DIY: Basic Recipes

Hello, Readers!  I know we are always looking for ways to save money, especially with our grocery bills.  And, not everyone has the room in their pantry or fridge to keep rolls and mixes available, nor does everyone use them on such a regular basis as to require such mixes.  I know because that’s how I am.

Even though I regularly make certain recipes—cookies and cakes, pancakes and rolls—I still prefer my pantry staples and basic recipes (from scratch) than to spend the money on such items on a regular basis.  And, since most of my recipes call for the same ingredients, I tend to have those ingredients in my pantry at all times, even in my small apartment kitchen.  In fact, I have a separate space for my baking items—I call it my baking cupboard—that I utilize more frequently than my actual pantry, which contains our canned goods, pasta, sauces, and my husband’s lunch supplies.

In this baking cupboard, I keep a well stocked supply of flours—all purpose, red wheat, cake/pastry, and bread—as well as the basics for baking: sugars—granulated, brown, powdered, honey, and molasses—baking necessities—baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla extract, and salt—and the extras—dried cranberries raisins, old-fashioned rolled oats, chocolate chips, pecans, shredded coconut, and unsweetened cocoa powder.  My freezer always has at least one pound of unsalted butter—my go-to for baking—and I always keep fresh eggs on hand.  I have learned a variety of recipes for breads and for baked goods so I can always be prepared to whip up a batch of anything from breads to cakes to cookies.  Rather than keeping buttermilk on hand for the occasional use, I have learned how to make an everyday substitute with regular milk and vinegar.  As for yeast, I do have a jar of it in my fridge, as well as a few packets, but I also have recently inherited my late father’s old sourdough starter pot, although I have yet to make a batch.

In fact, the only “mix” we keep on hand is for waffles.  I know it sounds crazy, but we actually make waffles in our house at least three times a month—approximately once a weekend.  A couple of years ago my brother-in-law gifted us a waffle maker for Christmas—just a month before our wedding—and I informed my husband that we needed to make them on a regular occurrence to justify wanting one.  I was actually worried that we wouldn’t use the machine, but surprisingly we make waffles frequently.  If you don’t have one, I recommend getting one.  It’s one of the only singular-use appliances I would recommend because they take up little space in storage (ours comes equipped with a lock to keep the base upright for easy storage) and they can cost very little.  Our model—the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker—currently runs for about $35 on Amazon, but the average cost for one should be around $30.  If you really like waffles, it’s worth the purchase, especially since waffles at a restaurant on a Sunday morning may run you about $10, and making them at home would be about a buck a waffle.  As an added bonus, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas if you make them at home.

Even though I don’t make my own bread loafs, I have in the past.  And I still keep a stack of recipes for quick breads and rolls—among other baked goods—so I can be prepared to make them if need be.  My list includes cinnamon rolls (I even have one that calls for sourdough instead of yeast) and dinner rolls, biscuits, pie and pizza crusts, breads (sourdough, wheat, and all-purpose for sweet uses), pancakes (sourdough and buttermilk), a standard cake (from scratch, and it only requires a couple of ingredients to alter), granola, oatmeal cookies, and standard cookie dough (again, it only takes a couple of ingredients to alter).  All of these recipes can be made with what I have on hand in my pantry, and if I have a specialty item to make, I typically only need to pick up a couple of extra ingredients to make that baked good.

For example, we celebrated my maternal grandmother Nammi’s birthday in October at my aunt’s house nearby.  Nammi loves German Chocolate Cake, and so I decided to make her one from scratch for her birthday.  Aside from the ingredients I already had on hand, I needed baking chocolate—specifically German Chocolate—and evaporated milk in order to make the cake.  And it was one of the best cakes I have ever had!  My personal favorite cake to make is carrot cake with pecans, and I make it from scratch at least once per year because it’s a family favorite.  And, again, I always have the ingredients on hand to make the process very easy.

The point is this: I recommend finding a couple of basic recipes for quick breads and cakes—for rolls and cakes—that can be thrown together easily and always have your standard ingredients on hand.  If you don’t have the space for four different kinds of flour, or you don’t want to spend the money on four different kinds of flour, then consolidate down to just one or two: All-Purpose and Whole Wheat.  All-Purpose lives up to its name; it can be used in place of cake flour by sifting it and removing one tablespoon per cup.  With a fifty-fifty mix of whole wheat, you can make any roll or bread.  Keep your recipes close at hand.  Mine are saved in my recipe collection—if they are personal recipes, such as Grandma Lee’s recipes—or they are saved as favorites in my allrecipes.com account.  One of my projects for 2017 is to organize all of my recipes and store them on recipe cards or a personal recipe binder in my home.

If you need some recommendations for recipe ideas, I suggest the following recipes from whatever source you prefer:

  1. Basic roll recipe (can be adapted for wheat rolls, cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, and other sweet breads)
  2. Biscuit recipe (can be adapted for cobblers, dumplings, and wheat biscuits)
  3. Pie crust & Pizza crust
  4. Cake (can be altered for any cake recipe)
  5. Basic cookie dough (sugar is best because you can easily alter it for various cookies)
  6. Basic bread recipe (can be used to make bread, braided bread, altered for friendship bread or sweet bread)

So, Readers, what recipes do you keep on hand that you use regularly?  Do you, too, keep a well-stocked pantry for easy access to your go-to recipes?

Until next time,

-BBM

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