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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch--Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods Paperback – October 16, 2012
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“A great read for cooks afflicted by curiosity about the do-it-yourself movement in food. Ms. Reese goes beyond jam and chutney into pasta, pastrami and graham crackers. Even her failed experiments, like homemade hot dogs, are entertaining.” –New York Times
"From hot dog buns to Pop-Tarts, she reveals whether it's better to buy it or make it, accounting for the cost, hassle and rate of success. Happily, she dispenses this practical know-how with a crackling sense of humor, making this book a fun read. The scope and utility of this book make it worthy of space in your collection, especially this time of year when you're looking for fast and interesting gifts to make in the kitchen. Plus Reese's honesty is refreshing and inspiring; she goes from a hilarious review of the 1970s Earth-mother bible "Laurel's Kitchen" to making a modern-day case for baking." (The Oregonian)
"Now that Michael Pollan has made us all aspire to be politically correct foodies, a certain angst has cast its shadow over the average American home. One of the big issues is, should I make my own food and thus assure myself that it contains only the healthiest and freshest of ingredients, or is it more practical to just buy it somewhere. Reese tackles this question for a number of common foods and she writes in a witty, conversational style that wins you over right from the start." (Sacramento Bee)
"I'm always interested in what Jennifer says about food, and about how to retain the pleasure of eating it in an increasingly confusing world. Plus, she's convinced me to try making my own Camembert. Jennifer's is a journey I'm thrilled to embark upon." (Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia)
“I knew this important, original, and necessary book would be informative—and it is, very. What I didn't expect: pure entertainment in an original, fresh voice that will make readers feel they have a smart new best friend. I lapped this up in one sitting, learned a bunch, laughed out loud - and am about to try several of the recipes. You nailed it, Jennifer Reese!” (Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook)
"Here is a book that is going to take a treasured place in my kitchen bookrack. Part memoir, part Consumer-Reports-style testing, this book is chock-full of recipes and good advice in the kitchen. There are a few things Jennifer Reese does in this book that make it particularly indispensable: before each recipe, she tells her story of why she wanted to tackle it. Her recipes are easy-to-follow, and often include diagrams and pictures to get through the more difficult parts. I would highly recommend this book if you are thinking about embarking on the adventure that is backyard chicken raising. Here, Reese offers a humane and very funny look at what that project brought to her family. I would recommend this book if you, like me, spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into your body and wondering where did so many of these so-called "conveniences" come from, and are they really worth it? I've suspected making my own bread is the way to go for a long time, but in this book, Jennifer Reese cements it for me. Her recipes are tried-and-true, her reasoning makes sense to me, and her personality makes it believable. Buy this book, give it to a friend, make these recipes and watch your world get a little better." (The Tattered Cover)
“Her experiences led her to create a great blog, Tipsy Baker, and this awesome book. She’s very sarcastic, which makes me happy. Jennifer tells it like it is, from a simple bread recipe to raising chickens, and breaks everything down by price, reward, and hassle factor." (TrueFoodMovement.com)
"I loved this book. In her inspiring and hilarious voice, Reese reminds me why I actually should take the time to make from scratch things that I buy and giving me a pass on those things that I really don't want to make myself anyway. I laughed out loud." (Carla Hall, Top Chef All Star, Co-host on The Chew, and founder, Alchemy by Carla Hall)
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There are roughly a dozen sections in the book that cover everything from raising livestock (chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, and bees have all been denizens of Reese's backyard at one point) to the experience of whipping up simple dishes (croutons) and complex creations (danishes). Almost every recipe - or lack thereof, since some of her experiments were failures - is accompanied with an anecdote. And that's what truly sets this book apart. I genuinely recommend you read it from cover to cover first, with the understanding that you will want to jump up and make a million of the dishes along the way, because that way you not only get some entertainment value and storytelling (her family is well characterized), you also get a good gauge as to what type of person Reese is, and how manageable her recipes and foodie adventures would be if you tried adapting them for your own lifestyle.
The bonus benefit of this book - or perhaps simply the core benefit - is the way it skewers the industrial food system. Every recipe is prefaced by three bullet points: should you make it or buy it? how much hassle is it? what's the cost compared to store-bought?Read more ›
The book is strongest when it compares a finished product from the store (a loaf of bread) to what she can make at home using store bought staples (flour, salt, yeast). Since store-bought cream is more expensive than store-bought butter, she concludes it is not cost-effective to make your own butter. This in turn works best with products that were once homemade (hummus, peanut butter, bacon) and less well with items that are an industrial invention (poptarts).
The book does not work as solidly outside of this format, such as when she discusses gardening, bees, chickens, and goats. These chapters are entertaining, but not as well constructed from a cost-benefit-analysis point of view:
The fruit and vegetable sections are shockingly short (vegetables is 6 pages; fruit is 7 pages, 2 of which are for making lard).Read more ›
I'd recommend checking the book out from your local library, making a list of things you want to make and then searching elsewhere for recipes. Internet makes that easy!
As Jennifer Reese might say on her blog (which is ostensibly dedicated to trying multiple recipes from successive cookbooks to decide whether or not each is a shelf essential, but often digresses (enjoyably) to pop culture, travel, family, etc.), her recipe for Everyday Bread is worth the price of the book. I've been making similar variations on Moro bread ever since I read about it on her blog, and pretty much everyone who tastes the results asks for the recipe. I love that she has written an actual cookbook, because while I've loved everything I've tried based on her blog recommendations, it's been costing me a lot of money: if she tells me a book is a shelf essential, the thought of my cookbook shelves without it nags at me until I break down and order it.
True to its title, the book isn't about new ideas and exotic recipes (though Reese is an adventurous enough cook and eater that the selection isn't boring either), but about great versions of more-or-less familiar foods. I'm excited to try Apricot-Ginger Bread, Almond Butter, Lemon Yogurt, Clotted Cream, and Canadian Bacon, among others. Not that it should really matter to the reader of reviews which recipes interest me, but when I'm reading reviews, I always like to have an idea of what kind of recipes the book contains and the general tastes of the reviewer, so I'm assuming others may like it too.
My one disappointment is how cheap the book feels.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this publication excellent. Makes a lot of sense. A lengthy review is unnecessary.Published 6 days ago by Zeta Lady in San Diego
While I loved the premise of this book--saving money by making various pantry items/staples from scratch---I was consistently disappointed by the actual recipes. Read morePublished 12 days ago by em
This book is so funny, entertaining and inspirational! And is a great deal reference for a lot of lost homemade culinary artworks.Published 16 days ago by OnlineShopperLove
As a competent cook and general cheapskate, I love the idea of this book. But it's just very poorly organized. Read morePublished 18 days ago by SecretAsianMan
I read this book from cover to cover like a novel! She writes so well, paints clear visions of her stories, and gives useful advice as well! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Really enjoyed this book. Its a cross between a memoir and a cookbook and it really shows you what is worth making from scratch, and what isn't worth the trouble. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Grace