Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Cooking: THE HOMEMADE PANTRY--101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila

the homemade pantry cookbook cover

If we are to become people who do make butter, we might have to shift the way we see ourselves a bit. We might have to get into the adventurous spirit and unearth our own curiosity about where our food comes from. We might have to make a colossal mess of the kitchen. And we might have to slow down, at least long enough to knead a loaf of bread before the day begins.
Guys. This book is AMAZING.

When I first saw Beth Fish Reads' review of The Homemade Pantry, I thought it might be worth checking out, but I didn't have very high expectations for it. I know how these make-it-yourself-at-home books tend to go: spend lots of money on specialized equipment and lots of time, OR just go to the grocery store and buy it there. Even though I like making my own food, I can't spend tons of money on new equipment for it, and I don't want to spend my entire day in the kitchen.

I didn't realize how perfect The Homemade Pantry was for me until I picked it up at the library. I've made my own cheese (see here), baked my own bread (here), and made my own liquors (here) from scratch before. If that sounds like something you could/want to do, you should definitely pick this book up. All of those types of recipes are in The Homemade Pantry, along with many others.

The Homemade Pantry is divided into sections imitating the aisles of your grocery store: dairy, bread, cereals, snacks, etc., which makes it very easy to navigate. You'll be surprised by how many items you can make at home that you might not have thought of before, like brown sugar. I also like that Alana Chernila didn't hit on my pet peeves with this book--requiring specialized equipment and approaching it from the perspective of a chef. There are some specialized tools required, but not as many as I would have expected in a book like this; and even when Chernila does suggest a particular kitchen gadget, she addresses what you can or should do if you don't have it on hand (including a warning about NOT using glass baking dishes, which I really could have used the first time I baked bread).

Also, from what I know about some of the things I've made in the past, such as ricotta, it seems like the recipes Chernila includes here are the simplest and easiest versions you can find. You really can made your own bread, cheese, etc., without spending the entire day in the kitchen; and as Chernila points out, it's usually cheaper and better-tasting!

The Homemade Pantry makes creating food staples at home extremely accessible. If you've ever been interested in being more self-sufficient, or wondered if you really could make your own cheese, bread, butter, etc., then you should definitely check this book out.

weekend cookingWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. For more information, see the welcome post.


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