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"Made my own" Success Stories

When I have a good "putter around in the kitchen" day, I have this thing for trying to make my own versions of foods you can buy already made, just to see if I can do it. I'm getting pretty good at the basics like stock and pasta. This week, I tried making one of those edible fruit arrangements (cookie cutters for flower shapes, etc, skewered into a watermelon base), mostly because the ones for order online are so pricey. Recently, I didn't have any French's onions called for in a savory bread recipe once, so I tried to make my own (my cooking friends think I'm crazy to try stuff like this instead of drive 2 miles to the store). I'm probably going to tackle cheese or tortillas next.

What are your "tried my own version of" triumphs?

PS: As a newer CH, I apologize in advance if this thread has been done again and again.

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  1. lard, tortillas, marshmallows, dulce de leche, bread crumbs, crackers, hamburger buns, caramel, ricotta cheese, yogurt, sausage, ground beef, dried peaches....

    If it can be made instead of bought, I want to try it!

    10 Replies
    1. re: Becca Porter

      Same here! You reminded me that I did try marshmallows with wondeful success, and have tried bread crumbs and dried fruit... but I am intrigued by hamburger buns and and crackers...

      1. re: Becca Porter

        "If it can be made instead of bought, I want to try it!"

        My philosophy exactly! I don't always repeat the experience but I want to have it once at least.

        Things I regularly do:
        mustard
        applesauce
        créme fraîche
        garlic purée
        graavlox
        ghee
        bread
        vinegar
        jams -- whatever fruit I've got

        Things I have done or occasionally do:
        ketchup
        mayonnaise
        ricotta
        mozzarella
        goats milk cheese
        baking mix aka Bisquick
        pomegranate molasses
        bread and butter pickles
        vanilla extract & extract of vanilla bean + coffee beans
        butter
        marshmallows
        yogurt

        I also do spice blends but all that is is mixing various spices.

        1. re: rainey

          Rainey, I love your list! I want the baking mix recipe. We buy Bisquick (hubster loves it) and it pains me to do so!

          I've tried the vanilla recently and was very pleased. Also liked my applesauce results when I was given fresh apples from "Grandpa's" tree. (Though it was better for recipes than for eating straight).

          Would also be interested in making vinegar. Did a little research on it a while back but haven't been brave enough (yet).

          So excited to find like-minded home cooks. Kicking myself for not becoming a CH long ago.

          1. re: CapreseStacy

            I make my applesauce because it's so much better than commercial and you don't get a kitchen with that heavenly aroma from opening a can. Besides, it tastes like apple pie without the trouble or fat calories of making pastry.

            I use a variety of apples so I get a variety of textures from the ones that cook down to liquid to the ones that hold almost all of their shape. And I cut the apples into generous sized chunks and DON'T mash them in the end.

            Vinegar couldn't be easier. There's a ton of info on the web -- most of it contradictory. But if you've got a mother, some leftover wine and some patience you will end up with vinegar.

            Here's the baking mix. Don't remember where I originally got it. I usually keep my references and try to be diligent about crediting the right people but this is just one I've had a long time and don't have any information.

            Homemade Baking Mix
            Yield: about 6 cups

            • 6 cups all-purpose flour
            • 3 tablespoons baking powder
            • 1 tablespoons baking soda
            • 1 tablespoons salt
            • 1 cup vegetable shortening

            Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

            Add shortening by spoonfuls and cut in with a pastry blender until it is thoroughly incorporated and the resulting mix has a uniform consistency that resembles Bisquick.

            Store it in a container with an airtight lid (to discourage weevils) on the shelf.

            1. re: CapreseStacy

              Welcome to Chowhound, Stacy.

              Give the vinegar a try. It literally makes itself, and people have been doing it as long as they have been making wine.

              1. re: FoodFuser

                LOL, sometimes it's hard to avoid making it...

                1. re: chowser

                  Unfortunately (or not), wine never has a chance to sit around on a countertop in my house. I'd have to make such a concerted effort to let it sit...

          2. re: Becca Porter

            Could you give a recipe for the hamburger buns? I would like to try that.

            1. re: Siobhan

              http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

              Here's one. The one I use is also from King Arthur but it is enriched with butter and eggs. This one looks tasty though.

              1. re: Becca Porter

                Thanks! I am going to givce this a go.

          3. Oh, yes! I've gone through a phase in the last few years, trying to make anything I possibly could. Not too many flops and a few surprising successes!

            I haven't bought plain whole wheat bread in years, so that's a success. Nor bread crumbs. I never buy shortening or lard -- I use "cleaned" bacon grease. Yogurt is one I avoid buying as well. Crackers, stock, hummus, jams/jellies/marmalade, mustard, pickles, whenever the urge strikes. I've done english muffins, granola, baking mix, pita bread, and naan, but not regularly.

            1. I have a great book called "Better than Store-Bought" that has recipes for many things we might ordinarily buy ready-made. Haven't had it out in ages, time for a look. I remember making a dark chocolate sauce but can't recall any others.

              http://www.abebooks.com/9780060146931...

              4 Replies
              1. re: bon oeuf

                "Better than Store-Bought" is one of my favorite cookbooks. From it I have made:
                Chinese Duck Sauce
                Chili Sauce
                Hot Fudge Sauce
                Butterscotch Sauce
                Breakfast Sausages
                Lemon Curd
                Corn Relish
                Dilly Beans

                It wouldn't be Christmas without the candied fruit rinds, almond buttercrunch and caramel corn from that book.

                I also make my own stock, demiglace, ice creams, cookies, jams & jellies, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, raspberry chipolte bbq sauce, tomato bbq sauce and rib sauce etc.

                1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                  I'm going to get the book out for my bedtime reading. I always like to cook more during Fall so the timing is perfect.

                  Such a good book!

                  1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                    I'm going to see if I can find that book.

                2. I was thrilled in my 20s to make homemade marshmallows and Graham crackers-still makes me happy :).

                  My latest favorite is French onion dip. Husband has been brewing beer and just this week tried making his own cream soda-it'll be ready in a few days and I'm very curious about how it will turn out.

                  Fruit leather is fabulous and we make that all the time.

                  Infused alcohols and flavored syrups for drinks.

                  Butter

                  Mozarella-easy and pretty good.

                  1. I've made some of the staples, e.g. lard, ketchup, marshmallow, bread, yogurt, etc., but my greatest accomplishment to date is my homemade .... Twinkie.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      You must give more info on the Twinkie :-) Any photos?

                      1. re: Siobhan

                        This would thrill my daughter! I tasted Twinkies for the first time in 20 years or so and was absolutely disgusted. I couldn't eat more than one bite. I didn't know I had evolved into that much of a food snob.

                        1. re: Siobhan

                          Sorry, but no photos.

                          I followed this recipe http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2008/...

                          But tweaked it bit by trying to make my own banana creme.

                          Also the color of the twinkie wasn't yellow enough; probably a food coloring issue.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Will they last 5 years like the Hostess brand does?

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              I think the Hostess ones have a half-life as long as uranium.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  The Fly Lady Web site (devoted to helping people declutter and streamline their homes) had a write-in topic a couple of years ago about "What is the oddest thing you ever threw away?" There were some pretty strange items, like grandpa's prosthetic leg found several years after grandpa himself passed away. But the best entry was from a woman who decided when her youngest son went away to college it was time to really clean out his room. In the back of a closet she found his school lunchbox, which he stopped using in the sixth grade. Apparently he hadn't eaten his lunch that last day, nor had he emptied it out. She found several completely unidentifiable heaps of mold but sitting proudly and only a tiny bit collapsed were two Twinkies.