Book review: Encyclopedia of Country Living

My problem in entering this contest is not being able to chose from all the great survival and preparedness books that I have, they all have good information and I wouldn’t want to be without any of them. I’m constantly adding to my library, both in book form and on my Kindle Fire.

So, which one of them has inspired me the most? Taught me best? Encouraged me to keep going longer?

I thought back to the very first book that got me interested in all things to do with self-reliance, preparedness, homesteading, raising livestock, growing a garden, canning, living frugally.

That would be Carla Emery’s “Old Fashioned Recipe Book-An Encyclopedia of Country Living”. I found a battered copy of her 1974 edition at a local library when I was a young wife and mother trying to stretch our income to cover our needs and I knew it could help us out.
I remember sitting in the living room of our trailer late at night, the only one awake besides the cat, reading Carla’s fascinating book. She credited the idea of the Book to a subscription to Organic Gardening. Emery wrote: “It got me to thinking about how it seemed so many city people were wanting to move to the country and all the things they needed to know”. So she decided to write the “go to” manual for Back to the Earther’s, as she called them.
Unlike most books hers was advertised before it was written. She felt like she could adequately cover the subject in 2, at most 3 months, so she placed an ad for her book-to-be in the classified section of 3 magazines. The book would be written in installments for a total cost of $3.50.
She received hundreds of responses for a book that consisted of a Table of Contents and some good ideas.
Carla Emery started the Book in 1969. She was still working on it at the time of her death in 2005. Oh, she completed it! The first edition was mimeographed sheets that were collated around a huge table by a group of people passing the pages to each other. When the Book took off and the public became interested in it Bantam Books produced a printed copy, the one which so inspired me in 1993. From an original 529 pages the book grew to over 900 pages, single space, so crammed with information and experience that it reads like a novel in some parts. It morphed from being a basic country handbook to the 2010 edition which includes information on: living off the land, growing your own food, building a cabin…making egg noodles from scratch, delivering a baby, tap a maple tree, forage for wild food, use medicinal plants. Yes, her encyclopedia does cover all those topics, and does a thorough job of it, too. That’s just a smattering of the information available from the Book.
The Old Fashioned Recipe Book is exactly what it says it is: a recipe for living a responsible, self-reliant life. The Book taught me gardening and canning.
From Carla I learned how to raise chickens, preserve their eggs, and then slaughter the roosters and old hens. I made my own sausage from deer meat from her recipes.
Most of all I learned to work hard to do a job I was dedicated to: being a wife and a mother and the teacher of my children. Because of Carla’s work I was able to make some of my dreams come true. When I’m in need of new inspiration or a refresher course I reach for one of the 3 editions of her Encyclopedia. She was, and is, the best source of information I’ve ever found.

Book review: Patriots — Reviewed by Jeremy H.

I have not written a book report in some time, but I hate to pass up a chance for free gear. The book I would like to report on is “Patriots” by J.W. Rawles. When I was first introduced to the survivalist way of living a good friend of mine suggested this book to me. At the time I did not think that a fictional novel was going to be much help to me. I was wrong…very wrong! Since I have read it, I continually loan it out to people close to me in order to help them get on track when it comes to being prepared for a less than pleasant SHTF scenario. “Patriots” in all actuality is less of a novel and more of a “how to guide” on the subject of group survival. The book is filled with colorful characters and a great story line which makes for easy reading. This is one of the few books that I have read that I could not put down once I started reading it. If you feel like you have hit a wall in your personal training, have covered all your bases, or you are just getting started than this book is a must read for you. You will be able to learn about group development, barter and trade, communications, a little guerrilla warfare, and be entertained all at the same time. I don’t know how to stress enough how important this book is to anyone preparing for TEOTWAWKI!

Book Review — Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten

Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten
by Russ Cohen
Review by Dee B.

Wild Plants I Have Known . . . And Eaten (Russ Cohen, 2004)

Book Review by Dee Burke

Have you ever wondered how you’d feed your family during a crisis if for some reason your food storage wasn’t sufficient or available? What if the supermarket shelves were empty? If you know a thing or two about foraging for food in the wild, you likely won’t go hungry.

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Russ Cohen, author of Wild Plants I Have Known . . . And Eaten. Over the course of an hour or so, I sat and listened to the voice of foraging wisdom, stared at images of plants I recognized as weeds growing in and around my own yard, and sampled treats made with foraged foods: autumn olive fruit leather and barberry/hickory nut thumb print cookies. I came away with a desire to take a nibble on the wild side and felt comfortable enough after what I’d heard to seek out some wild edibles on my own. So, of course, I bought the book. I wasn’t disappointed.

Wild Plants I Have Known . . . And Eaten contains a great deal of information in a straight forward, easy to read format. It’s a good starting point for beginners. It opens with an introduction to foraging, followed by information on more than 40 edible plants that focuses on those easily identified. Cohen encourages consulting a field guide specific to the reader’s area, and he provides the necessary cautions about being sure of what you’ve found before consuming any of the plant. At the same time, he makes foraging seem like something anyone could do.

Perhaps the most tempting part of the book is the recipes, proving foraged plants are not just salad greens or nuts. After a walk in the woods at the right time of year, you might feast on cattail chowder, black locust fritters, strawberry knotweed pie, sassafras candy, and sumacade. Yes, sumacade. The fruit of the unmistakable staghorn sumac can be made into a drink that looks and tastes remarkably like pink lemonade (and is high in vitamin C). Just the thing on a hot afternoon. I know because it was the first wild edible I harvested after reading the book.

While the focus of this book is wild edibles in New England, there is information on plants found across the country: stinging nettle, day lilies, invasives like garlic mustard, and every lawn owner’s nemesis, the dandelion. A particularly nice feature is the chronological listing at the back of the book identifying when each plant (and which part) is in season.

If you can find a copy of Wild Plants I Have Known . . . And Eaten, grab it. You just might find yourself inspired to make wild edibles a part of your regular diet now simply because they’re good to eat even when you still have those easy supermarket options.