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Book Review: A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen

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Last December, I told you about a Kickstarter I was participating in, for Kate Downham’s then upcoming cookbook, A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen. The Kickstarter was a success, and Kate’s book is available starting today! I received a copy for my support and want to tell you about it, and about a giveaway. 

A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen: Homestead Kitchen
Skills and Real Food Recipes for Resilient Health
What I really like about this particular cookbook, is that it is more than a recipe book. It’s a manual of how to harmonize a healthy, seasonal diet with a healthy, natural lifestyle. The introduction is filled with valuable tips and information. It discusses the traditional foods approach to eating, tools for the off-grid kitchen, an excellent section on cooking on a wood cookstove, ways to keep food fresh without a fridge, and cooking with small-scale solar. All very practical!
The sections that follow are organized according to season. Each section includes recipes, how-tos, and preservation techniques. It should be noted that the author is Australian, and so follows Australian protocols for canning. She encourages those who follow USDA recommendations to do so. All recipes are easily adaptable to USDA guidelines.
Recipes are keyed so you can find gluten-free, paleo-friendly, grain-free, dairy free, vegetarian, and other options. Recipe notes and useful tips are scattered through-out the book. The recipes include both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures, and metric and imperial measurements. 
Winter begins and ends the book with a seasonal focus on root cellar vegetables. Recipes include bone broth, soups, and stews. Interesting, informative sections include developing your own soup and stew recipes, cooking a perfect roast on a wood cookstove, and getting started with home butchery. 
Early spring begins with eggs and greens (both garden grown and foraged); late spring adds dairy. Recipes include rice bowls, soups, casseroles. basic cheese making, plus other dairy goodies. Informational sections discuss nettles as a storable superfood, edible weeds and wild plants, and how to keep diary products fresh without a fridge. 
Summer moves into fresh vegetables with a variety of recipes for vegetable dishes, dips, and hummus. Late summer includes fruits and preserving the harvest. You’ll learn how to preserve fruit without cane sugar, how to make apple core cider, making jam the old way, and how to make herbal medicines. Summer preservation techniques include dehydrating, pickling, and water bath canning. 
Autumn introduces lacto-fermenting with techniques and recipes to try. The seasonal focus is on potatoes, fruits of the season, preserving tomatoes, and how to utilize all parts of the yearly pig. How-tos include butchering without a saw, stuffing sausages, rendering lard, and how to make your own ham, bacon, and sausages.
The last section, “Grains, Sourdough, and Year-Round Recipes,” is also excellent. It includes discussions on grain intolerance versus glyphosate intolerance, soaking and cooking grains, and whole grain baking. There are loads of tips, tricks, and recipes for sourdough, including gluten-free sourdough. I especially appreciated the off-grid approach for baking bread in both winter (when it’s too cold!) and summer (when it’s too hot!) Recipes include crispy Dutch oven bread, tortillas, pizza and foccacia crusts, pie crust, crackers, and sweet baked goods. Kombucha and condiments round out the year-round recipes.
As both a cookbook and reference manual, this one is comprehensive, well written, and interesting reading. Hardcover and paperback copies are available at Amazon, and the epub edition is available at Permies. Plus, is hosting a giveaway. Between now and Friday, participants can enter to win one of four copies. Details here.


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