I received a copy of “Homemade with Love” for review. No other compensation was received, and opinions are my own.
When I was a kid, I thought scrambled eggs were cracking a couple of eggs into a skillet, overcooking them completely, and then slicing them up every which way with a spatula until they resembled–ever so slightly–what scrambled eggs should look like. It wasn’t as terrible as it sounds; I poured maple syrup over them and called them breakfast. I didn’t know any better, and as a result, many of my younger sister’s mornings growing up consisted of these “scrambled eggs” of mine.
That anecdote can pretty much sum up my knowledge of the food world as I navigated through life, up until very recently. While I did have an available teacher and mentor of food in my grandmother–my family sat down at her kitchen table every night for a home-cooked dinner and I still view dinners with my family as an intimate time of togetherness, catching up, bonding, and immense humor–I didn’t have as much of an interest in learning what I could from her until the past couple of years when I realized I really needed to form a healthier and more cost-efficient foundation for how I viewed food.
Throughout my young adult life, I did what many broke young adults do: I ate out a lot, I sought out convenience in jars, pre-packaged, and frozen food instead of recipes, and I (naively) thought that homemade was something my great-grandmother did and my grandmother does, which made it way too difficult for me to even begin to wrap my mind around. My grandmother jars fresh tomatoes every summer and uses them throughout the winter, while I bought jarred tomato sauce and called it a day. Then I realized just how much money I was actually wasting, all while I thought I had been going the more cost-efficient route. Shouldn’t homemade mean more expensive, after all? Why buy three different types of flour to make homemade rolls or dough when you can buy it frozen? All because of being young, naive, and unwilling to see the savings that were staring me square in the face.
I’m glad I came around; so is my grandmother; but most of all, my bank account has breathed the heaviest sigh of relief.
While my fiance and I have been working diligently to expand our views on food and the act of creating completely homemade meals from basic ingredients that last a while (those three different types of flour? So many uses!), we still run into the reoccurring issue of being at a loss for ideas.
The internet is great for cooking and baking inspiration, but I’m a tactile individual and like to be able to touch and hold something in my hands; I also try to keep my laptop a safe distance away from any cooking-related messes, which I think is best. The solution has been simple: I have been amassing quality cookbooks written by people who truly love food, respect their ingredients, and look at food from a place of passion and practicality. I am so thrilled to have been able to recently add Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen to my modest collection.
Homemade with Love is the most intimate cookbook I have ever had the pleasure of reading. As I read, even past the acknowledgements, introduction, and tips on setting up the perfect kitchen work spaces and pantry, I found anecdotes, stories, and quips throughout the entire book. It feels like a deeply personal experience to read this book, with Jennifer Perillo sharing intimate details of her life so far with you. She doesn’t just tell you how to make an outstanding linguine with white clam sauce; she tells you that the inspiration for the recipe first came from a cookbook that her husband, Mikey (who died suddenly in 2011), had since before they had met titled 365 Ways to Cook Pasta that she used to tease him about incessantly, and that they tweaked that recipe together to come up with the one seen in her book. She also tells you that the cookbook is still a permanent part of her library, serving as a reminder of the time she and her late husband spent together in the kitchen.
I think that Jennifer Perillo’s openness and willingness to share so much of her life has a lot to do with the fact that she is a blogger. She has been writing about food, her family, and her life on In Jennie’s Kitchen since 2009, and if there is something to say about bloggers, it is that they are who they are because of their passion for story-telling, reminiscing, and opening up parts of their lives that have taught them something or changed them in some way, even if it means being vulnerable. The stories that make up the heart of Homemade with Love add so much to this cookbook. It becomes an experience in itself, just like any other book, rather than something you take off the shelf every now and then when searching for a recipe.
That isn’t to say that the recipes that make up the majority of Homemade with Love are anything to glance over or skim past. In fact, they are pretty incredible. The entire book encompasses every type of meal you will ever want to make; from basics, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to an entire pizza, savory tart, and bread section, snacks, drinks, and even jams and condiments.
There are no “shortcuts;” you won’t see a recipe calling for a roll of frozen pastry dough; instead, you will see something that calls for fresh dough, with a page number where you can find the recipe for how to make it. While this can sound daunting, overwhelming, or just make you think of the amount of work and time each recipe could take, amazingly, the recipes are fairly simple and come from a place of practicality and consciousness of a budget. There is nothing more irritating to me in the world of cookbooks than being told I need a spice I have never heard of before, can’t pronounce, or costs more than a steak dinner. Homemade with Love is not that cookbook, for which I am extremely grateful.
Homemade with Love is a truly fantastic resource for simple, practical, budget-conscious meals to bring families together each day with the assurance that each meal you make from it is good for you, good for your family, and good for the soul.