Thursday, September 4, 2008

Deconstruction? Reduction?

I'm not sure what to call the concept, perhaps someone with a better culinary vocabulary can help me out. This is something I've been considering for a long time.

I want to get to the point where most things I make are made from the base ingredients. What I mean by this is that rather than adding ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce to ground beef for basic Sloppy Joes, I add their components: tomato paste, ground mustard, vinegar, spices, etc.

I'm fairly realistic about this, things like Worcestershire sauce are already in a basic enough form as is. As are hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, etc. I don't need to get into manufacturing those.

What I do want to do is get my recipes to the point where they are not reliant upon a single brand of a finished product to get the right taste. Ketchups are different, mustards are different. I want some degree of consistency and control. I also want to know what is going into the food that I serve my family and friends.

Yes, opening a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, pouring it over chicken and rice, and baking that for a bit is very easy. And, really quite tasty. However, its sodium content is through the roof. And, these days as I rail more and more against all foods industrial, the thought of just popping open a can of creamy goo and pouring it over our food becomes less and less appealing.

I understand that this is a fantastic time-saver. And, having had a busy life in the past I certainly understand. Right now, I have the time. I should take the time to prepare better for my loved ones.

Just need to learn how now.


Nancy/n.o.e said...

I'm with you on getting to the 'real' roots of food. Over-processed is being banished from our kitchen as much as possible.

I've gotten a blog award that I want to pass on to you. Check my blog :)


Natasha said...

As I'm not from America (but Europe), I've never actually tasted a sloppy joe. I saw a nice picture of it a few days ago, and liked it, so I googled the recipe. I was absolutely appalled to find out that it's made with ketchup! Ketchup shouldn't be used in cooking at all, imho. Apart from being unhealthy, when cooked it tastes awful! I'm with you on the whole thing. I actually have a feeling we here in Europe (just regular people, not foodies) use more fresh ingredients. For instance, I was stunned when, on a cooking blog (a quesadilla recipe) I discovered that in the US you can buy frozen cooked chicken chunks. Or frozen cookie dough! I find these such foreign concepts! Yes, I see that it must be very quick, easy and convenient, but I still doubt I would use any of those products.

James said...

Nancy: Thanks for the award! Now I have to figure out which ten blogs I love most ...

Natasha: Ketchup unhealthy?

Ketchup is fine in cooking. Just make sure you don't burn it. Then, it is awful ... as is any sauce that gets burned.

Frozen cookie dough: not the best stuff. I hadn't heard of frozen cooked chicken chunks, but it doesn't surprise me. The American packaged foods market seems to have just about everything ready-to-serve ...

... except this:

The infamous cheeseburger-in-a-can. I want to get a couple just to try. Trouble is, one can only order them in Germany.