Saturday, August 15, 2015

Random Rant - There's A Difference Between Homemade And Semi-Homemade

I'll admit, I'm old-school. Old-Fashioned. I embrace modern technology and conveniences to an extent. It's always nice to see a photo immediately after I take it.

Remember when it took at least a week?

I appreciate being able to send and receive text messages. And email. Laptops. The Internet. Advances in the medical field. There's more, but you get the gist.

While I embrace these conveniences in one arm, I am cradling what most would consider old-school.
Handwritten notes and reminders. Not replacing the old with something new unless it becomes a fire hazard breaks. Growing produce when the seasons permit. Utilizing what we already have. DIY. Sewing a tear in a blanket rather than replace it. Etc.

At the top of my list is making whatever I can from scratch. Food. Meals. Baked goods. Snacks. It's a lot of work. It takes a great deal of time. I do it. As much as I can. Which, is a lot. I'd like to do more. I'm getting there.

What I don't appreciate about modern-day-conveniences is the mentality of confusing homemade with semi-homemade or not-even-remotely-close-to-being-homemade.

A few years ago we had dinner with a group of people. There was a large basket of rolls on the table. A few commented on how delicious the rolls were. The lady who brought them basked in the limelight.

"Thank you. They're homemade."

The rolls were, in fact, scrumptious. Crusty outside. The chewiness on the inside is something I'm still trying to work towards in my bread-baking endeavors. Baking bread from scratch is an art. It takes years of tedious practice and tidbits of advice from the elders who have been pounding dough for decades.

I had to ask. My brain is a culinary sponge. Teach me.

"What's your secret for obtaining the texture and chewiness. I've been trying for years."

A brief silence.

"My secret is buying frozen bread dough. Once it's thawed, I shape into roll sized portions instead of making a loaf. I follow the instructions on the package and bake."

I bit my tongue. Maybe a little too hard. I had to.

"Thank you."

Before you assume the obvious, let me clarify. I enjoyed the rolls immensely. I ate four two slathered with lots of real butter. The issue I had (which I kept to myself) was the self-proclamation that the rolls were homemade.

They were not. The more accurate term is thaw-and-bake.

There's a part of me that takes offense to that. Homemade bread translates to, and has everything to do with, starting with actual ingredients. Yeast. Flour. Water Sugar. Salt. Fat. From there, it's a succession of carefully timed steps. Activating the yeast with the right amount of sugar and water at correct temperature. The smell of warm years permeating your nose. Mix. Knead. Rise. Pound. Knead. Rise again. Bake.

It has nothing to do with buying frozen dough. Defrosting. Shaping. Rising. Baking.

The same holds true with cookies. If you buy a tub of pre-made cookie dough, please don't pass the finished product off as homemade. The correct term is scoop-and-bake. Or, pastry. Once again, it's referred to as thaw-and-bake.

While I'm stirring the shit pot (no, I won't be licking that spoon), please don't purchase store-bought dog treats, swizzle with white chips and pass them off as "homemade gourmet dog treats." Back. It. Down.

By no means, am I a snooty-nosed kitchen saint. My schedule is busy. Hectic. The pile of virtual work is testing the strength of the ceiling. There aren't enough hours in the day for me to get everything done. At the end of the day, I haven't crossed off every item on the to-do list. I've had many days when I've been at my desk with my legs crossed tightly because I've had to pee, but I refuse to get up because I want to finish the last paragraph of a column. Pressed for time.

On the way to the bathroom, finally, I'm muttering, "Please don't sneeze. Please don't sneeze."

Occasionally, on those days, I get a massive craving for brownies. No time to spare even to melt butter and chocolate chips. I'm guilty of grabbing a really great boxed brownie mix, following the instructions on the box, adding a few things to doctor 'em up and...well, you know where I'm going with this.

If by some chance, I post a photo on Facebook of my indulgence, or what rather has saved my sanity, and someone comments, I give credit where credit is due.

Usually it's Ghirardelli. Boxed mix. Semi-homemade.

Bottom line, don't take credit for something you haven't done. It's not your own. By doing this, you discredit those of us who have put in the time, effort, and years of hard work and practice. It's an insult to the generations before us. Our parents. Grandparents. Great-grandparents. They are the ones who defined homemade and "from scratch." They didn't have the luxury of ordering a gourmet meal on their smartphone and having it delivered 30 minutes later.

They're the ones who blessed us with the handwritten recipes, sitting in recipe boxes, on paper with cracked, brown edges. They had the utmost pride in their craft. 

Well deserved, I might add. 

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