Introduction

Making things is an obsession for me. When I see something, anything, I wonder, can I make that myself? After reading a few influential and inspirational books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and thanks to my friend Jan, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I took this obsession to the kitchen.

When I was 10, my Dad told me that if I knew how to read, then I knew how to cook. I’ve been reading and cooking since. I’ve long been cooking from scratch. I find it easy and not as time consuming as one might think. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of label reading and wondering if my bread really needs 30 ingredients or if my strawberry jam really needs high-fructose corn syrup. I decided to find out just how many everyday food items I can make myself. My “Neo-19th Century” cooking has become a daily part of life. I use modern tools, but try to make everyday items like they would have been made a century ago.

This blog will show you how to make kitchen staples. Many items require hours and sometimes days to complete, but the hands-on time will be less than an hour. Some recipes take a little planning, but you’ll see how easy it is to incorporate them into your busy life.

Today I’m going to start two items, cream cheese and bread. The hands on time for today will be less than 15 minutes.

Cream Cheese and Whey

Homemade cream cheese from yogurt is the simplest cheese you can make. Actually it’s one of the simplest things you can make period. It has a bit of tartness to it and a more complex taste than store-bought cream cheese. It reminds me a bit of goat cheese.

One reason to make your own cream cheese, aside from the taste, is the by-product it makes—whey. I’ve found that many recipes in Nourishing Traditions require whey. Whey is the liquid that is leftover from making cheese. It’s loaded with all kinds of good stuff for you. Be sure to save it because I will be making many recipes that require it (kimchee and ginger ale to name two).

Click here for the cream cheese recipe.

No-Knead Bread
I’m also going to start a loaf of bread. I bake this bread at least a couple of times a week. When we start to get to the end of one loaf, I start another one. We rarely buy store bought bread anymore. You can get this bread going in the time it would take you to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Total hands-on time is around 15 minutes, IF you move slowly. I can do it in 10.

This bread takes a day to rise, so you have to plan ahead a bit.

The recipe is from Sullivan Street Bakery. You can get the recipe online here.

Click here for my version.

I’ve tried using whole-wheat flour and a mixture of wheat and white. Adding wheat makes the loaf fairly dense, though still delicious. My favorite way to make it is to use unbleached white flour and a cup of mixed grains. I keep a jar with a mixture of millet, oat bran, oats, wheat berries or whatever looks healthy in the bulk food section.