Cooking From Scratch: Week 1
I made a post right before the New Year about my resolution. Part of that resolution involved giving up a lot of convenience foods and moving toward cooking things from scratch. I specifically mentioned bread, because it’s something that a lot of people think of when they hear “from scratch.”
Really, though, the ideal applied to everything. Call me obsessed, but I’ve spent the past month looking at the contents of my refrigerator and wondering how hard it would be to make my own mayonnaise. What about my own jelly or my own cake frosting? The possibilities were endless, but I knew that I would never do it if I didn’t give myself some incentive. Hence, the from-scratch challenge.
This was week one, and while I went in thinking that I was prepared, I quickly realized that I had to question a lot of things. Did it count as being from scratch if a friend made it and gave it to me? What about the peanut grinders at the store that makes fresh peanut butter, does that count as being from scratch if it’s not my grinder? What would I do at holiday parties or for eating out? I had to think about it for a time before establishing some ideals (not rules, just flexible guidelines that I can strive toward).
- Anything made from scratch, whether by me or a friend, seems like fair game
- Peanut butter from a store grinder is a-okay until further notice
- Holiday parties and eating out are permissible so long as they are with people I truly love and want to spend time with, rather than obligatory acquaintances (a good goal to have whether you are doing a from-scratch challenge or not)
These are the things I have had to come up with this week, although I’m sure that the coming weeks will present new challenges and require new flexibility. As prepared as I had thought I was, I’m realizing now that this will be a little more complicated than I had anticipated. Then again, cooking in general has turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated, so perhaps it is fitting.
The Best Things I’ve Made This Week
- Breads. These were my biggest concern, as I tend to eat quite a bit of bread throughout the week and I had never once made it myself until two weeks ago. Thankfully, it’s turned out to be quite simple, just a bit time-consuming. I spent four hours in the kitchen one night and made enough bagels for two weeks and enough loaves of French bread for ten days. I am feeling optimistic about this category.
- Ice Cream. For another dinner with my parents, I decided to make chocolate ice cream using the ice cream maker that I got for my birthday. It was life-changing and was one of those moments where the from-scratch version kicked the ass of the store-bought version. It reminded me why I went on this journey in the first place.
- Lemon Cake. I had a date to make dinner for my parents this week, and I decided that I would throw some dessert into the mix as well. I made the layers of the cake as well as the lemon custard using this recipe, and it was absolutely phenomenal. The cake itself was not overly sweet, and would pair well with just about any frosting flavor in the future. Just because I’m baking from scratch does not mean that I’m looking to be a health nut.
- Beef In Stout With Herb Rolls. This recipe came from a cookbook that I got my dad for Christmas, and it was so good that it required me to go out and buy another copy for myself. The Irish Pub Cookbook is on Amazon and is full of delicious, traditional recipes. This one was essentially meat and veggies in a stout gravy that was both salty and sweet, and it warmed me up very well on a cold winter evening.
These were the most noteworthy recipes, and they prompted me to get a little more adventurous than I have been in the past. The Irish recipe took a long time and had a lot of steps, which scared me at first, but I overcame it. The breads taught me that quality time pays off in the kitchen. The ice cream and cake taught me that I can make things from scratch that are indulgent and rich and feel like a treat.
Overall, it was a successful first week, and I am feeling particularly excited about this upcoming week. I will be testing a couple of recipes for the blog, as well as a few winter crafts while the season lasts. How are you spending your winter break, if you have one? If not, how are you feeling about your resolutions?
Until next time, keep on doing things that scare you.