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in and out by mark bittman

January 7, 2009

Mark Bittman from the New York Times has published an article called Fresh Start for the New Year?  Let’s Start in the Kitchen.   It is basically a what’s in and what’s out list for kitchen ingredients.  I read it this morning with a flush of embarrassment.  I have a love/hate relationship with this type of article.  I’m too curious not to read it, but when I do, I feel real shame that I’m not a real foodie or real cook  So click through with caution. 

Let’s take some examples were I’ve fallen down, shall we?

Mark Bittman says:  OUT Bouillon cubes or powder, or canned stock.

Suz does:  Uh, I buy organic chicken stock in a carton.   Hey, I thought I did well buying it in a carton instead of using the powder.  And it says it is organic!  Yes it does!

Mark Bittman says:  OUT Spices older than a year: smell before using; if you get a whiff of dust or must before you smell the spice, toss it. I find it easier to clean house once a year and buy new ones.

Suz does:  Well, geez, I think I have spices from Winnipeg in my cupboard.  (Hint:  I lived there seven years ago). 

Mark Bittman says:  OUT Canned beans (except in emergencies). 

Suz does: I must be living in a state of emergency, because I only use canned beans.  I also cannot get my kids to eat beans if their lives depended on it, canned or otherwise.

Mark Bittman says:  OUT Imitation vanilla. 

Suz does:  I’ve looked longingly at the real vanilla beans.  I even picked them up once.  But I cannot bring myself to pay $7 for two little sprigs of them.  I buy ‘real’ vanilla extract instead of  ‘artificial’ – does this count?

Mark Bittman says:  OUT Tomato paste in a can. 

Suz does:   Um, I buy my tomato paste in a can (instead of a tube).

DAMNATION!   I have failed in at least six of the areas.   Maybe I will make a cheez whiz on white bread sandwich for lunch to wallow in my shame.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2009 6:29 am

    Vanilla beans only cost a lot when you buy them in specialty stores. If you order online from a store like Arizona Vanilla or Vanilla Saffron Imports, you might be surprised how little you can get a pound of beans for.

  2. January 8, 2009 8:58 am

    Bittman’s article just made me very tired. I have yet to find tomato paste in a tube. And so much of the stuff on that list takes time, time that I tend to spend cleaning house and hanging out with my kids. At least he’s still okay with frozen peas, because we live off of those!

  3. January 8, 2009 9:36 am

    mmmmm cheeze whiz!!! i have not had that delicacy for many years… 🙂

  4. January 8, 2009 11:29 am

    Oh, don’t worry about it…not everyone can be as pure as Mark Bittman. It takes a long time to soak and cook beans, and to make your own stock. It may be worth it taste-wise, but it’s probably not always worth it time-wise.

  5. January 8, 2009 4:04 pm

    Until cooking is my only job (no other work, no kids, no housework) I will always rely on the use of some of these “out” items. I say power to those of us that can make tasty food that is easy!

  6. January 9, 2009 12:00 am

    Real cooks are pragmatists. For the most part I have no issue with Bittman but this is ridiculous. Sure fresh spices are better than stale, garden grown tomatoes better than store bought etc but I’ve always been more enamoured of the idea of producing something tasty with only passable tools and whatever happens to be in the kitchen. Kind of the John Thorne philosophy: a cast iron frying pan, a decent wooden spoon, a knife that cuts and whatever is within reach whether its old or new.

  7. January 13, 2009 1:55 pm

    You can buy vanilla beans on eBay too, and sometimes can get a pretty good deal.

  8. January 24, 2009 10:53 am

    I have spices in my cupboard I’m surprised I own. Therefore, they are fresh to me. Ta-dah!

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