In this book, I will explain and describe a way of cooking that is very much a way of life. As an herbalist, I enjoy cooking with many medicinal herbs that also have culinary value. As for the foods used, they will be a mix of what one may buy from a store, grow/raise on a homestead type farm, or source from the wild. I like beef, pork and chicken, but I do not like it to the exclusion of wild game… not at all! I eat a great deal of wild caught fish and even though I live in the mountains, I am only a morning’s drive to the coast and I enjoy fresh seafood… I am oyster fanatic! I love to garden both herbs and vegetables. I also forage for many wild edible plants and mushrooms.
My culinary philosophy is to eat as seasonally as possible and to include the widest diversity of foods possible. I believe that fresh and well-handled food has more than just vitamins, protein and carbs, fat and calories. I believe that real food has a life force to it that is lost when it is shipped long distances from where it is grown to where it is sold. My goal is, through careful cultivation and harvesting and the cooking and preserving techniques I use, to preserve and even enhance that illusive quality. I firmly believe that the reason my great grandparents mostly lived to be around 100 years of age was due to that very diet. As the American diet has become more reliant on processed foods and even what we call fresh foods are shipped over thousands of miles before they reach the store, Americans have become less healthy, far more prone to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and live shorter, less healthy and vigorous lives. Diseases that were once rare have become common. Obesity has become the norm.
This is not a recipe book, primarily. In this book, I will emphasize ingredients and seasonal options. The recipes given will be very flexible to the tastes of those who may cook them. The recipes are merely suggestions and are given for inspiration. The emphasis will be on ingredients and technique. The integrity of the ingredient is paramount.
Food should never be wasted if possible. Good technique allows us to utilize humble cuts of meat and vegetables a bit past their prime. It is a sin to waste food. I have been told that I “eat like a king.” Whether that is true or not, I do eat very well… better than I could buy in most restaurants, and at perhaps a 10th of the price of the average American who lives on fast food, prepared meals and grocery store fare. I am also stronger and healthier as a well-fed omnivore in my 40s than I was as a vegetarian in my early 20s… I’m also a lot happier and enjoy my meals far more!
What is the style of this cookbook?
Well, it is basically anything I like that is seasonal. It is not overly fancy for fanciness sake. I love an honest meatloaf as much as I do a fine pate. I have a rural southerner’s love of fish roe, and appreciation for caviar. If I catch a trout loaded with roe, I will cook some with scrambled eggs and salt cure some to eat on crackers or bagels with cream cheese. Sometimes, my meal is fried chicken and coleslaw. Sometimes, it is a pork shoulder cooked low and slow, for 10 hours minimum, over hardwood coals of hickory and oak. Sometimes I do make a classic French sauce. Other times, it is simple pasta with garlic, parm and parsley. Fancy without flavor does not impress me. The stark elegance of raw oysters with lemon juice is something I crave. But, as comedian James Gregory said, “Where I come from gravy is considered a beverage.” I am gravy fanatic!
My goal is not to instruct you how to cook like me. My goal has been to encourage you to cook like you! Cook with creativity and eat with joy. From that will come gratitude. Gratitude and love are virtues cultivated by the art of cooking and the enjoyment of eating, especially with those we love.
Ralph Birkenmaier wrote:... 'Hard-Tick Relapsing Fever'. The tick bite had put a rare and very dangerous spirochete infection (Borrelia Miyamotoi) in my blood...
Ralph Birkenmaier wrote:Hi! I'm Ralph Birkenmaier and I live in the Blue Ridge Mtns. of SW Virginia in the Riner/Pilot area. This story is for all you foragers out there. This last May I was crawling on the ground in my back yard to get under my house. I later found a tick embedded it my leg and removed it, and treated the wound. Three weeks later while sitting in my house, talking to my wife, I almost went comatose. I suddenly could not speak, I did not know who or where I was, or what was happening to me. When rescue squad showed up I discovered that I could not stand or walk, and communicating with anyone was impossible. Over a 9 1/2 day period, I ended up going to two different hospitals for many different tests. Some of my symptoms, were sometimes that I had a fever over 104 F, I had lost my memory (I did not remember the tick bite), lost my taste for food (I could not keep food down, ate nothing solid for 9 1/2 days), was on a ventilator for a short time, my body was changing chemically, something had my immune system shut down (no white blood cell count found), the teeth in my mouth started abscessing (four removed), almost lost kidneys, and many more symptoms. Eventually got memory back and remembered the tick bite, so the doctors did a tick panel on me and found that I had 'Hard-Tick Relapsing Fever'. The tick bite had put a rare and very dangerous spirochete infection (Borrelia Miyamotoi) in my blood, which if left untreated could have killed me, I am told. After the hospital stay I had to use a wheel chair, and then a walker for a while, along with three weeks of rehab to learn to walk again and to enjoy the taste of food once again. Even now months later, some foods taste strange to me, or my balance still seems off. I do all the cooking at home so I need to see how taste affects me in the future. I also seem to have low energy sometimes. So, be well and be on the look out for hungry ticks. PS: Judson Carroll, hope all goes well with your book