Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Let's Talk About Cheese and Other Fresh Ingredients!

I'm not a great chef by any means. I can however, make up some really yummy meals, and am known to make a mean Brownie M&M Trifle.

Let's face it, if you have a good recipe, and can measure properly, you can cook. What separates the good cooks from the "creative" and perhaps "exceptional" cooks, is your choice of ingredients, accuracy in measuring, and not being afraid to experiment. To this day, I don't think I have ever followed a recipe exactly. We'll get into more of those things later, but today we are going to focus on fresh and high quality ingredients.

I learned years ago that you can't use margarine in baking because butter is just so much better tasting. Along with that little tidbit, I won't use imitation vanilla anymore. My daughter made me the real stuff for Christmas one year, and since then, that's all I'll use. The same goes for apple sauce. There is absolutely no comparison between canned apple sauce and freshly made apple sauce.

Now, onto my most recent discovery...cheese! I'm a busy girl these days. Between running my business and my busy everyday life, sometimes it's too easy to cut corners to save time. Last night I made our favorite Mexican casserole (recipe will come soon) only to discover, I only had about half the amount of cheese that was needed for this recipe. Fortunately, I always have brick cheese in the fridge because we love our cheese. I decided to shred the other half from the brick myself. It took less than two minutes with a hand grater. Two minutes!!! It also took less time than that to wash the grater.

The first thing I noticed was the look of it. The cheese that I shredded was so fresh and soft looking. When I put the shredded cheese next to it, I couldn't help but notice the "powdered stuff" that was covering it. I'm sure it's perfectly safe to eat but, ewwww! After researching, I discovered that this was an additive to prevent the cheese from clumping in the package. It's on all shredded cheeses. I also noticed the feel of the cheese. My freshly shredded cheese was soft, and moist, while the bagged cheese was hard and very dry. 

It was clear that the look and feel was like day and night. What about taste? Well, I'm sure you can imagine that difference. I did a little taste test before and after baking. Yep, no comparison! The freshly shredded cheese was delicious and yummy, while the bagged cheese was dry and hard, just as it looked and felt. As for the finished product, wow! So rich and delicious! That would be the freshly shredded part, not the bagged.

So, if you want to do some experimenting, the first place I would start is to do away with the convenience or cheaper items, and go with pure and fresh. You won't be disappointed.

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