Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What you Should and Shouldn’t Cook From Scratch by Jennifer Reese is a clever book in that is weighs making something from scratch vs. buying premade. Jennifer was out of work and decided to try to make things (including raising chicken for eggs and goats for cheese) she might otherwise purchase to see if it really is better and cheaper to make from scrath.
All her kitchen experiments are told with recipes and break down’s for making vs. buying each item or dish. Price is weighed heavily. However she also weighs in difficulty or mess for making, which is fun and honest. And what kinds of unhealthy ingredients you will find in premade. She also figures in animal welfare and sustainability.
Of course cost doesn’t figure in your time, however many recipes can be made in the time it would take you to go to a store and buy it (guacamole anyone?). And if you already have the ingredients (like I did with her Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins) and a bit of time, why not take pride in making it yourself?
Pros – good recipes for many everyday food items/ingredients. Fun stories about the lengths the author went to make items from scratch. Like that each chapter takes on a theme and context for the experiment/recipe – breads, restaurant foods, dinner, cheese, Thanksgiving, etc.
Cons – some things she suggests may not always be easier to make and store (homemade vanilla and mayonaise anyone?) and a few are time consuming. Some of the foods weren’t too appealing to me. I wouldn’t make or buy canadian bacon, beef jerky or maraschino cherries.
Speaking of book reviews, I made the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my kids’ book fair this week. They were a hit and appreciated by students, volunteers and teachers alike. I was glad I made them from scratch, at home. I made a few different recipes. About 72 baked goods in all. If I had bought these at a bakery or grocery store such as Whole Foods, at an average of $2 a piece, I would have spent $144. Making them I probably spent less than $20 on ingredients. I was surprised, and happy to see this book on the book fair cookbook table, next to mine.