I just got back from the store. I went with my envelope of cash, got 4 gallons of milk and did quite well. Luke and Dean’s shopping behavior has come a long way. Dean actually stayed in the cart. Luke kept close and only asked for one thing (chocolate milk.) When the answer was no, he moved on without a tear. I’m only telling you all this because today’s trip was an anomaly. Or progress…I hope it’s the latter.
So here’s my latest observation on the American shopping experience. What’s with all the mixes? Are we really so incapable of mixing together sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda that we feel we need to buy a $2+ box of cake mix in order to bake a cake? Or muffins, or cookies, or pancakes? Don’t even get me started on frosting. (Powdered sugar, butter and milk, folks.) And the kicker is, even when you buy the mix, you still have to add eggs, oil and water, so you were already half way there before the overpriced, chemically saturated, partially hydrogenated mix!
We have let Betty Crocker and her advertising cronies convince the American public that we need to be Julia Child herself in order to bake anything from scratch. Even just the word “scratch” sounds like something difficult and arduous. I assure you, it could not be more simple. Want some yummy pancakes this weekend?
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 T Baking Soda
1 t Salt
3 T sugar
1 T oil
1 1/2 Cups Milk
Mix the wet stuff in a bowel, then add the dry. Mix and cook up on a hot greased skillet.
There. Now was that so hard? And just think, you know exactly what you’re eating! If you’re feeling daring, use whole wheat flour, add some ground flax seed, you name it. It’s liberating not feeling tied down to a how-do-you-pronounce-this-ingredient mix.
Yesterday I made brownies on a whim. Andy and Kate had friends over and I wanted the kid’s to have a treat that wasn’t a piping hot bowel of embarrassing steel cut oats. So, without a mix, I found I had all the ingredients already in my cupboards. And being the health nut that I am, I just had to use whole wheat flour and flax. Ssshhh–no one was the wiser.
6 T Cocoa Powder
2/3 Cup Oil
2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I threw in some oat flour and ground flax seed for kicks)
1 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Salt
2 t. vanilla
optional: chopped nuts, chocolate chips (I used both)
Mix, pour into greased 9×13 pan, bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes.
The entire pan was gone in minutes. Now, I’m not saying “no” to convenience. I don’t curdle my own cottage cheese, or catch, fillet and can my own tuna. These are things I feel are worth their price. The money it would cost me to buy a boat, tackle, and keep a first mate on retainer far outweigh the cost of a can of tuna. But it costs less to make our own cookies, brownies and pancakes, oh my! And the health benefits certainly outweigh any inconvenience of lugging the flour and the sugar down off the shelf.
So who’s with me? Who will say to Betty, “it’s all just one big Crock.” You hold the key to your own mix. So mix it up!