Thursday, April 15, 2010


I've been interested in making food from scratch for some time now. While I'm by no means militant about it, I do try to "make it at home" whenever possible. Initially, it was simply because I couldn't trust that the restaurants... or the factories... really went out of their way to ensure that it was made in the healthiest or safest way. I used to work in food service, and while there are certain rules to be followed, there is no way to ensure that everyone is following them correctly. So, just as a matter of preference, I chose to make it at home more often than not.

Now, however, after watching Supersize Me and Food, Inc., and reading books such as the Little House series, Omnivore's Dilemma,   Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet, and Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, I have found myself wanting more and more to stretch my comfort level and make more from scratch -- not necessarily for the radical environmentalist viewpoint put forth in some of those books, but rather due to a desire to be a little more deliberate in how we eat, and to embrace a little bit more simplicity.

Although I have to laugh as I look at that last sentence, because "simplicity" sometimes seems to be the LAST thing that cooking from scratch is.

It's easy to grab a box off of a shelf, add water, and call it a meal. This is not a slam of those who find themselves doing that more often than not at mealtime. Life is stressful enough without some Martha-wannabe making us feel guilty everytime we let someone else "do the work."

But there is a joy, and a sense of satisfaction, of stepping outside the norm... even for just a brief moment... and seeing that it *is* possible to make something without the help of processed food.

For me, the defining moment (and it is rather silly) came when I read a recipe in Martha Stewart Living that showed how to make pudding from scratch. Pudding? From scratch? Not from a box? The thought NEVER even crossed my mind before. Once I made it, however, and saw how much better it tasted than the boxed variety, and how EASY it was, I was hooked. I started looking for various ways to make more from scratch: cakes, frosting, pancakes, bread, soups, stock as well as non-food items such as cleaners, dish detergent, and laundry detergent. Each time I was successful, I felt a great deal of satisfaction at a job well done.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 says: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you."

For some it may mean cooking from scratch; for others, it may be making furniture, or crafts, or salvaging something old and turning it into something new. Whatever it is, I hope that you find joy this week in making something!


Beth said...

I gotta write a post on this. I try to make homemade stuff too - Ken LOVES my homemade chocolate and butterscotch pudding! haha

Cydney said...

In the last year or so I've also tried my hand at scratch-made cakes, frosting, brownies and chicken stock. It is a great joy and really does taste better! A great book for inspired, simple cooking is "The Elements of Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman. My chef brother gave it to me and, although I'm not done reading it, it's great.

I want to try making soap because I have tons of lemon balm in my yard and LOVE the smell.

Ouiz said...

Beth, I can't wait to see your post! I hope you include a lot about your knitting, too!

Cydney, have you ever made soap before? I've tried with glycerin, but I've never made it with lye and such... I hope you'll post about it! I would love to learn how, but I'm intimidated by the process...

Suburban Cowgirl said...

Chez - loved the llink on the reclaimed wool sweater! That's got some possibilities (although, I only crochet - not because I'm a crochet snob, but because I think I shouldn't develop yet ANOTHER hobby :).

I agree with you completely about making the attempts, when possible, to 'simplify' and, in my case, forgiving myself when I need to send the DH to the store for store-bought bread :)