Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Thankful for Convenience Food

At the risk of ostracizing myself from my food blogging friends, one of the things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving is convenience food. That statement goes against every foodie* fiber in my body. But it’s true.

I have a royal ball in the kitchen whether I’m by myself or with company and I love to cook with fresh ingredients and making good ol’ home-made meals from scratch, but I’d be lost without frozen puff pastry, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste in a tube. Or canned artichokes, canned beans or dried spices. Or dried pasta in every shape imaginable or seasoned bread crumbs or boxed chicken broth or bagged lettuce mixes. I like to roast my own red peppers, but jarred ones are pretty darn good. Making my own pastry (well, when it turns out okay) is terrific, but refrigerated dough will often do just fine. I admire people who make their own pumpkin puree, but when canned is so easy, and good, why?

I take great pleasure in planting and tending my own vegetable garden and then reaping the harvest. I buy most of my groceries at a family-owned supermarket that I know buys a lot of fresh food locally. Making and canning my own spaghetti sauce is more satisfying than I would have imagined. Picking my own salad greens in the morning and then having them for lunch is just delightful. We have apple trees and blueberry bushes. My eggs come from my neighbor’s chickens (a few of whom, I’m ashamed to say, my Weimeraner killed.)

I’m a pretty frugal cook: I save leftovers and reprise them into frittatas, soups and anything else I can dream up. I save bones to make my own chicken stock. (Although not always.) And my kitchen is pretty well-equipped – there’s always something new I’ll want! -- with all the tools and appliances I need to do all that.

Still, I can be a lazy cook. And despite the fact that the kitchen is my favorite room in the house, it’s not the only room. We’re all busy people and I’m thankful that on a particularly busy day, I can go into the kitchen and between my refrigerator and pantry, I can whip up a pretty good and healthy meal in 20 minutes. Or, if I plan ahead well enough, my husband and I can come home to a slow-cooker meal, getting the comfort whiffs of a fragrant pot roast as soon as we open the door.

I also am not unaware of the irony that at this season of thanksgiving when we traditionally express our appreciation for all our blessings, especially food, that many people do not have the privilege of arguing over what kind of food is the best, the tastiest, the healthiest. I appreciate all the food science and enterprising manufacturers who make cooking easy and fun for me. I am very thankful that I have the choice to be a lazy cook now and again – and a can opener to be lazy with.

* I still hate the word “foodie” - can’t we come up with something that doesn’t make me sound like a rock-and-roll band groupie? I’m not a gourmet, not an epicurean. I’m a pretty good cook and I like to cook and try new things. I guess that makes me a foodie, but I still don’t like it.


  1. Semi-Homemade is how I do it, not shame at all!

  2. Hi Rosemary! What a fun post this was to read! I think that it is important that we give ourselves a break sometimes...we all need to realize that we can't do it all! Thank you for sharing! I hope you have a blessed day with your family and friends tomorrow!

  3. Hope you have a great day, too, Monet . . . . and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  4. Fun post. Boxed chicken stock and canned beans make my world go round.

  5. I'm with you, though I have my limits. Canned tomatoes - I will do, but I like most of my vegetables frozen instead of canned - except beans, but I definitely use short cuts, and some days the shorter the better. I will also spend all day in the kitchen making messes for a meal eaten in 15 minutes with enough carnage to last a week. I'm thankful to be able to choose too.

  6. Sherri -- I'd really be lost without boxed chicken stock and canned beans, too!

    Diana -- In a couple weeks, I'll be cooking what I know will be a nice Christmas feast. I'll plan for hours, chop ahead of time, make a pretty table -- and it will all be over in less than half and hour. I will have fun though!

  7. What's the matter Rose? Aren't you cooking?


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