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Old 01-15-2012, 11:18 AM   #11
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I most agree with Steve and GLC. I don't know where Steve gets the time or energy, but I would love to make all that stuff too.

My first thought, when I read the first post, was, don't we all do that most of the time?

Apple pie from scratch: the lard was rendered at a factory, the flour was ground at a factory, the butter was made at a factory, I didn't process any cane or beet juice to make the sugar, I have no idea how cornstarch is made.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
I most agree with Steve and GLC. I don't know where Steve gets the time or energy, but I would love to make all that stuff too.

My first thought, when I read the first post, was, don't we all do that most of the time?

Apple pie from scratch: the lard was rendered at a factory, the flour was ground at a factory, the butter was made at a factory, I didn't process any cane or beet juice to make the sugar, I have no idea how cornstarch is made.
I sometimes grind my own flour or buy it from the local mill in Manotick. But no, I haven't rendered lard for years...and the only sugar I've ever made was maple sugar--and that was because I fell asleep while the sap was evaporating (but it was REALLY good). The advantage of spending the time and energy to do some of these things (make salsa, etc.) is that I know what is in the stuff. And, the other advantage is that it leaves money in the food budget for the things we don't grow--cheeses, better cuts of meat, higher quality olive oils, etc.

When I lived in Fargo, ND, sugar beets were a huge crop (the morning news would have an announcement for people to come and hoe the rows for "day pay."). You could smell the processing plant from miles away if the wind was blowing (which in ND it does a lot). A friend worked there, her clothes brought the factory smell home (she had the apartment next to mine....I don't like the smell of sugar beets being processed).
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:34 PM   #13
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I work, so yes, I have prepared foods that I use to cook with. However, they are carefully chosen with no additives that shouldn't be in food. No HFCS's, no preservatives or artificial colors and flavorings. Otherwise I cook from scratch. I do my best to buy locally, but that is not always feasible.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
I most agree with Steve and GLC. I don't know where Steve gets the time or energy, but I would love to make all that stuff too.

My first thought, when I read the first post, was, don't we all do that most of the time?

Apple pie from scratch: the lard was rendered at a factory, the flour was ground at a factory, the butter was made at a factory, I didn't process any cane or beet juice to make the sugar, I have no idea how cornstarch is made.
This link explains how corn starch is made (Bert Wolf's show #107 explains it as well):

International Starch: Production of corn starch

This link explains how corn syrup is made:

How is Corn Syrup Made? | How Is It Made

Neither sound like something one could do easily at home.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:11 PM   #15
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I think we need to find some common ground in defining what are common ingredients?

I was a bit counter to many of the forum members when discussing the Campbell's grean bean casserole (is it a tradition?). I represented the opinion that requiring Campbell mushroom soup and French's fried onion rings made it a proprietary recipe.

Yet I can't imagine making my own sugar or cornstarch. (I don't use corn syrup in my recipes.)

I think it's a valid issue, when are you using a common generic ingredient (sugar, flour) and when are you using some trademarked commercial ingredient?

And I still sometimes use commercial ingredients, e.g. Wright's liquid smoke or Tabasco sauce. I don't understand where the dividing line is and I sometimes wonder that my own dividing line is a bit snakey.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:02 PM   #16
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I think that's as close as you can come to defining a "basic ingredient." It would be something that anyone could produce commercially or at home, all of them identical, without having to credit some proprietary owner or to be licensed by them. Any company can produce wheat flour, or sugar, or liquid smoke, and they are mostly interchangable. Catsup, then, would be a "basic ingredient, even though fans of one brand might believe their favorite is unique.

So maybe it really means that it is a single ingredient processed from one source, or that it's so unlikely that it would be made at home that it would be unreasonable to expect someone to concoct it themselves. I'm thinking fish sauce. I think it would be most unlikely to find someone making their own.

But we'll probably never get agreement on mayo and catsup and fried onion rings. Plenty of people make their own, and a fair number insist that it must be homemade. I fry shallot slices for the same purpose. But, although anyone can make mushroom soup, and many do, it's clearly a combination of many more basic ingredients and cannot be considered a basic. I think Louisiana style hot sauce is a basic, because, regardless of opinion on Avery Island, in a recipe, it makes no real difference which brand you use.

And although it's not definitive, basic ingredients are what appear in the ingredients label list.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:19 PM   #17
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GLC that's a pretty good analysis, or at least I agree with every point that you made.

In concept I understand how I could make mayonnaise, but I've never done it and I'm unlikely to. Although now that you've made the point I wonder what homemade mayonnaise would be like, particularly if it weren't just a reprise of Best Foods. I'm sure there must be gourmet mayonnaise recipes.

Fish sauce (nam pla in Thailand) is to me a very basic ingredient. I can't imagine making my own, and here in Los Angeles (a city with a large Asian community) it would be like making your own salt or something, to not just buy some brand, any brand, any of many dozens of brands I'm certain I could buy.

I don't think it comes down to what could you make. I think it comes down to what would you make even considering the plentiful supply of different brand names all of them almost or nearly the same.

Maybe it would be a lark to make your own ketchup, but how many people would want to do that considering all the vast variety of brands available?
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:27 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
...In concept I understand how I could make mayonnaise, but I've never done it and I'm unlikely to. Although now that you've made the point I wonder what homemade mayonnaise would be like, particularly if it weren't just a reprise of Best Foods. I'm sure there must be gourmet mayonnaise recipes...
I have made mayo at home. With a blender or FP, it's quite simple. The one thing I have determined for myself is a jar of Hellmann's is as good or better until you want to experiment with different favors.

You will also find homemade mayo will NEVER have the texture/consistency of the commercial stuff.

I'd put condiments into the basic ingredient category.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:39 PM   #19
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You will also find homemade mayo will NEVER have the texture/consistency of the commercial stuff.
I presume that you mean home made can't be as smooth and even.

A lot of the things I make are better because of their roughness, lumpiness or unevenness. For example I love my own home made lumpy mashed potatoes, with bits and pieces of skin left in. Most people wouldn't like that.

I guess I had better put "make homemade mayonnaise" on my list of things to do some day, just to see. (Oops, I just googled mayonnaise recipes. I guess it's only a matter of time before I try it myself.)


But I wouldn't make mayonnaise just because it was an ingredient to one of my projects and I wanted to use basic ingredients. I would make my own mayonnaise only if it were a stand out part of some dish I'm preparing, perhaps a special sandwich.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg View Post
GLC that's a pretty good analysis, or at least I agree with every point that you made.

In concept I understand how I could make mayonnaise, but I've never done it and I'm unlikely to. Although now that you've made the point I wonder what homemade mayonnaise would be like, particularly if it weren't just a reprise of Best Foods. I'm sure there must be gourmet mayonnaise recipes.

Fish sauce (nam pla in Thailand) is to me a very basic ingredient. I can't imagine making my own, and here in Los Angeles (a city with a large Asian community) it would be like making your own salt or something, to not just buy some brand, any brand, any of many dozens of brands I'm certain I could buy.

I don't think it comes down to what could you make. I think it comes down to what would you make even considering the plentiful supply of different brand names all of them almost or nearly the same.

Maybe it would be a lark to make your own ketchup, but how many people would want to do that considering all the vast variety of brands available?
Well, homemade ketchup is better than any brand of ketchup I have ever tasted.
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