I am really torn about semi-homemade. Part of me says, “Look, you want people to cook at home? Face the facts that people are busy, and the hurdle of preparing everything from scratch will keep some folks out of the kitchen altogether.” But, the other part of me responds, “But if people knew how easy it was to just make their own salsa – and how much better tasting – they wouldn’t bother with Pace!” And, as my friend Alli just pointed out, when she thinks of the number of preservatives necessary to make jarred Alfredo sauce or Velveeta shelf-stable for months, she cringes. So this would be my argument for good old-fashioned homemade, not semi: 1) better taste, 2) fewer preservatives, and 3) it’s often easier and faster than you think. See below for an easy salsa recipe.
The apparent queen of semi-homemade is Sandra Lee, she of the Food Network series and burgeoning lifestyle brand. I see on her website that she’s also getting into semi-homemade crafts and tablescapes. Now there’s a word I haven’t heard too often.
I haven’t ever made any of Sandra’s recipes, and I suppose the proper journalistic thing to do would be to prepare one. So I will and report back. BUT, I will admit that I’m wary. What kind of cook – who really cares about taste – calls specifically for Kraft parmesan cheese?
(five minutes later)
Oh, lord, I don’t think I can do it. I just went through the 15 dinner recipes she has on her website, and honestly not a one appealed to me. I thought about making Las Chalupas, basically open-faced tacos. But with a recipe list that includes Pace, store-bought guacamole, and Kraft shredded Mexican cheese blend I frankly don’t want to waste an eating opportunity (or my money) on it.
This entry may prove my mother’s contention that I’m a food snob. Maybe so. But, maybe there are some things it’s okay to be snobby (or I might say principled) about? Like campaign rhetoric, party unity, and the food we eat. I’m typing this as I watch the election returns come in from North Carolina and Indiana, and all I can say is, Mother, in this situation you are Hillary Clinton, and I am Barack Obama, and I know you’d rather be on Barack’s side!
Two medium-sized tomatoes
A tablespoon or so of onions, preferably red or green
A half-teaspoon of jalapeno, or to taste
A tablespoon of cilantro
One garlic clove
Salt to taste
Chop all of the ingredients and stir them together.
You can play with this recipe as much as you like - adding or subtracting ingredients, but this is pretty much it. Fresher than Pace, better-tasting, less expensive, and you can put it all together in under 10 minutes. What's not to like?