Saturday, September 01, 2007

Or Not To Make

As anyone who’s been following along knows, there are many things I won’t hesitate to make from scratch, in spite of perfectly acceptable versions being available in any grocery store (English muffins, yogurt, etc). But there are a few things that I promise never to make from scratch because I think it would just be such a total waste of time.

I was reading an article about saving money, and one woman was remarking that in almost every case, she could make homemade versions of things more economically than she could buy them at the grocery store—cookies and so on. One thing she said was a flop was homemade marshmallows. They took four hours to make and didn’t taste very good, she said.

I only ever knew one other person (besides Martha Stewart) who made marshmallows from scratch. I worked with a woman named Betsy who brought them in to our office one time, and was offering some to the CIO of the company while I was standing in the kitchen.

“Homemade marshmallows!” she exclaimed, “Try one!”

I can’t remember if he did or not, but I do remember my coworker Laurie and I exchanging looks, and Laurie saying, “Why would you make marshmallows?” and my replying, “I thought you needed chemicals to make marshmallows.”

So I promise never to make marshmallows. Maybe I shouldn’t say never on this one, but I at least won’t rant about how great homemade marshmallows are if I do make them.

Dried Fruit
I’ve already said I don’t really care for dried fruit, except for dried cherries. I can also handle dried blueberries in scones. But I will never bother to make my own dried fruit, even if I do someday come around and decide I like it a lot. I knew a couple who had one of those dehydrators, and he used to make things like beef jerky (surprisingly, this was before the low carb craze) and dried apples. It seemed weird to me then, it seems weird to me now.

I don’t really anticipate this ever happening either. The ones I can buy at my grocery store are fine, and I don’t care enough about Mexican food to go to the trouble of making them. Along these same lines, I won’t be cutting up tortillas to make my own chips, either.

Kind of ties in with tortillas. Newman’s Own mild chunky is good enough. I find homemade salsa to be too watery, because no one ever lets the tomatoes drain properly, so you wind up dipping your chip into a pool of water with some tomato in it. The chip just gets soggy. And the onions always taste too raw to me in homemade salsa.

Noodles & Sauce Type Dishes
I went through a flirtation with making homemade facsimiles of those noodles-and-powdered-sauce products you can buy. I will not do this again. I went so far as to research sources of powdered cheeses ( I think I may even have made a couple of them. It won’t happen again, I promise.

Peanut Butter
Store-bought peanut butter is perfectly acceptable. I have no urge to shell and grind my own peanuts. Even the stations in the grocery store where you can grind it on the spot the way you can grind coffee don’t hold any interest for me.

Vegetable Juice
I just drink V-8 sometimes. I don’t need to buy a $300 juicer and make my own. Also, I’m sure I could never get a combination of juices I liked. It would always be too heavy on the carrot, or too light on the tomato or something. And the idea of single-ingredient vegetable juice (other than possibly tomato juice, and even that’s pushing it) makes me curl my lip. No carrot juice for me.

Chocolate Syrup
The same woman who didn’t like homemade marshmallows also makes chocolate syrup for her kids. I’m not even sure how to begin making chocolate syrup, other than to buy some chocolate. Would it just be chocolate and Karo syrup? That seems kind of disgusting, although that’s probably what’s in a can of Hershy’s syrup (note to self: check ingredients on Hershey’s syrup can when next at grocery store). Still, I don’t think that’s anything I’m ever going to bother with, mostly because I really don’t want to encourage my kids to drink chocolate milk instead of white milk. Right now the oldest one will drink chocolate milk occasionally, but the twins still don’t like it, so let’s just keep it that way. White milk is a lot better for them.

Those are the things I can think of right now that I’m unlikely to ever bother making. All bets are off on things like sausage, ricotta cheese, pasta, ketchup (although this one is unlikely, since I understand homemade doesn’t get as thick as the commercially made product), mustard. Tune in next week and you may read that I’ve made fig jam, but I won’t be serving it with homemade marshmallows.

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