing just mean preparing. For instance, if I bring a cantaloupe home from the farmers market and it is the perfect ripeness, which I can tell from the lovely smell it is emanating, then I should not just put that whole melon right in the fridge. Instead, I should cut it open, pull out the seeds and cut it into chunks and place it in a Tupperware. That is processing.

It is much easier to eat some melon if it is already cut up and ready to go. If I open the refrigerator, looking for a snack an encounter the beautiful melon ready to eat I am more likely to chose that than something less healthy.

If fruits and veg are not ripe, the way to processes them is to put them in a bowl close at hand on the counter so I can check on them everyday. When I feel the time is right I need to either eat them, serve them to others or put them in the fridge to slow down the ripening process.

Today I found one cup of buttermilk left in the quart bottle I bought for another recipe. Buttermilk stays good for a long time, but not forever. So I decided to bake a loaf of buttermilk bread to use up the leftover. Once the buttermilk has been processed into bread I can be frozen if we don’t eat it all up tonight. See, in this case process meant cooked.

So don’t look your nose down at processed foods as long as you are the one doing the processing. Think in terms of prolonging the shelf life of your food or not wasting it. With just two of us in the house it is easy to have more in the fridge and pantry than we can eat. Thinking in terms of making all meals with at least half of the ingredients I already have on hand is the best way to use up my surplus. It also makes for more interesting meals. So pull out a can from your shelf and find a way to use it in your next meal. Just don’t be afraid of processing food.

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