Book Review – The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How: Field-to-Table Cooking Skills by Andrea Chesman.

The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How Review

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This truly is a book every household interested in getting back to the basics of growing, storing, cooking and eating their own foods needs. What a magical encyclopaedia!

And I have to say I owe this book an apology. When I first started reading it I thought “ho-hum nothing new here for me” as I grew up in a family who is still very active in growing, storing, making and baking as much as we can despite our lives changing and moving away from the farm life. I then realised I was being very harsh on a book. The author is very much a woman after my own heart and this book is a brilliant reference guide to anyone of any level of food growing, prepping, cooking and eating who wants to get back to the basics as much as possible.

Yes there were areas I already knew how to do hands down (and in some cases already do in a slightly different way) but I still learnt a lot of things and kept finding myself taking notes just in case I don’t end up buying it.

Though I can see myself buying it. In fact, I can see this being the perfect gift for my kids, especially my girls who are already plotting to turn as much of our large backyard into vegetable and fruit gardens as they can. And as they are only 10 and 8, I can see this book being a fantastic reference guide to help them (and me) as this plan of theirs develops.

Even if you don’t feel you have a big enough yard – or have any yard – or can’t have chickens or similar in your area, this book would still be helpful. Simply get what you can’t grow yourself from a lovely local organic farmer’s market and follow the storing, pickling, canning, freezing – ALL of the above – to preserve these foods for later. If you can’t grow it – buying local and in season and preserving as per the instructions given will make you a far healthier and happier person.

Well, that’s what I got from this book. Yes we still do hope to grow as much as we can… but I can’t fit a cow in my yard. And so next time I see my butcher about half a cow there are so many more options, thanks to this book, for me to try. As weird as it might sound, I’ve always wanted to render my own animal fats for cooking and baking so see, even I learnt something new! And the best bit about it is the instructions in this book are simple, to the point and easy to follow. It doesn’t matter your skill level, the steps are so basic – while being so informative – that you just go at your own pace with them. And, in most cases, you won’t need overly fancy equipment or exotic ingredients to achieve them!

The only reason I found I couldn’t give this book the full 5 stars is simply because I didn’t agree with all of it. That doesn’t mean it, or my own way of doing things, are wrong… it just means we do things differently. Plus, there was the usual America vs Australia differences in seasons, the names of things and so on that made me mark it down. Oh I know! I’m being terribly picky here! Though I will say I did like how both Fahrenheit and Celsius were used in the recipes.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. The author is a woman after my own heart and has done a simply terrific job storing and sharing this essential knowledge that so many people of my generation and younger have lost. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get these old skills back as we need to hold on to them and keep using them.

Would I buy this book for myself? As mentioned above, I probably would. Running joke my husband has is I have to stop reviewing books put out by Storey Publishing as I seem to end up buying most of the ones I review I enjoy them so much!

In summary: if you’re wanting to remember some of the skills our grandparents possibly had and want to use them to grow, store and make your own food – buy this book. I feel we all need to get back to the basics, no matter how fiddly and time consuming they can be compared to just going to the shops… the food we make for ourselves is better. You know where it comes from, how it was grown, how it was stored and how the dish they’re turned into was made. Our children need this book as they grow up and learn about food to ensure these skills aren’t lost.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

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