Not bad, for homemade

Spring weekends. Something about the sunny sky and warm breeze stirs feelings of domesticity in me. This is the time of year when I start thinking about farmer’s markets, fresh ingredients, and maybe finding some healthier ways to do some of our favorite foods.  So it was perfect timing that the library had a copy of The Homemade Pantry ready for me to pick up on Friday.

Right now, while I am awash in Spring Fever and basking in the glow of the promise of local produce, books like this one exert an exceptional amount of power over me.  I have already decided that I will need to purchase my own copy, and that I will be making our own ketchup, butter, sauerkraut and vanilla extract as soon as possible.  Whether any of these things will actually come to fruition remains to be seen, but at the very least, we’ll have toaster pastries…

Early yesterday afternoon, with a cool wind coming through the window and swirling playfully around the kitchen, I put some Madeleine Peyroux on Pandora, pulled my cherry-covered apron out of the drawer, and whipped up a batch of homemade Pop Tarts for the men in my life.

These men, the big one and the smaller two, love their Pop Tarts. Over the years, I’ve replaced the artificially-flavored brand with Nature’s Path Toaster Pastries. While I have a real hard time replacing our favorite junk foods with fruits and veggies, I find it less hard replacing them with natural alternatives. Would apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon be a better choice than an apple cinnamon Toaster Pastry? Of course, but at least an apple cinnamon toaster pastry is a heck of a lot better than an apple cinnamon Pop Tart. Baby steps.

I figured I could do one better than Nature’s Path and try these homemade pop tarts from the book. I didn’t make the pie crust from scratch because I had a few frozen Trader Joe’s crusts I wanted to use up. For filling, three of my pop tarts used a berry jam from Maine, and the others were a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar.  So, not entirely homemade, but still a worthwhile endeavor.  (I plan to try these again completely from scratch before long.)

I won’t reproduce the recipe here, but you can watch the author, Alana Chernila, make them in this short video.

As far as our reaction to this first batch? They’re a little dry, but I like them. They really are just like a jam-filled pie crust.

Neil thinks they’d be better with a thinner crust, and I think he’s right. But that’s my fault. I didn’t roll out the crust as thinly as I could have.

Eamonn says they taste better cold. (He never heats up his toaster pastries from a box, so I’m not surprised.)  He also says, “not bad for homemade.” That’s high praise, indeed, and pretty much sums up the attitude around here. They prefer stuff from a box, but if they can’t have it, this homemade stuff will sometimes do…

Homemade versions are never going to taste just like their prepackaged counterparts, and while for some of us that is a Good Thing, it can be a little hard to swallow (so to speak) for those who have a deep attachment to the store-bought version.  They might not even be recognized as the same food!   As if to prove that very point, Aidan just looked up from his homework and said, “wait, those were Pop Tarts?”

See what I’m up against? :-D

4 thoughts on “Not bad, for homemade

  1. Have you seen the (relatively new) cookbook Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which tells you what’s worth making (even if just once) and what you should skip? After reading your post, I thought it would be a good fit for you. I’ve got it on reserve through my local library after flipping through it at B&N. I’ve got a quart of vanilla extract that’s been marinating at the back of my cupboard for over 5 years and it’s better than the double-strength Penzey’s stuff that costs an arm and a leg. You can have the sauerkraut, though. Yuk!

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