Tag Archives | Alana Chernila

Cookbooks: Eating From the Ground Up

I the kind of cook who tucks vegetables into nearly everything I cook. My turkey chili always includes wilted Swiss chard. I prefer my eggs perched on a bed of sauteed spinach or zucchini. And if I’m making a sandwich, I pile it high with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and ribbons of carrot. This habit of mine doesn’t always thrill my husband (he grew up with a mother who was less of a produce pusher than mine), but after 10+ years together, he’s gotten used to it.

All that said, I confess to having a somewhat limited repertoire of vegetable dishes. I rotate through steaming, roasting, and sauting most things. This gets the job done, but can lead to a certain weariness. However, recently my vegetable cookery has received a much-needed shot in the arm.

This is all thanks to Alana Chernila’s gorgeous new book, Eating From the Ground Up. Many of you might be familiar with Alana’s previous books, The Homemade Pantry and The Homemade Kitchen, as well as her blog (it shares a name with this new book).

What I love about this book is that it tackles vegetables from a number of different directions, all with delicious results. The book opens with a section entitled Barely Recipes. These are ideal for busy weeknights, when you need to get dinner on the table and value speed and flavor.

After that, you’ll find A Pot of Soup (filling and deeply savory), Too Hot to Cook (perfect for deep summer, when it doesn’t take much to make a flavorful meal), Warmth and Comfort (many of these make a main dish out of veg), and the final chapter, Celebrations and Other Excuses to Eat With Your Hands (with a title like that, it needs no additional description).

This book should be on your shelf if you keep a backyard garden, shop farmers markets, subscribe to a CSA share, or simply love vegetables. It’s one that I know I’ll turn to again and again.

Thanks to Clarkson Potter, I have a copy of this lovely book to giveaway this week. Please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book and the giveaway copy at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided and all opinions are entirely my own.

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Giveaway: Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen + Prize Pack

The Homemade Kitchen

Last spring, I spent the better part of four days tucked into a tiny cabin near Neumann University, working on my natural sweeteners book. I took a cooler full of food, a pile of cookbooks to use as reference when my own inspiration failed me, and a few things to read simply for fun.

THK Contents

Included in my pleasure reading was a PDF of Alana Chernila’s book The Homemade Kitchen, provided by her editor in the hopes that I might write a sentence or two of praise. After my first day of writing was over, I warmed some soup for dinner and settled down to read.

How to Cook a Vegetable

My original intention had been to read just a bit that night and then go to bed early. Instead, I sat at that little, formica-topped table and hungrily took in every word. Friends, I devoured this book.

Queen Garlic

Now, I had a feeling I would like The Homemade Kitchen before I even opened up the document. I am a fan of Alana’s writing and always feel a moment of anticipatory pleasure when I discover she’s posted something new on her blog. What’s more, since we met four or five years ago, Alana has become a dear friend. We don’t get to see each other too often, but whenever I find myself passing through Western Massachusetts, I point my car in her direction.

Reusables in the Kitchen

The reason I tumbled head first into these pages is that they bring together everything I want from a cookbook. It’s got appealing food, smart and sensible kitchen advice, wonderful writing, a glimpse into the author’s life, a pretty design, and glorious pictures.

The Kitchen in the Morning

When the physical book landed in my mailing box late last week, I was reminded of my time with that PDF all those months ago. While I haven’t cooked anything from it yet, I’ve broken the spine in half a dozen places and have littered the pages with post-it notes.

Just a few of the recipes I’ve marked include Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta (page 61), Roasted Salmon with Yummy Sauce (page 163), and the Congee with Chicken and Greens (page 202). I’m hungry just listing them out.

prize pack pic

I would have written about this book whether or not there was a giveaway attached, but happily, I have a few copies to share with you guys. One lucky winner will get The Homemade Kitchen prize pack, which includes a tote bag featuring a quote from the book, a fancy knife, and a signed copy of the book. Two more winners will get copies of the book.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite potluck dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 17, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, October 18, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The nice folks at Clarkson Potter sent me a copy of this book for review and photography purposes and are providing all the giveaway gear. No additional compensation was provided!

Cookbook: The Homemade Pantry and The Nutty Granola Bar

Homemade Pantry, front and back

When I go into people’s homes, I can always tell which of their cookbooks are used regularly and which are more aspirational or someday volumes. The ones that fall into the category of “some day” have unmarked pages and perfect, smooth spines. The books that get used have dog-eared corners, splatters and stains. Particularly beloved books open to favorite recipes all on their own.

It is every cookbook author’s wish that their book becomes one of the spotted, bent and broken books. That means it’s being cooked from and that means we’ve done our job.

Homemade Pantry soup section

I see a lot of cookbooks and it’s a rare book that makes me want to immediately leap up, head to the kitchen, break the spine and start cooking. It happened last fall with the Bi-Rite Cookbook and again recently, with Alana Chernila’s new book, The Homemade Pantry.

If you don’t know Alana, she writes the lovely blog Eating From the Ground Up and lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two girls. I first encountered Alana when she introduced herself via email a year or two ago. We finally met in person last fall and it felt more like reconnecting with an old friend than it did an initial introduction.

Homemade Pantry tomatoes

Once you start reading The Homemade Pantry, you’re going to feel like Alana is one of your old friends too. That’s because her headnotes aren’t just headnotes. They’re full-on essays and they are glorious. Stories of her children, her own childhood and her community weave through the recipes. The book reads like a memoir that just happens to have good things to eat tucked here and there.

The best part of the headnotes is that they demonstrate how personal these recipes are to  Alana. They show that every single dish in this book has a reason for being there and is something that she feeds her family. You really can’t ask for a better endorsement than that.

car snack #3

I have long been someone who makes granola at home. There are multiple recipes for granola on this very site and several more in my cookbook (which is now just weeks away!). However, one thing I’ve never been able to get right is a homemade granola bar. I’ve tried so many recipes and they’re either too sweet, too dry or too fragile (and sometimes all three).

When I spotted the recipe for Car Snack 3 (The Nutty Granola Bar), I was tempted. While I don’t spend much time in cars and don’t have any little ones who need snacks, I like having something on hand for mid-afternoons when I can’t focus until I have a little nibble. I was entirely convinced to try them after reading this line, “If you, too, have been searching for the granola bar, try this one.”

pre-baked granola bars

Best of all, it was an easy recipe to follow. While the ingredient list is long, it comes together fast. I liked the technique it employs, too. She has you melt the fats (butter, coconut oil and nut butter) together with the sweeteners (sugar and honey).

Once they’re heated through and smooth in consistency, you stir in the rest of the ingredients and press into a parchment-lined baking pan. The parchment means that nothing sticks to the pan and it makes for easy removal once they’ve cooled.

granola bars in a jar

While I knew I could trust Alana to write reliable recipes, I am still blown away by these granola bars. They are, by far, the best homemade granola bars I’ve ever managed to produce in my kitchen. Yes, they are quite calorie dense, but so are any grocery store bar. And since I know exactly what’s in them, I feel no guilt or worry about having a small square as my afternoon snack.

a granola bar

So far, this is the only recipe I’ve tried from the book, but that fact that it worked so well and is so good means that I plan to turn to this book over and over again for my kitchen staples. I have a feeling my copy of the book is going to be totally stained and splattered within weeks and I know that Alana will be entirely pleased by that.

I’m not hosting a giveaway for this book, but Winnie at Healthy Green Kitchen is giving away three copies. If you want a chance at winning, head over to her site and leave a comment to enter. The recipe for Alana’s Nutty Granola Bar is after the jump.

Disclosure: Clarkson Potter gave me a free review copy of The Homemade Pantry. I was not compensated for this post and my opinions remain my own. 

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