Savvy Cookbooks: Urban Pantry (+ Cherry Vanilla Syrup)


Since April is all about pantry staples on Savvy Eats, it seems only appropriate that I review the book that got me started on stocking my own pantry with DIY ingredients: Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington. This is the book that taught me how to cook dried beans and make my own chicken stock. It got me started on my first gardening efforts, and inspired me to start canning. Though specifically intended for an urbanite’s pantry (and Ithaca isn’t exactly urban), I found the book to be incredibly helpful as I was learning to cook from scratch.

Cherry Vanilla Syrup

The entire book focuses on stocking a pantry, with topics ranging from whole grains to nuts to eggs to the pantry garden. If you’re organizationally-minded like I am, the book will speak to your “make the most of my time and ingredients” nature. As Pennington says in Chapter 1, “a well-stocked pantry allows you to eat on demand.” Though I don’t use it on a regular basis anymore, Urban Pantry was vital to my cooking-from-scratch education. And I still use it occasionally – it was my inspiration for this cherry vanilla syrup, after all!

Overall, I give Urban Pantry by Amy Pennington

5 out of 5 stars

Cherry Vanilla Syrup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

20 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Cherry Vanilla Syrup

Because fruit syrups have so many possible uses, keeping a jar of syrup in the refrigerator ensures that you will always have a quick mocktail, snack or dessert just a pour away. Try this cherry vanilla syrup mixed with seltzer to create a mocktail, stirred into plain yogurt or spooned over cakes or ice cream.


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cherries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine the cherries and water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer, allowing the cherries to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the cherries and water to a blender and puree, leaving the lid slightly cracked to allow any steam to escape.
  3. Press the cherry puree through a fine mesh strainer, collecting the juice in the small saucepan. Stir in the sugar and vanilla sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through. Strain into a jar and allow to cool completely, before covering and refrigerating.

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  1. says

    Just checked it out on Amazon and it does look like a good one, perhaps not only for my young adults just getting started in their own kitchens but for myself. I see that it has recipes for pickles, which is something that I’ve intended to do and never yet gotten around to.

    • Julie says

      It is a great book! There are a few recipes for various quick pickles that you might like, too.

    • says

      I have to admit….that’s not my pantry! It is all my jars and so my pantry looks like this, but doesn’t have that open-shelving farmhouse feel. My kitchen is too dark (no natural light) for shooting, so I moved over to my friend Marcus’ apartment for these shots. Thanks for checking out the book! amyp

  2. says

    Wow, this sounds like a great book. I really think that I’d love it! I’m going to have to check it out!

    This syrup sounds like a dream, love that it’s so easy to make!

  3. says

    Julie, I’m just seeing this (googled my vanilla sugar recipe today) and wanted to say THANK YOU!! I love this post and think it’s so so so so awesome. All best, amyp