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Gossiping in the Pantry

Following a comment to a previous entry from chibikelzafox , I thought I’d do a bit of a ‘cookery overview’ post.  Ms. Kelza’s original question was:


Random (and possibly silly) question from someone who lives off ready-made stuff, a-la-microwave: do you cook from scratch all the time?  Is it costly?


Not a silly question at all, and I had a feeling I’d start rambling whilst answering that, so I will allow myself to do so in a proper post, rather than an overly-long comment.  Hopefully I’ll manage to say something of use! >_<



I do mostly cook from scratch these days, for several reasons:


1.     I enjoy it, especially when there’s someone to cook for (cooking for one can be disheartening, unless you particularly like cooking a big batch of something and freezing portions).


2.     It’s got to be better for you than ready meals all the time!  It’s also… philosophically pleasing. ^_^  Creating things usually feels good, yes?  Of course, we do sometimes eat ready meals.  Sometimes there isn’t time to cook or you’re just too tired.  But if you cook from scratch regularly, you can end up with your own home-cooked ready meals in the form of extra portions you’ve frozen.


3.     It’s definitely cheaper than ready meals.  I have to admit, budget’s not always the first thing on my mind when food shopping (simply because I’m hopeless at that stuff! >_<), but it does work out cheaper unless you are always buying fillet steak, saffron, exotic fruits, etc.  If you want to be super frugal, going to the supermarket shortly before closing apparently nets you some sweet deals.  Also, there is stuff you can buy on the cheap without any discernible loss of quality, and particular cuts of meat that are usually cheap compared to others, etc. etc.  (I can elaborate if required!)


4.     Where I live, there is no chip shop, pizza parlour, burger joint, etc. that you can swing by on the odd evening when you don’t feel like cooking.  Neither are there any neighbourhood bistros or chain restaurants.  There are a couple of pubs within walking distance, but whilst the food at each is perfectly ok, it’s not as good as home cooking.  Ergo… if you want a really good meal, even if you’re feeling tired/lazy, you’d better at least have a packet of pasta and a tin of tomatoes in your cupboard! ;-)


Thinking about the above made me start veering off into food-related ‘stuff I have learnt/good advice I’ve been given/things that have occurred to me over the years’.  I don’t want to write a massive screed about that right now, but if anyone’s interested, let me know and I’ll see about writing something… possible subject matter would be: ingredient/equipment tips, cooking without recipes, that sort of thing! :-D

Also food-related: today I baked bread for the first time in years!  (I think I was about 6 the last time...!)  I just followed the recipe that was on the flour packet.


Yep, it looks like a loaf of bread! ^_^

Not bad for a first attempt - next time I will try baking it for longer, at a lower temperature, for although it did sound hollow when tapped, the inside is a teensy bit undercooked, methinks. :-\

Toasted, with butter and Marmite... my well-earned reward! :-)

I'm definitely going to do this again - it was really easy, and with a bit of practice and a few tweaks I'm sure I'll be getting good results in no time!  Plus, even though there is a certain amount of waiting around with bread making, I managed to use that time to do chores.  Yay productivity! ;-P

The smell, also, is SOOO GOOD! XD

Well, that's enough crumbs from the table of Yrs Trly... time to start thinking about dinner (which is going to be Inauthentic Chicken Stroganoff! ;-P). ^_^


( 15 confidences — Confide in me... )
Feb. 15th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
I love baking bread, and at least half of the fun is the smell while it's cooking :) I have never made a loaf, though. Yours looks really perfect. I hope it's not an insulting question, but do you have a bread maker? :)
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)
Ahh, the smell...! Yes, very distracting indeed and induces instant hunger! No wonder supermarkets send it wafting around the aisles!

Not an insulting question at all - no breadmaker here, though! I used to kind of want one, but my Mum has one and pretty much never uses it, so that cured the desire. ^_^ By hand is probably more fun anyway! :-)
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
Heh, I live off ready meals because I'm thoroughly useless at cooking. Research suggests that 76.9% of all culinary disasters are related, in some way, to the Kelza.

This is why I need to learn to cook. I need to stop thinking 'I'll just get a ready meal because it avoids disaster' - because everyone has their little kitchen hiccups. Unless you're me; I've conditioned myself to avoid all appliances (excepting the kettle) like the plague.

Reading this, I've gotta agree. I can't see any benefit of having a ready meal or a stick-in-the-microwave pizza except for the time and the ease of it.

Thanks for this! I'm definitely going to keep this post in mind :)
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
Oh dear! Kitchen disasters can definitely be off-putting, and I'm not immune to them...!

I tend to find that avoiding so-called 'labour saving gadgets' makes life easier in the kitchen. Doing it by hand is often simpler than it looks. Obviously, anything involving knives and slippery food items can potentially result in loss of blood/digits/consciousness if your attention wanders, but still - it's all an adventure! ;-P ...And I haven't quite worked out how the food processer slots together, anyway. ;-D

I hope you manage to have a go successfully some day! ^_^
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
Your bread looks delicious! I love love love homemade bread. :)

And, of course, I agree on all points. Going out to eat/throwing something in the microwave is certainly convenient, but (generally) not nearly as tasty/economical as something you've made yourself.
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:31 am (UTC)
Thanks! :-) I think I'll do it again next week and see if I can improve...

I forgot to add in the entry that when we lived in one room (we had a shared bathroom and kitchen, but I avoided the kitchen as I was never quite sure how clean it was!), we used to eat out quite a lot. I found out rather quickly that it's possible to get bored of restaurants. Especially when most of them seem to be 'Italian' chain restaurants serving pretty much the same food. :-\ It was such a relief to have our own kitchen after that and go back to eating proper food! >_<
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
Omg bread! If I had my own kitchen I would be baking my own bread. And... eating the rest of my food from ready made meals, probably, heh. I've only sort of recently discovered that while I like to bake, I'm not very interested in cooking after all. The thrill of trying a new recipe is still fun but I wouldn't be able to keep up making dinner for myself all week every week.
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC)
Hmm, I agree that baking is in many ways more fun than cooking. I never used to enjoy cooking that much when I lived on my own (or indeed when I had to attempt to please someone picky and hyper-critical! XD). It's nice to see someone else happily enjoying what you've cooked, though!
Feb. 17th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
That's A+ quality bread :)

The best part about cooking from scratch is limiting all the nasty preservatives and colourings and adding your own measures of sugars, salts and fats.
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:40 am (UTC)
Thanks! :-) I wasn't quite happy with the texture, so I'm definitely going to have another go and see if I can improve...

That is very true re. controlling the ingredients. Knowing what's in your food takes away a lot of the angst and confusion of wondering whether you're being healthy! It's always a bit worrying when a bought cake apparently keeps for months and has fifty-three unpronounceable ingredients. :-\ If it's any good it will get eaten up in a few days anyway...! >_<
Feb. 21st, 2011 05:17 am (UTC)
Or hot-cross buns that can last until Easter from Christmas! ;( I like to freeze left over cake and sometimes, like super hot Summer days, I eat it frozen :)
Feb. 25th, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
Haha, yeah, it's Easter already in our supermarkets (and has been since 1st Jan!). Mm, frozen cake... that sounds curiously tempting! :-)
Feb. 26th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
It's kind of chewy and icy, but then still full of the flavours you put in like fruit or cocoa.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 20th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
I'll see what I can come up with! :-)

Good to hear from you - hope all is well. ^_^
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