Julie Davis's Reviews > The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making

The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
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's review
May 26, 2012

liked it
Read from July 03 to 20, 2012

Yet more birthday book-a-liciousness. This one's from Rose who knows a cookbook is always a safe bet for me. Over the years I have come across many foods we usually buy from the store but that we can also make at home. Beginning with my parents who routinely made butter, tomato paste, pasta, and other delicious comestibles in the 1960s and 70s. (We won't even get into raising their own chickens and pigs ... but I can tell you there is nothing like a duck egg for breakfast. It beats a chicken egg all to flinders for excellent flavor.)

I have picked and chosen where I am willing to buy storebought and where it is worth the effort to produce it myself. Pesto, bread, mayonnaise - yes. Pasta - no. However, for the generation coming up simply cooking is a monumental feat much of the time as they have never been taught anything about it. I think of the brief and probably bewildering conversation I had with a pal as we picked up our CSA coolers from the farmer today. She was not sure why she couldn't saute a green bean without burning it. Poor, poor thing. She's coming over to my house soon for coffee so I can show her my kitchen equipment.

However, I digress. All of that is to say that the author's breathless excitement at producing ricotta and yogurt are praiseworthy and valid ... and probably very reassuring to those who have never considered making such things at home. For me, I like her enthusiasm and am interested to see the technique tweaks in a few places so far. (You can always learn something, even when you think you know everything and I am far from knowing everything.)

And it is good for me to be prodded out of my usual routine so that I actually do try some of the things I've read about so much. For instance, that ricotta ... it's going to happen soon, I think. Mozzarella I've always found tasteless, even the fresh stuff that I can get locally from Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company. Provolone, now ... which I substitute for mozzarella ... that I might try making.

There were some wonky looking things (cake icing with only one cup of powdered sugar ... isn't that going to taste like fat? 2 tablespoons of cinnamon to 5 tablespoons of sugar ... won't the inside of my mouth burn into flames?), but perhaps they work and may be recipes I will test. This does have a number of good looking recipes to try (hamburger buns because I keep trying and every homemade recipe is too heavy, baking dried beans instead of boiling them because I've never liked the dried beans I've cooked myself) and the author's enthusiasm is sure to make people try something new in the kitchen. I'm all for that!
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Reading Progress

05/31/2012 page 75
07/06/2012 page 125
43.0% "Things marked to try: Instant Oatmeal and something else that I can't remember right now. A lot of these things I've made (mayo, etc.) and some of them make me think, "Really? You are treating air popped popcorn as a 'food you can stop buying?' Do people really not know that already?" I think they do. They just choose microwave popcorn, etc."
07/10/2012 page 175
61.0% "I'm starting to wonder about a few things ... cream cheese frosting with only 1 cup of powdered sugar? Usually it would be 4-6 cups. Cinnamon sugar mixture with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to 5 tablespoons of sugar? Usually it is 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/2 cup or 1 cup sugar. Cutting all the ravioli rectangles separately to fill instead of using 2 big sheets of pasta, then cutting? Methinks there could be problems ..."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Jenny (Reading Envy) Is mascarpone in there? That is one cheese I've made, at much lower cost than store bought, not to mention it only seems to be available locally around Christmas. I blame our lack of Italian population.

message 2: by Tina Hertz (new)

Tina Hertz I have some cookbooks along these lines of making your own, such as mixes and sauces. I love these kinds of cookbooks, and judging from your review this one sounds very thorough!
Making our own is fresher and cheaper. Today what drives me more than anything is being able to avoid so harmful ingredients.
Part of the problem here is that 100 years ago, most everybody had some kind of help whether it was a laundress, housekeeper or cook, no matter what class you were. We are using grocery stores to substitute for this loss. No wonder I'm so tired all the time, today we are expected to do everything - who has that kind of stamina or time? Something's gotta give.

Melinda Ok, you've got my attention here. What kitchen equipment do you use to keep from burning green beans when you saute them? ;-)

I enjoyed this cookbook, again for the nudge to make more here at home. I've already made the pop-tarts at home, and they are yummy. I'm encouraged to try to do some canning this fall and see how it turns out.

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