Stop Using Bags and Cans!

fake tacoIt seems about time that I post something about food. After all, the concept of this blog revolves around a table. Now I intended that to go much deeper than a table on which we eat physical food; I meant it to be a metaphor for feasting on God’s goodness via theology, the Scriptures, and the Church. But from the start, I intended to mingle that deeper concept with the more obvious connotation… actual, physical food. So here’s our first food post.

I love looking over recipe books from churches, schools, and other groups that often publish their own cookbooks in order to sell them as a fundraiser. True, there are some good, homestyle recipes that are quick, simple, and easy to throw together on short notice. But looking through these recipes, I often find something interesting. I have to chuckle when I see recipes proudly named for someone like, “Aunt Sue’s Chocolate Cake,” or “Brother Joe’s Freaky-Deaky Jungle Jambalaya,” and look further down into the actual ingredients only to see something like, “1 box of chocolate cake mix,” or “1 pouch of gumbo seasoning.” I mean come on, that kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? To me, that’s like someone claiming to be an artist who only ever traces or duplicates the work of others or the videographer that puts his films together while copying a format from a cool youtube video… it’s not creative, it’s not inventive, and it’s lazy.

Not only that, but it’s got to be one of the most successful bag-over-the-head-of-the-customer ideas that has ever been concocted. “Hey, let’s take things people probably already have in their cabinets and pantries, mix them together, put them in a little can or pouch, and sell them at a higher price!” It’s outrageous.

Now I’m not going to provide recipes for every single item that you can make at home but usually don’t, but I will share two of mine that I use quite often; Taco Seasoning and Ranch Dressing. These simple recipes are always helpful and will make enough to last a few meals or so. One of the best things about making these yourself is that it allows you to control the salt content… something definitely needed from the pouch varieties.

taco seasnoningTACO SEASONING (Pouch style… not authentic… don’t judge)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

You guessed it! Just mix it all together and season your food the way you want it.

I love using this taco seasoning on ground beef or chicken for nachos, tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. It’s also good to have on hand for taco soup, a favorite of mine for Fall and Winter.

Someone once told me they made homemade ranch dressing. Upon pushing them further, I discovered that what they actually meant is that they bought pouches of ranch dressing/dip mix and added mayo and water. Pitiful. Take a look at this easy recipe for homemade ranch dressing/dip and try it sometime. I promise it will become a standard at your house.

Ranch dressingRANCH DRESSING

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

(OK, so the mayo and sour cream aren’t homemade, but I can tell you how to do that too… in another post)

1/2 teaspoon dried chives

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Again, couldn’t be easier. Mix everything together and store in an old dressing bottle or purchase a condiment squirt bottle from any store (for less than $1).

Remarkably, we hardly ever use this dressing salads at my house; instead, it finds its way onto pizza, nachos, and fried chicken wings far before it hits any vegetable.

Again, not a gourmet post by any means. I’ll leave it to Jeremy to skill you in the ways of bone marrow and pork belly, but these are good starters for those wishing to become a little more homemade in their cooking.

There’s a great satisfaction in not only reproducing what you often buy in boxes and cans, but in doing them better and cheaper without all the salt and who knows what else. Try these sometime and let me know what you think.

 

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