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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  4,393 Ratings  ·  587 Reviews
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, ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published October 18th 2011)
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Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eating, cooking
I can proclaim with absolute certainty this is the most enjoyable cookbook I will probably never use!

I have no plans to make my own cream cheese. I will not be fermenting my own kimchi, curing my own meat, or even rendering my own lard.


This is easily one of the most entertaining books I have read this year.

The author is FUNNY! Her saucy writing style, willingness to try anything, and dogged devotion to exhausting research reminds me of Mary Roach. I giggled when she bought a skin-on pork
Did I find this book useful? Maybe. I now am encouraged to try baking bread, making yogurt, making hummus, and beef jerky, based on her book. I will report back after spending a Saturday doing these things and we will see.

But I got really tired of the tone after she started trying to raise livestock. So a minor digression.

There is an alarming persona at work in our culture. The tone in "Julie and Julia" and now in "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" is one of women who decide that they are going
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I lost my job, I started cooking beans from dry but that's about as far as I got going down the road to discovering which recipes I could use my newly-found time to make. And when I heard about this book, I kept recommending it to people I knew who made preserves. Finally I realized I was recommending it because I was interested, so I sat down and read it. Just when I was thinking we might have to give up the dog in favor of chickens and goats, Reese writes, "It seems a tragic waste to shap ...more
I "read" this book as much as you can read what is essentially a cook book with a lot of fascinating and hilarious introductions and clarification.

Finding herself without a job, Reese decided to try making a whole lot of stuff that we typically buy at the grocery store: bread and butter, as the title suggests, along with a whole slew of other items like cheese, corn dogs, cured meats, salad dressing, jams, etc. Based on the cost, taste, and work involved, this book contains her recommendations o
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 le
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
This book is a mixed bag. For the positive, the story-telling is humorous and easy to follow, and the format is well-done (what is the cost of making it versus buying it, what is the hassle, and what is the quality difference). For the negative, when I want to make something from home, it is because I want to make something artisan, not because I want a homemade pop-tart. This complaint is more reflective of me and my tastes than the recipies of the author, but if you would rather make a pain ch ...more
Dana Stabenow
A few caveats before we get started, Reese writes in the introduction. First, although, like most people, I think about money, I've always been able to clothe my children and pay the mortgage and if I couldn't whether I bought or made creme fraiche--or bread, to use a less absurd example--would make no difference. It is frivolous and deluded to think it would. I just wanted to address and answer some middle-class home economics questions that nagged my Michael Pollan-reading, price-checking, ove ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Intriguing premise, sharp-witted writing. Haven't tried any of the recipes yet. One thing I didn't like is how California-centric the book is. The nearest See's Candies is hundreds of miles from me, plus I can't grow lemons in my backyard, so I really don't want to hear about it, Jennifer.

UPDATE: I thought my homemade hot chocolate mix was good, but this one puts mine to shame.
Book Him Danno
This book is fantastic and everyone who enjoys cooking needs to get their hands on this book. What is best made homemade and what is best bought at the store? Well she sums it up in easy to understand writing adding a bit of humor along the way. Currently I have my homemade yogurt draining on the counter. How fun is that? Who knew I could make yogurt and Greek style to boot.

I will be purchasing a copy or two of this book for family members who love to cook. Homemade is so much better tasting and
Nikki Coffelt
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rigorously honest food manifesto, the author gives a "make or buy" recommendation for each type of food she experimented with (comparing "from scratch" versions with common products purchased at the supermarket) after losing her job. She bases these recommendations on the obvious differences in taste as well as level of "hassle" (ranging from "a 4-year-old could do it" to "you will want to bludgeon yourself with your rolling pin about halfway through this project" :) and cost comparisons, righ ...more
Tony Noland
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun, very readable book that will certainly be of interest for two distinct classes of people who typically have ZERO overlap: 1) foodies who make everything from scratch; 2) "fast foodies" who make everything from a box.

Generations ago, food was prepared in the kitchen, beginning with raw ingredients, often grown or raised by the family. Vegetables, fruits, grains, livestock, eggs, etc. were turned into food through the skillful expenditure of lots of time. In contrast, the processed
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think it can be said that I've "read" this at this point; I skipped around a lot, but I think I've gotten to all the parts now. I found her tone and style fun, even (especially?) when she was doing obvious-fail things, and I relate to her wistfulness over certain areas of domesticity (including obsessing over recipes as a child, though she was far more effective in actually creating food from the recipes!). I'm not sure the make vs. buy aspect works the same for people in other regions of the ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The author's escapades with her various projects are hilarious. It was interesting to read how some things are really made and I am glad that some things are ready and waiting for me in the store!
This is my kind of book! I tend to read cookbooks like other people read mystery novels - cover to cover, every detail of every recipe. However, what I truly enjoy is when the writers tell you about the recipes, where they found them, how they've changed them and why their's is the best and easiest cake recipe you'll ever eat or what made them come up with the idea for adding espresso powder to their cookie dough. Jennifer Reese does this. She begins the entire examination of her topic when she ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking-food
When Jennifer Reese lost her full-time job she began to economize by making things she had previously bought at the grocery store. This turned into a series of experiments on whether it’s better to make or buy. Was it cheaper? More expensive? Easy or too time consuming? This book is a delightful chronicle of her results.

I was expecting only a cookbook filled with recipes, practical advice and cost comparisons, but I was pleased to discover a lot more. Along with the 120 recipes is a must-read na
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Home-made vs. store-bought: we all know that home-made always takes more effort, but which is better? which is cheaper? The author tries to make almost every common food item, from bread to peanut butter to cheese to cake, and even things I would never consider doing (curing your own bacon, making your own Worcestershire sauce)to lay out the analysis. It was very interesting to see a somewhat-scientific approach to what makes sense. She breaks out the cost differential, highlights some home-made ...more
Slugs Youth
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle of this book is “What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods,” and while lots of the recipes looked delicious (and the few I tried were exceedingly popular in my household), my favourite part of this book was the commentary about what foods are worth cooking up at home, and what foods should just be purchased instead.

Jennifer Reese is a funny and articulate writer, but more importantly, she is a dedicated do-it-yourself-er who sets
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I read an entire cookbook and I'm counting it as a book. There are more stories in here than just recipes. I really enjoyed all the adventures she went through with beekeeping, goats, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. I think I could keep reading these kind of stories forever and I LOL'd more than once at her trials and failures with these animals and making cheeses and cured meats, undertaking I don't know that I would ever attempt (hanging an entire leg of pork in your basement? No thanks). I ...more
Jamie (ReadsInTrees) Dacyczyn
5 stars for the humorous anecdotes, 3 stars for the recipes, and 2 stars for the overall mission success.

I didn't read this book cover-to-cover, so this is based on the parts I read and skimmed. I bounced around a lot. I loved the author's style of humorous writing. Some of the anecdotes and visual descriptions were pretty hilarious.

I tried a couple of the recipes in this book. The chocolate chip pumpkin muffins were delicious. The "Everyday Bread" was pretty lackluster, in my opinion. I'd proba
Rachel Matuch
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part cookbook, part food memoir, and part examination of modern home economics. Jennifer Reese explores what we’ve lost—and gained—in an era where you can buy frozen PB&Js. What’s really worth the time to make from scratch? And what are we better off buying from the supermarket?

Reese rejects dogmatisms and easy answers at every turn. (“It seems a tragic waste to shape one’s life around doctrinaire rejection of industrial food,” she writes.) She refuses to participate in the kind of shaming t
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-books
Very interesting premise. I was definitely intrigued. The writing is perky and fun and made me laugh sometimes. I put the information on a spreadsheet though because it was kind of hard to sift through and I felt a little frustrated at how many things really didn't seem worth making (cost or effort-wise). There was a whole chapter on cured meats, one on ducks, and one on goats which weren't important to me. While she says "make" a pumpkin pie, I don't think anyone can beat Costco's for price or ...more
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author does a good job of making a funny, interesting introduction without being too long before each recipe. This book is very helpful to the working cook who enjoys homemade, but only possesses a finite amount of free time and money.

I really appreciated the set-up of the book. For each recipe, the Author gives the price breakdown of store-bought versus homemade, as well as the "Hassle" or level of difficulty. This is basically the "Is it worth the effort" clarifier, and I appreciate the he
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where have you been all my life Make the Bread, Buy the Butter? This book is THE book to read after you read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or anything by Micheal Pollan. Because after these food demigods finish their lectures, you are left thinking, "Okay great - I shouldn't eat anything produced and sold in a supermarket, but how will I eat???"
The author embarks on a 18month journey to give (in her humble opinion) us advice on what we, concerned eco-friendly organic and infor
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call#: 641.3 Reese J

Madeleine - 3 stars
This was a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Why 3 stars?
She seems to forget labor in her economic calculations. While each recipe has clear cost comparisons they do not include time needed to make the item. While it might be cheaper to make my own cheese it would be good to know it takes hours - weeks - months. I do not consider my labor to be free. Even if I love cooking it should be considered a factor.
Plus, she obviously lives in California w
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
Do you know why PAM is called PAM? Neither did I, but thanks to this truly entertaining book, now I do. I learned a lot, while being thoroughly entertained-- no easy feat for me. Will I make everything she advises to make? No. But I marked several things to try, and I feel a lot better about the state of America knowing that someone (Jennifer Reese at least) is making her own lamb pastrami and Cheese-Its. I never found her preachy about what other people should make, the information is presented ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. As one who has spent many a day baking, churning, making (Yes! I DID weave the fabric to reupholster a rescued couch for my first apartment) procuring, foraging, growing, etc., this woman delves into food production in areas I didn't know existed. Worcestershire sauce!?!?! This woman makes her own worcestershire sauce!!!!

This book is organized into 20 chapters such as: Breads and Spreads, Junk Food and Candy, Cured Meats, Cheese, and Drinks. Each item in each categ
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Make the Bread,Buy the Butter" is a perfect cookbook for today's economy. The author experimented with making many convenience foods, and then broke down the cost and ease of making and then weighs the pros and cons of making verses buying.When I started reading this book I found myself skipping the recipes and reading the authors stories which were witty and often laugh out loud funny. The author takes us along on her journey as she decides to raise live chickens and then later goats and turke ...more
Karen Hanson
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes on a subject that I have often wondered about. As an avid cook, I sometimes wonder whether making certain things is cheaper than buying. I found this book enjoyable to read and it was very useful especially in providing recipes for the different foods. Although I have to say I haven't tried any of the recipes yet so I can't vouch for that part. It seems like Reese was really stretching for foods to include in her book sometimes though. I mean how often does the average person use ...more
Amy Moore
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should not be judged by what it is not. No it is not a homesteading book, a book about canning or a book about saving the absolute most money on your food. What this book is, is a book by a mom about making things at home.

At the core, this book is about experimentation, with humor and common sense thrown in. It's not as important to me exactly how many pennies I'm going to save on peanut butter if I do it myself. I do want to know if there's a huge difference in taste or if there's ver
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you know me well you know that I love to read cookbooks for pleasure. I have stacks by my bedside. I savor them in the tub. I devour them in parking lots. (I have even been known to read them at stoplights but I have tried to stop because I have to set a good driver example for my kids.) MAKE THE BREAD, BUY THE BUTTER is one of the best ones I've read in ages. I'm currently letting my flour tortilla dough rise on the counter per her recipe but even if I never cooked a thing from her book I wo ...more
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“Big food companies flatter us by telling us how busy we are and they simultaneously convince us that we are helpless. I am moderately busy, but not all that helpless. Neither are you.” 2 likes
“With backyard eggs, you can serve homemade eggnog at a holiday party with almost complete confidence that you won't make anyone sick--from Salmonella, anyway. Because drink enough homemade eggnog, and the race is on between heart failure and liver disease, unless a stroke fells you first. But life is short. Especially if you drink eggnog.” 2 likes
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