A fellow culinarily-curious friend recently gave us the very inspirational book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese of The Tipsy Baker fame. While there are so many things that you might never make at home, we shouldn’t lose sight that the tastiest foods have always been made at home: dishes that are cultural heirlooms, or legendary recipes, or inadvertent standbys that have just stuck around, being made for generations. Many of these things are surprisingly easy to make, and then there are the other items: things that you should make… once. Just to see how they’re done. Because your curiosity got the better of you. Because you thought, “This will be fun!” until you realize that fun left the building hours ago. Things that made you think, “This will be culturally significant”, until you discovered that nobody else even considers making such a thing at home, in their spare time, because making these things are insane. Totally and completely insane.
Jennifer Reese, who has soldiered through a number of these “what-if-we make-it-at-home recipes,” does an amazing job of corralling all of her experiences into an easy to read and helpful cookbook. It’s written much like a blog, with a narrative story that describes the time, effort, cost, and hassle of making various things – mayonnaise (make), vermouth (buy), pizza (make), chicken – as in, hand-raising live chickens in your backyard (buy – “Alas, our backyard chicken was bony and sinewy with stringy, chocolate-colored flesh”). I had been enjoying reading it cover-to-cover: I was amused and sympathetic, from a detached “light reading” point of view, to many of her reasons for making or not making something from scratch. But then I came to page 180: Pastrami.
WHAT? You can make PASTRAMI at HOME and nobody told me? This changes everything!