Define “Homemade”

March 9, 2011

The doorbell rang just as I was pulling the lasagna out of the oven.  “Perfect timing”! I thought.   The bubbling hot lasagna and the warm garlic bread filled the house with delicious smells as I opened the door and invited our guests in for dinner.   It was a small dinner party, but we wanted to have a few couples from church join us for dinner so that we could get to know them better. 

Dinner went well and everyone enjoyed the food and fellowship.  One of our guests commented on the lasagna and asked if she could have the recipe.  I chuckled and contemplated making up an excuse about it being a “secret family recipe” but then decided I might as well be honest and tell them the truth.  “Oh, it’s a really complicated recipe” I replied with a smile.  “First, you go to the frozen food section at Walmart or Meijer’s and purchase a family size Stouffer’s Lasagna.  Next, you bring it home and let it thaw slightly so you can pop it out of the plastic tray and put it into a real pan (I use a Pampered Chef Rectangular Baker).  Bake as directed on the package and about 10 minutes before it’s done you pull it out and add extra cheese on top. Voila! Homemade Lasagna!”   The guests were all laughing and the one who had asked for the recipe said, “Wow – I never would have guessed that this wasn’t homemade lasagna! It tastes wonderful!”  I corrected her and said, “Well, I still consider it ‘homemade’ … I made it in my home and I still had to heat up the oven!”

With four kids, a full-time job and all the church activities we have going on each week this is about as “homemade” as it gets around our house.  My brownies come from a box and many of our meals are microwaveable and/or frozen.  I rarely make cookies from scratch but usually buy the pre-portioned “place and bake” variety and try to keep the kids from eating all the dough before I can bake it.  I have also learned that when you bake frozen foods like lasagna, chimichangas or enchiladas they will seem more “homemade” if you throw some cheese on top during the last 5 or 10 minutes of baking.  (Don’t forget to bake them in a real pan since the plastic pan is always a dead giveaway.) 

Happy “almost homemade” baking!