Falling in love with the idea of D.I.Y is easy. It’s not hard to get behind making cheaper, healthier, and better-tasting food for yourself and your loved ones. The harder part of adopting a D.I.Y ethic is navigating the matrix of time, cost, and convenience in order to decide what to make and what to buy. With Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, Jennifer Reese provides a guide to figuring out your D.I.Y loyalties. (The book got all sorts of great press in 2011 when it came out and the super-affordable paperback version was released this fall.)
This book is a rare bird. Like Ruhlman’s Ratio, it’s a solid reference book with writing that’s smart and funny. I found Reese’s re-telling of her family’s decision to keep chickens to be honest and quite moving. She’s very candid about the fact the endeavor was not ultimately cost-effective, but nevertheless argues that “However expensive—and keeping chickens can be expensive—I do believe that it is one of the most ecologically and morally important changes you can make in your eating habits.”
These little moments of exception are what I really liked about this book. It is most certainly a valuable and accurate resource on the cost-effectiveness of making your food from scratch, from hot sauce to duck prosciutto. However, it not only allows for, but encourages you to seek out the exceptions: the stuff you do yourself simply because you couldn’t imagine not doing it.
Strangely enough, the little recipe that I was most excited about was a simple chocolate sauce. I have a block of unsweetened chocolate in my pantry that I’ve been trying to use up for way too long and I was excited to find a basic chocolate sauce recipe that would help me make a dent in it. I had planned to post this review at the beginning of November to celebrate the paperback release, but after a hurricane-induced internet detox, I’m just sharing it now. Now is as good a time as any really because this would make a great, affordable gift for the aspiring or experienced D.I.Yer in your life.
(Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but my opinions remain my own.)