Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Putting Trader Joe's on the spot

Trader Joe's next to the Hampshire Mall Hadley...
A Trader Joe's in Massachusetts.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss animal antibiotics, a  hearty dish that will make you forget about meat and other ideas for meals at home.

Consumers Union, the political and action arm of Consumer Reports magazine, is calling on Trader Joe's to stop selling meat from animals raised on harmful antibiotics.

I rely on Trader Joe's in Paramus for antibiotic- and preservative-free bacon and hot dogs.

But I've been disappointed when shopping for a holiday ham for the meat eaters in my family to find only those from conventionally raised pigs.

Here's an excerpt from a Consumers Union e-mail I received:

"You know you shouldn't take antibiotics as preventive medicine because it weakens your ability to fight really deadly bacteria later on.
 "Yet factory farms continue to pump antibiotics into healthy chickens, pigs and cows, putting you and your family at greater risk from antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
"We’re trying to get Trader Joe’s, one of the nation’s more progressive grocers, to commit to selling only meat raised without antibiotics. If Trader Joe’s agrees to source only drug-free meat, it will put major pressure on factory farms to stop feeding animals antibiotics – sparking change driven by you, not the government!
"We’re hoping to meet with company execs very soon, and show them how many consumers want meat raised without antibiotics. If we are successful with Trader Joe’s, we expect other grocers to follow suit."

I got an anonymous comment relating one reader's experience buying chicken raised on antibiotics, as you can tell from his or her description of "huge" poultry parts:

I've bought different brands of chicken from several local stores.
The meat was rubbery, translucent after cooking and just strange tasting. 
The legs were huge and when cooked gave off puddles of water rendering the juices useless for gravy. The breasts were massive resembling turkey breasts in size. 
I finally narrowed down one of the offensive brands; Amick Farms, purchased at Pricerite. Yuck. We call it mutant chicken or rubber chicken. 
I now buy only Purdue which may be bad but still tastes like chicken. I've tried some of the local natural chicken but they also look and taste like mutant chicken. I suppose we'll have to raise our own backyard chickens or become vegetarians.

Who needs meat?

Organic whole-wheat spaghetti with sardines and anchovies.
This simple tool makes easy work of opening sardine cans.

A filling dish that will make you forget meat and bread is Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti in bottled pasta sauce that gets added robustness from cans of sardines and anchovies with their oil.

I used 36 ounces of sauce (1 and a half Classico bottles), 16 ounces of spaghetti, 1 can of anchovies and 3 or 4 cans of sardines. 

I also add extra-virgin olive oil, red-pepper flakes and dried Italian herbs to the sauce.

The Trader Joe's package calls for cooking the pasta for 10-11 minutes, but I usually drain it and finish it in the sauce for the last 2 minutes or so.

The whole wheat spaghetti tastes like conventional pasta, but my body processes it better. A 16-ounce package of spaghetti, penne or bowties is $1.39.

H Mart food counter

The new food bar at H Mart in Englewood has counter and table seating.
After the store was renovated last year, the city closed the food counter.

Englewood has allowed H Mart to open a food counter in its renovated store.

The counter opened after the renovation, then was closed by the city. The approval came about three months ago, an employee said.

Korean Potato Salad contains mayonnaise, egg, cucumber and raisins.

Crunchy Cucumber Kimchi is one of my family's favorites.

Shin Ramyun is an instant dried noodle soup with a spicy kick.

I went to the Englewood H Mart last week after dropping my teen-age son off at a friend's house nearby.

I picked up two side dishes, Korean Potato Salad ($3.49) and Cucumber Kimchi (also $3.49), and a 5-pack package of spicy Shin Ramyun ($5.49), his favorite instant soup.

Chicken and spices

Leftover chicken went into a takeout container for storage in the refrigerator.

One of my favorite preparations for chicken and fish is coating them in spices before roasting them in the oven.

I keep a large plastic container filled with bread crumbs and spices in the refrigerator.

The container is large enough to accommodate the fish or poultry pieces, which I coat on all sides.

I use spices from Wick Fowler's 2 Alarm Chili Kit, including red pepper, paprika and dried onion, and combine them with a large can of plain or seasoned bread crumbs.

Salt in the chili kit is optional. I also omit the masa flour, a thickening agent.

Whenever I have other spices, I add them to the container. 

Recently, I added Korean black sesame seeds and a package of Fish Masala, including cumin, black pepper, fenugreek and clove leaves. 

Before that I added a package of Middle Eastern spices for kabobs I wasn't using.

Last week, I used Empire Kosher Leg Quarters, which are from free-roaming chickens raised without antibiotics (see photo above).

Tonight, I thawed and broiled two more leg quarters for my teen-age son, covering them in barbecue sauce and gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste) in the last few minutes of cooking.

I served him one leg quarter with a leftover chili-spice drumstick and organic whole wheat penne pasta in marinara sauce with anchovies.

Salad from a can

Here is what goes into a canned seafood salad.

Canned seafood salad with kimchi, tomato and smoked wild salmon.

I splurged on four cans of Bumble Bee Lump Crabmeat at Costco Wholesale to dress up my usual canned fish salad, but the single can I used got lost among the sardines, tuna and pink salmon.

Into a plastic storage contianer, I emptied one can of Moroccan sardines, one can of yellow-fin tuna, two cans of pink salmon and one can of lump crabmeat -- including all of the liquid for a moist salad.

I added chopped onion and sweet pepper, Dijon mustard, ground cumin and fresh lime juice.

I could see the bits of crab, but couldn't taste them, so next time, I'll use two cans of crabmeat and only one of salmon.

Hospital takeout

I love the salad bar's oil-free sun-dried tomatoes, beans and fresh greens.

I look forward to Wednesdays, when I volunteer at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and purchase a takeout salad from the hospital's Garden Cafe.

If there is a vegetarian soup, I buy that also for my dinner at home.

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