The Resourceful Cook (podcast)Jan 5th, 2013 | By Cecilia | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
Cooking needn’t be daunting, nor does cooking using whole, organic and locally sourced food need to be a budget buster.
Although, at times it sure seems like it is.
Cities large and small are developing core groups of informed and passionate eaters hungry for homegrown delicacies. This has resulted in a rise in Farmers Markets and farm stands where seasonal food may be comparably priced to grocery store fare; generally, though, it’s pricier. Compare the $20 a shopper might pay for three to four pounds of pastured poultry at a Farmers Market to the six dollars that same shopper would spend on a conventional bird of equivalent weight at the grocery store.
That’s a difference shoppers feel.
It’s enough to make a wanna be home cook on a tight budget throw up their hands, throw out their hope, and roll into the nearest fast food drive-thru.
Tamar Adler to the rescue.
Adler, author of the acclaimed book, An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace, says with a little resourcefulness, budget-minded cooks (and non-cooks who want to feed themselves well) can partake in local, organic, sustainable and humanely raised produce and protein without having to sell off family heirlooms.
She says certain methods help cooks amortize the cost of that $20 chicken, for example, over multiple meals. Adler says she always boils chickens because, when she does, not only does she end up with cooked meat that can be used in a variety of ways, she also ends up with stock that’s the foundation of soup, or a cooking liquid for risotto, or the beginning of gravy or other sauces. She says she roasts vegetables, because when they’re done, the olive oil used to coat them is rich with their essence and can be used to cook or season other foods. Adler recommends boiling vegetables instead of steaming them because the pot liquor that remains can be used in untold ways to stretch and flavor the next meal.
Use every little bit of food you bring into your kitchen, says Adler. Kitchen “scraps” like onion skins and parsley stems take on new life as seasoning for stock and beans. Beet and Swiss chard stems can become pickles. That tiny bit of leftover spaghetti becomes an ingredient in a Sunday brunch frittata.
For those who believe themselves to be non-cooks, but still need to eat and want to eat well, she says there is magic in a pot of boiling salted water. By putting a pot of water onto boil when you come home from the office, and salting it until it is flavorful, home cooks (even beginners) place themselves in the middle of the process instead of the beginning. And being in the middle seems to free cooks who lack confidence from the worry and wonder of what am I going to do.
The cook can throw pasta into the water, with or without vegetables; then they might put melted butter in a bowl, grate in some Parmesan cheese and then toss the cooked pasta and vegetables in it and have a meal. A simple meal that the cook prepared without breaking a sweat.
Being able to feed ourselves and our families is empowering. Being able to feed ourselves and our families locally sourced organic food without going broke is priceless.