I have a thing for cookbooks. Behold, my latest purchase.
A few months ago, I checked the store for this cookbook. We had never had it, probably because it was too new. So I forgot about it. Then last Saturday, within 1 minute of clocking in, my boss Angela presented me with this book and said, “Didn’t you want this book?”
I have such wonderful, thoughtful coworkers.
“Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” is mostly a cookbook, but with many funny and endearing stories to go along with each recipe. She grappled with the idea that “homemade” is ALWAYS better, and set out to make lots of things we are used to just going out to the grocery store and getting, like hot dog buns, mayonnaise, and prosciutto. Then, based on the cost and hassle of making those items, she gives her opinion on if you should make it or buy it.
Some of it I will definitely take to heart- she sort of stomped on my romanticized idea of having backyard chickens. It’s actually quite expensive. But other things I disagreed with, such as her rant about homemade rice pudding. I’ve never purchased rice pudding from a store. Ever. Come on. It’s so easy. Try this delicious recipe that is made with coconut milk and honey.
BUT. The author and I have something very much in common. I think our fascination with food stemmed from the same place: Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here was someone who FINALLY understood the intrigue of salt pork! It had to be just like thick-cut bacon. My 7-year-old self salivated at the thought, until Mom told me it was actually just a big hunk of fat. Jennifer Reese actually tried it, and was disappointed. Thanks for saving me, Jen. But if you would go into my closet and open up each book of the Little House on the Prairie series, the binding would be broken right at the pages that talk about an elaborate feast. The dance at Grandpa’s in “Little House in the Big Woods.” Every chapter in “Farmer Boy.” The meager yet elegant meal they scraped together for New Years in “By the Shores of Silver Lake.” There was a time in my life when I would ONLY have salt on my baked potato (no butter) since that’s what Laura had to do during “The Long Winter” in De Smet.
Solidarity. I’ll suffer with you, Laura.
I’ve really been into these homemade/home-grown/local-ish food writing books lately, like “A Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball, and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, both of which were amazing books. But I don’t have the sanity to do what they did. What I liked about “Make the Bread” is that she is more than willing to say, “Screw it, I’m buying boxed mac and cheese because it’s convenient.” She tried making these things out of curiosity, not because she wanted to be preachy about the benefits of making things from scratch. And she was very honest about the level of hassle. In her recipe for homemade Danishes, she describes the difficulty: “You will want to bludgeon yourself with your rolling pin about halfway through this project.” So…maybe no Danishes.
*This is a good cookbook.
*You should buy this cookbook.
*I idolized Laura Ingalls Wilder.
*I’ll probably never make Danishes. Unless I’m feeling brave. Or am dared to.
And this is completely unrelated, but Emily and I shared a good laugh over this.