Whether or not you have noticed that I have taken a bit of a blog hiatus, as I tend to do from time-to-time, here I am to update you on my life yet again! Thanks to my insane semester and those other lovely hiccups that life throws at us, my zero waste grocery endeavor has been entirely derailed. Each week, for the past few weeks, I have stood in the checkout line, burning with shame, glancing around and waiting for someone to catch me red handed – “You, hey you! Hey, aren’t you the one who tells everybody to avoid packaging? What’s with those mushrooms? What’s with those chips? Crackers?! Microwaveable pouches of Indian food? Oh my god, are those individually wrapped cheese sticks?!”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I bought individually wrapped cheese sticks. I bought microwaveable meals that come in individual plastic pouches. Even typing those words makes me shiver with the indignity of it all. But when you’re spending a large amount of time and energy just trying to get your ailing cat and friend to eat, you stop caring about the plastic. Or you at least swallow your guilt and shame and buy the damn things so that somebody has something to eat.
Wait – I thought I went to the grocery store for food, not cats.
I have mentioned before about how reducing the amount of food packaging that we consume is a big challenge for me, and like I’ve said before, it’s a process. Right now, I’m more focused on local than packaging (fun fact – Maine was voted the 2nd best state behind Vermont for eating local). I visit the farmer’s market every other weekend (I can’t wait for it to be every weekend, starting in May!), buy my local meat from the NLC, get only local cheese from our Hannaford, local bread, local tomatoes (shout-out to Backyard Farms!), local yogurt, and local milk. I am still buying some things in bulk – beans, oats, coffee, nuts – but otherwise, I’m just buying what we need to get ourselves through to the end of the semester.
Anyway, that brings me to this week’s meal: Chorizo burritos with improvised Spanish rice. I could eat at our local burrito place, Verve, every day, but since I can’t afford that, I brought them to our house, healthified.
Pardon our disastrous kitchen. Who has time to clean?
Improvised Spanish Brown Rice
1 cup brown rice
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 – 4 oz. can diced green chiles
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
1. Put the rice and liquid in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit another 15-20 minutes.
2. When the rice is in its off-the-heat steaming stage, sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic and starting to brown.
3. Add the rice, tomatoes, and chiles to the pan and stir until incorporated and most of the extra liquid (from the tomatoes) has evaporated. Remove from heat and taste for salt (I didn’t add any because the chicken stock was salted).
Chorizo/Red Kidney Bean Burritos
This is more of a combination suggestion than a recipe – this will likely last the two of us for at least three dinners.
Whole wheat tortillas – we use the large Mission wraps
Avocado mashed with a little bit of salt and lime
Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Spanish rice (recipe above)
Chorizo sausage, removed from casings and cooked (if vegetarian, omit and put more beans on your burrito)
Red kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked with a bay leaf and a pinch of salt until soft (or from a can)
1. Line up your ingredients on the counter and go wild. Just don’t go so wild that your burrito won’t close.
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!
The fine print:
Okay, I couldn’t help myself – I was curious about the origins and zw-ness of all of my ingredients, so here’s a little summary:
Tomatoes (Backyard Farms, no packaging)
Monterey Jack (Pineland Farms, plastic packaging)
Chorizo (Wee Bit Farm, plastic packaging)
Red kidney beans (Farmer’s market…can’t remember which farm, paper bag)
Not local, unpackaged:
Not local, recyclable packaging:
Chicken stock (aluminum)
Diced green chiles (aluminum)
Spring mix (plastic)
Not local, LANDFILL:
Tortillas (plastic bag)