Thoughts from the Kitchen

I recently ordered a couple of aprons. Full-length ones, that cover from chest to mid-thigh. I’ve never been a huge fan of aprons, mostly because I’m not fond of skirts or a lot of fabric flowing around my legs. But so many of my t-shirts (even the black ones) are dotted with grease stains (and no, I haven’t washed a chapstick in quite awhile), I decided it was time to do something.

I need to find somewhere to hang them that they’ll be both easily accessible and very visible (pantry door? Hook on the very limited wall space somewhere?). And I need to make putting one on before cooking a part of my routine. Not that I really have a “routine” to cook, per se, except for on Sunday mornings when I divvy the vitamins for the week into pill boxes first. So, I can make putting an apron on the thing I do next right after that, and most importantly, right before I start cooking bacon. Which is probably the majority of my grease-stain problem.

In the evenings, it will just have to be a “thing” – as soon as I go to the kitchen to cook, I put on an apron. Maybe I’ll make myself a “nag” reminder. That might be easier than forgetting more often than not and never really building it into a bonefide habit.

In other kitchen news, our local Lucky’s grocery store closes this week, and I was bummed out at first, because there are several things I’ve gotten used to being able to get there (like organic worchestershire sauce, strange as that sounds – I actually just really like the taste better). When they announced they were closing (just a relatively short time after my favorite local “mainstream” store closed), I knew there were only two other stores in town that carried mostly natural, healthier-type foods. Both are on the smaller side, one being *much* smaller, and the other one sells only organic products, which excludes several local products. I decided on Natural Grocer’s, the “organics only” store, just because they’re a little bigger and though I’m not fond of the location, I definitely like the store itself better.

Interestingly,the change has been a good one, and I kind of wish I’d done it quite awhile ago. I can get all the items I used to get at Lucky’s there for less money, and I’ve discovered some other things that Lucky’s didn’t carry, but I’m happy to be able to find in healthier options than our local Albertsons has.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to a conversation I had with an acquaintance I ran into in Natural Grocer’s last weekend. She was picking out some non-dairy creamer because Lucky’s was the only store in town who had carried milk from our only local dairy (a town a few hours away), and she feels very strongly about buying local dairy. Natural Grocer’s won’t carry the local brand because it’s not organic. So she was passing up all the “grass-fed/free-range/humanely kept” organic milk simply because it wasn’t local. And it got me wondering how I felt about that myself.

I buy local meat all the time – and I know our beef is grass-fed & well cared for on my friend’s country property before it gets to us. Pork I’m not so sure about, and chicken is generally frozen from Costco in packs that we can’t eat fast enough or a rotisserie chicken from…well, Albertson’s I guess, since Lucky’s is gone and Natural Grocer’s doesn’t have them.

Milk, however, I’ve been buying from Albertson’s, because there are only two of us, so if it’s not ultra-pasturized, even a half-gallon of whole milk will go bad before we can drink it (or more often, eat it on cereal & cook with it). The organic brand that Lucky’s sold wasn’t ultra-pasturized, and honestly, it just didn’t taste all that great. Our local milk wasn’t ultra-pasturized either, and I wasn’t impressed with the taste of that either.

Natural Grocer’s does carry a line of organic milk that’s ultra-pasturized, so I picked up a half-gallon to try. We’ll see how it tastes, but if it’s good, I’ll probably switch to that even though it’s more expensive. Natural Grocer’s is actually cheaper all around, so I can afford the extra.

Naturally, that got me thinking back to meat again. We buy local, as I said earlier, but is that really the best criteria for meat that I’m not sure on the growing/raising conditions? I was looking at bacon in Natural Grocer’s and the labels were all similar. Free-range, grass-fed, humanely raised and “harvested”, uncured. The latter two made me pick up a pack just to try, expecting a rather bland or insanely salty pack of bacon. But it was actually delicious, and I think we’ll be adding it to our rotation at least once a month (possibly twice).

They have chicken thighs in packs of two, which in the long run, is probably better and less expensive than throwing out half a pack of frozen thighs from Costco. And again, raised, cared for and killed humanely. Honestly, I think that might be more important to me than how local the meat is, even though I’d be very happy if I could get local meat responsibly raised as well.

So, interesting thoughts from the kitchen this week. The one other thing I’m excited about is the red lentil pasta I found at NG. I love pasta. Pasta sticks to my fat cells like glue. I’m really hoping some of these alternative pastas that are more protein and far less carbs will be the happy medium to my love-hate relationship with flour-based pasta.

One can hope, right?


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