Wow. Way to rock the homemade. The food revolution is here, and you all are warriors!
If you haven’t gotten a chance to read through all the comments from the last post, definitely try to make the time. I loved seeing the foods that most of you are making (salad dressing was probably the winner), all the bread makers out there, granola, cheese, frozen burritos. Jam, pickles, and more jam. There were some new homemade ideas for me, too. Lemon gumdrops? Cranberry Orange Soda? Holey Moley.
There were some of you who also talked about why you love to make your own basic foods at home, and how it makes you feel connected to other people and to tradition. Louise, a bread baker, said it so well in her comment:
And that, I think, is what I love about making foods that are otherwise available in stores, how it connects us to those who have come before, the same sense of satisfaction, the same knowledge of our food.
I also notice several of you prefacing your comments with “I don’t know if this counts, but…” I’ll speak to that one here, because it’s an important one for me. As far as I’m concerned, IT ALL COUNTS. Yes, Heather, beans totally count. Melanie, your husband’s onion dip counts! If it seems like a baby step, it counts! The way I see it, if there is a food that you once bought, and then you (or your partner) took a step to figure out how to make that food at home, then you’re in the club. Hell, if you even want to figure out how to make some of these goodies at home, then welcome to the club. It all counts.
And the winner? With some help from random.org, the winner of the advance copy of The Homemade Pantry is Amarah, who started making her own meaty tomato sauce when she “didn’t have a jar and was feeling creative with diced tomatoes.” She loves it because it is cheaper, tastier, healthier, and most of all (in her own words) “it is truly MINE.” Yeah, Amarah! Send me your address and the book is on its way to you. Thank you again to everyone who participated. It really was such a thrill and an honor to get to peek into your pantries. And if you didn’t win, don’t despair! I’ll have a few more chances here on the site for you to chime in and enter to win a copy.
And now we shift to cookies. (Always a fine idea, don’t you think?)
If I could create my perfect schedule, I’d leave the country at least once a year. Over the last several years, I’ve had to face the fact that that once it has been 6 or 8 months since I last pulled out my passport, I start having vivid dreams of other places. It’s almost as if my head decides that if I can’t get it together to travel, it’s going to take me there while I sleep instead. I start getting restless and spacey when too much travel-free time goes by, and after way too long (and Joey can attest to this one) I get downright grumpy. It’s been two years since I went to Turkey, and last year New Orleans was almost enough of another country to satisfy the itch. But here I am a year later, with not much hope of travel in the near future. So I’m traveling in other ways. I’m using fish sauce and chili paste as much as my usual butter and Parmesan. I’m following other people’s travels, drinking them in so that I can feel where they’ve been. And I find myself sitting in my imagination more than I usually give myself time to do, remembering details of this or that street or shop so that I can bring elements of how I felt in those places to my moment now. It’s much cheaper than real travel, and I can be back home in time to pick up the ladies from school.
I have a book on my shelf that I pull out every now and then called Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery. Although I’ve been to Paris a few times in my life, I’ve never been to the Rose Bakery, and I like to think that one of these days, I’ll be wandering around the rue des Martyrs, and there it will be, and I’ll head in for a bit of lunch.What I love most about this cookbook is that it entirely conveys a sense of place, the pale walls, worn floors, and simple tables that I imagine fill the room in a way that goes just so with the buzz of conversation and the clink of forks and knives. I hear that Rose herself is not French, but British, and she and her French husband seem to meld the casual foods of the cultures in way that I love. The food in the book is simple and possible for anyone to create, from poached fruit to broccoli cake, and from savory tarts to chocolatey banana bread. Simple as it is, the style of the book with its bright green cover and straightforward design is so pleasing, it makes me feel as if I am (almost) there.
These cookies are easy enough to throw together in a few minutes, whole-grain enough to call them healthy if you need to, and delicious enough to be a pretty perfect cookie. Rose tells us that they are based on the Australian “anzac biscuits,” which I have only heard rumor of but never made myself. If you don’t have golden syrup, it should be easy enough to find (oddly enough in my little town, you can get in 4 different places), and once it’s in your pantry, you’ll have an excuse to make damp gingerbread too.
Oat and Coconut Cookies
adapted from Rose Carrarini, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Little Meals of Rose Bakery
Makes about 24 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, coconut, sugar, oats, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.
3. Combine the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the butter is just melted. Mix the baking soda with 2 tablespoons boiling water, and pour that mixture into the butter mixture. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix well until the dough starts to come together.
4. Using your hands, press the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. The mixture will be slightly crumbly, but trust that it will hold together as it bakes. Leave 2 inches between balls on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just starting to brown. They will seem like they need more time! But pull them out anyway- they will harden a bit as they cool.
Michael Schneider says
> “I start getting restless and spacey when too much travel-free time goes by, and after way too long (and Joey can attest to this one) I get downright grumpy. It’s been two years since I went to Turkey, and last year New Orleans was almost enough of another country to satisfy the itch. But here I am a year later, with not much hope of travel in the near future.”
Croquet in Annapolis, April 28. Giant lawn/picnic party, with optional dressing-up. Seafood. Johnnie culture/Navy culture. Old-fangled architecture. People you might know. Lovely walks right from The College. You can even bring the kids. If you stay late or overnight, and get a sitter (the Annapolis Alumni office may be able to help you find a student), theater in the evening, and dancing to a live band later in the evening.
I’ve started looking for cheap fares myself.
I couldn’t resist these cookies (perhaps it was the excuse to buy a new ingredient, especially when I found Lyle’s syrup and it came in a tin!) and they are sitting on the counter now! So, I am not sure why I had in my head that they would be more “cookie-like”, since there they are at the top of the page in their little lump shapes…but somehow I had convinced myself that they were the sort of things that would spread as they baked. Once I got over my initial cognitive dissonance and realized that they had turned out as intended (and only one completely fell apart, and only a few kind of cracked open a bit) I am quite thrilled with them. My fiance thinks they are great too, though he has given them the name “granolumps”.
Also, I wanted to say that I just discovered your blog last week, and reading it (backwards at first, and then just jumping back and starting earlier…) is an absolute joy!
Granolumps- I love it! We thought they were related to the macaroon, t00- so how about granolumpamacaroons?
I know exactly what you mean about the travel itch. I usually start day dreaming about a new trip on the plane home, dreaming about where I can go and wander around until I stumble into a cafe that I absolutely must try! I can’t wait until your book comes out! I know that my attempts are well-intentioned, but it will be nice to have a book to help support the transition to home made food seem more possible.
Since you liked the sound of those lemon gumdrops, I thought you might like to know I’ve just posted the recipe: http://www.dollopofcream.com/2012/03/lemon-gumdrops.html
If you have another draw for your book, I’m definitely entering again! (:
Thank you Stephanie- they look like my perfect candy! And happy birthday too!
Penny Powell says
The “WELCOME TO THE CLUB” vibe of this post is so happy-making – thank you! I’m in and I’m excited!! Two weeks ago I started a grocery budget for the first time in my life and it is a major revelation. I find myself enthralled by the containment, as it’s made me more creative and inspired in the kitchen. Today I’m making homemade Italian bread, so that I don’t have to pay close to 4 bucks for an organic loaf at the store; last night we had chicken soup made from the bones of the roasted chicken the night before that. This is how it used to be in my great-grandmother’s day and, in a small way, I’m returning to that time of appreciating the abundance that is right in front of us – and used to end up as a science experiment at the back of the fridge.
No, we aren’t gonna fill our Sunday morning crepes with Stonewall Kitchen Black Raspberry Jam anymore, but guess what?! We can fill them with homemade fruit and butter syrup made from frozen fruit that’s been sitting in the freezer for six months. Delicious and ultimately way, way more satisfying on several levels.
Incidentally, fancy jars of jam are now things that I will ask for as birthday or Christmas gifts (the young ones in my life always want to know these things). And that is perfectly fine with me.
Alana, I cannot wait to get your first book! I believe that its destined to be a Best Seller.
Rosemary Cash McAlister says
I’m local…Monterey. I just realized it was YOU who wrote that wonderful cookbook I’d heard about. The very sound of it appealed to me as I’m a Domestic Engineer 🙂 , mother to seven and love making as much as I am able from scratch. It wasn’t until my husband picked up a copy of the Berk. Record last week and I saw the article that I had my, “ah ha” moment. Now I realized just who you were. I taught your dear Sadie swimming a few summers ago at the Monterey beach. I remembered a few lovely conversations with you and always wondered if I’d see you again. Then, at some point, I heard of an Alana running for Selectwoman in GB and thought to myself, “why does she seem so very familiar”……and so the story goes. Now I know who you are and am so very glad to have discovered your book. Last Saturday I was, unfortunately, unable to come to your signing at the Chef Shop as I took our adopted children to Albany for a reunion of Ethiopian adoptees.
Perhaps when my book (your book) comes in the mail this week from Amazon, I could trouble you, somehow, to sign it.
A hearty congratulations to you, Alana, and may your book sales spread like wild fire! You’re a girl after my own heart with your idea….but the difference is…you wrote the book!
Hi Rosemary- I’m so glad you introduced yourself! I’d be honored to sign your book…