Field to Table Cooking Skills by Andrea Chesman
The Backyard Homestead series by Storey Publishing is one of my favorite. I find them easy to follow and inspirational, they take homesteading topics and break them down into manageable chunks that seem do-able. This time, I have the chance to review The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How by Andrea Chesman and once again I’m impressed.
Andrea is a food writer and author of several cookbooks, including The Pickled Pantry, Recipes from The Root Cellar, and Serving Up the Harvest. She knows what she’s talking about!
“A self-sufficient homestead kitchen is a little different from a kitchen that is supplied from a nearby supermarket. It is a kitchen where cooking is done from scratch using ingredients that are mostly raised or harvested nearby.” Andrea Chesman
Part One – Getting the Most From Fresh Food
- The A to Z Guide to Preparing Fresh Vegetables is 15 pages of information about harvesting and preparing every vegetable you can think of. Should you blanche an artichoke? Yes: 7 minutes. How long should you grill leeks? Whole Leeks: 10-15 minutes. I have a harvest of purple top turnips. Can I roast them? Yes: 25 minutes at 425°F
- The A to Z Guide to the Fruits is just as extensive with harvesting, handling, cooking and short term storage tips for every kind of fresh fruit you can think of.
- The chapter on Grains & Beans has grinding, cooking, bread making and storage ideas, plus how to make a sourdough starter and no-knead bread.
- A chapter on homemade sweeteners covers collecting honey, making maple syrup and apple cider syrup. You’ll also see ideas for using natural syrups in place of sugar.
- The rest of part one covers eggs, birds, rabbit and butchering cuts for goat, lamb, pork and beef. Holy cow!
Part Two – Food Preservation
This section has food preserving covered with instructions for water bath and pressure canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, and making preserves.
I was especially excited to see the extensive section on cold storage because I have been researching how to build a root cellar at our new place. “Root cellar is something of a misnomer because more than root vegetables are stored there,” says Andrea. “You may, for example, store cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and also citrus fruits, apples, and pears.”
The information in this section and the chart on page 150-151 (how to store specific fruits and vegetables in cold storage) is, in my opinion, worth the cost of the book. It takes all the guesswork out of root cellaring practices and teaches you beyond the basics.
And finally, the food preservation section rounds out with culturing milk, making cheese and yogurt, curing meats, and making sausage.
“The wise gardener staggers plantings to avoid a glut of vegetables. If only the weather would cooperate.”
Part Three – Homestead Cooking
Every kind of tried and true homestead recipe you can think of – from Overnight Steel-cut Oatmeal and Vanilla Nut Granola to Char Siu Pork and Fresh Fruit Tart. Cooking from scratch ideas abound.
Who is The Backyard Homestead: Kitchen Know-How for?
If you enjoyed the other Backyard Homestead books, you will not be disappointed. This version, which is specifically centered on food storage and preservation, is a great addition to the set.
If you are looking for a great reference book for the kitchen you will get value from these pages. Even if you are not “growing your own” the recipes and techniques will help you be more in tune with from scratch cooking.
If you are a from the box cook – this is not for you!
I often get the opportunity to review copies of books from publishers. Sometimes they are an interesting read, but not the kind of helpful book that I would consider adding to my preparedness library. If that’s the case I always donate them to the local library so others can enjoy. The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field-to-Table Cooking Skills
is definitely a keeper!
From Storey Publishing: Growing vegetables and raising livestock is only the beginning of a successful homestead — that fresh food goes to waste unless you can properly prepare, cook, and preserve it. Andrea Chesman shows you how to bridge the gap between field and table, covering everything from curing meats and making sausage to canning fruits and vegetables, milling flour, working with sourdough, baking no-knead breads, making braises and stews that can be adapted to different cuts of meat, rendering lard and tallow, pickling, making butter and cheese, making yogurt, blanching vegetables for the freezer, making jams and jellies, drying produce, and much more. You’ll learn all the techniques you need to get the most from homegrown foods, along with dozens of simple and delicious recipes, most of which can be adapted to use whatever you have available.