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550 of 581 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
UPDATED 12 JUNE 2012
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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199 of 214 people found the following review helpful
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. Now, I was really interested in the crackers because crackers and cheese happens to be my snack of choice (I'd rather have that than a cookie.) But I have found most crackers to be very salty, or starchy and the flavor doesn't seem to be there. Here we have a recipe for wheat crackers using spelt, wheat, flax seed and are they ever good! And the author gives gluten free variations using brown rice flour.

Staples like pancake mix, ketchup (no hfcs) and even mustard are covered. The ketchup is good--I tried it, but it will not taste like (you know who) because that recipe is difficult to duplicate. Mine was more tomato-ey, spicier, but I liked it.

The downside to this book is that it takes some planning and preparation (a weekend canning, mixing, boxing, freezing) but if you do plan ahead, you could have a pantry of American favorites in a convenient form but lacking additives, corn syrup, even wheat, which sneaks into many mixes as wheat starch, so if you are concerned about such additives or if you or a family member has an allergy, this is a welcome book and the pictures make the most ordinary foods look very tempting indeed.

I'm off to make more crackers...
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I love this book! The recipes are pretty simple foods yet wonderful, delicious, and things that most people eat in their everyday lives. The recipes range from pantry basics to foods that I never would have thought about making homemade (such as cream filled snack cakes, marshmallows, or peanut butter cups). And after making many of the recipes, my family has determined that they like the Homemade Pantry version better. And not a single recipe has failed me; everyone has turned out wonderful and delicious. This book is great for beginners due to the easy to follow instructions and tips but also good for people that are experienced at cooking like me. I already make most of my family's food from scratch, but this book added more grocery store alternative products to our kitchen.

My family loves the recipes for the sandwich cookie (almost like an Oreo only better and healthier), hamburger buns, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pesto, vanilla ice cream, vanilla extract, pudding, stock, salsa, roasted tomatoes (a great way to preserve any leftover tomatoes that are going ripe too fast), all three car snacks recipes, toaster pastries, granola, instant oatmeal, maple popcorn, homemade butter, and more. This summer (after I order the cultures), I want to make the mozzarella cheese, crème fraiche, and ricotta; and we can't wait to try hot sauce, cucumber pickles, and ketchup once our garden is ripe this fall!

I love that the recipes are so much healthier than store purchased alternatives; no artificial flavors/colors or preservatives here and every ingredient is one that I can pronounce and that I know what is. There are also recipes that cover almost every aspect of the pantry from dairy products, soups, condiments, snacks, candy and sweets, to pasta and everything in between. Alana has even included a recipe for cream filled snack cakes (similar to Twinkies, only healthier).

I love the tips that Alana provides, especially on where to find some ingredients and what brands she feels works the best (for example, she recommends New England Cheese Making Supply for yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, and crème fraiche starters and Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup). Alana also includes great tips on things that could possibly go wrong which she terms "tense moments". These tips help a lot.

I love that instead of saying "buy xxx packaged food" of "xxx mix" as many recipe books do Alana made sure to add the ingredient recipes. So instead of just saying use graham crackers, pie crust, buttermilk, or cream cheese, etc she tells you how to make your own; but at the same time if you don't want to make your own cream cheese or graham crackers, you can always purchase them at the store and the recipes will still turn out great.

I appreciate that each recipe includes storage tips including the length of time it should be stored for and how it should be stored (air tight container, in fridge, at room temperature, etc), and if the recipe is suited to be frozen or canned. This makes it so I do not have to guess that hot sauce shouldn't be canned or that yellow cake can be frozen; which saves me from making mistakes.

The stories she adds to go with the recipes are fun and makes Alana Chernila feel like a friend. The stories also made me realize that these are recipes that she actually feeds her family. Although there is not a picture to go with every recipe, the pictures that are included are wonderfully done and give a great representation of what the food should look like when finished. I also love the pictures of her family that she has included. The stories and the pictures help give the book character and a fun side.

I highly recommend The Homemade Pantry for anyone, both experienced cooks and beginners.

I received this book free for review purposes. However in no way did this affect my opinions of this book. This review is my 100% honest opinion.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book less than a week ago, and it's already a favorite. I've made the mozzarella cheese (which I've made before but her recipe and instructions were superior)and made the granola bars twice (my middle school son took them to school for a PARTY, that's how good they were!), and made the nut butter (for the granola) and I can't believe how easy THAT was. I cook from scratch almost every night, and I'm amazed at how excited I am to try the other recipes in this book (ok, especially the pop tarts...). Given how delicious and easy the first few recipes were, I know this book will be creased, noted in, and dirty in no time. In "my" kitchen, those are the signs of a great cookbook.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified 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. After a little looking around though, I found other recipes that - while not identical - had a lot in common and they were all quite different than the recipe in this book... I picked one and it worked perfectly. And so on with several other recipes until I recently decided to not use up good ingredients on what increasingly feel like experiments ("will this one work?").

I do like the spirit and message of the book and am glad to have received the inspiration to learn some "lost art" basics in favor of convenience items. I will use much of it as a checklist as I continue my search for recipes that work better for me.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
*Updated* I've made a few of the recipes and I'd like to update my previous review. The cornbread was great, very moist. I made the mac and cheese with broccoli, added 3/4 of the cheese plus a little cooking water to the sauce, and the rest of the cheese on top, followed by the breadcrumbs. My husband couldn't get over how great it was! Now the mediocre: the pancakes were fine, but my usual recipe is better. The vanilla pudding was bland. We still ate it, but it just needed something. The yogurt recipe with maple syrup turned out fine for me. All in all, some hits and misses it seems, but I'm still happy with the book.

Previous review: The photography is beautiful as are the stories that accompany the recipes. I love the multiple storage tips and variations after each recipe as well. The recipes and the writing just seem appealing and unpretentious--stuff I'd love to make and food even my toddler would love to eat (buttermilk ranch dressing, fruit gelatin...). Extremely happy with this purchase.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
My library has officially cut me off from renewing this book, so I broke down and purchased it. I'm so thrilled by the recipes and stories and I've loved everything I've made so far. I adapted my own tastes for hummus, but her recipe was the first one that inspired me to take one that tasted good.

The mustard is delicious and insanely easy as well! I look forward to making more from this book.
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54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am in love with this book. Not only is it incredibly beautiful to look at, but the recipes are useful and accessible. Homemade Pantry is filled with things you'd actually want to make for yourself, your family or a party, and it uses everyday ingredients that most people would actually have on hand.

I think this book is going to become a go-to gift for weddings and baby showers for me. It's so useful for anyone, at any stage in their kitchen life or cooking experience. There is a good breakdown of kitchen equipment, including non electrical gadgets and useful information like how to freeze things like garden fresh vegetables, and food you make yourself. There are good explanations of techniques too, like blanching, roasting and charring.Each chapter is set up like an isle in a grocery store, which is so clever.

I love the essays that accompany each recipe too. Alana Chernila comes across like a real person, who makes messes, has food failures and has trouble getting her kids to eat sometimes. Just like most of us. There is no pretentious cooking here, just real, honest and easy ways to make lots of things from scratch, that I eat often anyway.

I'm most excited to try out the pop tarts, which are featured on the cover, the veggie burgers and hamburger buns. Not to mention the condiments (homemade ketchup or mustard anyone?) and the cracker and snack section looks amazing too.

I am a reader of Alana's blog, [...] and I've used many of her recipes from there before and they've never failed me. I've been looking for an easy way to reduce what I buy at the store, to rid my kitchen of as many chemicals/preventives/additives and excess packing as possible and I'm off to a great start with Homemade Pantry.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I liked the idea of this book better than the actual product. Just about everything in my kitchen is made from scratch, so I was excited to see what this book could add to my pantry. Basically, nothing. Easily half of the writing consists of cutesy intro stories. Yeah great, you have kids and a husband and you all like to cook and learn life lessons from each other. Wonderful. Once you wade through all the saccharin, there are the recipes. The instant oatmeal recipe (for example) was great. Sometimes, just the IDEAS were worth reading. Poptarts out of pie crust? Fabulous idea! Information on cheese making and canning were accurate and would be useful to the beginner. Unfortunately, these and all other recipes and techniques can already be found in trusted, classic cookbooks. The Joy of Cooking (for example) contains most, if not all, of the recipes and other information (such as canning and jam-making) found in this book. Fanny Farmer is another that comes to mind. And do we really need to include 'recipes' for buttered popcorn? Hot chocolate?? (melt chocolate in milk, drink). I would suggest checking your own cookbook library and/or the internet before spending $30 on this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have long looked for instructions on how to make yogurt from scratch and ended up trying it based upon Amazon making the first few pages of Alana's book available online. Well, it turned out great, and I am not sure I will ever buy store yogurt again. I had a candy thermometer available, and gorgeous organic whole milk, so I followed her very clear instructions and it turned out beautifully. I have now ordered her book, and can't wait to make a few more things! I found her via Heidi Swanson's blog, so am grateful for such an inspiring online community of people committed to making foods as wholesome and as natural as possible. Up with health!
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