Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Go ahead and Do-It-Yourself, I'll Watch...

I'm a sucker for all things D.I.Y.

I'm fascinated by people who make everything from scratch or build their own...whatever.

I love reading novels where the characters have survived some sort of society killing disaster and have to survive by living off the land, making their own EVERYTHING.

I especially love real stories about real people who simply drop out of the busy-ness of our modern world to open their own diary farm to make artisan cheese or gourmet chocolate or [insert your own fantasy here].

Wouldn't that be A.W.E.S.O.M.E?

If, you know, it weren't for all the hard work.

Mostly, though, I just like to watch them D.I.T[hemselves] and read about their adventures from the comfort of my couch.

However, I have a renewed desire to do much of my cooking from scratch. Mostly because I can control the salt and unpronounceable ingredients that probably should never be included in ANYTHING that goes into your mouth.

And...possibly save a few (lots) of $$$.

I'm not a zealot though - while I'm sure that making a pasta sauce from whole tomatoes that I've grown and weeded and skinned and crushed and cooked is fun and all, I'm just not that into the WHOLE process. Nor do I want to make my own pasta.

But I do want make sauce from canned tomatoes, onions & garlic (bought from the grocery store - my thumbs are every color but green) and wine that I *might* add to the sauce if I don't drink it all first. And maybe...perhaps...herbs that I am growing in pots that sit in a sunny window (that the cats don't knock over or eat). Did you ever check the ingredients in some of those jar sauces? While many don't include a bunch of crappy stuff, they are loaded with salt (blergh...you done keeled your heart). And they don't have wine on the ingredients list...like, hello!?!?!

So, where am I going with this?

I have bread dough fermenting in my fridge, based on this recipe. And a few other 'go-to' recipes for naan and focaccia on Budget Bytes blog. Simple things I can do stop from buying spendy artisan bread at market.

I have this nutella bread from The Italian Dish cooling on my stove-top right now. Quick breads (although, honestly...this one wasn't so 'quick') are so freakin' easy! Snack breads are loaded with preservatives - and fresh tastes SO much better. Just a small amount of planning and BAM...noms!

I am going to make ricotta cheese (also from The Italian Dish) this week, to go with some kind of pasta dish made with homemade sauce. It looks easy enough and quick enough...so, fingers crossed!

And, I'm going to be making my own vanilla. Yup, because it is easy and looks cool and...why the hell not? If you want to do it, check out this post. Making your own vanilla means buying vodka. There will be leftover vodka- which I don't want to go to waste - so, I'll be adding martini olives to my grocery list as well. You may be saying to yourself, "Well...vodka is high proof alcohol and won't ever go bad, so it won't really be 'wasted'." My answer to that is that it will take up space, so it should be used up as quickly as possible - perhaps even WHILE I'm making the vanilla. You know, a little for the vanilla jar, a little for Melissa, and repeat...

I bought sticks of butter from the market and used my mixer to whip in some canola oil to make my own softened butter - because it was cheaper and only a touch more work than throwing a tub of it in my cart. AND...it tastes better, even my picky son said so.

I've made dessert from this recipe by The Yummy Life - quick, simple, delicious chocolate ice cream in jars. It was for dinner guests and they thought I was all sorts of awesome for making this (no one ever...EVER...needs to know how simple something is to make, let them think you slaved - for hours - just for them).

My next adventure leads me in search of a recipe for my own liquid coffee creamer - vanilla flavored - that I'll eventually make with my own homemade vanilla. Because, the non-dairy stuff is so bad for you that there isn't really even a good word in the thesaurus for how bad it is. And...I love it, so I need to find an alternative that has real food-stuffs in it, even though it means I'll have to use less of it (because it will have fat and sugar).

By now you'll be thinking that I might need a real job, that maybe I'm going a little over-board. That may be true. But, if I'm going to be home, and currently without employment, then I want to find as many ways possible (or that I'm WILLING to do) to make what we eat more 'natural' and LESS expensive?

I started a group on Facebook, Good in The Belly, to post recipes for things that have actually been tested and to share info with my peeps. It needs work, but it's a start.

Ultimately, I'm hoping my efforts not only have healthy side affects, but that it saves us enough money so that we can take a REAL vacation in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

Yes, this isn't a typical "ME" post - but I really didn't have anything else to write about and this topic is foremost in my brain right now.

So...there ya go. Who's with me on this little adventure? You'll be able to follow along, because there will no doubt be pictures of not only my successes, but epic failures as well (which are often more entertaining).

Oooo...this should be SO much fun!



  1. I love and prefer to cook from scratch, allthough my bread ALWAYS fails, but I still try. (um 'ello homemade bread is supposed to be what, like 15 cents a loaf?! and 5 million times better for you!)

    Have you checked out Our Best Bites yet? They are one of muh favorites. As is little house in the suberbs, they have tons of from scratch goodness, like making your own butter and such.

    That's enough frm me in one day. <3

  2. Hooray for YOU!!! We (and by "we" I mean "I")started cooking a bunch of stuff from scratch as part of our family green quest last fall. From scratch = less packaging = less garbage polluting the planet. Win! Also, my kids stopped catching colds as often. And we all had more energy all of a sudden. And there was all this money left over once bills and groceries were taken care of. Woot!
    Also, just the idea of nutella bread has me salivating. Keep us posted!

  3. Anonymous8:54 PM

    Bread is my favorite food group ! Love V