Book Review- Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

So lately when I’m not cooking I’m reading about food. Sometimes I’m reading other food blogs, hunting down a specific recipe and other times I’m reading books like the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan about food politics. I’ve certainly learned a lot about food, where it comes from, how it’s grown and how it should be grown. All of these things influence the current course that I’m on in my life. It influences where I choose to live and how I plan on living that life. I have to say, in general while I’ll read just about anything I’m not the kind of girl who can sit down and read a cookbook. Maybe I’ll read the table of contents, possibly the introduction to each chapter but certainly not the cookbook.

When I say I sat down the other day and read the entirety of “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” it is no exaggeration. Ok, to be honest maybe I skimmed some of the the recipes but I did read the book. Which I don’t normally do with a cookbook. However, this is not just a cookbook. Reese examines whether or not you should make or buy many traditional comfort foods. Not only does she do a cost analysis on which is cheaper homemade or store bought (almost all things are cheaper to make), she also gives a fair run down of the hassle involved. This is perhaps where it differed from your ordinary cookbook. I felt there was a bit of narrative. You really get the feel of how her knowledge increased as she experiments with making different foods and going so far as to raise her own chickens, ducks, goats etc.

Reese has a great sense of humor and it really comes through in her tales of animal husbandry. I particularly enjoyed her Thanksgiving turkey experiment. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a cookbook that had a cast of characters both human and animal with such strong personalities. Heck, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a cookbook with characters period. By the end of the book I felt that I had been allowed a small glimpse into her home and her family. And she shares not only her successes but also her failures with a refreshing honesty different from the ordinary food blogs out there that present everything as easy.

So, anyway- if you have an interest in cooking from scratch I highly recommend this book. I can’t say I’ve tried any of her recipes but her experience make me feel less alone in my quest to do it all by hand.

You can order the book from

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should (and Shouldn't!) Cook from Scratch to Save Time and Money