Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MY NAME IS LAURIE, AND I AM AN INGREDIENT ADDICT

Odel is in the kitchen, multitasking - defrosting the freezer while he roasts almonds and pecans (thanks, Buddy and Jackie!) in the microwave. I've been banished to any space other than the kitchen, so I have time for a short blog post before I load up the crockpot (Turkey Chili, made with turkey thighs and hominy - yum, yum) and we head out for a hike.

Living in an RV goes a long way in holding down the expenses associated with buying "stuff" (no room), but even RV'ers have "widget" addictions: tools (NOT us), beads, fabric for quilting, electronics (cameras, computers, GPS systems), yarn for knitting, books. My "widget", the thing I am always ready, willing and able to spend money on, whether I need it or not, is... INGREDIENTS!

For the past several weeks, Odel and I have been complaining about the amount of space given over to food in our RV. All the kitchen cupboards were stuffed, as was our double-door refrigerator and freezer. In the basement, we have a big chest refrigerator/freezer that holds beverages and white wines, and often has bags of greens or onions or other vegetables stuffed in on top. We have one plastic tub in the basement with canned beans, canned tomatoes, and boxed broth and soymilk. The space under our bed is used as a pantry: interesting pastas, Costco-sized vitamin bottles, stashes of sale items (tea, Viactive, more canned goods, spices). It got to the point that anytime we opened a door, something fell out, usually on us.

My fault. I just can't say no to interesting ingredients!

I AM making an effort. Yesterday, while Odel played golf, I went back to New Frontiers, the natural foods grocery store here in Flagstaff... alone. We needed a few vitamin supplements, a healthy non-dairy, non-transfat butter substitite that I use in our breakfast scones, and a daikon radish. I had a list. I was feeling determined. I managed to exit the store with only ONE grocery bag (and got a $0.05 credit for bringing my own bag).

Mori-nu, the brand of boxed tofu I like (no need to refrigerate), has two flavored tofus available now: Chinese Spice and Japanese Miso. I got two boxes of each (why not just one???). Bob's Red Mill makes a corn flour (rather than cornmeal) that I have picked up and put back twice in other stores... this time, it stayed in my basket.

In the produce section, a mosaic of gorgeous, organic produce, I agonized over the huge, perfectly fresh fennel bulbs (I only touched 'em, didn't pick 'em up) and little plastic boxes of mixed varieties of cherry-sized heirloom tomatoes from Sunizona, Arizona. These I actually picked up, then put back down, twice.

It was an exercise in willpower, and I came out reasonably well - but I can still see that lovely, crispy, feathery fennel bulb dancing in my imagination.

Ever so slightly related to my efforts to restrain my purchases of exotic or unusual ingredients is this blog: The Simple Dollar. Each morning, I sit down at the computer with my cup of tea and read my email. Besides the personal messages we receive, I also subscribe to a few email deliveries of blog feeds or electronic newsletters. The Simple Dollar is my favorite.

I won't go into details of the blog, other than to say that I very rarely delete the message without reading the entire post. His focus is on improving your financial situation, but he covers issues across the board, including cooking - he is an avid advocate of lowering expenses by cooking at home. With the economy contracting, I really enjoyed today's post discussing a New York Times article about the food shopping decisions we make when we attempt to economize. It might have changed my behavior just a tiny bit.

If you look at the blog and find you like it, you can click on the "get via email" link at the far right of the gray bar under his logo. It's almost always an interesting, throught-provoking read.

Odel is done... my turn in the kitchen. Two cans of hominy, two turkey thighs, two cans of tomatoes will be out of the kitchen when I'm done!

4 comments:

  1. Paws & HoovesMay 2, 2008 at 8:22 AM

    Well, Mom and I both agree that an "ingredients addiction" is the best one to have -- especially when you are on the resulting "eating end" of it!!!! It's a sign of a superior cook!!!! Keep it up!!! tee hee
    P.S. Mom just said it is "exciting and creative." (She's one, too!)

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  2. Well just had to say what a good read this blog posting is. Enjoyed chuckling about the ingredients, I guess because I can be guilty too. And I'm going to go to The Simple Dollar right away.
    Thanks,
    Nancy

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  3. I think this must run in families - I have almost made a reputation at our one local Trader Joe's for always having an overflowing cart! I can almost never leave the store without someone commenting about the amount of food I am buying - and I go with a list, and do that same "pick up, put down" thing.

    Someday, when you come to Cincinnati to visit (maybe you can try again for next year?), I am taking you to Jungle Jim's International Market, the biggest grocery store I have ever seen. It will take us at least a couple hours just to walk through the whole thing, but we'll have FUN since we love food & grocery shopping so much, and we'll have each other to try to limit the amount the other person buys! :)

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  4. I'm sure people comment to Joy because her size is totally in inverse proportion to the amount of food in her shopping cart!

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