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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

4.5 out of 5 stars 268 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In a time when the pressure’s on to be green, organic and homemade, food fans and cooks will appreciate a book that encourages balance: Make your own hummus, yogurt and dill pickles, but buy sashimi, baguettes and corn dogs.” (USA TODAY)

“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)

About the Author

Jennifer Reese has been a professional journalist all of her adult life, working mostly for national magazines, and has been an avid, adventurous home cook for even longer, which she blogs about at the Tipsy Baker (tipsybaker.com) as well as for online publications like Slate. Reese also teaches cooking classes in Marin County, California, where she lives with her family.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451605889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451605884
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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4 Comments 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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!
6 Comments 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book, as it's not really what it's billed to be, but is still a worthwhile work.

I have mixed feelings about this book, as it comes from a point of view that my own frugality and background makes me squirm.

So, how it's billed: Writer loses her job and decides that it'd be a good idea to see if she can save money by not getting so much convenience crap, instead making stuff for herself. Love the hook. It's fantastic, interesting and relevant.

Not two chapters in, she's going on about spending $3500 on a fence for CHICKENS?

That little anecdote really lost any fellow-feeling for me in terms of how much that lost job really meant to the family. The long-suffering husband of the story must have still had a great job, even if the loss of her income was a bit of a blow. If that had been my family, a $3500 bill because I hadn't done my research would have meant the difference between having a place to live and homelessness. So...

In the face of that, Reese is still an entertaining writer, and she does make some excellent points about what it's worth to make on your own or not. I disagree with her about the difficulties of making stock, but agree that it's worthwhile. Yes, it is cheaper to make your own baked goods for the most part, and while she seems to be into making cheese, I'd really only do that as a hobby rather than a cost-saving measure, were I do to it at all.

This is simply NOT a book about how to save money cooking, though. The author lives in upper-middle class suburban Northern California and it really shows that she's not really in touch with people outside her income demographic.
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