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"

  • My standard potluck dish depends on what season it is. Summer is a watermelon-feta salad with mint. In the winter, I’ll bake something, most likely a pie with either apples or pumpkin. In fact, I have a pie potluck party coming up this weekend and am still deciding what to make!

    1. My favorite potluck recipe is an oriental salad. I can make it the night before or early in the morning and everyone always enjoys it!

  • My favorite potluck recipe is a spaghetti squash salad because I can almost guarantee no one else will bring one and it is always an “unexpected” hit! I use the recipe from Taste of Home.

  • My best potluck dish is Sheepherder’s bread – a great homemade bread large enough for a good-sized group.

  • My favorite potluck dish to make is usually a dessert since I rarely make sweets for myself. I love to make lemon bars because they’re so nostalgic. My favorite dish to eat is a broccoli salad with a creamy dressing and bacon, green onions, and raisins. Trying a little bit of each dessert might be the best part about potlucks! I loved Alana’s Homemade Pantry book and can’t wait to get Homemade Kitchen!

  • Depends on the time of year, if its in the winter I like to bring my hearty beef barley & vegetable soup with homemade buns. In the summer a quinoa salad or a cool dessert.

  • Honestly my favorite potluck dish is a simple veggie or fruit tray because my husband is diabetic & potlucks are rarely diabetic friendly. I do try to make my trays beautiful & delicious with fresh ingredients, homemade dips or dressings & the best cheeses.

  • It is so hard for me when going to a potluck as I don’t eat grains and that leaves out so many popular dishes. I usually opt for a salad of some sort that does not include pasta. And deviled eggs is always a safe choice.

  • My favorite potluck dish is a tortilla espanola. It is inexpensive and easy to make—just onions, potatoes and eggs+salt/pepper—but everyone is always impressed somehow.

  • I love to take crockpot refried beans & a big bag of tortilla chips for a potluck. If I forget to plan ahead, I take fruit 🙂

  • Love Alana cookbooks! My favorite potluck dish is a nice big pot of chili and my famous Kahlua coconut chocolate chip cookies!

  • from what I could see of the book, the pictures are good. I like pictures ! My go to for potlucks is a dessert salad called Snickers salad. I also do baked beans.

  • Several years ago we lived overseas and our daughters attended an international school. For every event the request was the same; homemade “American style” mac and cheese with brownies for dessert.

  • If I want to show off, my favorite potluck offering is crab fried wontons with plum sauce, but for my last potluck I just brought chips and a very spicy homemade salsa!

  • I almost always bring dessert. I rarely make dessert for the family since I have ZERO self control when it comes to sweets. A potluck is a great opportunity to bake but not have the leftovers calling my name!

  • My favorite potluck dish is a caprese orzo salad with pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. Thank you for sharing this cookbook! It looks amazing!

  • I make a braided onion and poppy seed bread that people seem to love. It is a tight crumb and slightly sweet yeast dough which is divided in two and rolled into long strips. I lay a filling of lightly sautéed minced onions, butter, and poppy seeds along the center of each, then encapsulate and twist the two together and finally form into a circle. When it bakes some of the filling bursts out and crisps up along the outside. It is wonderful.

  • My favorite potluck dish is a fruit salad. I love buying fresh in season fruit and putting them together for everyone to enjoy.

  • Favorite dish? As in I can only pick one? I guess it would be my raw avocado lime “cheesecake”. It’s raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and has so much fruit in it that it’ll satisfy any sweet tooth. That way basically everyone (regardless of their special diet) is able to eat it.

  • I love making a huge pot of black bean turkey chili, because I can take half and freeze half. It’s nice with a pot of sour cream on the side for garnish!

  • In the summer time my favorite potluck dish is either a giant platter of pretty sliced fruit if I know there will be small children. If not, I’ll make a big pot of beans with bacon and sausage for extra flavor.

  • I have a pasta salad that is always a hit where ever I take it. The secret is in the garlic red wine vinegarette.

  • Always poached salmon with a great sauce, secret recipe, and a wild rice and organic veggie salad with a great vinaigrette, also secret recipe. Too long to type out, but will send if requested.

  • My favorite is Heath bar toffee pecan bars – a recipe I got from a friend a long time ago but slightly “tweaked” accidentally by my husband a year ago when he bought Heath bar candy instead of the Heath brand toffee bits. His “mistake” was genious and the grandkids now look forward to it at each family event.

  • My favorite potluck dish is chicken thighs marinated in terayaki sauce, then baked with rhubarb orange marmalade on top. Yummy!!

  • Michigan Salad… romaine based salad with onions, cashews, feta, dried cherries with a homemade poppyseed of sorts dressing.

  • Oh, jumping up and down in happiness that this is open to Canadians! Aimee gave some away on Simple Bites, and I didn’t win, and now I have another teeny, tiny, chance!

    Potluck fave? It depends…tomato/cucumber/curd salad; 4 layer dip; or saltine caramel crack(le), depending on season/mood.

  • My favorite potluck dish to take is probably some sort of roasted veg in the winter and garden veg platter in the summer. I also have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe for a sweet contribution. Potluck is my FAVORITE meal!!

  • My favorite things to bring to a potluck are cookies without nuts or dairy and lemon or pumpkin yeast rolls without dairy. That way I know that there are at least a few safe things for my family to eat.

  • Looks like a great cookbook. In the summer, my favorite pot luck dish is Indonesian Rice Salad from the Moosewood cookbook – it’s a good side dish for anything, or a good main dish for vegans/vegetarians. Or I sometimes do a Sicilian rice salad from the Commissary cookbook. In cooler weather, I’ve done baked ziti or short ribs, my new fave. And wine. (Or, for special occasions, my famous Manhattans, with your Bourbon Cherries instead of maraschinos.)

  • Ambrosia! So good & so quick & easy to make. My husband’s favorite is either his roasted corn orzo salad or his mom’s recipe for drop donuts (like little beignets).

  • I get many requests for my southwest chipotle smoked turkey tortilla roll ups…easy to make and travel well to parties.

  • I always bring a really large bowl of Caesar salad to potlucks – it seems to go quickly. I make my own croutons and dressing…. The book looks great!!

  • My favorite potluck dish is a quinoa salad with black bean, mango, red pepper & roasted corn. I like brining potluck food that can be enjoyed by people with all sorts of dietary restrictions or allergies – this one is really delicious and fits that requirement!

  • Taco casserole…….it has been a family favorite for almost 50 years and you can make it for 4 or 25! We love it.

  • My favorite potluck dish is a wonderful spinach artichoke dip recipe that I created myself! Everyone always asks for the recipe whenever I bring it.

  • I love my Texas Brownie recipe. It’s homemade and I keep all the basic ingredients in the cupboard. Depending on how much I mix it depends on if it comes out cake like or thick and chewy. Homemade frosting gets done while it’s in the oven backing. Baking time also is just long enough to finish the frosting and the brownie dishes as well. The recipe calls for water or coffee as the liquid, but I like to mix it up with using flavored teas. I also mix up the extract for flavor changes as well. My friends love it because they get the same brownies they love, but with different flavors and textures each time.

  • We have a lot of pot luck lunches at my workplace, so I don’t really have a signature dish. However, my co-workers love it when I bring a giant sandwich piled high with lots of toppings (caramelized onions, olive salad, roasted red peppers, etc.)

  • My favorite potluck dish is homemade jam. Either a fruit jam with bread & cheeses or a jalapeño jelly on top of cream cheese with crackers. Bonus if there’s time for homemade cream cheese!

  • Favorite potluck dish? My family pushes for sweet and sour meatballs; I love an old fashioned bean salad with diced red and green bell peppers for color and crunch. Thanks for lots of fun and practical giveaways.

  • I have been bringing along a chicken southwestern chili over the last few years…..goes over well and is relatively healthy to boot.

  • hmm fave potluck dish has to be either hummus and veg platter or ginger chickpeas. The hummus is just so classic and there always seems to be a shortage of snacking veg at a potluck!

  • Lately I’ve been bringing a big batch of chick pea and cauliflower curry-healthy and warm for chilly fall evenings.

  • 2 bottles of champagne and 2 bottles of a good red wine are always hits at a potluck!! Plus they go with everything.
    Other favorites include carrot cake with golden raisins and cream cheese frosting-at least carrot cake sounds healthy!!
    My favorite side is a creamy cheesey polenta- complements almost any dish and gluten free!
    Honestly, I enjoy cooking so much I usually ask the host/hostess what to bring and then find a killer recipe to fit the request.

  • I’ve taken all kinds of thing for potlucks… but this time of year, I usually take my homemade pumpkin muffins or apple pie. Later in the fall/early winter, my gingerbread is is high demand for family and friends potlucks… I love taking old recipes and making them nutritionally dense, and just as tasty as they always were.

  • I love potato salad or I love an adapted broccoli salad. I think any time you get to take food somewhere and get to eat a variety then that’s where I want to be lol!

  • For a autumn potluck I make a layered casserole of quinoa, delicata squash (no peeling!), sliced fresh mushrooms, greens (kale, chard, spinach, whatever), topped with Parmesan breadcrumbs. If the crowd is vegan or gluten free, I substitute toasted quinoa and/or ground, smokey nuts as topping. It’s great hot, room temp, and even better the next day!

  • Homemade hummus when I’m not sure there will be lots of vegetarian options, brownies (classic Baker’s one-bowl) when dessert is a better choice.

  • My favorite thing to take is Cucumber Triangles. They are easy to make & the ingredients are available year round! 🙂

  • Over the years my go to favorite potluck dish has evolved, current favorites for autumn are fresh picked apples in an apple crisp and a large pan of warm deep dish brownies. For a filling warm dish I frequently bring a large hot baking pan of scalloped potatoes and onions.

  • I browse the bookstore about once a month and spend my time in the cookbook area. I’m drawn to ones like Alana’s the pictures and the type. I’m all for a homemade type recipes using the freshest ingredients. This is an amazing gift, thank you so much for the chance

  • Potluck is an amazing tradition. I’ve done lots of successful dishes and there are wonderful recipes here. But my favorite potluck Co tribute on was the night when I didn’t have anything to bring so I offered foot rubs instead
    What a hit! 🙂

  • My favorite potluck dish is a huge fruit salad. I like to go heavy on the melons and berries, but whatever is seasonal is good. In the colder months, chicken salad with toasted almonds, celery, and red onions is good too, because the leftover chicken carcass for soup-making is a huge bonus!

  • If I bring dessert, it is just about always lemon ice box pie because it’s super easy. Dill dip is a fave and you can’t go wrong with good ol’ tater salad.

  • my favorite dish to bring to winter potluck is my homemade chili. In warmer months I like to bring my breakfast casserole.

  • Depending on the time of year my favorite pot luck dish to share is either potato salad, cucumber salad or for dessert a sour cream custard apple pie. For appetizers I bring my homemade habanero gold pepper jelly w cream cheese & crackers.

  • IN the growing season, my favorite potluck dish is grilled veg w/ a drizzle balsamic. A few weeks ago, I brought stuffed peppers to a potluck.

  • During the winter, I love taking big pots of soup, especially minestrone, loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. During the summertime, I have a recipe for a cheese salad given to me by a dear friend that is always enjoyed.

  • I love salads so I usually end up making one for potlucks, always with some form of toasted nut or seed. Changes the whole texture 🙂 If I bring dessert, I usually make a banana or zucchini bread (gotta find a way to use all that frozen grated zucchini!)

  • A potato salad that I grew up on and the only kind my husband will eat. Red potatoes, banana peppers, red onion, parsley, garlic…always better if it sits overnight before serving.

  • I try to take something I can leave and forget until it’s time to eat: A slow cooker full of soup or chili, a potato salad, or if I’m feeling festive a baked brie with some of my jam topping it. I feel I need a brie now…

  • During the fall & winter, my go to is a deep dish casserole my mom concocted. Layers of sliced potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples and browned loose sausage .

    For picnics, I like to bring a bean salad with chick peas, black beans, kidney beans & black eyed peas with a honey mustard vinaigrette. I like it because it’s a bit different than the usual picnic fare and you don’t have to worry about a mayo dressing in the heat.

  • My favorite potluck dish will always be what we refer to as “Funeral Potatoes”, but is more commonly known as cheesy potatoes. You use frozen hashbrowns, cream of chicken soup, cheese, and cornflakes to make it. Probably not the healthiest, but I love it!

  • When I need to bring food to a family gathering or pot luck I’m usually asked to bring one of my pies, the favorite is my pecan pie followed by apple and cherry.

  • I don’t have a regular dish, but I usually find myself bringing some type of salad because most of my work potlucks are a little short on green food. 🙂

  • My favorite potluck dish to bring is a big pot of butternut squash & coconut soup, because a) it’s super easy to prepare and b) no one else thinks to bring soup! I usually serve it in a cup for easy sipping and because there isn’t any dairy or meat, it’s both vegetarian and safe to have sitting out on a buffet.

  • For our Christmas luncheon at work, I bring a salad. I can guarantee I won’t be duplicating anyone else. Bitter greens (red & green), dried cranberries, Asian pear slices, candied pecans & a cranberry or pomegranate dressing.

  • I have different favorites for different times of year, but I usually bring something green or in the fall/winter I tend towards vegan quinoa butternut chili! That way almost anyone can try it, even with dietary restrictions. And it’s so easy to top with avocado, cilantro, and even cheese and sour cream for the dairy inclined.

    I can’t wait to check out this book!

  • My favorite is a broccoli slaw with apples, dried cranberries and pecans. I also love to make cream puffs in a sheet pan with pudding, whipped cream and fruit on top. I only make the cream puffs at Christmas.