The Start of a Homemade Pantry

So for awhile now I’ve been making much more of our snacks and meals from scratch. I make dinner pretty much every night and I’ve been trying to eliminate as much processed food as we can. This is due in part to trying to eat clean, but also to reduce the amount of packaging/waste I create.

I bought a book last year that I loved, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, I was inspired but still, it looked like a lot of work and lets face it… I am lazy!

Well today I got in a mood to play around in the kitchen and make some snacks and had a GREAT time.  A lot of this was pretty basic stuff but it was really cool to show it to my kids. And also to show them that sometimes disasters happen in the kitchen, learn from them and tweak your recipe!

Today we managed to make: butter, buttermilk (really by default because it is the leftovers from butter), fruit snacks, granola bites, cheese crackers, potato chips, compound butter, buttermilk pancakes and smoothie pops.

Yes it was a lot. Yes I was in the kitchen for 4+ hours. And yes I still have a sinkfull of dishes I will deal with later!

We had a couple of fails in there, the first batch of potato chips and the fruit snacks. The potato chips burned, the fruit snacks don’t taste like anything.  Second batch of potato chips we couldn’t stop eating hot off the sheet pan and I will revisit the fruit snacks with a stronger fruit juice.

DSC_0365Pretty but they don’t tast like much… Mckenna wants me to try them with lemonade. Its a really simple recipe, 1 cup juice with 4 packs unflavored gelatin. Microwave for 1 min and pour into a mold. Pop out when set. Target had this one in the dollar section. I was mad they didn’t turn out because I haven’t bought my kids fruit snacks in probably two years because 1)they are crap 2) they are individually wrapped crap.

Next up potato chips, which were a fail turned into a victory!

First thing to do, borrow a mandolin from your always accommodating neighbor! Then warn your son approximately 8,000 to NOT TOUCH IT!

cook1Easy peasy, cut potatoes, soak in salt water, pat dry on dish towel, toss with oil and salt, cook in oven. The first batch got way too toasty way to fast.

cook2The ones on the left were burned, the ones on the right were delicious. It was a fine line to try not to cross! These would be much easier in a deep fryer but, no, I don’t need one of those in my house. EVERYTHING would be going in the fryer!

cook3Butter wasn’t too exciting I guess. Next time I am going to make him shake it in a jar! Rotten child. Okay it was a little tedious, watching the mixer go isn’t too exciting. When the cream turned into whipped cream that was kind of exciting until I told them it was salted whipped cream. Eeew, not so much. I was wrist deep in butter at the end so didn’t take any pictures of the process. Once the whipped cream breaks you will see the butter solids separate from the buttermilk. Food is magic, I am telling you. Drain the buttermilk into a container squeezing as much out of the butter as you can, I got a cup of buttermilk from my pink of cream. From there keep kneading the butter with cold hands rinsing it under cold water until it isn’t releasing any more liquid.

But no, we couldn’t stop there could we? Got to make it fancy! We went with the compound butter, Omar picked strawberry, Mckenna was vanilla-cinnamon-brown sugar, and I went with pesto. They are all DELICIOUS!  The pesto one went right onto some french bread that Omar and I were fighting over!

The other two butters as well as the buttermilk? I had other plans in mind for them. (Oh yeah, I also made a ready pancake mix!) Buttermilk pancakes for dinner with some yummy homemade butter on top. We didn’t even need syrup these were so good!


Tiring but really fun as well. I think the kids had a good time seeing how easy it is to make something out of a few humble ingredients. I am looking forward to making a few more homemade items, especially mozzarella and toaster pastries.

Maybe I just need to join a commune…

Or not. I like my deodorant too much.

You may have gotten a taste of my earth-friendliness through these pages and I’m afraid the older I get, the worse I am going to be.

My husband and I were watching some Paul Rudd movie where he and his wife get stuck on a commune and he commented that he could totally see me doing something like that.

Living sustainably, off the land like that would be incredible. One thing I am really not happy with is the fact that we aren’t allowed to have chickens in this neighborhood. I am obsessed with chickens. And gardens. I am turning into a crazy person!

Two things today have made it even worse: my new cookbook and the show Doomsday Preppers.

Finally spent the last of my Barnes and Noble gift card my mom sent me for Mother’s Day (thanks mom!) on two books Homemade Pantry and Almost Amish (which I haven’t read yet). I’ve been trying to make as many of my kids snacks as possible or at least buying the big bag to reduce waste. This book just made so much sense to me. It’s beautifully written, I feel like I am sitting in her kitchen as she cooks, the pictures are stunning and the message is sincere. Making these types of foods is almost thrilling. You don’t HAVE to buy them. I am very excited to try to make cheese crackers. Crackers! Who makes their own crackers anymore?! I know. I have serious issues.

Secondly, I stumbled across the show Doomsday Preppers. Many of the people have a very different philosophy and mindset than I do, and just about everyone on the show is prepping for a different “end of the world as we know it” scenario. And while I don’t necessarily want a bunker, 150 rifles or 40 cases of Spam, I really like watching the stories about the people who are already trying to live as much off the grid as possible, in case there is suddenly no grid. So now I want an urban garden, milk goats and a rain collector. It’s an illness people!

So yeah, don’t be surprised if when my husband retires from the military in ten years I have talked him into buying a farm.

I don’t know if I should start on Almost Amish or go read Shopaholic to counteract my go green tendencies!