Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Lesson Learned

I was disheartened when we picked up our mail last night on our way home from our financial meeting, in it was my Cook's magazine. To think it came after my blog yesterday and not before. Here I was telling the whole world I made angel food cake from scratch skipping all those chemicals. Then come to find out that until 2009 all cake flours on the market were bleached and bromated with chemical. Cook's said that King Arthur had come out with a unbleached cake flour that's missing all the junk. Well, knock me off my high horse and teach me to do a little more research.

The magazine says," King Arthur's unbleached cake four yields results virtually identical to those of bleached cake flour." Every year I try to do a little better about the products I use and using unbleached flour is one the things I'm working on. I have a good pizza dough recipe that taste much like Pizza Hut's thin crust that requires cake flour and I want to try a few other cake recipes that call for this ingredient so I'd better get some ordered and try it. Not that cake and such is so good for us. I don't want to give you that impression but Kirk and I haven't kicked our love of sweets. We're working on it. We rarely ever have pop and of course Kool-Aid and such is completely out. I cut the amount of sugar I use in lots of my cookies and desserts. Plus I use vary few products from the store which you know is loaded with sugar, so step by step were making progress.

And while were on the subject, I looked up cream of tarter just in case it was some horrible chemical and here's what I found. Cream of tarter is obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine. It is naturally in grapes and many other foods such as lettuce, brown sugar, steak, plums etc. In fact, mankind was making cream of tarter over 7000 years ago in Iran. Here I thought it was a more recent development.

Today we use it with egg whites to stabilize them. It is also used in some candy recipes to keep the sugar from forming crystals creating a smoother texture. Might be handy in those recipes where the candy tends to taste grainy. Wonder how it would work in fudge? Then again if my orange chocolate fudge turns out grainy, I just melt it slowly, reheating it a while, and refine the sugar granules. It works great. Note that this recipe does not have marshmallow creme in it so reheating it is a snap. I have a good recipe for home-made marshmallow creme I'll have to share with you sometime.

Cream of tarter is an acid and baking is all about chemical reactions such as when a recipe calls for lemon or vinegar. Taste isn't the only reason for using these products. It's the chemical reaction that they create. This is why they put cream of tarter in some baking powders.


My great interest in cake flour and cream of tarter is that each year I decide what I want to cease from buying from the store. The last couple years my goal was to buy a more natural ice cream and during this time I was to saving up to purchase a milk separator so I'd have my own cream. Then with money I'd receive on Christmas, I bought a new ice cream maker which made the task of creating our own ice cream much simpler and I now skip buying ice cream from the store. One of my other goals is not to buy cake mixes. That is why cake flour has become important to me.

So it goes year after year, I choose a few products I'm buy from the store and work towards producing my own. At one time it was Salsa, another was making my own stroganof without using mushroom soup from the store. Now I haven't used store soup in a couple years. I buy a few cans of store soup during hunting season for the guys to have in case of an emergency. They've almost not made it out of camp and back home the last couple years due to heavy snow storms. The soup is part of their emergency back up foods in case they get snowed in camp for a while. Then after hunting season, I give the soup away to charity.

Self-reliance is not something you can jump into over night. There is too many changes you have to make to your life-style and too many things you have to learn. Not counting all the equipment you need. Kirk and I find that after we do something for ourselves, we can't go back to buying it. As for food, the difference between the goodness of home-made and the inferiority of store bought is just too great.

One of my goals for this year besides creating my own cake and ice cream recipes is to make my own vanilla extract. I've heard there is no comparison between home-made and store bought.

Since your reading this blog I would assume that you too are trying to become more self-sufficient. I'm curious what changes you've made and what your goals are for this year. If it hadn't been for a blog I read and the Cook's magazine talking about home-made vanilla extract, I wouldn't be wanting to do it myself. So please share your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you are doing and planning.

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