I went back to my original post for this recipe on In Jennie’s Kitchen. Lord was I mess that week! The lesson here is this: if I was able to put up a pot of dry beans in the midst of tax season, receipts flowing freely form every crevice of my desk…with a one year old under foot, well then anyone can.
Nothing about life is basic or simple, especially with children. Just the act of leaving the house becomes a 15-minute ordeal—and that’s assuming you didn’t leave anything behind. Going back is not so quick and convenient for us city folk.
Some of my quickest meals are made from the pantry. And when I say pantry, I’m not just talking about the cupboard with dry goods. My fridge and freezer are extensions too, and the goodies I keep in there allow me to make lightening fast, gourmet-like dinners with little effort. One thing you’ll always find in my fridge is homemade marinara sauce.
I first tasted fresh ricotta about 10 years ago. It was revelatory. Creamy, almost buttery, bits of cheese, full of flavor that melt in your mouth. Nothing at all like the watery stuff I grew up eating off supermarket shelves. Learning how to make it last year ranks in my top ten of foods I can no longer live without. A simple dollop livens up a standard tomato basil sauce, and it’s the key ingredient to making manicotti, an Italian pasta “crepe” filled with ricotta and baked with sauce.
Making homemade apple sauce is a pantry staple well-beyond making your own baby food. This recipe was originally featured on Cuisinart.com, where I develop recipes and write their weekly blogs.
Very early on in my baking follies, I remember being told to spoon and sweep. As I’ve evolved as a baker, I now rely on weights. Not all cups are created equal, so that alone can mean the difference of an ounce or two.Scooping vs. sweeping is a whole other ballpark. Using one set of my measuring cups, the difference is just under an ounce.
Ounces matter in baking. To be even more precise, grams matter in baking, and there are 28 of them in an ounce, so a recipe with a variance of 2 ounces either way, will certainly affect your end result.
I was minding my own business, catching up on food blogs last year, when I came across Jen’s tempting pictures of what she’d been cooking while visiting her parents. They’d just recently made Julia and Jacques’ French onion soup, and next thing I knew I was slicing onions. It just so happens I’d bought some at the farmers’ market the week before for that very purpose but got sidetracked by the New Year holiday. No beef stock on hand, I started improvising. I could’ve made a quick vegetable stock, but work had piled up over the vacation and this was before I started making my own vegetable bouillon.
Homemade Vegetable Bouillon
makes one quart (4 cups)
Yes, this recipe really does need 7 ounces of salt. Remember, you’re curing the vegetables, and the salt ensures they do not go rancid. I’ve noted to use a measured teaspoon for each cup of prepared bouillon, but if you’re like me and prefer to dip in with one of your normal serving teaspoons, you will definitely need to add more water. Play around until you find the right ratio, since all silverware teaspoons are not created equal. And one last note—I have a monster Cuisinart (really, it’s 11 cups), so you may need to make this in two batches if you own a smaller food processor.