Thursday, March 4, 2010

Making do....

I was making Sweet and Sour Chicken recently and when it came time to make the sauce I discovered it needed brown sugar. Well I don't buy brown sugar all that much or sugar for that matter. I am trying really really hard to lessen the consumption of it in our home. It is so hard though! Since it has been a long time since I made this recipe I had forgotten I needed it and since it is a really good recipe! I needed that brown sugar!

Well, I remembered reading on a blog Chiot's Run recently her way of making her own brown sugar. So out came my food processer, molasses, and white sugar. It was so easy I was amazed! And I have a some left over in the baking cupboard. Since I made to much for what I needed but that is getting off the subject I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to share a train of thought I have had for quite a few years. I love cooking from scratch it might take longer to make sweet and sour sauce than it is to open a jar of premade but the joy of making something from basic ingredients is rewarding and I find great joy in doing it.

I have been working on a sour dough starter recently and I wanted to use rye flour since I was using directions from Nourishing Traditions but in the small towns around me I can't not find whole rye berries without it costing alot. I went to our local health food store and they don't carry things like that. I was able to get local honey and organic sulfur free molasses but rye wasn't cheap and had to be ordered just for me.

As I was there looking around I did see many things I will go back and get for stocking my cabinets. But there was alot of prepackaged goodies, cookies, candies, breads, brownie mixes, etc. A mom and little girl came in while I was there and filled a basket with snack foods. The owners of this little store knew the pair so they come in often I assumed.  I cringed at the prices of those items and the cost and the thought of just because they are in a health food store...they are still prepackaged and processed. Even if the ingredients are good for you and probably remember they are food alot more that the stuff at Walmart.

As the owners were trying to find a company they could order rye berries for me the husband was baffled as to why I wanted to grind something on my own. He asked and I told him, the look was priceless. He said, "We sell a sourdough bread already made." He couldn't wrap his mind around me wanting to make something myself and do the whole process of it myself. It really confused him, he was nice but clearly baffled by this weird woman in a long skirt with a braid down to her waist. Hippie I could see in his eyes. :0)

I did have to laugh when I left but it made me think have so many people forgotten how to cook?Yes, we can fill our cabinets with boxes and bottles and put together a homecooked meal. But is it homemade... all of it.  And do we know exactly what we put in our bodies. I can honestly say I can't with all my food, no. My life is so busy right now we don't eat the best at times. But I do know how to do it and I find great joy in it. I am not afraid to try.

When I found the recipe for sweet and sour chicken I had all the ingredients but the sweet and sour sauce. I didn't want to drive the 20 minutes to town for a $2 jar or ask hubby to bring it home. Plus the last time I had that little jar with egg rolls quite a few years ago it was good the first bite but went down hill fast after that.

So I went online and found a simple recipe and I had all the ingredients. It turned out beautiful and very tasty. Just like making our own salad dressing, bread products (bagels, bread, tortillas, pizza dough, etc), laundry soaps, natural cleaning products...I know the last 2 things aren't food. :0)

I wonder sometimes when I talk to someone if it is a lost art form to make something completely on your own. It started for me to save money and that is still that major driving force, but also I know what is going into the item.

Now, not everything in my kitchen is made from scratch mayonaise I like storebought much better but I make it when I need it in a pinch and since we don't use alot anyway I haven't made in a while and its expensive to make. Mustard I would like to try but again not used alot. Ketchup is one I really need to try that is Yguy's veggie of choice :0) Soy Sauce I have read how to and I would prefer to buy it than go thru the process they described but I do know how...update I have organic soy beans sitting yelling for me to turn them into something since I haven't made my own soy milk in awhile so I will probably give this a try. I will post later about it and the steps to do it.

Its fun and exciting to experiment and make something wonderful from nothing I find great joy and fullfillment in it.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/3 cup vinegar (rice vinegar is better but white works fine)
4 T brown sugar
1 T ketchup
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 4 tsp cool water or use pineapple juice if making the sauce for sweet and sour chicken

mix first 4 ingredients together and bring to a boil mix together water and cornstarch and add to other ingredients to thicken.

For the chicken recipe sautee chicken until done, I use boneless chicken breast cut up in chucks. Add a drained can of pineapple chunks, cut up onion and green pepper(cut how you like it) pour sauce over chicken and veggies let simmer till the veggies are done the way you like them we like them a little crisp not mushy.
I also will use leg quarters cut up (cut the drumstick off to make 2 pieces and skin removed) I cook the chicken either boil or bake till almost done. Then layout in a cassarole dish put the pineapple and veggie on top and then pour a doubled recipe of sauce over it and cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes maybe an hour.

It all turns out very good.

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