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Pasta with Prosciutto and Chevre; It’s Time to Calibrate; and a Rant on Big! — 33 Comments

  1. Keep out of the supermarket, that’s the best way … and I SO agree with you about use-by dates: use your own judgement – smell, look, even a tiny taste.
    Joanna

  2. Wait, do you mean that in other countries, you can buy food in smaller quantities? You don’t have to buy giant tubs of sour cream and cottage cheese? (Dairy products are always the worst offenders, in my mind, because they spoil so quickly, and I live alone and only want to eat one serving at a time!)
    Honestly, I think people buy boxed convenience food without even thinking about it. I used to be guilty of it too, buying “olive oil and herbs” couscous, until one day I realized — I have olive oil. I have herbs. I am perfectly capable of adding them to plain couscous myself. And it’s so much cheaper that way too!

  3. After one pass through CostCo, I realized that I can only shop there when I’m having a big, and I do mean BIG party! We are only two, MB and me. Our solution has been 1)farmer’s markets where you can get just one of things because they aren’t pre-packaged and 2)planned overs.

  4. I have no complaints in this as I live in Seattle where I have PCC, Whole foods and trader joes to get pain, normal sizes. Plus there is a plethora of pain rice. I shan’t go into costco because I do not have a need for a large can of beef-o-reno. Tomato sause, maybe.

  5. So much to comment on Katie. I have an aversion to buying anything that is premade… except maybe the stuffed salmon at Costoc…love that stuff:D

  6. I hear you on the pre-anything.. sizes? Not so much here in Holland (they do the “every family is a four-some” thing which is equally annoying), we’re five, three rapidly growing teenage boys. Recently the Dutch were introduced to 1/2 gallon milk which is the biggest quantity here…
    Come on over and live with us! Cream cheese, sour cream? 3 oz!

  7. Tanna, but there’s only actual value if you use it all – not if it goes to the lanfill.
    Peter, they are my new favorite pasta!
    Joanna, I think we humans don’t need to be quite so careful about the foods we eat – as long as we are careful about how it’s treated initially.(growing, fertilizing, butchering, etc.)
    Joanna, I so agree! I buy a group of 4 smaller yogurts, which are just perfect for eating, cooking, etc. – about 4 oz each! We don’t have a lot of prepackaged stuff – great deli’s though!
    Pam, CostCo was truly amazing! My s-i-l buys cleaning supplies there – but that’s it! I usually cook just enough – or enough for 2 meals…(sometimes you just have to!)
    Lynn, it has to be pretty bad before I throw it out… and then we still have the dogs 😉
    Kevin, ham and chevre – always good!
    Colleen, they still make beef-o-reeno???? Damn, I must have missed that. Gallon cans, right?
    Val, how many people does the salmon feed? Or, can you divide and freeze. The fish and meat actually looked pretty good, and it least can be frozen in smaller portions.
    Baking soda, much the same here in France. I love the smaller sizes. But don’t the 3 rapidly growing boys really make you a family of 8?

  8. That gets to me too. On my last trip to the states I couldn’t find any small drinks, just half gallons that I would never finish before flying back to France. I have my girls finally convinced that the dates on yogurts just mean that they have to be sold by that time but we can still eat them out of our fridge for at least ten days after.

  9. Wow, I didn’t know it was 30%–that is pretty crazy. I admit, I used to be pretty bad about my food purchases as well and a lot would go from shopping cart, to fridge, to trash. It would drive me mad, but I really hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into what I actually intended to do with what I was buying. Fortunately, I’ve come a long way, but still, wow!
    And sorry to hear about the less appealing food selection–I always took jasmine rice as a given. Its a pretty sad state of affairs when *that* is unavailable…
    The pasta looks awesome–you would have had me cheering for this dish just at goat cheese, but prosciutto, olives, and gruyere? Save me a plate…

  10. I could have written this post.
    Meat marinades ready made? A pet peeve. I looked and looked for a plain pork tenderloin one day at the market and couldn’t find it. It really irritated me. I can make my own flavoring!
    Most stores that I shop in at least have smaller than a half gallon options for milk and juice, sometimes the pint bottles are available, or other single serve options. We can buy pints of sour cream, cottage cheese etc. I like the warehouse places for paper products as the price overall is much cheaper, and for cat litter, but most of what I see in those stores just makes me shake my head. No wonder our country has such a weight issue.

  11. The first appeal I had at my first stay in the US, the size of all food packages were sooooo big. At that time I had no children and now I prefer to open two small packages than to throw away food. And pints are still too big, I buy fruit yoghurt in 125 g packages….

  12. Oh, Katie, I so agree with you. I made the mistake of trying a turkey tenderloin, which had been marinated in a lime marinade. It tasted just like a lime candy (kind of like a lifesaver). It was awful!

  13. The whole thing about pre-seasoned food drives me nuts. It makes me think of the origin of sauces; if I remember my history, sauces were delivered to mask the flavor of meats that might not be as fresh as they should be in the days when food preservations techniques were not as sophisticated as they are now. Is pre-seasoned meat and chicken (and rice) a way to mask inferior basic ingredients?

  14. we go for bigger, or we not given a choice?… I always believe that food manufacturers are the mastermind behind the fattening-people-up scene.
    Btw, we freeze half the milk/ juice. For emergence, use juice-pack size UHT milk 🙂

  15. I hear you on the big sizes! Over here we have a range so it’s fine…but those big “warehouse” style places drive me bananas! We are a household of two and we can’t finish the sizes they have without the stuff going bad.
    I remember when I was working in Amsterdam, I was a household of one then, and came upon a pack of just two chicken legs in the grocery…I heard angels singing 🙂
    The one thing I buy in bulk is my yogurt…and I really stretch the “best before” date! 🙂

  16. I’m only weird about the “use by” dates on yogurt… which stems back to a bad expired yogurt experience. For everything else? The nose knows!
    I find it challenging to take something that’s clearly on its last leg and cook it up before it’s bad. Keeps me on my toes. No way do we lose 30% to spoilage in this house! 😉

  17. You were shopping in the wrong places. Go to a store in NYC and you will find all the things you need in containers small enough for a single person. You will have to fight to get through the narrow aisles with about 50 million other folks shopping that day, because here in the city we tend to shop daily rather than stocking up at the big box stores. Then you will go to the fish monger and the vegetable stand or the farmer’s market.
    You can’t buy the big stuff because you ahve no room for any of it at home.
    It will all seem more expensive, but you will throw little out. Or not.

  18. Meredith, those dates are only general guidelines ;-)). I mean, it’s yogurt – spoiled milk…what can go wrong?
    Mike, I’m sure the supermarkets vary in different markets, but I really was appalled at what used to be (IMHO) the premiere store in Mpls. I’ll just put your plate in the fridge….
    Kate, I was thinking exactly the same thing: huge containers and the ‘must clean plate’ mentality have to have an effect.
    Ulrike, I do the same – those 125gr packs are perfect. If I want more I open 2…
    Pam, Ooooh, that sounds awful! I’d be skeptical about marinated meat….
    Lydia, exactly why I’d be skeptical. In my own kitchen I’ll marinade something that is getting close to it’s ‘date’ – but I know that… I don’t want someone else to make that decision for me
    Gattina, here I can get smaller sizes, and we keep UHT on hand as well. But I didn’t realize you could freeze milk…thanks for the tip!
    Joey, I buy big ‘cases’ of yogurt, but they are individual containers – 30 at a time… But I wouldn’t want to buy 1 container of the same ml!
    Michelle, I hope I don’t run into the bad yogurt experience…I’ve been know to go as many as 15 days past… Not much waste here, either… the occasional odd bit of veg that gets shoved aside… Oh wait, that goes to the compost so it’s just recycled!
    TBTAM, You are so right! But Mpls doesn’t have much of a ‘downtown’ culture. It’s getting there, slowly. And in the smaller city my sister lives in, there’s no hope!

  19. First thank you for making me feel even more guilty then I already did about getting a gallon of mayo at Costco because I didn’t have it in me to stop at yet another store…by the way I have gotten S**t from every one that has seen it in my fridge.
    I wanted brown rice and some dried beans just the other day and after shopping at 5 stores finally found brown minute rice, I was disgusted. The only brown rice I could find was processed and not even Trader Joe’s is carrying dried beans, I mean what is this world coming to.
    Ok now I have to go figure out how I am going to use up a gallon of mayo before it goes bad. I have been working on food trash reduction for the last 6 months and I am doing much better than before thanks to my budgeting.

  20. We’re pretty efficient eaters, so we rarely throw stuff out.
    And that already seasoned business? Yuck! My sister bought a marinated pork tenderloin recently. It was truly disgusting – both in taste and texture. Never again.

  21. Shayne, a GALLON of mayo? And it’s not even time for summer salads! How about a face mask? Body rub?
    On the other hand, I know the frustration of running around and having no luck finding stuff!
    Magpie, we’re getting very efficient, also. I wouldn’t trust the pork!

  22. Great looking pasta, Katie. I love those “use up what’s in the fridge” kind of dinners. And this one looks like the kind that was so good that you might have to purposely go out to get those ingredients so you can reproduce it.
    I am absolutely horrified by the ridiculous amount of packaging used for much of the produce. But we are fortunate that we can buy most things in bulk – so we can get as much or as little of things as we want.
    It drives me mad when I see cellophane covered styrofoam trays full of sliced mushrooms. Or bags of “pre-washed” lettuces. (as if I’m going to trust someone else to wash what is going into my salad bowl). Or already peeled tiny potatoes. Or foil wrapped baking potatoes. (How hard is it to prepare a potato for baking?!)
    -Elizabeth
    P.S. Those monitor calibration sites will come in very handily! Thank you for posting them.
    P.P.S. I’m reeling at the idea of a gallon container of mayonnaise. How can anything else fit in the fridge?

  23. Katie…suffering from a little culture shock are we???? 😉
    I’m with you, particularly about making my own marinades and salad dressings that take maybe….just maybe 2 seconds longer to whip up than opening a jar that has that je ne sais quoi flavor of chemicals.
    Sad that so many people mentioned not being able to buy beans etc. Even Halifax where I’m always complaining about food wise has plenty in every grocery store. And portions that range from feeding one to feeding an army, so the choice is up to you.
    Great post and discussion. And Lumaconi is my new fave pasta too!

  24. ejm, we don’t get much of the prepackaged stuff over here – nothing sliced, trimmed, cleaned, etc. – just spinach and lamb’s lettuce at the supermarkets and nothing at the regular markets. I hate buying veg that have been cut or trimmed…
    Ruth, just a little. I can’t believe how much it’s all changed since we left almost 12 years ago!

  25. Hahah… I’ve been thinking these same things lately about large quantities. We have a membership to our local warehouse grocery, and I find myself only purchasing the things I can use up or freeze. No dairy–I go to the dairy store for quarts or half-quarts to make sure I use it all up.

  26. Mrs. W. a dairy store must be nice! If I lived in the US I’d really have to do some shopping research! I’m so out of touch now!

  27. And I forgot to add… I also use the sell-by date as a rough guide rather than a firm commandment. If milk passes the smell test, it’s OK my me. I’ve also used tinned goods a year or more beyond their sell-by date with no ill effects whatsoever. I HATE throwing food away!