Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 7 - Value Eating on 01/26/10

After the first week of “value eating” I have to say there was not a meal I was not happy. I savored the tastes of beautifully crafted foods, like the superb organic lamb bratwurst or the fantastic artisan baguette. I had tasty eggs from happy chickens. Yummy milk with cream on top! And a whole lot I ate from The Scrumptious Pantry. Cosimo’s Olive Oil, Fabio’s & Nicoletta’s Rice & Cornmeal. Roberta’s Roasting & Grilling Salt and Spreads gave a special twist to my meals.

So were these cheap meals? Probably not. You could have probably spent less on milk, eggs, rice. Would the taste have been the same? Probably not. I enjoyed every bite, eating slowly as to keep the tastes alive as long as possible. As a result, I ate fairly small quantities (at least to my understanding). And the average food cost per day was about 5$! I admit two dinners are not included in this calculation, cause they were not eaten at home. But 5$ per day for a food that nourished body and soul does not seem exaggerated to me! How much is a Value Meal at the Golden Arches these days?? Guess I have to stop by tomorrow to find out!

So, this was week 1. Curious to see if and how the pricing changes once I can cook more elaborate meals.

Before I forget, the calculations for day seven of “Value Eating”:

Late Breakfast: a slice of Pumpernickel which I bought at Aldi, yes, yes, I know not the source for the most sustainable food, but Aldi for us ex-pat Germans is like a delicatessen, as we can get some food there not available in other markets (at least I have not found a source for artisan pumpernickel in the Windy City). Anyhow. From The Scrumptious Pantry I took a Roberta’s Sun-dried Tomato Spread and dolloped it on the pumpernickel (about 1 tablespoon. It is so rich in taste, you really only need a little for full sunny tomato taste), I topped the yummy-ness with two farm fresh eggs sunny side up (advice on a side note: eggs sunny side up are really difficult to fry in a pot. When you do not have a pan, boil your eggs...) fried in organic olive oil and then sprinkled some of Roberta’s Roasting & Grilling Salt on top. This came with a cup of organic green tea. Cost: 16c bread, 79c tomato spread, 82c for two eggs fried in 25c of olive oil and 5 cents for the herbed salt (248 pinches to go!), tea bag 6c = 2.13$

As afternoon snack I heated a cup of the farmstead’s milk (31c) and dissolved a piece of dark chocolate (35c) for a soothing hot drink. The chocolate I bought at Aldi, as well. They have my favorite German chocolate brand. I just love the way Europeans do their chocolate. Over Christmas I had a long discussion with my family over which chocolate to buy given the child labor in the cocoa plantings… Should we stop buying brands which are not clearly marked “fair trade”? We decided to continue buying the chocolate we always buy, but to write letters to the company’s customer service asking them about the labor practices in the plantings they buy from. I firmly believe that you as a critical consumer can stimulate change when asking questions. Boycotts though are not the right thing. What are these kids to do, if they have no more work in the plantations? Yes, the conditions there suck. It is heartbreaking. It has to be changed. But remember when years ago the rug industry started the fair trade mark on rugs? It is proven that the biggest part of those kids that lost their job in the rug workshops ended up prostituting themselves. Sometimes, we have to think what results we really want to achieve and what side effects our chosen path can have. So I dissolved my chocolate in my milk and hoped that my letter to the producer would maybe maybe start a process somehow.

Dinner was a nice spicy chili. I totally love chili. Could have it every day. What I love most about it, is how the intonations of the various chili peppers intermingle with the sweetness of the tomato. Sigh… For real great sweet tomato in your chili you really need tomatoes canned at the perfect moment. Really something you would want to remember to do in summer. Now, given that I had to leave the contents of my pantry behind in Italy (thanks, FDA, what harm could my canned tomatoes have done to the USA?), I had to use store bought. Where another level of difficulty was added – the current lack of a can opener. So I bought a ready sauce cause that comes with a twist cap. Marinara sauce (what the hell that is I did not understand. There are Marinara sauces in the store which have “Parmesan Cheese” on their ingredient list?? Gracious, I do not even want to start discuss Parmesan & Parmeggiano at this point, but how can you cook a cheese in a tomato sauce that is to be canned?). It was organic Marinara sauce though, and the less adulterated kind I could find. Came with a price tag of 2.29 for 25 oz. and was the most acid, unbalanced tomato sauce I can remember tasting. But then again, I have not tasted ready made sauces for a long time. A can of diced organic tomatos at 1.49 for 30 oz would certainly have been the better deal taste wise, but as I said: no can opener. Blame US customs for having pulled my container for inspection. Well, this is what I did with it: browned 1.5 organic onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Added organic beans (1.5 cups in their dried state, but of course they had been soaked and pre-cooked a while) and half of the sauce. Chilli pepper, cumin, salt. And had it simmer for 90 minutes. Served on Fabio’s & Nicoletta’s rice from The Scrumptious Pantry very yummy and very filling and very nutritious and will last also tomorrow at only 75c (onions), 50c (olive oil), 84c (beans), 25c for spices and 1$ for rice = 3.34$

Total food cost for today: 4.46$ (assuming that half of the chilli will be eaten tomorrow).

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