So no, I am not completely homemade. I have made some cool stuff, but I am a working mom. I can’t make EVERYTHING every week. I try to look for things that come in big batches, huge pots of beans, big sheets of granola, tomato sauce. These are the real time savers for me, the items that either freeze well or are stable on the shelf for three weeks. Breakfast is easy, I keep a bag of granola at my office and that’s it. I like the expression ‘cook once, eat twice’. But I like ‘cook once, eat 5 times’ better. I think this is why preserved recipes suit me so well. A crock of pickles or sauerkraut or cultured mayo keeps in the fridge for weeks or months. I am not turning around every day and having to make mayonnaise for example. I do it once, culture it and then it’s there for me. This year has been as much about getting organized as it has been about understanding food and nutrition.
Sunday is the day that I cook the most. After a busy week I want to spend Saturday decompressing and having a little fun. These are the best days for meeting up with friends, going on a special trip with the kids, doing some shopping. But Sundays I like to spend around the house. I like to spend the morning cleaning. Scratch that. I like to keep the kids busy while DH cleans. But by the time noon rolls around I like to have a pot of something bubbling away on the stove.
Be it sauce or beans on the stove top or a pie or a chicken in the oven. Sunday afternoon was made for cooking. There is usually a quiet hour where Thing 1 is playing quietly, or playing with the kitchen faucet right next to me, and DH and Thing 2 are napping. For me this time is as peaceful as it comes.
My favorite things to make on Sunday:
1) Tomato-Meat Sauce: I have concluded that a good tomato sauce needs to cook for 2-3 hours on the stove top for it to have that settled in flavor. I like a red sauce that is rich and balanced. I also like it to be cooked down, not loose and light like a quickly cooked sauce. That’s just me. You might have a different preference. But getting rid of the jarred sauce was important for our family. Now once a month I make a triple batch and we freeze it in three different containers to pull out on a tight overly stressed night. It is my quick fix meal, and I know where it has been.
2) Granola-This recipe that I got from 100 Days of Real Food is amazing. I have replaced all boxed cereals that we used to buy. My hubs doesn’t even ask for s#!t like Honey Bunches of Oats anymore. This is all good real food. But it takes an hour to cook. So make it one Sunday. The batch is big enough that it will last you for a couple of weeks. Unless that is if you start selling half batches of your granola to your boss. Only then will you find that you turn through the stuff too fast. Not that I am doing that mind you…
3) Bone Broth-Making homemade stock has increased the culinary score of my kitchen by at least a full letter grade. I held off for a long time because I was afraid of the time commitment. I tried in vain to find a good bouillon. And while Better Than Bouillon’s organic varieties offer the best bouillon type product on the market place, it really isn’t a substitute for all the minerals and natural gelatin you will get from homemade bone broth. I like doing chicken broth on the stove top for 4-6 hours, while beef brother should be 18-24 hours and I think the beef is easier in the crock-pot. I encourage you to not to think of this as something you HAVE to do to replace your bouillon, but rather something NEW you should try because it is so different than bouillon. I mean how many crazy recipes did I try while I was avoiding making homemade broth?
4) Pasta-I admit, I need to work on my discipline here. With no pasta maker, making pasta at home with a rolling pin and a knife is a serious upper body workout. But the payoff is a batch of pasta that contains three to four eggs! That is vastly more protein than the boxes you buy from the store which contain only wheat and thus far less protein. And the lack of protein is my biggest issue with pasta in the first place. Having so much wheat with no protein spikes one blood sugar with nothing to slow digestion. It isn’t like drinking a soda, but it doesn’t make me feel good. Including eggs in homemade pasta is a big deal when it comes to more balanced nutrition. Now….maybe it is time for a pasta maker.
5) Fermented anything-I have made everything from mustard and mayonnaise to sauerkraut and preserved lemons by lacto-fermentation. More than just a fad (and it is gaining in popularity), lacto-fermentation allows you to preserve food much better. And add to this the climate controlled refrigerators we all have and now I can make homemade mayo with raw eggs and have it stay good for weeks at a time, just like the stuff from the store. Condiments were the biggest surprise in cooking from scratch. I didn’t enter into the blog expecting to make mustard but it has been one of the more satisfying things I have made. And the fermentation method makes me able to make a regular sized batch and not try and consume it all in the 3 days that it would otherwise be fresh. Fermenting on Sunday is not a necessity. These recipes don’t actually take a lot of active time. But it is nice to have something ‘cooking’ all week on your counter. And Sunday is a nice organized day to start off.
There you go. Those are my favorite things to cook. And you can see that they are all things that are made in big batches so I am more organized for the week. Pasta and sauce and soup are easy week night meals, but only if you have the stuff prepped. Doing more on Sunday has allowed me to spend my mornings getting ready rather than cooking at 5am (which I have been known to do).
If you have been wanting to ditch some food crutch that has been holding you back, think about why you turn to it. If convenience is the answer, consider cooking more on the weekends and looking for preservation techniques like fermenting or deep freezing to keep the ease in your week night routine.