Thursday, October 20, 2011

Take Time to Smell the Roasters

I love, love, love this time of year!  It’s such a relief when the scorching heat of summer subsides and the crisp cool of autumn arrives.  Wardrobe options now include sweaters and slacks.  Sleep is more comfortable under a cozy blanket.  And, cooking and baking indoors are tolerable again.  No more back and forth to the barbeque.  No more getting up before the crack of dawn to boil pasta for a salad.  Once again, we can have the roasted and slow-braised meats we love.  At long last, we can enjoy our favourite baked treats again.

Tonight's roast turkey...YUM!
Roast meats are one of my choicest time-, calorie-, and budget-savers.  First of all, roasting is generally done with less fat and larger cuts of meat.  That makes it kinder to both health and wallet.  Best of all, roasted meats can often be stretched to provide a few meals.  Cost per serving/meal becomes very economical   and, though initial cooking times may be a little longer than preparing individually-portioned meats, subsequent dinners made from those pre-cooked proteins come together very quickly.  Stir-fries, cream- or tomato-based pastas, salads, soups, casseroles, pizzas – all are easily prepared in the time it takes to chop a few vegetables and prep the carbs.  Not just sit-down dinners, either.  Leftover roast beef, ham, chicken, turkey, and pork make flavour-packed sandwiches and wraps.  Add a condiment which compliments those meats – like horseradish sauce, honey-mustard glaze, stuffing, cranberry or apple sauce – and you can elevate those sandwiches to epicurean heights of deliciousness.  There’s nothing new in this idea.  When I grew up, Sunday dinner wasn’t just a good, hot, family meal; it furnished amazing and unique lunches through the coming week.

The benefits of home-baking are more modest.  There are budgetary advantages, certainly, but the savings margin is narrower than other forms of culinary wizardry.  The real saving is dietary.  Baking allows you to create desserts with lower calorie profiles and few (if any) artificial ingredients, preservatives, or stabilizers.  By choosing whole foods (e.g. grains, nuts, and spices) and complimenting them with healthier fats and sweeteners, these treats can become truly wholesome snacks.  And, while your kitchen is issuing forth delectable fragrances of your baking, the oven’s warmth helps reduce your heating bill.

If you’re having difficulty “feeling the love” of this season, try creating some of your own culinary comfort foods.  The smells seduce.  The oven heats things up.  And the food is oh so satisfying.  Your finances will value the budget-friendly large-cut proteins.  Your schedule will appreciate the time-savings.  And, both heart and waistline will take pleasure in healthier goodies.  So turn on the oven and share my seasonal delight.