Extreme Cooking From Scratch Marathon

Today was cold and rainy, and when the weather is like that, I am usually tempted to cuddle up under a blanket with a good book or a movie. But sometimes, when the weather gets like this, I am tempted to cook and cook and cook and not stop, and that's what happened today. Today I had an intense cooking marathon specifically of things that one generally buys in the grocery store- lots and lots of condiments especially.

It started off with my kids asking me to make them toasted cheese sandwiches, which required ketchup. We were nearly out of ketchup, so I made some homemade ketchup sweetened with jaggery syrup. I didn't make the exact recipe in the link here- I made it extra sweet and vinegary, then watered it down and thickened it with starch. It makes the texture more similar to the store bought, and that way, it was enough to fill 2 empty ketchup bottles, plus have more left over, enough to fill a small jar.

Meanwhile, my kids had told me that despite the fact that the milk I had from when I got all that free milk wasn't spoiled (it was stuff I'd taken out of the freezer), they didn't like how it tasted (they were used to 3% milk, not 1%), so I decided to cook up two of the bottles left and make them into paneer cheese.
Making paneer cheese starts off similar to making cottage cheese- heating the milk and then curdling it with something acidic (I used vinegar), then straining it and rinsing it in a cheese cloth lined colander. Then I added salt to the curds and wrapped them tightly in the cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as I could. I then put it in one bowl and put another bowl on top of it, and inside that bowl I put a 10 lb weight, to press the paneer cheese into this form. Hopefully it'll stay together and not crumble apart when I try cutting it and using it in Indian cooking.

I had wanted to make almond butter for a while already, since I use my almond butter to make a quick nut milk, as I explain in my cookbook, Penniless Foodie in the Wild, so I made a batch of nut butter using over a kilogram of almonds.

Did I ever mention that I hate cleaning my food processor? Well, because I do, when I anyhow take out the food processor to make things, I am more inclined to make additional things in the food processor, because I'm anyhow cleaning it....
So I looked in my fridge and saw these red hot peppers that I got free from the market last time I was there and decided to make zhug or sahawiq, a yemenite hot pepper condiment. It came out awesome and I'll be sharing the recipe here soon. 

Of course if I'm doing Yemenite, why stop with zhug? I also made hilbeh, a Yemenite fenugreek based dip.

Next up was mayonnaise, since I had used up the last of my vegan flax based mayonnaise.

With some of the mayonnaise I decided to make some garlicky mayo based dressing that my husband and kids really love (again, recipe to come soon).

By this point, I was totally in the throes of my cooking marathon, and I didn't want to stop just yet, so I turned to my friends on Facebook and asked for suggestions of what to make. Someone said chutney, and at first I nixed that idea since I don't have so many fruit, but then remembered my delicious tomato chutney recipe and decided to make that...

Which we later had with our dinner of rice and red lentil dal. The chutney was everyone's favorite part.

Someone else suggested making barbecue sauce, so I took the ketchup that didn't fit into my squeeze bottles, and made a smokey barbecue sauce, inspired by this one, but not made exactly that way. I used extra homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce in this, sweetened it with jaggery syrup, added vinegar, used extra onions (which I blended), etc... It tastes great and I'm so excited to use it.

I was trying to figure out what else to make using what I had, and then I knew I just had to make my homemade delicious Italian dressing recipe, which I then made using my homemade redbud vinegar

I considered making homemade French dressing but didn't want to use up more of the ketchup than I already did in my barbecue sauce, and figured that I anyhow had 2 salad dressings, which should be enough.

I had some soft salty spreadable cheese that I was given free a while back, and I wanted to turn it into something, and thought to mix it with the only two cucumbers I had at home that hadn't spoiled yet (so much for no food waste.... eep) and some home grown mint to make a tzatziki like spread to put on my kids' sandwiches for school. Since I don't eat this type of dairy (it bothers my stomach, only aged cheeses don't) I had my oldest son taste test this and he said it was really delicious.

My friend has been asking me to share with her my recipe for Middle Eastern sumac and onion salad, which is super easy, but she wanted exact proportions so I decided to make it. I measured out what I made and wrote it down, and will be giving it to her as well as posting it here soon.

Lastly, a friend had been asking where she could buy gluten free french fried onions, to use for her green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, so I told her how she could make her own using my recipe, just switching to gluten free flour... so of course I had to do the same, and will be using these at my Thanksgiving dinner if they actually manage to last until then, they're that delicious. (I used a combination of rice flour and corn starch).

And now, of course, I'm totally wiped out, but at least my fridge is well stocked!

Have you made anything from scratch lately that people usually buy? 
The things that I made from scratch today, do you typically eat/use them in your house, and if you do, do you use store bought versions or make yours from scratch? Do you think you might try any of these at home that you haven't already? 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Another great post. I wish I had your drive when it comes to making things. Seems all I do these days is run from one store to the next trying to get everything. Since I have no food allergies, I go the lazy route and just purchase what I need. But this year I'm being a bit of a foodie snob with my in-laws. I mentioned to my husband how they never really have veggies on the Thanksgiving table that's healthy. So I'm making a zucchini & corn dish to take and I hope everyone likes it cos it's so good & healthy. Have a great Thanksgiving. Keep up the wonderful shares because I love reading your posts.

    1. Thank you! Yea, sometimes it actually easier to make everything from scratch than to go to the stores to get the various items. Good for you for bringing healthy veggies to the thanksgiving table! I will try to keep the posts up!

  2. That Italian dressing sounds delicious.

  3. My mother-in-law is Greek-American and she makes myzithra cheese. She taught me how to make it and it is delicious. None of us tolerate cow's milk dairy anymore so I buy sheep's milk myzithra. I also make my own salad dressings thanks to her inspiration. Catalina style is my favorite, then honey mustard. :) I usually make just enough for my meal though. Love your cooking spree! I have been cooking too, getting ready for Thanksgiving. Pies and side dishes... Happy holidays!

  4. What a spree! Sounds like a fun rainy day and your recipes sound fabulous!

  5. Love this! And such a nice setting to end the day with filled pretty jars.
    I wanted to share I was just at a friends house and she had painted all of her jar lids with a can of cheap spray paint.... she wrote on the top in chalk marker their contents and the whole display felt like a bistro counter. You like she and I reuse jars often so I thought I’d pass it along should you wish to try it as well.
    (Have to comment anon because my email is weird) have a beautiful day - Amanda

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