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Bake or Buy?

By Stett Holbrook

If you happen to have been laid off or downsized, or if you're just broke, you've probably taken it upon yourself to make from scratch food you used to buy at the store. Mill Valley's Jennifer Reese found herself out of a job as Entertainment Weekly's book critic, and soon after, walking through the grocery store, she had a nagging feeling that she could—and should—be cooking from scratch instead of buying boxes and bottles. It raised a question: what if it actually costs more to make your own jelly, yogurt and ice cream?

The result is Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, a funny, authoritative cookbook that breaks down what's worth making from scratch and what's not. Reese's analysis is based on dollars and cents, but also investments of time. Sure, you could make your own hot dogs, but the labor and clean-up required test one's patience.

Most of the time, however, the answer is "make it." The food industry would have us believe that fending for ourselves is far too difficult and that we need to buy mustard, bread, pesto, muffins and caramel corn. The reality is many of the foods we never considered making ourselves are ridiculously easy, and they usually taste infinitely better. Jennifer Reese speaks on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Book Passage. 1pm. Free. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. 415.927.0960.

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