Extreme From-Scratch Cooking Month
In 2009, Michael Pollan wrote an article that pissed me off. It was called Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, and was essentially about how nobody knows how to cook anymore, and soon cooking from scratch would be a quaint notion that rivalled quilting and dying of polio.
The article made me mad because of the notion that not only is “from-scratch” cooking on the decline, that it would be impossible for anyone to do that today.
So, I did it. Cara and I spent a month eating only that which we cooked ourselves - from a single ingredient in its purest form. Things that required extremely specialized equipment or ingredients that were impossible to come by, such as oil, were excepted, but for the most part, we were monastic about our single-ingredient rule. We made our own butter, our own condiments, our own bread - everything.
It was a nightmare. We ate, on average, at about 10pm, and were up until midnight or so doing dishes. By the end of the month, I was cranky and wanted nothing more than to have someone else make me a meal - but we pressed on and did it.
The next year, we decided to do it again, but for some reason, there were a lot more exceptions - it was much less hardcore than the previous year, but it was still mainly from scratch, and mainly from single ingredients in their purest form.
The thing about it is that after we spent so much time cooking from scratch, making things we never considered making before, like crackers, tortillas, pitas, etc. it seemed silly to ever buy them again. Ours were better, and better for us.
We eventually got really good at cooking for ourselves. We both improved our skills dramatically - Cara with baking and me with cooking.
This August, we’re doing it again. We’re going back to the rules of the first year, making fewer exceptions and planning better. I work in an office (as opposed to at home, as I used to) so we have to plan bagged lunches. We have to plan dinner, snacks, condiments and everything else. We mill our own flour.
To begin the month, we’ve brined two chickens and are grilling them on the Big Green Egg so that we always have an easy, healthy protein available. We’re making pulled pork tomorrow as a more decadent prepared meat to have on hand when we want something easy and tasty. We’ve got plans for duck that I’m extremely excited about.
So, to make up for my lack of posting over the past year, I’m going to try to catalogue our month of abstinence from convenience, and maybe post a few recipes here and there.