Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Ingredient

The Rules:
For the month of October I cannot buy any food that contains more than one ingredient. I can make and assemble meals of as much complexity as I am capable, but I must start from single ingredients. This means I have to make my own bread, cereal, salad dressing, and dozens of other things that I haven't even thought of yet. There is one concession that I am making that will make things easier, at least to start... I can use things that are already in my house. Meaning, we have access to the mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce that is already here. But if we run out, we either go without, or make our own. (This is to avoid wasting things I have, as well as to provide a bit of a transition)

I made the decision to do this on Sunday and I was tempted to go out and buy a bunch of contraband before the deadline, but I a reasonable degree. A brief panic set in when my husband mentioned that this harebrained scheme meant no beer for a month, but calm was restored when we determined that wine was admissible since it is just fermented grapes and water, and water doesn't count as an ingredient. So I bought four bottles of everyday wine at Trader Joe's this afternoon. Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't really know what goes into making wine, and there may in fact be more involved, but it was an innocent decision, and the wine is here now, so it is fair to drink it. I'll figure out the details on that one when we run out. Other than that, there were only two other things that I bought that were suspect... 1. A medley of Mediterranean dried fruits (Figs, Apricots & Cherries). The fact that three fruits were mixed together is of course a problem. But more importantly: sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate, rice flour, sugar and sunflower oil were all listed as well. I don't know why, but I really wanted this medley, and I was afraid they wouldn't have it in a month.
Suspect purchase #2 Buttermilk - this was very surprising to me. Ingredients: Grade A Milk, Grade A Nonfat Milk, Culture, Salt. This is on the cusp, I think. I'm not bothered by the whole milk/nonfat milk combo, I think that is permissible. It's the salt and the cultures... borderline ingredients, part of me wants to make a case for it being ok, but I don't want to fudge the rules this early in the game... but these purchases were made on September 30th, so they are fair game anyway. And this is nothing compared to the innummerable other processed foods we have in our house and will ration out over the next 31 days.

The reasons for this experiment are varied. I will try to go into more detail about them over the next month. But for an overview... I've been moving in the direction of making more of my own food from scratch for a long time. However I always fear doing new things and it usually takes me weeks of imagining myself doing something before I take any real action. The decision to make something new and complicated from scratch is generally made at 9:00 at night, just in time to dash out to the store for supplies before closing, and the dish is served around 1:15AM. I think this challenge is going to force me to try the things I have been avoiding so that we will have something to eat.

So we will see what happens. I have three hours and five minutes to go out and buy all the prepared and processed foods I can find. I think I'm going to fight the temptation by making some granola and possibly drinking the last beer. It's almost 9:00.

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