I think you all have figured out by now that I'm the kinda gay that likes to take a risk but at the same time tries to get a message of ease across with all of my food dealings and if not, maybe the adventurer in you needs to come out and take some of my advice...bitches! ha!
(blog note: remember pink = link!)
Most recently I arrived at my chamber door to be surprised with an advanced copy of this book by Jennifer Reese called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. (I'm big time baby!) Lately the only books I've read only have pictures (don't you get any ideas!) and I don't know about you but I have never read a cookbook in full. Actually, I don't think I've ever read a cookbook period! If you are anything like me you open the book, look at the pretty pictures, drool over something that looks good and put it away till you need some ideas. Even when I need ideas I flip through, find something that looks good and then make it my own way so I don't even really read the recipes unless I'm delving into uncharted territories!!
Is that bad? Who are you to judge me!
Well I'm here to tell you that Make the Bread, Buy the Butter has no delicious pictures to look at BUT is the only cookbook I read front to back. I even read some passages twice! (Don't worry about the pictures I provided some doozies below from my Pentax 35mm!)
Jennifer Reese, also known as The Tipsy Baker or as I call her Jenny from the Kitch, is a food blogger much like myself but driven by her large collection of cookbooks as opposed to being gay and fabulous like me! (Someone has to think highly of me!)
In her own words...
"The blog began as a way to write about my huge cookbook collection and fascination with cookbooks. From the blog, in its winding way, grew Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which, broadly speaking, is about cooking, parenthood, Barbara Kingsolver, goats, finances, Safeway, and contemporary American family life. Specifically, the life of my family..."I have to say that the book is brilliant not only because she makes you think about how lazy you might be that you can't even make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but also because she's a riot, tells a good story and definitely intrigues you into saying to yourself... "Could I be crazy enough to really I try that?" My answer to that question is usually YES!
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is no ordinary cookbook. If anything it's a guide to living life through food! Her family was for the most part fully embracing of her quirks, her quest and the ride she took them on and I think everyone is better for it! I certainly was intrigued and am certainly on board with this this book and it's message!
Speaking of... here's a great excerpt and a fun fall recipe! One of the first of many that I'm about to try!
"Excerpted from MAKE THE BREAD, BUY THE BUTTER: What You Should and
Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch—Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods by
Jennifer Reese. Copyright 2011 by Jennifer Reese. Published by Free Press
The very existence of Libby’s canned pumpkin throws Barbara Kingsolver into a tizzy. “Come on, people,” she laments in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. “Doesn’t anybody remember how to take a big old knife, whack open a pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, and bake it? We can carve a face onto it, but can’t draw and quarter it? Are we not a nation known worldwide for our cultural zest for blowing up flesh, on movie and video screen and/or armed conflict? Are we in actual fact too squeamish to stab a large knife into a pumpkin?”
I had always used canned pumpkin for pie, because it was what my mother and grandmother used. In my family, canned pumpkin is traditional. But I liked the idea of starting with a whole food rather than a can, and what if canned pumpkin turned out to be just as inferior as canned sweet potatoes and I just didn’t know better? I baked two pies, identical except for the source of the pumpkin. Pie number one contained the flesh of a sugar pie pumpkin that I roasted for an hour, peeled, seeded, de-stringed, and forced through the food mill. Pie number two contained the flesh of a pumpkin that Libby’s had processed in a plant and I scooped out of the can. Results: The canned pumpkin was (obviously) more convenient, and I did not have to wait for it to roast. It was also slightly more expensive—about $0.50 more than the whole pumpkin. But those were fifty cents well spent, because it made a superior pie—the flavor was bigger, rounder, more pumpkin-y. I have no idea how you get more pumpkin-y than an actual pumpkin. According to the label, Libby’s canned pumpkin contains nothing but pumpkin. Did I just have a dud pumpkin? Confusing. My advice: When you’re standing at the supermarket the day before Thanksgiving pondering your pumpkin options, grab the can and get in the checkout line before it grows any longer. You’re not being squeamish, you’re being sensible. However, you should absolutely bake your own pie.
Make it or buy it? Make it.
Hassle: Once you have the crust, it’s just stir, pour, bake.
Cost comparison: Homemade: $3.68. Sara Lee frozen: $5.99. Safeway in-house
1¼ cups canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup half-and-half
One 9-inch pie crust (page 153), partially baked
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and half-and-half and beat until smooth. Pour into the crust.
3. Bake for 35 minutes. This is incredible served warm out of the oven, and almost as good cold.
People are unnecessarily intimidated by pie crusts. Your first ten crusts may look like kindergarten art projects, but so long as the edges are presentable—so long as there are edges—no one who eats the pie will know or care. Many recipes are very specific about what type of fat to use. Cooks swear by all-butter crusts, Crisco crusts, lard crusts, even vegetable oil crusts. My favorite is this butter-lard crust, which has the most flavor and shatters when you bite into it. But use whatever fat you want; the crust will be better than anything you can buy. Homemade crust tasted against Safeway’s frozen shell was delicate and rich, as opposed to brittle and bland. Likewise, it outperformed Pillsbury roll-out dough, which is oversalted and contains suspected carcinogens BHA and BHT. Not that a trace amount will give you cancer. It’s the principle.
Make it or buy it? Make it.
Hassle: A pie crust can be mixed in 4 minutes, but you really do have to chill the dough, especially this dough, which is more fragile than some. Also, rolling takes practice and can be frustrating until you’ve done it twenty or thirty times.
Cost comparison: Homemade: just under a dollar. A Safeway-brand frozen pie
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold butter, cut into bits
4 tablespoons cold lard (recipe follows), cut into bits (if you have time, freeze the lard bits)
¼ cup ice water
1. Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a large bowl or a food processor.
2. Add butter and lard, a few bits at a time, blending with your fingers or pulsing
in the processor, until the mixture forms a coarse meal.
3. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time (you probably won’t need all of it and should use as little as you can get away with), and mix just until the dough begins to form a ball. Shape it into a disk, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours.
4. Flour the work surface and roll the dough into a rough circle, ¼ inch thick or less. The circle doesn’t have to be perfectly round—ragged edges are fine. This recipe makes a little extra dough in case of mistakes. Lift the dough and place it in a 9-inch pie plate. (If you fold the dough in half and then in half again, it’s easier to place in the pan.) Don’t stretch the dough. You should have a lot of overhang. Tuck the edges over and pinch decoratively. I like to squeeze the dough between the side of my middle finger and my thumb to create a tall, fluted crust, like a garland. It will collapse during baking, but the ruins of its beauty endure. You can also crimp the pie crust by pressing it against the rim of the pie plate with the tines of a fork. That’s easier, if not as pretty.
5. To prebake pie crust: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a piece of foil in the shell and pour in enough rice, dried beans, or pie weights to keep it from puffing. 6. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil and return the dough to the oven. Bake 5 minutes more. Cool before filling. If you’re not using the crust immediately, cover and store at room temperature for up to a day.
Makes one 9-inch crust"
Now I must say that I don't make pies often..or actually ever but I'm really good at following a recipe. The recipe was simple that prep and assemblance took no time at all. She wasn't kidding when she said the dough was fragile!
I couldn't roll mine out, got frustrated and just threw it into the pie dish...It wouldn't roll out and just kept breaking...yes it was very very cold.
On to the filling... the eggs..
All in all I say this book is definitely one you want on your shelves! And I can't wait to put it all to the test! That said..want a copy of your own?!? You can win one here!!!
here's how to win!
1. Jennifer Reese went through the trouble of letting us know what was practical to make instead of buy and how much of a challenge it was or wasn't. Share some of your kitchen tips, challenges or discoveries in the comment box below to win!
You can also up your winning ante by...
A. Following me on twitter and tweeting some love @ me - @thegaygourmet
B. Liking me on Facebook and leaving a comment there - Like Me
C. Like Jennifer Reese on Facebook and tagging me on your comment post to her - Like her, Tag Me
D. Following Jennifer Reese on Twitter and tweeting some love @ the both of us - @jenniferreese
Winner will be selected by random internet selector on Friday November 11th.
Only valid to Residents of the U.S.
Prize includes one copy of Jennifer Reese's book Make the Bread, Buy The Butter
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is a Free Press Publication and can be purchased on Amazon here
Till next time my little duckies!
The Gay Gourmet!™
©2011 Michael Muñoz