Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homemade baby carrots

OK, so maybe the title of this post is a little deceiving. I am not growing carrots in my backyard (that is solely reserved for herbs that are doing quite nicely, thank you very much). Instead, I am trying to completely remove "convenience foods" from our lives.

Overall, we are not suckers for packaged, pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables. We pick our green beans from the bin, we don't buy vegetable medleys or fruit, such as pineapple or melons, that have already been cut up and stored in plastic containers. We also don't eat frozen dinners, but that's an entirely different post about our attempts to cook as many meals as possible at home.

But we do eat (edit -- Matt eats) a lot of baby carrots. Last month I was thinking, "Baby carrots...what are baby carrots?" They can be one of two things: 1) large carrots cut down to a small size (that then take on the name baby-cut carrots) or 2) carrots harvested when they're young (true baby carrots). (Read more about this phenomenon at Snopes.) All this time we've been buying the "baby-cut carrots," which is just another way of saying we were buying carrots that a machine had cut up for us. And we were paying for it.

So, I've started buying full-size organic carrots and peeling and cutting them up into two-inch-long pieces to mimic the baby-cut carrot concept at a fraction of the price. This also has the added benefit that, for some reason, I really love peeling carrots.

Our only other convenience foods, besides baby-cut carrots, are packaged spinach or lettuce mixes for salads. We are trying to buy whole heads of lettuce that we then clean and store ourselves. I will say, though, that the potential downfall of this plan is that some packaged romaine hearts can last for a really long time. On the flip side, I sometimes don't like the taste. So, part of this experiment will be finding the right type of lettuce that tastes good and lasts.

What convenience foods have you tried to cut out of your life?

1 comment:

  1. If you can find the 2004 New Yorker food issue (it's one of their November issues) you can read a great profile of a revolutionary leafy greens farmer that covers the mysteries of packaged greens. The ultimate take home: those plastic bags are lined with special coatings and have specific properties that make them remove carbon dioxide (which would expedite spoilage) and otherwise enhance the longevity of the contents. Certain types of Romaine and Spinach can last 6 weeks in these packages and so it's almost impossible to recreate at home. Your best bet is to hit up the farmer's market once a week and load up with all the ruffage you can muster. Of course, you could always take a walk on the wild side (