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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scratch Cooking and My Cooking Epiphany

TLOML and I are all about cooking our food from scratch using natural, wholesome ingredients and avoiding processed, prepared foods. Although we generally follow a diet low in simple carbs and high in low-fat proteins, we certainly don't follow a rigid low-calorie diet, as evidenced by the size of my ballooning waist and hips, hahaha.

I grew up cooking. That's just the way it was in my family, as soon as you were old enough to stir the pot you were allowed or expected to help out. My mother prepared the most amazing meals that were full of flavor and very frugal. She's a great example to me now that I've truly discovered my passion for cooking. My two brothers and my sister all cook well, probably better than I do, and that's such a tribute to my mother. She always expected her kids to be self-sufficient. We all knew how to cook, clean, and do laundry.

When my son was young, my mother reminded me that it takes some patience to teach your child to do things himself, but both you and he will benefit in the end because that child will be capable of taking care of himself and will be a great help to you. I've done my best to carry on my mother's example, and if I'm half as good a mother as she is then I can rest assured that I'm a total success.

During my long marriage to my ex-husband, cooking became an unappreciated chore. It's just no fun to do the shopping, prepping, cooking, serving, and cleanup for someone who expresses no appreciation for your efforts. Although I'd been cooking all my life, it just wasn't enjoyable or rewarding. Toward the end of my first marriage and the beginning of our separation I became the drive-thru queen. Unfortunately that was my son's mantra, "Mom, let's just drive thru." So sad.

I'm so thankful that my precious new husband re-ignited my interest in cooking. It's so much different when you plan together, shop together, prep together, cook together, and clean up together. I'm so unbelievably lucky to have found my precious soulmate.

So enough of the sentimental musings.

The point of this post is that there are so many foods that we're all used to buying already prepared that I think we could prepare so much better at home from scratch. There is a long list of foods that I wish to tackle from scratch after being inspired by blogs I read, cooking programs on TV, and cookbooks. There are also a few foods I've prepared from scratch that are a little unusual. My theory is that if someone else can prepare a food, why can't I?

Here are some things I want to make from scratch:

Catsup (somewhere I have a Jamie Oliver recipe for this)
Sangrita (that wonderful, savory, sweet accompaniment to tequila)
Frijoles refritos [refried beans] (I'm pretty sure I can make a tastier, healthier version than what we buy in cans)
Home-Smoked Fresh Ham
Hummus (there's a Cook's Illustrated recipe I'm dying to try)

I've made or attempted to make these in the past:

Corn tortillas (I've given this a half-hearted try before and they were awful)
Flour tortillas (I've made these before years ago, need to try again)
Butter (I've made it before; it's really simple in a blender)
Aioli (I've made it before; similar to mayonnaise with a few additions)

I'm sure more items will come to mind as I start cooking through my list. Cooking is like therapy for me and it's always an adventure. Hope you'll keep joining me on the adventure :)

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