what you make

Today, I have something for you!

I’ve heard a rumor that there are “books in the warehouse”. That phrase has been thrown around a lot lately, in emails and phone calls with my publisher, as in “we expect books in the warehouse any day!” I imagine a big industrial building down by the water in New York filled with the hopes and dreams of new authors. Men in sweatshirts with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths carrying cases of books on old rusty dollies. A corner of the warehouse with a little stack of boxes all marked The Homemade Pantry, or odder yet, Chernila. It’s all like some movie from the fifties, and there are my books, real, hanging out in the corner of the dingy warehouse scene like a shy party guest. I am thinking of those boxes filled with books, ready to make their journey to little bookstores and big bookstores, to places I’ve never been. There’s so much of me there, I think I might be able to say that I’ve been to all fifty states after this, even if it’s just my book on kitchen counters in the states I’ve never seen. Iowa, South Dakota, Hawaii. I love it.

Although the books won’t actually be on shelves until the beginning of April, the folks over at Clarkson Potter know how impatient I am to share it with you. So over the next few weeks, I get to give a few copies away. Now! Before anyone else gets them.

But there’s more! Stephanie Huntwork, who designed the book, has sent me a few color spreads from the book so that I can give you a sneak peek. Ready?

I give you… POTATO CHIPS! (otherwise known as pages 66 and 67, or “scrabble and beer”)

There’s a headnote too, but that’s page 65. It’s about our strange experiences growing potatoes. But this is the important part, that is, how to make really good potato chips at home.

I’ll give you the recipe here so you don’t have to super zoom in on your screen when the passionate urge to make potato chips at home strikes between now and the release date. But first, let’s talk about the giveaway.

For me, this whole project came about when it first occurred to me that I could make something I never thought I could,  In my case, that first food was yogurt. There were all those instant exclamations that I found myself saying when I made my first batch of yogurt, all those phrases that are now in press releases for the book or in promotional videos. It was easy. It was delicious. It was fresh. It was cheap. It was good for me. It stopped the constant flow of little plastic containers to my trash can.  All that is true, and they are all good reasons to make food at home.

But you know what really did it for me?  The yogurt was mine. Something that had always come from the grocery store now came from my kitchen. It made me feel capable, and powerful, and able to create anything I wanted. And since then, people have told me about all sorts of things that they now make instead of buy. Over and over, I hear about that same experience, the “I wonder if I could make this?” to “Oh, man, I made this!” And every time, that first food is usually a gateway to others, and before you know it, there are more foods coming out of the kitchen.

Today, I’d love it if you tell us about a food that you stopped buying and started making. Just tell us the food, or tell us the story of how it came about. Feel free to add a recipe or to link to one if you have a blog. I can’t wait to read your responses to this, and to try some of your recipes! I’ll close the comments open until Monday, March 12 at 11:59pm EST. Then I’ll chose a random winner, and the book will come to you next week. Yeah!

Without further ado, I give you…







  1. says

    Oh, I cannot wait to read your book! I am looking for some inspiration. Let’s see, the only thing I can really pinpoint that we make more often than buy (see, I *really* want your book) is granola. I love to make it with the kids some weekend then we’ll freeze some and VOILA, look what I found in the freezer! I’d love to try yogurt– or maybe even yogurt cheese. Baby steps!!

  2. says

    Oh, I love this. Love it! I’m a serious granola baker. My latest is coconut-cashew-cranberry: http://poeticappetite.blogspot.com/2012/02/coconut-granola-with-cashews-and.html

    And I do get very smug when I pass by the cereal aisle in the store. The other night I made hummus which was so easy and insanely gratifying. It’s exactly what you’ve talked about: It’s Mine!

    There’s been lots of other stuff too: Jam, canned tomatoes, graham crackers, marshmallows, etc.etc. But the granola and hummus are what’s feeding me this week.

  3. says

    I am so glad that you picked this one page to post. The secret is, when I had the chance to check out your beautiful new book in person last Friday night, I came across this exact page and wondered if it would be morally correct to take a photo of it. The little voice in my head said no (actually, it was a friend nearby), so I tried to read it all and memorize it. I want to make good potato chips without them getting to soggy if they aren’t eaten right away!

    But anyhow, the food that I stopped buying and started making was butter! But you knew I’d say that… there are others, but butter is my favorite.

    disclaimer: I currently have to buy butter due to lack of milk production, but very soon I will be able to make it again I hope.

  4. Alexandra Tinari says

    Thanks for this post, Alana. I can’t wait for your book! Here are some of my favorite make-at-homes.

    1) Sauerkraut, sauerkraut, sauerkraut, sauerkraut! It’s so easy and so delicious, and I get to decide how bubbly it’ll be. I like it bubbly, like champagne. I use the Hawthorne Valley method, and just wish I could get an endless supply of local savoy cabbage.

    2) Tied with this: pita bread. It makes its own pocket! Amazing. Quick, easy, fun, and so much better than store bought.

    3) Another love: falafel. The pre-made mixes are horrid, aren’t they?

    4) Most frequently-requested: Fresh, homemade, semolina pasta. I’ve just ordered an extruder so I can make tube shapes in addition to linguine, fettucine, and ravioli. My Pasta Queen roller is a permanent fixture on my counter.

  5. shari says

    my husband makes a loaf of bread 1-2x a week with a sourdough starter. i’m in charge of salad dressing. it’s been years since we’ve bought bottled dressing from the store.

    your new book looks great!

  6. Hannah says

    We make granola every weekend (a variation on your recipe!) and from February to September we make un-preserved strawberry jam; we are in CA so we can get strawberries most of the year – I just cook a few pints down on the stove each weekend with some lemon juice and almost no sugar – tart, fresh strawberry jam – in yogurt, on toast, over ice cream, inside “pop tarts”! Once or twice a week I bake bread, and most weeks I make a loaf of cinnamon-raisin swirl bread; I *always* get a kick out of seeing the swirl when I slice into it. Oh, the simple things :) Congratulations again Alana. Can’t wait to have it in hand, not just in warehouse!

  7. Leigh Anna says

    I recently started experimenting with homemade salad dressing, which has been turning out much better than I expected. Also, I never buy sweet pickles now that I have found out how easy they are to make – and no high-fructose corn syrup! The same with barbecue sauce (almost all the brands on the shelf have HFCS).

    I found and tweaked a recipe for hummus with roasted lemon and artichoke hearts. It turned out so amazingly good that my husband may never let me buy hummus again. I am planning to make some of your preserved lemons and try them in hummus.

    I have two young special-needs kids, and don’t often find much time for making foods that are easily bought at the store. But I have an enormous desire to make more things at home (even recruiting help from two curious little boys), and I am finding that it gets easier as I get more practice.

  8. says

    So exciting! I make almost all of our bread items – bread itself, muffins, biscuits, everything. Even artisan bread, and my latest triumph was homemade focaccia. I LOVE the breadmaking process. Not only is it satisfying in and of itself, it always connects me with my grandmother, who was famous for her homemade bread.

    And that, I think, is what I love about making foods that are otherwise available in stores, how it connects us to those who have come before, the same sense of satisfaction, the same knowledge of our food. I’m all about generational connectivity!

  9. Jillian says

    Yogurt was my gateway food, too! A friend told me I could make it at home and I remember looking at her skeptically, thinking I’d poison myself by letting milk ferment at room temperature for several hours. Now, I’m the one blowing people’s minds with homemade stuff: walnut butter, nutella, graham crackers…

  10. says

    I’ve switched to mostly making and mostly buying raw ingredients to make our staple foods over the past couple of years. One of the things that I really appreciate making instead of buying is salsa. I can a huge batch in the late summer and whenever we want salsa we just pull a jar from the pantry. Such a luxury! I think we have 4 or 5 jars left for the year now.

  11. Teresa says

    I no longer buy breadcrumbs or frozen diced green peppers. I dry all my bread heels in the oven and then store them in a container in the pantry. When I need crumbs, I just whiz ’em around in the food processor. Easy! I buy green peppers on sale and dice them, freeze them on a cookie sheet. After they’re frozen, I scrape them into another container and freeze. Just scoop out what you need. Love making things myself and saving $$$. I need to learn to make yogurt because my kids love it and they eat several cups a day. It gets a little pricey when they eat it that much!

  12. Liz says

    I’m just so excited for you and your work! Can’t wait to see the book! Hummus is my favorite thing to make that’s both cheaper and better tasting than the tubs.

  13. says

    Growing up, my mom always made the most delicious jams. When I came of age, I continued the tradition. I guess it is not fair to say I stopped buying jam, because I have only purchased it reluctantly when the pantry is bare. Homemade jam is a complete different and superior product to any store bought product. It is a staple in our house. Our weekend mornings undoubtedly begin with steaming pancakes or french toast and a medley of jams and syrups. One of our favorites is Peppered Peach and Rosemary which is a bit more savory and completely delectable on a piece of soft cheese.
    I cannot wait to see your book!

  14. Tanya says

    Looking forward to the book! There are so many small things I make that are easier to buy, but much more tasty when homemade. Salad dressing, paneer,butter, creme fraiche, kombucha…..

  15. Lisa says

    I just recently found your website and think its great !
    More and more we making everything we can from scratch. For me its fun, and its just so much healthier and tastier! I think the first thing that got me hooked on homemade was granola . My go to recipe is this one, though I ususally change it up a bit each time: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2008/02/consider-it.html. YUM!

  16. Erin says

    So many things…. but the latest ones have been sauerkraut (what else do you make when the CSA gives you 4 heads of cabbage?!?!) and tasty, preservative-free dried fruit and jerky. Pineapple-ginger dried fruit snacks are ridiculously tasty.

  17. says

    Yay, homemade potato chips! We make baked fries, but never chips–and now I’m asking myself why not.

    I’ve stopped buying & started making lots of things, but the top 3 are:
    1. Beans – dried, soaked, & boiled
    2. Broth of all kinds – vegetable, bean (see #1), fish, chicken – and, subsequently, all kinds of soup.
    3. Pickles! Not just cucumber, but carrots, onions, jalapenos, and I really need to get my pickled beet on one of these days.

    Thank you for the gracious giveaway opportunity!

  18. says

    Let’s see…yogurt was a new one for me this summer, and making mozzarella was also a mind-blowing experience when i did that. At the end of last summer I made my own ketchup, which – though a natural extension of my jam and pickle-making over the last few years – was a thoroughly exciting experience. But I have to say…
    Donuts. I love donuts. I don’t, however, love deep-frying at home or deep-frying in general really, but for christmas this year one of the few small gifts my partner gave me was two donut-shaped pans, so that I could make a dozen homemade donuts. A delicious yeasted dough, baked in the oven, dipped in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar? Those babies go fast. Yum!

  19. Rose Bohmann says

    I’m glad I read thru the comments–I couldn’t think of much, but they reminded me, here’s things I make that I used to buy (and sometimes still do):
    Pickles: cucumbers, carrots, beets
    Salad dressing
    Seasoned salt
    Sparkling beverage (water kefir)
    Canned tomato sauce
    not food, but other stuff found in grocery stores:
    Skin cream
    Laundry soap

    Thanks for the potato chip recipe! I’ll have to try it, since I do love the crunch, but haven’t bought any for a while because none of the commercial brands I can find are organic, and the description of how non-organic potatoes are treated scared me away from them!

    • Rose Bohmann says

      Just so no one thinks I stay up all night, I really posted this comment at 9:07 or so on Friday, March 9, not the time it shows above. Hmmm…my computer clock’s on the right time; what time zone is the blog operating in?

  20. Jenn says

    So many great ideas here! I’ll have to try sauerkraut soon. When I lived in Argentina I started making tons of stuff I just couldn’t find there. Now that I’m back in the U.S. and my husband gave me a Kitchen Aid for my birthday, bagels are the thing that’s totally stuck. It’s a lot of work, but I love the process and results! I use Bridget’s recipe: http://www.crumblycookie.net/2010/08/26/whole-wheat-bagels/

    Frozen burritos are something I’ve done for years, based on a Martha Stewart recipe, but with lots of modifications for my own tastes. Love them!

  21. cea says

    I would have to say salad dressing because I HATE bottled dressings. I swear I can taste xantham gum from a mile away…blech. I never make the dressing in a bottle because i am way too lazy and that’s not the way my mama did it. We pour the olive oil, vinegar or lemon, garlic, salt, pepper and whatever else right over the salad and mix away adjusting as needed. More recently though my staple make at home is Alana’s granola!! I make it almost weekly and Ella calls it “nola” and it is damn good:)

  22. Joanne K-J says

    I love the concept of your book. If the kitchen is the heart of the home the pantry is the heart of the kitchen. For me yogurt, granola, refridgerator pickles, my own jams and a freezer full of roasted tomato sauce from our own home-grown organic tomatoes form the backbone of my pantry.

  23. Kim says

    Two things that I now make instead of buying are salsa and salad dressing. I’ve made salad dressing off and on for years, but realized this year that I always have the ingredients on hand and it’s always much better than anything that I can buy. Although I had made fresh salsa from time to time as well, I canned salsa for the first time last summer and can’t imagine ever buying it again.

  24. Sarah says

    Mine is bread! I started making no-knead breads a few months ago, and I’m hooked. Such an easy, cheap, delicious addition for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks…

    Your book looks great–I look forward to seeing it!

  25. Katy Davis says

    I’d never really thought of making ketchup, since it wasn’t something we used much, but then my two-year-old daughter discovered that she loved ketchup more than anything else in the world (she has been known to make a full meal of ketchup, eaten with a spoon). And then, last fall, there were more tomatoes in the garden than I needed for tomato sauce–and it suddenly occurred to me that I could make ketchup… In my usual fashion I consulted and combined a number of recipes, and then forgot to write down exactly what I’d done, which is unfortunate because it turned out perfectly!

  26. says

    It was a hot summer where I lived and worked at Forbidden Fruit Orchard, Paradise Mt. The first jam I made was with rainer cherries, so big they barely fit through the old fashioned pitter I clamped to the dinning room table. There air was full of sticky juice and sweat as Tom McCamant, my dad’s first cousin, taught me how to stir, skim, and then fill jars.
    Ever since then I have jammed, canned, pickled, and preserved everything imaginable. My pantry is always well stocked come autumn, after spending weeks in a state of near panic that all of this produce will be gone before I can bottle it.
    And for jam? I’ve never bought a jar from the store since.

  27. says

    Very excited about your book!

    We make bread about every other day (with a bread machine & a sourdough starter) and haven’t bought bread in about 6 years.

    But the thing that has really gotten me hooked on the idea of making more at home (besides reading your blog which has created a slow trickle of thought about how awesome it would be not to buy any processed food ever again) was making my own crackers. They are so easy and so tasty!

  28. Miranda Haley says

    This is more gardening than cooking, but I recently started growing my own sprouts in glass jars on the kitchen counter with straining lids made of cheesecloth held in place by rubber bands. Didn’t realize this when I started but the added bonus is: They never spoil when grown at home.

    Other stuff we’ve been making instead of buying:
    – Veggie burgers
    – Doggie treats
    – Pickles
    – Salad dressings
    – Hot cocoa mix

    On my list of things to try during my next “easy” rotation:
    – Kimchee
    – Vegan mayo

  29. says

    One of my favourite things to make at home is ricotta cheese. It is one-hundred-million-trillion times better than the very expensive ricotta for sale at the store — and so easy and satisfying! It’s just milk with a bit of salt, cream and lemon juice. It only takes a few minutes and it’s divine . . . Here’s where I found the recipe: http://bit.ly/WutWr

    I also just made candy for the first time: lemon gumdrops. Oh, my. Their soft jelly texture is so wonderful that they’ll be coming back again soon!

  30. Amarah says

    Yay! Book!
    I accidentally invented a recipe for MEATY PASTA SAUCE because I didn’t have a jar and was feeling creative with diced tomatoes. It reminds me a little of the sauce for capellini pomodoro, less pasty and lighter. It is cheaper, healthier, and tastier in my opinion, and I can change it up however it suits me :) It is truly MINE.
    Also, I discovered that I can make a pretty delicious castle cake, and just as you say, wonder if I couldn’t just make anything I put my mind to!

  31. says

    I was going to ask for your book for my upcomming birthday!
    I try to make asmany things possible from scratch, I LOVE feeling independant and capable!
    Here in France peanut butter is really expensive so I always make my own, and there’s nothing simpler!! I just buy a bag of peanuts and toss them in the food processor. You must wizz for some time at one point you’ll thinks this is not going to work and then all of a sudden the mix goes liquid!!! no need to add oil or anything!!!
    All of my sauces and brothes are homemade, so are my salad dressings and dips.
    Bread, granola, crackers, tortillas, pasta are almost always homemade but to always.
    Yogurt was my first taste of independance too! ;p
    But for me my most recent mind blowing experience was making real puff pastry! Not the quick kind with lumps of butter the very fancy and fluffy french stuff. The whole world seemed to tell me it was too complicated and time consuming….I’ll never listen again!!!!
    Mix flour and water and a pinch of salt, let the “détrempe” rest the roll out. place butter in the middle. Fold the dough over the butter like a letter. Roll out, fold in three, chill. do this 3 times and TADA you(ve got puff pastry!!!! Plus it freezes beautifully.
    Here’s a like to some other fun crusts I’ve made:
    Making flovored sugars and salts is also fun and easy. You can totally be creative here!!!
    I’ve also started making licors this year, pretty satisfing!!
    Kalua, Crema di limoncello (the recipe I followed:

    Well I can’t wait to get your book in my hands (won or offered ;p), for the recipes but also to meet you a bit more! Have a fantastic day!!!

  32. Heather D says

    Do beans count? One day a couple of years ago, while contemplating BPA in canned foods, we realized: we should stop buying canned beans, keep a significant quantity of dried ones around, and soak, cook, and freeze small batches on a regular basis. Now, cooking our own beans at home is a chore on par with throwing a load of wash in or doing the dishes. While passing through the kitchen, it’s so easy to start the soaking process, and then you’re off and running. So happy for you that this book is on its way out to the world Alana!

  33. ELLEN says

    cool! congrats on the “almost available book”!
    i’ve recently started making bread again. SO much better and WAY cheaper than the store stuff…even with the astronomical rise in the cost of flours! Love to make our own salad dressings too – ditto about the store stuff! baba ganouj is always on the roster too. (i just can’t understand buying that one!) GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

  34. says

    oh, you know it all already. you know all the things I no longer fork it over for, but with the potato chip you have spoken directly to my secret heart, and potentially increased my market value to my family as well. blessings on the book and you!

  35. Allison Gill says

    Congratulations on the book! When we lived overseas we experimented making all kinds of things– yogurt, bread, pastry, sauces, condiments, Indian food, Chinese food….– it was a fun challenge and the habit stayed with us. I love making things we used to buy and I think I derive even more satisfaction from making simple basics (bread, yogurt, jam), than from more complicated dishes. I haven’t tried any dairy other than yogurt and am eager to give cheese making a go, especially since mascarpone is one of my favorite foods. Thanks for the wonderful blog and the giveaway!

  36. Keith Emerling says

    Hi Alana, I saw your new book at the BFWW event “Out of the Mouth of Babes” and it’s beautiful. What a great event. Good luck and I’m looking forward to the launch (April 3rd I believe at least according to your business card! 😉

  37. kim says

    i make lots of things, but my kids love when i make a batch of ‘mcdonalds’ apple pies and freeze them for their lunches,,,they also love home made fruit leathers….i make yogurt, hummus, guacamole regularly for their lunches also…and homemade tortilla chips, too…so much better than the store bought stuff!

  38. Sara Abercrombie says

    Hi Alana! Soup, jam, applesauce, tomato sauce, sometimes yogurt. I used to make more before our move, and am slowly trying to recover that part of myself.

  39. Aaron Clewell says

    I spent all of last summer making my own soft drinks. The best was the cranberry orange I made for Christmas:
    Bring 3 c. water and 4 c. sugar to a boil. Add 4 c. cranberries, 3 cinnamon sticks, and 1 T whole clove, and return to boil. Remove from heat and add the zest and juice of one large orange plus the juice of one lemon. Cover and allow to cool approx 1 hr. Strain syrup and dilute with warm water to taste (this one turned out 3:2, water:syrup, but they’re all different). Add 1/4 t. champagne yeast and bottle. Leave them for two days on the counter to carbonate then 1 wk in the fridge.
    Good luck with the book. Can’t wait to see it!

  40. Melanie says

    I don’t know if it counts, because technically I’m not the one who makes it, but my husband started making french onion dip and it rules. I LOVE french onion dip and so now that we only have homemade stuff, I can feel good about eating a whole bowl of it. I guess “good” might be a bit of a stretch, but at least I’m not eating a whole bowl of weird additives, right?
    Maybe I can make these potato chips next time he makes the dip!

  41. Hazel says

    When I was growing up my mum used to make a lot of homemade food – mayonnaise, cottage cheese, marmalade, pickled beetroot, muesli (granola), bread etc. I always wished that we could have more store bought products!!
    Now, of course, I realise it’s so much healthier AND tastier! So I am learning from her :)

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