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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

You could also call this blog post "Desperation is the Mother of How-Hard-Can-It-Be?"

I think it started when we had the Bed and Breakfast, or maybe even earlier, in Home Ec  class; the idea that you can make stuff from scratch. I had time on my hands, as it was hard to find work in the Comox Valley and who doesn't love home made baked goods? I thought it would give my little B&B an edge. Of course, making cookies was old hat by then, but then I tackled bread. Yup, for many of you this is a no brainer, but for the city dwelling "if it doesn't exist in the supermarket it doesn't exist" variety of people (like myself) this was a huge leap.
Homemade chicken pot pie

When we relocated to Prince Edward Island, it turned into a small specialty cake business, that was both rewarding and terrifying in equal measure. Being responsible for someone's wedding or major anniversary cake is a pretty big deal. I even tried my hand at pasta and was getting pretty good at making candy.
From the "hell yeah, I made that" files
Then we found ourselves in Ecuador; land of rice, potatoes and unaged beef. Not to say that the food isn't good here, but many of my "go to" things aren't available, or if they are, they're ridiculously expensive. Case in point peanut butter. When we first arrived it was $5.89 for 500mL. Currently it is over $10 for the same bottle due to increases in import taxes. So, what to do? We found that the mercados carried pasta de mani (peanut paste - just ground up , lightly roasted peanuts) and I started tweaking it with a bit of extra oil and some salt. This was a much less expensive option as I could buy the paste for $2 a pound. Fast forward to our last grocery outing. As I'm perusing the aisles of SuperMaxi I espy a 1lb. bag of raw (shelled) peanuts for $1.27. What if I roasted them myself, removed the skins and ground them up? This is where the "how hard can it be?" came in. Into the cart went the bag and proceeded to sit in the cupboard for several days. Then I noticed the peanut butter was getting low.
Stashed in an old Schullo peanut butter jar
(That's the $10 per bottle brand!)
So, I did it. I roasted them, and removed the skins as best I could. (Apparently a salad spinner works marvelously, but we don't have one.) Then into the food processor they went with a bit of oil. Grainy and dry. More oil, more blending and VOILA, peanut butter. Here's the learning curve part. The oil doesn't really release from the peanuts until they're creamed, so I have slightly runnier than normal peanut butter, but it has a gorgeous roasted flavour that is lacking in the pasta de mani. Was all the work worth it? We shall see.

Home roasted, hand mixed peanut butter
So I've now made, due to lack of (or price of) frozen processed crap here: pizza dough, focaccia, peanut butter, tomato sauce, ginger ale, hot chocolate, add to that Ron's pancakes and waffles from scratch and the regular gamut  of things I make from scratch and we're almost back to the good old days of "if you don't make it, you don't have it". Heck, I never buy salad dressing anymore, I just whip up a small batch as needed.  Who knows what's next, maybe mayo, perhaps fresh mozzarella, and I also have a recipe for Dijon mustard just waiting for when my stash runs out.
Pizza...again, homemade

Now, if we could only set up a garden and grow our own fruit and vegetables, we'd be ready for the apocalypse, assuming there was still electricity. (Ha ha.) 


  1. Great idea for the peanut butter, I never thought you would have to add oil.

    1. I'm not sure I would have thought of it, if I hadn't already been adding oil to the stuff we bought from the mercado. (So dry...what else could I do?)