Monday, December 9, 2013

Makin' Bacon

After reading the first few pages of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese, I couldn't sleep.  You see, Reese told me that I could make bagels.  In my house.  Without fancy bagel making stuff.  I began to imagine the possibilities.  But, who could I invite over for freshly made bagels, who would appreciate them, without thinking that I was insane for making them?  And that was what kept me up.  Who would properly appreciate my homemade bagels?

In fact, Reese told me that I could, and should, make all kinds of things that I had never considered making.  Like hot dog buns, and English muffins, and hot cocoa mix.  For each recipe, Reese told a little story about how and why she decided to try making the item, what the cost was to make the item versus the prices of various brands one can buy at the store, what the result was, and whether it was worth the hassle.  I came into this book thinking that it would be mostly about keeping me from eating preservatives, and saving money. Reese surprised me by recommending that I buy some items that lot of people commonly make, like Quaker instant oatmeal and Kozy Shack rice pudding.  If she couldn't make it better, or if she or her family preferred the store bought version, she said so.  Sometimes, her recipes cost more than buying the product from the store.  In some of those cases (margaritas, chocolate chip cookies) she still recommended making them.  In others, like French onion dip, she recommended buying.

There were so many things in this book that I had never thought about making, but now I'm ready to try.  These include the bagels and hot dog buns mentioned above, but also Cheez-its, Oreos, and ginger ale.  I love Oreos, but I stopped buying them once I heard a nutritionist speak about all of the secret ingredients that they include.  Reese's recipe includes butter, sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, an egg, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  No secrets there.  She also recommends (strongly) that I make my own vanilla.  Who knew?  According to Reese, if I make my own I will pay $7.00 for 12 ounces, versus $53.00 if I bought 12 ounces in a store.

Admittedly, Reese is many steps ahead of me.  While she makes owning chickens and even goats sound like something that I am missing out on, I'm sure my neighbors aren't ready for that.  I'm not ready for curing my own meats or making cheese.  But, there are enough things that I want to try that my copy of the book is fatter than it should be, with just about every second corner turned down.

So, when it comes to Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, should you check it out of your library or buy it?  The book is marked $15.00.  If you go to Books A Million, you could probably use a coupon.  If you order it from Amazon you will pay $13.21.  If you also buy the Madagascar vanilla beans that she recommends for $18.95, you will be just shy of the $35.00 minimum for free shipping.  Maybe you should buy more beans.  In terms of hassle, there is virtually no hassle in buying from Amazon.  However, if you check the book out of the library, you are sure to find yourself photocopying half of the book, then losing the loose pages, and generally making a mess of things.  Better to buy the book, and help Reese justify her goat purchase.

Next up:  Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy

Still Listening to:  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

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