When I first embarked on this journey, my husband said, there is no way you will be able to make everything from scratch. He said we have to be realistic and do what we can but we can’t go over board. I remember saying to myself, we will see about that. But he was right. Where would I find the time? I work full time and at the time my daughter was 4. I thought, the weekends would be a great time for that, but again, I have a 4 year old and I can’t keep her in the house on the weekends so I can prepare everything. I said to myself, start with one thing and make a lot of it and freeze it so that you only make that one thing once a quarter. So what is that thing? I decided to look at the things that I use to prepare food like stock, tomatoes sauce and butter. I searched butter and found out that it is nothing but over whipped cream and as a bonus I will also get buttermilk when I am done! That was it! Butter! We use butter for many things and the fact that at the end of this simple process I will end up with two products, it was a no brainer! At the time, I was getting lightly pasteurized cream from Mom’s organic market that comes from a local dairy. It was pricey, but again, I was getting two products out of this with all the nutrition.
I got a gallon of cream and I made my first 2 pounds of butter and two quarts of buttermilk. It was lovely, and easy! I mean how easy is it to put cream in my mixer and run it for fifteen or twenty minutes. Let us just say, I have not bought butter in 4 years and loving it. During my initial research with butter, I discovered that I can make cultured butter and come up with yet another product out of my cream. Cultured cream is crème fraiche. So I can take a third of the cultured cream and keep it in the freezer as crème fraiche and make the rest butter which will also yield cultured buttermilk. How ingenious. So the pricey cream was no longer an issue since I produce three products. I did this once every month and a half and I made sure that I did it on a regular week day as I am preparing dinner. We were in heaven. It got even better when I found a farm that will sell me fresh raw milk and cream. I felt like we were tasting dairy products such as yogurt, butter, cheese, etc. for the first time. I honestly don’t know what they are selling in the stores, but this is what dairy should taste like.
I also realized that now that I am making my own butter, I was not overwhelmed and it didn’t feel like I was adding to my chores. As I said, I made butter in conjunction with other things I was making. So what’s next? Again, I want something easy and I can freeze so that I would only make it once a quarter or at least once a month. I used to buy broth in a box and tomatoes sauce in a can. Why can’t I make those? I thought I get my chickens fresh from the farm up the road, which means I also get the necks and gizzards. So why not butterfly the chickens and keep the backs for stock. One tip, don’t store your broth in glass jars, make sure that they are plastic jars. I buy these quart screw top jars that are fantastic for freezing. Again I made the broth in conjunction with another chore I was doing. Since I prepare our meals weekly so that all I have to do is reheat throughout the week, I thought this would be a prefect time to make broth. A couple of backs and a few necks, some aromatics and some spices and a large stock pot produced about two gallons of stock, which would last me about 4 months. And since they are portioned in quarts, it was very easy to go in to the freezer and take one out and pop it in the microwave for about 5 or 10 minutes. Love it! And I have never bought a box of broth ever since.
So my next thing I use a lot to prepare food is tomatoes sauce. This one was a bit tricky since tomatoes have peels and I am not going to sit there and peel and do all that. When I first started I just took tomatoes and put them in the blender and made tomato puree and froze it. That was good, but it didn’t have that rich flavor. I was watching a cooking show one day where the cook was roasting tomatoes in the oven and one of the tips she had was you can take these roasted tomatoes and blend them in a blender and make tomatoes sauce. I thought I heard the angels sing! So that’s what I did. I went and bought 30 Roma tomatoes. I removed the little stem area and stuck them in a 350 degree oven whole on a cookie sheet for an hour. I also thought since I am going to roast the tomatoes, why not roast a couple large onions and a head of garlic as well. Again, I did this in conjunction with another chore. The peel has a lot of nutrition, so I was not going to peel anything. Ok, that’s my excuse for not peeling and I am sticking to it. So why did I choose Roma tomatoes? Well, they are meatier and don’t have much liquid, so you will achieve a much thicker and richer sauce. I combined the tomatoes, garlic and onions and added some fresh basil and I blended it into a beautiful rich deep flavored sauce. I was hooked. 30 tomatoes made about a 3.5 to about 4 quarts of sauce and that lasted me about a couple of months. No more canned stuff for me!
So I was making butter, tomatoes sauce and broth 4-6 times a year and not really feeling the burden of making them. I can do this! Why is it that everywhere I turn I am told, I am too busy to do this? Mind you, there are certain things that I have tried and loved, but they were labor intensive and I truly did not have the time to do on a regular basis, so I stayed with the store bought version, but I am ok with that because when it is all said an done, I am still living mostly unprocessed and I still have time. You just need to organize and work it in slowly. It is not that hard to live unprocessed.