I could *make* that, right?
I've always been that woman who walks into a dress shop or a gift shop or, well, any shop, looks at the price tag, raises her eyebrows and whispers loudly, "I could make that! For half the price!"
And sometimes it's been true, if I've gotten home and then been bothered to actually do it. But it's always been with crafty stuff or sewing.
Except for this year, since our foray into the land of food intolerances and my love affair with my Thermomix. (Someone was foolish enough tell me - clearly, she doesn't know me very well - the other day at a Tupperware party of all places, that she didn't get the fuss about the Thermomix, so I quickly helped her along the right path. But I digress....)
I have gone from being a person who buys everything in a packet to a person who walks sniffily past anything in packaging which has been in contact with a graphic designer or coloured ink, and literally runs to the outside edges of the supermarket to where the 'real food' is.
A good day out for me recently was to visit an Italian grocer. I would hang out in health food shops forever if I could. I'm even starting to dream about one day, if I started a cafe (should pigs ever flap their little pink wings), I could ferment my own water kefir in different fruit flavours. Plus, this week I borrowed a dehydrator, for heavens sake.
I'm well into this 'make your own' stuff.
So I was completely delighted to pick up this book in the library last week. Called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, it's the hilarious food journey of Jennifer Reese (she blogs at www.tipsybaker.com) a journalist who lost her job. Sitting looking at her apple tree in the early haze of unemployment, she thought, "I could make applesauce." From there it was a quick step to making everything.
Or at least trying to.
The premise of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is simply that Big Food has dumbed us down. Not only do they make and market what we always used to make, they add in unspeakable ingredients and they have us believe we could never do it ourselves.
But, says Jennifer, there are some things that the food manufacturers do better. And sometimes even cheaper. She's not advocating a Little House on the Prairie return to the kitchen. What she does say is that we might be surprised at what we can make. And in the doing of it, we'll eat better, we'll save some money and we'll even have some fun.
This book is a treasure trove of great recipes from bread to butter, home made vermouth, chocolate chip cookies, proscuitto and hot dogs.... and everything (and I mean everything) inbetween. The best bit is that they're all given a 'hassle' rating as well. So I can immediately see that it's too tricky to make camembert, but I'm going to give worcestershire sauce the shot of my life.
Plus, it's a fantastic, funny and down-to-earth read. Definitely recommended for anyone, like myself, who's a little tight-fisted and thinks she should be able to make it better for less money.