Autumn is a very bountiful season–which autumnal ingredients are your favorite these days? How do you use them?
I’m excited about all the root vegetables right now–kohlrabi, celeriac, and the sweet fresh turnips that are so good eaten raw, I love to put them all together with a bit of chicken stock and top with parmesan and a bit of olive oil. With a slice of bread, that is my perfect dinner. I’m also just seeing the first pears this week. I’ve got pear gingerbread on my list–my favorite!
What about the financial aspect? It seems like autumn and winter are tight times for most people–how does making more things help with that?
It’s true- I think autumn and winter are great times to reorganize the kitchen and pantry and figure out exactly how you want to eat. Planning out just a few meals of the week, preparing meals in advance to freeze, and making sure that your kitchen is stocked with the raw ingredients–these all help you get through the moment when you’re home after a busy day and need to get dinner on the table (instead of going out or ordering pizza!)
When it comes to snacks, making most basic staples costs much less than buying them, but the key is to get into a routine so that you choose the few things that you want to make and make sure that you have the ingredients and the small block of time set aside to make those foods every week. For me, those foods are yogurt, granola, and granola bars (I call them car snacks in my book). Those are all big money savers, and they don’t take much time to put together.
Is gardening and growing your own food integral to making more things from scratch?
I don’t think so. I think that for those who have the time, space, and desire to do it, gardening and growing your own food is wonderful. But there are so many small-scale farmers out there growing too, and with the spread of farmers’ markets and stores that carry high-quality and often local ingredients, there are all sorts of ways to source good and affordable food.
What’s the food that you can’t believe people still buy, instead of making themselves?
For me, it’s granola. So easy, delicious, customizable, and less expensive than store bought! But one of the things I love about this whole project is that the answer to this question varies from person to person. For some, the answer might be mayonnaise, or for another, pasta.
Is there anything else you think our readers should know?
It’s easy to get intimidated when we think about making foods that we normally buy. But for me, this whole process is really about finding the foods I love to make and eat, and I like to remind people of that whenever I can. Guilt has no place in the kitchen! I encourage people to start with one food that seems exciting to them, and to take it from there. My kitchen is a mix of homemade and store-bought, because in the end, it’s all about what works and what brings joy into your week.
Want more from Alana? We’ve got a sweet recipe from her new book right over here.
Images by Alana Chernila