Food Friday: Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry

Hello, world! I hope those of you that celebrated Christmas yesterday had a great time. After Food in Jars posted their best cookbooks/preserving books of the year list the other day, I went to my local library and picked up the three they carried.

This is not exactly a book review, given that when I started leafing through Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, what would have excited me a year ago just left me feeling overwhelmed. When once I would have thought to myself, “yeah, hey, maybe I should try making my own cheese” or “gee, I didn’t know that’s how you smoked fish,” instead I thought “holy cow, I don’t really want to dedicate the time to do any of these things.”

I am a person of serial enthusiasms, some of which reappear in a spiral-like pattern after years. In college, it was houseplants; then for a while it was cooking, then gardening, then canning, then cooking again. Meanwhile there was sewing and quilting in alternating waves. In all of these hobbies my eyes tend to be bigger than my stomach and if I go whole hog at the beginning, I end up spending a lot of money on supplies and ending up with a lot of unfinished projects. I don’t know if I’ve gotten practical, or just depressing, in my advancing years when I realize that most of the things I want to try will never happen, not in the grand scale that I imagine them.

So if you want to learn how to make cheese, or smoke fish, or make bone broth, or can beans, I would recommend Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s – it really is a comprehensive and readable guide to all kinds of food preservation. I, on the other hand, am going to return the book to the library with a clear conscience (and maybe finish one of those unfinished projects hanging around instead).

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