Posted by: godandchocolate | April 6, 2010

April 2010 Kitchen Goals

This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop‘s monthly kitchen goals post. It’s my first time participating (I dropped the ball on February and March…whoops!) Go check out what others are doing this month to make their kitchens more natural and nourishing!

My Goals

{from flickr user juhansonin}

1. Purchase all produce and meat from our local farmers markets; purchase organic, naturally raised whenever possible and practical. I’ve been doing this for awhile with the produce (95% of the time–I made an exception for my Cutie clementines), but have only tried the meat a handful of times.

My great local farmer’s market–Sappington Farmers Market–typically does $10 off $50 every Thursday and now their Facebook page often runs 10-15% off discounts for fans. They carry great local, mostly-natural meats: Missouri Ranchers beef, Heritage Acres pork (also Missouri), and Midwestern free-range/organic/antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken. The discounts really help make the meats affordable for an apartment-dweller who doesn’t have the space for a big old freezer for a side of beef and tons of chickens! We already get all of our milk and cream (a great Missouri rBST-free brand, sold in glass, called Heartland Creamery) and free-range eggs from this farmers market, and they really offer a variety of other great products and always seem to be adding more.

I can’t wait until the other seasonal markets open up!

{from flickr user dmje - I plan to post photos of my own garden later!}

2. Start our vegetable and herb garden. I’m probably a week or two late on this already, but it’s my first attempt, ok? Our apartment complex built a great community garden this year, with raised beds and composted soil and everything, and we have a 4.5′ x 8′ plot. In the garden I plan to do roma tomatoes, two varieties of bell peppers, carrots, marigolds (to fend off pests!) and perhaps cucumbers. On our shady porch that gets a little bit of sun every day, I will do pots of herbs (basil–which I might try in the sunnier raised bed as well, depending on space; rosemary; thyme; parsley; and cilantro) and am trying a variety of romaine lettuce in a larger pot as well. I’m also going to try some flowers out there, to brighten up our patch of concrete!

This weekend we got the container soil, seeds, pots (at the dollar store! can’t beat medium-sized pots for $1 each!), peat pots for starting the seeds, gardening gloves and some bamboo stakes for the tomatoes and cukes. I might start planting later tonight or tomorrow, when it’s supposed to cool off. It’s been in the 80s here in our part of the Midwest!

Did I mention that the apartment complex, in addition to providing the raised beds in a lovely fenced area for free, is also providing all of the gardening tools, a workbench, hoses nearby, and compost bins? Awesome! If you’re in the south St. Louis County/City area and are looking for a well-managed, updated, “green” (valet recycling and a garden–doesn’t get much better than that!) apartment complex, comment or send me an email. I’ll be happy to recommend where I live privately!

3. Reexamine our use of plastics and stop using them in the microwave. Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship is hosting an eye-opening and challenging series called “Get the Junk Out!” and this week’s focus is on plastics. I’ve known for awhile that certain plastics are not good for us because they are guilty of leaching endocrine disruptors into our food and drinks (BPA has gotten a bad rap lately, and that plastic is in lots of things, from baby bottles and Nalgenes to the linings of canned foods), but I’ve honestly been nonchalant and lazy about them. Plastics are just so integrated into how I buy and store food that it’s been hard for me to imagine how I can get rid of them. This month I’m going to try.

I’m especially guilty of storing leftovers in those cheap “disposable” plastic containers and then sticking them in the microwave for lunch. But the endocrine disruption thing is really on my radar lately, as I’ve become keenly aware of how sensitive our hormones and endocrine systems are. I need to stop with the microwaving thing and make it a habit to store food in glass. I’m really at a loss as to what to do about ziploc bags, though! We use those for *everything*!

More info about why I’d do such a crazy thing as try to get rid of plastics:

Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up: Toss the Plastic, Save Your Fertility

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship: Food for Thought: Plastic Safety for People and the Earth

Another kitchen-related goal is to finish off my reading pile. I love our library and I love being able to log on and send a request for a book I’ve just read about online. Here’s what I have been working on and what I have lined up for the rest of the month:

  • Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. A culinary school grad, Ruhlman writes about the theory behind cooking. His goal is to “free the home cook from being chained to recipes” and he walks the reader through the ratios behind everything from breads to sauces to cookies to stocks.
  • Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck. I’m working through this one at the moment. Planck grew up eating ‘real food’ (which she defines as “old and traditional”) on her parents’ vegetable farm, where her chores involved milking the family’s cow, Mabel, and selling their produce at farmers markets in their area. Later she ventured into low-fat and vegetarian/vegan diets, which did not treat her body well, and she chronicles her journey back into ‘real food’ as she opened farmers markets in England and New York. It’s basically her food biography with a lot of research to explain the choices she made and the context in which she made them.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Haven’t started this one yet. The tagline is “A Natural History of Four Meals,” and I’m anticipating that it will look into the history of a variety of traditional (and not-so-traditional) meals, how we came to eat them, and what impact eating these kinds of foods has on our bodies and our environment. It’s a bit intimidating and looks longer than I anticipated!
  • Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I’ve heard this one cited by a lot of low-carb types, and I’m thinking it will be a good complement to what Planck writes about cholesterol, heart disease, and their potential dietary causes. I snagged this one after a conversation with a friend in which I stated that I tended not to think that saturated fat consumption alone causes heart disease, and that not all calories are created equal (since, you know, people were eating butter and other animal fats for millennia before the first case of heart disease was reported in 1912.)

What are your kitchen goals?

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