Monday, September 16, 2013

[what's cookin'] A Picnic

Yesterday was the Homestead Museum's annual Ticket to the Twenties event.  It's a free two-day tribute to the Jazz Age complete with live music, dancing, films, games, and even fashion shows.  It's the perfect event in Southern California for a twenties-style picnic.

For this year's picnic, I thought I would try my hand at a couple of Jazz Age recipes thanks to VintageRecipes.net.  I wanted picnic foods that might have been served up at an outdoor luncheon in the 1920s, so decided on a couple of sandwiches and a potato salad.  But due to a few dietary limitations and allergies, I did decide to alter the recipes a bit.  So long as they kept to the style of the foods, I was okay.

The sandwiches came out well, I thought.  I chose a mock-chicken salad sandwich on white.  I looked up several chicken salad recipes on the site and used the information to guide my mock creation.  Honestly, it really was not that different from contemporary "chicken-salad."  Some "chicken" (in my case, I used chickpeas), some mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar, and--of course--mayonnaise.  Celery was often added, too.  Yep, pretty much what most folks call chicken-salad today.

The second sandwich that I chose was a cheese sandwich.  While not using camembert specifically, I used a similar soft, rind cheese that had a wonderful bite to it.  Quite tasty, albeit a touch messy to make.  I opted to thinly slice the cheese and place the slices on the sandwich, though I did consider cutting the cheese in half horizontally and then scooping and spreading the soft cheese sans rind onto the bread.

The potato salad recipe that I used as my inspiration include cayenne and Tabasco.  My husband is allergic to both, so I opted for black pepper and HP sauce instead.  (Sure, I could've chosen another recipe as there are plenty, but by the time I was getting around to making the salad, I had to chose one for which I had on-hand most of the ingredients and that would be nice at a picnic.)  The end result had a lovely tanginess and was quite tasty.  Yet by the next afternoon (I made the salad the day before the picnic), it was much more bland.  I here I thought the flavors would marry well.  Drat.

Otherwise the picnic was lovely.  We brought out some good china on which to dine.  We sat in the shade and sipped vintage sodas and lemonade.  My friend, Tricia, brought even more to eat: deviled eggs, sandwiches, fruit salad, and a heavenly apple pie and blueberry cake!  We were stuffed!

I certainly want to picnic again, but perhaps will wait a touch longer in the year as yesterday was just a bit too warm for my tastes.  Perhaps next time I will try a few other era recipes to share.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A new (electronic) addition to our haus


Roughly two weeks ago, a damn broke.  To combat the constant presence of dog hair on our floors, I used money I’d been saving to buy a floor-cleaning robot.  (I subscribe to the "Throw Money At It" school of problem solving whenever my limited budget allows.)

Brian would've preferred
this model
Now that two weeks have passed, I can say with certainty that it was among one of the best, albeit costliest, gadget purchases we’ve ever made.  Not only does it keep our floors looking good, it amuses the heck out of Declan and myself.  As it navigates the floors, I think it resembles a drunk stumbling its way through a crowded party as it bumps, turns, bumps, rumbles along, et cetera.  I can almost hear it muttering, "'Scuse me... pardon me... whoops..." as it makes its way from place to place.

Most users would probably only run the robot once or twice a day.  Declan, however, likes to push the button on it, so our “Rocket,” as Declan calls our yet-unnamed Roomba, get’s quite the workout.  But as our floors have really never looked better, I certainly don’t mind.

Now if we could just figure out what to call ours...

Friday, July 26, 2013

[what's cookin'] Family Movie Night means POPCORN FOR DINNER!

Leftovers, anyone? How about a beer?

When my eldest was younger, we often designated Friday evenings as “Family Movie Night.”  Now that Declan is getting older, I have brought back our movie-watching nights.  He is still a touch too young for it, not usually sitting through the entire film (though animated or “puppeted/Muppeted” features fare better), but it gives all a night to come together and have fun.  

Taylor, my eldest, is always invited, of course, but being a young woman with different priorities, she is absent from the festivities from time to time.  (I could write a whole post on how watching children become highly independent adults is both heartbreaking and wonderful.  I miss that kid like crazy, but she needs to have the freedom to make her own choices about how she spends her free time.  But I digress.)

Recently, I heard about the idea of Popcorn-for-Dinner.  I think that it’s a great idea for Family Movie Nights.  Everyone can forage for leftovers, or make their own quick meal.  I whip up a few batches of my famous (and addicting) popcorn.  And we all graze while snuggled on the couch watching a movie.  It’s pretty perfect, actually.  (And Declan WILL sit for a long period of time if the popcorn bowl is in his lap.  He is a fiend for popcorn.)

Here’s my recipe for amazingly good popcorn at home.  I do not usually measure the ingredients, choosing to season to taste, but these measurements are a good starting point.  Obviously feel free to adjust proportions to your tastes.  Enjoy!

Lily’s Omnom-popcorn

6 cups of prepared quality popcorn*
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (I use an oil sprayer)
2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (Bob’s Red Mill brand is widely available, not to be confused with brewer’s yeast)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Garlic powder, optional

*I use an old-fashioned, crank operated, stove-top oil popper.  I provides the tastiest popcorn I’ve ever enjoyed.  I pop mine with about two tablespoons of Earth Balance spread or high-quality butter.  If i’m feeling particularly fancy, I add a splash of truffle oil.

In a large bowl, toss popcorn with olive oil.  I use a sprayer and spray the top, toss the popcorn, spray the top, toss the popcorn, repeat until the popcorn has a light coating of oil.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast and toss until evenly distributed through the bowl.  Add salt and, if desired, a shake or two of garlic powder.  Eat immediately for best flavor.


Do you have any weekly/monthly family traditions?  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

[in stitches] A Casual Shirt for My Fella

New shirt!
A few weeks ago it was so uncomfortably warm that the idea of cooking dinner brought on fears of combusting from the heat.  Our solution was to dine out at an air conditioned restaurant.  The second time that went out, I noticed my husband was wearing the same shirt as before.

"It's the only nice, comfortably shirt that I have," he explained.

He does have a few nicer-looking button-up shirts, but they're mostly polyester.  The shirt he was wearing was 100% linen, the perfect choice for a hot day.

In-progress
When we returned home after dinner, I began to look up possible shirt patterns for him.  I wanted a short-sleeve, button-front shirt with a collar, preferably with a yoke, too.  Vogue had exactly what I needed!

The next day, I headed to my local fabric store.  My husband wanted linen (which I can get inexpensively at LA's fabric district), but I thought I'd see what was available nearby.  I found two good 100% cotton options; a tiki print in blues and browns, and a red plaid.  I bought both.

The pattern recommended no obvious diagonals, so I purchased more of the tiki print than recommended.  Really the only issues were the yoke and collar, but the extra fabric allowed me to cut them on the cross grain to keep the pattern upright.
His "catalog" pose

The pattern and instructions were pretty straight-forward.  The project worked up quickly and easily. I was able to do everything by machine, too; including the buttons.

My husband loves the new shirt and claims it to be very comfortable.



While I've started the red plaid shirt, I haven't found time yet to finish it.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

[what's cookin'] I think I can?


I have had moderate success with refrigerator pickling.  But I’ve yet to really dive into full on canning.  My new favorite blog, though, has me wanting to give it a try.  I’ve got a few glass jars. I’ve got a few canning tools. I can boil water.  So, what’s holding me back?

Well, for starters, I’m not a big jam-eater.  I confess, I have a mild repulsion to hot fruit.  Okay, more accurately to hot berries.  Apples, pears, peaches are all perfectly fine for pies, but for the love of all that is pure and good--berries should never be heated.  They become a slimy ichor of yuck.  I shudder just thinking about it.  Granted, I am touch more forgiving of jams are they are usually enjoyed fresh from the ‘fridge, but our haus seems to be quite fine without stocking any spreadable fruit.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t can jams.  But I’ve yet to encounter any other canned food that leaves me salivating.  (Not that I’ve been looking too hard, mind you.)

So, do you can?  What are some of your favorite recipes?  Are any of the beginner-friendly?

Monday, June 24, 2013

[peaceful parenting] Mama Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barney


Around the time that my daughter was born, a new children’s show was all the rage.  Rage being a key word here as it also produced a LOT of push-back from parents, adults, and older siblings annoyed by the cloyingly saccharine song so famously associated with the show.  

I was one of those parents.  The show and its predominate purple protagonist left me so piqued that I engaged in strategic channel changing and PBS viewing schedules just to avoid exposing her to the show.

My efforts paid off, she never was much of fan.  (She only later learned of the show’s existence when she started preschool.  But always preferred to watch other programs, much to my relief.)


Flash forward to today, and I find myself dealing with the purple menace in a much bigger way.  Declan has, completely on his own, discovered the show via Netflix and Hulu on our tablet computers.  (Oh, if only both of those programs allowed parents to individually filter out certain shows!)  
Here's the techno-savvy lad now

Through no prompting nor training on our part, Declan has learned how to open the tablet, start the appropriate application, switch the application to the kid’s catalog, browse the options, pick a show, and watch it.  He is also very adept at rewinding and replaying key parts, particularly theme songs and musical numbers, over and over again.

Obviously, I’m no fan of some of his choices in viewing material.  My language makes that plain.  So why have I chosen to not only allow him to continue to view these shows, but also defend and support his tastes?

Well, I feel that to do otherwise would be shame him for being himself and expressing his tastes.

As much as I may not be a fan of cavity-inducing children’s music, it does not hurt him at all.  Whereas if I turned the situation from supportive to adversarial, someone must win and someone must lose.  That sort of relationship can cause harm; definitely to our relationship, but also to his developing sense of self.  So, instead of instituting a ban of B-word in this house, I’ve chosen to find acceptance.

Some may find my support to be a bit on the extreme side.  After all, would censoring his exposure from a children’s TV show *really* be that bad?  Honestly, I think that it might.  I’ve decided that my role in his life is to be a partner to him, and that a huge part of my “job” is to be supportive of his interests.  If I start to dismiss his curiosity and interests at this stage, how can I show him that I truly am interested in helping him to explore his world later on?

I’ll admit that this is perhaps a departure from some folks’ views of more conventional parenting.  But I’ll wager that even those people can cite a time in their adolescence when their parents chose to be adversarial at a time when they could have really used support instead.  I know that I can recall a few.  I can even recall moments when I really should have been more supportive of my daughter.

How do you as a parent view your relationship with your children?



On a somewhat related note, Declan has also--on his own--found Family Guy.  In some respects, I think that is almost more annoying than the dentally-challenged T-Rex.  No, it IS more annoying.*

*Yeah, I’m not a fan.  Too formulaic, too sophomoric, not witty enough.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[in stitches] A New Dress for Daughter

Years ago I picked up a vintage reproduction pattern of a tabard-style dress.  The pattern, no longer in print, featured a quick-to-sew "Walk-Away-Dress" that had no sewn sides.  Instead it wrapped from front to back, and back to front to create the closures at the sides.  I made one for myself and liked the dress well enough, but there were a few issues.  Minor ones, that kept me from making any more dresses from the pattern.

While browsing through one of my favorite sewing blogs, I saw an older post about the Walk-Away-Dress.  In the post, an updated version of the dress pattern is featured.  Alas, THAT gorgeous pattern has not been reissued.  But a similar pattern from Vogue was reissued (and is, of this writing, still available).

But there was still something that kept me from making the dress.


Flash forward to a week or so ago.  I had finished a very sewing-intensive costume and wanted something fun to make. Plus, I was hoping to work on something that could try out some new skills.

I decided to make the Vogue dress, but not for me, for my daughter.  I also decided that I wanted to try my hand at pattern drafting by adding a peter-pan collar to the dress.  My daughter chose a darling cotton lawn fabric of blue with dots of white and green.  For the collar, we settled on a true red fabric.

As the pattern that I picked up ages ago was the wrong size for my girl, I did have to due some alterations.  I was excited to try out Nancy Zieman's Pivot and Slide technique.  The adjustments were so easy to make using the pivot methods and quickly produced a new, well-sized pattern.

I used my toile to underline the bodice, but decided against underlining the skirt.

The dress worked up quickly, though I did pause at one point to see if my local sewing machine shop had a specialty foot for attaching bias tape.  (They didn't, alas.)





















In putting together this dress, I did feel pretty good about my collar pattern and how that all came together.  It also proved to be another lesson on bias binding, but I've only concluded that I'd really rather just get a specialty foot and technology to the fiddly work for me.  And I think I may become a devotee of the pivot and slide technique.

I would like to make this pattern again--again with the collar, too.  I think that the collar really sets this dress apart.  Linen may be a nice choice, or another cotton lawn.  But if I did it for myself in the cotton, I would probably underline the skirt, too.

Do you like to try out new skills when you sew?  What sort of projects do you enjoy?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Haus: Dilemmas of the MiniTrad Owner

I cannot help it.  I've been thinking a LOT about paint.

Haus, Sweet Haus
When we were in the market for our new haus, I had very definite ideas about the exact sort of haus that I wanted.  It would be old (built before 1940) and it would have a lot of charm.  Instead, we bought a house built in 1948 and with the curb appeal of a plain box.  *sigh*

(Why did we buy it, then?  The neighborhood, mostly.  But the interior features several darling details and original elements that we just adored.)

Since buying the haus, I've learned a lot more about post-war architecture.  For a start, our home is transitional, but mostly Minimal Traditional in style.  Minimal Traditional, or MiniTrad, homes were pretty much exactly what it sounds like: usually single-story homes built with very minimal details, and traditional elements.  They were often small and square, wasting almost no space on hallways.  Effective, efficient, affordable housing for our returning soldiers and their families, basically.  Our home feels a touch more transitional, though, in that its footprint is longer than most, has a large kitchen and service porch, and has a very long hallway from front to back.

Most MiniTrad homes are rather plain building on the outside.  Ours, being almost all stucco, is double drab in that it's currently painted the color of sand.  And did you spy that uninspired white accent color on white trim?  Yeah, yawn....

If there is one good thing about having a home that was built in the late 40s, it's that color was starting to be all the rage in homes.  The color palette was moving away from the earthy tones that dominate the Arts and Crafts movement, choosing instead vibrant, almost painful colors.  Folks were using color to brighten their lives and to forget about the austere war years.  Yellow was very popular in interiors.  Bright blues, and even jade, started to appear on exteriors.  The homes were small enough, that such bright colors didn't look garish.

My efforts to find a suitably historic palette have not, alas, turned up a plethora of available paint.  But I did find out that Sherwin Williams does market and offer a Historic Collection.  Worse still, they have a wonky, but addicting color visualizer tool.  (Wonky in that all attempts to save images after "painted" have thus far failed, or produced buggy images.)

Still, can you imagine how much more fun my haus would look painted gold with avocado trim?  Or jade with bright blue door?

Alas, I think we will have to wait a bit.  While the wood trim is liable to need some touch-ups soon, our  financial priorities have limited our ability to purchase paint for the stucco.  Any ideas on how to brighten up our home with just a new color trim?






Monday, May 6, 2013

Gatsby Costume Event

Being a member of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles has its perks.  One such perk is members exclusive events and we had one Sunday the 5th at a gallery in Culver City.  The event featured costumes, props, and sketches from the upcoming Luhrmann film, The Great Gatsby.

Now, before I voice my opinions about the event, I should provide a bit of background.  Among the LA area vintage community, there is a LOT of skepticism about this latest adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald groundbreaking novel.  From the casting, to the costumes, to the music... there is a great deal of room for achingly frustrating choices.

Having mentioned that, I have to say that I enjoyed--for the most part--what I saw at the event.  Historically accurate costumes?  Oh, heavens! no.  Not as such, though there were a few according to the sketches.  So why did I like what I saw?  Brace yourself for more extrapolation.

1920s?  Not so much
See, I understand that when telling a story visually there are concessions to be made.  On the page a writer can provide depth and insight that may be critical to understanding a particular character.  Yet when a story is told visually, other tricks must be employed to communicate hints toward personality.  Costume, hair, makeup are all areas that can help to evoke suggestions about character.  I recognize this.  I know that since its inception Hollywood has used costume to that end.  One of my favorite period costume designers, Adrian, built highly impractical and often fantastically costumes--even for "modern" stories and characters.  So to expect a major film to accurately represent the Jazz Age visually is setting one up for disappointment.
Spy that background!

What I saw at the event was spot-on in evoking character and personality.  I suspect readers who are familiar with Fitzgerald's work could have easily identified many of the novel's characters simply through the sketches of their clothes.  I certainly was able to do so.  (Alas, many of the sketches were not to be photographed, hence the lack of photo evidence here.)

Additionally, with a few exceptions the clothing paid homage to the silhouettes and styles of the 1920s. The average person would be able to immediately guess at the era from the clothes.  And lastly, all of the garments and sketches were gorgeous.  Catherine Martin is a wonderfully talented designer.

BATS!!
All that said, it may be telling that my favorite two items from the show were not Gatsby items.  The gallery used an authentic, antique Nouveau lounge built-in as a backdrop that was breathtaking.  In the same diorama was a reproduction chandelier.  Those two goodies took my breath away.  My photos do not do these items justice.  If you are in the LA area and are a fan of the era, do go and see them for yourself!

Despite my enjoyment of the costumes, please do not expect to see a glowing recommendation of the film.  I still suspect that I will love it (a rare possibility), or--most likely--I'll feel that it was a missed opportunity to tell a terrific story about an endlessly fascinating time and people.

Are you looking forward to Gatsby?

A few more photos:



Century Guild Gallery
6150 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
Gallery may be by appointment only, check the site for details http://centuryguild.net

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Declan's Second Year

Another year has passed and my wee lad is now a toddler.  Here is a look back at Declan's last year.  Enjoy.


video

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On dress


Several weeks ago, a friend of mine vented to Facebook about an uncomfortable experience they had while dressed in vintage attire.  Apparently a couple of uncouth cads approached my friend and proceeded to berate her for "celebrating a terrible time in history."  After all, it was during the past that we had mass oppression, bigotry, racism, sexism, Nazism, and a whole slew of other offensive -isms.  These boorish boobs actually tried to shame her for her clothes.  I suspect the irony was totally lost on them.

Now, I have been dressing in vintage and vintage-styled clothing for many years.  Not once have I been chastised for it. (Perhaps being a big girl helps here.) It seems that most people recognize that an appreciation of the fashions, hairstyles, shoes, and art (music, films) of an era does not equate to accepting the entire culture without reservation.

For all we know, Margie here could be pointing
out key points of her Feminist Manifesto
Lest anyone doubt, let me take this time to put any questions to rest:  I am a feminist.  I am an open-minded thinker.  I am a supporter of equal rights.  I am an environmentalist.    And, yes, I dress like a woman of the past; a woman who may have struggled had she shared my views during her time.

While I may daydream about how wonderful it would be if folks returned to a few habits from the past, oppression is certainly not one of them!  (But while we’re on the subject, might I just suggest that we do make an effort to not look like we’re ready for Zumba class when we are going out to dinner?)  I wear what I do for the same reason that you do: I like how I look it them/they're comfortable/they're clean.  

My clothes are not a political statement. My hair isn’t meant to suggest that I want to return to an era of segregation, sexism, and oppression.  My home decor does not imply anything other than my taste in furniture is decidedly different from the average Ikea shopper.  If you want to know what I think about a particular subject, you'll get a much clearer answer by actually asking me versus just assuming based on the sort of frock I put on. ;)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oh, yeah...

You envy me, right? I am living the high-life. Hair in curls, sans eyebrows, relaxing in the car while the babe sleeps. Of course you're jealous.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gertie's LA Party for Better Sewing

I often feel that I'm the last to know about many of the ultra-fun, swanky offerings that the LA area has to offer to a vintage-loving, crafty mama like myself.  But by some miracle (Facebook), I was actually able to learn about a book signing and indoor "picnic" for Gretchen "Gertie" Hirsch in time to make plans to attend!

If you're currently scratching your head thinking, "who?" it's probably best that you just skip this post.  Well, or take a little time to enjoy the sartorial stylings of darling Gertie via her blog, New Blog for Better Sewing.  The title is a riff on the trusted old Vogue book of a similar name: New Book for Better Sewing.  Yours truly managed to score a copy (minus the dust cover) on eBay ages ago.  Alas, most of the patterns noted within the book are long out of print and hard to come by.  Gertie took the time and effort to track down all the patterns and construct each one, documenting the ordeal (and FUN) on her blog.

She's been something of a darling in the crafty community as of late, and why the heck not?!  She's a cute as a 1950's button!  But she's also smart as a whip, and a talented author and pattern-maker, too.  Her new book, aptly titled Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is filled with information on sewing your own vintage-inspired garments.  Plus, it includes numerous patterns in a variety of sizes.  It's like a build-your-own-wardrobe book, just add notions, fabric, and time!

But as I was saying: book signing and picnic!

Independent fabric store, Sew LA, hosted the shindig a few weeks ago.  I wrangled my daughter, my copy of the Vogue book, and Gertie's text and made my way to LA for an afternoon with Gertie.  But first, I thought I'd go ahead and make and wear a little something from the book.  Time being short, I settled on making up a blouse.

Bow-tie blouse

The back

Driving from Long Beach to anywhere in LA will either take twice the amount of time suspected, or half.  In our case, we were there early.  I got a couple of shots of the space before it was packed with eager sewists.

Gertie brought along several pieces highlighted in the book

The studio set up with adorable photo space



A blurry shot of my girl

The obligatory "proof I was there" shot

As it was picnic themed, there was a terrific spread of appropriate foods, including veggie "piggies in blankets," deviled eggs, skewers, and potato salad!

The spread

Getting ready to stuff my gob

Gertie plays hostess



Another dress from the book in the background

A make-up artist was there doing vintage-styled make-overs


Gertie's book was available for purchase, natch, and part of a give-away
Gertie draws a winner--alas, it wasn't me
Taylor and I

 All told, we had a lovely time.  I was too shy to ask Gertie to do much more than sign my book.  Oh, I did show her my copy of Vogue's NBBS, taking pains to point out the sweet inscription from 1956: "For Linda Sue, Happy Birthday, July 21, 1956"

At any rate, now my copy of Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing has its own inscription.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Made From Scratch

There is something truly special about enjoying a made-from-scratch meal.  In today's fast food nation, it's becoming something of a rarity, too.  I'm fortunate.  As a stay at home hausfrau, I'm able to treat my family to many goodies that are made from scratch.  Tortillas, pancakes, cookies, et cetera.

As I was making up a batch of my sourdough tortillas, I started to ask myself, "what foods are so easy to make from scratch, and much tastier than store-bought, that they should ALWAYS be made from scratch."  I decided to make a list.

Below are my top 3 foods that should ALWAYS be made from scratch.

1. Cake
If, like me, you grew up in a house where birthday cakes were frequently store-bought, and homemade cake was always from a box you should do yourself a huge favor and make a cake from scratch soon.  The difference is staggering.  Made-from-scratch cake is much tastier, and it really is not that much more difficult (recipe depending, of course).

Most made-from-scratch cakes follow the same formula.  Mix/sift all of the dry ingredients together in one bowl.  In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together.  Then, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  It really is that simple.  And there are a crazy number of easy recipes to chose from.  Do everyone in your household a favor and never make another box cake again.

2. Salad Dressing
Have you ever really looked at the ingredient list on a bottle of conventional salad dressing?  Corn syrup, MSG, binders, fillers, dyes...  Some dressings have a frightful amount of questionable ingredients.

Salad dressing should really only have a handful of ingredients: an oil, an acid/vinegar, some seasonings.  Done.  Considering that those ingredients should be easily on hand in every kitchen, whipping up a tasty, fresh dressing is easy-peasy.  My personal favorite combination is below.

Happy Hausfrau Salad Dressing
To about one tablespoon of Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or Shoyu, or Soy Sauce), slowly drizzle in about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Use a whisk to blend the two ingredients together as you drizzle creating an emulsion.  OR/ Spray a bit of Liquid Aminos onto a personal-sized serving of salad, then spray/sprinkle a bit of oil.  Toss salad and eat.

Of course, you can get quite creative in putting together a salad dressing.  I love experimenting with flavored vinegars and seasoning combinations.  Since I usually only make just enough dressing to dress one salad, I can have a variety of flavors each week without sacrificing an entire fridge shelf to bottles of store-bought dressings.

3. Stock/broth
Here's one that seems to be daunting for a lot of folk, and it really need not be.  It doesn't get much easier, in fact.  Step 1, put a carcass in a pot.  Step 2, add water.  Step 3, simmer.  Step 4, strain.

If you eat a vegetarian diet like I do, it's still very simple.  Instead of a carcass, gather up your veggie straps.  Potato skins, carrot tops, celery bottoms, onion skins, et cetera.  Throw those into a pot instead.  Mushrooms are a good addition, too, but really any vegetables will work.

Grab some ice cube trays, pour in cooled stock, and freeze up some cubes of stock.


There are several other recipes that *I* make from scratch, but those three make a difference and are not terribly difficult.  Even the busiest of working stiffs could whip them up.

What would YOU add to your list?

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