The Homemade Pantry Challenge


September 24, 2012 by Meg G.

So, the last 24 hours have been just a bit busy over here in SWSC blogland. It might have something to do with that nice little feature we had over on Freshly Pressed (–>). I won’t lie to you – we are more than a little excited. But seriously, one of the many things we’re loving about blogging is the community. All of you lovelies came out of nowhere to follow along – so thank you! There are so many interesting people out there and we’re grateful to be connected and acquainted!

Today I want to share one of my new favorites – the From Scratch Club. FSC is a community of foodies, homesteaders, farmers, canners, working parents, gardeners, and just all-around awesome folks who are committed to – you guessed it – cooking from scratch. Their blog is an awesome combination of recipes, tutorials, food policy updates, and stories from the kitchen and garden.

I happened upon their site just as they were launching their next book club, so I decided to jump on in! They are reading The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila. The best part? The book club is also a cook-along! (More details below.)

Yes, those are homemade “Pop Tarts” on the cover!

Our book arrived in the mail over the weekend and I couldn’t wait to start reading and experimenting. It is full of beautiful photographs by Jennifer May, stories from Alana to accompany each recipe, and a section called “tense moments,” for encouragement and reassurance when you think something is going terribly awry. (We could have used some of that wisdom when we had our polenta “episode” a few weeks back!)

Now…about that cook-along!

This is how the book club works. You join their Goodreads group and every other Monday check back for the “assignment.” This usually includes reading two chapters of the book and then trying out one of the recipes and sharing how it went with the book club community. We’ll be showing off our new from-scratch skills right here on SWSC and on Goodreads – so feel free to join in our conversation as well as the FSC Goodreads discussion.

Alana’s book is divided into “aisles” of the grocery store and includes recipes for all kinds of things I bet you didn’t think you could make at home: mozzarella, instant oatmeal, cheese crackers, toaster pastries, pie crust, soups, breads…I could go on. Heather is slightly put-off (that’s a euphemism) by the idea of home dairy, so I’ll be making ricotta while she’s at work. Check back later this week to see how I did!

Yep – that’s a homemade Twinkie!

Homemade butter

Homemade ricotta

If this is sounding very intimidating, let me leave you with something from Alana’s book. In the introduction, she talks about how she approaches all of her from-scratch cooking with the question: Is it worth it? Is it worth the time, the cost savings, the taste, and/or the thrill? We can’t all adopt the homemade pantry in its entirety all the time. (In fact, I consider it a privilege to have the time and access to do so.) So thinking it through in terms of these categories can be very useful. There will be times that it is definitely worth it and others when it’s just not. I’m looking forward to keeping these questions in mind as I experiment in my own kitchen. I hope you’ll join me!

Stay tuned for other fun things on this week’s menu, including Stuckpot Rice, Homemade Samosas, and Curried Lentils!

7 thoughts on “The Homemade Pantry Challenge

  1. beckyblueeyes says:

    My husband and I are sitting here pondering this “canning” thing (we’re new farm co-op members and have a crazy bounty of apples, pears, and tomatoes!). And this was the perfect find. I’d love to pick up that book. In fact, I just went and reserved it at the local library! Thanks for sharing… I’ll see about joining the book club. Sounds intimidating for a rookie like me!

  2. ginger says:

    Ooooooo….may have to join you over at goodreads! Sounds so fun…just ordered book from the library! Hopefully it will come in soon! Love this! Thanks Meg!

  3. Christina says:

    Yay! Thanks for the FSC shout-out and we’re happy you’re apart of the FSC Book Club! Woop Woop!

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