I want a copy of this cookbook. It is actually on my Christmas list. The library is great for screening books. Usually, I end up copying a recipe or two, but in the case of The Lost Art of Real Cooking by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger, I want it all.
I loved the introduction of The Lost Art of Real Cooking which is addressed, “Dear Gentle Reader,” much like a book in the eighteenth century may have started. Among other things, the authors say they want to, “break free from the golden shackles of convenient ready-made, industrial food.” They also warn “if you cannot abide by long hours in the kitchen, this is no book for you.” With that warning in mind, I read through the small, but highly entertaining tome, The Lost Art of Real Cooking.
Written by two fearless cooks, this book takes you on a journey back in time. Interspersed between their recipes are actual excerpts from recipes written in the 1600 and 1700s. The only equipment needed to cook and bake these recipes are cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens, a baking stone, a big stockpot and some smaller saucepans, sharp knives, stout wooden spoons, mixing bowls, a few glass jars, a metal and a rubber spatula, a whisk, meat tenderizer and a sturdy mortar and pestle. With these few things, Ken and Rosanna have set out to conquer the world. Did you notice there was no mention of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer or a Cuisenart food processor? Nope. Not a single appliance made their cut, except of course an oven and a refrigerator.
There is no set cuisine in this book. They roam from sauerkraut to miso, from dolmas to corn tortillas. With their easy to read recipes, I ended the book ready to make pickles, capture wild yeast, render some lard and make a round of cheddar cheese. They made it all sound do-able!
Really, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It contained page after page of useful information; not just for the urban homesteader, but for anyone looking to wean themselves off of commercially made convenience foods.
Note: I received no compensation for this post and all opinions are mine alone.