stack of homesteading books

Library Haul

I recently (and finally!) explored my library options after having moved. I loved my last library and it’s inter-loan system and was terribly afraid that I would have my source of free educational reading material dry up with the move.  Thankfully, it looks like the new system is even better! There wasn’t much I searched for that wasn’t available to reserve. And the reserve system at the branch location is self-serve so that means no more irritation or ridicule from the librarians over how many books I reserve.

Despite having so many choices available, I controlled myself and stuck with 5 books and figured I’d share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you in a quick overview of what I thought of each book.

{The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making: How to Harvest Your Livestock and Wild Game}
This book is quite complete in that it covers beef (bison & veal), sheep (lamb & goats), pork, poultry (and other fowl), venison (including moose, elk, and big game), rabbits, small game (even frogs, muskrats, raccoons, squirrels, snakes, and turtles), and fish. It discusses offal and food preservation, curing, smoking, and sausages. I was glad to see that it covered the small, confidence builders like chicken that will serve as a stepping stone for working with larger animals.

There are several pages after each section with recipes for preparing your home butchered meat, including a recipe or two for the offal.

The curing and smoking chapter has a few smokehouse designs from a barrel design all the way up to a smokeshed. I would have liked to have seen some basic recipes for at least bacon and ham, but don’t see that any were included. There are recipes for sausages included as well as information about how to clean casings (which were scrubbed instead of scraped like I did mine.)

I’ll know more later this month which book is more useful for home butchering of beef, which we muddled through (at best) last time. Feeling more experienced and qualified to make a judgement on the book based upon it’s information in regard to hog butchering, I felt this book was a bit lacking. For example, having recently had the leg quarter on my mind as I put together the video from our last butchering, I was curious how the book handled that quarter.

The next step is to remove the ham. Begin with a cut at a point about 2 1/2″ in front of the tip of the aitchbone and then cut through the fifth and sixth lumbar vertebrae. After the bone has been severed with a saw, use a knife to complete the cut through the rest of the tissue. Trim off most of the fat, but leave about 1/4″ on the whole ham. The pelvic bone will still be part of the hame and may be a problem  in packaging or cooking because of its large size. You can trim out the bone and cut the ham into smaller pieces for easier cooking and packaging. You can also make bone-in roasts by cutting across the face of the ham to create ham steaks.

To me, that feels like incredibly incomplete information. To a novice home butcher you are left with an enormous piece of meat that you can’t do anything with. Experience has taught that your only option is to start hacking into the thing. And the aitch bone isn’t the easiest thing to visualize without further instruction.

This book does cover slaughtering, skinning, evisceration with photographs and I really appreciate that and hope it will come in handy later this month when we plan to butcher our steer.

The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making:…
  • Hasheider, Philip (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 09/10/2010 (Publication Date) – Voyageur Press (Publisher)

Read other reviews HERE.

{Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin}
If you are at all interested in using alternative sweeteners in your fruit preservation, I recommend looking into trying Pomona Pectin and trying some of the recipes in this book.

I’ve used Pomona exclusively for the first time this season and am extremely impressed with the flavor of the products as well as their consistency in setting up. It’s relieving knowing that we’re not consuming huge amounts of refined white sugar. Even if white sugar was the only sweetener available, not having to use so much (sometimes a 2:1 ratio to the fruit!) is well worth it!

My bookmarked recipes: 

Simple Classic: Blueberry Jam
Simple Classic: Strawberry Jam
Maple Vanilla Peach Jam
Honeyed Ginger Peach Jam
Honeyed Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Spiced Pear Cranberry Jam
Apple Maple Jam
Pear Ginger Jam
Sweet Cherry Jam
Simple Classic: Grape Jelly
Simple Classic: Raspberry Jelly
Blueberry Vanilla Jelly
Nana’s Favorite Dandelion Jelly
Strawberry Balsamic Jelly
Blackberry Wine Jelly
Maple Pear Jelly
Simple Classic: Peach Preserves
Vanilla Plum Preserves
Cherry Port Preserves
Brandied Cinnamon Apple Preserves
Spiced Grape Preserves
Strawberry Vanilla Preserves
Chocolate Cherry Preserves
Pear Cranberry Conserve with Almonds and Crystallized Ginger
Apple Raisin Walnut Conserve

Don’t some of those sound amazing??!!

Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar,…
  • Duffy, Allison Carroll (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 06/01/2013 (Publication Date) – Fair Winds Press (Publisher)

Read more reviews HERE.

{The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating}
This is an offal cookbook!!

No, seriously, it is.

Well, not entirely. There are numerous recipes that could be good by themselves or would compliment another dish, but if you were interested in learning to utilize the more under-appreciated parts of an animal, this could be a reference worth investigating.

Among my bookmarked recipes are: 
Onion Soup & Bone Marrow Toast
A Cucumber, Mustard, & Dill (salad)
Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad
Cured Ham
Ham in Hay
Boiled Ham and Parsley Sauce
Beans & Bacon
Pot Roast Brisket
Duck Legs & Carrots
Salted Duck Legs, Green Beans, and Cornmeal Dumplings
Rabbit & Garlic
Braised Front Leg & Shoulder of Venison
Fish Pie
And a few recipes for vegetables (such as Mashed Parsnips) and condiments (like Tomato Ketchup or Vinaigrette )

But perhaps you’re more adventurous and would be interested in: 
Warm Pig’s Head
Ox Tongue & Bread
Jellied Tripe
Grilled Marinated Calf’s Heart
Sorrel, Chicory, and Crispy Ear Salad
Blood Cake & Fried Eggs
Deviled Kidneys
Stuffed Lamb’s Hearts
Smoked Eel, Bacon, & Mashed Potatoes

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
  • Henderson, Fergus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages – 03/30/2004 (Publication Date) – Ecco (Publisher)

Read more reviews HERE.

{Whole Beast Butchery: The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and Pork}
I have mixed feelings about this butchery book too.

For starters, it is not “complete.” There is no stunning, slaughtering, or evisceration covered. Unless you consider that he does butcher the whole beast, in my opinion that isn’t complete. As much as I wish we would just wake up one morning and find our steer already hanging without going through the process of going from live animal to meat, it doesn’t work that way in reality.

Also, when you slap what amounts to the entire hindquarter leg section on the block and call it a “steamship” roast, I don’t consider it to be a complete breakdown of the cuts. Seriously- he goes on to call for a spit to roast the thing. That may be considered complete, but it certainly isn’t practical!

There are other unusual cuts of enormous sizes that no one of us homesteaders are going to utilize such as Frenched Rib Chops and Flintstone Chops for beef.

Next, most homesteaders (and therefore my audience) are going to be working with a market weight hog. The hog he demonstrated on (if you can call it that- how big does a pig need to be before it becomes a hog? This one was 80 pounds- we purchase our feeders at 40+ pounds so…) He said it made it easier to work with and demonstrate on, but I thought it made it difficult to see similarities between what you and I as homesteaders will be working with in that he breaks down the whole pig instead of working with halves. In other words, the whole pig is laying on the table and the whole front section with both legs comes off at one time. Same the the back. You will be well into the butchery process before you can utilize the Pork chapter in my opinion.

At that point, it could be useful resource in making your cuts. There are step-by-step photographs of the process and some of the cuts are normal (although a Frenched Pork Rack seems like a big waste of good rib meat to me!). But for the love of bacon, he turned the belly section into “Belly Strips with Rib Meat On”!!!!!

So it’s with extreme reservations I recommend this book as only a supplement to other materials to help you on your journey into home butchery. With the author bio includes words like “rock star butcher” and “his own meat cutting style” I doubt there is much we will relate to.

Frankly, this all makes me feel like I need to educate myself and write my own butchery book with both the words “complete” and “practical” in the title! Maybe even “realistic.” Until then, I’ll keep looking.

Whole Beast Butchery: The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and…
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ryan Farr (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Read more reviews HERE.

{Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains}
This is the first time I’m posting about this book, but it is surely not going to be the last! In fact I’m thinking this would be my giveaway next month because there isn’t a recipe I’ve tried that we haven’t liked.

I bookmarked so many recipes, I’m not listing them out, but here are the ones we’ve tried this past week.

Cornmeal Maple Biscuits– a quick substitute for cornbread. I told my husband we’d be having these with the last of our BBQ ribs instead of cornbread and he was very disappointed and upset… until he tried one and declared them delicious.

Honey Whole Wheat Biscuits- These wouldn’t make a good substitute for Buttermilk Biscuits. I tried to pass them off as such, but the honey flavor was dominate and the texture was more crumbly. However in the right application, these would work well!

Sugar & Spice Drop Cookies- Like little bity gingersnaps except with whole wheat flour in them. Yum! (Especially dipped in a glass of cold raw milk!)

Double Fudge Brownies- Not as fudgey as my go-to recipe, but just as delicious and these bake up more nicely in that I didn’t get hard edges that no one wants to eat. The amount of sweetener is the same, but since these have whole wheat flour in them I’ll most likely change out the recipe in our family cookbook.

There are tips for baking with whole grains, primarily whole wheat, but also spelt, rye, barley, brown rice, millet, corn, and oats with recipes for crisps, cobblers, and puddings, crackers & flatbread, yeast and sourdough breads, cookies & bars, cake, pie, quiche, pastry, quickbreads & muffins, biscuits & scones, coffeecakes & breakfast.

My sole complaint of this book is that there aren’t many photographs (just a center spread) and being a visual person, I eat with my eyeballs first (hence Foodgawker being a favorite site of mine) so that was a bit of a disappointment. Certainly not enough of a complaint for me to not recommend it!

Read more reviews HERE.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using…
  • Hardcover Book
  • King Arthur Baking Company (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Picked up any good books from the library lately?

Last update on 2024-05-22 at 19:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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