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Forgotten Skills of Cooking (2009)

by Darina Allen

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278493,929 (4.72)6
In this timely new book, Darina reconnects you with the cooking skills that missed a generation or two. The book is divided into chapters such as Dairy, Poultry and Eggs, Bread, and Preserving, and forgotten processes such as smoking mackerel, curing bacon, and making yogurt and butter are explained in the simplest terms. The delicious recipes show you how to use your homemade bounty to its best, and include ideas for using forgotten cuts of meat, baking bread and cakes, and even eating food from the wild. The Vegetables and Herbs chapter is stuffed with growing tips to satisfy even those with the smallest garden plot or window box, and there are plenty of suggestions for using gluts of vegetables. You'll even discover how to keep a few chickens in your backyard. With over 700 recipes, this is the definitive modern guide to traditional cooking skills.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Review from my food/menu planning blog:
http://twie.holeinthewoodsfarm.com/2017/04/forgotten-skills-cooking-darina-allen...

There are many cookbooks in my personal library, but only a few would I enshrine in the list of Cookbooks I’d Rather Not Live Without. One of these few, proud, elite cookbooks is Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen (the subtitle is “The time-honored ways are the best – over 700 recipes to show you why”).

It will surprise no one who knows me well that most of my favorite cookbooks are as much food science/theory books as recipe collections. I like to improvise. I like to understand. A book that can help me do this will always rise to the top. Forgotten Skills is one of those books.

I also like memoirs. Books that help me understand a person, a culture, or a philosophy are appealing. Forgotten Skills of Cooking is also one of those.

I like value. When I buy a book, I want to get my money’s worth out of it. Forgotten Skills of Cooking fits the bill here. 600 pages for $30? In hardcover? Glossy paper? With beautiful colorful photos throughout? Even if you just use it as a doorstop, it’s a bargain!

I eat seasonally, and produce a lot of our food. One challenge this can bring is coming up with ideas for food items. Forgotten Skills of Cooking takes a fairly novel approach to organization that can help spur ideas. It has chapters organized conceptually around types of food: Foraging, Beef, Dairy, Pig, Eggs and Poultry, Preserving, Cakes and Cookies, for example. Within each chapter, you’ll find information about that type of food, ideas and recipes for what to do with it, and information about the seasonality and social history of it.

So, if I turn to the Lamb chapter, for example, it starts with a story from Darina Allen’s childhood, and extols the virtues of lamb. It then explains some lamb anatomy and cuts of lamb, and the difference between suckling, spring lambs, lamb, hogget, and mutton and what they’re good for. This is followed by 8 procedures related to roasting lamb, a sidebar about using lamb fat, and 19 recipes involving or related to roast lamb. Then we get to slow cooking… There is even a section of recipes for offal: sweetbreads, liver, kidneys and the like. Most of the recipes offer good explanation of why things are done (mostly, but not entirely, in a traditional Irish style), as well as suggestions for modification and improvisation around base recipes and procedures.

Each chapter follows a similar outline. Taken as a whole, Forgotten Skills of Cooking encourages creativity, seasonality, improvisation, and thrift. The potato soup recipe, and the accompanying formula that can be applied to any vegetable, is worth $30 alone. It even discusses the merits of duck eggs (far better than chicken eggs for many purposes! And ducks are more fun than chickens), how to kill a chicken, or gut a guinea hen. How about comfrey fritters? If you spend some time with it, you will become a better cook. You will learn to utilize the food resources you have better.

Really, what more can one ask of a cookbook than that? When I am at a loss for ideas, Forgotten Skills of Cooking is often the first place I turn. When I have some rare or ephemeral food item I want to celebrate, I open the big green book. If I were stranded on a rainy island in the north Atlantic and could bring only one cookbook, this would be it. ( )
  chadgard | Sep 28, 2017 |
Well, much of this was old hat to me. A lot of the rest is beyond what is possible in my situation. (The next time your cow calves... Even hanging meat in a cool place is tricky much of the year. ) But I don't want to write much, as I need to make a batch of beetroot and ginger relish before we go out this afternoon. A lot of the recipes look good. Some of the baking recipes look particularly interesting.

I did get very tired of the constant mention of how much better home grown meat is. Well, yes, but for how many of us is that a real option? I could probably raise chickens if I were willing to give up travelling. Anything bigger is not realistic at all.

Well, the relish is processing now, and I think I will enjoy it. Luckily I tasted about half way through the cooking process and doubled up on the ginger and vinegar (noted in cookbook). It also wanted a fair amount more salt and pepper than I had used at first. Next time, of course, I will use less wine to make up for the vinegar, as I also had to boil off extra liquid. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Dec 11, 2014 |
All the things your mother (or grandmother or great grandmother) never told you. ( )
  jontseng | Jan 5, 2011 |
Darina Allen is perhaps not as well known on this side of the pond as Gordon Ramsey (pushing for the use of more fresh, local ingredients in restaurants), Jaime Oliver (great success in moving British schools towards a more healthful school lunch menu, now here in the US working towards the same goal) or Prince Charles (highly involved in the organic/slow food movement in the UK) but she should be.

Darina, called by some "The Irish Julia Child", has been running a cooking school in Ireland for some twenty five years. This book is the product of those lessons, imparting kitchen wisdom and food lore that our generation imbibed with our mother's milk along with the oft-repeated "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!" - wisdom that has disappeared under the onslaught of prepackaged, pre-prepared "food."

Darina and I are of an age. About the time that she started her cooking school I stood in my kitchen one day baking a cake. A young mother from the neighborhood dropped by as I mixed and asked what I was doing. "Baking a cake," I replied. My neighbor looked all around the kitchen, then asked again "What are you doing?" - and again I replied "Baking a cake." This time the young woman examined every nook and cranny, even looking into the trash bin, and then in great frustration practically shouted at me "Tell me what you are doing!" When I again replied that I was baking a cake this young woman said to me "You can't be baking a cake. There is no box!"

Darina's inspiration for her Forgotten Skills classes, which have resulted in this book, was a bit different. She recounts the time she caught a student preparing to dump overbeaten cream into the pig slops instead of simply turning it into butter. In Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best - Over 700 Recipes Show You Why Darina teaches us how to make numerous dairy products (yogurt, simple cheese & more), corn a beef, smoke fish, raise chickens and much, much more.

While not everything translates to North America - they have some wild edibles we do not and vice versa - this is a gorgeous book, well laid out, and just delightful to read. Whether you live on a mountain in the wilds of northern Vermont or a Manhattan apartment, you'll find treasure between these covers. Highly recommended, this is a book that will have a prominent place on my bookshelf for years to come. ( )
4 vote GrannySmith | Apr 2, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
Her brief but inspiring how-to sections are what make this book such a keeper; in contrast, many of the recipes, which are retreads from her 16 previous books, can feel out of place.
 
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In this timely new book, Darina reconnects you with the cooking skills that missed a generation or two. The book is divided into chapters such as Dairy, Poultry and Eggs, Bread, and Preserving, and forgotten processes such as smoking mackerel, curing bacon, and making yogurt and butter are explained in the simplest terms. The delicious recipes show you how to use your homemade bounty to its best, and include ideas for using forgotten cuts of meat, baking bread and cakes, and even eating food from the wild. The Vegetables and Herbs chapter is stuffed with growing tips to satisfy even those with the smallest garden plot or window box, and there are plenty of suggestions for using gluts of vegetables. You'll even discover how to keep a few chickens in your backyard. With over 700 recipes, this is the definitive modern guide to traditional cooking skills.

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In this much-needed new book, which has already sought high appraisal by winning the Andre Simon Food Book Award, Darina reconnects you with the cooking skills that missed a generation or two. The book is divided into chapters such as 'Dairy', 'Hens and Eggs', 'Bread and Preserving' and forgotten processes such as smoking mackerel, curing bacon and making yogurt and butter which are explained in the simplest terms. The delicious recipes show you how to use your homemade produce to its best, and include ideas for using forgotten cut of meat, baking bread and cakes and even eating food from the wild. The Vegetables and Herbs chapter is stuffed with growing tips to satisfy even those with the smallest garden plot or window box, and there are plenty of suggestions for using gluts of vegetables. You'll even discover how to keep a few chickens in the garden. With over 700 recipes, this is the definitive modern guide to traditional cookery skills.
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