"Made my own" Success Stories
- CapreseStacy Aug 28, 2010 11:02 AM
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.
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:
jams -- whatever fruit I've got
Things I have done or occasionally do:
goats milk cheese
baking mix aka Bisquick
bread and butter pickles
vanilla extract & extract of vanilla bean + coffee beans
I also do spice blends but all that is is mixing various spices.
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.
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.
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.
re: bon oeuf
"Better than Store-Bought" is one of my favorite cookbooks. From it I have made:
Chinese Duck Sauce
Hot Fudge Sauce
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.
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.
Mozarella-easy and pretty good.
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.
I make a lot of bread type things frequently, whole wheat from fresh ground wheat, pizza dough, english muffins, bannock. I also can quite a few things: refried beans, baked beans, salsa, jelly, chow chow, chicken stock, various meat. I've made potstickers, egg rolls, kaiser rolls, sour dough, salad dressings, mayo, ice cream, sour cream, corn tortillas. I also make most of my seasoning mixes, taco, dry rubs, jerky, rib rubs, creole, olive oil dip. I'd love to try making cheese and vinegar too. I think a lot of the fun is researching how to make the thing, trying to recreate it.
Well, my most recent was "Raincoast Crisp" from a copy cat recipe. And this week, I am going to tackle prepping several dozen peaches for freezing.
Like many Hounds, I also like to grind my own spices.
I regularly make:
Pestos & herb or spice oils
Flavored simple syrups (currently basil, mint, ginger, lemon grass)
pickled red onions
I occasionally make:
dulce de leche
marmalade and jams
nutty caramel corn (for gifts)
pickled veggies--cauliflower, carrots
I love making my own things. Some of the things I have done in the past and continue to make:
breads, rolls, and buns
limoncello, blackberry liqueur, cherry bounce
sun-dried tomatoes, both plain and packed in oil with basil
various jams, preserves and marmalades - depending on what fruits and herbs are available
pickles of all sorts - cucumbers, relishes, mixed veggies, green beans, okra, carrots, etc. I love Euell Gibbons Dill Crock.
fresh pickled onions and/or turnips
stocks and broths
dried fruits (apples, pears, peaches)
Have made bagels, sausages and corned beef in the past, but not in many years.
Next up on my list is Creole Cream Cheese. I'd also like to try some of the soft cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, etc) and those Raincoast Crisps.
I haven't done my own nocino as I haven't been able to get green walnuts. But I've got a lead on them for next year. :-) Oh, and last year I made vin de pamplemousse for the first time. I'm also wondering about making elderberry liqueur. We have lots of those growing wild. I normally use the berries in things like muffins, in place of blueberries, but the other day started thinking that a liqueur might work.
I just bottled up blackberry liqueur a week or so ago and have some cherry bounce steeping now. We have a plethora of peaches and as I've already done a lot of peach preserves, etc, I'm thinking of doing some brandied or pickled peaches today.
What irony! I don't care very much for alcohol (none of it). I only make nocino (and I've got past year's nocino piled up) because I have a walnut tree and don't know what else to do with the walnuts that the squirrels clean the tree of by the time they're ripe. =o
I basically make it and give it away. If you're in Los Angeles you're welcome to some!
The limoncello I bake with and a little of it over shaved ice can be nice in the summer.
Sadly I am not near you or I would take you up on that! I currently reside in AL. We have black walnut trees here. I've been trying to research to see if those are safe to use for nocino. At least one source seems to believe so, but I haven't found anything definitive.
The alcoholic drinks make wonderful gifts, I've found.
My grandfather always drank cherry bounce on ice during hot Louisiana summers. I tried the blackberry liqueur that way and it was pretty tasty. Pretty colour, too.
I attempted to make homemade Grape-Nuts once, I even had a recipe. It was ok until you poured milk on it and then it turned to mush. That sort of defeats the purpose of homemade cereal though (not being able to eat it with milk).
Like others, I make breadcrumbs, salad dressings, fish stock, tartar sauce, pickled onions, marinara sauce and hummus always instead of buying. I make sun-dried tomatoes, pate and chicken stock often although not always. My proudest accomplishment to date is a copy-cat version of Campbell's bean and bacon soup (a great childhood favorite) entiely from scratch with organic ingredients and far less sodium than the original.
Oooh, a fellow bean and bacon lover! I'm telling you, this is amazing, right down to that odd characteristic color. One of the reviews said it didn't taste like Campbell's B&B but I added a good pinch of salt to one spoonful and it was absolutely indistinguishable, LOL.
2 cups beans = 1 lb.
Add bacon back in at very end
Use 2 qts water to simmer ham hocks for 2 hours then use that as the liquid instead of the water and ham stock called for -- it's the right amount even though it's more
Use bacon grease to saute the onion and garlic before adding,
Add veggies about 1 1/2 hours into cooking beans and add 1 tsp kosher salt at the same time.
What with the ham hock and good smoky bacon, I skip the Liquid Smoke.
You won't regret making this, I promise!
I keep making attempts at a replication of hubster's favorite soup, the Progresso Italian Wedding. Got the meatballs nailed flavor-wise, but don't have the patience to make them so dang TINY! Working on the right broth consistency. But even if I never get it to taste "just like" the canned version, he has enjoyed all of my attempts. At this point, I think he's okay if I just keep making "my" Wedding Soup and stop trying to match the can.
For quick and dirty tiny meatballs, put your meatball mixture into the corner of a ziploc. Snip the corner to a hole of your desired diameter, and pipe the balls onto plastic parchment or waxed paper, using a tableknife to continually cut the extrusion to the right size.
They won't quite be round, but they'll be good.
i routinely do chicken stock, flavored oils, hummus (although, i'd love to figure out how to replicate trader joe's mediterranean hummus topped with pine nuts). but my very best effort came when upton teas discontinued the "royal fruit" that had been my regular tea for years.
took me two tries, but i got it perfectly. because it involves 6 flavors, i have to make two pounds at a time, which sounds like a lot. but in the summer i use it for iced tea ( 3 tablespoons to 1/2 gallon of cold water. 4 days in the fridge) and go through a lot. drinking a glass as i type.
Drinking my way through a jar of my little sister's homemade tea. She is an herbalist, so I got a "special blend" made just for me with my, um, "issues" in mind. Hey, she's looking out for me, right? And the tea is delish both hot and cold... some of the ingredients she used are dandelion, gotu kola, nettles, meadow sweet and mint.
I make my own deep dish Chicago-style pizza (and sauce). I live out near the northern Rockies, and the pizzaerias here are aweful.
And another goodie I make is my own fruit roll ups. Super easy using canned applesauce, hazelnuts and spices on a food dehydrator.
Would love a good recipe for protein bars. All the ones I've tried to make come out tasting horrible.
My crazy Dentist, and I do mean crazy, used to give out with the pots of coffee, tins of Famous Amos cookies. Seriously, and we, the patients, would eat 'em up. Is that job security or what? Anyway, one day, I was done with my apt. and went to grab a cookie for later on in the day when my mouth was back to working. The tin was empty though so I went up to the receptionist and gave her the empty round can. Dr. DF came out just then. So I took it back from her not tight grip and gave it to Dr. D. He asked if I wanted the tin. I said, ''Um ok." Then from the back of the office he came out with a new tin of the cookies and set them out. Eating the one later, I decided to copy that recipe as best I could. Having every nut under the sun in the freezer helped and since I load up on odd flavors and different kinds of chocolate chips, that helps too. I read the ingredients and tempted fate. They were by far the best chocolate chip cookies I'd ever eaten, far better than WA's > FA, sorry but true. I've never been able to duplicate them again. Moral of the story, always write down what you put in things, like IG does, she's one smart cookie.
re: iL Divo
When we first lived in Hollywood, we lived about 5 miles from the original Famous Amos store. It was a wonderful thing and they were fabulous cookies.
It made me sick that when whatever corporate behemoth bought him out they wouldn't let him use his own name.
I wanted to make baba ganoush one day and didn't feel like leaving my house for tahini. I found a couple of recipes online and ended up using my already toasted sesame seeds. This yielded a much more nutty flavor and darker color than the normal tahini you find in the grocery stores. Worked great in my baba ganoush too!
One more vote for using sesame seeds to make tahini. I regularly make hummus at home, and learned a lot from the CH thread a while ago:
But instead of buying tahini separately, I just keep sesame seeds in the pantry. I can use them for other recipes, and when making hummus, I just toast a few tablespoons and then grind them up in my little spice mill and throw them in. Works really really well.
I also make at home: sambar and rasam powders, salsas of various kinds, basic chutneys (tamarind and cilantro/mint), some basic pasta sauces and basic pesto.
Things I would like to make at home: Indian pickles, a greater variety of chutneys, baklava, really good cookies and cupcakes, (but then I remember DH and I need to lose weight), ginger ale, - the list is just too long ......
These are some IMPRESSIVE lists! I attempted some pickled watermelon rind last weekend, just 'cause. I'm going to let it brine for a while longer before I taste test. Some of my motivation is based on not wanting to waste anything. I have a fresh infusion of CSA box produce to play with this long weekend. I have been wanting to make kale chips, but haven't found the nutritional yeast I'm seeking that gives them a cheesy flavor.
Let's see...hot sauce was one, and I still make my own. Vinegar, which "bloomed" for me and was rendered unusable. The majority of spice mixes, rubs and marinades that I use I combine myself, using a reg. spice grinder. Freezable cookie-mix bases that you just add egg to; leaf lard;won-ton skins;dried fruits and vegetables;frozen ditto.Ricotta, frequently. Sheet pasta. Manti, which are a meat-filled dumpling that when made correctly are supposed to be 40/soupspoon, but I never hit anything close to that ratio. (They were good, though, served with yogurt and cucumber and mint and cilantro raita.)
Natto... make my own.
Make my own saltless sauerkraut and 'kraut juice
Make my beans from dried. Rarely buy a can
Bread ... not often though