What do you cook from scratch?

I realized recently how much prepared food my wife and I eat. We have a kitchen full of all the appliances and gadgets: blender, stand mixer, food processor, Instant Pot, waffle iron, etc., not to mention a cupboard full of good ingredients, but while they do get used, I feel like we should be using them more, cooking stuff from scratch.

Living in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, I decided to get with the program and make some simple Latin American foods from scratch. A few weeks back I made empanadas from scratch, using up a bunch of accumulated vegetables from our CSA, and mixing up the dough was super easy in the food processor. I just tossed in the ingredients in the order the recipe instructed, pulsed a few times and it magically became dough! They came out so good, I got my wife into it and we made apple empanadas for an office party she was having and they were well received.

The other day I found a 5 lb bag of Maseca in the cupboard that we had bought for reasons I can’t even remember years ago and used only like half a cup out of, so I dumped some of it in a bowl, mixed it with water and a little salt and made tortillas, using the instructions printed on the bag. They didn’t come out so great; they tasted good but were too thick and tended to fall apart during the transfer from flattening to the pan, but I’ve done some research on the internet (and questioned my neighbors) and I’m pretty sure I know where I went wrong (I didn’t let the dough rest). I ordered a tortilla press that should be arriving tomorrow and I’m going to give it another go this weekend.

I kind of want to try pasta after that. It seems intimidating, but from what I’ve seen and read, it shouldn’t be that difficult.

What items/dishes have you cooked from scratch? Would you make it again?

Italian food because my sauce is da bomb! :smiley:

Home made pasta is dead simple and unless I specifically want elbow macaroni, I almost never buy the dried stuff from the store. If you want try to make your own pasta then you will almost certainly want to invest in a quality pasta roller. It will greatly speed your production and make life much simpler.

I typically make big batches of tomato sauce then portion and freeze it for use later. One cheap and easy hint, buy the spice blends that are geared towards people who make their own pepperoni sausage. It’s a very convenient way to add marvelous flavor.

I just started doing my own jams and jellies from scratch. That reminds me, it’s time to make another batch of sour cherry and rhubarb spread.

I’m not a very good cook, but baked beans from scratch - even made by me - is far better than from a can. I don’t care if mine only tastes better because “too much bacon” is not a phrase I normally use - it’s still better. :slight_smile:

We try to steer clear of processed foods, but I’m not quite up to making my own pasta or tortillas!
I can make a cake from scratch; I make creme brulee all the time (very simple). I assemble stuff like stir-fry without a kit, and make my own sauce…trying to think if I’ve got anything more complicated to brag about.

To me, the effort-to-reward ratio of pasta from scratch gets into the iffy zone. If I had to choose, I’d rather learn to make a great sauce, and put it on spaghetti from a box.

I make soup from scratch all the time. Chili, fried chicken, gumbo… lots of stuff!

Bread is much easier than many people think, even without a bread machine or dough hook. You spend about a quarter-hour mixing and beating up on the ingredients (very satisfying :)), and after that it’s mostly leaving it alone with a little attention now and then.

The key is to do some practice and/or watch some videos so you get a feel for what bread dough looks like when it’s sufficiently kneaded, sufficiently risen, and sufficiently baked.

Also, once your dough is mixed and kneaded, you can divide it into one- or two-loaf portions and freeze them in freezer bags (or clingwrap and foil). They will expand slightly in the freezer before becoming immobilized by the cold, so give them a bit of room to grow when you’re wrapping them, but then you can just take a hunk of frozen dough out of the freezer whenever you want it and let it thaw/rise before shaping and baking it as usual.

Hey, I get that. You need to set your own priorities to find your own joy. Just speaking for myself, fresh gnocchi pan fried with a bit of sausage in olive oil, with onions, peppers, garlic, pepper, parm, add a splash of half and half and then a big handful of fresh spinach - that’s dinner.

Biscuits, yeast rolls, sauces. I do alot of home canning. I can just about butcher and cook any meat, domestic and wild. Omelets are my special fun thing. And pie. Yep, pie. It’s easy ( as pie).

A lot of convenience foods like bread, cheese, spaghetti sauce, yogurt. I went through a Happy Housewife phase (and my husband went through a Fanciful Forager phase) but these days we’re too old and too rich.

I do make jam, pickles, and applesauce, and sauce as many tomatoes as the garden provides, which is never many. Actual pre-prepared freezer meals happen once or twice a week; eating restaurant food maybe once every two weeks. So I cook at home a lot, just not from scratch-scratch-scratch.

Bread. My homemade sourdough beats anything you can buy in a store.

Mashed potatoes
Mac & Cheese
Meat loaf
Pear sauce
Spaghetti/pasta sauces
Indian food
Chinese food
Mexican food
Italian food
Seafood dishes such as paella, mussels provencale, seared scallops, popcorn shrimp, cioppino, etc.
Pulled pork
Chicken fried steak
Full on turkey dinner

In other words, I make pretty much everything we eat from scratch. I’ve even made the pasta we eat, though usually opt for dried. I use beans from a can and tuna from a can, and I don’t make my own peanut butter or ice cream (usually), and I buy our bread from the local bakery.

Making pasta from scratch is pretty easy once you do it a couple of times (basic recipe is 1 large egg for 100g of flour, and just knead that sucker well for about 10 minutes, and let rest for about a half hour before rolling out or using a pasta machine–I don’t have the latter so I roll it out), but a bit of a pain in the ass. I only do it when I’m feeling bored or have a craving for it. It’s not “better” than dry pasta–it’s just different, as it’s egg-based and made from regular wheat flour rather than hard durum semolina. (OK, yes, there are semolina-based freshed pastas, of course, and dried egg pastas, but generally that’s the distinction I have in my head; if I’m making it by hand, it’s an egg-based pasta. If it’s dried, it’s a semolina pasta without egg.) But when it comes to serving something along with heavy meat-based ragus, I do love rolling out some papardelle.

Soup is almost always made from scratch using homemade broth. For me, that’s the whole point of making soup, but I also grew up on my mom or dad making soup pretty much as part of every single meal, so canned broths and stocks weren’t really used in my house growing up.

Pasta sauces are always made from scratch, as I don’t like any of the commercial brands except maybe for Rao’s, which is obscenely expensive.

I’ll bake bread, but that comes and goes in spurts, mostly because I’ll just devour the loaves and gain 50 pounds if I made it regularly. Usually, I just have some cheap white bread for toast around to prevent that from happening.

The one thing I’m not hugely into is home canning. I do it a few times (coincidentally, I have some pickles ready to go and get canned for tomorrow), so I’ll have a few jars of relish, pickled green tomatoes, etc., going on, but not a stockpile like serious canners do. We’re talking maybe 8-10 jars at most at any time. Right now, I think I only have two jars of pickled green tomatoes from last year in the pantry, but I’ll be adding a few more jars of pickles tomorrow.

For me, it’s more a question of what I don’t like doing or bother doing from scratch. Tamales is one of those things. Pierogi is another (I’ll do both every once in a blue moon, but, otherwise, I generally avoid them.) Thai curry pastes are similar–I know how to make them and have from scratch, but I’m fine just using Mae Ploy brand pastes and maybe adding a few fresh flavors to it to gussy it up and make it taste a bit “from scratch” without being totally from scratch. Most condiments I also don’t bother making.

Spaghetti sauce, Thai green curry, chilli, pulled pork, Thai red curry, broth, burgers, meatloaf all currently home made and in my freezer ready any time!

Actually, except for bread, I make most of what we eat from scratch. We rarely order in or eat out, (except when we’re travelling.) I make Chinese food, noodles, stir fry, turmeric chicken, some Malay food like laksa, Indonesian Gado Gado, Kashmiri curry, I could go on, but you get the gist.

And speaking of bread, I learned how to make French baguette, largely from this board, after travelling through Cambodia where it was everywhere, yum! I often return from somewhere determined to make some dish I fell in love with while away!

We regularly roast, chicken, Pork tenderloin, beef and turkey, with all the fixings!

It’s odd because I came to this skill late in life, in my forties. Prior to that we were all about take out and fine dining in restaurants! It seemed such a struggle then, shop, prep, cook, eat, clean up…ugh! But now, it’s like nothing! In fact I routinely cook for friends as I know it’s easy for me and hard for them.

I’ve only just started getting good corn tortillas - it seems like it should be so easy, and yet it took several tries to finally get moist tortillas I really like! The trick for me is in letting the masa rest both before pressing, and especially after you cook - that’s the part that lets them get nice and soft. Check out Chef John’s video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH2f5C0z0Kg

Also - Masa can go rancid. If you’ve had that bag for a number of years you might think about getting a new one. It’s pretty inexpensive and might make a difference.

Another Chef John video with Masa is puffy tacos - I’ve done these a few times and they’re well worth the effort!


I speak from experience that it definitely gets icky tasting after awhile. I don’t know how long that while is, but I want to say certainly within a year my masa has developed odd off-flavors. I’m not sure it’ll effect the actually tortilla making process if you’ve got the technique down, but they come out tasting weird.

Thanks for the tips! I’m excited to try it out again!

This was what i meant about effort vs reward. When I make something that isn’t obviously better (or much cheaper, or some major advantage) than what I’d get from a box or a can, I reconsider the whole thing. Even if something is a lot of fun to make, that’s an advantage of sorts - but if I’m going to be cleaning up flour afterwards, that reduces the Overall Fun Quotient as well.