I have a toddler, so finding books at the library to check out is difficult to say the least. Luckily, my library has an online request feature which makes getting my hands on new books much easier. I must have seen a review of the Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila somewhere, because I put in a request at the library and one day there it was. Let me say that I am so glad!
The Homemade Kitchen is full of beautiful, clean photos of food and the author’s family. They are the kind of photos that draw you in, if I had seen this book on the shelf I would have grabbed it, even if I hadn’t heard anything about it and didn’t have time to look at the back cover. I know they say never judge a book by its cover, and I don’t in the negative way, but I’ve got to say that sometimes a nice cover will draw me TO a book. This book has one of those covers.
It’s also full of stories. I’m a sucker for stories! The author included personal stories with every recipe. Some of them are long, a lot of them are just small blurbs, but each idea has something to help the reader connect to it. Which is nice, because some of these tutorials and recipes (such as Kefir or Turkish Breakfast) are for things I have never heard of. After reading the authors descriptions I am making plans to try cooking things like Kimchi Breakfast Tatas, even though I haven’t previously had a strong desire to try kimchi. Hopefully it’s great!
Near the start of the book is a section called “Be a Beginner.” It includes things like how to cook an egg, how to cook a vegetable, how to turn fruit into jam, etc. I love these simple how to’s! As weird as it seems, I had never actually fried an egg before. I’ve just always been convinced that I didn’t like them, but reading this book I realized I had never actually tried one. Now I have, and the information was easy to follow, with delicious results. I didn’t have to look anything up online either, which is nice, because sometimes I just don’t want to.
This book is all about eating as well as you can, and it’s not condescending or patronizing. It’s very easygoing, and I appreciate that. And the food is very approachable! There are so many recipes in here that I still want to try. And there are tips too! All sorts of tips that I never knew I needed, but now have at my fingertips. So much knowledge shared, without anything feeling pushy.
My favorite recipe in here so far is the Asparagus Carbonara. I haven’t yet been able to make it exactly as written, because some of the ingredients were out of season or unavailable for me to find, but there are variations listed with the recipe (that helped me immensely) as well as just things I decided to try. I’ll post my heavily modified carbonara recipe below, but be forewarned that I don’t always measure things closely. I didn’t really measure anything for this recipe. And of course I don’t have a picture, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
The author has a blog that you can find here. The writing style is much the same as in the book, so give it a peek and see if you like it.
Shortly after I brought this book home I decided I just had to add it to my collection, so I am now a proud owner. I love it so much it hasn’t even made it to the bookshelf yet! So far it has been going back and forth between the coffee table and the kitchen.
Definitely try this book out if you like story based cookbooks with lots of pictures and multiple types of recipes- it’s fantastic!
Jen’s Carbonara (adapted from The Homemade Kitchen Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure by Alana Chernila)
- A few slices of bacon
- Enough Spaghetti for the people you are cooking for
- Small bunch of kale
- 1-2 cloves garlic, grated
- Splash of soy sauce
- Splash of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter + more for kale
- 1/4 cup ish grated parmesan
- 1 egg for each person you are cooking for
- Small handful of chopped fresh basil
- Salt and Pepper
- Add a small amount of butter (or oil, or whatever you’d like) to a skillet and heat on medium. Add kale, grated garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Cook until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cook bacon in large skillet. Remove pan from heat and bacon from pan, reserving bacon fat for later. When bacon is cool enough to handle either crumble or roughly chop.
- Cook pasta as directed on the package. Use salted water. Reserve a ladle full of this pasta water before draining pasta. Rinse pasta in cool water.
- Return bacon fat to heat. Whisk in tablespoon of butter and ladle of reserved pasta water. Add pasta, kale, parmesan, and the bacon to the skillet. Toss gently until everything is coated in sauce, then divide into single servings.
- Fry eggs.
- Top each pasta dish with a fried egg, chopped basil, extra parmesan, salt and pepper. Lots of pepper.