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Semi-homemade: is the chain as strong as its weakest link?

chowser Oct 31, 2007 09:39 AM

Or, more accurately, is the food only as good as its weakest component? I just made those dishes of dirt for my daughter's halloween party (brownies layered w/ pudding layered w/ crushed chocolate cookies and gummy worms, plus milanos w/ "RIP" written on it so they look like tombstones when you stick them in). I made the cookies and the brownies from scratch and used a mix for the pudding. Yeah, I know it's easy to make pudding but I ran a marathon Sunday so I did what I could. But, as I'm putting it together, I thought--did it matter that I made the brownies and cookies? Did I waste my time? If I'm using bad pudding mix (I used the cheap store brand), should I have gone w/ easy to do box brownies and oreos? At what point, if any, would you decide to give it up and just not make any of it from scratch? Feeling kind of Sandra Lee-ish...

  1. m
    Mother of four Nov 6, 2007 06:22 PM

    Do you honetly think that your daughter even had a thought wether the pudding was made from scratch or a box mix? What a wonderful Mom to give her daughter a Halloween party. She will always remember the party, but believe me the pudding question will never enter her mind. Don't dwell on the small thinks, look at the big picture, and you sound like a good Mom!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mother of four
      Pei Nov 6, 2007 08:16 PM

      Amen to that! A round of applause for homemade food making moms!

      1. re: Mother of four
        chowser Nov 7, 2007 07:46 AM

        The irony is that she won't touch boxed pudding (a good part is having dye allergies and mixes are full of it) but the other kids wouldn't have cared if it was all boxed stuff. They had fun and I can pretend to be Sandra Lee for a day!

      2. Pei Nov 4, 2007 10:21 PM

        Yeah, I feel like that when I make a meal from scratch and am so pooped out I have to ask someone to bring a storebought dessert. But you know, you can't always do it all! And even if you aren't 100% happy with the final result, think of it this way: it was way more healthy (if brownies can be called healthy) for them to be eating a dessert that was 2/3 homemade than 100% storebought.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pei
          chowser Nov 6, 2007 01:24 PM

          I'll have to think of it that way--at least 2/3 of it was not full of chemicals. And, why do they add red food dye to chocolate pudding mix anyway???

        2. mamaciita Nov 4, 2007 05:21 AM

          I've had a couple of similar quandries lately. . .

          Two weeks ago, I spent many hours over several days making food to take to a friend's hog roast/crab boil only to discover that when the food was served, the only dish that people raved about was the sweet potato/apple sludge which was--LITERALLY--a combination of canned candied yams and canned apple pie filling. I ended up taking home half of the pan of Baked Vegetables Provencal that I had brought (fine with me--leftovers make great fritatta).

          Last week, I made cupcakes for my daughter's first-grade class Halloween party. The room Mom asked for unfrosted cupcakes since decorating them would be one of the party activities. I'm with rockandroller1 on this--if I'm baking for public consumption, especially children, I usually use mixes without reservation (The sugar, fat, and preservatives in the cupcakes I made are a drop in the ocean of goodies they consumed during the Halloween tidal wave of treats!) For friends and family, I bake from scratch.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mamaciita
            chowser Nov 6, 2007 01:23 PM

            I've tried to make from scratch, even for public consumption but I'm finding people often like processed mixes more, since it's what they're used to--mac and cheese from scratch isn't received as well as Kraft. LOL, I offered to make a cake for preschool graduation and thought it was only for the 30 some kids. Turned out, two days before the event, I was told there would be 100-120 people. I used mixes for such a short time. Anyway, this woman kept following me around, raving about how it was the best, moistest cake she ever had. She didn't believe me when I told her it was just cake mix.

          2. nofunlatte Nov 1, 2007 04:38 PM

            You ran a marathon. You have nothing to feel guilty about! These were for your daughter and her friends and I'll bet they just loved them! Unless you were passing off the pudding as "from scratch", I see nothing wrong with using the mix. And surely no one would expect you to make your own gummy worms!

            I think it's all in the context of how and by whom the food is to be eaten. So, how were they received by the party attendees?

            And congrats on that marathon--I'm am majorly impressed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nofunlatte
              chowser Nov 1, 2007 06:57 PM

              Thanks! It's hard to pass off reddish brown gummy like pudding as your own! I'm wondering if that tasted bad enough that it took away all the goodness from the brownies and cookies. In hindsight, I'm thinking it was a waste to spend all that time with it. I don't think the kids care, or could even tell, either way.

            2. rockandroller1 Oct 31, 2007 10:32 AM

              I dunno. If I ever have kids I would enjoy making the stuff with them so they can see how brownies/cookies are made, but you have to be reasonable about your skills and time.

              I tend to not put as much effort into making something from scratch it if it's food for the public, such as something for a potluck or for that party. But if my family would be eating the brownies/cookies, I would enjoy making them from scratch. I have gotten to the point there are a lot of things from a box I just won't make or serve so what I probably would have done was look for a recipe for something else I could have made that would have had all homemade ingredients instead of making those particular items.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rockandroller1
                chowser Nov 1, 2007 06:58 PM

                Yeah, it probably would have been easier to make something all homemade, like cupcakes. I don't know why I had my mind set on making these.

              2. hala Oct 31, 2007 10:08 AM

                i have used those pudding mixes before to stuff my profiteroles, and generally i feel pretty guilty about it. In my defence, i generally have trouble sticking to a recipe, so, it it is rare for my profiteroles to succeed so i am always stressed when i make them and i don't want the stress of worrying about whether the pudding will set or not. So, i use vanilla pudding and i throw in a ton of coaco. i like that taste more than the chocolate pudding.

                The worst thing about using the comercially available stuff is how bad i feel about all the preservatives and extra sugar that i am exposing my family to.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hala
                  chowser Oct 31, 2007 12:24 PM

                  This is exactly what I mean--if you go through the trouble of making one part, does the lower quality of the other part bring it down? For your case, though (I'm the same way with following recipes!), if homemade doesn't always turn out better than the mix, then I could see it being the better option. I feel the same about the commercially available stuff-- there is so much more that I'd never use, food dyes, chemicals, HFCS. It's just not the same as eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla!

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