From Kitchen to Table: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese #Review

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Welcome to the first day of From Kitchen to Table!
All throughout November Broken Teepee will be celebrating all things cooking, serving and setting a nice table.

I open with a review of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. So read on for the info on the book and a couple of recipe demonstrations.

About the Book:

When Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was overcome by an impulse common among the recently unemployed: to economize by doing for herself what she had previously paid for. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that “doing it yourself” would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese’s discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it.

With its fresh voice and delightful humor, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gives 120 recipes with eminently practical yet deliciously fun “Make or buy” recommendations. Reese is relentlessly entertaining as she relates her food and animal husbandry adventures, which amuse and perplex as well as nourish and sustain her family. Her tales include living with a backyard full of cheerful chickens, muttering ducks, and adorable baby goats; countertops laden with lacto-fermenting pickles; and closets full of mellowing cheeses. Here’s the full picture of what is involved in a truly homemade life—with the good news that you shouldn’t try to make everything yourself—and how to get the most out of your time in the kitchen. 

About the Author:

Jennifer Reese has been a professional journalist all of her adult life, working mostly for national magazines, and has been an avid, adventurous home cook for even longer, which she blogs about at the Tipsy Baker ( as well as for online publications like Slate. Reese also teaches cooking classes in Marin County, California, where she lives with her family.

My Opinion:

In this memoir/cookbook Jennifer Reese compares the cost/time/taste of making something yourself to buying the item at the store. Ms. Reese had found herself at home due to losing her job and was looking to save some money so she started to experiment. She grew up with a mother who canned so as to provide “healthy” fruit and vegetables to her family so Ms. Reese was not unfamiliar with cooking or making things at home.

I found the stories accompanying the recipes to be hysterical; particularly the sections with goats and chickens. I am sure you all can figure out why. But since I pretty much DO make most of these things myself I do understand the logic behind the book. It is, overall, much cheaper and healthier to make many “convenience” items yourself. The drawback is time. Many people just don’t have the hours in the day to commit to baking bread or as I did, making their own Worcestershire Sauce. But if you do, the outcome is so very worth it.

The book offers some excellent, basic recipes for those that want to dip their foot into this type of lifestyle. It really IS easy to bake bread! And a home baked apple pie is far superior to one picked up at the grocery store. I adapted the recipe in the book and baked one to show you. I wasn’t going to render my own lard so I just used organic coconut shortening and the crust came out just fine.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you buy from my link I might make a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay. See the full affiliate disclosure here.

Apple Crisp Pie

About 8 apples peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about 6 cups) (I cut apples until I have enough to fill my pie plate)
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 unbaked pie crust (recipe to follow)


3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
12 TBSP (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into TBSP

Make the pie crust:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
4 TBSP cold butter, cut into bits
4 TBSP cold lard, cut into bits (I used organic coconut shortening)
1/4 ice water (I used a combination of ice water and apple cider vinegar)

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the cold butter and lard. Either blend it with your fingers or a pastry blender until you have a coarse meal. Add the ice water (and vinegar if you use it in pie crust like I do) a TBSP at a time until the dough just comes together. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic and refrigerate until very cold, at least three hours.

When you are ready to bake the pie preheat the oven to 350°

Take the crust dough out of the refrigerator and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a rough circle, 1/4 inch thick or less.

Lift the dough and put it in your pie plate. Trim around the edges and pinch decoratively.
Put it back into the refrigerator until you are ready to add the apples and topping unless you are more organized than I am and you have them ready already….

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Mix the cut apples with the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.

Make the streusel:

Mix the two sugars, the flour and the salt. Add the cold butter and either cut in with a pastry blender or use the paddle attachment of your mixer.

Add the apples to the crust and pile all of the streusel on top. It will take some arranging but it all will fit on there.

Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
Mine did not take this long so check it along the way.

Mmmmm, hot apple pie.
Smells like heaven!
It did brown evenly I just had poor lighting.

This was a very sweet pie and to me it cried out for some vanilla ice cream but that did not mean it did not disappear within two days in a two person household. Ah-hem.
I would definitely make it again but I would be sure to have that ice cream on hand….

You can purchase Make the Bread, Buy the Butter on
You can find Jennifer Reese on Facebook
You can read The Tipsy Baker, Jennifer’s blog

I will demonstrate how to make your own Worcestershire Sauce on another day of From Kitchen to Table. I was a bit skeptical at first but I am now sold….

Be sure to check in tomorrow for a review of the delicious meats from Omaha Steaks.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gratis from Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

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