Another new step, perhaps?

The thing about discovering things that you do not want to know is that you have to accept the reality of the facts. For me that means that I have to accept the fact that I cannot eat certain things any more unless I want to suffer the consequences of said choices. For some things, the amount of suffering is minimal so remaining in denial a little longer is easier. For other things there is no recognizable suffering at all so denial is easier longer. For those things we can just out right ignore the truth. For other things, the evidence is mounted against me and suffering is not an option. Denial is not an option as a result.

With my new found knowledge I was forced to research alternatives for certain foods. Admission for me is the first step on the road to a solution. I refuse to succumb to my issues 100%. I refuse to think that I have to give up everything entirely. I am still 100% stubborn. I like to think that in this situation it is what will keep me sane. It is what keeps that fighting spirit I suppose. I will admit that I just refuse to give up all things good. I believe this is part of the reason my sister is having such resistance in her own life. I am not sure she will admit that though.

I am reading labels a little more thoroughly now. It is depressing actually. If I understood what half of the things on the labels actually meant, I might actually starve to death to be perfectly honest with you. I will be honest with you – I know enough to be dangerous. I do not know enough to be one of those people I consider “psycho crazy” about food. What is all that stuff anyway? Wait. Stop! I actually do not want to know. Let ignorance be bliss for a little while longer. I am tackling a much bigger problem here – pork and MSG. I will admit to tackling another problem too – onions. I will even admit to being interested in solving a problem for a friend – dairy. She is allergic and well I care about her and it makes me sad to see her suffer. I watched her the other day and I knew she “understood” what I go through when I get exposed to just a little bit of pork. She chose to eat the products that contained dairy. She chose to suffer. I choose not to suffer. I also choose not to make other people miserable.

I was trying to figure out how to make some things for my freezer again. It was time. It was time to do a big batch or two of something, anything. I was down to only having Italian Sausage Lasagna in the freezer. That was not going to work for me on so many levels. Between the tomato sauce, the pork based Italian Sausage, the onions and bell peppers in the sauces, and the list continued, it was not going to work for me at all. It was fine for the family in a pinch but it was not going to help me out in any bind we were ever in. I needed to come up with something to off-set the lasagna.

The problem was that the research revealed that the jarred sauces were most likely going to contained something “laced” with pork. I kept digging and researching. Nothing I could find revealed anything to the contrary. I started to think about how I felt after eating jarred Alfredo sauces. It was going to have to go on “how I felt.” I am going to have to try it again to confirm it, of course. My recollection is that I did in fact still get stuffy headed. While my response to it was not violent or make me horribly ill, or even double me over in pain, I was still reacting to the sauce. It has to do with how they process the “cheeses” and other dairy products. The cheeses in particular. Some cheeses use rennant or enzymes and those can either be beef or pork based. Often they are pork based because it is cheaper. That’s the magic word I have found to look out for on the labels “enzymes.” If you find that word, you just do not know unless it is marked kosher and then you have to still be careful. If it is halal you are safe. It is a tricky world when you are dancing around the porcine issues because it is very rare and so much can be hidden in other things thanks to the fact that things do not have be fully disclosed on labels (as is the case with MSG).

I have yet to find a Kosher Alfredo sauce by the way. I have yet to find a Kosher Parmesan Cheese. I was completely find with making my own Alfredo sauce, but I have yet to find a Parmesan Cheese that declares where they get their rennant from. So without further research on cheeses, I have to sta away from certain cheeses. It is not just Parmesan so do not think that I am picking on it. It is Monterrey Jack as well. Many of the processed cheeses are a complete no-no for me.

To get around the Alfredo sauce issue in January when I made pizza for Andrew’s birthday, I made a Pesto Sauce. That was an interesting experience. I will call it a Pesto Sauce after a fashion. I should preface this by saying that I do not even like Pesto Sauce all that much. I now know why after looking at the various recipes. Ick! You might recall that I said I stubborn and I was not going to let this stop me. If you realize what the various ingredients are, you figure out what substitutes are and you can improvise “half-way” decently. It was not bad, I promise. It was “okay.” I read in the process, you can use olives in place of pine-nuts. Of course I was completely out of olives so I was just going to have to go without the pine-nuts and the olives. It worked out just fine. Mine consisted of pineapple juice (I did not have any lemon juice), basil (I got that right), olive oil, and half-and-half for volume when you whip it. It worked out fine. It would have probably been better with the olives to make the pastiness for the pizza, but it was good. It only had a hint of the pineapple juice.

Anyway, I digress…

Upon further investigation of ingredients for various recipes, I decided I was going to have a problem. How do you replace cream soups? These are pretty major ingredients in some recipes and you cannot just leave them out as they are also the flavor centers in some recipes. I was going to have a problem. Another concern was broths. Who would have thought? It is so frustrating.

The worst part is that the amount of coordination that the solution requires. I said I was stubborn, not organized. I do not think anything about cooking an entire roast for the soul purpose of shredding. I do it to make Beef Burritos on a fairly regular basis. I also think nothing of using an entire chicken for nothing but shredding. I do that on a fairly regular basis for making Chicken Taquitos. I think nothing of it. I just do not necessarily equate boiling the chicken to get the stock to have my own stock/broth that is clean and safe and free of MSG.

Call me slow, it is okay, I can take it. I am a busy person and that extra step just confounds me every single time. Why would I do that? Why when I can just dump it out of the can and be done? See where I am going with this? Why would I waste my precious freezer space for broth I made when it is already made for me? Why would I cook the chicken when I can get it already cooked for $4.88? I can use the crock pot for the roast. Yes. I am slow.

This last round of discovery might have fixed that, however. The latest plunges into reality when standing on the aisles for endless minutes reading labels and getting stares while I turn all the cans and jars around and read and compare might have fixed that. I might be slow but I am not entirely stupid. I am not stupid. I am just lazy. I am a lazy chef. I have always been lazy. I will admit to that. I wear that badge of honor with a smile on my face. I do not shy away from it. I do not get done what I do by spending hours in the kitchen even if I am a good cook. I cannot spend hours there. I have to be in and out of there and pretty dang efficient in the process.

So my problem…I need broth without MSG and other crap. You cannot find one without onions in it. Sometimes they slip in tomatoes. Poo on them. I need Cream of Chicken and Cream of Cheddar Cheese Soups in particular that do not have MSG or are not laced with that infamous word “enzymes.” Both are laced with it. Even if you buy organic, you have to worry about the “organic cream” because what is in it? So that was my problem.

The broth was an easy problem to solve.

I went looking for “how to make cream of anything soup” and was happy to find some results that I could actually eat. I finally stumbled across this recipe. Homemade Cream of Something Soup found on the Once A Month Meals website. Now I am not a fan of Once a Month Cooking. I have a friend, Devon Lee, that swears by it. It works great for her and her family, but I have never found I have needed to do it that badly. I have since started doing some “freezer cooking” on a much more modified form. I have stuff in my freezer but I do not do it anything like “once a month” cooking. I do it for time crunch days when I need something when I just do not have time to cook.

Back to the recipe…

The reason that this one caught my eye is that I just needed the guidelines. I am an intelligent human being. Tell me how to do it and I will fix it so I can eat it. Obviously this one has onions and garlic in it and that’s not going to fly by my sister. She can tolerate garlic a tad. I wanted the garlic, just not the onions. It gave me all the substitutions for my dear friend Robyn Felt who has the dairy issues. I was so happy. I know there are things that she does not make because of this issue. It stinks to have to give things up. The comment was made in passing that food is so blah. I refuse to let it be that way. It is all about finding the right substitution. Sometimes it takes trial and error in the process.

Anyway, I made my first batch of this recipe on Sunday. I actually made two batches. I needed a can of Cream of Chicken and a can of Cream of Cheddar Cheese. Since I was going to be mixing them together anyway, I made them together right into the same pot. I completely left the onions out. I did not add the chicken to the Cream of Chicken because I was going to be adding so much chicken to the Chicken Taquitos that I did not feel it would make a difference. I did double the amount of Cheddar Cheese in the Cream of Cheddar Cheese. I made mine with organic Chicken Broth out of the can. I obviously did not plan ahead for this batch.

Big confession from a lazy chef. IT WAS SO EASY! This is lazy chef approved. It was SO GOOD! It was kind of bland because there was no onion in it, but I am thinking that a little freshly ground pepper and it would have been perfect. Now I did have a can of Health Valley Organics Cream of Chicken Soup to dump into it. It looked so nasty in comparison. Blah! Next time I definitely will plan ahead to cook my own chickens and take the broth/stock from that to make the Cream Soups and use the chicken meat to make the Cream of Chicken Soup right on the spot.

Definitely gets two thumbs up! I have since made the Chicken Taquitos with the filling and they are delicious. I would not know known that the bulk of the filling was missing those ingredients you cannot read on the label. They are not missed. They actually were not needed. The onions were not needed either. 

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