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"

  • Depends on the occasion – a long time ago, my favorite was “Leek and Potato Soup” made from condensed cream-of-potato soup, leeks, milk, and chicken broth – took this to a couple of outdoor events because it was so easy to transport – prep (wash, chop and sauté) the leeks in advance, freeze them and the milk/broth mix, then just put everything together in a pot on the camp stove on-site. Ingredients card was pretty easy, too: cut out and staple the can label to an index card, and write down the add-ins.
    Now it’s more likely to be a tossed salad with homemade dressing.

  • I love to bring focaccia bread with whatever I have on hand thrown on top (rosemary and salt, grapes and goat cheese, mozzarella and peppers, etc).

  • My mom makes the best rice pudding that she brings to pot luck events and it’s always gone. I’m still working on finding my signature pot luck dish.

  • Fav potluck dish – roasted root vegetables(parsnips, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, carrots, turnips, golden beets, garlic) tossed in avocado oil and seasoned with sea salt, rosemary and pepper. Yum! looks like I am going to have to make some up just because!

  • My go-to potluck dish is a green bean and tomato salad that’s a Smitten Kitchen recipe–quick to throw together, marinates in the dressing on the way over, healthy, and beautiful colors!

  • Lately, it’s been a chocolate whiskey cake plus the latest bean dip we’ve been making (chickpea hummus with ras el hanout is the current crush).

    I do switch the cake if it’s a kids+adults party, the whiskey cake is potent!

  • Zucchini Pie. It’s an old Pillsberry Bake-off winner from the 70s or 80s. Yes, it uses crescent rolls but really good and easy and I guess I’m dating myself.

  • oh how wonderful! love her homemade pantry book and this one looks fabulous as well.
    hmmm, a favorite potluck dish……….. chili, with loads of topping options. or cranberry avocado salsa.

    thanks of rate opportunity!

  • I like to bring an appetizer. My favorite right now is cream cheese with Honey Bourbon Peach jam and assorted crackers

  • Baked Potato Salad. 4 ingredients and seasonings. You can tailor it healthier or not depending on the crowd and it is always delicious. Bonus, no mayo so you don’t have to worry as much about it being on a table for hours.

  • My favorite potluck dish….deviled eggs seasoned with some home-canned sweet and spicy zucchini relish!

  • I bring the relish tray! Dilly beans, pickled beets, and several kinds of pickles. Great at room temperature and you can bring them in the jars and set up on the spot.

  • Pasta with homemade pesto, from basil or ramps is a standard. But I also love bringing homemade bread, because you can never have enough.

  • A favorite for wintertime potlucks is Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie. It’s delicious – graham cracker crust, a layer of chocolate ganache topped with toasted nuts, and a sweet/tart cranberry filling.

  • I almost always bring a salad of some sort to potlucks since I like to eat salads and most people don’t bring salads. My favorite dish that other people bring to potlucks is my friend Maggie’s hot artichoke dip. She brings it in a pot that plugs in to keep it warm all evening. YUM!!!

  • Raspberry jello with cut up peaches, grapes & bananas in it. It never spills in the car on the trip to the potluck, & we nearly always take the dish home scraped clean. Perhaps not classy but a classic nonetheless.

  • One of my favorite dishes to bring this time of year is Pumpkin Mousse. It’s familiar, yet unexpected. It has a similar flavor profile to pumpkin pie, but is dreamy and light. It’s great for a party because you always want that taste of dessert, but there are usually so many yummy things that you’re fairly full by the time the sweets come around. You can have just a scoop (or as much as you desire) and enjoy dessert without getting to that uncomfortable point.

  • My favorite is broccoli salad. I make it with bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, and red grapes then sweet the dressing with maple syrup (the real stuff, of course).

  • Strangely enough, my favorite is something I don’t even like…but it was well received, so….

    Butternut squash soup with maple and creme fraiche and a handful of french bread with a dollop of sage butter.

  • I’m a dips and spreads girl. Blue cheese dip, spinach dips, dessert dips with fruit, fresh salsas with homemade chips. I like things I can make a day in advance and serve cold or room temp, since it’s sad when I make a great hot dish that ends up tepid before half of the crowd tries it.

  • My go to is homemade hummus flavored with olives or roasted peppers and pita chips. At monthly book club gatherings, often time our potluck dishes are the real stars.

  • I am requested to bring confetti salad, As I ‘m told I have it down to a science they all bring a take home container with them. & I go home with a empty bowl every time.

  • Warm, hearty salad of chickpeas, feta, onions, mint, cilantro, parsley, bit of chili — it’s a crowd-pleaser.

  • King ranch chicken casserole from an old Emeril cookbook. Just the right amount of creamy and crunchy without using any canned soups. Definitely a winner!

  • I make rice krispy bars with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds–easy, make-ahead, and just a little bit out-of-the-ordinary.

  • I’ve found that when I bring a couple of loaves of homemade bread to a potluck, it disappears quickly, no matter what other dishes are on the table.

  • We have weekly potlucks in our neighborhood and I am the bringer of the salad. The salad varies based on what’s in the fridge at the time.

  • I like to bring an easy homemade salad to round out the meal — sometimes a fruit salad, sometimes a pasta salad, and when we had a CSA box, sometimes a salad made with whatever veggies we desperately needed to use!

  • Veggie mac & cheese! I just add in chopped veggies (whatever is in season – onions and mushrooms and cherry tomatoes is a personal favorite) to shells in a pretty standard cheddar cheese sauce. Yum!

  • My friends and I have brunch potlucks and I always bring a huge batch of cinnamon rolls with maple coffee icing, my favorite!

  • My favorite potluck dish is either seasonally-themed cupcakes (pumpkin spice jack o’lanterns right now!) or a simple cauliflower mac n cheese.

  • My favorite pot luck dish is Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. Everyone enjoys snacking on it while they are waiting for the main event.

  • My favorite potluck dish is any dessert – it is always welcomed! At our work Christmas potluck I bring Frankfurter Brenten springerle cookies (a nod to my German heritage).

  • My new favorite potluck dish is your recipe for figs in whisky sauce, partnered with goat cheese and a baguette. People love it and it’s so easy.

  • I once had this black rice salad at a potluck and now make it every time. It’s dressed with a multi-herb and sesame pesto – so good!

  • I usually bring yeast rolls (my great-grandma’s recipe) if I have the time to make them. If I want something quicker, then I’ll do cheesy mustard cauliflower as a side dish.

  • Dessert! Current fave is a Dark Chocolate Brownie topped with 3 kinds of nuts (pecans, walnuts & hazelnuts) and sea salt.

  • I love to bake and with just two of us empty-nesters watching what we eat, a potluck is a good excuse to bake a cake or make a large bowl of brownie trifle.

  • I like to bring green beans that have bacon, garlic salt, onions and pepper added. I also tend to make snickerdoodles or some other type of cookie.

  • Pickled shrimp is always a crowd pleaser and so, so tasty! When in season, I like to make a watermelon, cucumber and asian pear salad with a tangy apple cider and honey vinaigrette loaded with mint and shallots.

  • A gigantic fruit salad, sprinkled with fresh mint leaves, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and honey. Usually monochrome: nectarine, mango, orange, cantaloupe and peach; or strawberries, red apples with their peels, raspberries, cherries, watermelon, guava and papaya.

  • A huge crock of mixed beans with a lot of bacon and ground beef – sauce is made with barbeque sauce. Good in warm or cold weather !

  • I get asked to make Sante Fe salad. It has black beans, corn, zuchini, red bell pepper, red onion and avocado with a jalapeño pepper vinaigrette. It’s great on top of burgers, served with tortilla chips or just as a salad!

  • Hi, My favorite potluck dish, if the season is right, is apple pies made w/ local Northern Spy apples. mary in Cincinnati

  • I love to make a chinese vegan casserole. Ramen(ish) noodles, Gardein faux mandarin chicken, veggies, sweet and sour sauce. Super tasty and easy! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  • I have a nice recipe for fruited wild rice salad. I make nice bread, so will often bring an interesting loaf, and pickled dilly beans or carrots.

  • I really love making homemade bread for potlucks. What kind depends on the theme (if any), but beer bread, classic Italian bread with a fermented sponge, and cinnamon bread are among my go-tos.

  • We do a table dinner once a month. Everyone brings an organic dish and a large table is set up and we eat he most fabulous food. Last week’s offerings were a sour dough vegan pizza., homemade siracha ketchup, vegan coleslaw, veggie tian and more.

  • Wow, favorite potluck dish? I have a few…Baked ziti with homemade sauce or Crockpot Eggplant Parm are two winter favorites. I like to make huge salads in the summer…like a tossed green salad with fresh baby lettuces and romaine to give it some heft, but I decorate it with all sorts of goodies like chopped dried apricots, cashews, fresh herbs chopped fine like dill, basil, tarragon, parsley, carrots, cukes, tomatoes, red onion or scallions, radishes and fresh summer edible flowers like nasturtiums, Johnny Jump-Ups or Pansies, anise hyssop, daylily buds and big crunchy homemade croutons, and shavings of parm.

  • Hi! One of my favorite things to bring to a potluck is German chocolate cake. I use the cooks illustrated recipe and it always disappears! I prefer to do desserts most of the time.

  • I usually bake something: cakes, cupcakes, muffins. I like baking with fruit, so it’s a lot of apple, pear, cranberry, banana, parsnip cakes, and more!

  • Lately my potluck dishes have been pepper jelly over cream cheese with pretzel crackers. I made pineapple, mango, and raspberry this year and I already need to make more for Christmas gifts.

  • I like bringing crackers, cheese, and oven roasted tomatoes (recipe from this website, stored in the freezer).

  • I make really good deviled eggs. My favorite are roasted garlic and asiago cheese with toasted bread crumbs on top. Also good is caramelized onion with kalamata olives with prosciutto on top. There are not any leftovers that’s for sure.

  • Hard to say, as I don’t have the opportunity to go to many potlucks, but people seem to like my oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, zucchini cake, apple pie, applesauce, crabapple tart, chocolate beet cake, split pea soup, and so on–I’d pick something that can be made ahead of time (at least in part) and that’s gotten good past reviews from folks.

  • In summer months, my fave is mango quinoa salad. Fall & winter, I love to bring kale & white bean soup. So I have two favorites, sorry. ?