Thursday, April 7, 2011
i've kind of been a cooking machine lately
The big "ah ha" moment in baking my own cake came about a week before Jackson's 7th birthday. But let me back up a bit first. A few months ago we started the process of eliminating partially hydrogenated oils, artificial coloring/flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup from our home. We eat as much organic food as our budget allows. If you opened our cabinets and fridge, you'd find them stocked with healthy REAL food. Food made with natural or organic ingredients. We did our research and learned as much as we could about ingredients to avoid and how to actually read the ingredient label (not just the nutrition facts!) on packaged food. It was a big undertaking! Grocery shopping takes a little bit longer these days as I'm agonizing over ingredient labels and figuring out which foods are ok to purchase. Now that I am more informed I am realizing that grocery shopping is a fun challenge and I like finding new-to-me products at the store that are healthy (AND TASTE GOOD) for my family. So, when it came time to buy a box of cake mix, I was of course astonished at the amount of nastiness and fake ingredients found in a box of cheap cake mix. But a box of gluten free cake mix or cake mix with all natural ingredients were all at least a whopping $4/box. Not really within our budget. What to do? I stood in the baking aisle wondering just how in the world I was going to make a cake for Jack's birthday. And then all of a sudden it hit me.....I could just make my own. Seriously, I was not programmed to bake things from scratch. I used to be all about convenience and time saving cooking methods. But these past few months I have changed my ways and am discovering things on a daily basis that I can make on my own using REAL food ingredients. Much healthier. And, believe it or not, much less expensive too. Now I am having fun challenging myself at the grocery store AND challenging myself at home to figure out how to make things from scratch. So far, so good. The only problem? Math. I'm constantly doubling or halving recipes or substituting ingredients for what the recipe calls for. Fractions scare me. And now I'm surrounded by them....
Back to Jackson's birthday cake....my good ol' Better Homes and Gardens cook book came through--I was totally surprised to find an entire section on cakes!!--and I made a simple chocolate cake. Twice actually. One time for cupcakes and once for his actual birthday cake. And I substituted fruit puree for eggs and oil and cocoa + fruit puree for chocolate. And the frosting? Oh my....I made a peanut butter chocolate frosting with real food ingredients that tastes suspiciously like Nutella. Except way cheaper. I may or may not have made three batches of this already....
These bad boys were smothered with some delicious Nutella-like yumminess right after this photo was taken:
I've made a couple different varieties of granola bars and they have been a HUGE hit in my family.
I'm getting rather excited for the upcoming season so we can pick some fruit at nearby u-pick farms. I've never done u-pick before (except when I was a kid!) and am nervous/excited about learning how to freeze and can my own fruits and veggies! Yay for new adventures!