Monday, April 2, 2012

When Only The Best Will Do

"Salads should dress for dinner" proclaims this 1938 ad for Heinz vinegars and Olive oils.  I heartily agree, what's the use of eating a salad if it doesn't have a dressing made from the best ingredients?  However it can be daunting finding the best ingredients for whatever you're cooking and so much noise is generated by the marketeers trying to sell you sub-normal garbage.  It's ever more important to read labels today and find out what's really in your food and, I'm sorry to say this, but if it's cheap it's probably garbage with no taste and no nutritional value.  It's not all bad news though as there are always tasty options and over time you're going to find that they're not as expensive as you might think.

Take gluten free pasta for example.  Normally this corn pasta is bland and tasteless and extremely overpriced in the stores but with a little research I found La Venziane brand.  104 reviews and exceedingly positive this stuff is actually tasty.  At $3.95/lb you might faint at the cost but you have to get out of the mindset that you cook a whole box of pasta every time you make spaghetti.  2oz is a serving size and it's plenty to fill you up when coupled with a salad so that get's you 8 servings a box. If you look at it with the proper perspective you soon see that 1) You don't have to cook as much as you were cooking before, 2) even the expensive stuff becomes affordable if you're cooking with the right proportions.

Do you do your own baking?  Not many people do anymore except for very special occasions but I make the time to bake my own bread and other baked goods.  Having  good extracts is so important when making cakes and cookies.  There's pure extract and the imitation stuff.  I used to use the imitation ones, I admit it, because it was cheap.  However it's not really, especially when you find yourself adding 3x the amount called for in the recipe because the flavor is so flat, I discovered that using the pure extracts is the best way to go.  They flavor deeply and are shelf stable for a long time.  Have you ever used flower water in your baking?  I daresay most people haven't because flower water disappeared from the shelves long ago.  Chefs back in the old days knew that such things added a certain je ne sais quoi characteristic to baked goods. In short, don't limit yourself to cheap goods just to save a buck, you're losing more than a buck on health and taste.  You owe it to yourself and your family to give the best.


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