bats and collard greens

Kelly and I went to the center of the universe Walmart & Home Depot last night to get some groceries, and supplies for building birdhouses and bat houses. We spent the afternoon measuring the cuts and deciphering the instructions for the bat-house. Later, he wielded the power tools, and I had flashbacks to the days where my sole reason for existence was to be a Human C-Clamp. I got a lot of sawdust on my hoodie, but only a little in my lip gloss. I guess I'm getting better.

While he did more cutting, I looked for a good recipe for some collard greens we bought. I remember making something wonderful called "Cuban Green Soup" for one of my clients in Los Angeles, but I didn't have the recipe on my computer. I googled for it, and found it, but it looked ...wrong... So I kept looking. It appears like there is only ONE recipe out there, and it got on every recipe website that there ever was. It calls for hardly any greens, FIVE CANS OF BEANS, and it supposed to have 8 servings. Not to mention it didn't call for anything that added flavor besides the salt pork. I was so disappointed that I made my own recipe up. Kelly had 2nds, and so did I, so I guess it worked out. Here it is: I'm going to link to it here as
Cuban Green Soup even though it's probably not all that Cuban, but maybe someone will find it when they're looking for Cuban Green Soup recipe, and think that a few extra steps might be worth the significantly improved flavor over what the other recipes offer - which amounts to hot, wet greens and a smidge of pork fat. <SHIVERS> YICK </SHIVERS>

There's still enough left over for us to have more later this week, so I'm anticipating it to be even tastier, as happens with all soups, stews and pot roasts.

So now, while I was typing up that recipe, Kelly's been constructing the bat-house.
    In the dining room.
       Using power tools
          On "my" gorgeous, new dining room table.
I'm trying not to freak out.

Today I learned: No wonder some people think they're horrible cooks, because other people write up horrible recipes, and the people who go to make them think they're going to work out well.

Who's responsible for your food?

Not who cooks it for you, although that's important \(^_^)/
Not who buys it from the store, or even who supplies the store.
Not even the farmer who grows it or raises the livestock.

The Federal Government wants to be in charge of your food. All of it. Take a look at this: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
An easier-to-read summary can be found HERE, but if you choose to read the comments (I don't recommend that you do) take them with a grain of salt.

I guess there has to be some regulation. Companies are driven by profits and profits alone. They're obligated to earn revenues for their stockholders, and their executives' enormous salaries, so they're exceedingly greedy and will cut every corner they can, usually with no regard to the end product, for as long as they can. They only change their ways when the public complains too loudly and it could hurt their profits.

Remember the tomato scare? but then it wasn't really tomatoes it was peppers? Then the unwashed scallions? Then the polluted spinach, and don't forget the tainted eggs.

It's really disgusting. But if I've read this correctly, each company writes its own HACCP plan. It's not going to be a fair & honest situation if it's handled the same way as during the first Bush administration's “revolving door”, when government officials and company executives swapped positions between Monsanto and government agencies many times in their careers. The people in those high-level government jobs and said "Don't worry, Monsanto is fine!"

And it doesn't stop with the EPA, USDA and FDA. International providers of food products don't have the same regulations on pesticides, antibiotics and additives, or on their water supply. Just because the ingredients are listed on the label, it doesn't mean that a) it's actually in there, or b) that's all that's in there.

I'm very glad that Kelly and I saved up as much as we did, for as long as we did, and bought a nice chunk of land in a largely unrestricted area. We started on a small orchard (I can't wait for those pawpaws!) and this spring we will take this farming thing on for real. Our first year's efforts, while valuable experience, had been largely entertainment, not sustenance. We'll raise our own goats, lambs, pigs & chickens. If we're careful and plan accordingly, we'll collect as many eggs as the hens will give us, as much milk as we need, and grow all the produce we need, including everything the animals need to eat. I'm happy that we've set ourselves up so we're not 100% the mercy of Big Brother.

Will I still buy foods & food products that I didn't grow myself? Of course I will! I don't want to cook without vanilla, soy sauce, bananas, olives, tamarind, or cranberries. A world without chocolate is not a place I'd want to live in! If it's something that could be obtained locally, I'd rather find a producer that I can trust, and ideally, someone open to barter! wink!

I've got lots of space, lots of cooking tools and kitchen machines, and a bona-fide culinary education, so there isn't much I can't make from scratch. I might draw the line at brewing my own soy sauce, but I don't see why I couldn't ferment my own cider vinegar if our orchard is generous enough to allow me to experiment. I'd love to see Kelly brew his own beer.

Should I be accused of culinary treason if I eat a burger made from mass-produced meat in a restaurant? Go for it. Slap a big red H-for-Hypocrite on my chest. We stopped at Portillo's on our drive home from Chicago after Thanksgiving. I can't remember the last time I ate a grilled Italian sausage on a baguette before that, but I enjoyed every bite! I try to be "good". I do believe you vote with every dollar you spend, If you eat at my place, you'll know I did as much as I could to make sure that everything's as pure and wholesome as I could get it,

Today I learned: I might be turning into one of those live-off-the-land, anti-gub'mint freaks... I'll eventually to go into more detail, but I'm running late for my tinfoil hat fitting appointment.