Shopping & freezing

Food news seems to be rather slow these days – unless you count the “eat red meat” pendulum swinging back toward “less.” I did come across two useful articles, however.

In the LA Times, Noelle Carter goes on a hunt for “the best chicken,” trying a wide variety and learning about what all the different labels mean: “organic, free-range, natural, heritage, air-chilled and kosher.” There is also some information on USDA requirements that explains to me why I couldn’t stomach chicken when I was pregnant and my taste buds reached new levels of sensitivity (and makes me wonder why I would eat chicken at all unless I could be sure the grower was air-chilling them and reducing to a bare minimum their contact with chlorine).

In the New York Times, Mark Bittman reintroduces us to an appliance that we rarely use to its full potential – the freezer we already own. His suggestions are excellent, my only quibble with him being the large number of plastic bags he must go through when stocking his own freezer.

Because I live next door to a fine year-round farmers’ market, I rarely freeze any produce, but as we make the move to Michigan this summer, I know that the produce season will shrink to a few months, and I hope to explore ways to stock up on it while it’s in season for the colder seasons. Chinese cooking is very much based on the premise that you have fresh ingredients available (I know that my in-laws in China still shop almost daily), but there are certainly some tips and tricks you can glean from Bittman’s list – certainly the chicken, fish, and beef I buy at the market are often frozen for use later in the week, whether they find their way to the grill or the wok.

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