If you haven’t gotten a chance to read through all the comments from the last post, definitely try to make the time. I loved seeing the foods that most of you are making (salad dressing was probably the winner), all the bread makers out there, granola, cheese, frozen burritos. Jam, pickles, and more jam. There were some new homemade ideas for me, too. Lemon gumdrops? Cranberry Orange Soda? Holey Moley.
There were some of you who also talked about why you love to make your own basic foods at home, and how it makes you feel connected to other people and to tradition. Louise, a bread baker, said it so well in her comment:
And that, I think, is what I love about making foods that are otherwise available in stores, how it connects us to those who have come before, the same sense of satisfaction, the same knowledge of our food.
I also notice several of you prefacing your comments with “I don’t know if this counts, but…” I’ll speak to that one here, because it’s an important one for me. As far as I’m concerned, IT ALL COUNTS. Yes, Heather, beans totally count. Melanie, your husband’s onion dip counts! If it seems like a baby step, it counts! The way I see it, if there is a food that you once bought, and then you (or your partner) took a step to figure out how to make that food at home, then you’re in the club. Hell, if you even want to figure out how to make some of these goodies at home, then welcome to the club. It all counts.
And the winner? With some help from random.org, the winner of the advance copy of The Homemade Pantry is Amarah, who started making her own meaty tomato sauce when she “didn’t have a jar and was feeling creative with diced tomatoes.” She loves it because it is cheaper, tastier, healthier, and most of all (in her own words) “it is truly MINE.” Yeah, Amarah! Send me your address and the book is on its way to you. Thank you again to everyone who participated. It really was such a thrill and an honor to get to peek into your pantries. And if you didn’t win, don’t despair! I’ll have a few more chances here on the site for you to chime in and enter to win a copy.
If I could create my perfect schedule, I’d leave the country at least once a year. Over the last several years, I’ve had to face the fact that that once it has been 6 or 8 months since I last pulled out my passport, I start having vivid dreams of other places. It’s almost as if my head decides that if I can’t get it together to travel, it’s going to take me there while I sleep instead. I start getting restless and spacey when too much travel-free time goes by, and after way too long (and Joey can attest to this one) I get downright grumpy. It’s been two years since I went to Turkey, and last year New Orleans was almost enough of another country to satisfy the itch. But here I am a year later, with not much hope of travel in the near future. So I’m traveling in other ways. I’m using fish sauce and chili paste as much as my usual butter and Parmesan. I’m following other people’s travels, drinking them in so that I can feel where they’ve been. And I find myself sitting in my imagination more than I usually give myself time to do, remembering details of this or that street or shop so that I can bring elements of how I felt in those places to my moment now. It’s much cheaper than real travel, and I can be back home in time to pick up the ladies from school.
I have a book on my shelf that I pull out every now and then called Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery. Although I’ve been to Paris a few times in my life, I’ve never been to the Rose Bakery, and I like to think that one of these days, I’ll be wandering around the rue des Martyrs, and there it will be, and I’ll head in for a bit of lunch.What I love most about this cookbook is that it entirely conveys a sense of place, the pale walls, worn floors, and simple tables that I imagine fill the room in a way that goes just so with the buzz of conversation and the clink of forks and knives. I hear that Rose herself is not French, but British, and she and her French husband seem to meld the casual foods of the cultures in way that I love. The food in the book is simple and possible for anyone to create, from poached fruit to broccoli cake, and from savory tarts to chocolatey banana bread. Simple as it is, the style of the book with its bright green cover and straightforward design is so pleasing, it makes me feel as if I am (almost) there.
These cookies are easy enough to throw together in a few minutes, whole-grain enough to call them healthy if you need to, and delicious enough to be a pretty perfect cookie. Rose tells us that they are based on the Australian “anzac biscuits,” which I have only heard rumor of but never made myself. If you don’t have golden syrup, it should be easy enough to find (oddly enough in my little town, you can get in 4 different places), and once it’s in your pantry, you’ll have an excuse to make damp gingerbread too.
Oat and Coconut Cookies
adapted from Rose Carrarini, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Little Meals of Rose Bakery
Makes about 24 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, coconut, sugar, oats, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.
3. Combine the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the butter is just melted. Mix the baking soda with 2 tablespoons boiling water, and pour that mixture into the butter mixture. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix well until the dough starts to come together.
4. Using your hands, press the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. The mixture will be slightly crumbly, but trust that it will hold together as it bakes. Leave 2 inches between balls on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to brown. They will seem like they need more time! But pull them out anyway- they will harden a bit as they cool.