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How To Cook Using Quality Ingredients
Using Quality Ingredients in Cooking
Today, it is becoming more important than ever to check where our ingredients are coming from.
Case in point – fish. Studies are showing that fish imported from other countries are ‘dirty fish’ and it would be wise for us to check the origin of fish.
Investigate on the package where the fish came from and make your determination if it is a good or a safe place to buy fish.
Unfortunately with the latest disaster on the Gulf Coast, it might end up that people worldwide do not want to import fish ‘made in the USA’.
Flavor is often changed when you use farm-raised fish as opposed to wild caught.
There is also the matter of color-enhanced meat or fish - something to keep in mind as well. Safeway readily admits for instance that they add coloring to their meat and fish.
What to Look For in Cooking Ingredients
Organic does not offer the safety net that we sometimes think it does either. Check into the product to make sure where it was raised and how it was processed. The word 'organic' can encompass various and sundry things and may lead to products being sold that are not truly organic in any sense of the word.
If you are using fresh beef, fresh chicken, etc. make sure that you know what the butchering techniques are and that you are using safe ingredients.
On purchasing beef or chicken, there should not be a lot of blood in the packaging that the product is sitting in. This encourages bacterial growth and can lead to food poisoning.
Fishing, crabbing, etc. are also great venues for gathering ingredients. Just make sure that the area is safe in terms of red tides or bacteria and also make sure that you process your catch appropriately to avoid food poisoning.
When using ‘fresh kill’ meats, make sure that you know how to process the meats and package them properly or have someone experienced dress them to avoid contamination and/or food poisoning.
Where meat, poultry and seafood are concerned, research as best you can where food comes from, how it is processed and you should be able to relax in the ingredients you use.
It's also important to be sure you know how to cook meats and fish properly. For instance, what are the best and the safest ways to cook salmon? Having this information also protects your health and allows you to create delectable meals.
Fruits and Vegetables
Just like in the case of your meat ingredients, it is just as important to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
I've started investigating where the items that I purchase come from and if I don't like what I'm reading, I won't buy the product. I feel that countries that have less strict laws governing how food is processed probably don't need my business.
I feel that it is important to use fresh ingredients whenever possible. If at all possible, I think people should go back to growing some of their own food as it is the only way you will ever know what is really in the food you are eating.
At the very least, look for fruits and vegetables that are at their prime and look fresh and crisp. Even that is not always a good indicator though as with the technology available in supermarkets and packaging plants, our foods seem to have a very long shelf life sometimes and that puzzles me. How they are getting that to happen also worries me!
When you bring home fresh fruit or vegetables, take the time to wash and dry them before putting them away. I always do all my vegetables when I first get home. That way I know I've gone over the foods and made sure they look the same as I thought they did in the market.
I carefully wash salad greens and put them through a salad spinner to get out as much moisture as I can - I then date and bag them in zip-lock storage bags. I do the same with any herbs, green onions.
I also cut my celery and wash and dry and put into new bags. I do the same with apples or pears, tomatoes or mushrooms.
By taking the time to look over my ingredients right after I've purchased them, I then know what I have to work with in the days and week to come. Everything is at the ready for me to reach in and grab and start cooking! I like that system. It also gives me a chance to prioritize by looking at what I've purchased what I need to cook soonest in order to avoid spoilage.
Summing It Up
As hard as it may seem in our industrialized world today, I recommend people taking the time to not only know their culinary basics when it comes to cooking ingredients but also to try and find out where their food is coming from. Better informed means we have a better chance of eating healthily and staying healthy.
Our food can only be as good as the ingredients we put into it and trying our best to get good healthy choice ingredients I think is vital. If we can't grow or raise our own food, the least we can do is be vigilant about the ingredients we purchase.
We should also always demand quality! If you go to a market and the quality is not there, let someone know that you are displeased. It lets stores know that we consumers expect quality and we won't shop where it is not offered.
In voicing our desire for better food and quality cooking ingredients, I think we can all make a difference - not just in culinary basics and making healthy food, but also in striving for a cleaner environment and thus a better world for us all!
Links on Cooking Beef and Fish
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