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"

  • I don’t have a go-to potluck dish. Bread with homemade jam is a contender, though. Maybe I don’t go to normal potlucks…. 😉

  • My favorite potluck dish is a quick dessert. I usually go with one of SmittenKitchen’s one-bowl cakes – berries in the summer, chocolate in the winter.

  • I make a cake from a recipe that came from my mom’s family in Minnesota. Oatmeal chocolate chip cake is always a hit.

  • We have a couple potlucks a year at work and I’ve gotten good response to focaccia in the spring and pasta casseroles with winter squash in them in the winter.

  • My favorite potluck dish is either Ree Drummond’s jam bars, tweaked to use whole wheat flour and a little less sugar (and an entire pint of jam!), or homemade oatmeal bread, preferably with good butter and more jam. This cookbook looks gorgeous!

  • My favorite potluck dish is definitely my apple crisp. I like to use softer apples that become almost applesauce during cooking. Always a hit!

  • Depends on the season and the theme of the potluck gathering but my preferred go-to dish is tea biscuits. Light and fluffy and good as a dessert with jam or with butter beside a salad.

  • My mother used to make a dish with green beans, scrambled eggs, and bacon that we took to every potluck. It is my standard go to if I don’t need to take something vegetarian.

  • I make a zucchini casserole that tastes like old fashioned herby bread stuffing. There is never any left over to take back home.

  • I love to share my ferments at potlucks; kraut, pickles, kimchi (although the kimchi tends to perfume the whole room when it’s opened!). Since I have a big garden, I also like to prepare a dish from whatever is abundant at the time.

  • Lately I’ve been using a fiesta corn relish recipe that I can up as the dressing for a cabbage salad. I can literally shred up a head or half a head of cabbage and then dump on a pint of fiesta corn relish and I am done. Love it! And people seem to really like it. Plus it is is gluten free and dairy free, which is great when there are lots of people who need that around.

  • Potluck dish: I always make this spinach rice salad that my mom got off the back of Good Seasons Italian dressing box. It has chopped celery, scallions and a bacon garnish — with a dressing sweetened with a little sugar and deepened with soy sauce. Mine has since evolved to feature toothy basmati rice, heavy on the finely chopped spinach and other veggies. But it’s always a hit, must be the bacon.

  • This book looks great! I like to make a muffuletta a day ahead and give it time to meld together, then cut into wedges or slices at the pot luck.

  • My friends and I do a lot of potlucks where we need to feed a lot of people, and usually have a day of activity before hand. Therefore my favorite dishes are all crockpot ones I can make a huge batch of and let cook on its own throughout the day, to be delved into at night. Of these, crock pot Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and pita bread has received consistent praise, even from people not in love with “foreign” ingredients.

  • I love bringing a trio of local cheeses plus pickles, jams, and other cheesy accessories! But if we’re talking a hot dish of some kind, probably the Smitten Kitchen caramelized onion and butternut squash galette.

  • The book plus all that?? Too good! And what I bring to a potluck is usually jars of pickles and possibly a loaf of bread. If they’re lucky!

  • Summer potluck dish: Some sort of pasta salad. In the past, always the pesto rotini (multi-colored) with red onions, feta, olives, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. Lately, a BBQ sauce macaroni salad with bell peppers, chili powder, mayo, scallions, and our favorite bbq sauce (and some heat). Rest of the season potluck: Always bring some of the phenomenal strawberry vanilla jam, or apricot, or nectarine + lime. And sometime a berry/apple crumble. And they always return the empty jars.

  • My favourite potluck dish to bring is either deviled eggs or broccoli salad…both seem to be a hit.

    This book looks fantastic…pretty sure it’s another one to add to my Christmas wish list!

  • Potluck contributions depend on the season for me. In the late summer and fall it’s often coleslaw. I never imagined is get so excited about coleslaw, but making it with Sweetheart Cabbage is spectacular!

  • I like to keep things seasonal and try to focus on locally sourced goodness when choosing potluck items. One thing for sure, I can never settle on just one thing, and most often will prepare both a savory and sweet dish.

  • My favorite potluck dish is a fresh fruit tart. It is a lightly sweetened dessert that really lets the flavors of in-season fruit shine. There are never any leftovers!

  • My grandma would make cheesy potato casserole for Christmas. It’s always been my favorite. Even after I found out that most people call them funeral potatoes.

  • I found sesame peanut butter noodles are usually pretty popular. I’ve also gone with pesto pasta salad and tuna noodle casseroles. I prefer dishes that can be served at room temperature!

  • In the summer, it’s one of two 7-ingredient dishes: either my mother’s potato salad or a fresh salsa. Winter would be baked beans or a homemade boule of hearty bread.

  • Favorite potluck dish – Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup- along with a previous commenter who was making tater tot hotdish…there is something about Minnesota foods and their applicability to potlucks!
    The number of crockpots I encountered at my first MN potluck sent my head spinning, I have now learned to love and embrace the crockpot!

  • One of my favorite potluck dishes (especially in the summer) is an easy broccoli salad with cherry tomatoes, red onion, cheddar cheese, bacon, and a slightly sweet dressing. So good!

  • I have been taking a loaf of home made bread and some good butter to the last few Potlucks. It seems that my co-workers have no knowledge of how to make good bread!

  • Every potluck or brunch I go to I bring a chocolate babka. It’s a hit every time. And who doesn’t love a dessert?!.

  • Winter potluck will find me making a large crockpot of either vegetarian chili, or basil tomato soup and bringing them along with a nice crusty artesian bread. Summer potlucks I will usually bring a fruit salad.

  • I like to bring a big green salad to a potluck with my homemade vinaigrette. There are never enough vegetables on the table!

  • Homemade brownies (a modified Ghirardelli recipe, usually) or Real Simple’s zucchini pie… delicious for any meal of the day.

  • In summer I often bring a German red fruit compote called “Rote Grütze” which goes well with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, at other times baked goods from cookies to muffins to cake.

  • If it’s a blazing hot summer potluck I like to take a cucumber/watermelon salad with a hoisin/lime dressing – sprinkled w/ chopped peanuts, fresh mint and cilantro. It’s a little savory but very refreshing.

    My other favorite potluck dish is lemongrass chicken w/ coconut rice. I used a lightly oiled ramekin to make little mounds of the rice on a large platter then I put slices of the chicken on top of each mound. That way guests can take individual servings.
    I sprinkle the whole platter w/ cilantro and basil and have a bowl of sweet chili garlic sauce that guests can drizzle on their serving if desired. (sometimes I do fried tofu if mostly vegetarian guests)

    Sounds a little fussy, I know, but it’s always been a smash hit.

  • My favorite that I bring and everyone always loves is the Fresh Pea and Spinach Salad recipe found in one of my favorite cookbooks, “Cooking from Quilt Country: Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens” by Marcia Adams.

    It’s a layered salad that you toss right before serving. You layer the greens, etc. Then “frost” it with the mayo dressing. The dressing is super easy but delicious….mayo, salt, pepper and fresh garlic.

  • Although I now live in Southeast Alaska, I was born in Georgia and raised in Florida. As often as possible, my large extended family loved to pool homemade dishes into big glorious feasts. To this day, my favorite potluck dishes are homey ones with an old-fashioned flair. It is difficult to choose just one. Main dish would be a toss up between Calico Beans and Scalloped Potatoes with Ham (or Spam!). Dessert would be classic layered Banana Pudding. Mmm…time for a potluck!

  • I like to bring cut up by me fruit or vegetables. Not cut up in a factory and dried out. Not fake baby yuk carrots but a real carrot that is cut up. Everybody eats it!

  • My favorite thing to bring to a potluck is a potato asparagus salad with a mustard vinaigrette. Delish and works for all seasons if you trade out the asparagus for another green.

  • For potlucks in the fall, I love to take beef stew and fresh homemade bread. It always goes. Even ask for more.

  • My favorite thing to bring to a potluck is a faro salad with kale, bleu cheese, dried cherries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Farro is something new to a lot of people and they love the texture and combo of flavors.

  • My favorite dish to share is kielbasa sausage, noodles, and Sauerkraut. It’s good hot and room temperature. And really good if I plan ahead and make the Kraut myself.

  • My favorite potluck thing to bring is a dessert: frangipane tart with seasonal fruit on top. It’s easy finger food, once cut up, so great for occasions where plates and silverware might be in low supply for the number of people. Also, it’s darned tasty. 🙂

  • These days, due to the time of year, it’s been a bowl of apples from my tree, guaranteed crisp, juicy, and unsprayed. Other times it varies, from a rice-lentil salad to a ricotta-peach tart.

  • We often go to Thanksgiving potlucks and I always like to bring the stuffing. It’s the most nostalgic part of the meal for me so I always like to have it just the way I had it as a kid.

  • I always have the best of potluck intentions (something fabulous and homemade), and almost always run out of time. So I’ve made an arrangement with my neighborhood (non-chain) pizza joint. They make me a couple of thin crust pizzas with seasonal veggies and square cut it for me. I serve it on a platter and rename it Italian flatbread… there’s never a piece left.

  • I always take my zucchini muffins with orange glaze. They’re easy, tasty, and a great way to use up excess zucchini!

  • I am the designated dessert provider at most potlucks. At the most recent I took 3 dozen chocolate cupcakes with a mocha buttercream, and 3 dozen browned butter pumpkin cupcakes (pumpkin from the garden) with a cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting. I also threw in a swiss chard artichoke dip with homemade bread (chard from the garden). It was my best friends birthday so I had to go all out!

  • Wow, this book looks terrific!! My favorite dish for a winter potluck is minestrone soup, made riffing off Marcella Hazan’s recipe.

  • My favorite healthy autumnal dish is Mac n Cheese, with Panko/parmesan breadcrumb topping/–the secret ingredient which just helps the lovely little elbow pastas to not wreak havoc on our bodies is the squash! I cook it ahead and puree it and add to all the delicious melting cheeses and milk sauce.

  • Wow what an amazing gift. I would love to have this book to enrich my cooking as winter apprpaches. My favorite potluck dish is, these days with much of my friends having kids, a big decadent plate of nachos, or homemade potato wedges- simple and popular!ft

  • I often bring a dish I found on called Bodacious Broccoli Salad (although I add sunflower seeds to it). If I’m bringing dessert, I usually bring caramel brownies.

  • I usually bring a delicious green bean potato salad. It’s steamed green beans, boiled potatoes, garlic, grainy mustard, a bit of honey (or sugar, if you want it to be vegan), and some olive oil.

    If it’s winter, I might bring a plate of homemade baking powder biscuits (kept warm) and soft butter with my own strawberry tarragon jam.

  • I have two favorites… depends how much time I have to cook! If I have time, I make Bund Gobi Aur Matar (Indian peas and cabbage). It can be a side, or when served with rice or quinoa, a main. If I don’t have time, I put jar of homemade blueberry maple pecan conserve over a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers. Yum!

  • veggie lasagna…travels well, can prep the night before, and always a hit. meat lovers are usually surprised when they find out it’s veggies only!

  • My favorite thing to bring to a potluck is a giant fruit and cheese plate. It is always well received and allows people to nibble a bit as the socialize.

  • I have a great crockpot macaroni and cheese recipe that I add bacon to because ya know, bacon makes everything better. It’s easy and so satisfying.

  • A pan of a dish my mother used to make, called Ghetta. The food of German poor people, it is made of pork and oats cooked together with onions and sage, scooped into a loaf pan and put in the refrigerator until it coagulates into a loaf that can be sliced, fried and devoured.

  • For potlucks I really love bringing dessert. My go to is Buttermilk Berry Cake since I always frozen berries in the freezer or fresh ones in the summer. It’s not a cake that needs icing, just a dusting of powdered suger so it’s perfect for informal gatherings. IF I don’t have frozen berries, the time I swirled & marbled the buttermilk base with pear chocolate jam was very well received, too!

  • Thank you for the opportunity to win this wonderful giveaway. My children and I are always trying new dishes and love cooking. We always try to mix it up, bring something nee each time, also depends on the season. I do however have one thats a given almost anytime of year and thats my version of Brunswick Stew. Very basic in indgredients and full of flavor.

  • I am a big fan of bringing quiche. I always have eggs, milk, cheese and a various veg to make a last minute potluck meal. It is a great way to use up that small amount of veg and cheese that I seem to be at a loss of how to use since it is not enough for a whole meal.

  • My go-to summer potluck dish is black bean salsa – red onions, avocado, cilantro, lime juice & roasted corn, if it’s late enough in the summer. Otherwise, a plain & boring homemade mac & cheese that my picky kid will eat!

  • A chopped salad from the garden. A favorite this summer was radishes, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, scallions, fresh herbs all tossed with a vinaigrette.

  • As an appetizer for a small gathering, some homemade crackers spread with a little chevre or a small wedge of sheep brie and topped with Marisa’s honey-sweetened tomato jam tweaked with a little smoked paprika!

    For a larger party, a chicken/asparagus/pasta salad with a homemade olive oil/champagne vinegar/Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

  • Some frittata type variation is always great. Toothpick friendly and can be served room temp.

    I love that bag. Great mantra!

  • In summer I love to make bite size caprese using cherry tomatoes! In cool weather sausage rolls are always good!