Posts Tagged ‘eating organic’

I was fortunate to grow up in a cooking-friendly household.  My Father was a Firefighter and my Mother a nurse.  They both cooked most of our meals, encouraged me to try, emphasized the importance and the fun of the whole process.  One of the best gifts my parents ever gave me was my passion for food.

It has become more and more apparent that few people are so lucky.  The 1970s and 1980s really taught us a lot of shortcuts that offered convenience and speed at the trade off of knowledge, sustainability and quality food.  I adore a fast food meal as much as the next person (I really do – it’s my Achilles heel) but it’s a choice.

Since we started writing the blog I am learning that less people see takeout as an option – it is the only food they know how to prepare.  We’ve had several requests for the basics of cooking as people are starting to tire of thinking that “they can’t cook.”  We’ve also received a series of questions on how to eat more economically as the ongoing perception that organic will cost you and arm and a leg prevails.  We are not close to 100% organic (I’m a relatively new convert to believing that our system can even be trusted to be accountable to such a label) and we eat out more than we’d like to.  This is not a lecture – just a few simple tips on how easy cooking can be and how far you can stretch a meal and eat wholesome food that is sustainable and quick.

We purchased a 3.5 pound organic chicken from Kawartha Ecological Growers at the Appletree Market on Eglington.  The cost was $17 and we transformed it into 1 dinner for 2, 4 sandwiches and 6 bowls of soup.  That’s $1.40 a serving – add another $6 for soup ingredients and dressing the sandwiches and plates and it’s 11 portions for around $2 per seat.  Compared to the local chicken restaurant selling half chicken meals at around $12, I figure that we’re coming in at a reasonable budget.

If you`ve had a lot of mass produced poultry, you may notice a difference in the texture of what you see below – the flavour of these chickens (in addition to the colour and texture) are vastly different (an in my mind, superior), to what is purchased at mass market.

To cook as economically as possible, buy an entire chicken.  Many buy the de-boned breasts for the convenience – I’m hoping that you’ll see that it`s not a whole lot more convenient and though it seems to be almost the same price, it`s really a lot more expensive – there`s no way to make chicken broth with leftovers of skinless and boneless chicken after all.

Dinner was Sunday night so we went all out (you could skip this step).  I seperated the skin from the meat with my fingers and added a small layer of some butter and sage in the pockets we created with the seperation:

We then covered the chicken with salt, pepper, tandori and dry mustard to ramp up the flavor (this is a step you can skip as well).  I also put an onion in the cavity for additional flavor:

Turn your oven on – I put it around 375 however have alternated between 350 and 400.  As the chicken cooks, take the odd peak at it – if it`s looking dry, tent it with tin foil.  If you`ve used the butter trick you can also spoon the drippings that rest in the pan.

Stick a meat thermometer in to test – remove the chicken when it gets to 165-170 degrees ferenheight.  Just make sure your thermometer is inserted deep into the meat and not touching bone or the bottom of your pan.  It`s really that simple.

Let it rest and serve. I tented it with foil and let it sit on the counter for about 1- minutes – look how juicy and moist it is (save the juice – you can add it to your soup or put it on your chicken directly).

If you aren`t comfortable carving it, cut it in half with a large knife (you can quarter it by cutting it again).  Let the knife guide you and use your instincts – you`ll find the way through.

After dinner, place all the bones in a pot – if you have uneaten chicken (such as the half above), seperate the meat from the bone.  I used my fingers as I always do if I am making soup or sandwiches.  Place the meat on the side – you won`t need it for now.

Take all remaining chicken parts and cover in fresh cool water.  Do not add salt.  Throw in a few bay leaves, onions, celery, garlic and carrots.  Just put enough water to cover it all.  Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 90 minutes.  Let it cool before removing all the solid bits and put the liquid in the fridge overnight.  Before composting your leftovers, strip and small bits of chicken left and put them to the side – you`ll add them to the broth in the morning (you can add now if you are short on fridge space).

I was making my chicken salad as the broth simmered.  I simply shredded the chicken, added a bit of celery and mayo (and a few chilli flakes):

Remove the broth from the fridge on the second day – the cold temperatures will have congeeled any fat from the broth – you can remove from a spoon and you will have a wonderful broth that you can freeze or cook with.  I added rice, celery, dill, remainign chicken bits, green onion bit, salt and pepper to finish off the soup and let it simmer for another 30-40 minutes:

11 meals at $2 a go.  Total active cooking time is less than 40 minutes, broken into 4 or 5 parts.  I spent no more than 10 minutes in the kitchen at a single time.

Anyone have any further tips for eating local on a budget?  We`d love for you to share in the comments section!


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Urban Homesteaders?  That’s what the Dervaes family (of Pasadena, California) calls themselves as they challenge the rest of us to try to live a 100 FOOT diet.  They run an urban farm on one-fifth of an acre (to put that in perspective, if their lot was square it would measure approximately 93 feet at each side).  They grow enough food for themselves as well as supplying some of the local community around them.

Watch the following 2-minute video from 2006 to get an idea of what they have been up to since 2001:

The project goes far beyond growing food and is a journey into self-sustainability.  They grow their own food, harness their own energy, produce their own wine, share educational info and share their journey.  Check out their journal for a glimpse of their urban farm and the bounty so far this summer.

It’s an interesting site and certainly offers a challenge to each of us to consider.  Cheers to them and fascinating stuff!

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