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Are you an ingredient snob?

I just cannot make anything with artificial frozen dairy products. Or cake mixes. Sorry, won't do it!

I'm curious as to what products others refuse to use. What's yours?

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  1. You are kind of opening a can of worms here! No not a snob, just prefer fresh ingredients.

    For me, I cook our main meals from about 80% fresh/locally produced or home grown/raised ingredients. Most of our bread is homemade. I raise chickens for their eggs. I refuse to use most processed foods.

    It sounds like you are asking specifically about baked goods. I don't even really know what you mean by "artificial frozen dairy product". Do you mean "cool whip"? On the other hand, I do keep a box of cake mix on hand to use in case I want to whip up a cake really fast. I focus on keeping our main meals really fresh and real. But for sweets it is OK to cheat a little bit occasionally. We just don't eat them all that often.

    Am I a snob? No...I just care about what I put in my body. It's all about moderation.

    1. I don't know what an artificial frozen dairy product is. Do you mean Cool Whip? Is that an ingredient?

      I'm with you on cake mixes. How hard is it to mix up a homemade cake? Mixes don't even save much time.

      Jarred garlic has no place in my kitchen.

      5 Replies
      1. re: phofiend

        I agree, I just don't get it about why so many people use cake mixes, when homemade is so easy!

        1. re: BobbieSue

          And I just don't *get* why so many people bake and consume cakes and sweets in general because they are so fattening and do nothing remotely nourishing for our bodies.

            1. re: grampart

              You do realize I was being facetious? Much ado about nothing here:)

          1. re: BobbieSue

            Again, what is an "artificial frozen dairy product"?

            You may be preaching to the wrong choir here as I'm guessing most CHs who cook a lot are already on board with this idea.

            1. re: wattacetti

              Do you prefer yours with or without a soupçon of lutefisk runoff?

            2. Nope, not at all. In a lot of instances, obviously fresh, non-processed ingredients are just going to be better, so I use them, but if I like something that isn't made with all fresh ingredients, I'll still eat it or make it. I always use a box mix for cakes, suits me just fine. I've never actually tried to make a cake from scratch before so I can't really speak for the pros and cons and whether there would be much of a taste improvement. On the other hand, I always always make my cookies from scratch. I guess I'm weird that way!

              1 Reply
              1. re: SaraAshley

                I'm not sure I've ever made a cake!

              2. Every ingredient -- be it natural, artificial, processed or not, organic, conventional, etc. -- has its place in a cook's arsenal.

                It is the cook's duty to transform ingredients into something above and beyond what it was before the cook laid hands on it.

                Short of medical or religious constraints, categorical refusal to use an ingredient is not ingredient snobbery. Far worse. It's ingredient ignorance.

                Given the choice, I'd rather be a snob than ignorant.

                13 Replies
                  1. re: BobbieSue

                    Now that is misplaced snobbery. Good fresh lard is a great ingredient.

                    1. re: BobbieSue

                      So, you're saying you won't use lard. Why?

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      It's ignorance only if you never try the ingredient.
                      I don't use cool whip in recipes because I know what it tastes like and I don't like it. I don't use cake mix because I've tried it and know that I can make a better cake from scratch.

                      It's a lot like the "picky eater" label... I've tasted enough cake-mix-and-cool-whip-based dishes to know I probably won't like a different recipe that prominently features them. That decision was made based on experience, not because of some ideology that says I shouldn't use them.

                      And I, too, would rather be labeled a snob than be labeled ignorant :)

                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        I agree with you, but I think the point you raise is different than the one the OP is sussing about.

                        Let's take your example of Cool Whip. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not liking Cool Whip -- it's neither ignorant nor snobbery -- as long as you've tried it. That's just a taste and personal preference issue, both of which you are fully entitled to.

                        What I believe the OP is addressing is choosing a different iteration of the *same* ingredient based on some preconceived notions of superiority.

                        So let's go back to the Cool Whip example. Let's say that there was an organic Cool Whip and an generic brand Cool Whip made with, ahem, artificial ingredients. And let's again assume the OP enjoys Cool Whip but chooses organic Cool Whip simply because it *is* organic.

                        No dice here.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I think it's perfectly acceptable to reject Cool Whip without tasting it. Purely based on what it's made out of.

                          Scary stuff.

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              I hope I'm not a snob about anything, I don't look down on anyone over food choices.

                              I think the subject header is inapt, as it conflates discernment and personal preferences with snobbery.

                              I've had Cool Whip in my life, but nothing made of the stuff in it would ever make it's way into my kitchen now, I don't have to taste it to know I don't want it.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              Good point. I think it's all in the "why"... as in why one categorically refuses the ingredient.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                "And let's again assume the OP enjoys Cool Whip but chooses organic Cool Whip simply because it *is* organic."

                                Umm...."organic Cool Whip" is called whipped cream.

                                Just thought I would point that out.

                            3. re: ipsedixit


                              So, if I refuse to use Cool Whip, I'm ignorant?


                            4. My problem is I never have my reading glasses when I shop.I stick to what I know.Iv'e never baked a box cake or knew where to look for artificial dairy products. I guess I'm a snob.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: emglow101

                                WHY don't you have your reading glasses when you shop? I would NEVER leave home without them.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I know I often forget mine, as my eyesight is simply good for someone over 50. I don't need glasses for reading most newspapers or magazines - just tiny print as in phone directories and pill bottles and other ingredient lists (and I rarely use my paper directory any more). I do have a pharmacy pair in my bag now.

                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    If I forget them I use Bob's :) If he forgets HIS (the eyesight goes and then the memory), I'm doomed. I can't read ANYTHING without them. Well, unless you hold the menu across the table from me!

                              2. Actually cake mixes are one of the few premixes that have the potential to IMPROVE on home made - because of all the emulsifiers they add to 'em. Whereas we mere mortals must run about like chickens with our heads cut off looking for high-ratio shortening and cake flour that doesn't cost $2 a pound ... I'm not saying they are in all ways and always superior to a home baked product, but they CAN be - and in general they're pretty good.

                                Bisquick and it's ilk, on the other hand, is just execrable for all uses save one (and it's neither biscuits nor pancakes) and even for that one use it is easily replaced. Bisquick is shuddersome.

                                Pancake mixes, on the other hand, are pretty good, but its so easy to make up your own that I'm not sure there's any real advantage to the mixes. Aunt Jemima and the Aldi brand are both pretty good - and yes, once in a
                                'coon's age I will buy a box of waffle mix but in oh ... the last 5 years? Maybe? I've bought some Aldi waffle mix twice.

                                But I don't think that's REALLY what you are asking - you're talking more along the lines of pseudo-recipes that go something like this:

                                1 box of Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix
                                1 28-oz can of Del Monte Fruit Cocktail
                                1 box of Royal Vanilla Flavor Pudding
                                1 16 oz carton of Dream Whip ... etc etc etc

                                These things make me turn tail and run, not because I'm a snob per se but because they are for concoctions that I just wouldn't eat, short of finding myself in the Donner Party with much less appealing alternatives. Outside of a Donner Party situation these types of recipes rank pretty low on my list of things I would voluntarily eat, somewhere down below bologna sandwhiches and just above Spam or Brains in Milk Gravy.

                                Even worse are the recipes that go:

                                Buy an angel food cake, cut it in half, smear the insides with raspberry jam, stick it back together, call it a "torte" and serve.

                                Please. Go back to stampbooking and leave the cooking to the rest of us. LOL!

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: CookingForReal

                                  I'll tell you what's execrable and shuddersome, not having any idea what people are talking about.

                                  1. re: CookingForReal

                                    Worst cake I ever made or even heard of was a made-from-scratch chocolate cake I made for my (now-ex) wife. I think my butter was too warm to cream properly. Whatever, it made us all laugh out loud it was so bad.

                                    Never screwed up a cake mix.... Not that I do cake much at all.

                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                      That's a good point.

                                      Cake mixes, or brownie mixes, or whatever you're using produce predictable, easily reproducible results.

                                      But, if you're armed with a good recipe and a little bit of baking knowledge, you can create something so much more magnificent than anything that comes out of a box.

                                      But, there are several hurdles to overcome:

                                      1. Finding a reliable source for recipes. Most internet recipes, and many cookbooks, are terrible-- Untested and poorly written, leaving the amateur baking thinking they did something wrong, when it was the recipe that led them astray. An amateur cook is not going to know that it wasn't their fault.

                                      2. Skill of the baker. If you're an amateur, you won't necessarily know what an overmixed muffin batter looks like, for example. (This feeds into #1-- a well written recipe will describe what to look for so the amateur won't screw up. An even better written recipe will describe exactly WHY overmixing is a problem.)

                                      A cake mix fixes both of these problems by engineering a product that requires no skill, with ingredients as simple as dump-and-mix. The added bonus of scientific engineering, to generate the right flavor and texture, is thrown in for free.

                                      And, let's not forget, it's cheap.

                                      So, does a cake mix have a place in the modern home? Not for anyone who really cares about their food.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        I am shocked that the same people who profess to be such *cultured* diners/eaters would actually be advocating the consumption of a non nutritional *food* like cake or any sweets.

                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                          You have a point, Mamas Cooking. Let's meet at 7:30 at the regular spot for our triceratops steaks, bananas and boiled onions.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            You food connoisseur's do have your dirty little food secrets don't you? Cake? Next it will be cookies and milk!

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              Actually Mr. Taster just so you know I am being facetious. Not serious at all. In fact there is a Russian Honey Cake at a café in San Francisco that I will be eating there in June.

                                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                                You plan your desserts 6 months in advance?

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I do:) I *kicked* sweets last year so now on the maybe 4 times a year I allot them to myself it has to be a BFD for me. The Russian Honey Cake@ the Twentieth Century Café in San Francisco sounds worth the planning and waiting. I am sure I will overindulge while there.

                                                  1. re: MamasCooking

                                                    I do that too, with ice cream! I will eat it once a year, usually in the form of a medium chocolate malted egg cream at a local ice cream stand that uses real dairy products, not milkshake mixes (as a lot of ice cream stands apparently do, I've discovered).

                                                    One year my one allotted ice cream for the year was "wasted" on a lousy mix shake. I ended up throwing a "perfectly good" milkshake away). Happily, I found another old-fashioned ice cream stand later that summer and had my annual egg cream then.

                                    2. I have a hard time eating canned soup anymore. I like soup, and i like salt, but canned soup just isn't very good, and you can make such good soup with a few chicken backs, or pork bones, or some such dropped in a pot and cooked overnight. That said, I have an undying love for the occasional liptons noodle packet alfredo. Or ramen with vlasic pepper rings on top. So I am not all that pure

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: Teague

                                        I need to learn how to make soup! :)

                                        1. re: BobbieSue

                                          Well I have always made home made soup but relied on cake mixes for the odd cake I baked when I was working full time - I found it hard to keep all the ingredients on hand with current sell by dates and then there was an infestation in the cupboard... :)

                                          1. re: BobbieSue

                                            There's not a lot of "learning" involved. Follow recipe, eat :)

                                          2. re: Teague

                                            ITA about canned soups. Progresso lentil was a childhood favorite but now it tastes just meh. Or worse.

                                            I'm not pure either - we do eat ramen, doctored up with lots of veggies and meat.

                                            1. re: tcamp

                                              Progresso got bought out by General Mills awhile back. Enough said!

                                              Since OP didn't answer yet, I'm wondering if she was thinking of Rich's On Top, it's used in restaurants frequently. I have a friend who is vegan and really militant about what she eats, but she keeps a case of this in her freezer at all times (she does have a sweet tooth for some reason). It also comes in pastry bags, ready to squirt! I will say, it's a bit better than Cool Whip http://richsfoodservice.com/438/217/p...

                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                No can do canned soups anymore. It's been years since I bought a can, not even cream of x soup for cooking.
                                                I don't mind using soup for cooking, but I keep forgetting to buy them.

                                              2. re: Teague

                                                I can't do canned soup either, and I'm far from a food/ingredient snob. In my adult life I've never had one I liked. I'd be open to trying one I guess if someone had a really strong recommendation, but I really just like homemade and they don't have to take hours if you keep canned or frozen stock. If I want something I can prepare in five minutes, I'm probably going to go for a sandwich. Or even ramen (with sriracha, scallions, and cilantro) once in a blue moon.

                                                1. re: ErnieD

                                                  Miso soup takes about five minutes.

                                                  1. re: magiesmom

                                                    I can't seem to get into miso. I don't loathe it but I probably wouldn't even put in five minutes for it. Maybe it's time to try it again-last time was a year or so ago and I know there are lots of different kinds.

                                                    1. re: ErnieD

                                                      If you have access to South RiverMiso give it a try.

                                                    2. re: magiesmom

                                                      Five minutes, if even that...

                                                      Also, there are so many types of miso, so try several and find one you like.

                                                  2. re: Teague

                                                    Can anyone recommend where to find some good soup recipes, either a book or website, or recipe? Thanks in advance!

                                                    1. re: BobbieSue

                                                      The New England Soup Factory cookbook -- fabulous

                                                      Barbara Kafka's soup cookbook

                                                        1. re: BobbieSue

                                                          As people may know, I'm a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated.

                                                          They don't just list a recipe-- they explain exactly how and why the recipe works. The recipes themselves are tested and retested, sometimes as many as 100 times, by professional chefs. Finally, the recipes are extremely well-written, leaving very little to the cook's imagination. The only learning curve is that they do have their own set of standards which may not be immediately apparent to the amateur cook. (For example, in their test kitchen, a "small onion" is one that measures a specific diameter, whereas a "large onion" measures at a specific larger diameter. Their recipes automatically take this into account without necessarily explaining that within the body of the recipe.)

                                                          Having said this, their Cauliflower soup from the Sep/Oct 2013 issue is ridiculously good, with an incredibly spare number of ingredients. The soup comes out creamy and flavorful without any cream. The high soluble fiber content of cauliflower makes the soup creamy on its own. Great stuff.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                      1. Fake cheese comes to mind first. Wont abide it

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: iheartcooking

                                                          Actually I LIKE some fake cheese, for toasted cheese sandwiches. Not Velveeta though, not for me. And my mother used to love that "pimento cheese spread" that came in the little jars - we saved the jars for juice glasses. Whether or not the peachy-orangy stuff inside the jar when we bought it was actually related to cheese in anyway is a mystery to me...

                                                          How tastes vary ... I suspect Spam and Brains in Milk Gravy are much higher on some people's To-Eat lists than they are on mine, also, LOL!

                                                          1. re: CookingForReal

                                                            About toasted cheese, I know what you mean. I thought I wouldn't ever eat a toasted cheese sandwich again, because of my fake cheese bias.

                                                            But I found a happy solution, now that some cheese manufacturers sell real cheddar cheese in slices (the way the process cheese is sold). I just doubled up on the slices, and I was back in business. Those toasted cheese sandwiches are amazing on (not fake) white bread, even if they aren't quite as gooey as the fake stuff.

                                                            1. re: BobbieSue

                                                              I just slice my own cheddar/swiss/jack/
                                                              provolone, etc to make a toasted cheese sandwich. You really don't need pre-sliced.

                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                I know slicing your own is the obvious choice, but we don't eat enough cheese to justify purchasing more than the sliced variety.

                                                                1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                  I buy the size piece I want at the deli counter, sliced or not.
                                                                  Cheaper than pre sliced

                                                          2. re: iheartcooking

                                                            I love cheese singles for melting sandwiches. I snag a pack every now and then. No shame.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              Best is, they last forever, so when you're in a pinch it's a godsend.

                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                I'm in serious romantic love with the sliced Havarti they sell at Costco for grilled cheese. Really thick, gooey melt, great flavor.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  My sister is too! They have Costco's Havarti on everything, every time I visit them, lol!

                                                            2. I am a snob in that I know I can make great tasting food with almost any ingredient. The only thing I will make a fuss about is the coffee I use at home. I want fresh beans from Peets to grind and brew at home.

                                                              1. On a recent extended visit to my in laws I brought my own salt (kosher) because all they had was some Himalayan salt, either crushed and powdered or still in rock candy sized pebbles. If that makes me a food snob then so be it.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: RunRobRun

                                                                  I get this. My mom only had Morton's at her house.

                                                                  1. re: RunRobRun

                                                                    Doesn't that make you the opposite of a food snob? (Unless of course you're sprinkling it on from a foot above the food.)

                                                                  2. I will do my best with the materials at hand. I do not require the perfect ingredient to satisfy the people I am cooking for. However, I thoroughly embrace the concept that without an essential ingredient, you are not making that dish.

                                                                    Bouillaibaise requires saffron. I grudgingly switch black mullet for red.

                                                                    Bouef Bourgignione requires beef, burgundy, and onions.

                                                                    Everybody from the France board are getting their torches and pitchforks.

                                                                    Bleu trout requires a live trout.

                                                                    And it is amazing how people love my JAW pancakes. (Just Add Water) And between Alton Brown and Aunt Jemima, I pick Auntie.

                                                                    And when somebody goes to the trouble to get the greens picked by unicorns in a full moon to dress his raspberry glazed saddle of rabbit that he humanely killed with number 6 shot, I will appreciate the effort. But that won't stop me from buying rabbit from the freezer section and a jar of raspberry jam with greens from a bag.

                                                                    And his tasted awesome. Mine was awesome. But milder.

                                                                    1. While I was being facetious about the Norwegian grandmothers I do echo Ipsedixit's comments above.

                                                                      Cooking is about transformation and the point of being a good cook is to be able to make something delicious out of whatever is at hand. These products exist for a reason: you can choose to use something else because you like the result or the taste better, but if this is what you have and you can't transform these products into something delicious, you're not a snob, you're incompetent.

                                                                      And what if you were cooking in a soup kitchen or a shelter or an emergency scenario? If frozen dairy product and cake mix are some of the only things remaining on hand, are you going to not feed the people who need the food?

                                                                      I'll step off my soapbox now.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: wattacetti

                                                                        The question was about personal tastes, cooking for yourself, in your own kitchen. Sorry if that wasn't clear!

                                                                        If one is in a soup kitchen or shelter, you work with what you have, of course!

                                                                        1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                          I think part of the problem here is that being snob usually implies that one feels better than others because of some kind of "superior" behavioral choice--clothes, food, art, whatever. And a snob is usually someone who links his or her social status to a possession, often a possesion that others do not have. I can choose never to buy or use Cool Whip, and might wonder why others do, but that does not necessarily being a snob. It might be if I kept letting the world know how wonderful I was because of it.

                                                                          1. re: bob96

                                                                            "It might be if I kept letting the world know how wonderful I was because of it."

                                                                            That's it exactly!

                                                                      2. I prefer fresh ingredients personally but most (all?) of the things on my 'never' list are there because I don't like them, not due to snobbery. For instance, marshmallows. Hate the cheap and the artisanal pricey ones equally.

                                                                        I would never make someone feel bad about their use of a product I'm not into, such as cake mix. But I won't eat it if it isn't good.

                                                                        1. I am a snob about daily ingredients. Not just about taste but more about health. I choose the healthier ingredient every time. I like to make new, daily dishes more healthy or tasty by choosing better ingredients. I not only pay more for them, I drive hours away to bulk purchase some, order them online and shop at multiple stores to get the ingredients. Land o lakes butter from the store 15 minutes away is not good enough for spreading, just cooking with, etc.

                                                                          If I am playing with a recipe that is clearly not healthy, but tasty...like "old Skool" Super Bowl cheese dip, I use velveeta. I am not someone that tries to make unhealthy "classics" from the 50's and 60's more healthy. I stick with the classics....and that might entail purchasing cream of mushroom soup and cool whip every once in a while. It is also nostalgic.

                                                                          Maybe I am more of a purist than a snob. Not sure.

                                                                          1. If I use the word particular instead of snob does it sound better? Does it make a difference?

                                                                            With so many choices, I am comfortable being particular about what I buy.

                                                                            1. There are plenty of products that I wouldn't buy myself but will eat if someone serves them to me. However, there are a couple of notable exceptions:

                                                                              Fake maple syrup
                                                                              Miracle Whip
                                                                              Fat-free dairy/cheese products

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                Fake syrup, definitely. I grew up with Aunt Jemmima and just can't stomach the stuff now.
                                                                                Maple syrup is a bit pricey, but oh, so worth it. I've also come to use it as an ingredient, not just poured over breakfast carbs.

                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                  I always thought I despised maple syrup. turns out it's just the fake stuff that gags me. So does Miracle Whip.

                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                    I actually prefer fake maple syrup, lol. I find the real stuff too sweet and I grew up having both around in my house. My Dad would only ever use real maple syrup and I'd be real disappointed when we were out of the fake stuff and I had to use the real.

                                                                                    1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                      Agreed. I grew up on Log Cabin and the first time I ever had real maple syrup I was very disappointed. The fake stuff seemed to more maple-y. These days we always have a jug of the real McCoy on hand for uses other than pancakes or waffles. Just last week I used some in a brine for a pork loin and I often cut up pineapple into bite size pieces and a few drops of maple syrup for extra juiciness.

                                                                                  2. I do look down on shakers of old pre-ground black pepper anywhere but in a greasy-spoon diner.

                                                                                    I will not use American or Argentinian knock-offs of parmagiano-reggiano cheese.

                                                                                    I generally won't touch bland mass-market American beers; beers need to rise at least to the level of a Sam Adams or Liberty Ale. Regional microbrews are a whole other thing, of course.

                                                                                    1. Cake mix? Never!

                                                                                      Flour from a bag? Are you kidding?

                                                                                      You have to plan to make a cake. Gotta start the fall before the event.

                                                                                      I get out my horse drawn plow to till the field. Make sure you go round the big boulders as they can bend the blade and dig out those pesky stumps.

                                                                                      Plant the best quality soft winter wheat. Then wait for the first snow fall to blanket and protect the newly emerging shoots from the blast of old man winter.

                                                                                      I use the winter time to sharpen my scythe. Have to do it by hand with a old sharpening stone that my great grandfather brought with him when he came to America. Did you know when he sailed over, he brought wheat kernals with him? Those are what we've raised our wheat from ever since.

                                                                                      Once spring comes, we 're lucky enough to have a mine on site that has nahcolite deposits so I can gather it and with a little heat and high school chemistry make some baking soda.

                                                                                      Its now time to harvest the wheat with my trusty and now sharpened scythe. That's a lot of fun. As I swing it back and forth chopping the berry clusters from the stalks, I like to imagine I'm decapitating ignorant people who eat food out of boxes.

                                                                                      Now comes the pain in the ass part. Threshing. Ever done that? Back breaking. Then there are my allergies. Make me sneeze and all the chaff gets in your eyes but its worth it.

                                                                                      I keep an old granite millstone under the sink right next to the slow cooker. Pull that sucker and mill the wheat.

                                                                                      Now I gotta go get the eggs from the chicken and milk the cow.....

                                                                                      On the other hand, I think I'm going to run down to the Stop and Shop and get a box of yellow cake, just add water. It has many uses. Ask Dick Cheney about them. He's got loads of recipes

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                        Thanks, that was a great answer.

                                                                                          1. salt, of all things. not snobby, just particular

                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: laliz

                                                                                              Which salt do you prefer? Which do you avoid?

                                                                                              1. re: grampart

                                                                                                I use coarse ground kosher
                                                                                                I avoid Morton Iodized in the blue canister

                                                                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                                                                      I rarely bake but use 'plain' salt when I do.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        so many people do it so much better, so I defer to them

                                                                                              2. re: laliz

                                                                                                That reminds me of the time I bought some smoked salt. I got it home, opened the jar for a sniff, and realized that they must have smoked it over a bunch of old railroad ties.

                                                                                              3. Hmmm..good food for thought.
                                                                                                Well, when I bake, I bake from scratch..but I only bake when family comes to visit or when my Frenchman has a hankering for madelienes or macaron or poundcake. When I do a dessert that calls for whipped cream--I whip the cream myself..no cool or redi whip. We don't use processed foods either--everything is sustainable..Oh..I'll also make my own dips...Oh. I forgot, we DO have kettle potato chips in the house so I guess that counts as a processed food. That's about it. One more thing. I don't use those dried herbs..I get the fresh stuff--tastes better.

                                                                                                1. Miracle Whip is not allowed in my home.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                    I grew up with Miracle Whip, parkay margarine, and Cool-whip. It was the 70's, lol.

                                                                                                    When I was finally on my own, even in my first apartment, I bought mayonnaise and butter. A few years later I switched to real whipped cream.

                                                                                                    1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                      Miracle Whip is the perfect spreadable for tomato sandwiches.

                                                                                                      1. re: grampart

                                                                                                        My mom swears by it for tomato sandwiches. I sure miss my father's garden tomatoes! Farmstand tomatoes are pretty close, but nothing matches a good memory!

                                                                                                        1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                          If you have a sweet tooth, then go for it!

                                                                                                  2. Not "snobbery" but I have a thing for ingredients I DIDN'T have as a kid growing up.

                                                                                                    It was always Miracle Whip... LOVED my grandmother's potato/macaroni salad, but now it's ONLY real mayo in my kitchen.

                                                                                                    Always liked olives - green or black. Only black ones we had growing up were out of a can... not I know better.

                                                                                                    Only had vegetable/corn oil. Still has it's place, but once I discovered nice EV olive oil, ot has been a staple.

                                                                                                    Never had hot sauce in kitchen. Only vinegar we ever had was white or cider.

                                                                                                    Salt (in a round box) is only used to occasionally scrub out a piece of cast iron. Have container of Kosher salt handy when cooking.

                                                                                                    Only had "Log Cabin" syrup... now it's pure maple for me.

                                                                                                    And it's REAL butter - NEVER "oleo".

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: kseiverd

                                                                                                      Me too, on every point (except the olives). Oleo, haha. The funny thing is that the rest of my family is still pretty much in that rut, and they talk of me as "gourmet." But I'm really not!

                                                                                                      A whole new, bigger flavorful world has opened up once I started trying "new" ingredients. I have at least 5 vinegars now, calamari olives, kosher and sea salt (apparently there's more, I've just learned in this thread). I love Chow because I'm learning more about "new" ingredients here all the time!

                                                                                                      1. re: BobbieSue

                                                                                                        Don't follow the premium salt hype.

                                                                                                        Salt's usefulness really comes down to crystal sizes. (it is all NaCl, no matter how much of your bank account is emptied). Fine crystals dissolve more easily and chunky crystals are easier to sprinkle and control. I use Morton's for dissolving, Diamond kosher for salting meats (the texture makes it very easy to control the amount you sprinkle), and Maldon as a finishing salt, to add crunchy texture to a piece of good buttered bread, for example. Those absurdly expensive pink Himalayan salts have trace amounts of minerals whose flavors fade quickly into the background of whatever you're seasoning and I do not recommend them as they are expensive and completely impractical.

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                          It's not completely that simple. There are anti caking dessicants in a lot of salts and I avoid those. Morton is one of them.

                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                            Not just size, but shapes of the crystals. Flakes feel different on the tongue than chunks. I do agree that the distinction is more interesting than important/necessary to care about, though.

                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                              That's true-- and that's what I was getting at with the Maldon crystals, which are big flaky chunks that crunch on top of buttered bread. Wonderful stuff.

                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                              Table salt tastes completely different to me than sea salt or kosher salt. I'm pro-anything-but-table.

                                                                                                              1. re: WishyFish


                                                                                                                If I made two pots of stew, one made with table salt and one from kosher salt, I'd be willing to put up $500 that you couldn't pick out the table salt stew more often than what probability would account for. In other words, out of 20 tastes, you wouldn't be able to reliably choose the table salt stew 11 or more times. Care to make a wager? :-)

                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                        2. While I am particular about the foods I buy and use I am not snob. One of my closest friends is a kind of Sandra Lee type cook. To me a snob would refuse to eat at her house. While she uses ingredients I wouldn't her friendship is more important than what she chooses to cook with.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. I generally avoid using processed foods, especially if I'm cooking for company. But there's a limit. I will make my own cream of x soup but I don't make my own ketchup.

                                                                                                            I think a part of my soul would die if I served a boxed cake to someone, unless they specifically requested it.

                                                                                                            I like a variety of processed foods when it's just me. I use real whipped cream for pretty much everything- but prefer cool whip when I want ambrosia.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: WishyFish

                                                                                                              I also use real whipped cream for certain things, but prefer cool whip for others.

                                                                                                            2. A local cannibal objected to the punctuation. Edit: "Are you an ingredient, snob?"

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. Cheese Doodles

                                                                                                                1. ketchup should be heinz, mayo should be best foods, peanut butter skippy or jif, and cola better be the real thing - coke.

                                                                                                                  i refuse to buy oscar meyer products any more after one particularly bad package of bologna, and I avoid store brand cheese.

                                                                                                                  dunno if that is snobby enough. i don't care if my sea salt was collected from the rocks on the morning sun or afternoon sun side of the beach, so long as it was collected by hand with tweezers, one grain at a time. I don't require my grapes or tomatoes to be hand pollinated, so long as they were fertilized by non africanized sustainably raised bees.

                                                                                                                  1. European butter(Chimay, KerryGold, President are my go to brands, President being my favorite)
                                                                                                                    Grade B maple syrup from Coombs(the only brand I buy)
                                                                                                                    I always make waffles from scratch though I do like complete buttermilk pancake mix from Aunt Jemina.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                      My favorite European butters are from Italy, maybe you can find some in your neck of the woods? Especially the ones from Parma.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Monica

                                                                                                                        Usually butters from here (Québec - mainstream: Lactantia, or more artisanal ones for special uses, occasionally). Don't eat North American mass-produced mayo - hate the flavour. Make my own, buy French or Belgian mayo or a fresh local kind (sorry, forget the brand - it is not expensive). Don't drink cola or other "soft drinks".

                                                                                                                        Obviously, Québec maple syrup, but use very little - try to avoid sweets.

                                                                                                                        Make my own crêpes and galettes. Don't make waffles.

                                                                                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                          Yes the mayo. I only buy the Japanese mayo which tastes like french mayo.