There’s nothing like home made. That’s why we tend to remember our mom’s and granny’s cooking with such longing. It was generally home-made. There wasn’t today’s explosion of mixes and pre-cooked foods available in those days.
And, it’s true that some home-cooked food was better than others, but at least there was a lot more home-cooked food.
When you cook from scratch instead of using a mix or heating up something that’s been frozen into a rock-hard mass of unidentifiable bits, you control what goes into it.
And, if you have any respect for your body, or if you care how long it lasts, or how well it feels, then you’ll care what you put into it. You’ll want to know and control how much sodium and sugar are hidden in your meals and what sort of fats you’re eating.
You have control when you cook it from scratch.
And, surprisingly, it’s not that much more difficult, and doesn’t take that much more time, than cooking from a mix, particularly if you start off with a fridge and a pantry that’s stocked with healthy food.
So, really, your health begins at the grocery store, where you can choose to be inspired by the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish around the outside edges of the store, or by the colourful, well-posed pictures on the packages of frozen goods and mixes on the inside aisles of the store.
Guess which is best for your health? In the process of decreasing the processed foods that go into your body and increasing the whole foods, you will also be surprised at how much wholesome flavour you get out of cooking from scratch.
So, shake free of the bonds of frozen and canned foods; leave the mixes on the shelf; and surprise your taste buds with some simple scratch cooking.
For lots more recipes for easy meals based on what’s available locally, in season, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, at Mosaic Books, Chapters, the B.C. Wine Museum or other wine shops and boutiques.
Elise’s Cranberry Orange Scones
These are a delightful breakfast treat, or they could be served for a snack with a piece of cheddar or for dessert.
2 c. (500 ml) flour
3 tbsp. (45 ml) sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) grated orange zest
1 tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/3 c. (75 ml) cold butter
1 c. (250 ml) dried cranberries
1/4 c. (60 ml) orange juice
1/4 c. (60 ml) half and half cream
flour, for dusting
1 tbsp. (15 ml) milk
1 tbsp. (15 ml) sugar
In a bowl combine the first six ingredients, mincing the orange zest.
Cut in grated frozen butter, or chunks of the cold butter until it resembles coarse crumbs and set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the cranberries, orange juice, cream and egg.
Add that to the flour mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms.
Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead gently six or eight times.
Pat the dough out into an eight-inch circle and cut into eight wedges.
Put each onto an ungreased baking pan.
Combine milk and sugar and brush each scone with the mixture.
Bake at 450 for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes eight wedges.
Shepherd’s Pie Casserole with Kale, Yams & Potatoes
You gotta love a complete meal in one dish. Clean-up is easy, as is serving, and if you make it up ahead of time, ready to bake, the whole dinner is a snap as well, and it’s full of a variety of vitamins and minerals.
drizzle of oil
1 stalk celery
1 large garlic clove
1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh parsley
2 c. (500 ml) diced potatoes
1 c. (250 ml) diced yams
1 tsp. (5 ml) cumin powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground beef
2 tbsp. (30 ml) ketchup
1 tbsp. (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. (5 ml) or so favourite hot sauce
2 c. (500 ml) shredded kale
Dice onion, celery and carrot and set aside separately. Mince garlic clove and fresh parsley, if available.
Dice up peeled yam and potatoes and simmer in enough water to nearly cover them until just soft enough to drain and mash.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frypan and saute the onion over medium heat until soft. Add celery, carrot and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add spices and stir in well.
Add ground meat and brown, breaking up as you stir.
Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and your favourite hot sauce, to taste.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Trim leaves from the kale stems, shred, then steam shredded kale leaves until just wilted.
Scrape the meat mixture into a shallow casserole dish and top with wilted kale, then mashed potatoes and yams.
Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or so, then remove the lid and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes.