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Things you'd be crazy not to make yourself


agray
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We tried making a cup of tea, putting ice in it, then trying to mix in some sugar - oh and some bottled lemon "juice".

That "juice" could likely be the reason.. Fresh juice, just like in cocktails, makes all the difference in the world. And ditto the simple syrup idea. Trying to dissolve anything but superfine sugar in a cold liquid is an exercise in futility. It would be much easier to sweeten your tea while its still hot, or add a dose of simple after it has the ice in it..

Some folks drink sweetened iced tea simply for the sugar, and it matters almost not at all what type of tea it is, whether it was brewed properly, whether it was brewed and sweetened in a vessel that only rarely gets cleaned (and since sweet tea breeds vast amounts of bacteria, this can be not only common, but pretty nasty), or whether lemon comes in a wedge or a packet. I can say from personal experience that more than half of the population who drink sweet tea, in the Southeast, where sweet tea is popular and unique, the sugar is literally all that matters.

I do like tea, but I usually prefer it hot, so no need for instant there. When I do drink iced tea I don't take lemon and I sweeten with Splenda, if I feel like it.

I like tea, but I'm not a fan of hot drinks. I usually drink it iced, though never with lemon, and NEVER with sugar. I'm just amazed that people pay $2-$4 outside for something that (depending on how much you spend on the tea in the first place) can be as much as 80% cheaper at home. Or, heaven forbid, buy pre-made bottles of tea at the store. I've looked at the labels, and 90% of them have sugar, and they all have an ungodly amount of sodium. I thought tea was supposed to be good for you.

Definitely crazy to not make your own tea at home, iced or otherwise.

Edited by Shamanjoe (log)

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I will admit that, while I always make my own duck confit, I rarely make mayonnaise at home. I know how, but the jar is simpler, and it has preservatives, so it lasts longer. I really hate battling my fridge in terms of expiration dates.

This is an excellent point. If I'm serving a dish in which mayonnaise is a key ingredient, I can make it. But if I want a turkey sandwich with mayo for lunch? No way am I going to make up a batch of mayonnaise just for that.

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Those Lunchables package thingies with crackers, cheese, and ham rounds that are $5.00 a pack (I forget what they're called). Seriously?!? There's already no cooking involved - it can't get easier than assembling crackers, cheese, ham & tossing them in a plastic container yourself.

Oh, and premade, canned tuna salad (especially the ones packed with crackers). Tuna + mayo + handful of crackers is only assembly, not cooking. :wacko:

You've touched a huge nerve for me here. I'm trying to be fair, but I think that parents who buy Lunchables are crazy. It also reminded me of a dinner a few years ago with an avid food guy who happened to be Charlie Trotter's accountant. We feasted from Trotters to Go and his kids got Lunchables. I'm not suggesting that all parents go thebento route but you can pack a sandwich, some fruit and a cookie. Or pack up your own crackers, cheese and salami.

It's called picking your battles. My son took lunchables for about six months when he was in grade 3. It's all he would eat. Frankly, it wasn't worth the morning battles every day, since I knew he was getting healthy breakfasts and dinners. He got tired of them soon enough and went back to taking good lunches that I made. He's 17 now and a very adventurous eater, so I don't think it harmed him any.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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And there's the dilemma in a nutshell: I'm not trying to follow whatever Michael Pollan's latest food rules are at 7:15a with two kids to get fed and out the door. I lean Maggie on Lunchables, but you'll tear General Mills and Kellogg's breakfast cereals out of my cold, dead hands.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We tried making a cup of tea, putting ice in it, then trying to mix in some sugar - oh and some bottled lemon "juice".

That "juice" could likely be the reason.. Fresh juice, just like in cocktails, makes all the difference in the world. And ditto the simple syrup idea. Trying to dissolve anything but superfine sugar in a cold liquid is an exercise in futility. It would be much easier to sweeten your tea while its still hot, or add a dose of simple after it has the ice in it..

Some folks drink sweetened iced tea simply for the sugar, and it matters almost not at all what type of tea it is, whether it was brewed properly, whether it was brewed and sweetened in a vessel that only rarely gets cleaned (and since sweet tea breeds vast amounts of bacteria, this can be not only common, but pretty nasty), or whether lemon comes in a wedge or a packet. I can say from personal experience that more than half of the population who drink sweet tea, in the Southeast, where sweet tea is popular and unique, the sugar is literally all that matters.

I do like tea, but I usually prefer it hot, so no need for instant there. When I do drink iced tea I don't take lemon and I sweeten with Splenda, if I feel like it.

I like tea, but I'm not a fan of hot drinks. I usually drink it iced, though never with lemon, and NEVER with sugar. I'm just amazed that people pay $2-$4 outside for something that (depending on how much you spend on the tea in the first place) can be as much as 80% cheaper at home. Or, heaven forbid, buy pre-made bottles of tea at the store. I've looked at the labels, and 90% of them have sugar, and they all have an ungodly amount of sodium. I thought tea was supposed to be good for you.

Definitely crazy to not make your own tea at home, iced or otherwise.

One huge reason why I prefer homemade iced tea and, for that matter, lemonade is because I personally don't care for sweet beverages with my meals. I know many people that would go "eeeewww" if you suggest that they have a nice sweet wine with a good meal, explaining how sugar ruins the taste of food and that one should always have a dry wine with meals, but then think nothing of guzzling down some sort of sweet soda pop or iced tea so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I finally made simple syrup for the first time last month - I'd never bought it, just avoided recipes that called for it! I think the main thing holding me back was having a proper container to store it in. Then I found I had an extra squeeze bottle and that pushed me over the edge.

A year or two ago I started making my own croutons - I was tired of throwing out good bread that went stale before the two of us could eat it. So I cube it, throw it in the freezer and can make croutons in the time it takes for everything else to come together for dinner. Yummy and I can limit the amount of fat I use according to my current whims.

Edited to fix typo

Edited by NadyaCat (log)
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Confit.

It's perhaps a little late, but as the person that brought up the contentious confit, let me explain. I would never suggest that people would be absolutely crazy to not make it themselves. If there is not oil or vinegar available, you have to buy dressing if you need it. If there is no duck (or whatever protein) you want available, you would have to buy confit. It is however falacious to equate those two at the same level of stapledom merely because the assertions follow the same sentence pattern.

I was really mentioning stock. As it had been mentioned, I suggested that were one to buy whole ducks for said stock ... make confit, you'd be crazy not too.

I'd be willing to bet if a home cook is buying whole birds to break down to make stock, they know what confit is. I wasn't suggesting that people who could barely put together a salad dressing attempt to break down a duck and make confit. To argue otherwise is assinine.

I think this is a great topic, but also that it's unfortunately gotten bogged down a little by different notions of what it should be. I personally don't think that those items you'd be crazy to not make yourself need be easy. There's all kinds of different reasons you should do something; as above, you happen to have a couple of duck legs that you have to do something with. (NB: making pedestrian confit is much easier than a braised duck leg dinner imo.)

M.

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Pretty much any "convience food" that comes in little packets - oatmeal, grits, etc. The packet stuff isn't always terrible per se, it's just that making this stuff "from scratch" is much cheaper, and usually takes no more time, really. Also, I know what's in mine - and what's not.

But I have to admit, just last night I decided that my poor arthritic hands deserve a break, so I've given myself permission to buy cut-up butternut squash and the like.

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And there's the dilemma in a nutshell: I'm not trying to follow whatever Michael Pollan's latest food rules are at 7:15a with two kids to get fed and out the door. I lean Maggie on Lunchables, but you'll tear General Mills and Kellogg's breakfast cereals out of my cold, dead hands.

I'm entranced by the vision of you turning out local, sustainable, hand turned Cheerios at 6:45 am. Good heavens, I have a box of Joe's Os sitting atop my fridge as I type. And no son of Marlene's will grow up without a palate! I let my daughter eat whatever she liked when she was a kid, and she now knows much more about food than I do. I'm all for peace in the home.

But Lunchables ... so much money for so little return.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I swung by my local supermarket this morning and, among other things, looked at the Lunchables. I'd never been all that aware of the product, so I wanted to see what I was missing. While they're not for me, I'm not sure I'd characterize them as awful. Pricewise they range from $2 to $3 (the ones with a Capri Sun drink aka fruit punch are $3 and the ones without are $2). That's of course more than cheese, deli meats and crackers cost separately, but not a million times more and there is certainly a convenience factor. Contents-wise, they're mostly full of stuff that I wouldn't necessarily eat but that's not total garbage by the standards of what's out there.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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[

But Lunchables ... so much money for so little return.

I don't disagree. I'd gag on them myself.

Flash forward to high school where he had the option of buying his lunch in the cafeteria, but preferred to come home every day for a lunch made by me.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I'd never been all that aware of the product, so I wanted to see what I was missing. While they're not for me, I'm not sure I'd characterize them as awful.

You have to try to eat them first.

Actually, I've never eaten lunchables, either, but nothing I've ever eaten in similar packaging would inspire much confidence. I guess they're mainly intended for kids, though. But it is really so hard to throw together a sandwich?

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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My little one tried lunchables after pleading and begging. Didnt like them. Thank goodness.

$2-$3 a day is a VERY expensive half-a-lunch for a small child.

But if your kid doesnt like sandwiches, the concept is a good one, and easily duplicated for less, at home.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I vote for brownies.

I don't disagree on the cute kid food, but I am completely sympathetic to kids who want cute food. When I was a kid, about the best you could do was a box of animal crackers. My mother bribed me to keep quiet with boxes of those, and I loved them. Sure, you can put some cookies in a plastic bag, but that box! That string!

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Actually, I've never eaten lunchables, either, but nothing I've ever eaten in similar packaging would inspire much confidence. I guess they're mainly intended for kids, though. But it is really so hard to throw together a sandwich?

Of course it's not. That's not the point. If that is the only thing the kid wants, then why not as long as the kid is getting healthy breakfasts and dinners. Is it worth the tantrums in the morning? Not to me. My son's friends (twins) had a mom who brought them McDonalds or Mr. Sub's or pizza to school every day for lunch. She'd drop it off at lunchtime in the lunchroom. She did this the entire time they were in public school. For 8 years. Now that, is a bit much.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I vote for brownies.

I second Linda's nomination ! Especially when one can us a twice first place finisher recipe, called Orgasmic Brownies AND

most importantly, 12 minutes from the end of mis a place to putting in the oven!

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Adding to the list...

1. whipped cream

2. club soda...my roommates and I go through a lot of vodka soda's at my place, I got a classy isi soda siphon for $35 at the restaurant supply store and chargers on ebay for $.50, saves $1/bottle, space on the bar, and a lot of waste

3. mayonnaise whenever used outside of a quick deli meat sandwich

4. egg nog

5. any sort of pre-made alcohol mixer, like margarita mix

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I'd never been all that aware of the product, so I wanted to see what I was missing. While they're not for me, I'm not sure I'd characterize them as awful.

You have to try to eat them first.

Actually, I've never eaten lunchables, either, but nothing I've ever eaten in similar packaging would inspire much confidence. I guess they're mainly intended for kids, though. But it is really so hard to throw together a sandwich?

I don't find 'Lunchables' awful in and of themselves insofar as product quality of the food goes, but the very few times I bought them for my school-aged kids, I did feel pretty wasteful, even irresponsible. I can see, though, how a sandwich might not be the substitute that the kids want, and the crackers/coldcuts/cheese/juice option could be a nice change of pace. The main reason I almost never bought Lunchables was because I thought that they were quite expensive considering what you got, and all that excessive packaging troubled me. So I just bought a box of crackers, some cold cuts, sliced cheese and juice boxes and made up my own.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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This topic is a wee bit silly. Really, all we are talking about is cooking: how much we like to do it, and what foods matter to us enough to make them a labor of love. Someone who eats a can of spaghettios (sp?) might find a good quality jarred sauce and de Ceccho dried pasta a revelation. To someone else for whom pasta is a staple and a great love, only home-made pasta and sauces will do. People who don't cook at all usually think making a simple tomato sauce is time-consuming. People who do a lot of cooking know that a decent sauce can be made blindfolded with a can of San Marzano tomatoes, an onion, some butter, and half an hour.

Things are a snap only if you are comfortable doing them and have a pantry full of staples.

(Snip)

What you end up cooking and eating is a complex inter-relationship of what you enjoy doing, what foods matter to you, and how much time and money is available, no?

I have to agree with Katie.

I am enthusiastic about preparing foods "from scratch" and I am sure that anyone familiar with my posts knows my preference for this.

However, I have the advantage of having a well-equipped kitchen and a fully stocked pantry on which to draw and I have the experience of cooking and baking for close to sixty years.

I am also retired and have plenty of time to do the various tasks involved in preparing so many of these things.

Now that we know the health problems associated with lack of sleep, it doesn't make sense for people who are holding full-time jobs and caring for a family stay up nights to prepare staples and condiments, etc., that are readily available commercially.

Save your efforts for the occasional special thing that will give satisfaction.

Brownies, yes, the effort expended is fractional compared to the satisfaction. Biscuits, and quick breads, yes, the time needed is negligible compared to the quality.

If you have the time and the inclination to make things from scratch, by all means do so but don't beat yourself up if you have to buy some "convenience" foods. That's what they are for.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Whether $2 or $3 a day is expensive or not is something that sort of has to be determined from an individual perspective. If the comparison is between $1 for the homemade lunch and $2 for the convenience lunch, and there are 180 school days in a school year, the total savings will be $180 if one avoids the convenience lunches.

To someone who bills $375 an hour at a law firm, that may be a worthwhile expenditure. To someone on unemployment, it probably isn't. To someone living in a country where the per capita annual income is $180, it almost definitely isn't. And aside from income, there are many other factors -- already discussed -- that go into the value calculation.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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2. club soda...my roommates and I go through a lot of vodka soda's at my place, I got a classy isi soda siphon for $35 at the restaurant supply store and chargers on ebay for $.50, saves $1/bottle, space on the bar, and a lot of waste

Hopefully not too off-topic here, but maybe you should take a look at this :cool:

http://truetex.com/carbonation.htm

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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