On a day when most Americans are celebrating freedom, I'd like to offer reviews of three cookbooks which I think might be of particular interest to other homesteaders, preppers, or anyone else working toward self-sufficiency.
Stillroom Cookery: The Art of Preserving Foods Naturally, With Recipes, Menus, and Metric Measures by Grace Firth. Stillroom cookery, according to the author, is the art of fermenting food. The appeal of this book is not just more recipes for sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables, but also milk, meat, sauces, and beverages. Ingredients are thoroughly discussed and directions are detailed and loaded with tips.
Two sections of the book were of special interest to me - milk and meat. Her cheese recipes are right up my alley because she uses sour milk, buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt for starters instead of the meso- or thermophilic starters which must be purchased. While I think Rikki Carroll's Home Cheese Making is a good book, I rarely reach for it because every recipe uses purchased starters, while I'm trying to make cheese with starters I don't have to keep buying. For that alone, Grace Firth's book is 5-star to me.
The other section I was especially interested in is the chapter on curing meat without the use of refrigeration: brining, drying, smoking, salting, sugar curing. The author does not shun refrigeration and does use it, but the basics here are hopeful for those of us looking for more off-grid methods.
The book is not restricted to fermenting food, and has tons of recipes for not only cheeses and meats, but raised dough baking (with a recipe for homemade yeast using hops), fish and fowl, beverages including home carbonated, wines, and beer, how to make vinegar, sauces, and gravies. There are also chapters on cooking dry staples, canning, pickling, and dehydrating. The recipes give both U.S. customary and metric measurements.
Published in 1977, there are lots of used copies around. I paid more for the shipping than I did the book.
Grandpappy's Recipes for Hard Times by Robert Wayne Atkins. What initially caught my attention was a recipe for homemade hop yeast. That's right, baking yeast made from hops flowers, flour, sugar, water, and potato.
The author's assumption is that almost everyone will come on hard times, including job loss, illness, or disaster, whether that be economic, natural, or manmade. Even those with a hearty food storage may eventually reach the bottom of the pantry barrel. The ingredients and recipes are simple and written for the average family who may not have access to things like eggs and milk. Many of the recipes are either eggless or call for powdered milk.
Recipes focus on tomatoes, beans, potatoes, rice, meat, breads, wheat berries, cornmeal, beverages, fish, game, and a nice section on desserts. Additional recipes of interest include homemade pectin, homemade baking powder, jerky, pemmican, acorn meal, and how to make sugar from sugar beets. Yeastless bread recipes include sourdough, salt-rising bread, and Irish soda bread. There are also sections of wild foods and game preparation.
If you don't have a food storage, this would be a good book on which to base one. I also like the charts and tips. It's a good addition to my kitchen library.
one I mentioned once before, but it came to mind as a good book for food independence. It's entitled Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation and written by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante. This one was the precursor to the two above.
This is the book from which I learned how to make sauerkraut. The title pretty much says it all. Chapters include lactic fermentation, root cellaring, dehydrating, and preserving oil, salt, sugar, and alcohol. A chart at the back of the book indicates which methods are best for which foods.
Do you have a cookbook you'd like to add to the self-sufficiency book list? I'd love to hear your recommendations.