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The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila

Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila, found on PunkDomestics.com

Disclosure: A copy of the book has been furnished for review, and another for the giveaway, by the publisher, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

In her debut book, The Homemade Pantry, Alana Chernila taught how to DIY store-bought staples and snacks, making them more wholesome and delicious in the process. With her follow-up book, The Homemade Kitchen, she goes further, focusing her attention on a 360-degree approach to food, family, and the most important room in the house, the kitchen.

The book is punctuated with messages Chernila keeps on her refrigerator: Start Where You Are. Be a Beginner. Do Your Best, and Then Let Go. Each is a prompt to increase mindfulness and awareness in the kitchen, to frame your purpose. In so doing, she delivers a sense of peace and familiarity that invites you into the book, and in fact into her life.

The recipes are deeply rooted in simplicity. In the Be a Beginner section, Chernila serves up a foundational collection of core recipes and techniques that enable any cook to be spontaneous and creative, things like how to make a pie crust (and subsequently, pie), how to turn fruit into jam, how to transform milk (into yogurt, kefir, and cheese), how to make a salad, and so on.

Building on the foundations, Chernila offers a wealth of ideas for approachable yet elevated dishes. Simple pastas, pizzas, quiches and more take on thoughtful, seasonal touches. The recipes are easy yet elegant, simple but never simplistic, appealing to cooks of all skill levels.

The aptly titled secion Be Active hints at getting hands-on with your food, but in fact covers another kind of activity: Fermentation. Preserved lemons, kefir, kimchi, and cultured butter take center stage as projects that in turn lend major flavor to other recipes (kimchi breakfast tata, yes please). "What makes fermentation so special isn't a recipe," she writes, "it's a relationship." And indeed, as any fermenter knows, bacteria farming is certainly not a one-way street.

She touches on a key issue in this day and age, food waste. Americans waste approximately 40% of their food, much of it ending up in landfills and creating greenhouse gases. True to form, Chernila chooses to see the upside to solving the problem. "Every time we use something we thought was trash, it feels like free food, like a gift," she says. (See: 10 Bits and Scraps Worth Saving.)

Most of all, her voice brings the book to life. In telling her stories, Chernila gives context and relevance, and inspires the reader to apply the themes to their own lives. The entire book is like reading a smile.

While in every way a cookbook, The Homemade Pantry delivers more than just recipes. Chernila creates a safe space for home cooks, allowing and enabling them to find joy in the act of feeding themselves and their loved ones.

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

  • Pin this post, and confirm the URL of the pin in the widget below.
  • Visit Punk Domestics on Facebook. While there, if you want to give us a like, that's swell. If you do like us, consider checking "Get Notifications" so you know when we post cool shit (cuz Facebook is shady about showing you what you really really want).
  • Click here to tweet about this giveaway (or click the tweet button in the widget) and enter the URL of your tweet in the widget below. You can do this once each day for more entries.
  • Leave us a comment on this post to tell us what brings you joy in the kitchen. We're all ears!

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15 Ways to Preserve Lemons

Lovely lemons bring a ray of sunshine during the cold, dark winter months. If you're lucky enough to have a neighbor with a tree, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the bounty. (If you don't, be sure to order some fragrant meyers from Lemon Ladies here in the Bay Area, trust.) Here's a bushel of ways to put the lemons by. 

Lemon Marmalade
Lemon Marmalade
Harness the bittersweet flavor of lemon rind and turn it into a sunny yellow marmalade, sure to brighten your morning muffin. But first, make sure you know how to slice citrus for marmalade, for the best results. (Image via Life Currents)
Lemon Jam
Lemon Jam
Lemon pairs nicely with plenty of other flavors in homemade jams: kiwi, red peppers and even onions and oregano. (Image via Autumn Makes and Does)

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Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista

Food Gift Love by Maggie Battista, found on PunkDomestics.com

Food is love, pure and simple. Whether it's cookies, granola, or a carefully crafted liqueur, the gift of a handcrafted food item is infinitely more personal and meaningful than anything you can purchase on the shelf.

Maggie Battista understands this better than most. She's the creator of Eat Boutique, Boston's curated marketplace for artisan and small-batch food makers, as well as resources for those who want to create their own lovingly crafted foods. Her new book, Food Gift Love, serves up more than 100 ideas and recipes for thoughtful food gifts, accompanied with clever and attractive wrapping concepts.

The book is broken up into categories of food gifts. The first, Fresh Gifts, contains things more along the lines of things you might bring to be consumed immediately, like cheesy mushrooms or smoky mushroom soup, or at least in the near future, like a lovely lemon curd. The Pantry section aptly contains cleer riffs on common condiments -- think flavored sugars, salts, honeys, and the like.

Things get incrementally sweeter with the Candied Gifts section, which steps outside the box of humdrum truffles and turtles. Gorgeous chocolate-dipped spoons have a life beyond their initial use, a great gift perhaps for a new student or newlyweds. And who wouldn't be excited about jam-swirled marshmallows (especially those of us with, ahem, a jar or 100 of jam in the house to use up.)

Preserved Gifts: Now we're getting to the crux of the matter. Battista takes her usual liberties to create innovative flavors for things, such as minty pickles or a complex pear-pineapple-ginger jam (get the recipe here).

Finally, the good stuff -- Spirited Gifts. Not all the recipes are truly spirited in that they do not necessarily include alcohol, but all would be delightful additions to the mixologist's atelier, like aromatic syrups, or a DIY orange cordial that you can sub in for Cointreau or Gran Marnier for a house margarita sans pareil.

Each recipe comes with suggestions on packaging, to ensure the gift gets experienced and enjoyed with the eyes as well as the palate. While all the entries in the book would be gratefully received, the DIY enthusiast in your life might just also love receiving the book under the tree.

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

  • Pin this post, and confirm the URL of the pin in the widget below.
  • Visit Punk Domestics on Facebook. While there, if you want to give us a like, that's swell. If you do like us, consider checking "Get Notifications" so you know when we post cool shit (cuz Facebook is shady about showing you what you really really want).
  • Click here to tweet about this giveaway (or click the tweet button in the widget) and enter the URL of your tweet in the widget below. You can do this once each day for more entries.
  • Leave us a comment on this post to tell us your favorite food gift to make and share. We're all ears! 

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Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han

Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han, found on PunkDomestics.com

Foraging has been a burgeoning trend. While there's an ever-growing list of books designed to help identify wild edibles, not all include recipes to use said foods, and those that do tend to focus on just that -- edibles.

Along comes Emily Han, a master food preserver, herbalist, and expert forager, who combines her skills to showcase the use of wild plants in beverages. Her debut book, Wild Drinks & Cocktails, serves forth a comprehensive menu of concoctions using a kaleidoscopic array of foraged herbs, fruits, roots, flowers, and more. The book kicks off with a useful treatise on the art of crafting wild drinks, from best practices in foraging, to tips and tools, and basic techniques. From there, Han employs wild foods in escalatingly intense uses, from refreshing tisanes and lemonades through to high-octane infusions.

Within the tea section, one of the more interesting items was a technique for creating rose water. While not used much as a tea on its own, it's a popular ingredient in Persian cuisine, and makes a showing in a few of her other creations, such as a quince sharbât and a rhubarb-rose syrup. The sharbât touches on another strength of the book: It has remarkable breadth of lesser-known beverages with global roots, such as oxymels, shrubs, switchels, and the obscure Persian sekanjabin, a minted honey shrub.

Then, of course, we get to the good stuff: Infusions, liqueurs, elixirs, and other boozy projects. From workhorse items like gin (summer and winter variants) and vermouth (dry and sweet, natch), Han also offers bitters, liqueurs, and a wealth of wines, most notably two projects for the long haul: Nocino, put up in summer to enjoy in winter, and vin d'orange, put up with winter's oranges to enjoy chilled on hot summer days. (See Han's vin d'orange recipe here.)

While the book focuses on foraged ingredients, the recipes could be reproduced with purchased ingredients, albeit often specialized ones. Still, it makes a handy addition to the avid cocktailian's bookshelf.

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

  • Pin this post, and confirm the URL of the pin in the widget below.
  • Visit Punk Domestics on Facebook. While there, if you want to give us a like, that's swell. If you do like us, consider checking "Get Notifications" so you know when we post cool shit (cuz Facebook is shady about showing you what you really really want).
  • Click here to tweet about this giveaway (or click the tweet button in the widget) and enter the URL of your tweet in the widget below. You can do this once each day for more entries.
  • Leave us a comment on this post to tell us what wild ingredient you'd use in a drink or cocktail. We're all ears! 

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Happy Homesteading Holidays

Even the most hardcore DIYer needs a little assist now and then. There are tools that make our work feasible, or at least easier. Or maybe you know someone who's just getting in to the game, and you want to give them a starter kit. No matter what your reasons, this is an excellent season to stock up on the goods that we'll reach for again and again when summer's bounty bursts upon us. Best of all, our pals at FARMcurious are offering a discount to all Punk Domestics readers!

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Chestnuts Old and New

When Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose, break out the chestnuts. Here's a few ways to use them beyond simply enjoying them by the fireside.

Chestnut jam, found on PunkDomestics.com Chestnut Jam
Creamy, sweet and rich, chestnut jam harkens back to early American traditions. From Auburn Meadow Farm.

Chestnut Spread, found on PunkDomestics.com Chestnut Spread
Another rich confection made from chestnuts. This spread is a snap when you use the pressure cooker. From Hip Pressure Cooking.

Honey-Sweetened Chestnut Butter, found on PunkDomestics.com Honey-Sweetened Chestnut Butter
Silky, slightly sweet, and flecked with vanilla seeds, this chestnut butter is good for breakfast or for adding to holiday gift baskets. From Food in Jars.

Chestnut Brandy, found on PunkDomestics.com Chestnut Brandy
A fantastic present to give someone during these chilly months, you can get away with using a cheaper brandy here so don’t start reaching for that special bottle of Armagnac. From Well Hung Food.

Chestnut Infusion Chestnut Infusion
Infuse chestnuts with cranberries and cinnamon in whiskey to make a delicious base for holiday cocktails. From My Man's Belly.

How to Make Chestnut Flour, found on PunkDomestics.com How to Make Chestnut Flour
Chestnuts are super tasty and very easy to forage. Make this Chestnut flour as a brilliant present for gluten-free friends. From Well Hung Food.

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Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer

Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer, found on PunkDomestics.com

While I've enjoyed the trend of books that integrate food preservation and everyday cookery, I'm a geek at heart, and will always go in for a deep dive on a single topic. Longtime Punk Domestics contributor Amanda Feiffer of Phickle has dug deep indeed, with a colorful, approachable book on fermenting vegetables dubbed, appropriately, Ferment Your Vegetables.

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Win a FARMcurious Fermentation Set!

Win a FARMcurious Fermentation Set, found on PunkDomestics.com

I owe a debt of gratitude to Nicole Easterday of FARMcurious. Aside from being a good friend and loyal colleague, she's inspired me to get ever deeper into the world of fermentation. An avid bacteria farmer herself, she took her passion to market by creating a handy dandy and inexpensive fermentation kit that works with standard wide-mouth mason jars, perfect for small-batch fermenting. Now, with her guidance and the ease of use of these kits, I've always got a thing or ten burbling away in my back room.

The principle is simple: Put your brined food in the jar, screw on the lid, and pop on the water-filled airlock. As CO2 is released, it burps out of the airlock, which in turn prevents oxygen (not to mention particulates, molds and other unwanted bugaboos) from pushing into the jar. Go check out the fermenting set page on FARMcurious to learn more about it. While there, if you feel compelled to do some holiday gift shopping, knock yourself out! In fact, use the code punkdom on checkout for 10% off anything in the store. (If you get a gift or two for yourself, I won't judge.) Then, check out the fermentation kit support page, and see just how easy it is to use these nifty kits.

At two for just $27.95, they're considerably cheaper than other kits on the market, but you know what else is cheap? Free!

I want you to experience the wonder of small-batch home fermentation, and lucky for you, FARMcurious is giving a set away. You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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Gift Guide: Best DIY Books of 2015

The field of excellent DIY and preserving books marches on this year, continuing the trend from 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Many of these authors are colleagues and contemporaries, as well as contributors to the Punk Domestics community. This year's big trend appears to be books that integrate food preservation with everyday cookery. Here's a handful of favorites, ranging from the broad to the specific. (Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon.com from which I may derive a nominal amount of revenue.)

The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss, found on PunkDomestics.comThe Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss
The force behind Northwest Edible Life's debut book is a great resource for anyone interested in getting more hands-on with their home life, and introducing more natural ingredients and products into the process.

The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila, found on PunkDomestics.comThe Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila
An expansion on The Homemade Pantry, Chernila's latest is a meditation on making the kitchen a sane and sensible place from which inspiration flows naturally. There's plenty of preserving in there, but it all ties into a holistic, integrated approach to cooking.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, found on PunkDomestics.comBrown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque
Simple Bites' blogger has come out with a work that's not just a cookbook; it's a lifebook. It's equal parts Laura Ingalls Wilder and Martha Stewart.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, found on PunkDomestics.comFood Gift Love by Maggie Battista
The woman behind Eat Boutique offers her best suggestions for DIY gifting, including liqueurs, pickles, and much more. Give this to yourself in time to kick off some projects to give away later.

The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How by Andrea Chesman, found on PunkDomestics.com The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How by Andrea Chesman
The successful homestead goes beyond the garden. This follow-up to the hugely successful The Backyard Homestead closes the gap between field and table, with a 360º view of all manner of preparing, preserving, and cooking pretty much everything.

The Canning Kitchen by Amy Bronee, found on PunkDomestics.com The Canning Kitchen by Amy Bronee
From the classics to the more outlandish, Bronee dishes up 101 small-batch recipes for canning preserves, pickles and condiments to enhance meals all year long.

The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson, found on PunkDomestics.comThe Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
The South's most esteemed chef focuses on ultra-seasonal fare, with oodles of inspiration for fresh fruits and vegetables, including plenty of ideas for preserving and fermentation. Read my inteview with Chef Acheson.

Preserving the Japanese Way by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, found on PunkDomestics.comPreserving the Japanese Way by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
Japan has a unique preserving culture all its own, using things as commonplace as salt to make cured plums known as umeboshi to vegetables fermented in miso or soy lees. Hachisu's perspective living on a Japanese farm provides insight and inspiration.

Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer, found on PunkDomestics.comFerment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer
Longtime Punk Domestics contributor Amanda Feifer of Phickle flexes her fermentation muscles, offering up a kaleidoscopic array of ways to turn your veggies into probiotic pickles.

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher, found on PunkDomestics.comThe Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher
Unsatisfied with synthetic enzymes and starters, David Asher sought to make cheese in the traditional way, with natural ingredients, following the principles of Sandor Ellix Katz's Wild Fermentation. From simple kefir to sophisticated cheese aged in jars, this book is a revelation. Read my interview with David Asher.

Kitchen Creamery by Louella Hill, found on PunkDomestics.comKitchen Creamery by Louella Hill
San Francisco's esteemed Milk Maid boils down her expansive knowledge of cheesemaking into an intuitive, engaging tome that will inspire novices and dairy warriors alike to take on home cheesemaking.

Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Strernman Rule, found on PunkDomestics.comYogurt Culture by Cheryl Strernman Rule
Rule delves into the rich and diverse ways yogurt can be used in the kitchen, offering 115 recipes that incorporate it, such as how it makes baked goods tender, like in a orange and olive oil cake. It also has lucid instructions on how to make your own yogurt, with some good insight on a few different methods for incubation.

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DIY Liqueurs for Holiday Gifting

Many people enjoy receiving a bottle of a nice liqueur as  a holiday gift. When it's handmade, it makes it both delicious and personal. Here's a bunch of our favorite DIY liqueurs perfect for gifting. 

Citric Liqueurs:

Limoncello, found on PunkDomestics.com
Limoncello 
The classic lemon liqueur of southern Italy is a ray of sunshine during the dark winter months. It's easy to make, too.
Crema di Limoncello, found on PunkDomestics.com
Crema di Limoncello 
Or try this twist on the classic Italian lemon liqueur, with cream and vanilla. The cream mellows the sweetness and gives it a richer mouthfeel.
Arancello, found on PunkDomestics.com
Arancello 
Citrus liqueurs are not limited to lemon. Try it with oranges, be they standard navels or sanguine blood oranges.
Orange Liqueur, found on PunkDomestics.com
Orange Liqueur 
Triple sec, Gran Marnier, Cointreau ... try your hand at making orange liqueur at home, and give your margaritas a DIY zing.
Vin d'Orange, found on PunkDomestics.com
Vin d'Orange 
Vin d'Orange, a bitter liquor made with Seville oranges, is easy to prepare, requiring the mixing of a few ingredients and allowing it to sit for two weeks to allow the spices and orange zest to infuse the wine and vodka.
Whatevercello, found on PunkDomestics.com
Whatevercello 
Think outside the lemon box and make liqueurs from whatever citrus you like -- bergamots, grapefruits, pomelos, and kumquats all work great.
Grapefruit Bitters, found on PunkDomestics.com
Grapefruit Bitters 
Mix the natural bitterness of grapefruit with spices like pink peppercorn, cardamom or juniper to make an intriguing bitters that enhances many cocktails.

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