Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen

October 13, 2015(updated on February 3, 2023)
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

Disclosure: The nice folks at Clarkson Potter sent me a copy of this book for review and photography purposes. No additional compensation was provided.

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638 thoughts on "Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen"

  • Individual chicken pot pies which can be enjoyed as an appetizer, A main course. they also make a great thank you gift for the host do you enjoy later!

  • If it is a vegetable dish, the children always ask for my Potato Salad. If it’s dessert, “Mom, will you please bring your Pecan Pie or Mississippi Mud Cake.”

  • I love using mac and cheese as a base for potlucks. The many options of pasta and cheese set up a nice base. I change up the flavor profile base on my mood or the occasion- Latin with rotated poblanos and roasted cherry tomatoes, or a salute to autumn with purred butternut squash and kale.

  • I love to bring a slab pie with whatever fruit is in season. It’s nice to not be slaving over the stove right before leaving for a party, and homemade pie is always special.

  • My potluck go to is a seasonal dessert. I also have been bringing some cheese and crackers, with matching preserves from the summer canning! Always a big hit!

  • I love bringing a super flavorful slaw. It can go with almost anything and always makes me happy to have something bright and fresh to eat.

  • I always love to bring dessert….almond bars are a hit, but recently I made a Middle Eastern salad with chickpeas, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, a tangy dressing that was just wonderful!

  • i usually bring a salad (greens with seasonal fruit& cheese) or the fabulous brownies from the Moosewood cookbook made with good chocolate.

  • I have a few goto’s, depending upon the occasion. Chili, cheesy vegetables, and five bean casserole are among the favorites.

  • We have a lot of potluck dinners in this neighbourhood. There aren’t many weeks where I am not making an extra loaf of bread or a lazy daisy cake to share with friends. Thank you for your work.

  • My safe bet is usually homemade mini pies with homemade jam for the filling. You can either change the filling depending on season or have a nice summer surprise in the dead of winter.

  • I love the look of this book! I’m the one to bring dips to a potluck most of the time. My favorite is a cream cheese and roasted tomato dip that’s cooked and kept warm in my small crock pot. Serve that with a sliced baguette – it’ll be gone quickly.

  • This looks like a delightful book. My favorite dish to bring to potlucks is paleo chocolate chip cookies or another allergy-safe dessert. My son has food intolerances and my sister-in-law has celiac disease, so I am sensitive to people with a restricted diet and like to bring something that they can enjoy. I also like showing people that gluten, soy and dairy free desserts can be just as tasty as ‘regular’ ones.

  • I like to bring pickled beets, because I always want to eat them. Usually I end up converting a few people who thought they hated beets, but even if no one else wants them, my two- and three-year-old daughters and I can finish off a pint pretty quickly!

  • Recently I’ve liked bringing black bean and zucchini enchiladas. They’re vegetarian, use frozen zucchini shreds I saved from the summer, and individual portions of leftovers freeze well.

  • If possible I always take a cake because my paternal Grandmother taught me to bake cakes and it is my best cooking skill. I know the rules and I know which ones can be bent and still get a delicious cake.

  • Depending on who will be at the potluck and the season, but a few of my favorites are homemade buns, something I have pickled (usually Dilly Beans), or deviled eggs (from my chickens).

  • My most loved potluck dish is a dessert: peppermint patties. I make them for all holiday family gatherings and even make extra so people can take them home.

  • Noodle kugel…it’s a bit decadent, new dish to many people but comfy flavors, and can serve as side or dessert.

  • My go-to potluck dish is The Pioneer Woman’s Pantry Lasagna…so simple and so delicious! It disappears in a flash!

  • I love variety so I usually try to bring something different except to one annual holiday party; roasted brussel sprouts by request.

  • My go to is chocolate chip cookies made from my grandmothers old, time tested recipe. If dessert isn’t an option I’ll usually make a cold pasta salad with lots of fresh veggies, grilled chicken and a good vinaigrette. Yum! Thanks for the giveaway, the book looks fantastic!

  • My favorite poluck item right now is home grown sweet corn I freeze every summer. My family loves the sweet corn and always asks if I added suger. if you get it picked and processed the same day, it tastes super sweet. All I do is add butter to the pan of frozen corn and it is delish!

  • I like to bring something a little out of the ordinary. One of my favorites sauerkraut, apple & onion, with smoked sausage. A sort of German-inspired stir-fry. I admit I am a little too liberal with the caraway seasoning….

  • I don’t really have a go-to dish… I try to stick with a theme if there is one, otherwise my husband usually asks for something out of my repertoire.

  • I love to bake, so if possible, I bring a dessert. Carrot cake, lemon-zucchini pound cake, my grandmother’s plum cake. The list is long!

  • I am the person who likes to bring vegetables to a potluck – something to balance out the rich foods that often show up. One favorite is a massaged kale salad prepared a day ahead so that the kale is less fibrous. Another is mashed potatoes for the gluten-free crowd.

  • For church potlucks I always make polish sausage and sauerkraut. It’s usually completely gone when we leave 🙂

  • Baked beans because if I don’t take them everyone wonders why. I also like to add a sauerkraut that I cook in the slow cooker with half a head of cabbage and some roasted sausage.

  • Potlucks are fun, but challenging for our family who likes to try everything. My dad is famous for his “a little of each” rule when it comes to which foods to eat! Traditional green bean casserole is a favorite, but another popular dish was a knock off of whole foods orzo pasta salad.

  • My favorite potluck dish to take has become a huge salad – I have a big lightweight salad bowl – with fresh herbs and a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing. I make wonderful salads – don’t think many people do – so this is always a hit.

  • Oh my, this book needs to jump into my greedy little hands! My favorite potluck dish is an heirloom recipe of sorts from my mom’s family. It was given to my grandmother back in the 50s by the family cleaning lady, Fanny, who was a local Amish woman. My grandmother made it for decades, my mom has as well, and about 15 years ago, my grandmother gave it to me. I have made it for many potlucks, and it has even been given as a birthday gift, the recipient of which proceeded to eat the whole pan of it in bed with a giant wooden spoon! It is called Crow’s Nest Pudding, and is a softer cobbler of sorts. It’s best made with fresh black raspberries, or sour cherries (you can used tinned in water, not syrup), but really any delicious fruit will do that lends itself to mounds of cinnamon-flecked, soft buttery batter. It even contains directions to use “butter, the size of a walnut shell.”

    Thanks for the giveaway(s) and so glad to hear Alana’s new book is so wonderful! 🙂

  • This time of year I love bringing a large apple or pear crisp as an easy potluck dessert. If I’m asked to bring a savory dish I’ll go with some butternut squash soup (which is easy to keep warm in a crock-pot) and some toppers (homemade croutons or crispy bacon crumbles) .

  • I usually bring a dessert using my own sour cherry filling recipe. It could be hand pies, slab pie for a big crowd or a traditional pie.

  • Lately I’ve been making cupcakes in 8oz mason jars, filling 3/4 full, waiting to cool, the put icing on top and then screw the lid on, easy to transport.

  • My favorite dish to bring to potlucks is seven layer dip. It’s tasty, goes fast, is super easy to make, and is a general crowd pleaser. My favorite to eat is any version of meatballs (or sausage) in sauce. Something about how those simmer in the sauce and make this tasty caramelized yumminess that sticks to your plate is just the best.

  • We go to a lot of potlucks and pickles or chips and salsa are always easy and available. But more often than not I’ll make a crumble from fruit in the freezer (usually concord grapes but this year it’s raspberries) or a chile relleno casserole if I have roasted poblanos in the freezer.

  • If it’s summer. I like to bring ranch beans (beans, gr. beef, salsa) during the holidays I will bring broccoli salad with Craisins. Alana’s book looks wonderful!

  • Deviled eggs = no leftovers to take home! I do love seeing chicken spaghetti at potlucks, since it’s not really a 2-person dish.

  • I often bring two items, a green salad with craisins, blue cheese, toasted pecans and homemade balsamic-mustard-maple syrup vinegrette and a dessert. The dessert would be seasonal and fruit based like cranberry pear crisp.

  • My top potluck dish is something I’ve been working on for years . . . a Texas-style red chili with chocolate. It takes a good amount of time (cook, mix, simmer, cool, warm . . . eight hours at a time!), but there’s nothing like seeing an empty pot on the table ten minutes after you put it out.

    Thanks for the giveaway, Marisa!

  • For a main, I often bring “Uptown Cowboy Caviar” which is tasty, has protein (in case there aren’t veg mains) and is good as leftovers. For desserts, it depends a lot on the season. In the summer, it’s always my mom’s rhubarb coffee cake recipe (also her go-to for potlucks). I have favorite recipes for various themes/holidays, and if I don’t, I like to challenge myself to find a yummy themed dessert.

  • I’m a farmer, and we raise pastured pork. I find it’s easy to throw a pork roast in the crock pot, and it’s always very well received!!

  • Deviled eggs are always a big hit here in the South. I also think pasta salads (non-Mayo based) are a great side dish for potlucks.

  • Lately it’s been crackers and a cream cheese-chutney dip. Good way for me to use up the surplus of chutney I always seem to put up.

  • Our church does a potluck lunch every Sunday and I usually bring rice in the rice cooker so that the soups, etc. can be put on top. Also because the picky little ones generally like rice and there are crazy many gluten-free folks.

  • A grain salad – super portable, usually don’t need to be kept on ice, and people are usually really happy to see a salad at a potluck! In the summer, one I really like is pearled couscous, blueberries, corn, good feta, nectarines or peaches, and basil with a lemon vinaigrette.

  • For potlucks I always go to comfort foods. In the fall it’s a big dish of Mac’n Cheese or a plate of cupcakes.

  • I always volunteer to bring dessert. Pie in the summer and fall (whatever fruit is in season), cake or cookies in the winter and spring.

  • I don’t have a favorite, but whatever strikes me at the moment for a particular party. There’s always too many good selections to choose from to make, why stick with just one?!

  • I find potlucks often are a bit lacking in the veggie department, so I try to bring some sort of veggie-heavy salad. This book looks great!!

  • I try to bring something seasonal, using what’s available from my garden. In spring and summer, I bring salads; in fall, an apple crisp; and in winter, cheese and crackers with hot pepper jelly I canned in fall.

  • I often bring a pre-mixed cocktail in a pitcher, or spiced roasted nuts, like Alton Brown’s ginger almonds. Although if I know nobody else is bringing deviled eggs, I’ll definitely bring those. There are never leftover deviled eggs and they’re so easy.

  • I frequently bring a radish-celery-olive salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh chives. It travels really well and I love the crunch.

  • Grilled bruschetta – amazing! It’s work, but well worth it and always the first thing eaten up entirely at every event.

  • Me, I love a savory dish over a sweet any day of the week. My favorite is a classic hash brown casserole with lots of cheese and ooey gooey goodness! Not sure if I am making for me or my friends, but we all seem to enjoy it!

  • I am not sure what to call it. I think it is too thick and chunky to be called a salsa, but that is the closest
    description I can think of.

  • Homemade hummus with pita chips or veggies for dipping. For years I’ve used the recipe from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Light, and it never fails.

  • I bring my homemade lasagna. It’s a labor of love to make it, so I make a huge batch and always have some in the freezer.

  • My buffalo chicken dip is a huge hit for potlucks but I also love fancy deviled eggs or a crockpot of huevos rancheros.

  • I’ve been really looking forward to this book! I usually bring some kind of “serious salad,” that is, a filling salad which includes greens, lentils or a grain (farro or quinoa usually), and lots and lots of veggies.

  • I like to bring my homemade guacamole (a variation on Alton Brown’s recipe) and a jar of salsa with chips. It works great over the holidays with the red and green colors.

  • I try to take something easy to transport that doesn’t need to be heated. Usually something like deviled eggs or cupcakes.

  • I am always asked to bring my peanut butter cup brownies. I bake my homemade brownies in mini muffin tins, then when they’re done baking I pull them from the oven and stick a mini Reese peanut butter cup in the centre of the brownie. When they’re cool I put a thin layer a chocolate icing on. So simple but delicious!

  • favorite potluck dish = deb madison’s braised lentils. always a hit and great to transport (plus it gets better with age). a close second would be a fresh loaf of bread, but I don’t know if most people count that as a dish…