Cooking: 10 Staples You Should Make, Not Buy




Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
Sunday, August 23, 2015

10 Staples You Should Make, Not Buy

It was homemade radish kimchi that gave me the D.I.Y. bug. Not only was it a cinch, it was better than any kimchi I could buy – better to me because I had made it how I like it: crisp, juicy, not too spicy, with an anchovy tang.

Next came garlic aioli. Once I figured out how to whirl it in the blender in less than five minutes, it became part of my Saturday morning post-farmers’ market ritual. I whip some up with farm-fresh eggs, and then spend the next week dipping, spreading and drizzling to my heart’s content. My aioli is very lemony, with a distinct olive oil flavor. I often add what some may consider too much garlic (not me). That’s the joy of D.I.Y.-ing it: making things exactly as you want to eat them.

If you like to cook, you should consider which things you want to start making from scratch, and build them into the rhythm of your life. Once you get the hang of, say, shaking up your own salad dressing or simmering fresh milky ricotta, they go from “project cooking" into a few minutes shoehorned into the day here and there. You’ll stop noticing the effort but will always appreciate the results.

Or maybe it’s hard to source certain food items where you live. Like whole-wheat English muffins. Or olive oil granola. Or truly amazing blueberry jam. Or any of the 20 other things in this collection, ranging from a loaf of excellent white bread (above, and perfect for tomato sandwiches with some of that aioli) to cultured butter (maybe you like tomato sandwiches with butter?) to great hummus.

The point is, it can be easier, cheaper and far higher in quality to do it yourself. And if you love to cook, it’s a heck of a lot of fun, too. Try it, and let us know how it goes.

If you need help or have a question with a recipe or with our site or apps, or if you just want to say hi, send us a note. You can find us at cookingcare@nytimes.com. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. #NYTCooking is our hashtag. See you tomorrow!

Editors’ Collection
From marinara to mustard, more than 20 recipes for dishes and pantry staples that are so much better homemade.


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This dressing is itself a pantry staple that can be tweaked each time you use it.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times
10 minutes, About 1 1/4 cups
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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
10 minutes, About 1 cup
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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
45 minutes plus overnight pickling , 1 quart
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Basic Jerusalem-style hummus.
Jonathan Lovekin
45 minutes, plus overnight soaking, About 2 cups
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It's easy and economical and tastes amazing. Melissa Clark shows how to make ricotta cheese at home.
About 30 minutes, About 1 1/2 cups
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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
45 minutes, About 9 cups
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Whole-wheat English muffins.
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
35 minutes, plus 1 to 1 1/2 hours’ rising, 6 muffins
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Julia Moskin makes blueberry jam with lime from Kevin West's canning cookbook
About 2 hours, plus overnight cooling, 2 pints
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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
4 hours 15 minutes, 2 loaves
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