My mom, bless her heart, was not a from scratch cook. We had a lot of boxed or frozen meals. Thankfully not too many TV dinners but she definitely didn’t make gravies or stocks or bread from scratch.
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When I embarked on my homemaking and homesteading journey I realized that there were a lot of basic skills that I didn’t know. Now that I have mastered these skills I seem to use them over and over again. They are really the base of cooking from scratch and with these skills you can make pretty much everything from scratch.
Cooking from scratch and having the knowledge of making things on your own is so freeing. But more than freeing, it is frugal and imperative to survival at times.
With the knowledge to make and use basic food items you have the capability of making meals easily and for little money or resources. If you run out bread can you make it? Do you know how to make cheese or butter or whipped cream from just regular dairy products? Can you make stocks or gravies?
I know I didn’t know how to do much of anything when I first started and I wish I would have had somebody teach me the basics of cooking from scratch. It would have saved a lot of headache, or at least a lot of google searches.
So what are the basic skills?
With stock you can make soup, cook rice, and make gravy. Plus add to just about anything you want in the way of casseroles go. Stock is super frugal and simple to make. This is a good place to start with making a basic stock.
Making a Roux:
Making roux isn’t as scary as it sounds. It is simply combining butter (though any fat will work) and flour in equal parts to make a thick paste that you can use to thicken gravies, sauces, creams and soups. How much roux you need depends on how thick you want your finished product. If it is a thinner soup you are making, one tablespoon of each flour and butter for every cup of liquid is good. If you are looking for a thicker finished product then three tablespoons of each for every cup of liquid should be sufficient.
Making Simple Dairy Products:
Did you know that with one quart of cream you can make butter, buttermilk, and sour cream? This is a great post explaining how. Knowing how to make these simple dairy products can save you money or just save you time when you’re in a pinch. Ya know, when you start a recipe then realize you don’t have enough butter or you would really like some sour cream with dinner but you don’t have any? If you have cream you can make it!
Now this one is probably the most challenging of these skills, but once you get it down it is the easiest and most satisfying skill of all. Whether you would rather use the traditional power and health benefits of raising bread with sourdough or use the more modern yeast, is up to you. Either way you go I think making bread is a super frugal and useful skill. Plus what beats home made bread?? Not much.
These four skills can lead to any sort of meal you can imagine. You could make sausage gravy and biscuits, casseroles, soup and homemade rolls, the list goes on and on.
Do you have any basic skills you would add to this list? Which of the basic skills was the hardest for you to master? I’d love to hear from you!