June 28, 2013

The Homemade Pantry, and other adventures

It's glorious summertime and I have been living in the sunshine with the boys and soaking up all the good stuff offered by our little city on the river.  Our life here continues to be exciting and full, and my list of to-dos appears to be growing wildly by the day.

Despite the crazy, I've been finding little bits of time to cook throughout the day, especially in the early mornings when the boys are feeling mellow and happy to play together outside or in. It seems that a half hour or less is all it takes to create something we can share together later for lunch or dinner.

I started a cook-through* project last month, which means that I have been cooking and baking my way through the Homemade Pantry: 101 foods you can stop buying and start making. It's authored by Alana Chernila who writes at Eating From the Ground Up.

On my quest to create some adventure in the kitchen while also bringing wholesome foods to the bellies of my family, I was pleased to find a volume of accessible, easy to execute (I will go so far as to say fail-proof) recipes that offer the opportunity to build and hone culinary skill no matter whether you consider yourself a novice or a pro. I've learned an incredible amount so far and it has been exciting to branch out and finally know how to create things like creme fraiche, and ricotta cheese.

The recipes are so very relevant to family life, and written with attention paid to the way that food is prepared, served, and stored in real households with picky eaters and tired mamas. Each recipe includes a lovely in-context story piece and helpful hints that offer advice on fridge and freezer storage. The ingredient lists are simple and healthful, and the photos pretty and bright.

If we follow each other on Instagram then you probably are quite aware of what has been going down in my kitchen recently (if not, I'd love to connect--you can find me @marblesrolling), for everyone else let me share a little taste:

Instant Oatmeal


Maple popcorn

Ricotta cheese



Chicken Nuggets

Apple turnovers

Cornbread (smiley face)

Granola Bars

Potato leak soup


Ginger Applesauce

Buttermilk ranch dressing

Raspberry jam

Honey almond oat granola bars

Flour tortillas

Strawberry ice cream


Cranberry orange cereal bars


Strawberry fruit leather

Mac & Cheese casserole

Hamburger buns

Yellow mustard

Brown Sugar

Pancake ready mix
Bulk recipes for instant oatmeal, and pancake ready mix have become staples out of pure convenience. Instead of buying snacks and packaged products (loved by all three of the boys who live in this house) it has served us so much better to treat ourselves to batches of granola bars, popcorn, fruit leathers, and other goodies that can be packed in lunches and easily transported to summer camp or to the office.

On the point of cost I have wondered if making even the most basic foods from scratch really saves money each week, and for us I don't think so, but I certainly enjoy my time in the kitchen more and we also enjoy a much greater variety of foods that are without processing, chemical additives, and preservatives to boot.

Which book would you pick for a cook-through?

*You may remember the other cook-through project that I began years ago and quickly abandoned
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