DIY foods – mushrooms, mayo, citrus peel, pickled beets, cheese & oatcakes

Too busy to think lately, let alone sit down to write anything. Which is some state of torment, now in the heart of baking season. But… In the back of my mind for a while I’ve been thinking about mushrooms, which grow in great numbers on my lawn at this time of year. I have no idea what they are though. But I thought it might be a nice thing to grow mushrooms: that way you’d know what they were when you started. And sure enough Mother Earth News has a piece (several pieces) on that. Unfortunately they suggest that you start with a mushroom kit — so “all” you have to do next is find one of those.

But while we’re looking, there are lots of things we – children of the convenience era of the 60s – have been lulled into thinking we must buy from the supermarket. But we can make them ourselves, with the knowledge we know exactly what’s in them. Like…

I have been making my own mayonnaise for a while; easy and good and I’ll never go back to the prefab stuff. Like ice cream making does with cream, if nothing else it brings you face to face with the amount of oil you’re consuming! I made something similar and even more wonderful the other day: salsa verde to go with fish cakes. It was amazing as a dip for vegetables, and can be diluted, or extended, with home made mayonnaise to go a bit farther.

Another nice thing to make is ketchup. There’s something reassuring about adjusting the sugar, vinegar and spice mix to your own taste instead of being fed what a manufacturer thinks you should have on your chips. And you can freeze it if you don’t want to bottle it.

And it being Christmas cake season, maybe just a little late by now, perhaps it would be worth making one’s own citrus peel (and – come summer – glace cherries!). And I recommend adding chopped candied ginger to your gingersnaps.

I picked up a big bag of beets at the farm market, taken as I am with pickled beets. Which, it finally dawned on me, I could make as I needed them. They keep well in the fridge.

One last idea: once you’ve made your own cheese, you can spread it on some of your own oatcakes.

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