It's been a quite a while since I've posted a book review on this blog, but I recently read a cookbook that has been in my collection for perhaps a couple of years: A Prepper's Cookbook: Twenty Years of Cooking in the Woods by Deborah D. Moore. I don't remember where I found this little gem, but it is available from retailers online. Originally, I purchased this because the advertisement I saw said that it contained information on how to cook on a woodburning cookstove. It does indeed.
Situated in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Ms. Moore's home is remote, and she has to be ready to be snowed in for days at a time. Thus, she keeps a very well-stocked pantry that is a combination of home-preserved and store-bought foods. Ms. Moore has also cooked on her Enterprise King wood cookstove for more than twenty years, so she definitely qualifies as an expert on prepper cooking. For me, though, the best thing about this cookbook is that it is a modern collection of recipes that have all been regularly prepared on a woodburning range.
Ms. Moore has included a very wide variety of recipes in her cookbook. With Harvest Chowder on page 19 and Pecan Chicken on page 165, she's got literally everything from soup to nuts. The recipes vary greatly in their difficulty levels too: some are a lot of work; others are simple, but all are made with ingredients that could easily be a part of any well-stocked pantry and freezer.
Before each section of the cookbook, Ms. Moore has placed brief essays on many different subjects. This is where she includes five pages of information about cooking on a woodburning cookstove. In such a short space, Ms. Moore does an excellent job of giving the basics. The only thing she says that I would disagree with is that she advises cleaning all of the ashes off the top of the oven box. I'm sure that on her stove that gives her the best baking results. However, in both the Qualified Range and the Margin Gem, I have found that leaving at least a half inch of ash on top of the oven box is beneficial. See, in these models of cookstove, the oven basically heats from the top down, so to create the most even heating, it is important to keep the flue on the bottom of the oven clean, but a layer of insulation on the top is good. Other than that, Ms. Moore and I are largely in agreement about these wondrous appliances.
On a side note, I read a negative review of this cookbook online from a reader who said she was disappointed because the information about cooking on a woodburning range was so short. I wish I could get a hold of her and direct her to my blog!
My only negative criticisms are that there was some kind of a printing error on one of the recipes, making it obviously incomplete. I also did not enjoy some of the essays at the beginning of the different sections of the cookbook. These are generally small, though, so they aren't a big problem for me.
When I read this book in the late summer, one of the recipes that really caught my eye was the one for "Canned Cole Slaw." I did not grow any cabbage in my garden this summer, but I had everything else the recipe called for, and the idea of having cole slaw in a jar was intriguing. I tried it, following the recipe to the letter.
On Sunday, October 18th, I opened a pint of it to see what it tastes like. Following Ms. Moore's advice, I rinsed the slaw twice. This allowed much of the sugar, vinegar, and celery seed to come off. I then mixed some sugar and a little pepper into some mayonnaise and folded that into the slaw. The end product was good, if a bit krauty, but even Ms. Moore says in her narrative that the recipe is not meant to be a substitute for fresh cole slaw, rather a close second during the long winter months when fresh produce is harder to come by.
I'm looking forward to trying other recipes from this cookbook in the future.