#Book Review: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

Friday, October 28, 2011 Posted by Dina N

Book Description
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.

My Thoughts
I've been eagerly anticipating Make the Bread, Buy the Butter for months. I already make (some of) our bread and buy (all of) the butter, but what about everything else? Apart from the obvious choices, of course - I bake the best chocolate chip cookies - according to my family - and have no desire to breed livestock in the backyard.

When unemployment hits, Jennifer Reese takes the lemons and decides not just to make lemonade but to find out if making it is better than buying it. Her book is the end result of her numerous experiments in the kitchen, vegetable garden, and backyard. She is fearless, funny, adventurous and practical. Her recipes and directions are straightforward and easy to follow. I enjoyed her common sense advice and laughed out loud while reading about her adventures. She tells you how much of a hassle it is for each recipe and even calculates the cost of make vs. buy for each product. Peanut butter? Make. Potato chips? Buy. Caramel corn? Make. Coffee liqueur? Buy. Bagels? Make. Speaking of bagels, check out Jennifer Reese's video to find out just how easy these are to make at home.

Endlessly entertaining and useful, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter provides answers to the dilemma of homemade vs. store-bought that many of us face almost daily. I love the book and highly recommend it to those who love to cook and even to those who don't but are willing to give homemade a chance.

Connect with Ms. Reese on Twitter or Facebook and check out her blog, The Tipsy Baker.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods is new this month from Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster.

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation was obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher or PR firm.


  1. Pricilla said...

    I loved the chapter on goats and chickens...heh

  2. kitblu said...

    I make a note of any recipe I find for 'make it yourself' and try to use them instead of buying. I was hesitant to read your review - I have lots of bread recipes. I was happy to realize that the title is deceiving. I will recommend this to a friend who is trying to eliminate all unpronounceable ingredients.

  3. Patricia said...

    This sounds like a great premise for a book. Although I think some of the things here would be hard to make.

  4. Char W said...

    This sounds like it would be a great book to read. I do see more and more people now doing homemade things (making vanilla, bread, etc.) and wonder if it is truly worth it, including the time it takes (which is an important aspect).

  5. Susie B. Homemaker said...

    Sounds like an informative book. I think this would be a good one for my kids grandma who likes to make her own butter. I always thought it was more effort and money than it was worth. Maybe I can just give her this book instead of telling her that though. ;p lol

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