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Did you ever wonder how food was cooked and things made back in the good old days?
If you do, then The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home: The Happy Luddite's Guide to Domestic Self-Suffiency might be for you!
When I first heard about this book, I thought it would be about homesteading - raising crops and livestock, providing your own energy, and otherwise living on your own. Instead, authors Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger Henderson wrote this book to "spread the spirit of antiquated self-sufficiency throughout the household," as they say in the forward. The book is written for "people who love to cook, love fresh natural ingredients and old techniques for preservation; people who like doing things themselves with a needle and thread, garden hoe or handsaw."
Much of the book is filled with old-fashioned recipes, categorized by ingredient: grains, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, dairy and eggs, desserts, and brewing and distillation. The book also gives old-fashioned, hand-performed instructions in sewing, making quilts, rug braiding, gardening, and building projects.
It's written in a folksy style that makes for an interesting read, even if you don't actually try the recipes or skills. It's interesting to read about how bread was made before yeast was commercially available. Or how you can make cheese without a laboratory full of supplies from a cheesemaking website. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think you will, too!
But if you want to try the recipes or crafts, the book gives plenty of details and tips on how to do them. For instance, I've wanted to make a quilt or a braided rug for years, ever since I read about them in Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette, but I never have done either - this book gives lots more details about how to do both.
Interested in reading this book? It's just been released, so it might take a while to find it at your public library. You can purchase it at Amazon.com. For more information on the books and for other old-fashioned recipes, check out the authors' blogs, Ken Albala's Food Rant and Rosanna Nafziger Henderson's Paprika.
For Frugal Food Thursday this week, I decided to try a recipe from this book - I chose the Apple Cider Doughnuts. The fall seemed like the perfect time to give this recipe a try.
The ingredient list was pretty simple and the instructions were easy to follow. The recipe calls for frying the doughnuts in lard, but that is a no-no in my household, so I used canola oil instead. And I went with commercial apple cider from ALDI instead of unpasteurized cider that was called for. I also found that the batter needed more flour than was originally called for in the recipe.
These were perfect just out of the pan, cooled just enough so they wouldn't burn the roofs of our mouths. The authors suggest that if you have leftovers, put them in a bowl, sprinkle with apple jack whiskey, then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!
The recipe appears in the book in a paragraph style, but I am presenting it here is a more conventional recipe format. But you should definitely get the book and read it in the original format - it is much more entertaining!
Here's the recipe:
APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS
(adapted from The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home)
1/2 stick butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 cups apple cider
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
For the topping:
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla and nutmeg. Add the eggs and mix until well-blended. Then add the apple cider and mix again.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; the batter should be fairly stiff.
In a separate small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the doughnut topping.
Heat canola oil in a skillet. Add spoonfuls of batter and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Flip the doughnuts and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove the doughnuts to a wire rack placed over a metal baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Continue, adding more oil as needed, until all the batter is used up.
Makes about 24 doughnuts.
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