New Cookbook

I bought this wonderful new cookbook. It’s titled Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways Are The Best- Over 700 Recipes To Show You Why by Darina Allen.

There are, as the title states, over 700 recipes in this cookbook, but the real value is not in the recipes at all, but the ‘forgotten skills’ she writes about. From making your own butter, yogurt, and simple cheese to preparing pig intestines to stuff sausages; She writes about a slower, and in some ways, simpler life.

She owns a self-sufficient farm in Ireland where she runs Ballymaloe Cookery School and keeps dairy cows for milk, chickens for eggs, organically fed and free ranging pigs, cows, lambs, and chickens for meat, and an extensive kitchen garden. She devotes an entire chapter to keeping hens: which chickens are friendliest, which produce the most eggs, how to hatch chicks (hint: you need a rooster!), hen’s illnesses and cures, and how to deal with a broody hen. The next chapter named Pig, explains how to cook a pig, snout to tail. (Watch out gag reflex, watch out!) She makes her own salami, sausages, cured meats, and pates. The chapters continue in this manner and go on to explain true seasonal cooking with fresh-grown vegetables & herbs, foraging for food in the wild (including berries & mushrooms but not leaving out how to skin and roast a rabbit over a fire), preserving and canning, and bread making. Did you know that unpasteurized, fresh cow’s milk is higher in melatonin, the natural hormone that helps us to relax and sleep, so having a glass of fresh milk before bed does, in fact, help you sleep? Well, Darina knows.

I find myself picking up the book everyday and flipping through it’s precious pages, even though I read the thing front-to-back the first day I got it. I daydream about adapting to this kind of wholesome life (hold the blood sausages and stuffed beef heart, please). I yearn to have the time to allow yeasty bread dough to rise not once, but twice as Darina suggests, and crave to have the practical sense to see farm animals as respectful meat sources, and not an expansive yard of pets roaming with their sweet-heart little names etched on their collars. (I totally get Fern’s point of view from Charlotte’s Web… “Oh, Wilbur!”) I want to embrace a ‘slow food’ & ‘waste not, want not’ ethic. I’m jonsing to be the starter of the starter bread!!

Hey, will you hold that thought while I go grab a Ding Dong and a can of Coke?

Just kidding.

I think.

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