[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]
“Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog.”
– Harold Francis Callahan
If you like to cook you’ve experienced the private joy of making something from scratch that you usually buy pre-made, finding that homemade tastes better than store bought, and saving money in the process. Simple marinara is a good example of what I’m talking about. It’s remarkably easy to put together. Cheap too. Buy a can of plum tomatoes for a couple of bucks and combine with ingredients – olive oil, garlic, oregano and or basil, a splash of white wine, red pepper flakes, and salt – that you probably keep in the pantry and you have made sauce. You’ll have to wash a knife and cutting board in addition to the pan you’d have to wash anyway if you reheated an eight to ten dollar jar of whatever the grocery shelves have on offer, but since you were in charge it’s exactly as herby and salty as you like it. People will say things like “You made this yourself?” and you can act demure and pretend that it was not that hard but a little harder than it was. That’s just one example. There are plenty more.
If you really like to cook you’ve experienced the mania that drives you needlessly to replicate something that mass market food providers do very well and in the course of replicating you’ll spend at least twice as much as you would grabbing a bottle of whatever and there’s suddenly clean up where before there was screwing a cap back on. Most of the time this type of cooking is done just to say that you’ve done it. I made ketchup once. I’ll never do it again. The recipe called for more onions than tomatoes. I didn’t expect that. Hot dog sauce is a favorite condiment of mine so I figured I’d give it a go. It was disappointingly easy to make with only a modicum of mess but even though most of the ingredients are pantry staples I was able make it cost more than the three bucks I would have shelled out for the fruits of somebody else’s labor. The problem here is that even though there are great products out there I like my sauce better. Now I have to make it a lot.Continue reading