Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh the things we do...

just because we always have. 
I'm not being highbrow here - I'm talking about cooking.
I was slightly amused one night a few years ago when we had invited some people from church over for supper.  The only thing I can definately remember serving that night was homemade yeast rolls.  No big deal; I've been making homemade bread since I was in highschool (maybe before; it's been too long ago, I can't remember).  What struck me as funny was that at some point, the mother of the family found out that the rolls were homemade; I think her husband asked me if they were, and she looked at me, in wide eyed amazement, and said, "I didn't think you could make these at home."   Of course rolls, an all manner of other things can be made at home.  In the grand scheme of things, food manufacuring is a fairly recent occurrence, so I was tickled by her comment.  But, I am just as guilty.  Not necessarily of assuming things can't be made at home, but certainly of not thinking about making things at home instead of buying stuff pre-made.
Case in point:  Barbeque sauce. 
I had tried out different sauces from Whole Foods in an attempt to find one that didn't have high fructose corn syrup in it, and just never found one I liked very much.  Since I don't use barbeque sauce all that much (mostly to top meatloaf - Ri makes our barbeque chicken from scratch), I finally gave up and decided that if we are eating pretty healthy most of the time, it probably won't hurt us too seriously to have a little regular barbeque sauce every great once in awhile.  (And, I still don't really think we'll keel over from a little HFCS, I would just like to avoid it if possible.) On to what happened this week (finally - right?).  I didn't have barbeque sauce (not much anyway), and Mesquite cheesy chicken was on the menu for last night.  I really want to stick to my menu, so I decided to try my hand a regular barbeque sauce (what Ri makes is kind of chunky, but delicious).  I looked up a recipe online and proceeded to change it. I didn't have tomato puree, so I used ketchup; I didn't want a chunky sauce, so I finely grated the onion instead of chopping it; I wanted a smokey flavor, so I added liquid smoke, etc.  This stuff was so simple.  I'll never buy bottled sauce again.  I can't really give a recipe since I radically changed the one I printed off, and I wasn't really measuring things anyway, but I'll give you the list of ingredients and encourage you to do what I did:  start throwing stuff in the pan, taste often adjusting things as you go, and you'll have a delicious sauce in no time.

Some kind of oil, one small finely grated onion, ketchup, red wine vinegar, worchestershire sauce, sugar*, ground mustard, liquid smoke, and chili powder or cayenne pepper (if you want some spice)

I started with normal kitchen economy - the pan I browned the chicken in, it's comination of coconut oil and butter, and the little crispy bits of brown goodness on the bottom.  I poured off most of the oil because I didn't want a greasy sauce - just enough to keep the onion from sticking. 
I added the grated onion and stirred around just until it was brown - it didn't take long, and I don't know if it was brown from cooking or from the bits on the bottom, but it can't possibly take long to cook grated onion.
Next I added ketchup - maybe 1/3c?  (I know I added more later).
Then, red wine vinegar - a couple of healthy splashes (added more of this later too)
Some brown sugar* - roughly 3-4Tbls?, but my sauce was a little too sweet, I'll use less next time.
Worchestershire sauce - maybe 1Tbls.
I sprinkled in some mustard powder and added
a few drops liquid smoke (it never takes much of this stuff)
I didn't add chili powder or cayenne this time, but I will next time.
Like I said, I just put the stuff in the pan, whisking as I went and tasting every so often; adding things in as I felt they were needed.
*A note about the sugar - you could certainly use sucanat in this (and I will in the future), but since I was expirimenting, I wanted to use the much cheaper brown sugar I had.

Maybe you already make your own sauce.  If you do, great.  But if you don't, please give it a try.  BTW - if you use canned cream of (chicken, potato, etc.) soup, you should really try making your "cream of..." soup from scratch - it's outta this world good, and much better for you.  Now I'll have to find something else that I buy without thinking about, and try to make it from scratch.



  1. Becky, what a good reminder! Why not make BBQ sauce? Just because Famous Dave's is on sale at Menards doesn't mean I have to buy it, eh?

    I've been thinking that I ought to get cooking more again. It's always amazing that people don't realize you can make things.

    About your comment on my blog-- you are raising petticoats, remember? We have a team of "soldiers"??

  2. Good point. I'm still glad not to be going through all the prep stuff you're going through with your son, and I wish you (and him of course) the best of luck.

  3. It does sound very yummy! Is ketchup bought sauce though. We call it Tomato Sauce here but I am wondering whether it is one you make or a bought variety?