Cooking and Eating on a Budget
I was recently sent a copy of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods to review.
As someone who loves books, I’m always ecstatic to get a new book. As someone who’s almost always cooking and baking, a food-related book makes the ecstasy even sweeter. Finally, as someone who (like everyone else) is trying to make her dollar stretch as far as it can without ripping, I appreciated the fact that this book didn’t just have FUN on its mind. It also has FRUGALITY in mind.
When author Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was introduced to a whole new reality. She had to look at things differently, including the food she bought. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. Although she KNEW that making-it-yourself, and even growing-it-yourself made sense economically, she had her reservations. After all, could she really pull it off?!
Jennifer marched into her kitchen and began the first of many experiments. Ultimately, she found that some things are cheaper to make and some are cheaper to buy.
She considers the average, everyday American family life as she answers the following 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?
A few of her fun discoveries: 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.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter includes 120 recipes with money-saving and practical “Make or buy” recommendations. It’s a lot of fun to read about the author’s adventures. She writes with a lively sense of humor that leaves you wishing the book were longer than it actually is. You’re sure to get a kick out of her food and animal husbandry adventures. If you’re like me, you’ll also find yourself wanting your own chicken coup, goats, and maybe a cow. Fresh eggs and milk – right out the back door? Sign me up!
Some of the recipes you’ll find in this fun and frugal book are:
- Homemade Beef Jerky
- Canadian Bacon
- Baked Beans (recipe below)
- Whipped Cream
- Ginger Ale (can’t wait to try this simple recipe!)
- White Mountain Frosting
- Birthday Cake from Scratch
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Pudding
- Homemade Oreo Cookies
- Fig Bars
- Olive Pasta
- Sweet-Hot Pickle Relish
- Many, many more!
With each recipe, the author provides a cost comparison. You’ll see how much it costs to make the recipe yourself as compared to the most popular brands of store-bought products.
Homemade Baked Beans
( Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, page 169)
1 pound dried navy beans
1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
1/2 pound salt pork, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Soak the beans overnight in water to cover.
- Drain the beans. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the salt pork. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. (You can use a bean pot to make this, but it generates fewer dishes to use the Dutch oven in which you fry the pork.)
- To the fried pork, add the beans and all the other ingredients. Stir well and add 6 cups of water.
- Bake for 3 to 4 hours, replenishing water as necessary. Midway through the cooking, taste for salt and adjust. When they’re done, the beans should be very soft, but not falling apart. Serve immediately or cool and store for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Makes 2-1/2 quarts beans, to serve 10.
Take a closer look at Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods on Amazon.