The weather in the last week has ranged from near 40 degrees F to tonight’s forecasted low of -15 degrees F. We’ve had a thunderstorm with freezing rain and several inches of snow on top. It’s been a great week for reading or anything else that keeps one indoors. So we’ve got a couple more good books to recommend. “Consider the Fork – A History of How We Cook and Eat” by Bee Wilson was a fun, thought provoking read. We especially enjoyed the historical view of cuisines and how they are shaped by the availability of foods and cooking fuels. For instance, Chinese wok cookery came about because of the shortage of firewood. Adapting to cooking over a small fire meant the need for cutting up the foods into small pieces that would cook quickly. Thus the chopping knife, the thin steel wok, and on to the chop sticks on the table for picking up those precut foods. Contrast this with the big hunks of animals roasting over an open fireplace in England, and served up with a knife at the table to be hacked into bite-sized chunks. As situations changed, so too did the foods and the tools for the kitchen. Hopefully this evolution of tools will continue for those of us cooking with solar or retained heat as we search for the perfect cast iron pot that actually fits well in a sun oven or hot box.
We were moved to read “Independence Days – A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation” by Sharon Astyk after reading her latest work “Making Home – Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place“. Both of her books are good, introductory works into homesteading, food preservation, preparing for uncertain futures, and just living. We both found a few flaws in style or content. Although predominantly insightful, at times both books were rambling, indecisive, or at worst relatively short-sighted on a few subjects, such as solar systems for the home. But most of what she’s advocating resonates with our own pathways, and we appreciated the intent behind the words, which more than made up for any shortcomings.