Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods by Jennifer Reese
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Description: When Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was overcome by an impulse common among the recently unemployed: to economize by doing for herself what she had previously paid for. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that “doing it yourself” would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese’s discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it. With its fresh voice and delightful humor, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gives 120 recipes with eminently practical yet deliciously fun “Make or buy” recommendations. Reese is relentlessly entertaining as she relates her food and animal husbandry adventures, which amuse and perplex as well as nourish and sustain her family. Her tales include living with a backyard full of cheerful chickens, muttering ducks, and adorable baby goats; countertops laden with lacto-fermenting pickles; and closets full of mellowing cheeses. Here’s the full picture of what is involved in a truly homemade life—with the good news that you shouldn’t try to make everything yourself—and how to get the most out of your time in the kitchen.
My take: Jennifer Reese is a girl after my own heart. I had a similar experience only I didn't write a book about it and I forgot to get the chickens. Mostly because I have an aversion to eating animals I grow, even if it is only eggs. Don't even get me started on growing up on a farm and eating the cows that wandered through the field. Vegetarianism is so under-rated.
So Reese experiments with what can be made at home and what can not. It is hilarious and right on. I agree with her on so many levels. On the title alone, I stopped buying Rhodes rolls over 5 years ago. I can whip up rolls and 5 different artisan breads for pennies thanks to hard economic times. I did, however, have some extra cream and attempted to shake it into butter. Like Reese proposes, it's not worth it.
In a world of changing economic times, Reese takes into account cost and time, economizing both for a fun, entertaining, and educational read.
***Edit: Okay, I have a confession to make. I didn't read the whole book when I wrote this review. I still haven't. I skipped around and read about the foods I was most interested in. Specifically, I read about eggs. I may have laughed so hard I wet myself just a little bit. Just kidding but only because I have an iron bladder. I'm not quoting verbatim but she said something like, "Our city allows up to 12 hens. We got 19." She then tells how her husband found out about the chicks and what he said. That's about where I needed to go to the bathroom. I can't quote it because I try not to swear in my reviews (keeping it to real life), but I would think my husband had similar thoughts. He does not verbalize his cuss words but I think he might have thought those.
Just to add to this portion of the book, my experiences have been incredibly similar and her summary of chickens is sickeningly accurate. The difference between the author and myself is that when I found the chicken corpses after my dog got a hold of them, I may have had a slight psychotic break. This is also the time when my cussing mouth took off all by itself.
Other similarities is the cost of the eggs is astronomical when factoring in the start-up costs; coop, run, food, light/heat, shock collar for dog, etc., etc. Difference is that I quit keeping track of the cost long before she did.
My children complain when I call out to the hens, "Ladies! Come here, Ladies!" Also, when they can't find me in the house, they look in the garden where I may be found digging up worms with the shovel, chickens surrounding me.
They bring us joy. They're cute. They come when I call. I'm their person. They are my ladies.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.