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, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese’s discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it.
With its fresh voice and delightful humor, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gives 120 recipes with eminently practical yet deliciously fun “Make or buy” recommendations. Reese is relentlessly entertaining as she relates her food and animal husbandry adventures, which amuse and perplex as well as nourish and sustain her family. Her tales include living with a backyard full of cheerful chickens, muttering ducks, and adorable baby goats; countertops laden with lacto-fermenting pickles; and closets full of mellowing cheeses. Here’s the full picture of what is involved in a truly homemade life—with the good news that you shouldn’t try to make everything yourself—and how to get the most out of your time in the kitchen.
Jennifer Reese has been a professional journalist all of her adult life, working mostly for national magazines, and has been an avid, adventurous home cook for even longer, which she blogs about at the Tipsy Baker (tipsybaker.com) as well as for online publications like Slate. Reese also teaches cooking classes in Marin County, California, where she lives with her family.
“In a time when the pressure’s on to be green, organic and homemade, food fans and cooks will appreciate a book that encourages balance: Make your own hummus, yogurt and dill pickles, but buy sashimi, baguettes and corn dogs.”
– USA TODAY
“A great read for cooks afflicted by curiosity about the do-it-yourself movement in food. Ms. Reese goes beyond jam and chutney into pasta, pastrami and graham crackers. Even her failed experiments, like homemade hot dogs, are entertaining.” –New York Times
"From hot dog buns to Pop-Tarts, she reveals whether it's better to buy it or make it, accounting for the cost, hassle and rate of success. Happily, she dispenses this practical know-how with a crackling sense of humor, making this book a fun read. The scope and utility of this book make it worthy of space in your collection, especially this time of year when you're looking for fast and interesting gifts to make in the kitchen. Plus Reese's honesty is refreshing and inspiring; she goes from a hilarious review of the 1970s Earth-mother bible "Laurel's Kitchen" to making a modern-day case for baking."
– The Oregonian
"Now that Michael Pollan has made us all aspire to be politically correct foodies, a certain angst has cast its shadow over the average American home. One of the big issues is, should I make my own food and thus assure myself that it contains only the healthiest and freshest of ingredients, or is it more practical to just buy it somewhere. Reese tackles this question for a number of common foods and she writes in a witty, conversational style that wins you over right from the start."
– Sacramento Bee
"I'm always interested in what Jennifer says about food, and about how to retain the pleasure of eating it in an increasingly confusing world. Plus, she's convinced me to try making my own Camembert. Jennifer's is a journey I'm thrilled to embark upon."
– Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia
“I knew this important, original, and necessary book would be informative—and it is, very. What I didn't expect: pure entertainment in an original, fresh voice that will make readers feel they have a smart new best friend. I lapped this up in one sitting, learned a bunch, laughed out loud - and am about to try several of the recipes. You nailed it, Jennifer Reese!”
– Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook
"Here is a book that is going to take a treasured place in my kitchen bookrack. Part memoir, part Consumer-Reports-style testing, this book is chock-full of recipes and good advice in the kitchen. There are a few things Jennifer Reese does in this book that make it particularly indispensable: before each recipe, she tells her story of why she wanted to tackle it. Her recipes are easy-to-follow, and often include diagrams and pictures to get through the more difficult parts. I would highly recommend this book if you are thinking about embarking on the adventure that is backyard chicken raising. Here, Reese offers a humane and very funny look at what that project brought to her family. I would recommend this book if you, like me, spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into your body and wondering where did so many of these so-called "conveniences" come from, and are they really worth it? I've suspected making my own bread is the way to go for a long time, but in this book, Jennifer Reese cements it for me. Her recipes are tried-and-true, her reasoning makes sense to me, and her personality makes it believable. Buy this book, give it to a friend, make these recipes and watch your world get a little better."
– The Tattered Cover
“Her experiences led her to create a great blog, Tipsy Baker, and this awesome book. She’s very sarcastic, which makes me happy. Jennifer tells it like it is, from a simple bread recipe to raising chickens, and breaks everything down by price, reward, and hassle factor."
"I loved this book. In her inspiring and hilarious voice, Reese reminds me why I actually should take the time to make from scratch things that I buy and giving me a pass on those things that I really don't want to make myself anyway. I laughed out loud."
– Carla Hall, Top Chef All Star, Co-host on The Chew, and founder, Alchemy by Carla Hall