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The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making Paperback – April 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

Featured Recipe: Chai


Makes 6 cups

  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped unpeeled fresh ginger
  • Three 4-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • One 1-inch circular slice unpeeled orange
  • 4 black tea bags, regular or decaffeinated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey, to taste
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups milk (low-fat or whole), to taste

Combine the water, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, and orange slice in a medium pot. Partially cover the pot, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat, add the tea bags, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Put a strainer over the bowl and strain the liquid. Add the honey to taste. To store the chai in the refrigerator or freezer without milk, do so now. Otherwise, return the tea to the pot, add the milk, and reheat.

Chai will keep in a covered container for five days with milk and for two weeks without milk. To freeze, omit milk and freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to six months. Thaw in refrigerator and heat with milk on the stove.


“Alana is the real deal: A practically minded, thoroughly modern yet authentically old school homesteader. Ingeniously opting for quality over quantity, she strives for excellence, taste, and nutrition, and inspires her readers to do the same. She shows us the functional beauty in a frugal kind of cooking that’s nevertheless alive with luxury and abundance. Believe her and practice what she preaches.”
LUCINDA SCALA QUINN, host of Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn and author of Mad Hungry

“Alana Chernila’s food is the sort of honest, natural, and down-to-earth cooking that I crave. On the top of my can’t-wait-to-make list are the toaster pastries, which I’m sure my own daughter will adore, and the cucumber pickles, which are right up my DIY-alley. Plus, Alana’s stories are engaging and fun to read. But what I really love about this book is Alana’s passionate approach to homemade kitchen staples, which I hope will get people to rethink the questionable goods that we all keep in our pantries. We can do better, and she shows us how. I would feel confident cooking any of her recipes for my friends and family, and that means a lot.”
MELISSA CLARK, New York Times food columnist and author of Cook This Now
“You can work culinary magic on a whim when you keep a well-stocked, mindfully edited pantry. Alana’s beautiful book shows you the way with an impressive range of homemade go-tos. She covers all the useful day-to-day staples here with understated style. Pancake and waffle mixes, granola, tomato sauce, and salad dressings bump up against recipes for crackers, soda syrups, sauerkraut, and spice blends. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to head straight for your kitchen.”
HEIDI SWANSON, bestselling author of Super Natural Every Day
“Alana Chernila has given us something incredibly special: a book both practical and inspiring, authoritative, and down to earth. Reading THE HOMEMADE PANTRY, I feel as though I’m in the kitchen with her and her family, and that together, there’s nothing that we can’t do. Why not make my own hot sauce, mozzarella, or graham crackers? From now on, I know I will.”
MOLLY WIZENBERG, bestselling author of A Homemade Life
“Alana Chernila not only understands the power of food, she understands the power of food and family. She understands the comfort and security a bowl of creamy soup brings on a winter day; she understands that a lasagna from scratch can bond a family in ways that the boxed kind can’t; and perhaps most importantly, she understands that a warm homemade toaster pastry will go a long way in easing any brand of maternal guilt. I think that recipe in particular is going to be a keeper in my house.”

The Homemade Pantry is an important, beautiful work that can change the way people approach their food lives.”
MOLLIE KATZEN, author of The Moosewood Cookbook

“A gorgeous collection of recipes for making fresh, healthier versions of store-bought packaged foods like Pop Tarts, pizza, and more. Good for your waistline, your wallet, and the environment.”  

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030788726X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307887269
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

583 of 615 people found the following review helpful By J. Jackson on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first bought this book, I was absolutely giddy about trying everything.
Now that I've worked my way through, I'm slightly concerned.
On the one hand, the book covers many, many things. Major plus.
On the other hand, some of the recipes are either badly written, untested or just plain bombs. After the salt issue in the bread recipe*, I found another: when using instant yeast aka rapid rise as called for, a one hour first rise will completely deflate your dough. The whole purpose of rapid raise is to eliminate a lengthy first rise; it only needs 10 minutes, not an hour. {I use Fleischmann's and their website quite clearly states that RapidRise yeast needs only 10 minutes of rest after kneading.} After random failings of the recipe, I went to King Arthur Flour (from whom the White Bread recipe was adapted) and ended up using the Oatmeal Bread as my standard.
The yogurt recipe calls for a comparatively large amount of starter (1/2C per quart). I've switched back to my old Mireille Guiliano 1-2Tbsp/quart recipe.
Following the Yellow Cake recipe to the letter still results in a dry end product. But it smells really good.
The Buttermilk recipe is not really a recipe, more like instructions on how to use pre-purchased buttermilk culture, although that can be said for most of the Dairy chapter.
Since I bought the book, I haven't turned to it nearly as much as I anticipated. The hit-and-miss nature of the recipes doesn't make me eager to try most of them.
At least the information on canning is solid.

*The author has acknowledged an error in the White Bread recipe (p214): 2.5 teaspoons of salt, NOT tablespoons.
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201 of 216 people found the following review helpful By Joanna D. #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have no doubt that if you are perhaps older than 40, you've noticed a change in store-bought foods, especially snack foods. The taste somehow has changed over the year. Also, not a few of us have become aware of additives in food we really don't want to eat. Or, we have allergies and so do our kids. In any case, wouldn't it be GREAT if you could have the same treats and snacks in your biscuit tin, pantry or cookie jar that your kids love but you are ashamed to even be seen buying? I certainly think so and that is why I got a copy of this book.

I am going to say right out of the gate, I am not one of those people who only eats organic, or vegan or really takes tremendous care, but I buy very few packaged baked goods or crackers. (Which is why most coupons are useless for my buying habits.) And I have never EVER eaten a Pop Tart(tm). My mom when we grew up, simply refused to buy that kind of thing. But if your kids would like a treat and clamor for toaster pastry, here is a recipe for absolutely delicious-looking flat tarts that you could serve with your head held high (even to guests, with a cup of coffee.) If you can roll out pastry dough (and to the author's credit, she gives a pie dough recipe rather than "buy a package of refrigerated pie dough") you can make these and they are cute as can be. And the author tells you how to freeze them effectively (on parchment paper, flat, so they can be stacked into a container) so you could simply pull them out on a weekend or even weekday, heat them up in the oven and serve them up for breakfast.

Some of the other recipes are jerky, homemade yogurt (which I do frequently), mixed nuts, granola bars, and crackers.
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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl DC on August 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really excited when I learned about this book. I am an experienced (and have also been called talented) home cook, but have never made my own pantry staples or dairy products. Between my desire to use as great a proportion of local and pesticide-free ingredients in what I feed my family, my hope to find new ways to waste less (packaging, etc.), and the fact that it can be kind of a pain to find some ingredients without breaking the bank (e.g. organic fresh mozzarella made with vegetarian rennet), this book inspired me to take a break from the frou-frou recipe trend I had been on awhile and get back to basics. I find Alana's blog to be incredibly charming and informative, although I have to admit that I hadn't actually used any of her recipes until buying this cookbook.

For me, the pro of having gotten this book was the inspiration that doing some of this stuff was not only possible, but really not all that complicated and - in the end - gives me a lot more control over ingredients. (Although the point the author continually makes is about saving money and not using as many packaged things that will generate trash.) I can't find organic ricotta in any store that's remotely convenient to get to, but I *can* buy local organic milk and pick (toxin-free) lemons off my own tree and make my own. The homemade ricotta worked like a charm and inspired me to try more.

Unfortunately, the more recipes I try, the more disappointed I am in the purchase. For example, the fresh mozzarella I attempted (following the recipe to the letter) was a total flop and I assumed it was me and that cheesemaking really was too hard for regular people, since the troubleshooting she offered (too-pasteurized milk) didn't apply to me.
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