I’m a homemaker- not necessarily by choice, but that’s just kind of how things ended up, so I do my best to lean into my role. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch, I clean constantly (and make my own cleaning products), I craft (for myself, as gifts, and for charity), and I try to do everything I can in the most frugal and most earth-friendly ways. But I get burned out from time to time, as we all do, and a little inspiration is nice. Sometimes that comes in the form of blogs; other times, I pick up a homemaking book. That’s how Hand Made: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Made-from-Scratch Living by Melissa K. Norris (Ten Peaks Press, 2017) ended up on my TBR. We all need a little boost now and then, right?
Home Made focuses mainly on the kitchen, taking inspiration from the pluck and grit of those who weathered the Great Depression, cooking from scratch with the basic ingredients that most of us have on hand and making use of leftovers, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. If you’ve ever felt intimidated by making your own fermented foods, such as fermented veggies, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, this book has a great section with clear instructions on getting started. And there are recipes- comfort foods, such as chicken and dumplings; homemade cakes and pies; pizzas and pastas; and plenty more. There’s a shorter section on medicinal herbs, and a brief primer on two different kinds of soap-making. This is a decent homemaking book.
What I didn’t love about it was the unexpected Christian content. I’m all for people participating in whatever faith they want as they choose- if you find what works for you, that’s awesome, and I’m truly happy for you. But in terms of this book, I just wanted some inspiration to wash my floors a little more often; I wasn’t looking for a diatribe on how I needed Jesus (I’m good, thanks). There were occasionally several pages at a time with nothing but the author’s particular take on Christianity (which I flipped past; I almost never do this in books. I will occasionally read books marked as Christian, though I’m Jewish- Rachel Held Evans, may her memory be a blessing, was a wonderful author and advocate for her faith, and I’ve even read a few Christian novels that were just fine. I’m truly not opposed to wading through some Christian content; I can even find inspiration in others’ heartfelt commitment to their faith- Mister Rogers, anyone???). I enjoyed the stories about her life, but I absolutely wasn’t expecting and didn’t enjoy the leap from reading about Christmas lights to a multiple-page musing about how Jesus is the light of the world, and how Jesus makes us better homemakers. This Jewish woman isn’t interested, but thanks anyway.
You’ll probably enjoy this book more if you’re Christian and are looking for a faith-based book to inspire your homemaking. If you’re not Ms. Norris’s particular brand of religious, know that this isn’t at all a bad book; just be prepared to flip past a lot of pages. The recipes are really good, however. I wrote down quite a few of them and used Friday’s leftover challah (my Jewish readers are probably going, ‘What’s leftover challah???’) to make chocolate bread pudding from this book, which was absolutely delicious, and I’ll be making this on a regular basis. There’s also a Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe that looked incredible, so I’m looking forward to trying that as well.
To sum it up- this book is probably more fully enjoyable for Christian readers, but it does contain some great recipes.