Well, that one didn’t work out. I learned to make a ton of bread but haven’t started any jam, yoghurt or cheese making yet…
Yes, I know, I am repeating this taking power back thing continuously. I hope you can bear with me because I will keep on about it for a while…
Taking our power back was a much-loved reason both for getting Mr T into power and to bring Brexit about. In connection with these topics, the slogan gets, particularly on my nerves. However, I was thinking at the time that it shows something that is important to realize: People feel powerless when it comes to the rapid social change we have experienced in this millennium.
In my opinion, most people think that they would gain more power when they follow and support populist politicians of all political directions but history has shown us time and time again that it is exactly those who feel alienated by the state and by politics that will lose even more when they have managed to get the populists into power. Not much I can do about that. People believe all sorts of funny things and when society is washed down the sink they wonder how it all could happen in a “civilized” country.
These musings, however, made me wonder why many people today happily give their power away in a part of their lives that they could easily take it back: Food.
There have been many food scandals in the last 20 years: horse meat in burgers, bird flu, mouth and foot disease, BSE and whatnot. And those are just the more outstanding ones that people are made aware of by the media when it gets too bad.
Hardly ever are we shown how many pesticides, chemicals, and other potentially unhealthy stuff is in our bread, ready meals and soft drinks. In fact, food manufacturers, governments, and advertisers usually tell us that all that is necessary and not dangerous to us!
But have you ever wondered why you need to have preservatives: E282, Emulsifiers: E471, E472e, and Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid in your white bread when all you really need to create a bread is: flour, water, salt, and yeast or sourdough?
Yes, that factory produced bread might last a little longer in your bread bin but is it really worth putting factory produced chemicals in your body of which you do not know if they are harmful or not? And to be honest, my husband’s homemade artisan bread tastes fresh a lot longer than any of the factory-produced loaves of bread I’ve ever eaten.
Another reason why many of us think we “have to” use factory produced food is that it is easier and faster. Really? The link above to the artisan bread recipe shows that you can make delicious bread in five minutes. I admit though that cooking homemade meals instead of buying ready meals or call for a take away takes a little more time and organization.
I also admit I don’t always want to cook when I come home from work. (I am lucky that the best husband of the world cooks mostly but sometimes I do it too). However, there are ways around the problem. First of all, you can “create” your own ready meals. Most homemade meals can be frozen easily and can be made ready in a microwave the same way like a ready meal. Just cook a double portion when you cook and put the rest in the freezer. With using Tupperware like containers you also would help the environment because you have a lot less waste.
Secondly, there are many recipes that need hardly any work and Jamie Oliver has famously shown us in his 15 Minutes Meals that healthy meals do not need ages to make.
I have come to realize that it is rather a question of your values than a question of time or ability when it comes to making your own food. Because if you want to make your own meals because they are healthier and create less waste then you will organize your cooking accordingly.
And I give you an example of it: Our family does love their cookies and biscuits. There is a huge array out there that you can buy but we always felt they are too sweet and again there is too much factory produced preservatives in them that we did not want to eat.
So I started baking our own cookies and biscuits about twice a week. Of course, it helps that I love baking and that I believe that baking is an act of creation and will support my other creative endeavours.
I have a couple of recipes that are super delicious and super easy to make. And many of the biscuit doughs can be frozen too and just take out when you have no time, cut them up and bake them off. Surely there is nothing better for your family than a homebaked biscuit?
Our most favourite cookies and biscuits are:
Chocolate Chip Cookies at BBC Food
This is one of our most favourite recipes because it is a brownie-like cookie that gives huge delicious cake-like cookies. And it is easy and fast to make.
Spitzbuben (translated Naughty Boys) at BakeToTheRoots
This one is a traditional Christmas Cookie in Germany and Switzerland but I make them all year round. Usually, I just make a long roll out of the dough and cut the cookies with a knife. That way all the time wasting cookie cutting business falls away and you can easily freeze the roll and cut and bake them at a later time.
Best Ever Chocolate Brownies at BBC Food
I admit this is not a cookie nor a biscuit but delicious and easy all the same: I was rather apprehensive when I first tried this recipe but it is so easy and so delicious I can’t bake fast enough as they go in this chocolate loving family.
These are just three of the recipes I use on a regular basis. If all goes to my plans (believe me it never does) I will share a couple more with you in 2018.
But there are a couple of other things I have tried out in 2017 and realised it is not as difficult as you think. For example, just before Christmas our Cakeshop at work got much too much cream in. Staff was able to buy 4 pints of cream for just a pound and I knew you can make butter from it because the husband had done so a couple of times before. Thinking about how expensive butter is today I got us two 4 pint bottles of cream.
The best husband was a bit sarcastic when I bought that much cream home especially as he had rather bad experiences with my employer for whom he worked for too until last January. So I just made the butter myself. It is really as easy as Sharon Biggs Waller explains here on Tory Avey’s Blog. You can get about a kilo of butter out of 4 pints of cream. Just before New Year’s Eve the cake shop again had too much cream so I got us another 4 bottles and now have butter and buttermilk in the freezer for at least 2 months. The only problem is we need a bigger freezer….
There are three foods I want to learn making in 2018: jam, yoghurt and cheese:
I am rather scared of the jam making but we have enough jars and found a farm shop with rather competitive prices on their produce. There is only the jam sugar to be bought and I could get on with it. We’ll see.
About 20 years ago I was making my own yoghurt but then had a yoghurt machine. However, I have found a seller on eBay who not only sells yoghurt making cultures but also a cheese making kit. So I can soon try out both.
That is all I have to say about taking my power back in terms of food production. What is your stand on cooking, baking and food in general? Do you want to take your power back and learn to make your own food in 2018?
Fellow Bloggers wrote about Food:
Kate Singh at “Mrs Kate Singh-homemaker, backyard farmer, writer, thinker…coffee drinker”: Why Homestead in Town?
Cracks Allow Light: HEALING POWER OF HOMEMADE FOOD
Huffington Post: What are Pesticides, and why do we use them on a farm
EFSA: Chemicals in Food
Leites Culinaria: No-Knead 5-Minute Artisan Bread
Jamie Oliver: 15 Minutes Meals
BBC Food: Chocolate Chip Cookies
BakeToTheRoots: Spitzbuben (Traditional German Christmas Cookies)
BBC Food: Best ever Chocolate Brownies
Tory Avey: The Old-fashioned Way: Homemade Butter
Bruce Dolby on eBay: dairy making