The New Year is upon us, and I’ve chosen this year to officially begin a renewed effort to make healthy choices. Yes, I live on an organic farm and grow organic fruit, veggies, herbs and macadamias, so like most of our farm customers, that’s not the weak link. Oh no. The area that has troubled me for quite some time, and why a new workbook called: D.I.Y Cookbook has captured my attention, is this: everything else that goes into my farm kitchen isn’t as thoroughly vetted. Check out the ingredient labels on your chips, crackers, candies, muffins, breads, and more. I know there’s a load of diets and health recommendations out there that suggest wiping those items off the menu entirely, but here on planet earth I’m running a household with two teenagers and a busy schedule; so ridding my larder of those items isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I want an alternative we can all live with!
Born of a farming necessity, I’ve always been a D.I.Y. advocate, and D.I.Y. Cookbook is a compilation of “do it yourself” kitchen craft information that is presented in an easy to follow format. What’s important is that the writers offer numerous quick tips without which the home craftsperson wouldn’t achieve quality results. Discover the secret to perfect potato chips, what you need to know before tackling a homemade version of Fritos, and what special flour is needed to make a great graham cracker. Consider homemade marshmallows, corn chips, toffee, sausage, orange jelly slices, pickles, cheese and more! Who’d want to make their own marshmallows, anyway? Well, have you checked out the ingredient list on a bag of supermarket marshmallows lately? Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate and Blue #1 anyone?
Oh yea, Sodium pyrophosphate is sometimes used in household detergents but due to its phosphate content it causes eutrophication of water, (which is said to be a leading threat to water quality around the world) promoting algae growth and causing fish die offs. Yum! Can I have put some of that in my kids' s'mores? And animal studies on Blue #1 indicate that it can cause tumors and be carcinogenic to certain organs.
So there’s reason enough to craft our own snacks, and the effort may reduce snack consumption right there, I admit. Because making our own snacks takes time. I’m not exactly twiddling my thumbs over here at the farm, and almost everyone I know is busy beyond belief, but the thing is; being unhealthy is a big time and inspiration sucker, too. So maybe I can find the time to make a few snacks if I insist on eating them. My objective is to save a little time, save a little money; and protect my family's wellness. If I can do all that with a homemade s’more, dessert doesn’t get much better.
The authors have divided their work into 8 sections: Staples Made Fresh, Preserving, Pickling, Cheeses, Curing, Snacks From Scratch, Desserts and finally Beverages. My teenaged daughter would be pleased to see the authors chose the homemade version of Nutella as a kitchen staple. Loaded with beautifully photographed step-by-step images and easy to read instructions, the authors have done an excellent job of transforming what for many might be outlandishly unthinkable tasks (homemade tofu? goat cheese? sauerkraut?) into assessable tasks for just about anyone.