One Whole Year
Hopefully this post is ok and is not too "self-serving" for chowhound's rules.
I'm a long-time chowhound enjoyer, and it's going to be tough not to take chowhound's great restaurant recommendations for a year. But my wife and I have started a project at www.onewholeyear.com , in which we try making pretty much everything we eat from scratch at home.
So, chowhound, we'd appreciate responses regarding your favorite foods or recipes that can be made basically from scratch. Quick-to-make recipes would especially be welcomed here. We'd love to try out a lot of your recipes as we go through the year- we're going to need as many as we can get!
To make it a little easier on yourself, remember that even in the early 1800s, many city and village dwellers were buying things like flour and sugar from stores rather than grinding grain at home or making do with just honey or maple sugar. Same goes for cheeses.
Gotham is in you pen name -- are we to assume you're trying to do this in NYC? Your location in the country may have some affect on our advice.
Thanks for the tips on the Helen Witty book and the Home Made book. I've never heard of those before, and they look right up our alley! I'm going to order used copies. I am especially interested in the recipes in the Witty book for harder to make things, and the seasonal info in the Home Made book. Both will probably be a big help.
Kagey, I've heard of the River Cafe books before, and that Green version looks especially useful. I'm going to look into that as well, along with your other suggestions.
As for what foods we like, we'll eat almost anything! We love most of the recipes by chefs like Jacques Pepin, Ming Tsai, and Lidia Bastianich, and places like America's Test Kitchen. We're pretty wide open to anything, especially if we can do it in under an hour. No allergies really to speak of, and we can use most simple single ingredients, as well as some dairy and meat items that might have gone through typical simple processing that we can't easily do, like pasteurization.
As far as our own jams and other condiments, I'm not sure that we can commit to that 100% in this project, though we're likely to attempt all of that at some point this year, especially, as you point out, when local harvests start to come in.
Wow. I was just about to say that this sounds really ambitious, but then I went and read the purpose statement and guidelines, and I realized that I pretty much already do this! My major exceptions are that I don't make my own pasta, and I do eat out about once every two weeks.
On the other side of it, I'm a definite advocate of making one's own condiments, like jams and chutneys and pickles, and would encourage you to try it out, to make use of wonderful local produce.
I hope you'll keep us posted on how it goes throughout the year. Don't forget the no-knead bread. And hang around on the Home Cooking board for advice and support! As to recipes, you'll find loads under many topics if you search here. I'd recommend looking at (if not actually buying) a couple of cookbooks for inspiration:
River Cafe Green book: Very good, simple recipes for using seasonal produce.
How To Eat by Nigella Lawson: You (yes, you) can cook real, high-quality, delicious food from scratch without wanting to tear your hair out. Even if you work and have a life.
Anything by Jamie Oliver. Especially his first Naked Chef book. Again, cooking real food isn't brain surgery. Just start with good ingredients and don't mess around with them too much.
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: Great recipes, and vegetarian = more ecologically friendly. Lots of variety, and many dishes that don't take forever to prepare and cook.
I have a first edition book titled Home Made, An Alternative to Supermarket Living, Atheneum, 1972. The title page states:
"Recipes from the Nineteenth Century.
Rescued, Reinterpreted, and Commented upon by Sandra Oddo"
It's a compenrium of from scratch recipes and the chapters are laid out according to the calendar and food according to its season. For instance January is devoted to breads, biscuits, noodles, dried legumes and fruits. May has recipes for rhubarb, asparagus, watercress, seafood. Each food according to its season...what a novel idea!
The work is fascinating and all inclusive with recommendations for everything from canning to cleaning the house
I did a quick search and it's at Amazon for $4.95 -$ 20.00
Wanted to suggest a cookbook to you, Better than Store-Bought by Helen Witty. I found my used copy online. It has recipes for everything from cream cheese to chocolate sauce, from sausage to sprouted wheat bread.
Good luck and please keep us posted as you go along. I admire your efforts.