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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sometimes we cheat

Its hard to be good all the time.

Some days, like everyone, we're too tired and it seems like too much hard work to get into the kitchen and cook a meal. So we made the call, and I went and picked up the fish and chips. No photos of the greasy feast will grace this page.

Which raises the issue of how good is good, and how bad is bad? There are fanatics on this topic, and I have to admit I'm not one of them. I'm a realist. We're a single income family with a toddler and a mortgage, and we have to balance our food spending with our concerns for our health and nutrition. There are things we can stretch to, and there are things we do regularly to save money. Apart from the occasional slip when the local chippy gets the call, we walk this line as best we can.

So, How Good is Good? In an ideal world, we would eat only certified organic meat and produce, vegies grown in our own garden, eggs from our own free range chickens, and make our own milk and cheese from dear Daisy who doubles as a full time lawn mower. But the hard facts are you can't have livestock in a suburban area, the levies charged by the council to keep chickens swallows up any savings you might make by having them in the first place, and any vegies we grow will only be enough to occasionally supplement our diet, never to sustain it. If anyone has ever tried to do a full grocery shop in an organics shop, they'll know just how hungry or poor you'll end up as a result. I fully support the concept of organics, but we just can't pay that sort of a food bill. So, next best option is the local grocer's market. We've been going to the one in the Hutt for the past few weeks and I'm loving it. The variety is great, you can shop around for price and quality, and it's a chance for the whole family to get out for a walk around by the river. Even with the extra petrol expense, we come away with more vegies than we ever used to at the supermarket, for less expense overall. This week we'll probably check out the Tawa market, as its closer to home. Looking forward to that.

Also, How Bad is Bad? We avoid as much processed food as we can, but there are things we tolerate and things we don't touch. We know how bad they are, but we still eat processed smallgoods like salami, luncheon and sizzlers, in small quantities. Every couple of weeks we weaken and get the above-mentioned shark and tatie. But we pretty much don't touch the extremes, the McDs and the BKs of the world, unless we're travelling and really too tired to care. There are an awful of people with an awful lot to say about the fast food giants of the world, about how they destroy the environment and the health of everyone they touch, and 99% of the time I fully agree with them. But sometimes, its just what you need. I would be a hypocrite to claim that my position was otherwise. Yes, there is no nutritional value in the food that these companies serve; they are largely responsible for the environmental degradation of several third world countries; there is a strong ethical and health argument to support the general boycott of these companies, and this has been documented by others more thoroughly and succinctly than I could hope to achieve here. But as long as the economic models we live within value speed of service and fat-saturated taste over good health and ethical business practice, there will be a market for KFC, BK, McDs, DQ, and AJs.

So what exactly, I hear you ask, do we not touch? I personally just can't abide prepackaged dinners. TV Dinners, to use the American. I simply have too much pride as a cook and someone who eats to stoop to that. There are a few organic suppliers who do nice risottos and soups and suchlike in single serves, and full credit to them, but that's the limit of it. I just can't imagine what must go into those meals to make them all heat up just right at the same time. And don't get me started on the issue of heating plastic in the microwave.

Well, that was a rant.

To end on a good note, last night we had Stuffed Sausages with Coconut Rice. Very quickly:

Vigorously boil 6 Real Sausages (ie, not precooked) for about 5 mins, then remove to a grill tray and slice lengthwise to about 3/4 deep. While these cool, mix up in a bowl 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, about 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, freshly ground salt and pepper, about 1/4 cup of grated edam and parmesan cheese, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme. Squeeze this into the sliced sausages and place under a grill. Give them a good 15 mins, time enough to brown up beautifully, melt the cheese and cook right through.

This basic recipe can be modified to suit your own tastes and the flavour of sausage you have on hand.

To make the Coconut Rice, first fry up a finely chopped onion in a large pot. Then put 1 cup of boiling water, 1 cup of rice, and a tin of coconut milk in the pot with the onion and a little sprinkle of salt. Bring to the boil then turn down to a gentle simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft to the bite (about 20 mins).



lbs said...

Made this for dinner tonight, and it was excellent. Couple of minor variations - fresh oregano instead of parsley or thyme, gouda instead of edam, added red capsicum as I had one that needed to be used. Add some olive oil to the stuffing to make a great salad. Can think of a myriad of other uses for the stuffing as well. Very yummy! Will definately make this again.

lbs said...

Made this again, this time using Jalapeno & Cheese game sausages. Talk about yum!