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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

make the bread buy the butter

So. . .I read a lot of food books. I kicked things off a couple of years ago with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, then three of Michael Pollan’s books, and Food Matters by Mark Bittman. Not to mention many many articles, blog posts, cookbooks, and snippets of books that I don’t really feel like reading in their entirety.

And Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is one of my very favorites.

Kayla sent me this article, which is the introduction to the book, in June and I was so amused and intrigued that I emailed the publicist to ask for a copy (I very very rarely do this) and when it came a week or so later, I found the book to be even better than I’d expected.

make the bread buy the butter by jennifer reese

The basic idea is that Jennifer Reese makes dozens and dozens of recipes from scratch of items that you generally might buy at the store and then compares the homemade version with the storebought version, based on taste, cost, and hassle.

I mean, really, food, cooking, and money? This book was written for me, I think (if Jennifer Reese pretends not to know who I am, know that she is lying. This book was clearly written with me in mind).

The other thing is that Make the Bread Buy the Butter is so funny. I read many many parts of it outloud to Bart and found myself giggling to myself when I read it late at night.

For instance, in the chapter titled “Junk Food and Candy”, she quotes Michael Pollan’s advice from Food Rules about how you can eat all the junk you want as long as you are willing to make it yourself since, “chances are good it won’t be every day.”

“Oh, Michael Pollan,” says Reese, “you underestimate me.” (He underestimates me too).

Or the part where she turns up her nose at the pre-formed burgers in the freezer, telling her husband that those are how you get e. coli and also, how hard is it to just form your own dang patties?

He says it wasn’t hard before he met her and started telling him about how he had to use separate knives to cut the meat and the tomatoes. I have told that story about ten times (it’s funnier in the book. . . .).

Also, when you are suddenly Googling where to purchase liquid rennet so you can make your own cheese, I think it’s safe to say that this book was a winner for me (fortunately, by the time I was out of the cheese chapter, I’d come to my senses and didn’t order a life-time supply of cheese making supplies).

This book also fits really well into my own food philosophies. At the end of the book, she says,

Almost everything is better when it’s homemade. But not everything. Which makes me inordinately happy. Because I think it’s great that you can walk into a supermarket and buy a bag of potato chips and a tub of rice pudding that are better than anything you can make at home. I wish there were more foods like that. I really don’t want to spend my life standing over blazing stove, muttering about the evils of ConAgra and trans fat. It seems like a tragic waste to shape one’s life around doctrinaire rejection of industrial food. Which means, I suppose, both insisting on high standards most of the time and then, sometimes, relaxing them.

That, right there? That’s the way I feel about food – I care about what I eat, but I’m not going to make it the sole focus of my life or be a complete jerk over some Pringles at a barbeque. I loved Make the Bread Buy the Butter, and I haven’t stopped talking about it for months.

I’m glad it’s finally out, so I can tell you about it too and it was pure entertainment for me.

Copy sent by publisher


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  1. Yeah, Michael Pollan's philosophy on treats really doesn't work for me. A while back you mentioned storing cookies in the freezer, and a light bulb went off in my head. I usually give a lot of what I bake away, which is a good thing, but I like storing it for myself too – then I don't have to spend more money on ingredients to make more desserts.

  2. So I never ever buy brownie or cake mix so getting a treat isn't SO easy. But still I make SO DANG MANY. Wow.

    And storing in the freezer usually doesn't work for me either… since I actually like frozen cookies. It's a crime, I know. But i can't help it.

  3. Now this is a book I could totally read and I usually wouldn't like a book like this. It just sounds so awesome! I am always trying to figure out what's worth it to make at home and what's not. I love making homemade bread but I also have my standby store bought wheat bread brand that I pick up on weeks where making it is just not a top priority.

  4. I've been curious about this book ever since you mentioned it awhile ago. I'm definitely going to check it out.

  5. I have not read this book, but somehow I've referred like 10 different people to it (all thanks to you). I totally should write the publisher and ask for a review copy 🙂

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