Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Kitchen confessional

I entered a contest here:

My entry was based on my use of garlic, and while I was limited to 50 words there, I will not limit myself in this entry.

I gave up on fresh garlic a long time ago. It's annoying to peel, garlic presses are a pain to clean, and garlic goes bad too quickly to keep enough on hand for the amount that I use.

Instead, I use minced or crushed garlic in a jar, the wet kind. It really tastes the same, is cheaper, it's easy to load up in a dish (spoonful after spoonful...mmmm!), and it keeps for a long time. No one has ever noticed the difference, and it's light-years tastier than garlic powder. It's saved me a lot of time, money, and aggravation. I also use ginger in the same format; we are ginger addicts here, and I never disappoint a guest with my cooking.

If you really want to find inexpensive garlic in a jar, try the Asian market. I pay a lot less for many ingredients, including coconut milk, canned specialty vegetables (bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn), dried mushrooms, produce, fresh mangoes, and sauces (tamari, vegetarian oyster, stir-fry). Some of them are up to 50% less than in the standard grocery store, and there is little to no difference in quality. We hit up the Indian grocery for staples like basmati rice, dried chickpeas and lentils, and spices (cardamom is especially inexpensive, and it's a great place to get pre-blended spices like garam masala).

Good food is important in our household. We eat a LOT of vegetables, and our friends really enjoy visiting for dinner. Because we're fairly poor, our food budget does not allow for much dining out, and fast food places are not vegetarian-friendly anyway. Lunches usually consist of leftovers, and snacks are cheap stuff like yogurt, dried fruits, cheap pretzels, and bulk nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans--I am allergic to peanuts, but okay with tree nuts). We're definitely not "junk food vegetarians"; we couldn't stand to eat so unimaginatively!

No comments: