What’s worth making from scratch: bread, sauce, fruit rolls?

I recently saw an article in a Martha Stewart publication about how to make your own dehydrated fruit rolls. I would bet they are healthier than what you can find at the store but is it really worth your time to make it from scratch? (Can’t I just give them a piece of fruit for a healthy snack that requires no preparation?)

What products, if any, are worth creating for your family completely from scratch?

Bread – have never made other than banana bread

Pasta – have never made

Pasta Sauce – used to make frequently, not so much now

Jams – never (Although I would love to learn to make tomato jam.)

Fruit rolls – never

Cakes, brownies, icing – I will pretty much always make baked goods from scratch or at the least from a mix. Homemade icing especially is 1,000 times better than the icing from a can.

Pizza dough – I would love to do this but I am afraid of using yeast. My friend tells me it’s very easy, and Michael still raves about the homemade pizza dough his mother used to make.

So what are you willing to put time into making from scratch? Where is the taste or health of the product considerably different and worth your time to do?

85 comments Add your comment

Beneficial enzymes etc.

August 24th, 2011
1:14 pm

A dehydrator is one of the best investments you can make for long-term storage of fruits and vegetables. Fruit rollup type items may seem like a pain, but with a dehydrator the process is easy. The important thing is to buy a dehydrator that can be set below 105 degrees farenheit. Above that temperature all of the beneficial enzymes, vitamins, etc. in fruits and vegatables are destroyed by the heat. In the same way that the white of an egg becomes opaque as it denatures in the heat, so too are the enzymes changed by high temperaturs. What is the point of eating beneficial fruit if all the goodness has been destroyed? Unfortunately far too many spokespersons for the packaged and processed food industry would like you to believe that you can do anything you want to food and everything will be ok with it. Rather, what you end up with are empty calories that contribute nothing to your nutrition but instead rob your body of its own enzymes and enegy because those that were once in the food (and would have been used for digestion and assimilation) are now gone or altered beyond use.

Give a dehydrator a try. Once the fruit is blended and spread on the silicone pads that are generally included, you just set it and forget for a day and wonderful fruit that will last a while is ready to eat.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
1:20 pm

I make just about everything from scratch. But then again, I have PLENTY of time on my hands, and the opportunity to do so. I love to cook, and try new things.

I really, really, REALLY hate buying prepared meals….But, once every third blue moon, I will grab a box of Hamburger Helper Crunchy Taco. It’s quick and easy and there’s enough for two meals….

I have always wanted to try making pasta. It just looks so fun. I do make my own sauce.

My mom has a bread maker, and I’m going to ask her if I can have it. My dad used to make bread every week, but he’s gone now, and I don’t think she is using it.

The neighbors’ and I like do “test kitchen” and we experiment with different things. Just this past weekend, we made these wonderful chicken roll ups. We pounded the chicken breasts very thin, stuffed them with a mixture of rice, cheese and jalapeno’s (finely chopped), rolled them up and wrapped them in bacon, and put them on the grill. OMG They were delicious!!!!!! It took an hour and a half to prep them, and we must have used 100 toothpicks to keep the bacon secure. The rolls looked like Kerplunk tubes….LOL. But the end result was delicious. We wrote up a few recipe cards for everyone….

Any WHY are you afraid of using yeast? Is this something else you stress over?

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
1:21 pm

I HAVE made bread, pie crust, cakes, pickles and jam from scratch. I have even plucked a feathered turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. In HS I picked the berries, washed them and made the pie: blackberries and gooseberries, even strawberry rhubarb …at our farm. Not much of that going on around here now.
On Sunday, my daughter headed back to her apt. with a large bunch of bananas from Costco ( best price around IMHO). She stopped for vanilla wafers and whipped up a batch of banana pudding from scratch. She called me to ask me if I had ever used a whisk for the meringue, as her arm was sore and she does not have a mixer. My answer…no.

Yes, I miss my cook ….LOL!

T-Square

August 24th, 2011
1:43 pm

Everything is worth making from scratch. Unfortunately, my wife only has patience for this on the weekends, so not as much as I would like gets made from scratch. I grew up in a restaurant that my grandparents owned and my dad cooked at. Guess I learned it from them. My favorite recipe from that is ice cream, I always helped my granddad make it on the weekends, and he gave me an ice cream freezer for my wedding. I haven’t perfected baking yet, but everything else I’m good with. Don’t be afraid of yeast, it isn’t a big deal, and if you screw it up, then you just try again.

Jessica

August 24th, 2011
1:47 pm

I got a bread machine for Christmas last year, along with a book of bread machine recipes, and I LOVE it! Some of the recipes only take 5-10 minutes to prep, then you just turn on the machine and wait a few hours. I can also use the machine to make a few different types of jam.

Lori

August 24th, 2011
1:48 pm

I, too, always bake from scratch. Baking desserts is my favorite thing to do anyway and apparently I’m pretty good at it, because I get complimented all the time. My specialty is cheesecake, which is funny considering I hate cream cheese!!

As far as regular food items, I’m actually not very creative in the kitchen, so I usually use some kind of “kit”, be it a packet of sauce mix, or something, unless I have a good recipe. But the one thing I insist on making from scratch is soups, stews and chili. There is nothing more gross to me than canned soup! I have some recipes for several different soups that I use a lot, especially in fall and winter, and my family loves my homemade chili.

Ira in East Lake

August 24th, 2011
2:01 pm

Jennifer

August 24th, 2011
2:04 pm

Don’t be afraid of yeast. I was afraid until about two months ago, but it really is so easy. And homemade bread is SOOOOO delicious. I make three loaves at a time and freeze two. Each one lasts about a week.

Freezer jam is yummy and easy too, but you do have to have a good bit of room in your freezer.

Always make my own pasta sauce, never my own pasta. The jarred stuff makes me shudder. The way I see it, the pasta’s just a vehicle for sauce/meat/veggies anyway, so it’s not worth making it from scratch. If I had all the time in the world, maybe.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

@Lori – I love to make soups and chili. I use stock from a previously boiled chicken carcus. Heck I make stock out of just about everything.

A few weeks ago, we made homemade salsa, and boiled all the veggies together, then pureed them in a blender. We kept the “stock” from boiling the veggies, for chicken tortilla soup in the next few months. you can freeze stock up to 6 months.

I currently have pork stock, chicken stock, beef stock, and that veggie stock……

Becky

August 24th, 2011
2:07 pm

Just about the only thing on your list that I haven’t made is pasta..Like MJG, I have made a lot of stuff from scratch..I usually make pickles every couple of years..I make pear preserves every few years and give them for Christmas presents..I haven’t ever used a bread maker..Is that really making bread from scratch?

@MJG..Too funny about your daughter..My Mother used a fork make her meringues with..I don’t think that I could ever do that..Haha..I have never plucked a turkey, but did watch my Dad kill and pluck a chicken once..Interesting thing to see..NOT..

I had an older lady laught at me once in the grocery store because I was buying dried beans to cook..She looked at me and said “do you still cook them the old way?” Uhh, yes, I do..

Theresa, don’t be afraid of anything to cook..No big deal if it flops, try again..Thats what I do..

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
2:21 pm

FYI…I think some Italians call the sauce GRAVY. Anyone?

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
2:24 pm

@ JJ…is your daughter a good cook? You sound like you really like to cook and I wondered if she enjoys it too. I will admit that my daughter’s love for cooking does not come from me, although I have encouraged her whenever possible. I am left with her garden that includes veggies and herbs. She loves to watch Food Network and that is what really got her started. I have been told that I am a good cook but it is not something I particularly enjoy doing.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
2:26 pm

MJG – YUP…I have a very good friend who is italian, and she makes “gravy” every Sunday….

Becky – I do dried beans also. I boil them, then soak them for a couple of hours. I don’t do the soak thing overnight.

And I cannot bake. That is my daughter’s speciality. The only thing I can bake is sugar cookies at Christmas for our cookie party….and I make them from scratch and roll them out with flour…….

JJ

August 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

MJG – no she hates to cook. I cook, she bakes. …. see my previous comment.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
2:31 pm

MJG – my mom worked a full time job, and she cooked a fabulous meal every single night, meat, veggie, starch & salad of some sort. I guess that’s where I got it from. Plus my Grandmother cooked too, and I used to love being in the kitchen with her.

We did go out once in a great while when I was growing up. But mostly every meal was home cooked, and we all sat at the table and ate together.

My daughter did get a job!!!!! And she has been working for two weeks now. She’s working nights, so it’s just me for dinner a couple of nights a week, but I still cook. I cook for two and leave her a plate in the fridge for when she gets home, or for her lunch the next day. She and I both love leftovers…….

Blondie

August 24th, 2011
2:32 pm

You can make quick no-knead bread at home easily: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/dining/081mrex.html?ref=dining

My friend makes it all the time. You can add rosemary to it and make it even yummier.

Carla

August 24th, 2011
2:34 pm

I LOVE to cook from scratch. I don’t bake much cause I’m a “toss this and that in” kinda cook. I do start with a jar sauce as a base for my “Gravy” (yes, some italians refer to it as gravy…lol…I kinda like it) and then double it with my own fresh ingredients. Don’t know why I don’t just go ahead and start strictly from scratch (MMM? Scratches head?). Anyway, only thing I haven’t tried is pasta yet and I soo want to. Any of y’all got a good recipe? Maybe we could have a pasta cook off next week? LOL

I'm confused

August 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

Re meals not dessert: If you aren’t eating from scratch, what are you eating?

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
2:47 pm

JJ…I can bake and cook. I started at 12 and have been doing it for 40 years, so I am really over it and prefer for anyone else to cook :).

My Mom was a huge baker but I learned how to do yeast bread and pie crust in HS home economics…with the turkey! I taught her how to do it. She was big on casseroles and jello molds too. She did not know how to grill anything, including steak and never ever fried chicken or okra. Not a big ethnic cook either…except maybe lasagne…does that count? When my husband and I lived in Texas, we learned how to fix fajitas and many Mexican foods. Our Hispanic friends told us that we were better at it than most white folks. That was too funny.

TWG…have you ever tried the pop up yeast bread where you put it in a greased coffee can and when the lid pops up, it is ready to be baked? EASY! I will see if I can find the recipe, if you are interested.Your kids might like to do it.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
2:55 pm

I cannot fry, however I finally learned how to fry pork chops. But I cannot fry chicken, or country friend steaks……my mom never fried anything…..so I never learned. My neighbor taught me to fry pork chops. Sometimes I still ask her to do it for me…LOL.

elizabeth

August 24th, 2011
2:59 pm

I make everything on the list from scratch (except jams, jellies, etc). Homemade pasta is definitely the favorite in my house.

irisheyes

August 24th, 2011
3:20 pm

Before my bread machine finally died, I made pizza dough every weekend. Nothing better than homemade pizza.

I have a friend who uses her bread machine to make fresh bread about every other day. It’s got a timer, so she can put the ingredients in before she goes to bed, and the whole family wakes up to fresh bread. I’m envious. (Thinking that it might be a great idea for my husband to buy me for Christmas!)

Dennis

August 24th, 2011
3:23 pm

I’ve taken to making a lot more from scratch food over the past few months, although mine tends to be less on the baked goods spectrum and more on the core foods part. Overall, trying to reduce what goes in my body that comes out of a box so I can decide what’s in it.

My most recent experiment has been yogurt – which I make pure yogurt from milk without added sugars, preservatives and texture stabilizers.

I’ll make marinara sauces from scratch and leave out added sugars and use olive oils instead of the soybean oil you find in a lot of jar sauce. And for that matter, no “seasoning” packets for marinara sauce, tacos, or fajitas when I make them.

Bread machines work great for making fresh bread (or dough for pizza!) if you want to go that way. Takes all of the work of yeast out of the equation.

Overall, less boxes – but I’m also working towards the Paleo lifestyle…and when vegetables and meat are the meal – what could come out of a box?

mystery poster

August 24th, 2011
3:25 pm

Does baking bread count as “from scratch” if you use a bread machine? I’m not so sure about that, you’re not really doing the kneading, rising, etc. I have a bread machine and do use it regularly, I have a breakfast bread that I make with oatmeal and raisins that I never get tired of.

ALL baked goods are from scratch, always! I usually cut about half the fat out of them so I convince myself that they’re not that bad for me :-)

Egg noodles: 2 eggs to 1c flour, a dash of salt. Roll out, cut, and boil until they float. More chewy than the store bought ones, kind of an acquired taste but my kids always liked them.

I agree w/the poster who asked “why be afraid.” So something flops, big deal. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

mystery poster

August 24th, 2011
3:26 pm

@irisheyes
Check the thrift stores for bread machines, just bought one for my grandfather for $5.

JJ

August 24th, 2011
3:32 pm

@Dennis – watch those canned goods too. I refuse to have anything in a can in my house, except for the occasional corn beef hash……canned veggies are the worst. Look at the sodium content….

jmb

August 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

JJ – if you can do the chops, why not anything else? If we’re not grilling, I’m usually fying chops, chicken, country fried steak etc. My hubby is strictly a meat and tatars kind of guy so it’s always a southern cooked meal in our home. I also love to buy fresh beans and cook them all day long with a ham hock and some seasoning and my teens absolutely love them. When I want an easy meal, I throw a hen in the oven and bake my carrot & potatoe dish and put a side salad together with garlic bread. I LOVE to cook but I hate the clean up. Sometimes I’m exhausted from all the cooking and still cleaning up at 11 pm.

jarvis

August 24th, 2011
3:39 pm

JJ

August 24th, 2011
3:45 pm

@jmb – I think it’s because there’s no breading on the pork chops. Just salt & pepper, and a small amount of oil.

I have fried some pickles and stuffed jalapenos, but that’s in a deep fryer, and not stovetop.

Next weekend we are going to try fried asparagus at the neighbors. She is the fry-queen as far as I am concerned…..

ziza

August 24th, 2011
3:54 pm

i cook just about everything from scratch and while my son was growing up would cook all meals on sunday for the week. i bake and make many ethnic dishes also. everything just tastes better made from scratch. i have never made a cake, brownies, cookies or any other baked good from a mix or a tube. i love to cook and just made time to do it. now that i’m an empty nester, i don’t cook or bake as much, but i’m still asked to make certain juices and punches and other foods for gatherings and do so happily if i’ve got the time available.

T-Square

August 24th, 2011
3:54 pm

JJ – Ever tried grilled asparagus with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper?

I made a big pot of sauce (I’m not Italian, so it ain’t gravy unless it is made with bacon/sausage fat, flour, milk, salt and pepper) with fresh pasta and garlic bread last Sunday. Loved it. In fact, still loving it for lunch leftovers.

I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do this weekend. Any suggestions?

Carla

August 24th, 2011
4:05 pm

@ JJ….THANKS…I don’t buy anything in cans except tomatoes and my family thinks I’m crazy. I stock my freezer full of bag veg and use that as a fresh substitute when I can. Canned…anything is pretty much yuck. My son stayed at his grandparents and they tried to feed him canned ravioli…he came home and said, “mom, i don’t have to eat anything with that chef picture on it do i?”…from a six year old. NO….the canned “chef” doesn’t cook at my house.

Becky

August 24th, 2011
4:06 pm

@JJ..That’s how I cook my beans also..As for frying, my Motehr fried everything, so I pretty much can also..I can do a mean fried chicken..To me there is nothing better than fried pork chops, fried potatoes, fried okra and cornbread..Of course that’s not a regular meal..BUT it would be my last meal if given the choice..

@MJG..My Mother didn’t do a lot of different styles of cooking eother..She was more of the Paula Deen type without all of the butter..

@elizabeth..I would trade you homemade jellies and jams for homemade pasta..I love to make them, but do not eat them..

@irisheyes..I couldn’t have a bread machine in my house if I made bread every night..Not unless I bought a bigger house with really wide doors..When I married my husband, he would want homemade biscuits every day, so that’s what he got..After about 3 months and a bigger size in jeans, he didn’t want them as often..

@Dennis..Fresh yogurt? Sounds great..I’ve never tried that one, might have to..

Father Jane Goose

August 24th, 2011
4:23 pm

Educated Italians call it “Sauce”…. blue collar or red neck guido Italians who wear gold chains and wife beater t-shirts call it “Gravy”.

Lady Strange

August 24th, 2011
4:32 pm

I don’t really like cooking so I don’t usually make my own stuff. Growing up we had a really tiny kitchen so there really wasn’t a way to help my mom cook. Not sure if that’s why I don’t like cooking or because I’m terrible and getting things ready before hand so it seems to take forever to cook a regular meal, let alone making things from scratch. I will have to ask my mom to show me how to make pie & cookie dough and homemade noodles.

My boyfriend loves to cook so I let him do most of the cooking when we are together. Though I do help out with prep and clean-up.

Becky

August 24th, 2011
4:34 pm

@T-Square..I’ve never actually grilled asparagus like that, but I have broiled it that way..We (me/kids) love it..As for this weekend, I made a big pot of potato soup last Friday..That really hit the spot with us for a couple of days.. You might try something like that? Or an all veggies meal?

Thanks Father Jane Goose..We all feel so much better now that you have educated us on that useless info..

T-Square

August 24th, 2011
4:46 pm

All veggies might be on the menu for tonight. Haven’t done that in a while. Should make the wife happy.

Just out of curiosity, are there any German restaurants in town? Helen has some good ones, but that is a bit of a drive for food (according to my wife, according to me, it seems perfectly reasonable), so is there anything closer? Or should I just continue making my own spaetzle, schnitzel and goulash?

jmb

August 24th, 2011
4:46 pm

Gotcha JJ, I’ve never cooked them without batter but sure they’re good too. The key to frying is the grease temperature. Once you get that right, it’s hard to mess them up.

Becky

August 24th, 2011
4:51 pm

@T-Square..None that I am aware of..But of course, the area of town that I live in doesn’t have much of anything in the way of “fine” or “other” type of dining..So good luck..

T-Square

August 24th, 2011
4:59 pm

I haven’t been able to find any, so I was just curious if maybe someone had seen one somewhere. Seems crazy that in a city the size of Atlanta there isn’t at least one.

HB

August 24th, 2011
5:36 pm

My well educated Italian family always called tomato sauce gravy, and usually cooked and served it with meat. I don’t see why either sauce or gravy would be a much better translation than the other.

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
5:49 pm

T-square….please tell me how you make goulash.

I ate it growing up but my husband swears THIS is goulash:

brown hamburger, boil noodles. add tomato sauce or soup from a can and mix

That is NOT what I ate growing up in Chicago.

He also considered this dessert: red jello with a can of fruit cocktail mixed in and cool whip on top!

Also, I ate lots of Italian food growing up. My own son does not care for it but would gobble up Spaghettios or anything Chef Boy R Dee from a can, when he was small. I always thought that was NUTS!

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
5:49 pm

comment gone and it wasn’t even long or nutty!

mystery poster

August 24th, 2011
6:59 pm

Let me add popcorn to the list. My brother bought me a whirly-pop stovetop popcorn maker for Christmas a couple years ago, and I’ll never go back the microwave kind. A million times more delicious, and much less junk in it.

HB

August 24th, 2011
7:15 pm

Yes! Stovetop is sooo much better.

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2011
7:43 pm

HaHa…I show the kids a Jiffy Pop when we talk about foods and they are intrigued with popcorn made on the stove! I am not a fan of popcorn, as it was the staple snack in college!

Kat

August 24th, 2011
7:52 pm

T-Square: Is that German restaurant still around in Stone Mountain Village? Also, if you like food cooked from scratch but don’t get it as often as you would like since your wife only does it on the weekends, why don’t you…wait for it…man up and cook from scratch yourself?

Becky

August 24th, 2011
8:45 pm

@MJG…My two love the Jiffy Pop popcorn..They get one every year in their Christmas stocking…

djs_NC

August 24th, 2011
8:59 pm

i have made everything from scratch most of my life. everything. now im with MJG–im tired of it. its easy peasy these days. the kids are gone (most of the time) and im really tired of cooking and especially the cleaning up after. i do still prefer home made anything. i need a cook.

djs_NC

August 24th, 2011
9:01 pm

lol MJG–what about pop corn out of a jar that you cook in a pot on the stove? we even grew some popcorn one summer. it was soooo good. theres nothing like real pop corn (jar kind or grown) cooked in oil on the top of the stove with tons of melted butter.