I’m a longtime fan of Alana Chernila’s blog: Eating from the Ground Up. I adore the way she weaves together tales of food and family, and I was thrilled tp learn she was writing a cookbook. I knew it was going to be special.

Within moments of opening The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, I gave in to the fact that I wouldn’t be putting it down for the rest of the day: I read it cover to cover. The book made me smile many times, and it also made me cry. But most of all, it made me want to cook the kinds of things I haven’t been making time for lately: recipes that require slowing down…and making a mess.

Alana’s got you covered with recipes for everything from homemade dairy products (ex. ricotta and cream cheese) to condiments (ex. ketchup and mustard) to frozen foods (ex. pizza and fish sticks) to candy and sweet treats (ex. peanut butter cups and fig bars). So far I have made the lemonade, the cornbread, the hamburger buns, and the vanilla pudding (seen in my photos here).

Everything’s been delicious, and I have MANY other recipes tagged to try soon: I am particularly looking forward to Alana’s lasagna because it’s a compilation of homemade tomato sauce, homemade ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and homemade fresh pasta (the recipes for which are all in the book).

Alana’s recipes are creative, fun, nostalgic, and wholesome, and Jennifer May did a beautiful job with the numerous shots of food that simply beg to be eaten (as well as the sweet glimpses into Alana’s kitchen and family life). But it’s the essays accompanying each recipe that really sealed the deal for me. Longer than typical recipe headnotes, and each more beautifully written than the one before (if that’s possible), these stories make the book shine.

I cannot imagine anyone not falling head over heels in love with The Homemade Pantry, so I am pleased to let you know that the folks at Clarkson Potter have generously offered to give not 1…not 2…but 3 COPIES of The Homemade Pantry to readers of my blog. How awesome is that?! Please scroll down past the pudding recipe for the giveaway details :)

Vanilla Pudding from The Homemade Pantry

Yield: serves 6-7

I've always loved pudding but I don't make it very often. Alana's recipe is simple and perfect, and my kids and I kind of went crazy for it. Make sure to try it topped with fresh berries.

Ingredients:

*4 cups whole milk (I used raw milk)
*1/2 cup sugar (I used organic sugar)
*1/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
*1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon store-bought of homemade vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean)
*1/2 cup cornstarch (I used organic cornstarch)

Directions:

1. Combine 3 cups of the milk with the sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and set it over medium-low heat. If you are using the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, put them in the milk, and add the whole bean heat until just steaming, stirring frequently.

2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 1 cup of milk. Stir well until the mixture is fairly lump free. Take the vanilla bean out of the pot and rinse it off. (Don't discard it- shove it into your homemade Vanilla Extract). Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture just starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and stir continuously until the mixture thickens to somewhat look like pudding and coats the back of a spoon, 5-7 minutes. Add vanilla extract, if using. If the pudding us a bit watery, it's okay. It will thicken further as it chills.

3. Pour the pudding into individual dishes and chill for at least 3 hours before serving. If you have an aversion to pudding skin, press plastic wrap against the surface.

Reprinted with permission from The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila. Photographs by Jennifer May. Copyright 2012 by Clarkson Potter.

If you’d like to win 1 of 3 copies of The Homemade Pantry, please leave a comment below before Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at midnight EST. I will pick a winner via random.org sometime on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012. This giveaway is only open to US residents and I must have your email in order to notify you if you win. Good luck!