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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   [MAKE THE BREAD BUY THE BUTTER] [Hardcover] Unknown Binding – October 31, 2011

251 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Free Press+ (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008KXXB3M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,247,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Rose VINE VOICE on October 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's really tempting to think of Jennifer Reese's 'Make the Bread, Buy the Butter' as a cookbook - but quite honestly, it's so much more than that. And if you consume it like you would a cookbook (piecemeal) than you'll be seriously missing out. The book came out of Reese being laid off from her job during the economic crisis a few years ago. Confronted with financial woes and general frustration towards corporate America, she decided to start experimenting with homemade foods. Eventually (or perhaps immediately, as a means to a financial end) she compiled these experiences and successful recipes into a book.

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?
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Claus on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So I ordered the book back on October 21st and am devouring it. It's one of those truly good books that makes me feel like I just got off the phone with a close friend -and does actually make me "laugh out loud". It's joined the ranks of a small number of books good enough to make me buy multiple copies to give to friends, family, and total strangers (I've bought 3 copies of this book in the last month). Just what I needed after the let-down that was Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes. Even better than The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week), though I loved that book, too.

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).
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By starrc on March 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading the book and will probably use it as reference for whether something is worth making from scratch. However, I will be looking elsewhere for the recipes because not one of hers has been good, let alone outstanding. I also want more nutrition than most of her recipes offer.

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!
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mae on October 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Full disclosure: I have not yet read the entire book. I have, however, read enough to know that it is as enjoyable as the author's blog, which I have been reading for over a year. (In my experience, a good blog is no guarantee of a good book, but in this case I find the writing style transfers perfectly.)

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.
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