I have a theory and it goes something like this……
My grandparents’ generation was definitely a much more “self-reliant” bunch than my parents’ generation, and likewise, my parents’ generation was a great deal more “self-reliant” compared to MY generation. But as I look back over the years…I feel like we are coming back around to full circle.
More and more OUR generation(s) are looking at the way our parents and grandparents did things and trying to emulate that. I believe people really want to get back to a time where common household essentials were more natural, less costly (in more ways than just financially) and were something to take pride in.
So along that train of thought…I got to thinking about some of the things most of us purchase at the grocery store that I’m almost certain our grandparents (and parents) made from scratch. I decided to compile a list of kitchen staples that over the years I have started making from scratch (that I used to buy at the store) and included a few I hadn’t tried before!
Let’s start with those…..
BROWN SUGAR – Well this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I did NOT know that brown sugar was simply granulated sugar and molasses. Maybe I did…in some dark recess of my mind. I’m not sure. Anyway, this recent revelation had me immediately searching through my pantry to find that bottle of molasses that was hiding somewhere!
How to Make Brown Sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon molasses (add more for a darker brown sugar)
Add sugar and molasses to a bowl and mix together. I used a whisk because it helped to incorporate all the molasses. It takes a few minutes until it’s completely mixed in…but that’s it. You just made your own brown sugar. Umm…it doesn’t get any easier than that people! For dark brown sugar, add another tablespoon of molasses. Store in an airtight container.
SELF-RISING FLOUR – Once in a while I will run across a recipe that requires “self-rising flour”. (Many southern cooks won’t use anything else in their biscuits or shortcakes.) I never questioned this. I would just go to the store and buy a bag. Finally, one day I asked the question (to no one in particular), “What exactly IS self-rising flour anyway?” Here is the answer:
To make one cup of self-rising flour:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Once again, that’s it. Which begs the question…..why would you buy a box or bag of this when you already have everything on hand to make it?? It’s a mystery I tell ya!
more kitchen staples:
SALAD DRESSING - this is a “gray area” for me. I RARELY buy bottled dressing (ugh! Can’t stand it after I started making my own!)…BUT, more often than not, I use Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix (the dry stuff) and add my own mayonnaise and milk (or buttermilk.) So it’s SORTA homemade.
BREAD CRUMBS – I started making these more as a CONVENIENCE than anything else. I got sick of having to run to the store to get some if I wanted to make my Parmesan Chicken. Then one day it hit me, I ALWAYS (well, mostly) have BREAD in the house! Why not just MAKE some! duh.
GRANOLA/BARS – granola & granola bars have become SO popular during the last decade or so because they are SO handy to keep in your pantry, your purse, your lunch box, your car…for a quick snack that’s fairly healthy. Before this the go-to snacks were mostly candy bars! The thing is, they are expensive when you buy them in boxes all individually wrapped (not to mention wasteful!) and making your own is SO easy!
PANCAKES – Somewhere along the way we decided throwing a few different ingredients in a bowl and mixing them up was just TOO much work! Now we want to simply ADD WATER and have instant pancake batter. This is just plain silliness to me. We need to change this. :-)
PANCAKE SYRUP – Sugar, water, maple flavoring, done. Aunt Jemima, isn’t it time you retired? :-)
WHIPPED CREAM – Another silliness thing to me. Why would you buy this already made up in plastic tub, or worse, an aerosol can, when it’s so SIMPLE to make at home?
OATMEAL – I’ll admit, the little packets are handy…but, again, expensive and wasteful. Making oatmeal the “old-fashioned” way HAS to make a comeback!
SPAGHETTI SAUCE – I know it’s fun to re-purpose the jars for other fun projects….but that’s about the only reason we should be buying jar after jar after jar of this stuff! At the very LEAST…buy some spaghetti sauce seasoning packets and add tomato paste and water! Better yet, make some on the stove, let it simmer all day long like Grandma used to do. The house will smell wonderful and the TASTE cannot be duplicated in a bottle.
CHICKEN STOCK/BROTH – So many recipes call for chicken stock or broth to add flavor, but since I rarely buy it, I would usually skip those recipes and move on to something that DIDN’T require it. That is until I realized that you can easily substitute chicken bouillon in your recipe. Each bouillon cube, added to 1 cup of water, makes 1 cup of broth. Done. No more lugging home all those cans or cartons.
I could keep going….but I will spare you! ;-) I think I’ve made my point. Hopefully, if nothing else, this post will help you see the “convenience” items you purchase in the grocery store in a different light and realize how EASY (not to mention cheaper and better-tasting!) they are to make yourself at home.
Now it’s YOUR turn! Tell us what YOU make vs. buy!