Scratch Bakers, I Feel Your Pain! (Very Long!)

Lounge By indydebi Updated 22 Oct 2010 , 10:00am by scp1127

indydebi Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:02pm
post #1 of 80

My sister (the one with brain cancer) comes to Indy twice a month and we always meet for lunch. So this week I decided to make my beef-n-noodle dinner and we'd just have lunch at my house.

I absolutely HATE any noodles that come in a cellophane bag! I refer to them as "plastic" noodles. Sometime ago I discovered "homemade" egg noodles in my grocer's deli dept. They were thick, soft and covered with lots of flour. I tried them and they worked as well as mine w/o the work. Over the years, these have even gone commercial grade and the ones available today are just as "plastic" as the rest of them.

So I'm remembering a frozen noodle-dumpling and I try to find that but 3 grocery stores don't carry it. I decide, screw it, I'll make my own, which will taste better anyway.

but as I'm walking thru 3 grocery stores trying to find these noodles, I'm struck by what foods ARE available.

Lots of Meals-In-A-Bag. Just microwave and pour in a serving dish, or 7 minutes in a skillet. Heck with the right choices, one never has to go down the produce or canned veggie aisle! Its all inclusive in the bag. Or even in a box. And it strikes me ..... "does no one actually COOK anymore?"

now I'm the first to admit that our lives are hectic and I often joked about Im a caterer. That means we have no food in the house and we live on fast food. But as I stared at all of the pre-made meals in all kinds of combinations, I began to lament about real cooking becoming a lost art.

And my light bulb goes off as I realize this must be what you scratch bakers feel like. That baking like what you do is becoming a lost art . Unappreciated by those who have never experienced (good) scratch baking. Much like my irritation when someone says a scratch mac-n-cheese dish doesnt taste like the kind in the blue box (duh!) just because all theyve ever had is the blue box kind.

Or they think those canned chicken-n-dumplins would be just as good as the ones I make . The ones my family BEGS me for; the ones that allow me to get any computer work I need from my son coz all I have to do is bribe him with theres chicken-n-dumplins in it for ya!

Now if they LIKE blue box mac-n-cheese or if they LIKE canned chicken-n-dumplins, theres nothing wrong with that, much like those who LIKE box mix cakes (like me . Ill admit it!) But Ive been lucky enough to sample both kinds .. real baked mac-n-cheese and the blue box kind; real chicken-n-dumplins and the canned kind . And Im able to make a choice about which one I prefer.

But Im afraid there is a whole generation who will never know the difference. Will never really experience the thrill and the excitement and the taste of making it yourself. Will never understand the art and talent behind the work.

And that just makes me wanna cry. icon_cry.gif

79 replies
sadsmile Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:20pm
post #2 of 80

Yup... that's what all the scratch is about. You can taste the love in a good scratch cake and again sometimes it takes making the recipe 20 times before you get it and it comes out like it's supposed to. That's a high investment of supplies and time for someone who doesn't understand how it works... same thing with cooking. We live in an instant gratification era hence all those ready to eat heat and serve stuff.

Dude the first time I tasted home made fresh pasta I was freaked the crap out... I was all, "these -THESE NOODLES ROCK!!!!" And little light bulb brightened above my head... somethings are just better made fresh, which actually turns out to mean most things. But(and this is a big BUT)... the person doing the fixing has to really know what they are doing to get it right.

crazyladybaker Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:20pm
post #3 of 80

Totally agree. Ready to eat meals are everywhere in every form now days. It is sad that we are loosing not only the art of actually cooking from scratch but also eating fresh foods that aren't packed with preservatives a mile long.
I have been on a roasted vegetable kick lately and they are so much better than the microwave bag of vegetables.
Don't get me wrong...I do use some of the premade things but I think it is becoming a first instinct thing now days. thumbsdown.gif

Loucinda Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:27pm
post #4 of 80

There are many things I only make from "scratch" all soups, noodles, lasagna, artisan breads, pastries, etc. I made sure my kids all knew how to COOK. My middle daughter got made fun of because she had never made "instant" potatoes!

During the fall I start in....just made my homemade vegetable soup and had all the kids over for dinner Sunday. Megan (my youngest - 22) says I drive her CRAZY with the way I cook. No cookbooks for most of the things, just adding what tastes good! (now, for the baking, I follow the recipes!) I even have my own sourdough starter here. (2 kinds, my own - which is more "sour" and one that has been around for over 100 years!)

I still cannot convert my hubby from that blue box maccaroni and cheese. I prefer the nine cheese homemade kind!

You're right though, COOKING is a dying art, IMO. I am so fortunate I never had to work outside my home. It has "spoiled" my family though! They do not care for the "food fast" kinds of things.

Loucinda Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:31pm
post #5 of 80

My loopy bow dryer is a fantastic pasta dryer too! icon_biggrin.gif

Jenn2179 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:38pm
post #6 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

There are many things I only make from "scratch" all soups, noodles, lasagna, artisan breads, pastries, etc. I made sure my kids all knew how to COOK. My middle daughter got made fun of because she had never made "instant" potatoes!

During the fall I start in....just made my homemade vegetable soup and had all the kids over for dinner Sunday. Megan (my youngest - 22) says I drive her CRAZY with the way I cook. No cookbooks for most of the things, just adding what tastes good! (now, for the baking, I follow the recipes!) I even have my own sourdough starter here. (2 kinds, my own - which is more "sour" and one that has been around for over 100 years!)

I still cannot convert my hubby from that blue box maccaroni and cheese. I prefer the nine cheese homemade kind!

You're right though, COOKING is a dying art, IMO. I am so fortunate I never had to work outside my home. It has "spoiled" my family though! They do not care for the "food fast" kinds of things.




OMG instant mashed potatoes make me want to vomit! It is real mashed potatoes all the way for me.

Loucinda Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:41pm
post #7 of 80

Ditto! My families favorite have horseradish & parmesion cheese in them, they are known here as my "killer" mashed potatos!

adamsgama Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:46pm
post #8 of 80

I totally agreed with Debi. How many Mothers, or dad's are home now to teach children how to cook. How many schools still offer cooking classes, or in my day Home EC.. My Mother knew how to cook and she tought me.
Our children are only doing what they are taught. Why cook a 3 course dinner, when you can go get KFC for $30 bucks and get to the 20 other things we have to do today.

Adamsgama

indydebi Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:48pm
post #9 of 80

icon_lol.gif Karmacakes, I'm not sure if I just figured it out or if I just needed a swift kick the a$$ with a frozen boot to move it from the back of my head to the front of my brain! icon_lol.gif

I'm on fall break from school this week. I'm gonna be makin' me a scratch cake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thumbs_up.gif

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:48pm
post #10 of 80

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sari66 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:49pm
post #11 of 80

I cook from scratch always, my father taught all us kids how to do it and I taught my daughter as well. I recently tried one of those meals in a bag and was horrified by the amount of sodium in those things! There's enough in those for a week and it's just one or two servings in the bag. Needless to say I'm no longer tempted to try one again. As far as caking I do both and enjoy them icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:52pm
post #12 of 80

yes!

Scratch baking is a skill, and I know that I can speak for a lot of scratch bakers on this board when I say that I get tired of people calling us snobs for having a skill. I've said this a million times but I'll say it again, I'm not a sushi chef, but I don't call sushi chefs snobs. They have a skill that I don't, and I know it, but I don't begrudge them the skill.

The idea that good baking is a dying art isn't really the concern. There are plenty of places online to get loads of scratch baking knowledge, and there are plenty of people who appreciate it. I just get tired of people pretending that there's no difference between scratch and mixes (whether for cakes or any other type of food) because they're basically too lazy to learn a new skill. I will open a bag of Bertoilli but I don't pretend to know how to cook authentic Italian food because of it.

Here's my blog post on this topic, I wrote this a while ago but it's appropriate when I get on a rant! http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2010/09/im-tired-of-food-lowlitists.html

BluntlySpeakingKarma Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:01pm
post #13 of 80

That's a great article costumeczar, very enjoyable reading. Yes, our cakes may be $12 and up a serving, but what's in them and what it takes to make them would make most people's heads spin.

MissyTex Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:06pm
post #14 of 80

I agree, thats why I feel like Im a bad mother. When I cook for my daughter lately its a frozen cooked chicken breast out of a bag from HEB, a box of Rice-a-Roni with water and a couple of spoons of margarine, and a bag of frozen peasall cooked in the microwave. And she thanks me for making dinner! LOL! My mom used to cook. Of course, I have memories of overcooked crumbly ground beef and rice dishes, but she also cooked fried okra, fried eggplant, beef stew, spaghetti sauce, and this awesome shrimp dish we used to have for birthdays. I used to cook more often. I dont know what happened. Well, actually, I DO know what happened, sort of. I thought I had an agreement with DH that when he quit working to go back to school he would cook dinner and clean the house. Well, he cleans the house, but he dont cook! He is the one who discovered HEBs frozen food section. Then I was the one who got lazy! Maybe I need to go on a Julie and Julia misson and just decide Im going to cook something every day. Ha! Wishful thinking!

psmith Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:08pm
post #15 of 80

I was always a little surprised and perplexed when people would rave about my cake until it dawned on me that scratch cakes taste so different (than many box mixes. It really is bad though when you hear people talk about making a cake and they think that 'scratch' means picking up a box mix. There are a lot of young folks out there that don't even realize you can make a cake without a mix. I am wondering if the popularity of cooking shows on TV will make any difference?

Larkin121 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:20pm
post #16 of 80

Yup, yup, yup. On both counts, cooking and baking, too many people have no idea what scratch tastes like or any clue how to do it.

Some time ago I decided to have fun trying out a marshmallow recipe. I posted about it on Facebook and had a number of comments like.... "Wait, you can MAKE marshmallows??!" Um...yes, they don't grow on trees. icon_smile.gif

It's not only a taste issue... every year I have worked harder and harder to make more natural choices in our food (as best as we can afford, can't afford all organic yet), and it makes me sad now to see moms buying a whole cart of processed foods... either they don't yet know what that diet is doing to our country's health, or they do and they just don't care because it's too much work to give up having everything made for you.

MikeRowesHunny Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:25pm
post #17 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by psmith

I was always a little surprised and perplexed when people would rave about my cake until it dawned on me that scratch cakes taste so different (than many box mixes. It really is bad though when you hear people talk about making a cake and they think that 'scratch' means picking up a box mix. There are a lot of young folks out there that don't even realize you can make a cake without a mix. I am wondering if the popularity of cooking shows on TV will make any difference?




I doubt it, Carlo's Bakery uses mixes and bucket icing too (confirmed by someone who worked there)!

still_learning Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:35pm
post #18 of 80

It's funny. I've seen SO many debates on this site about box mix vs. scratch and it just shows how clueless I was. I come from a long line of baking/cooking from scratch people that it never even occurs to me to do anything else. My Mom tells a story that I think explains it all... One day, a long time ago, her brother came home from the Army and he said he wanted creamed corn for dinner. My Mom and Grandmother (from Italy) had no idea what this was but went to the store and bought a can of it. Since they had no idea how to cook it they decided it would be best to boil it in a pot of water... the entire sealed can!!! I just love picturing the two ladies sitting around the stove wondering what the heck to do with something that came in a can - *gasp*!

I love all kinds of food - McD's and I have a long and happy relationship but when I cook I tend to the simple. I have a pound cake recipe that I think is maybe 6 or 7 ingredients and I couldn't love it more. I'm thankful that my Mom and Grandmother taught me how to appreciate simple, wonderful ingredients but I am glad there are lots of choices out there for the nights when cooking is the last thing you can stand to do!

psmith Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:36pm
post #19 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeRowesHunny

Quote:
Originally Posted by psmith

I was always a little surprised and perplexed when people would rave about my cake until it dawned on me that scratch cakes taste so different (than many box mixes. It really is bad though when you hear people talk about making a cake and they think that 'scratch' means picking up a box mix. There are a lot of young folks out there that don't even realize you can make a cake without a mix. I am wondering if the popularity of cooking shows on TV will make any difference?



I doubt it, Carlo's Bakery uses mixes and bucket icing too (confirmed by someone who worked there)!




Oh man! That's right! I remember watching that show and they had those huge frosting tubs and Duff sells cake mix now. I didn't even remember that until you posted it. Sad. icon_sad.gif

Yum2010 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:46pm
post #20 of 80

AWWWW!!! I am so disapointed to hear that Carlo's uses mixes and bucket icing. I always pinned him as an authentic, italian baker. That kinda bursted my bubble!

I admit that I do start from a box. I am still perfecting my scratch cake recipes, but I do envy those that can make the perfect scratch cake. I usually start experementing with new recipes around Christmas time. It's always fun!!

I love to cook also. I am still pretty young (28 years old) and it really does amaze me that I am a minority. Most of my friends admit that they can't cook and rely on instant boxed or frozen stuff to feed their families (which, so do I sometimes, but it is def. not the norm). I do work full time so we live on left-overs alot. But those leftovers are home cooking all the way. I usually cook on the weekends and on my day off during the week. My friends call me "Betty Croker" and "Martha Stewart", but the truth is, I find the kitchen to be very comforting and cooking to be relaxing and natural to me. My kids think of McDonalds as an occasional treat.

KoryAK Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:47pm
post #21 of 80

I don't think Duff uses cake mix in his bakery, just agreed to get paid for slapping his face on a box (and I would too!!)

When I was about 11-12 I wanted to make from scratch chicken noodle soup, noodles and all. I made the recipe, rolled them out, and then was sooo lost when the recipe didn't say how long or how to dry them. I spread them on every plate we owned all over the back deck in the sun to try to get them dried out enough to cook. Dinner time came and I just had to make due and boil the "unfinished" noodles. It was like another 5 years before it hit me (out of the blue, as these things do) that only store bought noodles are dried out!

Adevag Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:47pm
post #22 of 80

I'm wondering if people who don't know how to cook will even know what they are eating if all they do is buy ready made foods.
In my home, fast food is called leftovers icon_lol.gif
Last night I made a huge pot of lentil soup (not following a recipe) and today after spending a nice day outdoors (with my kids 5 and under) we had a really quick lunch that only took reheating some soup.

I always plan to include leftovers when I cook to help me save time.
My kids have only had real food and not made any big deals over one kind or the other. My kids favorite foods are brussel sprouts, broccoli and salmon to name a few, oh and mashed potatoes thumbs_up.gif

I think what is also happening is that our society is so rushed at ALL times that not all families give themselves time to sit down and eat together.

When I was a child and we went over to my grandmother for dinner we always spent a good time eating - out of respect of my grandmother. She told us that she had spend hours making this food so please don't just eat it in minutes.

cakeythings1961 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:48pm
post #23 of 80

When my kids were little, I was a stay-at-home mom who cooked and baked from scratch 3 times a day, everyday....and I have to admit I was a little smug about it. icon_redface.gif

Then I went back to school and back to work, often putting in 10 hour days. My family was lucky if they got frozen chicken nuggets and canned green beans on those days! I was simply too exhausted to do anything more complicated than that.

Now I'm retired and happily cooking from scratch again, but I'm much more understanding of why people rely on easily prepared foods. And when I bake scratch muffins or cupcakes I take some to one of the busy young families in the neighborhood!!

Yum2010 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 7:53pm
post #24 of 80

That's funny Adevag! My kids go nuts over Broccoli, and brussel sprouts!! Hahahaha! We frequently have our neighbors over for dinner and they can't believe my kids are fighting over veggies! Sometimes I can't believe it myself. People always ask me "What did you do to get your kids to like those things?" The truth is, I didn't do anything special at all. I just cooked it on a regular basis, put it on thier plates, and they saw my husband and I eating it so they followed along, I guess?

crazyladybaker Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:06pm
post #25 of 80

Love reading these posts thumbs_up.gif It reminded me of something my 10 yr old son said. We were in the frozen food section and he was begging for a TV dinner. My mom fed us that stuff all the time growing up so I swore my kids would not eat them.
Alas, I gave in and told him he could pick one of them. He walked up and down, back and forth and picked on with the little mechanically separated chicken parts and plastic mashed potatoes.


He wanted to cook it himself so he popped it in the microwave and waited. When he was all finished eating he said he didn't think he wanted one of those again. icon_lol.gif

luddroth Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:07pm
post #26 of 80

Debbie, that was a great original post -- as generous with spirit and insight and help as always. You made me (a confirmed scratch baker) think about a lot of things I had forgotten. I once had corn tortillas in Mexico made by women who started with the corn and ground it on a stone slab with lime (the mineral, not the fruit), turning it into the magic paste that they hand-patted out into pefect circles and cooked on an iron plate over a fire. They were incredible and nothing at all like the factory tortillas now sold here -- and in Mexico.

And I remembered the story my husband told about his school lunch sandwiches with his mom's homemade bread -- and the first time he tasted a classmate's Wonder Bread sandwich, he spit it out, totally disgusted. His mom made the bread for her whole family (5 kids) every week.

And I remember my mother-in-law discovering an antique kitchen tool in her aunt's things -- it was a corn scraper, used to take the kernels off of a cob. She decided that we should make corn fritters, so we used the antique tool to cut the corn off the cob and make the most amazing fritters from fresh sweet corn picked from her garden.

When we have the luxury of time, a HUGE luxury, it's great to enjoy the PROCESS of making food the old-fashioned way. It adds so much pleasure to the final product, which is no doubt healthier and better-tasting anyway.

CrescentMoon Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:08pm
post #27 of 80

I bake from scratch and for the most part cook from scratch as well. I have not ventured into the land of homeade pasta and the like and still use boxed ingrediants for certain things. I admit that before i married my DH I only ate the blue box Mac-&-Cheese and it wasnt until last year that I even attempted to make it from scratch. Let me tell you, I will never eat the box stuff again. Same with Chicken and Dumplings, Beef Stew and a few other thinks. My mom was never one to cook, but I have my MIL to thank for walking me through many of these meals for the first time. Baking has been strickly from scratch for many years and I have even taught my daughter (who's 11) that it is just as easy to make something from scratch as it is to open a box and tastes so much better and cost a lot less. Her favorite things to make are brownies and cinnamon pancakes (not together of cours).

luddroth Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:09pm
post #28 of 80

Oh, and Debbie, maybe the title of your post should have been, "scratch bakers -- I feel your pleasure"!

tgress13 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:12pm
post #29 of 80

Well, I grew up with all my meals being made from scratch. I'm from the caribbean and the only thing we ever bought canned was milk on occasions. I love to cook and bake from scratch and I can't even get away with using a box mix because my family will pick up on it right away. It just does not taste the same. Not that it's not good, it's just different. As for pre-made meals, it's just an occupational hazard when you work full-time, have a 2 hour commute and must do all the cleaning and cooking etc. Like others on this thread, I try to cook big batches on the weekend, and choose fresh ingredients at the grocery store. But i've also been known to open that blue box, microwave some veggies, and bake some fries.

Cooking/baking from scratch is becoming a lost art but I'm always glad to see my food appreciated and I pass along the knowledge wherever and whenever I can.

DeeDelightful Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 8:13pm
post #30 of 80

Well, I'm not very old, but I learned the art of cooking and baking from scratch. I also bake from a box from time to time, whichever is preferred at the time. I plan on passing that art down to my daughter (who is now 4 years old). There is just some good Southern cooking that can't be boxed, bagged or frozen and I still have a few friends that are learning and willing to try and cook. It's not completely lost, YET...LOL.

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