Alana Chernila Launches Cookbook #2: ‘The Homemade Kitchen’
Alana Chernila at a recent cheesemaking class.
By Lisa Green
Regular readers of our recipes page might have noticed that our twice-a-month contributor, Alana Chernila, has been absent for a few weeks. Don’t worry — she’ll be back. She’s just really, really busy right now, and for the best of reasons: Her new cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking With Pleasure, has just been released and it’s a Big Deal, not just for our own community (which she, as a Great Barrington resident, is a cherished part of), but for her legion of fans who helped make her first cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, the beloved resource it is.
Both books evolved from Chernila’s blog, Eating From The Ground Up, which is as much a personal journal as it is a blog about food. Likewise, The Homemade Kitchen is itself organized in a manner that runs parallel to the way we live, not how to plan a party from appetizer course to dessert. Its sections — Start Where You Are, Feed Yourself, Use Your Scraps, Put Your Hands In The Earth — offer a more experiential approach to making meals, recognizing that cooking, food shopping and spending time in the kitchen allow us opportunities to slow down, observe nature, love our family and friends, and appreciate garlic throughout its stages of growth. Life.
“It came out of phrases that have helped me stay on track in the kitchen, and to make it possible for me to eat the way I want to live,” the Great Barrington native says. “Every time I sit down to a meal, or walk into the kitchen to create one, I have the opportunity to do something in my own way and help me live better.”
Chernila’s writing has a way of making readers feel better, too. Every chapter in the book, like each of her blog postings, is a glimpse into her thoughts and life, but it’s a reflection of our own, too. She tells us about cooking with her family, the people who have shared recipes with her and how to gather the courage to bring a meal to a grieving friend. She admits she is a slow chopper and a messy cook and that her garden grows as many weeds as vegetables. Even her recipes — uniformly compelling, accompanied by photos that make you want to run to the nearest farmers’ market this minute — unfold as if she’s right there beside you, guiding you along, and, like a good friend, encouraging you during those tense moments when you’re not quite sure something is right. In fact, one of her chapters is “Do Your Best, Then Let It Go.”
The Homemade Pantry. Copyright ©2015 by Alana Chernila. Photographs by Jennifer May. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
“Perfection,” she says, “doesn’t really have a place in home cooking.” But feeling good about what you’re doing in the kitchen does.
The book’s official launch happens on Sunday, Oct. 18 at Six Depot Café in West Stockbridge, Mass. Chernila promises “tons of food,” art projects, giveaways and a special gift for everyone who buys the book at the event. Then she’ll be taking off on an ambitious coast-to-coast book tour (she just participated in a panel of other big-name food writers at the prestigious 92nd St. Y).
After the tour, then what? She’ll come back to Rural Intelligence, of course. There will be a package of online cooking courses Chernila recently taped in Denver for Craftsy, a website that offers hundreds of online classes. And yes, she’s already working on a third cookbook set to come out in 2018, but that’s about as much as she’s ready to reveal right now.
The Homemade Pantry, Chernila says, “is a map for how, day in and day out, food shapes my life for the better, in the kitchen and beyond it.” Try a recipe and see if it doesn’t make your life better, too.
Book Launch Party, Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3:30 p.m.
Six Depot Café in West Stockbridge, Mass.