Thursday, March 19, 2015

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Book: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
Author:Jennifer Reese
Read:March 23, 2015
285 pages
Rated: 3 1/2  out of 5

Reese tries to form a somewhat objective opinion on the question of make or buy. It is just not a matter of being frugal, but there is cost, healthiness, time and taste to factor in. This book was written after she found herself out of work. A matter of curiosity drove her to consider, when do you make something and when to buy it. Over all, she considers store bought, mass-produced food to be less tasty than home cooked-of course, that may be just that she can cook.

What is her criteria? Does she stick with it? One factor she says is time. Another is taste. She really deals on the nutritional or additives which goes into store bought products.

She seems to be one of those folks who has not come across a cookbook which she does not like. But on her blog, she does says that occasionally she needs to winnow out her collection for those not used.

A thought as I was reading about her tries at having chicken, ducks, goats and I am assuming other animals, would I want to be her neighbor. She lives in a sub-urban neighborhood, so I am assuming she does not have acres of land to keep these animals on. But since some of the chickens were attacked by raccoons, I assume, she is also close to non-urban territory.

Obviously, a question is which recipes do I want to try?
  • Peanut butter
  • Bagels
  • Bread 
  • Nutella
  • Hash Browns
  • Maple nut scones
  • Barbecue spaghetti
  • Flourless chocolate cake-Turned out pretty good, but would have been better if I had taken it out a few minutes earlier.
  • Cheese its
  • Isabel's Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Chocolate sauce

When I started reading this book, I was thinking, will this be just a recipe book? Or is this something more? I am also reading another book which I am only skimming, sort of like this book. But the difference? This book is interesting, it is fun. She writes personally and with humor. But I will say that after awhile, it got a bit repetitious. But what cookbook doesn't? After all, there is just so many ways to crack an egg.

Reese has over 120 recipes for some of the basic hints of American life. Things like bread, peanut butter, cup cakes and pie. You can see what food I like! Almost all of the recipes has a handy summary of:
  • Make it or buy it:
  • Hassle:
  • Cost comparison:
Each chapter is divided up like a cookbook into the type of food. Are the recipes any good? At our book group, several people made a recipe or two and all thought they were good enough to eat. I am not sure that any of them were to die for but I suspect that is not Reese's objective. It is more to provide good alternatives in a practical way to ready-made food.

Also, there are cute stories to start each chapter, as well as background, such as what is kosher salt, or how to's, like how to choose nuts. Hint: the one in chapter 2 about eggs and chicken is worth the price of the book.

How do you evaluate what is essentially a cookbook? Probably by making something. But the slaw is not the only thing Reese slings, words and stories are part of the fun of the book. The bottom line, if you are looking for a serious recipe book, look for a book by Child's or Pepin. But Reese's book will provide  some good advice for the rest of us.

New Words:
  • Desiccated (4): remove the moisture from (something, especially food), typically in order to preserve it.
Book References:
  • Laurel's Kitchen
  • Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer
  • The New Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton
  • The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
  • The Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson
  • The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion
  • Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
  • Artichoke to Za'atar by Greg and Lucy Malouf
  •  The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse
  • Family of Man by Edward Steichen
  • The Cooking of Scaninavia
  • The One-Block Feast by Margo True
  • The Modern Art of Chinese cooking by Barbara Tropp
  • Mrs Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook
  • Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuijo
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan
  • Farm City by Novella Carpenter
  • The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
  • Food Rules by Michael Polan
  • Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur - a look behind the scenes for the recipes of fast foods
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingels Wilder
  • Indian Cookery by E. P. Veersawmy
  • Fast Food Nation
  •  Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
  • The Serial by Cyra McFadden
  • Honey Handbook
  • The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
  • Frugal Housewife
  • Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
  • Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen
  • The Oxford Companion to Food
  • The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
  • Aquavit by Marcus Samuelson
  • Liquers for All Seasons 
  • In the Kitchen with a Good Apetite by Melissa Clark
  • Joy of Jams, Jellies and other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich
  • The last Crumb Bakery
  • The Blue Ball Book of Preserving
  • More Home cooking by Laurie Colwin
  • The River Cottage Cookbook
  • Mustards Grill Napa Valley by Cindy Pawclyn
  • Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty
  • Cakewalk by Kate Moses
  • Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
  • Baking by Dorie Greenspan
  • The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
  • The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
  • I Hate to cook Book

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: Until recently, I never considered making my own peanut butter,
  • Last Line: As my mother wrote on each copy of the recipe: Makes 12 large slices, 24 lady slices.
  •  Inferior mass-produced often costs more-and sometimes quite a bit more-than homemade food. (4)
  • It can be healthy, not to mention joyful, to get carried away. (78)
Table of Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Breads and Spreads
  • Eggs
  • Breakfast
  • Vegetables
  • Restaurant Food
  • From Beak to Tail
  • Junk Food and candy
  • Dinner
  • Fruit
  • Honey
  • Cured Meats
  • Duck Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Goats
  • Turkey
  • Thanksgiving
  • Drinks
  • Canning
  • Having People Over
  • Desserts
  • Afterwords
  • Appendix


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