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?


  1. I am so with you on the cake! We NEVER had ready made baked goods in our house and even though I try not to be snobby about it, I can't stomach a store-bought cake. We must be on the same wavelength because I just made stock AND salad dressing! Here's to homemade!

    1. Best homemake cake I ever made was a completely from scratch German chocolate cake with coconut icing. So good...

  2. Gravy / roux based sauces. Buying gravy in a packet or can is an abomination. If i could teach every kid in America one thing, it would be how to make an awesome gravy.
    Mayo. Since my mom introduced it to my daughter, she wants it now (it was never in the house before). So, i will occasionally whip some up and the kid can have mayo, but without the chemicals.
    Soup. I agree with you about stock, and since we already have the stock, seriously, why ever buy canned soup? gross.
    ground meat. The stuff from the store is scary. Grinding our own is the only way to go.

    1. My list is actually longer than just the three, I thought those three where the top "there's no excuse not to" foods. I've wanted to start making my own condiments.

      Gravy is a funny thing. I can make an awesome gravy (a couple, actually), but I also have some British instant gravy for use in a pinch.

  3. Replies
    1. HAHAHAHA, Mari. How are you at starting a roux?

    2. horrific!

      and you know, preston's mom, the entire four years we lived there, would now and then stand with me at the stove and either show me what to do or tell me what to do, and it would still fail.

      apparently i'm just not a gravy maker!!



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