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The line between homemade and...not so much.

ArikaDawn Mar 22, 2007 07:08 AM

This past weekend my fiancee's brother Gale and sister-in-law Judy came to stay with us. It was a lovely visit and i enjoyed the company, but was somewhat annoyed by Judy's continuous unsolicited advice relating to all things domestic. There is a significant age gap between she and I and I think she feels this gives her an edge. Anyhow, this all culminated when she decided to make her, "Famous Home-made Lemon Meringue Pie".

She went to the grocery store and purchased what she needed and was then given free reign in my kitchen. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that her famous home-made pie consisted of a store bought crust and lemon jello pudding. The only thing she made was the meringue.

Now, do you think this counts as a home-made pie? In my opinion this is no more than kitchen assembly. Have you ever had an experience like this when having someone's Famous Home-made ______?

  1. macca Mar 22, 2007 07:12 AM

    She must love Sandra on the food betwork! I definitely do not think this qualifies as home made- maybe as home baked! But I certainly sympathise with you as to her rude behavior. I cannot imagine visiting someone and giving unsolicited advice- never mind commandeering their kithchen.

    1. a
      abowes Mar 22, 2007 07:31 AM

      How 'bout "home assembled"? ;-) No, I wouldn't presume to call it "home-made" unless I'd made lemon curd from scratch. I won't begrude anyone the crust, since I can't make one to save my life.

      12 Replies
      1. re: abowes
        m
        misterbrucie Mar 22, 2007 08:46 AM

        I was thinking "home assembled" too, before I scrolled down and saw the term was taken.

        "Bad" homemade crusts (thick, doughy, heavy, undercooked) are a favorite of mine anyway :-)

        As far as the future SIL's behavior: just smile and nod. Even saying "thank you" won't cost you anything... and the Personal Superiority points you will earn are worth it (even if you have to keep the tally to yourself).

        Perhaps you could present her with a REAL homemade version of her pie sometime, and tell her you were just trying to be like her. (don't say the "only not fake" part out loud, hee hee)

        1. re: misterbrucie
          ArikaDawn Mar 22, 2007 10:36 AM

          I feel a bit guilty having posted this now, but it was driving me crazy and I didn't want to say anything to my fiancee because she is his family. Fortunately they live in MI and we in FL so it is not a situation I will be in often.
          It is funny you mention making an actual homemade pie to show her because the day she left I made a homemade strawberry pie. It wasn't so much to show her up, obviously she wasn't even around, it was more of a working out my nerves on the dough/cleansing my kitchen ritual.
          I must admit I garnered a small amount of satisfaction from he fact that my SO did not touch what was left of her pie once she was gone, but mine was devoured in no time. It may be petty, but you can't deny how ya feel =)

          1. re: ArikaDawn
            m
            mazza3 Mar 29, 2007 01:09 PM

            hehe, good for you! it is always so reassuring, albeit mildly ridiculous, when one's SO prefers their food to anything else. i taught my boyfriend how to cook and he likes my cooking more than anyone else's so i can totally give you a pat on the back. :) thank bejesus he's an only child.

          2. re: misterbrucie
            hotoynoodle Mar 23, 2007 07:32 AM

            i'm sorry, but i think giving her *your* version of (presumably) much better lemon meringue pie would be very poor form. she's proud of it, so let her have her moment in the sun. as you say, you won't be seeing her all that often. take one for the team. you realize now the loyalty of your s/o's palate, which matters more.

            if faux home-made equals family harmony, how bad is that? we all have an annoying relative. or two.

            1. re: hotoynoodle
              ArikaDawn Mar 23, 2007 08:16 AM

              Oh, I would never be ballsy enough to give her a version of her pie. I am much more comfortable graciously swallowing her "home-made" pie and advice. It is remarkable how political family relations can be, but I am someone who will do anything to keep the peace even if it means my only outlet is venting on a chowhound board.

          3. re: abowes
            r
            rockycat Mar 27, 2007 07:33 AM

            Well, I feel a little better now. I'm having guilt issues because I used store-bought cookie dough (for the first time in my life) to make the cookie pops that went on top of the cupcakes I'm bringing to the offspring's school for her birthday today. The cupcakes, chocolate glaze, and icing for the pops are all scratch-made. This is a day or two after I made a sculpted space shuttle cake for the kid's party. I have zero guilt about using pre-made fondant for that one. Sometimes store-bought ingredients can save your sanity. And I do mean sanity since I have two jobs in addition to all the above. I am a certifiable lunatic.

            Having said all that, I cringe every time a neighbor mentions her "gourmet" cooking. "Gourmet" is her word choice, not mine. Her idea of home baking can be a cake mix and a microwave. That is *not* inherently evil and it may taste just fine but it's certainly not something I would brag about. I just politely try to avoid eating anything she's made whenever I can (not snobbishness, from experience I know I don't like her cooking) and I always avoid giving advice - even when asked for - because I know she really doesn't want to hear it.

            1. re: rockycat
              jfood Mar 27, 2007 08:04 AM

              Mrs Jfood is an excellent baker and has spent hours baking a decorating a basket weave strawberry shortcake for her mom's b'day. That being said she uses Ghiradelli's double fudge brownie mix from Costco for little jfood's bringto school stuff. When little jfood says she is going to tell everyone they're homemade, we tell her say, "My Mom made them." Lot's of parents call for the recipe and they absolutely love the idea they can go to Costco and replicate. Sometimes Made at Home is the new Homemade.

              1. re: jfood
                j
                Jeanne Mar 28, 2007 11:03 AM

                Ghiradelli's double fudge brownie mix from Costco -

                This stuff is seriously good - I don't make brownies from scratch much - and from now on probably even less.

                1. re: Jeanne
                  l
                  LMT Mar 28, 2007 02:06 PM

                  Totally agree about the Ghiradelli brownies. After making these, I don't know why I would ever waste time making brownies from scratch.

                2. re: jfood
                  p
                  Perkyshai Apr 10, 2007 12:41 PM

                  For grown up brownies, I add a half shot of Jack Daniel's regular to the mix, subbing for water.
                  I like cakey brownies, though.
                  That is a good mix. Knowing when and how to 'cheat' is an important part of good cooking.

                  1. re: Perkyshai
                    j
                    Jeanne Apr 10, 2007 01:06 PM

                    I'm not crazy about bourbon ;). I always add nuts - adding some Kalua or Bailey's too would be good!

              2. re: abowes
                h
                Hungry Celeste Mar 27, 2007 10:10 AM

                Typical lemon meringue pie isn't filled with lemon curd, but rather a translucent, cooked lemon, sugar & cornstarch filling.

              3. Den Mar 22, 2007 08:04 AM

                That's like taking bottled pasta sauce, adding a couple of things and saying it's your own homemade sauce. Like Sandra Lee on the Food Channel...it's semi-home made.

                1. chowser Mar 22, 2007 10:23 AM

                  Jacques Pepin made a comment on his show once about how he used to chase down chickens to make his dinners. He said most Americans open a package of chicken breasts, a pack of spinach and call that cooking. Everyone has a different idea of what "home made" is. I've never chased down a chicken in my life. I've been lucky to get an egg off a nest on a rare occasion.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: chowser
                    j
                    JaneRI Mar 23, 2007 10:30 AM

                    I'll venture to say that Jacques Pepin has probably opened more packs of chicken breasts than chased chickens.

                    1. re: JaneRI
                      u
                      uptown jimmy Mar 27, 2007 10:06 AM

                      I doubt that very, very seriously. He's probably unwrapped many WHOLE store-bought chickens, but he's not the kind of guy to deal with chicken bosoms. He's a whole chicken kind of guy, for sure. If he bought any chicken parts, it would be legs. He says as much himself in one of his cookbooks.

                      1. re: uptown jimmy
                        j
                        JaneRI Apr 2, 2007 06:13 AM

                        The point I was making was I doubt he's killing his own chickens on a regular basis.

                        1. re: JaneRI
                          m
                          MakingSense Apr 2, 2007 11:06 AM

                          Who IS killing their own chickens these days?
                          I think the point is that cooks starting with boneless-skinless filets of chicken, fish and other meats and using food processors and partially prepared ingredients are bypassing the development of skills and techniques that allow them to become good cooks. At some point they'll hit a wall. They'll never learn to improvise, create from a happy discovery at the morning farmers' market, or become instinctive cooks. They're stuck with "the recipe."
                          There's no substitue for skills and techniques that start with the basics.

                          1. re: MakingSense
                            u
                            uptown jimmy Apr 2, 2007 11:58 AM

                            I agree.

                            On a previous note, the funny thing about the now-infamous pancake mix in a box is that it's intended as a "time-saving" device. How much time are you saving when it only takes five minutes to throw pancakes together? Literally five minutes, six tops. I can get the batter ready before the pan is hot. Anyway....I'm off to prepare my garden for spring planting.....

                            1. re: uptown jimmy
                              jfood Apr 2, 2007 12:27 PM

                              UJ,

                              I use the box (NOT the add water inly version) and it's not the time savings but the convenience. Mix, an egg, milk and oil and then I let it sit for five minutes to activate the ingredients. Then I turn on the griddle. Pancakes.

                              And BTW I never have buttermilk handy so I get to have B'milk pancakes when I would not have the opportunity.

                            2. re: MakingSense
                              b
                              Blueicus Apr 2, 2007 08:39 PM

                              Using a food processor will impede in my skills as a cook? Well, I guess I can learn to make pesto as quickly with a knife, mortar and pestle as I do with a food processor... It's not like I use a food processor to make julienne cuts.

                              1. re: Blueicus
                                m
                                MakingSense Apr 2, 2007 09:38 PM

                                No way can you make pesto as quickly with a mortar and pestle as you can with a food processor. But as part of a good cook's training in basic skills, it is useful to learn - preferably from someone who knows how to to do it properly - how to make pesto by hand. Once you see the proper texture, you'll be able to transfer that knowledge to your use of the processor.
                                How much bad pesto have you had, made by people who think that it's nothing more than a bunch of basil ground to a mush with some other stuff?
                                There are even julienne blade for processors that make a holy mess of perfectly innocent vegetables.
                                Nothing replaces learning basic skills if you want to be a good cook.

                                1. re: MakingSense
                                  u
                                  uptown jimmy Apr 3, 2007 10:32 AM

                                  After several years of learning to cook, I recently came to the conclusion that I need a mortar and pestle. Asian dishes frequently call for several things to be ground to a paste, and their ain't no other way to do it, really.

                                  1. re: uptown jimmy
                                    b
                                    Blueicus Apr 3, 2007 10:47 AM

                                    you will find a blender to be one of your best friends. It can puree things and make pastes that a food processor doesn't have the precision to do... we made ground spice blends with a blender at the Indian restaurant I worked at... and the chef was very good.

                                    1. re: Blueicus
                                      u
                                      uptown jimmy Apr 3, 2007 11:14 AM

                                      Yeah, I need a blender. I never had one, and maybe it's time that changed.

                                      1. re: uptown jimmy
                                        m
                                        MakingSense Apr 3, 2007 12:22 PM

                                        You need both a mortar and pestle and a blender. A blender can't do a tablespoonful of something or one clove of garlic. Get a good ceramic set that won't retain odors. Don't cheap out and it will last a lietime.
                                        Blueicus is right though that there are many things that a blender can do that a food processor can't. Fortunately, you can get a pretty good one without spending a lot if you watch for a good sale.

                                        1. re: MakingSense
                                          u
                                          uptown jimmy Apr 3, 2007 12:59 PM

                                          Excellent.

                                  2. re: MakingSense
                                    chaddict Apr 11, 2007 04:47 PM

                                    I thought the metal blades of a processor turn the basil dark? Can't remember who told me this but they said to never make pesto in a processor. Sucker that I am, I believed this and never have. Is it not true?

                      2. jfood Mar 22, 2007 10:52 AM

                        Jfood for the contrarian point of view.

                        This is not a contest on who is better in the kitchen or anything and future SIL wanted to make something nice. At some point you buy stuff and assemble. Do you need to grow the lemon (in FL you may), the wheat for the crust, churn the butter, raise the chickens for the eggs. Yes this is a long putt from buying frozen dough and jello lemon pudding, but you get the point

                        Here's another example. Homemade spaghetti and red sauce. Buy a box of pasta and boil til done. Buy a can of whole tomatoes, garlic and onions and throw together in a pot for 30 minutes. Serve over pasta. Is that homemade pasta dinner. Most would say yes, heh I made the sauce.

                        What she made was the effort, which is far more important than the geneology of the ingredients. She made the meringue. And yes your strawberry pie can be characterized as "revenge pie." and yes you are right you were petty.

                        But, most important is that your fiancee ate your pie over his sister's. Even if he liked his sister lemon over your strawberry he is one smart cookie. Sounds like a keeper.

                        BTW - Any recipe where the home-cook calls "My Famous Home-Made blah blah blah" is usually crap.

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: jfood
                          Sam Fujisaka Mar 23, 2007 08:43 AM

                          Thoughtful and hilarious! I'd love to get together with AD, fiancee, and Jfood for some pie.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                            ArikaDawn Mar 23, 2007 08:53 AM

                            Anytime Sam =)

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                              jfood Mar 23, 2007 08:56 AM

                              Sammy, You fly I buy. from where i understand you live, i get the better trade.

                            2. re: jfood
                              m
                              mojoeater Mar 23, 2007 09:07 AM

                              I think my mom makes the same pie! And she is terribly proud of her meringue. I have never tried to make meringue, so I still appreciate it when she goes to the trouble of making that pie, even if it is made with jello. And she makes her pumpkin pie (my favorite) starting with Libby's, not a whole pumpkin. She used to make her own crust, but now that she lives in a small apartment with limited counter space, she sticks to store-bought. I could care less because I know when I'm not there, she makes no pies at all.

                              And on Jfood's point, I honestly don't know anyone who makes red sauce starting with fresh tomatoes. Everyone I know uses canned, and in the strictest definition, that wouldn't be homemade. How do you make your sauce?

                              1. re: mojoeater
                                jfood Mar 23, 2007 09:36 AM

                                Mojo

                                Red Sauce - My favorite method is "Hey sweetie, we're low on spaghetti sauce". This has worked for 25+ years. Miraculously appears on the stove within 24 hours. Mrs Jfood out of town all week so I tried to make Rao's recipe. It just was not what I expected and there I am looking at lots of red. I did not like it solo on pasta. What to do? Decided we were getting low on Lasagne so off to the butcher, some good sweet/hot sausage, mozzy and ricotta and some noodles. Couple of hour later nice lasagne out of the oven. Let it sit and took a nice sized chunk. What a difference the sauce was when combined with the sausages and cheese. It was really good. So I went from "do i throw it out?" to "Very happy". Mrs Jfood got quite a hoot out of the story. To be honest if I would have thrown it out, it would have been my little secret. No sense sending a bus over my own foot.

                                1. re: jfood
                                  m
                                  mojoeater Mar 23, 2007 10:27 AM

                                  I love lasagna! You can put just about anything in it and it will be delicious!

                                2. re: mojoeater
                                  paulj Mar 23, 2007 09:45 AM

                                  If you don't use canned pumpkin in your pie, what kind of 'pumpkin' do you use?
                                  paulj

                                  1. re: paulj
                                    m
                                    mojoeater Mar 23, 2007 10:25 AM

                                    I worked at a bakery that actually got a shipment of whole pumpkins and started from there. That was many years ago.

                                    1. re: paulj
                                      2m8ohed Mar 23, 2007 12:11 PM

                                      Kubocha squash makes excellent pumpkin pie. Much better than "real" pumpkin.

                                    2. re: mojoeater
                                      v
                                      vsoy Mar 27, 2007 06:32 PM

                                      Actually, I just made a batch of spaghetti with homegrown tomatoes that I froze from last summer. Ok, I used tomato paste from a can (though I had a lot last year, I didn't have *that* many tomatoes to make paste). The sauce comes out a little more watery than tomatoes from a can but it's a lovely bright red color and flavor.

                                      1. re: vsoy
                                        m
                                        MakingSense Mar 27, 2007 08:03 PM

                                        Could have been the variety of tomatoes you used. All homegrowns aren't good for cooking. Some have too high a water content. If you want tomatoes for sauce or paste, try growing a plum tomato.

                                      2. re: mojoeater
                                        nummanumma Mar 29, 2007 05:47 AM

                                        you don't know anyone? Seriously?
                                        That's interesting.. I rarely cook- DH is a chef and it's better to just let him reign in the kitchen. But I've been taught to do a simple 'red sauce'- that and nasi goreng are pretty much all I can cook (and the nasi hasn't been done in a while, so don't hold me to it.
                                        Here's how the idiot proof red sauce is done at my house (I'm the idiot):
                                        dice up onions (have been taught how to do this) and throw in some garlic (everyone can use the presser thingy right?)
                                        saute until the onions go pale - not cooked, but pale
                                        get some canned whole tomatoes- chop em up and throw them in
                                        add s & p
                                        throw some pancetta in the oven and cook it off- add to your sauce-

                                        that's it. I shouldn't call it idiot proof though, cause the first time, I undercooked the onions (yuck) the second time I overcooked them (you could taste the cooked onions- not right).

                                        1. re: nummanumma
                                          m
                                          mojoeater Mar 29, 2007 09:28 AM

                                          Nope. Absolutely nobody I know starts with fresh tomatoes to make a red sauce. I know it's done, but everyone I know starts with canned tomatoes, just like you.

                                          1. re: mojoeater
                                            nummanumma Mar 29, 2007 10:49 AM

                                            ohhhh! I feel like a doofus now. I misunderstood.

                                        2. re: mojoeater
                                          j
                                          jturtle May 1, 2007 02:21 PM

                                          Making from fresh tomatoes doesn't take much longer then canned. My tomato sauce comes from canned when I didn't go to the farmers market and buy fresh (or because the flower buds keep falling off my tomato plants and I don't have any in the garden)

                                          1. re: jturtle
                                            ccbweb May 1, 2007 02:41 PM

                                            Unless its a super quick, warm the fresh tomatoes through and toss them with the pasta, I find that sauces starting with fresh tomatoes never develop the depth of flavor and texture that one can get when starting with canned. To me, its not about time, its only about the result. What I'm looking for from a tomato sauce in not something that can be had starting with fresh tomatoes. Just because it starts with a can doesn't mean it can't be homemade.

                                            1. re: ccbweb
                                              geekyfoodie May 1, 2007 03:10 PM

                                              Yup... I do a quickie sauce that starts with canned diced tomatoes (not the Italian style). I heat up the tomatoes and most of the juice, then add fresh herbs, a dried bay leaf, and salt/pepper. Then, I simmer it for at least half an hour. I use a potato masher to break down the tomato pieces for a chunkier sauce. If I want something smoother, I use an immersion blender.

                                              Some might call it homemade, some might not. I call it good. :)

                                        3. re: jfood
                                          bryan Mar 24, 2007 08:31 PM

                                          mmmmm, revenge pie.

                                        4. m
                                          misterbrucie Mar 23, 2007 01:45 PM

                                          Actually my mom used to make this very rich, dark, moist, delicious chocolate cake when I was a kid... later, I was trying to replicate it and ended up doing pretty well. My version involves sour cream and melted chocolate mixed into the batter. I gave her some and reminded her about that wonderful cake she used to make, and she said "oh, that? I just used to use chocolate pudding mix!"

                                          My cake probably qualifies as more "homemade," but somehow I still think Mom won that one ;-)

                                          1. revsharkie Mar 23, 2007 07:31 PM

                                            My mom just finished putting together a cookbook of family favorites for all of us. It started out with a book I made for my husband's grandson after he was here last summer, and then she added to it and gave it to a cousin who got married in September.

                                            She and I were talking at the time, and she was grumbling about the recipes one of my aunts was giving her. These recipes included such things as store-bought bread crumbs. She kept grumbling about that, and I finally told her she was just looking for things to complain about. Okay, maybe my mom makes her own bread crumbs, but she *does* from time to time open a can of mushroom soup for a casserole or something. (Personally I have canned bread crumbs in my own cabinet for meat loaf filler and things, so that didn't seem like such an egregious offense to me.)

                                            1. chigirl71 Mar 24, 2007 08:40 PM

                                              It could be worse, my mother-in-laws idea of home made pie is a defrosted one. . .from Aldi's. . .not so much. While your sister-in-laws home assembled pie is a fraud I'd take it any day over that crap.

                                              1. b
                                                bigjimbray Mar 24, 2007 09:01 PM

                                                Young lady what you need to do is show her your version of this pie and show her
                                                what you have to go through. That just so happens to be my wifes favorite pie.
                                                so the only time I make that pie is on her birthday and our anneverary. I make
                                                everything from scratch. I think useing fresh lemons is the only way to go. and if
                                                she can`t go along with that I would just consider the source.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: bigjimbray
                                                  jfood Mar 25, 2007 04:56 AM

                                                  BJ

                                                  I hope your are using the words "show her" in the sense of teaching her versus teaching her a lesson. One upping SIL is a BAD way to go through a marriage. You gotta pick your battles and pie ain't one of them. And if someone already calls their stuff "famous" just eat it, tell her how delicious it is and move on. She owns that space in the family. Never, never, never try to one-up someone who calls something "famous" no matter how bad it is. Remember SIL may go home but some of her DNA is sleeping next to you.

                                                  Enjoy.

                                                  1. re: bigjimbray
                                                    ArikaDawn Mar 25, 2007 06:47 AM

                                                    Yea, I don't know how conducive to peace trying to show her up would be. She is 51 years my senior, the matriarch of the family, and she is certainly entitled to her pie. Again, I was just surprised at what the famous home-made pie actually was. I don't see anything wrong with storebought, it's just not what I expect when i hear famous and home-made. Anyhow, we live 1000 miles apart so I can eat humble pie when in her presence. She really is sweet even if some over her tactics are off putting to me.

                                                  2. bryan Mar 24, 2007 11:55 PM

                                                    I think the real issue here is not about pie, home made, or not so much. She wore you thin. You were angry and this is the expression of your anger. You were ready to find fault in anything she did, since she behaved so badly. Your question is more directed towards how she behaved than what she made. I think you've misdirected perfectly healthy anger to a place that makes you feel safer. That's just my humble opinion.

                                                    1. s
                                                      shallots Mar 25, 2007 07:02 AM

                                                      The pie does have a name, it's a Judy Pie.
                                                      I wonder what happens to all the wasted egg yolks.

                                                      And I give you the New Orleans true-ism:
                                                      Fish and house guests start to smell after three days.

                                                      1. s
                                                        swsidejim Mar 25, 2007 07:07 AM

                                                        Not homemade at all.

                                                        like you said store purchased, and assembled at home.

                                                        1. d
                                                          dustchick Mar 27, 2007 10:32 AM

                                                          Whenever my SO compliments me on a quick dinner made after a long day, I always say that I really just assembled store-bought ingredients. He counters by saying that the way the ingredients are assembled makes them homemade. I consider last night's dinner (TJ's lobster ravioli topped with a few tablespoons of store-bought alfredo sauce thinned with whole milk, bacon, and peas) assembled, but he gobbled it down like the best homemade meal ever. ;)

                                                          To the OP, your SIL's pie is my mom's lemon pie, too. To this day, my brother prefers it over all else.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: dustchick
                                                            jfood Mar 27, 2007 11:21 AM

                                                            D

                                                            I absolutely believe I have rarely eaten and lemon pie that was not jello-made, and I love it.

                                                            On another point, you have probably opened a can of worms on your recipe last night placing alfredo sauce on lobster ravioli. BTW, it sounds great and glad you both enjoyed.

                                                            Take a look at this thread so you have a head's up:

                                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/384171

                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                              d
                                                              dustchick Mar 27, 2007 01:06 PM

                                                              Ha! Thanks!

                                                          2. h
                                                            Hungry Celeste Mar 27, 2007 11:20 AM

                                                            It counts as homemade to me. She expended effort, even if that effort was all in assembly and the results weren't to your taste. If she's overbearing and heavy-handed, that's a separate issue. If the pie tasted good & someone enjoyed it, then she did-not-do-a-bad-thing.

                                                            I find the whole devotion to absolutely-from-scratch cooking a bit silly: how many people make absolutely everything from scratch? I don't make my own pasta for lasagna, nor do I grind my own wheat into flour for bread. Give her credit for making meringue, at least...not the easiest thing to do. Bonus points to her if it didn't weep and was nicely browned.

                                                            Also, a storebought crust is better than a badly made scratch crust, IMHO.

                                                            13 Replies
                                                            1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                              j
                                                              Janet from Richmond Mar 27, 2007 11:37 AM

                                                              I agree with you (as someone who uses Pillsbury Pie Crust without apology).

                                                              The other night I made chicken tetrazzini. The chicken I used was from a rotissere chicken from the grocery store. The stock I used was from the yellow carton. I used fresh shallots and garlic, freshly grated parmesan, fresh mushrooms, dried storebought pasta and butter and sour cream from the dairy aisle. I consider it homemade.

                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                h
                                                                Hungry Celeste Mar 27, 2007 12:06 PM

                                                                Amen....I garden, I bake bread, I make all kinds of stuff from scratch. But I also use convenience foods on occasion, and I don't think anyone should be unilaterally condemned for using boxes or packages. If it tastes good, it is, regardless of the source. Let your palate be your guide, always.

                                                              2. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                s
                                                                swsidejim Mar 27, 2007 11:59 AM

                                                                not grinding your own flour vs. using a store bought crust, and jello is totally different.

                                                                1. re: swsidejim
                                                                  h
                                                                  Hungry Celeste Mar 27, 2007 12:11 PM

                                                                  Why is jello so totally different? In general, traditional lemon meringue pie filling is just a big chemistry project anyway. Sugar, lemon, eggs, cornstarch: everyone has to buy cornstarch in a box, as it is a factory-extracted corn-based industrial food product. If I measure out the cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice, how does it make me morally superior to the person who acquires these ingredients pre-measured in jello format? Again, I go back to the mantra: if it tasted good, it was good. If the jello was badly made, the crust overbaked, and the meringue weepy, then the pie was sub-standard. All of those things can occur in a completely from-scratch pie--which would make for a lousy pie, despite its "scratch" pedigree.

                                                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                    amyzan Mar 27, 2007 12:31 PM

                                                                    There is absolutely no comparison between artificially flavored lemon jello and a lemon filling made with fresh lemon juice. Regardless that it's thickened with cornstarch (an industrial product), I'm certain that the jello filling couldn't hold a candle to a homemade filling in terms of taste. If your palate is your guide, you'd have to utterly despise tart to favor the lemon jello based pie.

                                                                    1. re: amyzan
                                                                      h
                                                                      Hungry Celeste Mar 27, 2007 01:38 PM

                                                                      Yeah, I hear ya...I can certainly tell the difference. But what about a scratch filling made with pre-squeezed bottled lemon juice? Does that fall into the not-homemade category since the lemon wasn't fresh? And, not everyone has the same ability to discern flavors, so what's acceptable to one is vile to another.

                                                                      1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                        amyzan Mar 27, 2007 03:04 PM

                                                                        I think it's sad that some people wouldn't know fresh lemon juice from the sour stuff in those little plastic lemons. That some can't distinguish is a marker of a pitiful trend in our society, IMO. Maybe it's still homemade to some, but it sure doesn't taste that way to me. I think the problem is largely one of ignorance. (Not stupidity! I'm not insulting anyone here. People are just unaware of how homemade tastes.)

                                                                    2. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                      s
                                                                      swsidejim Mar 27, 2007 12:40 PM

                                                                      my statement was in response to your comment about someone not grinding the wheat into flour at home, in comparison to buying a crust and a pack of jello and passing it off as a homemade pie. As others have said the pie described is a Sandra Lee Pie, assembled at home, but not homemade in my book.

                                                                      Happy cooking..

                                                                      1. re: swsidejim
                                                                        jfood Mar 27, 2007 12:49 PM

                                                                        The question is where does one draw the line?

                                                                        Examples for pancakes:

                                                                        1 - I take each ingredient, mix and griddle
                                                                        2 - I buy a box of pancake mix and add eggs, milk, butter mix and griddle
                                                                        3 - I buy a box of Ready to go and add water and mix and griddle
                                                                        4 - I buy frozen pancakes and microwave

                                                                        Some may place the line between 1 and 2, others 2 and 3, and others 3 and 4.

                                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                                          s
                                                                          swsidejim Mar 27, 2007 01:06 PM

                                                                          It is a fine line,

                                                                          My thoughts were expressed regarding milling ones own flour, which i thought was an unfairly compared to purchasing a pie crust, or jello, or even pie filling in a can. Flour is an intregal part of 1000's of recipies.

                                                                          For pancakes I make them from scratch, with wet ingredients(milk, melted butter, egg, vanilla extract) in one bowl, and dry ingedients(flour baking powder, & salt) in a dry bowl, I then combine, and griddle. Myself I wouldnt use a boxed mix, or frozen pancakes, but that is just me.

                                                                          The above are just my preferences/opinions, not a judgement of others, or the right or wrong way to do things.

                                                                          1. re: swsidejim
                                                                            jfood Mar 27, 2007 01:11 PM

                                                                            Not directed at you SW but the new format is very confusing. Heck you have a smoker in the backyard, a new baby and have to travel 50 miles to Costco. You got enough on your plate. Me, I am going empty nester soon, Costco is 10 miles away and I have three great places to buy steaks within 5 miles. :-))

                                                                            I posted earlier about spaghetti sauce and now pancakes. What interesting about the pancake post is that I wrote and then I looked at it and Ithen argued with myself. First the left side of my braininsisted between 1 and 2, and the the right side got involved and wanted between 2 and 3.

                                                                            So yes it is definitiely a fine line, and I think a fine dotted line.

                                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                                              s
                                                                              swsidejim Mar 27, 2007 01:16 PM

                                                                              You noticed the pic of the smoker on my deck eh.., ? I have been getting better and better with the smoker as it gets "seasoned" with use.

                                                                              Re: Costco its a short trip compared to my daily commute of 140 miles round trip. ; )

                                                                              I agree regarding cooking being a fine dotted line.. very little to me is "right or wrong".

                                                                      2. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                        m
                                                                        MakingSense Mar 27, 2007 01:35 PM

                                                                        I'm not so sure people CAN tell. I have a friend who is a great baker and usually does everything from scratch but occasionally uses a mix. She made a lemon pie once from the mix and added a few squirts of fresh lemon to brighten it. Buried the Jello box deep in the trash and left the lemon on the counter. I choked back giggles as everyone raved about how much difference homemade was! Even the crust was store-bought that day - not her usual. Everyone was tasting what they expected.
                                                                        As Celeste says, let your palate be your guide!

                                                                  2. amyzan Mar 27, 2007 11:56 AM

                                                                    I remember going to a sleepover in my twenties with a bunch of female coworkers and friends. (Yeah, it was silly, but fun!) One of the women made a "Better than Sex cake" which was basically chocolate cake mix with a frosting made from pudding mix and cool whip. Now, maybe everyone was oohing and ahhing just to please the cook, but I was completely underwhelmed. Better than sex? Ummmm, no,

                                                                    I had countless experiences like this living with various roommates in college and in my twenties. I've come to realize that I'm not your average duck. I was lucky to grow up with a mother who baked bread, kept a garden, and cooked from scratch. Most people aren't so lucky, and never grow out of a taste for processed convenience foods. Many people don't even know how homemade really tastes.

                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                    1. re: amyzan
                                                                      u
                                                                      uptown jimmy Mar 27, 2007 02:12 PM

                                                                      You nailed it. Most folks there days have had little experience with "real" food, and often don't appreciate the good stuff even when they do stumble upon it, in my experience. I was lucky enough to grow up with grandparents who grew every vegetable imaginable, and who cooked and canned like food-obsessed freaks. Totally old-school.

                                                                      No offense to anyone, but Jello and frozen pie crusts do not constitute home-made. That's what I call "Good Housekeeping cuisine". And another thing: pancakes are so easy to make from scratch (10 minutes start-to-finish), I have no clue why the boxed mixes ever caught on.

                                                                      1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                        ElsieDee Mar 27, 2007 03:38 PM

                                                                        "pancakes are so easy to make from scratch (10 minutes start-to-finish), I have no clue why the boxed mixes ever caught on."

                                                                        Because mixes are easy - you don't have to purchase all of the separate ingredients (flour, oil, eggs, baking soda [or is that powder?]) - take the boxed mix, add water, and there you have it. If you're someone who doesn't cook much (as was my S/O when we met), you're not going to use the rest of the flour, eggs, etc. and they'll get tossed/go bad.

                                                                        Of course, I don't like pancakes, so that's just my guess.

                                                                        1. re: ElsieDee
                                                                          u
                                                                          uptown jimmy Mar 27, 2007 04:27 PM

                                                                          Actually, I was talking about the origins of the whole thing. Boxes of pancake mix caught on a long time ago, in a time when every single American housewife generally did all the cooking in well-stocked kitchens which would certainly have contained flour, oil, eggs, baking powder, sugar and milk, amongst many other things.

                                                                          My basic assumption is that Americans were brainwashed, basically, in mid-century to think that pre-packaged foods are as good as, or even a whole lot easier than, the real thing. That whole "Let us make your life easier!" shtick that has so thoroughly permeated our national mentality. In those well-stocked kitchens, it really wasn't all that much easier to use the box, it certainly wouldn't have tasted as good, and it made the pancakes a great deal more expensive,but an entire generation was convinced by advertisers that it was sooooo much easier and tasted sooooo good.

                                                                          As for your S/O, I assume he was, like myself, raised in a modern America where most folks haven't ever had home-made pancakes. It's the only world many of us know anymore, for better or worse. I wonder if we'll see a change back towards the old ways sometime soon. A little more back-yard gardening and home cooking would go a long way towards getting the country back on track health-wise, not to mention solve part of the healthcare problem.

                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                            m
                                                                            MakingSense Mar 28, 2007 12:56 PM

                                                                            I don't know if you are old enough to remember the dawn of packaged mixes and convenience foods or the marketing history but they were a godsend for many - not at all what the revisionist view is today. Then as now there were people who simply could not cook. Things like pancakes and scratch cakes were beyond them. My mother never made biscuits until she had Bisquick or a cake until Betty Crocker helped her out. Some of the mixes today are actually cheaper than scratch versions and except for a few stabilizers, what's the harm? The finished product is better than junky store-bought cakes in many cases and maybe a mom will make it with her kids.
                                                                            One of the interesting backstories in the development of mixes is that they were first released as requiring only the addition of water and didn't sell very well. People didn't consider that as very "homemade." They were re-introduced to require the additon of more fresh ingredients such as eggs and maybe milk or oil and they flew off the shelves. People perceived that they were actually making a cake. Ah, marketing!
                                                                            Most mixes when you really consider them are just a gathering of the dry ingredients for pancakes, brownies, or a cake. Yes, you can do it yourself. But if you can't follow basic directions, time is really short, or you're renting a vacation condo, they're not the end of the world.
                                                                            And remember that some people still can't cook and have no interest in learning.

                                                                            1. re: MakingSense
                                                                              u
                                                                              uptown jimmy Mar 28, 2007 01:46 PM

                                                                              Interesting. My experience was very different. The communities I grew up around had a very strong, universal devotion to home cooking. It would have seemed bizarre to meet someone who didn't cook well, male or female. That was the early seventies, btw, in rural and semi-urban western N.C. There was already a strong trend towards "Godd Housekeeping cookery", but still a whole lotta home cooking going on. Pre-packaged "convenience" foods were far from a godsend, for sure, even at that late date. Perhaps we're talking about regional differences?

                                                                              1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                m
                                                                                MakingSense Mar 28, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                                                I was referring to the 50's. The biggest change in America came during WWII which is when American women went to work for the first time in large numbers and life changed in so many ways. Also men left home for the first time and ate differently - the food they ate in the military was based on the cooking of the Midwest and they lost a lot of regional preferences. Women began for the first time to get recipes from magazines and radio instead of friends and relatives. Of course a lot of those recipes were from food companies.
                                                                                If you can find it, a terrific and entertaining book is Fashionable Food by Sylvia Lovegren.
                                                                                Many recipes that we think have always been part of American cooking aren't really that old - they only date back to mid-20th century.

                                                                                1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                  u
                                                                                  uptown jimmy Mar 28, 2007 04:21 PM

                                                                                  Awesome. My kind of book.

                                                                                  I was lucky to grow up with serious home cooks, and gardeners in my life.

                                                                                  Those food companies were in full swing by then. Even my dear sainted grandma made those nasty congealed salads, chock full of boxed and canned products by that one darned company!

                                                                                  1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                    m
                                                                                    MakingSense Mar 28, 2007 05:48 PM

                                                                                    My grandmother had 14 children, no indoor plumbing, water from a cistern - bet lots of CHs don't know what that is - and cooked (including having to bake all her own bread) on a wood stove. She had to can summer produce to make it through the winter. What would she have given for some of those convenience foods during the Great Depression?

                                                                                    Sometime the way we judge the crummy stuff today is a little like coming in in the middle of a movie - we didn't see the first part of the story of American food history.

                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                      u
                                                                                      uptown jimmy Mar 28, 2007 10:36 PM

                                                                                      My family was proud to "can summer produce to make it through the winter". It was just a part of a beautiful life, not some onerous sign of hardship.

                                                                                      We always thought that home cooking ( and growing, and canning) was a good thing, not a desperate, needy thing. Hard times were certainly abundant back in the day, but old ways never needed to die, we figured.

                                                                                      I certainly didn't come in "in the middle of a movie". My family was here and cooking centuries ago, and they cooked like pros every step of the way, long before corporations reared their ugly heads. Just for the record.

                                                                                      1. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        Hungry Celeste Mar 29, 2007 08:18 AM

                                                                                        If you've ever (I mean YOU, not a distant memory of a beloved relative) canned peaches that you picked yourself in July in the deep south in a un-airconditioned house (bonus points for a woodstove or three crying 5-and-under children), you don't have to stretch to understand the broad appeal of convenience foods.

                                                                                        1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                          amyzan Mar 29, 2007 09:46 AM

                                                                                          Celeste, in college, I made peach butter in August with a girlfriend who's house was built at the turn of the 20th century. There was a window A/C unit in the living room, so we'd take turns going in there in between tasks. The kitchen wasn't air conditioned at all, and I had an appreciation for what my grandmother went through, except she had 3 boys underfoot until they were old enough to go to the fields with my grandad.

                                                                                          She and grandad gardened at least an acre, including fruit trees and peanuts, and put everything away at harvest, all through their sixties and into their seventies. She used plenty of convenience foods, but never considered buying what she could grow and put away. They did it out of thrift, but also because they ENJOYED it. She used plenty of convenience foods like cake mixes and canned biscuits (those biscuits were terrible...) but gardening and canning wasn't a dreaded chore.

                                                                                          1. re: amyzan
                                                                                            h
                                                                                            Hungry Celeste Mar 29, 2007 11:19 AM

                                                                                            I agree wholeheartedly about canned biscuits being terrible, but I'm still grateful that I don't have start chopping wood every time I want to boil an egg.

                                                                                            1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                              amyzan Mar 29, 2007 12:05 PM

                                                                                              The wood would be chopped and ready to use in a large stack not far from the house, protected from the weather. The fire would've been banked with coal the night before, so that you add wood and open the vents first thing upon rising.

                                                                                              1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                h
                                                                                                Hungry Celeste Mar 29, 2007 12:48 PM

                                                                                                Perhaps in cooler climates or affluent deep south households with detached kitchens...but I know from my grandma (b 1901 d 1995) that you didn't keep the fire burning a second longer than you needed it in our particular climate. (Hence the outdoor beehive-shaped mud bread ovens once a feature in some cajun backyards.)

                                                                                                1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                                  amyzan Mar 29, 2007 06:41 PM

                                                                                                  I assumed no one would boil eggs in the heat of summer. At any rate, only a lazy cook would have to start the cooking process by chopping wood. Most households were better organized.

                                                                                                  I guess I just don't necessarily think that modern conveniences neccesitate eating processed food.

                                                                                                  1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                    MakingSense Mar 29, 2007 07:02 PM

                                                                                                    No one would boil things in the heat of summer? A few eggs were the least of the problem.
                                                                                                    When do you think they processed the summer produce in water bath or pressure canners? It didn't keep until the weather cooled off in Autumn. It was an all day job that went on for weeks and weeks. With no air conditioning.
                                                                                                    Somebody had to keep that wood or other fuel coming.
                                                                                                    At some point, a can of green beans processed by DelMonte must have seemed like a gift from the gods.

                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                                      amyzan Mar 30, 2007 10:52 AM

                                                                                                      MS, if you read my earlier posts, you will see I clearly understand that boiling is required for canning. My grandmother didn't buy Del Monte, because she canned from her garden. She also didn't have to chop wood when they used a woodstove, because my grandad and her brother did it for her well in advance. In fact, my great uncle was killed chopping wood. No lie.

                                                                                                      1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                        MakingSense Mar 30, 2007 02:38 PM

                                                                                                        I apologize. I read all the available postings before I wrote. I am sorry I missed yours.
                                                                                                        I think we're a little on the apples-and-oranges here. My grandmother died fairly young in the mid-1930s and never had the option of buying DelMonte. My father laughed at my canning and preserving when I was first doing it for pleasure because he remembered it as the ordeal it was for his family who had to do it simply to eat. As Celeste pointed out, it was hard in South Louisiana's heat and humidity but there was no alternative.
                                                                                                        Your grandmother's attitude, even just those few years later, might have been different because she had a choice.

                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                                          amyzan Mar 30, 2007 03:54 PM

                                                                                                          No offense taken, it's just getting kind of heated, isn't it? I don't mean to sound pompous, but I honestly think my grandmother was an incredible worker. She loved work, she really did. She worked full time in factories starting in the 1950's and continued to garden and can every year, raising three boys until my youngest uncle left home in the late sixties. She was involved in her church and in the community, and made several hundred pounds of candy whenever asked to raise money for charity. I certainly wouldn't say it was easy, but not everyone hated the work that life used to entail.

                                                                                                          1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                            MakingSense Mar 30, 2007 06:13 PM

                                                                                                            I often reflect on the life that existed then and now. Your grandmother and mine did so much and still were grateful for what they had - good lives. Today, with so many conveniences, people actually have to do far less but consider their lives so stressful. Many find no time to devote to their communities or helping others. They don't even have time to make dinner or sit down to eat it as a family. Conveniences haven't necessarily made life better, have they?

                                                                                                  2. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                                    bryan Mar 29, 2007 09:53 PM

                                                                                                    That's true Celeste. My maternal Grandparents had a summer and a winter kitchen. The summer kitchen kept the fires burning all day and often all night. The winter kitchen provided heat throughout clever vents, etc. Although fireplaces were in almost every room as well. This home orignally belonged to my great, great grandmother who, sadly, had slaves. They tended to both kitchens and the gardens. My mother knew her Mothers "Mammy", honest to god.

                                                                                                    There was a time when homemade actually meant right down to the wheat and the corn harvested on your land; to the pigs, cows and sheep that were slaughtered there; to the trees you picked your fruit off of. And as much as I admire some of the great food... it's hard to get behind just how it was provided.

                                                                                                    1. re: bryan
                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                      mojoeater Mar 29, 2007 10:40 PM

                                                                                                      This is really interesting for me. My grandmother left Ireland at the age of 5, after her parents died. She went on to marry my grandfather, also from Ireland, but never learned to cook from scratch. She boiled meat and potatoes and served it with salt and parsley. That was the extent of her cooking. My mom cooked the same way throughout my childhood. The big treat was when she'd corn a beef, which my grandmother never did.

                                                                                                      The only fresh produce grandma ever had in the house was a head of iceburg lettuce, maybe a tomato, and possibly a carrot.

                                                                                                      When I was about 3 or 4, my mom let me grab a cucumber when we were in the grocery store. I gnawed on it until she was done shopping. This became a regular thing, and eventually she decided to plant veggies in our yard. She had never grown a thing.

                                                                                                      Long story short, my mom had never had fresh veggies or anything until I started to crave them. She even made pesticide for the garden out of Ivory soap and vinegar, since I kept sneaking out and eating whatever she planted. My grandmother died with canned peas and corn in her cupboard.

                                                                                                      Now my mom is a bit 'metropolitan' in her tastes, loving spices and seafood, which she never had access to until later in life. I guess every American has a different experience.

                                                                                                      1. re: mojoeater
                                                                                                        Sam Fujisaka Mar 29, 2007 11:04 PM

                                                                                                        mojo, a large part of us CHers revere traditional cuisines. Yet your example highlights another side of the story. Some food traditions past and present might be considered horrible to many or most of us given the lack of vegetables. We might have difficulties with Inuit, Kalahari Bushman, Tuareg, and traditional German diets.

                                                                                                        Anything vegetable is extremely hard to come by in rural Ethiopia and in small-town and much of the urban Philippines. Filipinos say that they used to eat a lot of vegetables, but say that US GIs after WWII then said to them, "Oh, you eat grass!." It is the most common reason given why more vegetables are not served in the Philippines.

                                                                                            2. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                              chowser Mar 29, 2007 10:15 AM

                                                                                              If you grew up in the south with two huge pecan trees and your mom made you shell the pecans, you'd also realize the appeal of convenience foods.;-) Heckuva lot of pecans, shells under the nails, fighting over the one nutcracker, missing a piece of inside shell and getting the bitterness,... And, I didn't even like pecan pie back then.

                                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                                Sam Fujisaka Mar 29, 2007 11:06 AM

                                                                                                Doesn't have to be the South. In Fresno we had two huge pecan trees, a huge black walnut (worse yet), five almond trees--in addition to pomagrantes, oranges, grapefruit, asperagus, Japanese pears, Japanese apples, Japanese persimmon, qumquats--all needing respective appropriate care and product processing.

                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                  Hungry Celeste Mar 29, 2007 11:30 AM

                                                                                                  I wish I could get a pomegranate tree to set fruit in the humid south! No luck at all....

                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                    chowser Mar 29, 2007 02:22 PM

                                                                                                    You know, I'd appreciate it all so much more now (well, except that my daughter has nut allergies but that's an entirely different issue). The thought of having all the produce you had, in my yard now, makes me envious and I'd be more than happy to take care of it to have it. Fresh persimmons alone...mmmm. But, when you're 7 and faced with what felts like bushels of pecans, you're envious to see them shelled in the store. Though, maybe if I asked my mom, she'd tell me it was just been a couple of bowls that I now remember as bushels.;-)

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                      Sam Fujisaka Mar 29, 2007 04:57 PM

                                                                                                      Chowser, I agree with you completely. That's why I said worse yet re: the walnuts. As a seven year old as well, that meant shelling! I'm still an expert with nuts, sitting on a concrete floor in the garage, and shelling endlesssssssssssssssssss amounts of nuts. And almonds--way worse than pecans.

                                                                                              2. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                                m
                                                                                                MakingSense Mar 29, 2007 09:51 AM

                                                                                                Beautiful life, huh? I have my aunt's lovely notes that she had begun writing to me just before she died of her memories of what life was like in the 20s and 30s in rural South Louisiana. While my grandmother was canning summer's bounty to make it through the winter for the family of 16 plus guests and cooking daily meals, she was doing the daily laundry - must have been quite a few diapers there and a lot of bed linens - all by hand, which had to be boiled since there was no washing machine, with soap she made with lye and lard rendered from the pigs they slaughtered. Chicken for supper? Had to kill and clean that first. Cows to milk twice a day. Churn the butter. Every oil lamp had to be cleaned every day. The mattresses had to be restuffed with Spanish Moss every year. All of the clothing was made by hand.
                                                                                                The family was not poor. It wasn't a "desperate, needy thing." It was just what you had to do to keep your family supplied, in the way we have to stop off at the supermarket to keep our families supplied today.
                                                                                                Some of the old ways deserve to die.

                                                                                                How many of us today would bear the burden of putting by the quantity of canned and frozen produce necessary to keep our families through the winter?

                                                                                      2. re: MakingSense
                                                                                        j
                                                                                        jlawrence01 Mar 29, 2007 06:51 AM

                                                                                        AMEN!

                                                                                        There are a LOT of people who cannot differentiate between tsp and tbsp. There are a LOT of people who don't have the discipline to MEASURE out their ingredients. And there are a lot of people who do not stock all of the necessary ingredients to make a particular recipe.

                                                                                        When I was in the business, I used to work for a company whose management thought that ANYONE who could read a recipe card could be trained to be a cook. I soon found out that no matter what level of education (including college educated), some people had the skill and others were completely clueless.

                                                                                        1. re: jlawrence01
                                                                                          m
                                                                                          MakingSense Mar 29, 2007 01:09 PM

                                                                                          Jaques Pepin said that if you give 10 people the same recipe they will turn out 10 completely different end results.
                                                                                          I think that if you give them 10 recipes and cash and send them to the store, the end products will be completely different and some will no doubt be completely inedible.
                                                                                          Each person will purchase a different quality of raw ingredient. They'll make substitutions, use the wrong pans, change cooking temperatures, make measurement errors, fail to follow simple directions, leave things out or add things. Basic cooking skills and equipment will vary. Someone's phone will ring at a critical point and the sauce will curdle. And somebody will make a wonderful dish.

                                                                                      3. re: uptown jimmy
                                                                                        macca Mar 29, 2007 12:19 PM

                                                                                        I can see part of your point- but do not agree with the brainwashing. I grew up in the suburbs, so we did not farm the land. I am from a large family, however. Grew uop in the late 50's- mom did not work outside the house. But she had to make the formula for the babies, sterilize the bottles, do all of the family wash ( 8 kids), and that included diapers. If we weanted pancakes for breakfast, it really WAS easier for her to use a mix, even though she had all of the ingredients. She would use mixes for pancakes, blonde brownies and cakes. Non of our melas were not from packages, and we never had frozen vegatables or TV dinners in the house. And I can assure you, my mother did not spend a lot of time watching tv to see the "brainwashing" from advertisers!

                                                                                  2. re: amyzan
                                                                                    m
                                                                                    mattm Mar 27, 2007 10:09 PM

                                                                                    I couldn't agree more. In a world of packaged pancake and brownie mix, it can take a long time to discover there exist better alternatives.

                                                                                    I think packaged foods can have there place too. Consider how many mediocre pie crusts one has to suffer through before consistently getting something better than frozen crusts, which I think are ok. Given the quality of most grocery store pies (blech!), I would still be happy if my friends used frozen pie crusts.

                                                                                    On the subject of American marketing and brainwashing:
                                                                                    A few years ago, I filled a water bottle from a sink. A high school student asked me, "You're not drinking bottled water and you're going to drink that unfiltered?" Now, I know there are places in the US where drinking tap water isn't a good idea, but I don't live in one of them. I was speechless.

                                                                                  3. Kajikit Mar 27, 2007 04:30 PM

                                                                                    At least she didn't use coolwhip! Making meringue was SOME effort on her part. Maybe she really doesn't know how easy it is to make the filling yourself? My mother's lemon meringue pie filling was made just the same as key lime pie - lemon juice, condensed milk and egg yolks mixed together and poured into the crust. Much easier than messing around with cornstarch!

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Kajikit
                                                                                      jfood Mar 28, 2007 01:06 PM

                                                                                      K

                                                                                      Everyone knows that cool whip does not go with lemon meringue. I goes with key lime and fruit pies.

                                                                                      Please don't jump on me but we needed one person for andone persona against coolwhip.

                                                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        Hungry Celeste Mar 28, 2007 01:16 PM

                                                                                        Oh, now, I draw the line at cool whip! That's not food, that's an industrial lubricant...

                                                                                        1. re: Hungry Celeste
                                                                                          jfood Mar 28, 2007 01:19 PM

                                                                                          I know I know, but I'm like Mikey in the commercial, "I Like it"

                                                                                          Jfood is allowed to have one vice. :-))

                                                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                                                            ArikaDawn Mar 28, 2007 02:01 PM

                                                                                            ....I like cool whip too...Don't hit me! *flinches

                                                                                            1. re: ArikaDawn
                                                                                              j
                                                                                              julesrules Mar 29, 2007 05:57 AM

                                                                                              I'd rather have cool whip than canned whipped cream, no off dairy taste, just.. cool whip in all its artificial glory. Maybe because I eat it less than once a year it still has some novelty for me too.

                                                                                              1. re: julesrules
                                                                                                v
                                                                                                veryveryrosalind Mar 29, 2007 12:37 PM

                                                                                                Really? I disagree--Reddi-Wip (canned whipped cream) tastes much better to me than Cool Whip. This is why I've never been able to understand Cool Whip and its HUGE popularity in the Midwest (my husband's homeland)--the caloric content of Cool Whip is the same as an equal volume of whipped cream in a can, they both keep forever in the fridge, and Cool Whip is actually LESS convenient, if we're talking "convenience food," since you have to defrost it and spoon it out, rather than just inverting the can and pressing the nozzle. And it tastes, to me, much worse. So, why?

                                                                                                1. re: veryveryrosalind
                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                  Hungry Celeste Mar 29, 2007 12:45 PM

                                                                                                  I think one factor is volume: with a can of Reddi-Whip, you're unsure how much whipped cream will come out of that slender can...so it seems expensive for its size. Whereas with Cool Whip, the chubby tub *looks* like a goodly quantity for the price.

                                                                                    2. l
                                                                                      lora Mar 29, 2007 09:21 AM

                                                                                      One could make the distinction between "homemade" and "from scratch". "Homemade" is squishy, and implies final assembly and heating of ingredients at home, but not much else. (Although a lot of people expect "homemade" to equal "from scratch".)

                                                                                      If you tell me you made something from scratch, though, I expect you to have started with ingredients whose contents can be described with a single word: flour. eggs. sugar. butter. If you included a box of pudding mix, I will call you on that.

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: lora
                                                                                        chowser Mar 29, 2007 10:16 AM

                                                                                        Good distinction.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                                                          j
                                                                                          Janet from Richmond Mar 29, 2007 10:21 AM

                                                                                          Until you get to baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                            l
                                                                                            lora Mar 29, 2007 10:34 AM

                                                                                            Excellent point! Ingredients constituting less than 1% by weight of the final product are excepted.

                                                                                            I HAVE made my own baking powder and vanilla extract before, but that was just my inner geek wanting to see what would happen...

                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                              chowser Mar 29, 2007 02:24 PM

                                                                                              As jfoods brought up, where do you draw the line? Did you churn the butter?

                                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                                l
                                                                                                lora Mar 29, 2007 05:26 PM

                                                                                                I personally draw the line of scratch cooking when you include items that have ingredient lists that are themselves made up of kitchen staples and are reasonably made at home. Butter is not easily made in the modern kitchen (although I know some do it), so you can buy that. Anything involving the word "mix" is out.

                                                                                                If you churned the darn butter, you get double extra bonus points and you get to note that separately. And if you do that a lot, you're probably insufferable.

                                                                                                1. re: lora
                                                                                                  chowser Mar 29, 2007 06:00 PM

                                                                                                  "And if you do that a lot, you're probably insufferable."

                                                                                                  Or, Martha Stewart with an entire staff. :-p As you said, it comes down to where each person personally draws the line. I try to make my own pasta. I brought a lasagne to a friend but didn't have time to make the noodles so I used store bought ones. She asked if I made the lasagne and I said, "Well...kind of" because I had bought the noodles. She was just asking whether it was Stouffers or home made. It never occurred to her that you could make pasta so my lasagne was completely home made to her but not to me.

                                                                                                  1. re: lora
                                                                                                    eLizard Apr 10, 2007 01:01 PM

                                                                                                    butter is unbelievably easy to make in the food processor. sometimes when i need heavy cream, i buy a bigger container than i need and process the rest into butter.

                                                                                          2. janetofreno Mar 29, 2007 01:03 PM

                                                                                            Not to be contrarian as well, but I think that if she assembled it at home, she can call it "homemade" if she wants. And you are welcome to think her homemade is not as good as your homemade. It sounds like the real issue is with the SIL, not the pie. At least she cared enough to do something to contribute (plenty of guests would just sit back and let you do all the work) and "made it with love" (As my husband says to my kids when I cook something they aren't particularly fond of.....).

                                                                                            BTW, and maybe apropos of nothing: everyone likes my apple pie, and my son's girlfriend has declared it "the best apple pie I ever ate" (Of course, she's from Japan, so may not be the best judge of apple pie....:-) However, the only time I used anything other than Marie Callender's frozen pie crust was one time when I was at a friend's vacation home in the mountains of Montana, with no store for miles and no choice other than to roll my own crust. Sure, it was good, but not enough better than my favorite Marie Callender's to make the effort worth it when the premade is available......

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: janetofreno
                                                                                              jfood Mar 29, 2007 02:11 PM

                                                                                              Mrs Jfood was help her folks in FL a couple of weeks ago and I was home with one of the little jfoods. So to make us bring a little bit of mrs jfood to the house i tried to make one of her apple pies. I did my best to follow her recipe. It wasn't bad (nowhere close to the original) but when little jfood tasted it she said, "Dad, not bad. Filling not as good as mom's but your crust is as good as hers."

                                                                                              Well we both use Oronoke frozen deep dish crusts. And I agree, it is way too good to make our own.

                                                                                              1. re: janetofreno
                                                                                                ArikaDawn Mar 29, 2007 02:17 PM

                                                                                                I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with her pie and don't think mine is better, I did not make a lemon meringue pie. I was trying to comment on the fact that the pie was not what I expected when I heard famous and homemade used to describe it. When I initially posted this i had only been on the boards a couple days and did not realize that everything was analyzed to the hilt. My mistake.

                                                                                                1. re: ArikaDawn
                                                                                                  jfood Mar 29, 2007 02:28 PM

                                                                                                  Arika,

                                                                                                  Welcome to CH. After a few posts you sorta get used to the sub-threads. Some are very funny, some are OMG's. First rule is take nothing personally. Hey on this one alone we went from strawberry vs lemon pie to using fresh tomatos in pastas. How fun is that.

                                                                                                  BTW - I am still waiting for the recipe for your strawberry pie. I got a bunch in the fridge waiting to go. Thx.

                                                                                                  1. re: ArikaDawn
                                                                                                    MMRuth Mar 29, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                                                                    "I was trying to comment on the fact that the pie was not what I expected when I heard famous and homemade used to describe it."

                                                                                                    That made me laugh b/c it reminds me of when my husband and I missed a flight (due to my total stupidity) and we arrived at my father and step-mother's too late for dinner. When I called to tell them of the delay, she said "Oh that's too bad, I have a nice dinner planned." Since she doesn't cook a lot, especially at her lake house, I felt really bad the until we got there and I discovered that it was Stouffer's frozen lasagna!

                                                                                                    And to put my own twist on what jfood said - people get v. passionate about food here - as you've discovered (smile) - and minutiae get analyzed to death!

                                                                                                    1. re: ArikaDawn
                                                                                                      chowser Mar 29, 2007 05:55 PM

                                                                                                      Welcome. Not everything gets analyzed but if you bring up what's "home made" or convenience foods, it will. Whatever you do, don't bring up tipping.;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                                                                        Sam Fujisaka Mar 29, 2007 10:09 PM

                                                                                                        Or HFCS--an input surely to be censored!

                                                                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                                                                          ccbweb Mar 29, 2007 11:00 PM

                                                                                                          Definitely don't bring up tipping :). This is quite an interesting thread, great perspectives all over the place. After years and years of doing the vast majority of the cooking that takes place anywhere near me, I've come to this: if someone wants to make food for me, wants to take whatever time to assemble/bake/cook/sautee/roast/what-have-you, I'm going to say thank you, eat it with a smile and offer to help with the dishes. Not everyone is good at cooking and not everyone knows this. To offer to make food for someone else is one of the most basic, intrinsically good things one can do and I think it should be applauded, regardless of whather the ingredients are farm fresh basics or a box of jello pudding.

                                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                                                                                            jfood Mar 30, 2007 06:15 AM

                                                                                                            CC

                                                                                                            Thank you so much for joining Jfood in this boat. Most posters have acted like a begger who only accepts $100 bills. One needs to accept graciousness and comradery with open arms and embrace those who open themselves by inviting us to a meal. Isn't that the basis of friendship and humanity.

                                                                                                            I cringe when I see posts staing that people are offended when "they served me this" or "how dare they serve me that", or "i just will march right into their kitchen and show them how to do it". OMG. If a friend invites me over and serves me absolutely anything I will do my best to enjoy the food because i know i will enjoy the moment with friends.

                                                                                                            It's all about priorities and as the jfoods say all the time, "It's just a meal". How many time do we say "It's just friends" in the same context. Hopefully never.

                                                                                                            I am not pointing this at any post onthis thread, but am speaking in general terms.

                                                                                                        2. re: ArikaDawn
                                                                                                          janetofreno Mar 29, 2007 11:14 PM

                                                                                                          And I'm sorry if maybe I was a little rough on you.....Maybe I'm a little sensitive because I'm proud of my apple pie, and get a lot of compliments on it...but after reading your post and some of the replies I wondered if I could keep my chowhound credentials and continue to call it "homemade" because I use a frozen crust.

                                                                                                          The point is: if its good and people like it, maybe it CAN be called famous. Maybe the fact that she makes her own meringue means that she goes way beyond what most people in her usual crowd do.....and to them it IS famous! (and more homemade than what is customary as well.....).

                                                                                                          Its all a matter of perspective.....

                                                                                                          1. re: janetofreno
                                                                                                            jfood Mar 30, 2007 06:19 AM

                                                                                                            As they say at Political Conventions, "The great state of blah votes its 27 votes in favor of janetfreno calling her apple pie home made"

                                                                                                            If you take the time and effort to make it at home, it's home made. BTW, jfood's homemade apple pie ONLY uses frozen Orenoke pie crusts. Everyone in the family LOVES them and if it ain't broke, I ain't going to try to fix it. :-))

                                                                                                      2. Sam Fujisaka Mar 30, 2007 09:17 AM

                                                                                                        AD, youv'e engendered a great discussion. Best is how the tides of opinion have come in and gone out.

                                                                                                        I am in complete agreement with cc and jf. I also do almost all of the cooking around me. We once had a group that took turns eating at each other's places. One of the guys can't cook; and I remember his making BLT sandwiches. They were absolutely great. Best was when I don't have to cook.

                                                                                                        When I do, however, it is from scratch (partly because we can't get prefab food here).

                                                                                                        1. q
                                                                                                          Querencia Mar 31, 2007 08:05 PM

                                                                                                          This makes me remember somebody's post that he used to help his grandma make a "Chocolate Eclair". She would cook pudding from a box then his job was to lay out graham crackers in a dish which Grandma would layer with pudding and Cool-Whip. This isn't a chocolate eclair by any definition (and personally I thought this dessert sounded disgusting) but to that four year-old boy it was the choicest delicacy and to the man, many years later, the memory of helping Grandma make it was sweet . And we can all understand that.

                                                                                                          1. p
                                                                                                            Perkyshai Apr 10, 2007 12:53 PM

                                                                                                            I think that there is always a relative (frequently that one too..something about random SIL's or BIL's) who is a bit overbearing. I suggest that the time to deal with it is after you know each other, and are more in the nature of family. The important thing is making sure that your partner is comfortable with the way that you cope with their family. If you can find a kind way to deal with it, so much the better.
                                                                                                            Your pie was better, you knew it would be, and that's nice. What is more important is that you were civil and gracious when it mattered. Later, you can discuss how happy you are when making homemade lemon curd, and how versatile it is.

                                                                                                            1. Sarah P Apr 10, 2007 01:20 PM

                                                                                                              Totally agree with Macca, she has got love the show Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. Absolutly not does her pie get to be said as "Homemade". If it were to be homemade then at least I would expect the crust of the pie to be made from scratch. Gee if that were all true and I just bought pre-made everything then I would be one of the best HOMEMADE chef around.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Sarah P
                                                                                                                geekyfoodie May 1, 2007 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                Can't stand Sandra, but I have to admit I've been cheating a little with some of my dishes, most notably, my pies. I used to make the crusts from scratch and they turned out pretty well. Pillsbury has a pre-made crust dough (not frozen) that you unroll, line the pie pan, and put the filling in. It saves time and the results are pretty similar.

                                                                                                                I've also been cheating with cake mixes for birthday cakes when the recipe calls for yellow cake. I have yet to find a good scratch recipe for yellow cake, so I just use the mix.

                                                                                                                Despite all of this, I don't usually use the word "homemade" and honestly describe the process if anyone asks.

                                                                                                              2. c
                                                                                                                chefkev39 May 1, 2007 01:35 PM

                                                                                                                Sounds like a recipe that I would put into my White Trash Cookbook!!!

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