The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field-to-Table Cooking Skills, Andrea Chesman

 

The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field-to-Table Cooking Skills,  Andrea Chesman

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Non Fiction, Cooking, Food and Wine

I was brought up in a family where we grew as much food as possible to save money, and summer harvests were preserved by means of jams and jellies, pickles, salted veg, eggs preserved in an ising-glass mixture, and of course fruit and veg heat preserved in Kilner jars. That way come winter we had an excellent variety of home grown produce to enjoy and make varied meals. We lived in a local authority house with a medium size garden, and dad rented two large allotments. Mum had a couple of greenhouses made from old plastic feed bags and rescued window frames.  Using these we grew all manner of fruit and veg, plus we raised rabbits, chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys to sell at xmas, and he had a couple of goats for milk. So  self sustainability is something that feels natural to me, although current circumstances limit what I can do, but the drive for information is always there.

For a long while people have relied on shop bought produce, but the past couple of decades have seen a move for produce sustainability, for meat to be raised humanely, naturally and organically where possible, for fruit and veg to have as few chemicals used and all that means that once again people are looking at growing their own foods where they can.  The knowledge I grew up with though, and that was quite limited to basics, isn’t widely known anymore.
My own children now have families and are becoming more interested in food origins, but know very little of how to do it.That’s mirrored by most people in their 20’s and 30’s I think, just at the time when they have growing families and need to ensure their food is as full of goodness as it can be. Meat reared intensively is full of antibiotics that are used to prevent infections that stay in the meat, ditto fruit and veg which keeps a residue of chemicals. Is that really want you want your children to consume? We’ve had some horrific food scares too in recent years that show just what is being done, and much of it has proved distasteful to consumers.
Shops are now looking at consumer tastes ( pocket power is very strong) and the drive for more “natural” grown foods is coming, but if you’ve a bit of space and want to do more yourself this book is the most comprehensive I’ve come across. I’m an addict for cookery and gardening reads and this book combines both along with some fabulous easy practical methods of preserving, some of which is familiar to me but many of which I’d heard of but never tried. If I’d had this book when my children were young we’d have eaten very differently.
I had this book in epub form which isn’t the most readable format I find for non-fiction books, and I’d recommend it in paper/hardback so that its easy to browse through. It’s inexpensive too considering just how much info it contains.  Its so packed with info but divided so that its easy to find what you are looking for. It doesn’t just cover cuts of meat but how to butcher them if you home rear, and of course how to turn that huge carcass into roasts, chops and steaks, and how to make bacon and sausages and cure other cuts for preserving. Those rearing chickens will find the butchering and egg preserving info useful, and of course there’s cheese making, butter making and a host of pickle and preserves for fruit and veg. I’d have loved to try some of the meat cures and sausage making when my kids were younger and consumed food like locusts. Anyone with three teenagers will know just how huge a quantity of food they can devour in a short while – it’s like living with a plague of locusts! There’s also lots of handy recipes and those involving the sour dough culture; bread, biscuits, pancakes, really caught my eye. I tried to make bread using a home made sour dough starter years ago but it wasn’t a success. Reading this I think I know where I went wrong and would love to try again, especially for the biscuits and pancakes which I’m sure the grand kids would love.
This is a US aimed book, but it relates easily to other countries. I’m in UK and was able to follow recipes etc easily. I think the biggest difference is perhaps land availability, its pretty scarce here, so many people will only be able to use part of the book, but the whole makes for really interesting reading never the less.

Stars: Five, a fabulous resource book that will be used over and over for those interested in self sustainability, even in a small way. As I said This book really does cover everything IMO

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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About jeanniezelos

I'm an avid reader, love my kindle and I have my head in a novel for hours daily : ) Mum used to say I'd read toilet paper if it was printed- it wasn't, so i had to contend myself with the back and sides of the cereal packets. I've always Needed to read and we had few books when i was a child hence my penchant for reading anything including adverts then... I review mainly contemporary, erotic and paranormal romance books though dystopian and urban fantasy also appeal. I'm currently rated around the 300 mark on amazon.co.uk for my reviews. I try to keep them structured and to say what I do and don't like about a book so other readers can use my review as a guide to whether they may enjoy the book.

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