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Megan Millington

I have baked cakes from scratch and a box--and have at least a dozen boxed cake mixes and a couple dozen brownie mixes in my food storage right now.

From scratch cakes have a dense, rich quality and flavor profile that boxed cakes can't touch. But I sure love the boxed cakes! I like adding shredded carrots and pineapple to the carrot or spice mixes, chocolate chips to the chocolate cake mixes, extra vanilla in the the vanilla or gold mixes.

Most birthday cakes in our house are from scratch because they tend to be structural in nature. But almost all other cakes are the super convenient, super fluffy boxed cakes. -But don't get me started on frostings. Packaged chocolate frosting wins over home made hands down but the other flavors seem to range from awful (can we say test tube anyone?) to boring. Good old fashioned home made buttercream is the gold standard of frosting.

I read an article a couple decades ago that said the creation of boxed cake mixes (then and currently) could have been packaged with only a water requirement. Through time, however, results of all of the focus groups indicated women felt they weren't baking unless they could add eggs and oil/butter.

Smart manufacturers kept the oil/butter, water and eggs requirements on the boxes to encourage us to feel like we were bakers-even though it could have all been included in the powdery mix. I think human nature is so funny. Marketing.... Clever, clever, clever.

Your fresh apple cake is tempting to make.

Megan Millington

Semi-home made

The first time I heard that phrase I was offended by the idea of not "really" cooking. Coining a new term to launch a career/cooking show seemed so lame.

I was not raised by a baker or a chef. We ate from cans and boxes. Every now and then some things were created from scratch, but it wasn't her thing to cook.

But semi-home made is probably how everybody cooks most of their meals today, if/when they cook. Your mom was just ahead of her time. She was a trendsetter.

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