Saturday, June 19, 2010

Back to Basics....Revisited

So, I thought I'd give an update to my lengthy post a few months back about the state of food in our country that I entitled Back to Basics. I'm happy to report some good changes in our house -- although we are not 100% there yet. All progress is good, right?

One of the first things I have done is put my KitchenAid stand mixer (She's a 5-Quart Artisan in "Majestic Yellow" that I have named Mabel) to use in making fresh and homemade white bread. I'm happy to report that not only was it not terribly difficult, it was a great bonding opportunity with my 5-year-old. The family gave the bread rave reviews and had thirds.

Mmmm...warm bread. I'm not sure of the cost ratio between homemade and store bought, but if you matched it in terms of quality ingredients, then I believe I came out ahead. You can't compare what I made to Wonder Bread, after all.

Today was my first day attempting wheat bread and again...not terribly difficult and much enjoyed. I think we're on to something. 

Add in the chocolate stromboli I made the other morning (idea courtesy of my friend, Carmita) and I'm a dough making fool!

I've also sworn off most of the jarred/canned pasta sauces. Instead I've been buying canned whole or diced tomatoes and using my Cusinart food processor to blend them up. I add in a can of tomato paste and fresh garlic and other italian spices. My husband raved about it and it literally took me about 5 minutes to do. No high-fructose corn syrup needed.

Another recent purchase was the grinder attachment for my stand mixer. I've recently had a harder time buying and consuming ground beef because I think too much about what part of the cow it comes from and from how many different animals. People rave about this grinder because you can buy a sirloin roast and grind your own. Not only do you know for certain that your ground beef came from one cut and one animal, it costs less.  I have not used it yet, but I am excited to do so.

I'm also excited to use it to make some strawberry and peach freezer jam. With the abundance of fresh and tasty fruit here, it would be a shame not to at least try. And, since I have a pretty easy recipe to follow, I would be a fool not to at least attempt one batch. (My Walmart store decided to stop carrying canning items...but luckily my local Target started stocking them....sigh, I love Target!)

I was like a kid in a candy store...albeit a little confused with all the choices. This is going to be one of my projects to try for this week.

The other project I am going to attempt is making my own yogurt. I'm a huge fan of plain yogurt. However, I think it would be cheaper to make my own, as well as making it easier to adjust the level of thickness I prefer. I found this innovative way to do it with household products -- yogurt maker not necessary.

Also, since posting this, my cousin, Amy, clued me in to a recipe for making yogurt in a slow cooker that she got from our mutal friend, Amy. (Confusing, I know...wait until my other friend Amy chimes in!)

So, I'm changing things..slowly, but surely.  My next major purchase will be the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid. I cannot wait to roll the dough and then use the cutter to make my own angel hair. I can already taste the goodness.

And now I'm curious...what are you guys out there in CyberLand doing differently?  I'd love more share away!


Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I make my own yogurt compliments of a link from Amy Walzak. I've included it below my comment. I also have learned how to can, so forget freezer jam, this stuff can be stored for a year and enjoyed when you've got the winter blues. All it takes are jars ($6 a dozen) and a water bath canner(available at walmart for $20). If I were living back in the valley I would be in hog heaven with your cheap produce. All acidic fruits can be canned using a water bath. Last year I put up peaches, peach jam, blueberry jam, sour cherry jam, blackberries,applesauce, salsa and tomato basil sauce. Like Heather said, I cannot go back to eating store bought sauce. The taste is so different. If you're looking for recipes, there are tons online, or you can buy the Ball Canning book. It's only $7 and has great recipes and tips on how to get canning. Heather, I'd love recipes for making my own wheat bread. Do you have the basic kitchenaid or a bigger one?
With the yogurt recipe below, I use greek yogurt as the starter. I put 1% milk in my 5 quart crockpot with powered milk for extra protein and thicker yogurt without extra fat. Very very good!

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Also, I found this recipe for granola that I can't wait to try.

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I should have thought of Amy W. as a source for some of this stuff. Btw, she has a great granola recipe.

Unfortunately, Walmart is no longer selling canning items (or so the associate said today). However, the Clovis store is all ripped up so it could be that they aren't currently. All the fabric is gone too. I hope they put that back in! Thanks for the Ball recipe book idea. I'll definitely check that out.

I have the Artisan model. So far I have just used the bread recipes from the KitchenAid booklet. I would be happy to share them with you. The white bread is great (I think) and I'll let you know about the wheat in about 1.5 hours!

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh...and Amy...what are your thoughts about making that crock pot yogurt as "Greek" as possible. The lady said that she cooked it longer to make it less "springy," but I'm thinking springy is more Greek. I'm not a fan of runny yogurt...your thoughts?

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am not sure what she meant by springy so I did cook it longer. It did not make it runnier. I had one batch that I cooked that had an odd texture, almost rubbery in bits. I think that's what she meant by springy. Also, you can buy canning goods at most Ace hardware stores. You can get them online pretty cheaply as well. You would be surprised what will turn up on craigslist. You can ask at church as well since older ladies might have the canners and not use them any more. I highly recommend getting right on it. It's easy and you'll have so much cheap fruit to enjoy in winter.

lotsofchildren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I've made the yogurt in the crockpot. I usually strain it because I like it thick. If you strain it long enough you can get a really nice yogurt cheese.

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates you use a cheese cloth to strain?

Amy...thanks for the tip about Ace Hardware...I'll check that out later this week.

Launa said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I really need to start making my own bread, i'll be asking for those recipes if I can't find the manual to my mixer. And I really want to start grinding my own meat too, I've just never known what meat to use. I think I'll write a blog about my favorite from-scratch sauces too, I CANNOT stand sauce in a jar. I'll let you know when its up, but don't hold your breath ;-)

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

love this post! Good job!

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Next summer, try growing your own roma tomatoes and making your own sauce that way. That is what I will maybe attempt this summer...

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ahh...the other Amy speaks. I love all my Amys! Thanks...and yes, I'd love to grow tomatoes. Is it too late to do that? I'm thinking I might wait another year cuz I'm afraid the kids would destroy it...but I might be able to make a little gate...hmmm.