Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Favorite New Cookbooks: Make The Bread, Buy the Butter & The Homemade Pantry

I've been on a kick lately. A cookbook buying jag if you will. You see, cookbooks have a season just like baseball or basketball, or tomatoes. New cookbooks make their grand entrance in the spring and in the fall (to get a jump on that holiday wish lists). And this spring has been a doozy.

It seems that now, making your own stuff is very, very important in the cookbook world. I'm not talking about dinners or sandwiches or fondue, but making the basics. Bread, mayonnaise, cheese, Pop Tarts. Huh. Making your own Pop Tarts? Absolutely, I'm in.

Thanks to my spiffy Amazon Prime membership, a quick click and a day or two later, snappy new books, right on my doorstep (so worth the $75 annual fee, for real).

Up first, The Homemade Pantry, by Alana Chernila.
(Don't bother clicking to look inside, because I lifted the pic from Amazon. Kthanks.)

Author of the popular blog Eating From the Ground Up, this is Chernila's first book. I never read her blog, or had even heard of it prior to my purchase (sorry!), but I'm a reader now. I love her writing style, which seems so natural and honest and not nearly as earth-mothery as I had anticipated from a churn your own butter-type of book.

She makes her own "car treats", granola bars, Pop Tarts (toaster pastries) and does it easily, but not effortlessly, which I appreciate. I read the darn thing cover to cover at a softball tournament and have set about to cooking from the book. which I never actually seem to do.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, by Jennifer Reese, a blogger at Tipsy Baker was recommended to me by one of the students in a recent knife skills class. He recommended, I bought the book the next day, 'cause that's how I roll.

The idea here is that Ms. Reese will let you know what you can be making in the kitchen (salsa, eggs Benedict, beef jerky, yogurt and so, so many other things), what is simply too much trouble (baguettes, corn dogs, burritos, etc.), and the level of hassle you can expect with each dish.

More than the recipes, I love the lengthy headnotes above the recipes and the longer back stories included as well. Her writing style, well, it's lovely, and something I really appreciate. I'm quickly becoming a regular reader here as well. Though recipes are a dime a dozen these days, good writing that really reaches you is something less available, but present in both of these wonderful books.

So go to Amazon, go to the library, and don't feel guilty when you decide that curing your own meats is too much effort for you. It's important that you cook what you like and what makes you feel comfortable. Personally, I rather buy a beautiful charcuterie plate than cure the meats and make the Camembert myself, so no guilt with these lovely books -- just possibilities.

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