Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Alana Chernila's The Homemade Kitchen

As a fan of Alana's first cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, I have been beside myself waiting on the release of her second book, The Homemade Kitchen. And, while the wait was torturous, it was definitely worth it. Alana Chernila writes the blog, Eating from the Ground Up, which I have followed for several years now. Her writing style is beautiful and she joins two of my other favorites, Ashley English and Amanda Soule, as women I admire as writers and experts in their fields of interest.

The Homemade Kitchen is a dense book that should be read slowly and intently. Yes, it is full of recipes, but it is the essays that come between the recipes that I enjoy the most. These essays give you insight into Alana's home and heart.

There were two moments in the book that I immediately connected to my own life. The first was, "Noodles. So many noodles? Can a person live on noodles and butter?" "Yes, they can." I am in complete agreement with Alana on this one. Yes, since my boys were toddlers, they have lived on noodles with olive oil and a sprinkling of garlic salt. We call it seasoned noodles and they still request it to this day. My 12-year-old tells me that he's going to need me to give him the recipe when he moves out. There is something so special about building memories with food.

In the opening of the chapter, Slow Down, Alana writes, "When I need to create time, I walk out the door and try to find it in the yard." This line really resonated with me because I, too, go out in my yard when I need to reflect on what my future could be. I walk through my back yard and dream of turning it into a homestead overflowing with fruits, vegetables, and possibilities.

After reading this, you may say that this should be a review of a cookbook not of my life. But, that's the beauty of this book. I was able to connect certain pieces of the book to my life which made me appreciate the recipes even more. I have only scratched the surface of this book as it is deep and rich and requires a long-term commitment to be fully appreciated.

More about The Homemade Kitchen: Excerpt below from the publisher's web site.

This book is a map for how, day in and day out, food shapes my life for the better, in the kitchen and beyond it.
—from the Introduction
Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food.
Alana Chernila has these phrases taped to her fridge, and they are guiding principles helping her to stay present in her kitchen. They also provide the framework for her second book. In The Homemade Kitchen she exalts the beautiful imperfections of food made at home and extends the lessons of cooking through both the quotidian and extraordinary moments of the day. Alana sees cooking as an opportunity to live consciously, not just as a means to an end.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.

In this follow-up to Alana’s wildly successful debut, The Homemade Pantry, she once again proves herself to be the truest and least judgmental friend a home cook could want.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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