Sep 132012


Homemade Pantry cover



Alana Chernila has written a lovely cookbook on a subject near and dear to my heart—preparing foods at home. It’s called The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. You may know Alana from her blog Eating From The Ground Up.

Alana lists the benefits of foods made at home:

  • They are better for you
  • They taste better
  • They usually cost less
  • They eliminate unnecessary packaging
  • They will change how you think about food.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

There s a wide range of recipes: dairy, canned goods, soups, pastas, condiments, breads, crackers, cereal, beverages and desserts.

Although I’ve been making yogurt for years, I picked up a tip to keep the milk from scorching the bottom of the pan. Before adding the milk, put an ice cube in the pan. Turn on the heat and let the ice melt. Move the pan around so the melting ice coats the bottom of the pan. When the ice is melted, add the milk on top of the water. Be careful not to touch the bottom of the pan with a metal spoon when you stir.

Each recipe is prefaced by an essay that tells a story about Alana or her family. The book is filled with beautiful photos that inspire me to get into the kitchen and cook.

A couple of caveats. Some readers may object to a small bit of profanity in the essays.  And there is a typo in the white bread recipe.  Since I can’t eat gluten, I haven’t tried any of the bread or cracker recipes. But if you do try the white bread recipe, there is a mistake in the amount of salt. The recipe should read teaspoons, not tablespoons of salt.

The ideal reader for this book is someone who has some basic cooking experience and wants to spread her (or his) wings. Many recipes may be too complicated for the brand new cook or for someone who has little time to spend in the kitchen. And experienced cooks may find the book to be too basic. You can check out many of Alana’s recipes at her blog and see if the book looks right for you.