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Jennifer Reese's: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter


I always look forward to the companionship of my book club friends to eat, drink and be merry while discussing our latest read. My friend Leslee suggested the most recent literary effort, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and it seemed to be perfect for our book club (The Julia Child Book Club). Our book club is lighthearted and fun and is the kind of group that (as our latest party favor says) reads the wine labels! While this is only half true we did all enjoy Jennifer Reese’s Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which is so much more than a cookbook.
My mom hosted and I’m sure the author Jennifer Reese would have loved it based on these words in the book; “Entertaining is exactly the right word for having people over. The dinner party is a work of theater, and the linens and candlesticks and ice bucket are props and they are every bit as important as the food.” My mom is a theatrical genius…flowers in the chandeliers, candle sticks a mile long, place cards with hilarious sayings that truly fit each guest.


Reese’s idea for the book came about after she had been laid off from her job during the economic crises a few years ago. She decided to begin experimenting by making most everything herself instead of buying it at the grocery store. She compiled her success and failures in a book that organizes 120 recipes for the reader to decide: should you make it or buy it? How much hassle is it? What is the cost comparison to buying it in the grocery store?
She writes about raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, and even bees. About having chickens, she writes, “I’ve come to believe that having chickens is like having foxy teenager daughters. Trouble will find you.”
She says about vanilla ice cream, “The difference between even a premium brand of ice cream and homemade is the difference between the poly-blend sheets you inherited from your grandmother and Pratesi linens. I know vanilla ice cream sounds boring, buy homemade vanilla ice cream is nothing like Edy’s. For a sublime variation, try substituting ½ cup honey for ½ cup of the sugar.” I couldn’t wait to try this and…Reese was right, sublime!
Her storytelling is hilarious and entertaining. It reminds me of Julia Child’s commentary in her cookbooks…laugh out loud funny, giving stories about the trial and errors in the kitchen.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is exactly the essence of the book. With a little imagination, we may have found some decision making guidance applicable to choices we all have to make about which of our efforts are worth more of our time. It was thought provoking.

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