Kitchen Basics – Part 2: Cutting boards

Now that you have your cast iron skillet, it’s time to think about the other tools you’ll need to set up a basic kitchen.

It’s time to think about knives and cutting boards.

For cutting boards, there are a lot of choices in size and materials. You have to choose one, at least, that will both protect the edge of your knives and that can be easily cleaned, even sterilized, if used for meat. Many cooks have different cutting boards for different uses, and if you can afford it, do it. But always make sure it can be cleaned with soap and hot water.

Never use a cutting board made of glass or ceramic. It will ruin your knives. The slick surface also is dangerous, allowing whatever you’re cutting to slip and slide.

That leaves wood, bamboo, plastic, wood, silicon and particle board.

Wood is great for vegetables and similar foods. The surface is very forgiving on knife edges and it can take a lot of abuse and cleaning. However, it can’t be sterilized or put in a dishwasher. So, there is some concern that contaminants can enter the pores of the wood and linger to spread and grow. That makes it a less than ideal choice for meat.

Bamboo has many of the same qualities as wood, plus it’s a great renewable resource. It is basically a type of grass and grows quickly. But unlike wood, the surface is usually a bit rougher than wood, making moving food around or into your knife is a little harder. These are popular and inexpensive, making them a good choice. But not the best choice.

Particle board is made of wood materials and a laminate. It has a lot of the same qualities as wood, is relatively cheap and easy to clean. Many are also dishwasher safe. But I’m not convinced that the laminate coating is easy on knife edges.

Silicon cutting boards are flimsy but relatively durable. The flexibility makes them great for transferring ingredients into mixing bowls and similar receptacles. They also are inexpensive and come in an array of colors, allowing you to assign a different color to different uses like red for meat, chicken and seafood, green for fruits and vegetables and so on. But you need to put these on a solid base and take measures to keep them from moving while you are cutting.

That leaves my personal favorite: hard plastic acrylic. These are light enough to pick up and carry to your pan on the stove but firm enough to withstand the dishwasher or heavy scrubbing. They don’t soak up contaminants, but they can stain. These also are easy on the blade edge. In a small apartment, they can be used to give you temporary additional counter space by covering over the sink or cool stove burners. I’ve had mine for many years and it’s still a great cutting board. It has just a little texture on the surface to keep the food from sliding around, but not enough to make feeding the food into your knife difficult.

Blue Box, My @$$

I’ve said it before. Macaroni and cheese from a box may seem easy, but the damage to your health, and the health of your children, is just too high. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the stuff with powdered cheese-like bright orange substance or the kind with a cheese-like sauce in a pouch or can. Both are loaded with salt, fat and sugar. Yes, sugar. You’d be amazed at how many convenience foods have added sugar in some form. We already consume way too much of that.

So, what’s a carbohydrate loving bachelor, or a busy parent, to do? Make your own macaroni and cheese on the stove. And, believe it or not, it can take almost the same amount of time as the boxed kind.

When I was a kid, macaroni and cheese was not an everyday dish. It was something that was served on holidays or other special occasions because it took a lot of time. First you had to cook the macaroni. Then you made a cheese sauce with milk. Velveeta was a popular ingredient in that. While it is a processed cheese food, meaning not a cheese itself, it really does make a good and easy cheese sauce. In my family, the macaroni and sauce were brought together in a buttered baking dish and then chunks of cheddar cheese were inserted all around the dish and dotted around the top. This made a great macaroni and cheese with a little crusting around the outside and a center that didn’t run all over the plate. But it took time, money and some effort.

Today, that kind of macaroni and cheese is rejected by most kids and lots of adults who like the stuff in the box. It’s familiar. It’s cheap. It’s quick. It’s easy.

It’s crap!

Forget the box without taking all that time as with old fashioned macaroni and cheese. This way you can control the amount of salt and fat and ditch the sugar altogether.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

This makes four servings and takes about 20 minutes.

Equipment:

  • A large saucepan
  • A small saucepan or microwavable measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil (oil will change the flavor but has less fat)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half or milk (another place you can cut the fat)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (I do my own with a chunk of cheese and a box grater)
  • Heavy pinch of salt (for the pasta water)

Directions:

  1. Put water in the large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt. Cook macaroni according to package directions, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Warm the milk either in the microwave for about 1 minute on high or in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. In the large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter or warm the oil. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly, a little at a time, whisk in the warmed milk. Whisk continuously until the mixture is steaming and starts to thicken, about four minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add the macaroni and stir to combine. Check seasoning and serve.

See? You don’t have to be dependent on the box, even if you don’t have a lot of time. We’ll look at some other homemade convenience foods over the next few weeks.

A Great Alternative to Fried Fish

People are eating more fish. And that’s a good thing. For some, the coming of Lent means more fish. And that means more fish frys at churches all around town. But how about fried fish that isn’t fried?

Baked fish is healthier, but frying adds a lot of flavor. It also adds a lot of unnecessary fat and calories. You can get a lot of that fried flavor in the oven with less mess and less fat.

Naturally, you will have to adjust the following recipe to fit the type, thickness and amount of fish you’re cooking. These instructions are written for two pounds of thick white fish, which equals about 6 servings. This process works better on thick fillets than thin ones. So, try this first with haddock, cod or something similar. Tilapia or swai will mean cutting the baking time about in half because the fillets are thin.

Make sure you thaw the fish thoroughly before you do anything else. About two pounds of meaty fillets should be rinsed and dried well with paper towels.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven the 400ºF. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

In a shallow bowl, combine 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg with 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. In another shallow bowl, place a cup of cornflake crumbs.

Dip the fish in the egg mixture and then the crumb bowl, making sure the fish are completely covered. Place the fillets on the baking sheet and coat with more cooking spray.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. They should flake easily with a fork when done.

Smothered Pork Chops With Mushroom Gravy

Most recipes for smothered anything involved a can of condensed soup, usually cream of mushroom. But we think you can do better. Kick the can and start from scratch. It’s surprisingly easy.

You’re going to need your cast iron skillet, dutch oven other large pan. Also, you need a small saucepan, around two quart size.

Start with four pork chops. Place them in a single layer (or as close as you can get) in a plastic container that can be sealed. Mix in a bowl or other container a simple marinade of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, a few of your favorite spices and a couple cloves of minced garlic. You want a little more vinegar than oil and don’t skip the garlic. Because we’re going to leave this on the counter in the sealed container, the garlic acts as a natural anti-bacterial. Along with the vinegar, you can leave the meat at room temperature for up to two hours.

While the meat is marinating, chop half an onion into rough pieces. Mince another two cloves of garlic, this time for flavor. Rinse about eight ounces of sliced mushrooms. Heat up your skillet over medium heat. Add about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, then your onions. Stirring often, cook the onions until they just begin to brown at the edges. Add in the mushrooms. A pinch or two of salt will help bring out the moisture in both the onions and mushrooms and help the caramelization. Now is the time to add the garlic. Don’t add it too soon as it will burn and turn bitter. Some ground pepper will also help.

Meanwhile, put your saucepan over medium low heat and add two or three tablespoons of butter. Allow it to melt. Slowly whisk in an equal amount of flour and whisk into a paste. VERY slowly add about two cups of milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat down to low and when the mix begins to thicken, add the mushroom and onion mix. Allow it to simmer lightly, stirring frequently.

Put the skillet back over medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. One at a time, place chops in the pan. Let the meat sit for about two minutes, then turn over onto another area of the pan. Wait a minute and add the next chop. Do not crowd the pan. After both sides are browned, you can stack the chops if you need the space. Once all the chops are browned, spread them out in a single layer and pour in enough of the marinade to cover the bottom. After five minutes, turn the meat over.

By now, the mushroom sauce should have thickened a lot. Pour it over the chops, cover the skillet and turn the heat to low. Allow the chops to simmer for another five to ten minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 125ºF. Turn off the heat and finish your side dishes. Rice or potatoes go well, along with some steamed broccoli.

Who needs canned soup?

Egg Pan

Kitchen intermediates are tools, equipment and cookware that are helpful but not absolutely necessary. These useful items have to be adaptable to lots of uses and fill a need the basic equipment doesn’t fill.

Many people have a full range of skillets or fry pans. My experience says that for most people, several of your sizes will collect dust. This is especially true if you’re a bachelor.

A cast iron skillet is a basic necessity. Other useful skillets would be a sauté pan, which has rounded sides making flipping food easy. But probably the best second pan to have is an egg pan.

Egg pans are just small skillets, usually five to seven inches in diameter. Most restaurant models are not non-stick because they use a lot of butter or oil if they use one at all. But for home use, the best version is non-stick, which allows you to use a minimum of oil or fat. Because eggs should be cooked at low heat, the non-stick coating should not create a problem. You’ll find you use this several times a week for more than just eggs. Just be sure to treat it kindly.

This is not the same as an omelet pan or one of those multi-cup things for poaching eggs. Those are pretty worthless.

You’ll want to invest in the proper tools to use your egg pan. In addition to a wooden spoon, a plastic, flexible spatula or turner will also be required. Never use metal utensils on a non-stick pan.

 

Kitchen Basics – Part 10: Appliances

An important part of this blog is talking about dealing with a small kitchen, like those found in most bachelor, or single’s, apartments. It’s usually a galley kitchen, meaning everything is pretty much on one side along a wall. On a boat, the kitchen is called a galley, while the dining room or area is called a mess. Galleys usually are a model of efficiency and compactness because there isn’t much space available. We don’t know why the dining area is called a mess, except that’s probably what you get when people are finished eating on a rocking ship on the open sea.

There’s no one pattern for a galley kitchen because how things are laid out will depend on the available space. It also depends on the layout of the building, where apartments often are arranged like Tetris pieces.

The one common element in a small kitchen is a lack of counter space and cabinet space. That means you have to make careful choices, not only about what sits on the counter, but what gets stashed in the cabinet.

We asked readers what appliance they had gathering dust in the back of a cabinet. Diane in Texas wrote, “My Braun hand mixer. Occasionally I will use the chopping attachment with it but not much. It sits at the top of my pantry gathering dust.”

That’s typical. Most people do have an appliance they don’t use. So, what do you do when you only have a small amount of counter space?

Our rule is never have more than three appliances on the counter at any time. In this stage of our discussions, we’re talking about Kitchen Basics, the minimum things you need to cook a meal and eat it. That means there are lots of useful appliances we won’t discuss until later.

Remember your ideas and comments are alway welcome.

So, what three appliances do we think should take up that valuable counter real estate? A lot is going to depend on your own lifestyle and the things you like.

At the top of our list is a microwave. We know people did without this modern convenience for a long time. But the microwave is great for cooking frozen items or quickly heating water for almost anything. It can freshen up baked goods, heat leftovers, melt cheese on dishes and sandwiches and melt delicate things like chocolate without a double boiler. There are also some things it does not do well. Eggs can become rubbery, meat turns gray, meat can explode, baked potatoes get hard and so on. We use it every day. We recommend getting one with a turntable and large enough to contain a medium size bowl.

For coffee drinkers, the next choice is a coffee maker. We’ve seen the fancy ones, the programmable ones and the very, very simple ones. Coffee has become big business and gone from a diner staple to a gourmet experience. But there are some of us who just want a simple cup of coffee, fresh and well-brewed. You can spend a little or a lot, depending on what features you want, size and whether brand names matter to you. But we think the Bachelor is more interested in a cup of coffee than impressing anyone with a fancy contraption that takes up a lot of space with features that are never used. And we think money might be a big consideration for lots of bachelors, especially if you’re setting up your first kitchen. So my choice is this Kitchen Gourmet brand 5-cup coffeemaker. It makes just the right amount for a big insulated mug.

Zap Your Food For Faster Service

There are many things that just don’t do well in a microwavemicrowave. But this modern miracle appliance can do a lot more than warm up leftovers or cook frozen entrees. Using a microwave to cook those food that do well in that device can save a lot of time and money. Microwaves usually use less energy than stoves or regular ovens. Also, they generate less heat in the kitchen, an important consideration during the summer months. If you’re going to take up valuable counter space with this appliance, then you should make the most of it.

Many foods do not do well in the microwave. Baked goods, for example, can come out unevenly heated and rubbery. Anything that needs browning, like meat, doesn’t do well.

Some things can benefit from use of both a microwave and a conventional oven. Baked potatoes fall into this category. If you cook them all the way in the microwave, the small ends will become hard and inedible. But if you start them in the microwave and finish them in the oven, you cut down the amount of time that hot oven needs to be on. This method can also work on some stovetop items.

Here are some other foods that do well in the microwave. Just remember to use no metal. If you use plastic containers, make sure they can handle the heat of the food. Always cover your food to hold in moisture and keep splatters from making your microwave a mess. And always leave some venting for steam to escape. If you have one with varying power levels, use them. Remember you can always add more time. Treat all liquids heated in the microwave with respect, because you can get burned. I know, I’ve done it. If you need to buy microwavable cookware, a few pieces probably would be a good idea to have around.

Rice. Combine one cup of uncooked rice with two cups of room temperature water. Cover and heat on high for five minutes, then at 50% power for 12 minutes. While this doesn’t cut back on regular cooking time by much, it creates a more consistent product with less chance of mushiness or sticking.

Hot Cereal. Whether it’s oatmeal, cream of wheat or something else, cooking quick or instant versions in the microwave in the same bowl you’re going to eat from is a big time saver and has less clean-up. Just follow the directions on the package.

Corn on the Cob. Leave the corn in its husk and lay them on the microwave oven turntable. (Don’t have a turntable, stay close so you can turn the food around every 30 seconds or so.) Four ears take about 10 to 12 minutes on high to cook. The moisture in the corn will steam the kernels in the husk. Rearrange the husks and turn the cobs around every 2 to 3 minutes. Allow them to cool for a minute or two and the husks and silks should come right off, easier than with raw corn. While you’re at it, butter melts nicely in the microwave, too.

Cauliflower is not a vegetable high on my list of favorites, but you have to give it credit where it’s due. What makes this  vegetable great for the microwave is its shape and texture. Those allow cauliflower to cook evenly. Just cover loosely with plastic wrap and cook on high for 6 to 8 minutes depending on the size and weight. Not only is this faster, no nutrients are lost in the process.

Mixed Veggie Platter. I’m a big fan of stir-frying for cooking combinations of vegetables. You can do the same in the microwave. Just make sure the veggies are all cut into pieces about the same size and then place slower cooking, denser vegetables like carrots and potatoes on the outer edge of the plate; lighter veggies like asparagus, green peppers and onions should be in the middle. Leave them wet after rinsing them. Cover with waxed paper. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes on high.

Fish. Since it doesn’t have to brown, fish steams well in the microwave without drying out or absorbing fat from frying. Cover and cook for about four minutes per pound, rearranging and turning at least once halfway through.

Sadly, this technique doesn’t work as well with chicken, which can, if you’re not careful, become rubbery or can explode like someone put a little bomb in the middle of it. Because thickness varies so much, chicken often cooks unevenly, leaving the smaller ends hard and nasty.

A microwave is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you will ever own and well worth both the investment in money and in time, learning how to use it well.

Pull Sweetness Out Of Microwave

Oh, the things you can do with a microwave. microwave2After an initial love affair, American cooks felt betrayed by this appliance. Yes, it could cook. But there were problems. Outer edges got overcooked while middles went raw. Defrosting meat actually cooked it. And microwaves don’t brown. The microwave became delegated to warming frozen and prepared foods, reheating coffee and making uber-salty popcorn.

The microwave is certainly no panacea. There really are problems with some types of cooking and some types of food. But if you understand how it works, you can make better choices about what you do it. And then you can begin to pull wonderful things from it’s shiny interior.

We’ve talked about some of things you can cook in the microwave, and I’m sure the subject will come up again. But what I want to discuss now is making desserts in the microwave.

One thing the microwave does well is heat liquids and easily melted items, like chocolate. Combine that chocolatey goodness with nuts and fruit and you’ve got a quick, easy and very tasty dessert. If you have chocolate chips or cocoa powder and sucralose, you’ve got the starting ingredients.

If you don’t have chocolate chips, or you want to cut back on the sugar, use my famous sugar-free, low fat chocolate sauce that can be warmed in the microwave. Just take equal parts cocoa powder and sucralose artificial sweetener and mix with a little water. I start with a tablespoon of each and work the mixture into a paste. It will take quite a bit of stirring to get there. Then stir in small tickles of water at a time until you get the consistency you want.

To melt chocolate chips, place 1/4 cup per serving in a microwave safe bowl and heat on medium for one minute. Stir then continue microwaving in 20 second intervals, stirring after each heating, until you get the consistency you want.

Chocolate Bananas. Can you think of a better way to enjoy bananas? Simply cut a banana into slices into a bowl and drizzle melted chocolate chips (or my chocolate syrup) over the slices. How simple is that? And if you think simple can’t be that good, you’re wrong.

Chocolate Fondue. This is even easier. Get a nice warm chocolate sauce like before and then just dip pieces of fruit (dried or fresh), bread or marshmallows in the chocolate.

Warm Cherries with Ricotta and Sliced Almonds. Warm cherries in a bowl in the microwave and top with creamy ricotta cheese and sliced almonds or other chopped nuts.

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes. Melt a quarter cup chocolate chips as described above and combine with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese. Lay out 12 chocolate wafer cookies and spoon a tablespoon of the chocolate-cheese mixture onto each. Then top each one with a 1/4 teaspoon of fruit jam in the flavor of your choice. Voila!

Get the best out of your microwave without skipping dessert or adding a lot of fat and sugar.

 

How to Stock a Pantry

Many of these items are no-brainers, things you have to have in the kitchen. But many items on our list are things you might not have thought about to keep a well-stocked pantry.

Obviously, salt and pepper are essentials. In The Bachelor’s Kitchensalt, we like to keep at least two different kinds of salt on hand: kosher and regular table salt. For pepper, we have both a tin of pre-ground (makes for easier measuring in recipes) and a grinder filled with regular black peppercorns.

Oils are another essential. Again, we recommend at least two versions. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great for salad dressings and for many cooking applications. But it’s not good for high heat, which requires regular vegetable oil, peanut oil or corn oil.

Another essential is all-purpose flour ap flour. If you do a lot of baking you might want to consider also having things like whole wheat flour or bread flour or pastry flour. But really, for nearly all those things, you can still use all-purpose. That’s why they call it that. Keep in mind all-purpose flour will keep for a very long time, as much as a year or more. Most of the others are only good for a few months.

Along with the flour, you need granulated sugar. Even if you avoid sugar or use a sugar substitute, you will still need a small amount at least of regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners often don’t work well in cooking and baking. Even if you’re diabetic, a little bit of sugar should be okay as long as you count it in your carb intake. Sometimes, there’s just no substitute, especially in baking.

Often people don’t like to use canned goodscannedfish. We understand. But there are two good reasons to have selected canned products in the pantry. First, some canned products can be better than fresh depending on the season. For example, tomatoes out of season are usually tasteless. This is because they have to be picked early while still green and hard so they can survive the long trip to your store. Once picked, they don’t develop any more flavor even if they appear to ripen. Canned tomatoes are allowed to stay on the vine longer because they don’t have to travel very far. Processing facilities are usually nearby. That means the quality of canned tomatoes can be better than fresh for most of the year. Also, the canned tomatoes can keep for a couple of years in various forms: stewed, diced, crushed, whole, sauce or paste.

That brings us to the second reason to keep canned goods in the pantry. It never hurts to have an emergency food supply. In the event of a storm or other event that keeps you from the store, it’s good to have plenty of non-perishable food handy. We recommend having items from each food group. Canned vegetables and fruits are easy.

Many people don’t like canned meats, but if cooked properly, they can be quite good, especially when your options are limited. Canned fish, besides tuna, are also good to have. If you combine selected canned goods with the stuff to make bread or other staples, you can survive without refrigeration for days.

Other canned goods you need are basic ingredients like chicken, beef and vegetable stock or broth and canned beans. Just remember to buy reduced sodium stocks, soups and broth and to always rinse canned beans to remove excess salt.

Vegetable Stock Great Use Of Trimmings

We talked last time about ways to save money by not wasting food. One of those tips was to save the trimmings and scraps from preparing vegetables to use in making a stock. That brought to mind the idea of making your own vegetable stock for making great dishes later.

Save those trimmings. When you’re trimming vegetables for use in other dishes, keep a bowl or plastic container nearby for things that can be used for stock. While you don’t want to use onion skins or potato peels because they cause problems in a stock, onion roots, scallion and leek stems, carrot ends and celery tops and root ends can add a lot of flavor to a stock. Just throw the cleaned trimmings into a sealable plastic container and shove into a corner of the freezer. When the container is full, it’s time to make stock, an easy weekend activity.

What to use. Onions, garlic, celery and carrots should be the base of a good vegetable stock. In addition to the trimmings you’ve saved, peel and cut into large chunks a couple of medium-sized onions. Just cutting them in half, from root end to top is best.

Break up a whole head of garlic and peel the papery cover off each individual cloves. Keep the cloves whole, otherwise they fall apart in the pot.

I don’t like to peel carrots unless necessary. Just scrub the skins thoroughly under cold running water, just as you would a potato. Cut into large chunks.

The outer leaves of celery stalks are bitter, so think about whether you want to add them. But the tops and leaves of the inner stalks are great. Also use the root ends after they have been thoroughly cleaned.

A potato scrubbed and cut into large chunks will add a thickening effect to your stock, but peels alone will break down and create a cloudy, gluey mess.

I think a slow cooker is ideal for making any kind of stock. But if you don’t have one, a large pot, like a stockpot, is just as good. Load all your ingredients into the pot and add enough water to cover by about an inch. Now is also a good time to add seasonings. Peppercorns, bay leaves, herb stems and trimmings, parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil and similar fresh herbs and aromatics are good additions. If you don’t have fresh, you can use dried, but you might want to put them into a tea ball or a cheesecloth bundle so they don’t cloud the stock. Don’t use powdered or ground spices for the same reason unless you don’t mind them floating in your finished stock. You want to add flavor, but you also want it to be as generic as possible so it can combine with other ingredients and complement them rather than dominate the other flavors.

Put the pot uncovered over high heat. Bring the whole thing to a boil and then turn down the heat to as low as you can get and still see some bubbles. Cover. Check to see that there’s still a very slow simmer. You may need to turn the heat up to medium-low to keep it going.

Simmer for at least an hour. You can let it go for up to three hours if you have other things going on.

If using a slow cooker, cover and put the heat on high for at least an hour or until you see some simmering at the sides. Then turn down to low and let it continue for at least three hours.

Allow the stock to cool somewhat before straining. The liquid can go into sealed containers for the refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerated stock can keep for about a week. Frozen can last for months. Another possibility is to pour still hot strained stock into canning jars with new lids. The cooling stock will seal the lids which can then be kept in the pantry for several months without refrigeration.

Tips and Tricks:

Your finished stock should be a light, translucent color with a slightly sweet taste. For a darker, richer tasting stock caramelize the onions and carrots but cutting the chunks into slices and saute over high heat with a little oil until the natural sugars are drawn out and begin to brown the vegetables.

Roast your veggies for another way to add richness to the stock. Like sauteing, this will bring out the natural sugars and add a lot of flavor.

Don’t add salt until the end when you have tasted the stock. Adding salt too early will result in something inedible because the salt will concentrate as the stock cooks.

Use the vegetables for mild flavor in soups and other dishes. Mashed these make a great thickener to sauces and soups. By themselves, they will have little flavor left, but that’s good for some uses. You can make vegetable patties or return to the pot to make a thick stew with beans and tomatoes or tomato sauce.

Use this stock instead of water when making soup, rice, cooking other vegetables or grains and lots of other uses where you want flavor without adding calories or losing valuable nutrients.

In these tough times, we need to use everything, just as our ancestors did as they settled new territories on the American frontier. Take a page from their book and cut your waste and your expenses by doing more cooking ingredients on your own.