Read How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher Online


M.F.K. Fisher's guide to living happily even in trying times, which was first published during the Second World War in the days of ration cards; includes more than seventy recipes based on food staples and features sections such as "How to Keep Alive" and "How to Comfort Sorrow."....

Title : How to Cook a Wolf
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780865473362
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 202 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How to Cook a Wolf Reviews

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-05-03 08:05

    Part cookbook, part Hints from Heloise, How to Cook a Wolf is M.F.K. Fisher's chatty, scatterbrained wartime guide for citizens hampered by food shortages or just lack of discretionary income generally. There's no actual wolf-cooking, which disappointed me: the wolf is just a metaphor for hunger. Some of her tips are a little bizarre:Hayboxes are very simple...bring whatever food you want to a sturdy boil, put it tightly covered on a layer of hay in the inside box, pack hay all around it, and cover the box securely. Then you count twice as long as your stew or porridge or vegetables would have taken to cook normally, open the haybox, and the food is done. It is primitive, and it is a good thing to know if fuel is a problem for a souffle, add one cup of puffed cereal to the three separated eggs, and you will have food for four people.Someone named le Vicomte de Mauduit informs that "meat puddings should be served between the months of September and April; during the months without an "R" in them meat pies should replace them."Some tips have the whiff of wartime menace:The best way to have fish for supper, in most places, will be to go out along the river or in your dinghy at the tide's change, if you can get past sentries and avoid the mines, and catch some mudcats or a few bass on your own hook.Some are positively Dickensian. From the chapter "How to Keep Alive":The first thing to do, if you have absolutely no money, is to borrow some. Fifty cents will be enough, and should last you from three days to a week...If you must pay for the stove, it will probably cost about ten cents for the current or gas. That cuts you down to forty about fifteen cents worth of ground beef from a reputable butcher...about ten cents worth of ground whole-grain cereal...Spend the rest of your money on vegetables...slightly wilted or withered things a day old maybe. Otherwise buy the big coarse ugly ones...It does not matter if they be slightly battered: you will grind them into an odorous but unrecognizable sludge.Assemble the vegs and meat. Cover with water, bring to a boil, simmer for an hour, stir in the cereal, cook another two hours or longer "if possible." Cool and keep in a cold place, like a cellar, if you have no icebox. You can dine on this for days and stay "in good health and equable spirits."If fuel costs are your biggest worry, buy meat containing bones. Bones conduct heat and your meat will cook six minutes faster per pound. Also, put a couple empty tin cans in the center of your burning fire; they will retain a lot of heat that otherwise would go up the chimney.Two of the scariest recipes are "Aunt Gwen's Cold Shape" - 1 calf head, quartered, 1/2 cup lemon juice or 1 cup white wine, herbs; and Mouth Wash: 2 ounces borax, 1 quart hot water, 1 teaspoon tincture of myrrh, 1 teaspoon spirits of camphor. Add pink coloring if your children demand it.There are actually a few recipes I want to make: the bacon chowder, sausage (or sardine) pie, a (gulp) baked tuna casserole, and a tomato soup cake. Seriously. A cake with a can of tomato soup thrown in. I have to know what it tastes like.

  • Jennifer Cooper
    2019-05-07 05:58

    I wish I could have been friends with MFK Fisher. This book is full of her strong opinions, down-to-earth suggestions, and fantastic dry wit. Good stuff.The book was originally written as a practical how-to for people who had to cook during the shortages and food-rationing of World War II. This edition was updated after the war, in 1951. Now, you may think that sounds like the set-up for a particularly grim book, but you'd be wrong. She is generally undaunted by the limitations that war-time cooks faced. She stays cheerful and even makes jokes about what must have been a very bad situation. In her revisions, she admits that some of her suggestions aren't at all appetizing, but this just makes the book more interesting.The book has chapters on all the normal cook-book-ish things (breads, soups, poultry, fish, desserts). It also covers less common topics like how to stay alive and relatively healthy when money and good food are extremely limited, how to feed your pets most economically, to how to prepare REALLY extravagent meals when food isn't so hard to come by.I like to read cookbooks, but I think this book would also be good for people who aren't that interested in food. It is interesting as a historical document, and it is interesting because of Fisher's wonderful writing style.

  • Sylvester
    2019-05-14 11:56

    Not my usual thing, reading about food or cooking - but Fisher is an amazing writer, I only wish she'd taken to novels. Her power of description and subtle irony are very entertaining and kept me going in spite of my disinterest in the subject matter. Fisher is smart as a whip - here are some of the chapter titles, to give you a taste of her wit:How to be Sage Without HemlockHow to Catch the WolfHow to Distribute Your VirtueHow to Boil WaterHow to Keep AliveHow to Rise Up Like New BreadHow to Be Cheerful Though StarvingHow to Carve the WolfHow to Be Content With a Vegetable LoveHow to Have a Sleek PeltHow to Comfort SorrowHow Not to Be an EarthwormThat last is my favorite. Anyway, she rocks. The book is dated as all heck, and some of the ideas in it are sheer madness = all part f the charm!

  • Abby Hagler
    2019-05-25 08:16

    How to Cook a Wolf is interesting because I know that my mother was a bad cook. Thus, when I learned to cook, I also learned to be a bad cook. Fisher's book is full of tips and tricks for saving money by budgeting, having a simple grocery list, and cooking in quantities that conserve on heat expenses, as well. From this frugality comes a kind of happiness. We rediscovered this in the slow food movement. Currently, all the hip young people are trying to get away from the processed, the ready-to-eat, the chemically-laden snacks and additives that characterized an entire childhood, an entire education in cooking.At least, this was the case for me. I grew up in the middle of the Midwest in a town about an hour from any large markets. We were relegated to wilted veggies, eating the bruises of fruits, and eating lots of our own farm-grown meats. Hamburger Helper was a staple in every household. As kids, we often talked about which was our favorite. And I learned to cook Kraft-boxed recipes. I had no concept of an onion. I knew nothing of salt, or sugar, or the desires of foods as their being cooked.Fisher presents such logic in this book (even in her asides and revisions). For me, she reinvented the use of beer, rum, and port for flavor and health benefits that oils can't deliver. She uplifts fresh, farm-grown vegetables as the major expense. She reminds us to save the water from potatoes to make a stock. That soup does not come from a can, and cannot condense itself, let alone a meal lacking an appropriate sauce to tie it together. As a young cook, writer, and budgeter, I was surprised how drawn into this book I was - both for the recipes and my need to re-learn cooking. It's not that this book was ahead of its time being written in 1940 with a definite consciousness about rationing and war. In fact, I was raised in the 1980s, an era that had forgotten war and struggle. Our food produced habits of quick disposal, easy come and easy go with money and meals. I appreciate this book for reminding me of how the times have once again changed, and I admire it for how helpful it is for my generation as well.

  • Amy
    2019-05-09 05:58

    I found this at my favorite used book store and it has a permanent spot on my kitchen shelf up at the cabin. This is a reprint of the 1951 edition, which was created by the author adding marginal annotations to the 1942 original. That only makes it better to my mind. Many of these notes are along the lines of "What the heck was I thinking?" and I can almost imagine a wry grin inserted here or there. She's also added in tips what to do once the war rationing is over...I can't find the exact passage, but she bemoans the butter substitutes that emerged saying she'd rather have a little of something good than a lot of an inferior product...and if you need to make this dish during times of shortage, then by all means follow her initial advice. But if you have a plethora at hand in times of abundance, then the has her advice for that too.I've always liked her cookery books for the exploration of food as an art, touching on the mixing of flavors, the importance and addition of colors, and textures to a meal. I cook like that- knowing my flavors and tastes- the aromas and how they blend....that is such a part of the meal.Some of the recipes are dated, and not to our style of eating today, but still interesting to read. There's a killer gingerbread recipe that I want to try, too. It's good writing, good reading, and I imagine good food....whether there's a wolf is at your door or not.Given the state of the economy, there may be a need to learn how to cook a wolf!

  • Heather Baird
    2019-05-12 13:05

    I am new to Fisher's writing, and instantly a fan. It's lively, biting and intelligent. Several times throughout the book I'd lose myself inside a single sentence of her prose. I wasn't expecting so much beauty and wit inside a wartime ration cookbook."Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken". "One way to horrify at least eight out of ten Anglo-Saxons is to suggest their eating anything but the actual red fibrous meat of a beast." So much of this book is still relevant today, and could teach many of us the practice of true economy. "How to Keep Alive" is a favorite chapter of mine, and quite literally gives instruction on how to stay alive without any food or money. As a desserts writer I'm re-reading the chapter on sweets - "How to Comfort Sorrow" - and baking my way through the recipes (the chapter is quite thin, so it's not a grand undertaking). Dessert was less often enjoyed then because of the expense, but Fisher recognized its value - a comfort in trying times.

  • Muna
    2019-05-23 06:17

    MFK writes perhaps the best prose I've ever read. It doesn't hurt that she writes almost exclusively about food, one of my -- and anyone else who has the faintest conception of true human dignity and joy -- favorite subjects.Nor does it hurt that she used the term "rich-bitches" perfectly in print in 1963 to describe the menacing and mundane upperclass: "One of the saving graces of the less-monied people of the world has always been, theoretically, that they were forced to eat more unadulterated, less dishonest food than the rich-bitches."Her advice on eggs and calf heads is unmatched. Her advice on vegetable loves and how to lure the wolf are beyond that -- untouched by all others.

  • Rose
    2019-05-09 11:10

    Not exactly a cookbook, but a book about cooking and eating, and the philosophy thereof. MFK Fisher is some one I would have dearly loved to know.

  • J.C.
    2019-05-07 08:56

    "Vegetables cooked for salads should always be on the crisp side, like those trays of zucchini and slender green beans and cauliflowerets in every trattoria in Venice, in the days when the Italians could eat correctly. You used to choose the things you wanted: there were tiny potatoes in their skins, remember, and artichokes boiled in olive oil, as big as your thumb, and much tenderer...and then the waiter would throw them all into an ugly white bowl and splash a little oil and vinegar over them, and you would have a salad as fresh and tonic to your several senses as La Primavera. It can still be done, although never in the same typhoidic and enraptured air. You can still find little fresh vegetables, and still know how to cook them until they are not quite done, and chill them, and eat them in a bowl."After reading that half paragraph early in the book, I fell in love with M.F.K. Fisher. She might be the very best writer I have ever read (you should know that I have not read very many of the "great" writers of history, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, and a dash of pepper!) and that feeling is based on reading a cookbook! From 1941! The book was written in 1941, specifically for World War II home makers looking to cut expenses and to live a more frugal existence as a means to help the war effort. MFK attempts to create a cook book that is gastronomically fulfilling in the face of this rationing philosophy.It is not your standard cookbook. There is a real tasty recipe for gruel in here. Ever wanted to know how to cook an entire sheep's head? M.F.K. has got you covered. Throwing out the juice from canned vegetables? M.F.K. has a few better ideas for that juice. The only problem with this book is that in 1952, M.F.K. went back to it and added some more stuff. In the 1952 edition, these additions took the form of footnotes. In the most recent edition, the publisher made the choice to incorporate the footnotes into the text and differentiating them with [brackets so that everything could be incorporated together but changes from each edition would still be distinct. It was a bit disjointed on the page and somewhat frustrating to read]. This probably wasn't the best M.F.K. Fisher book to read having never read her before, so I don't know if I should recommend it or not. I was introduced to M.F.K. in another book called Provence 1970, that might be a good place to start if you have any interest in her. Here's my review.

  • Kristianne
    2019-05-14 07:16

    MFK Fisher's book seems uncannily appropriate to my days of unemployed living in America. She was writing about the scarcity of war-time America, but we've become so accustomed to our country's overextended reach into military engagements abroad that war is not what comes to mind first as the cause for the wolf's snuffing at the door. Rather, we bat the word "recession" around freely, and though it lacks the humility of the word "poverty," it lacks also the pride of Fisher's war effort. We've been encouraged to go about as normal and maintain our spending habits, as though, if we ignore the wolf, he'll stop his huffing through the keyhole.Fisher's book is full of humor and thoughtfulness and some great common sense that we could all adopt in our kitchen. I made a version of her potato bread last week and this morning made her family gingerbread and when I was roasting some vegetables the other day, I remembered to slip some apples into the oven as well. Tips like these don't loose potency over time.

  • Cat
    2019-05-02 07:00

    Fisher is a delightful prose stylist, and her advice for surviving in the midst of a wartime crunch on supplies resonates in a contemporary ecologically-minded, waste-averse context. Plus, the recipes are a blast, and she's very witty. I love her bracketed asides, commenting in the 1950s on the original text of the 1942 edition. Fisher is not just telling readers how to skimp and save--also how to mix cocktails, fantasize about luxurious cooking no longer within their means, and to feed pets cheaply but healthily during wartime. The epigraphs Fisher chooses for each chapter are also very charming. One of my favorite lines (of hers) appears in the introduction: "there can be no more shameful carelessness than with the food we eat for life itself. When we exist without thought or thanksgiving we are not men, but beasts."

  • Dandi
    2019-05-24 05:22

    "A biochemist once told me that every minute an egg is cooked makes it take three hours longer to digest. The thought of a stomach pumping and grinding and laboring for some nine hours over an average three-minute egg is a wearisome one, if true, and makes memories of picnics and their accompanying deviled eggs seem actively haunting."This book contains some dubious advice and sadly requisite 50's racism and internalized misogyny, but if you found the above passage amusing in any way, you'll have a grand ol' time reading it.

  • Tuck
    2019-05-06 13:15

    originally written to help folks stretch their money and choices for food/cooking during wwii, but updated in 1951 (korean and cold war, usa just cannot go on without wars right?) fisher is both smart and downtoearth in her funny stories and recipes keeping the wolf from the door. her short answer to the wolf is it better watch out or she'll cook it too.

  • Hilary Hanselman
    2019-04-28 11:24

    Practical advice on the art of eating whether you're facing the economy of war or not

  • Cynthia K
    2019-05-18 10:58

    This food memoir was not a book I found myself wanting to binge on. This edition incorporates the author's later notes and additions in brackets, making for an awkward read. However, I kept on going for three reasons: 1. I committed to reading a food memoir for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I picked this one because it was listed as one of Time's 100 Best Nonfiction Books. 2. I was reminded of my grandmother, a woman who lived through The Depression and the sacrifices of the world wars which Fisher cites. My grandmother sought ways to economize both in the kitchen and in life in general. Reading this made me speculate on which of the strategies suggested by the author that my grandma might have used. 3. The author used the phrase "rich bitch" in Chapter 1. I'm dying to find out what other snarky comments lay ahead. Fisher was full of very strong opinions and she wasn't afraid to share them. She has a unique voice and, even within the title, deftly wields metaphorical language. In case it isn't clear, the wolf in the title is the proverbial wolf at the door. Fisher shares hints, tips, and recipes for the times when the wolf is breathing down your neck and as well as when he is nowhere in sight.The book is dated, so I don't imagine many modern cooks turning down the corners to save one of the recipes. Still, Fisher offers a glimpse into life between the great wars and, in the bracketed sections, after.

  • Kristen
    2019-05-11 10:23

    Have you ever seen the movie The Philadelphia Story? If Katherine Hepburn's character were to dictate a war-time cookbook it would be How to Cook a Wolf. I enjoyed the observations on cooking, and the recipes from another time (though "Aunt Gwen's Cold Shape" sounds quite unappetizing) but most of all I LOVED this book for the author's wit. Fisher is the epitome of a classy dame, who writes things like "one of the stupidest things in an earnest but stupid school of culinary thought is that each of the three daily meals should be 'balanced.' [This still goes on in big-magazine advertising, but there seems less and less insistence on it in real life: baby-doctors and even gynecologists admit that most human bodies choose their own satisfactions, dietetically and otherwise.]". Another favorite, perhaps just because she uses the word disagreeable and can't you just hear it in Hepburn's clipped accent: "It is all a question of weeding out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises." Get the revised edition, as Fisher's added "what was I thinking" parentheticals are worth their weight in gold.I'll leave you with my two favorite descriptions - she describes Camembert as "an unnecessary peptic goad, but a very nice one now and then" ... And later refers to a man's beard as "a fine Old Testament beaver, full of genius." Seriously, y'all. This is a one of a kind book.

  • Lindsey
    2019-05-02 13:09

    I'd loved to have dined with M.F.K. Fisher; I can't (nor would want to) argue with her point that "since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto." I'd regard her as a reader's food writer considering her writing is peppered with references to Cervantes, Omar Khayyam, etc. Completely charmed.Favorite passage: (On dessert) "Probably one of the best ends to a supper is nothing at all. If the food has been simple, plentiful, and well prepared; if there has been time to eat it quietly, with a friend or two; if the wine or beer or water has been good: then, more often than not, most people will choose to leave it so, with perhaps a little cup of coffee for their souls' sake."

  • Chris
    2019-04-29 07:00

    Excellent book. Originally written during the second world war, it is on the surface a book explaining how to cook and live well in the midst of rationing and scarcity. In reality, this book explains how to love food and love life, in good or bad times. Fisher's voice is excellent and enjoyable. In particular, this edition was reedited by her and she has included later commentary on her own writing. Many of this added pieces are excellent and very funny. This is a great book from a fantastic essayist.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-07 07:14

    I'm going to have to buy a copy of this book. I took it out from the library and didn't have it nearly long enough. It's best enjoyed in small snippets, or the amount of information flying at you can get to be overwhelming. M.F.K. Fisher is so full of great tidbits and recipes that I know I'll need to refer to her later down the road, and her insistence that cooks be aware of things like the amount of energy they're using in cooking and how they re-utilize even the meanest of leftovers is still timely. Now, I just need my own copy for reference!

  • Ann
    2019-05-22 07:20

    Not as fabulous as I'd hoped, but still, I'm glad to have it on my shelves. Many of Fisher's ideas and recipes will hang with me. We're loving baked apples and at last I can make a decent fried egg. Thinking we'll try "Eggs in Hell" for breakfast. The edition I read included comments in brackets that Fisher included many years after the original writing. Those really added something. Maybe that's what left me a bit disappointed - that there weren't more of Fisher's ideas and writing and less of her recipes.

  • Kelly
    2019-05-01 07:59

    What a funny little book you are! Fisher wasn't satisfied with the original text, and in the 1954 edition she includes all kinds of bracketed commentary, which make for an unusually aware reading experience. Nonetheless, it includes many a tasty recipe and abundant simple, economical advice. Some of it seems dated, others not. It's always good to have additional weapons to fend off the wolf.

  • Joy Schultz
    2019-05-12 13:19

    My, but the methods of dealing with wartime rationing are many and various. Creative. Alarming. Fisher's style is lively, and her focus on how preparation of food is for the good of both body and soul strikes me as wise and timely.

  • Debbie Balzotti
    2019-05-26 07:12

    This little gem is not for every reader. I enjoyed her passionate opinions on food and how it is an important part of living life to the fullest. The recipes from the 1940's will probably not make it onto my table however! the full review is on my blog at

  • Kate
    2019-05-10 12:01

    I wish I'd had this during the post-college/post-divorce ramen-eating lean years. Give it to anyone moving out on their own; it's as much psychological "being broke sucks, here's how to survive with a sense of humor" as it is recipes.

  • Jac
    2019-05-17 07:55

    looking for ingredients... any suggestions?

  • Summer Rae Garcia
    2019-05-17 10:01

    How to make a blackout fabulous with sherry and shrimp pate.

  • Leah W
    2019-04-28 07:20

    I'll write more later. I really loved this book, which is on one level a book about how to survive happily during wartime (it was written in 1942), but is also just a terrific piece of food writing.

  • Meg
    2019-05-24 11:05

    I never thought I would read a cookbook for recreational purposes, but... Wow--this book blew my mind to pieces. Then why only 3 stars? Well, because it is still--in its essence--a cookbook, though we read it for very different reasons nowadays (although I was tempted to try one recipe just so I could say I'd made "Eggs in Hell"--our grandparents certainly did). However, if you skim through the actual "cooking" sections as I did, it's no less than a 5-star portrait of life during WWII rationing.Fisher is just a lovely writer--she digests and devours her words. You can tell she gets as much physical pleasure out of the word well spoken as she derives from the meat well seasoned. She is an Epicurean of language itself--and as a fellow word-addict, I appreciated this read as a journey back to a time when both food and thought were a little purer and slow-roasted. Mostly I emerged from this book with a passionate gratitude for the life our grandparents lived so that we wouldn't have to. Even more powerful than what Fisher is saying is what she's NOT saying. Many of the recipes are for lesser game such as rabbits and even pigeons, and include methods for digesting the liver, heart, head, tongue, etc. These nobles of the "Greatest Generation" lived with bombshelters, blackouts, rationing of fuel, little or no electricity and comfort to which they had become accustomed, and hunger. DAILY HUNGER. Fisher's description of the mom sitting down on her porch to enjoy her last slice of bread with her starving child absolutely made my insides sob. Her overall message is one of strength, hope, perseverance and living a life that separates luxury from necessity, allows for pleasures of the senses, gives thanks for every moment, finds humor (or creates it in its absence), and above all--survives with dignity. In other words, when the wolf comes to your door--cook it up!FAVORITE QUOTES: (there are a lot, but believe me, they are AMAZING)When we exist without thought of thanksgiving we are not men, but beasts.Our texture of belief has great holes in it. Our pattern lacks pieces... Now, when the hideous necessity of the war machine takes steel and cotton and humanity, our own private personal secret mechanism must be stronger, for selfish comfort as well as for the good of the ideals we believe we believe in.One of the saving graces of the less-monied people of the world has always been, theoretically, that they were forced to eat more unadulterated, less dishonest food than the rich-bitches.Now, of all times in our history, we should be using our minds as well as our hearts in order to survive... to live gracefully if we live at all.All truth smacks of smugness, but never to the point of ridiculosity.From what I have heard of (my grandmother) she felt it a sign of weakness to be anything but firmly disagreeable most of the time.Never ruin a good story by sticking to the truth.Eating is an art worthy to rank with the other methods by which man chooses to escape from reality.Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.Like every other human, I feel my own system is best... until a better one occurs to me.Butchers, usually, are very pleasant people, in spite of having at some time in their lives deliberately chosen to be butchers.For all of us... life would be simpler and the wolf would howl less loudly if we could adjust our minds to admit, even if we never quite believed it, that a tender sizzling rare grilled tenderloin was a luxury instead of a necessity.It was a nice piece of toast, with butter on it. You sat in the sun under the pantry window, and the little boy gave you a bite, and for both of you the smell of nasturtiums warming in the April air would be mixed forever with the savor between your teeth of melted butter and toasted bread, and the knowledge that although there might not be any more, you had shared that piece with full consciousness on both sides, instead of a shy awkward pretense of not being hungry.Fumes linger... They hide in curtains, and fall out at you two nights later like overripe shreads of dead ghost.I'll not care, really, even if your nose is a little shiny, so long as you are self-possessed and sure that wolf or no wolf, your mind is your own and your heart is another's.Some men have frowned and scolded and some men have drunk deeper as Mars squeezed them.Other wars have made men live like rats, or wolves, or lice, but until this one, except perhaps for the rehearsal in Spain, we have never lived like earthworms.Emergency is another word that has changed its inner shape; when Marion Harland and Fanny Farmer used it they meant unexpected guests. You may, to, in an ironical way, but you hope to God they are the kind who will never come.If it comes to that, no book on earth can help you, but only your inborn sense of caution and balance and protection: the same thing cats feel sometimes, or birds or elephants. Everything resolves itself into a feeling that you will survive if you are meant to survive, and every cell in your body believes that.Trust your luck and your blackout cupboard and what you have decided, inside yourself, about the dignity of man.

  • Lissa Notreallywolf
    2019-05-26 08:56

    This is what I would call a belle lettres cookbook, as it is chatty and somewhat arch in it's approach, especially when directed at wartime privations. I read it because it was recommended by Novella Carpenter. There is, of course, no recipe for wolf, rather an allusion to Shakespeare. For me, this was a vast relief as I have no desire to eat my patronus, nods to JK Rowling. But I did find it entertaining, despite her distaste for parsnips, which I consider divine. The book oddly neglects beans, one of the most important staples of a poverty diet. It has peculiarly dated references to chicory tablets and ignores the fact that chicory grows wild throughout most of the world. There is no wildcrafting in this book, no instruction on how to clean up a city pigeon for human consumption. Ditto with a garden snail or anything else E. Gibbons might have liked. This is a generation before urban farming, although she does recommend maintain a chicken coop with the appropriate staff, given that she loathes stupid chickens. No mention is made of victory gardens, although at some point she had a garden. If you want arcane things like chicory and cherval you might have to cultivate window boxes. Many of the meats she mentions as economical require large investments as offal and cured hams have gotten very expensive. She hates Spam or tinned meats which have a high salt content, but might be perfectly acceptable in flavoring a pot of bean soup, if you aren't vegetarian. It's written in an era where you can't depend on fresh eggs, so her approach is utilitarian. I was surprised at her reliance on canned food, and she mentions some really strange ones, like tinned rice (really?) and canned bean sprouts (we have come a long way with that one.) But with all that said it has great information and it is charming. A must read in the DIY food movement, for sure. The parts I liked best were the phrase "gastronomic auto da fe" (sorry can't add the accent over the final e) and her description of the elderly lady Sue, who knew how to deal with her poverty, her ill health, with wild-crafting sea vegetables, stealing a few eggs and potatoes, and growing her own herbs. Her table was lit with a single candle, and she was always serene. But the mechanics of such a wild-crafting lifestyle, without electricity, weren't within Fisher's skill set. She gives a great recipe for Sludge, a mix of 1/3 grain, a bit of mincemeat, and the majority vegetables minus the beets and rutabagas. The beets are shunned because they add color, which turns Sludge khaki before going grey entirely. So Fisher is dated. You can apparently dine off of this unrefrigerated ground up mess for three days, if you found a cool place to hide your kettle. I'd be hiding my beets and cabbage there too, to be consumed raw. I couldn't help but think if you refrained from grinding the veg it might actually be palatable. I think her concern throughout the book, that gas was extremely expensive at the time, informed the grinding of the veggies. If you simply browned the meat, onions, garlic, celery and peppers Sludge might resemble Brunswick Stew or any ethnic pot a feu. And her recipes do not indicate how many people she anticipates feeding. A professional cook once told me that boiling anything for 45 minutes would kill off any harmful bacteria, so I would be of the same school I use for my stock jars-they get boiled on the 2nd or third day, until they are used up. Sludge is also a way to sustain your pets in wartime rationing scenarios, with the addition of some yeast. I add yeast to my own diet frequently, perhaps part of Fisher's legacy. My spoiled pets don't like it, but they eat out of cans and I don't. Fisher depends heavily on canned food which was part of wartime culture, and perhaps is a good idea if your freezer has no electricity. Making Sludge might be the first approach to a power outage, although I would be substituting potatoes and or beans in my recipe due to concerns about how grain and I get along. Crackers are part of her wartime blackout pantry, but no where does she teach you to make your own. I'm a gluten free person and I make my own crackers, which is quite a trick, but they do taste like saltines. One of the best parts of the book is how to deal with energy outages, or how to keep gas costs to a bare minimum. She recommends a hay box to keep cooking times to a bare minimum. But where do urbanites score hay? I encountered this "sleeping" technique many years ago, adapted to urban living-a couple heated things to a boiling point and then sunk them in a blanket chest well insulated with quilts. Guests were disturbed by the lack of obvious kitchen preparation when invited to dinner. But the blanket chest solution described in that book-whose title I have forgotten- failed to give the timing-things have to stay in passive state for twice as long as they normally would cook. It is the urban equivalent of pit cooking, where food is buried in embers. I wish she had included a bibliography, but no such luck. But really if you are a kitchen troll, this is an important thing to read, very amusing.

  • Shiloah
    2019-05-14 08:01

    I learned a lot and am glad I read it. She isn't the most invigorating writer, but she has many great ideas and I've dog-eared some recipes I want to try.