5@5 - Spike Gjerde
May 31st, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

In the days of self-destructing watermelons and E.coli-laced lettuce, it's no wonder folks are embracing their pioneer wiles and turning to their own gardens for dinner.

But even if you're more of a culinary lummox than a domestic god or goddess, Spike Gjerde, executive chef and co-owner of Baltimore's Woodberry Kitchen, thinks it's all about the baby steps when it comes to self-sustainability.

Five Things You Really Should Be Making From Scratch: Spike Gjerde

1. Mayonnaise
"Duke’s is great on a sandwich, but for almost everything else whisk a cup of oil into two egg yolks seasoned with salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and a little mustard. This is the sauce that launched a thousand other sauces, so what gets added next can take it in any direction, but keep a little around to spread on ciabatta when the first ripe summer tomatoes show up."

2. Whipped cream
"It’s go time for strawberries, but put down that tub of Whipped Topping™ and pick up a whisk. A half pint of good local cream in a chilled bowl with a pinch of sugar or a dribble of simple syrup (see recipe in Iced Tea, below) and a little elbow grease yields the only worthy adornment for the berries of summer."

3. Vinaigrette
"The best and brightest salad dressing is seconds away, and considering that even ‘gourmet’ brands are loaded with crap, what is there to lose?

In a small wide mouth jar combine cider, rice, or wine vinegar with a little more than twice that amount of oil - add salt and pepper to taste, honey and/or mustard, and absolutely anything else that might taste good on a lettuce leaf. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. It even comes with its own handy storage container."

4. Salsa
"This condiment may outsell ketchup in the supermarket, but while you will never approximate the black arts of Heinz in your kitchen, homemade salsa will put anything in the condiment aisle to shame.

Place five ripe plum tomatoes on a baking sheet with half an onion [that has been] cut in thick slices, three or four garlic cloves, and a couple of de-stemmed jalapeños. Place right up under a hot broiler until everything starts to blister and char, then scrape all of it into a blender and pulse with salt, cilantro, and lime juice or vinegar to taste."

5. Iced tea
"Really? Buying (and lugging home) cartons or jugs of iced tea makes about as much sense as buying water. Maybe less, if you count all the high fructose corn syrup.

Instead, get iced tea bags from a good source like Rishi and follow the directions. Then, make simple syrup by combining equal amounts of water and sugar in a pan and bringing to a boil. Cool and sweeten tea as you like."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Make • Techniques & Tips • Think

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. RJ

    I've done homemade whipped cream before, it simply is better than anything store bought. I'm going to try mayo and vinaigrette, I use them a lot. Great stuff!

    How about adding tomato sauce to this list? It's super easy to make as well

    June 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Speedy G.

    You call that salsa? Salsa from NEW YORK CITY! In a blender? Add some "ta-kill-ya and it might make a Mexican Mary, from NEW YORK CITY!

    June 1, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • Stink Bug

      Wha chu spect from a Baltimoron?

      June 1, 2011 at 3:40 am |
  3. JBJingles

    Absolutely agree on the whipped cream, it can't be beat! I have never tried making mayo, but I might try this now.

    May 31, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  4. Sam Meyer

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Add the abomination known as "sour mix" to this and the list will be complete.

    May 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • JBJingles@Sam Meyer

      Do you have a recipe for sour mix? I would love to hear try it. Thanks.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
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