Pros: different and all but lost techniques and recipes
Cons: poor grammer and written in paragraph style
I love a book that teaches me something. Yes it’s true and I will admit it, I don’t know everything. In fact I couldn’t even get past the cover before I was learning with this book. The subtitle “The Happy Luddite’s Guide to Domestic Self – Sufficiency” led me straight to the dictionary. I am sure that at one time way back in my childhood the term Luddite must have come up in history class but alas it was no longer a part of my memory banks. I discovered that a Luddite is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as “one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly: one who is opposed to especially technological change”. I guess I am a bit of a Luddite myself, although I don’t destroy technology but I do tend to stick to the “old ways” for a lot of things I do.
This book is not, in its essence, a cookbook. There are recipes in it, but it is not just about the kitchen. This book deals with many “old fashioned” topics such as brewing and distillation, household stuffe, (the books spelling not mine), sewing, quilting, braided rugs, gardening, and even a few building projects. Now don’t give up on this book if those topics don’t catch your interest because there are many cooking sections as well, such as ; dairy and eggs, fish, desserts, meats, grains, and fruits and veggies.
The recipes are different in two ways from those found in a traditional cookbook. Firstly, they are in paragraph format. If you have never read a cookbook in this format it is a bit of a challenge. There is no list of ingredients followed by a step by step set of directions. These recipes are set up like those you would find in your grandmothers favorite church published cookbook from the early 1900’s. You have to read the paragraph and glean from it the information you need in the order you need to prepare the item. This isn’t hard once you get used to reading this format, but it does take a bit of getting used to if you have never done it before. Secondly these are the type of recipe that your great grandmother’s grandmother may have used. They begin with whole grains and mostly simple raw ingredients. You will find no cans or box mixes used here, I am happy to report.
I am no English major, as those who read my reviews can attest to. However, even I could point out countless grammar errors and even some spelling errors. So if you have an editor’s heart, this book will drive you crazy.
The authors do a wonderful job in my opinion holding to the authenticity of the recipes and techniques described in this book. Even at times going to such extremes of inventing/creating no longer used gadgets or items needed to do it the “right” way.
This book is not for everyone, but if you are interested in discovering how things “used” to be, then this is a must have. These city dwellers have done themselves proud getting back to basics. BRAVO!
Picking a recipe to try and or add to this review was a challenge. Should I share the chicken feet recipe or perhaps the pig jam? A lot of these types of recipes I have made in the past or have had similar type items growing up, so many were quite familiar. I chose a recipe that I would like to try and although it is the wrong time of year to acquire this item in the form necessary I plan to give this one a try at a later date. It was just so unique and I personally had never heard of it, so I thought my readers may enjoy it also. Perhaps one of my readers will have access to try this sooner. If so please post and let everyone know how you did.
Pickled Green Walnuts
“Pickled green walnuts are traditionally made on June 24, St. John the Baptist’s Day, when the walnuts are still soft inside and the shell hasn’t formed yet. Poke them all around with a pin and put them into a pickle solution of half vinegar, half water, and a few tablespoons of salt. Flavor the mixture with a cinnamon stick, mace, and nutmeg and cloves, if you like. Any warm spices, plus plenty of peppercorns. Now forget about it. I mean, really, throw it in the back of a cabinet you rarely use. If you can wait a year, all the better. They will be blackened, sweet and sour, and remarkably complex. You eat the whole thing, preferably with something like a plowman’s lunch: a wedge of cheese, an apple and some good ale, and maybe a slice of pork pie. Rare and intriguing is the only way to describe these.”