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Great Cookbooks for Families: So You Think You Can Farm

Reviewed by Katy Killilea

Would a real farmer tend her crops in clogs and a skirt? Be satisfied with a fifteen-foot radius semicircle of garden? Have no livestock of her own, but a mad crush on anyone with a chicken coop? My farm skills are scant, but I find the small-scale farm scene very appealing, and there are two books I’m carrying around that fuel my interest. They make creating a farm in my wee yard feel within reach. And both of these books have wonderful recipes.

countrywisdomCountry Wisdom & Know-How: Everything about this publication is noteworthy and strange. It is giant in size, grand in scope, and has the perfect recipes for  families: simple, delicious, wholesome uses for whatever you’ve harvested. Sometimes I have a bumper crop of arugula or zucchini, and sometimes I just buy and freeze too many bags of cranberries at Thanksgiving time. Country Wisdom & Know-How knows what to do with such abundances. And if you have a bumper crop of silken tofu, make the Heavenly Pie.

Aside from recipes, you also get: Erecting a Pole Woodshed and Constructing a Chicken Coop. Never mind Propogating the Best Blueberries and Concocting Elixers and Remedies. The information is presented in a giant, floppy book with tiny print (this may be just the thing to push you over the edge into needing bifocals) that seems to have been fashioned from newsprint and a grocery bag. This is the perfect book for a dilettante farm girl or an actual homesteader in need of a comprehensive reference.

backyardhomesteadThe Backyard Homestead: This chirpy volume will show you how to “produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!” And it sets out, clearly and believably, a plan for you to do that and more. The best ways to produce beaucoup vegetables, herbs, honey, maple syrup, berries, eggs, meat, cheese, and beer in an efficient area–and to preserve them for the lean months using regular stuff in your ordinary kitchen–are presented with ingenius organization.

While it includes instructions for milking your goat and butchering your turkey, this book is useful for urban and suburban farmers with smaller-scale farm dreams as well. It gets you looking at your yard with new eyes: envisioning a cow for milk and never mowing or weed-whacking again.

The details:

Country Wisdom & Know-How
From the editors of Storey Books
$19.95 Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (2004)

The Backyard Homestead
Edited by Cathleen Madigan
$18.95 Storey Publishing (2009)

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