Cooking, Home, How To, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Plants, Woginrich-Jenna

#573 Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Made From Scratch by Jenna WoginrichMade From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Jenna moved from the mountains of the Appalachians to northern Idaho, where it’s incredibly cold. Jenna made a conscious decision to return to a simpler way of life. Her dogs could pull her on a sled. She bought household items from antique stores. She learned to can items, raise chickens, grow vegetables, and play the violin. Jenna is something of a woman after my own heart.

Jenna tries to homestead, a bit in Idaho. She learns the pitfalls and joys of raising chickens. They’re great for pest control, but they might wander into the neighbor’s yard or get eaten by the dogs. Jenna learns to bake bread. She extols the virtues of mountain music.

Suddenly, Jenna learns she has to move to Vermont. Jenna packs up her animals and instruments and goes. This is where Jenna’s other book, One Woman Farm comes into play.

What I liked

I admire Jenna so much. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed her other book, and, yes, I know I read them out-of-order. I really like the idea of learning to do as much as possible yourself. It’s good to know how to do different things. It’s good to know how to bake bread from scratch and grow vegetables. I love that Jenna tackled all of this herself. It’s a big responsibility, but it brings joy and fulfillment to her life.

I love that Jenna learned to play the fiddle on her own. Seriously, I’m going to order a fiddle and that book Jenna recommends and learn myself. I’ve always wanted to. Jenna speaks of a music tradition that is part of my own family. I had a great-great uncle who was in the Foxfire books for fiddle-making. Some of his wood works are still around the area where he lived.

What I didn’t like

I liked Jenna’s book and there isn’t a whole lot of bad I can say about it. Go Jenna. Let’s have a visit one day.


We need more younger people like Jenna. Capisce?

Weigh In

Would you raise farm animals by yourself?

Do you think it’s a good idea to know how to do things from scratch? Why or why not?

Cooking, Emery-Carla, Health, Home, How To, Non-Fiction, Plants, Reference, Self-help, Social Commentary, Spotlight Books

Spotlight: The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery


Do you want to learn how to grow corn? Do you want to learn how to kill a chicken? Do you want to learn how to dry fruit out? Do you want to know the times and temperatures you should use to can various vegetables and fruits? Do you want to know how to lay out your property? Do you want to know how to press your own sunflower oil? Do you want to how to survive without the electricity if you need to? If so, this is the book for you.

This book is roughly twenty dollars and it’s worth every single penny plus about a million. The information within its pages is so valuable. It’s hard to really put a price on it.

Apparently this was a project lovingly kept up by one woman. There is actually a picture of her in the back of the book. She is/was apparently the queen of doing it yourself.

I can look up any vegetable or fruit except for obscure foreign products in this book. I can look it up and learn what do with it. Should I dry it out? Should I can it? Should I leave it in the ground? How should I save the seeds? What are some recipes to prepare this vegetable or fruit? It’s all there.

This book is huge by the way. It’s at least four inches thick in addition to being tall and wide for a book. Imagine your biology textbook from college times two. That is how big this book is.

The great thing about this book is that more people are getting interested in homesteading. They’re not all necessarily in the country either. Plenty of people are doing something called urban homesteading. They make the most of what land they have. It’s no big deal for them to shove a few chickens, a vegetable garden and a few fruit trees in their tiny city backyard. People out in the country are doing even more. People want to know where their food comes from. They want to know if it’s GMO or not. They want to know if it’s organic.

Many people today are concerned about foods being genetically modified. Currently, it is not a law that food production companies have to label GMO ingredients in the ingredient list. Needless to say, people are a wee bit concerned about this. That is why they turn to books like this to learn how to do it all on their own.

In addition to the instructions within this book on how to do just about everything, there are resources pointing you in the right direction to buy your supplies. Companies that produce seeds are listed. Solar panel companies are listed. Co-ops that sell heritage breed animals are listed. Page after page of where to get what you need is in this book.

They even tell you how to milk a goat. What other book tells you how to do that? There is also an interesting section on making cheeses. Yes, it is possible to make cheese on your own. Imagine that, you don’t have to actually buy cheese at a store. Although, the milk you buy at the store probably won’t work to make cheese. Our milk is “ultra pasteurized” now. This means the milk is heated to such a high temperature in order to kill the bacteria more inherent in our milk because of excessive anti-biotic and posilac use that the process changes the make up of the milk. It won’t curdle like it is supposed to. The proteins are damaged. You can’t make cheese out of milk from the grocery store. In most cases you would have to invest in some raw milk, which is actually illegal in some states. I know it’s kind of weird. Milk is illegal in some states, go figure. Carla doesn’t really get into that in this book, but just remember that if you want to make some cheese from a recipe in this book.

What I liked: I like how this book is so hands on. I can pretty much read about everything I would need to do to be able to feed and clothe myself without a grocery store. Well, maybe not everything, but most of it is there. I really have to hand it to Carla Emery for compounding all this information. With all that she did I am sure she rarely had time to sit down and write about everything that she already did during the day.

Here is the thing, I think it’s very valuable to know all these things. Sure you may know how to write a computer program, you may know how to mow the lawn on your riding lawn mower, you may know how to fix the car, you may know how to write a professional presentation, you may know how to take beautiful photographs, but if you don’t know how to do the stuff in this book you are screwed is something major ever happens.

Let’s imagine for a minute. What if our country faced some of the hard times Germany faced after both the World Wars? What if? Well, most of us would be in a pretty sticky situation. The grocery store is at least empty, if not entirely out of business. Where is your food coming from? Do you know how to hunt? Do you know how to fish? Do you know how to dig up potatoes? What’s potatoes precious? If not, you have to rely on others to do this for you and others are going to want some type of payment. This payment may be money or it may be goods, but you’re going to have to part with more than a little cash to get your food.

What I didn’t like: I have a paperback version of this book. I wish it was a hardback. Hardbacks hold up much better. This is definitely a book that is going to be used over and over and over again. I might have to actually find a hardback copy in the future to replace this one. The paper is also not of the best quality. It’s more of a newsprint material, which I never like.

Buy this book. It needs to be on your bookshelf.


Angier-Bradford, Health, Non-Fiction, Plants, Spotlight Books

Spotlight: Free for the Eating by Bradford Angier

I come across a lot of books which I am not going to outright read because they are more for reference or valued in some other way. This is one of  those books. I have added a new spotlight book category for the books I come across which I’m not going to read every single word of, but I enjoy and value none-the-less.

This book was published back in 1966, which was in the very midst of the Cold War. The world knew the dangers of the atomic bomb and doomsdayers had another reason to fear. The author of this book is part doomsdayer and part naturalist.

One of the best quotes from the book is:

It may happen that you and yours will be compelled to seek sanctuary in the outdoors because of those ever increasing threats to civilization itself–an atom bomb catastrophe or the even more terrible microscopic foes of germ warfare.

That sentence is actually the entire reason I bought this book years ago. I loved how the author thought he was trying to prepare everyone for a world of disaster, which could always happen. I mean it is 2012. The world is supposed to explode this year or something. Ptsch! Don’t you think the Mayans probably just got tired of making their calendar? Just a thought. I mean I really don’t care what is happening two or three thousand years from now. I won’t be here to see.

Anyways, I do love this little book. It’s very useful. The forward alone is great for entertainment, but I love the information held within its pages. Bradford divides the book up into sections.

  • Wild Fruits
  • Wild Greens
  • Wild Roots and Tubers
  • Wild Nuts
  • Wild Beverages

Each section contains listings of plants and descriptions of what they are, what they look like, and perhaps how to prepare them. Not every plant gets a picture and I’m a little bummed about that. I think every plant should have a picture. They’re also not photographs. The pictures are sketches, which is nice, but people really prepare photographs these days. I do have to forgive Bradford for this though because the book was published quite some time before I was even born.

Can you eat it? Yes, you can. Dandelions are like a wild superfood. My husband has been very interested in them lately because they’re a very good  anti-cancer plant, especially the roots, which you can make into a coffee substitute.

Bradford gives these instructions on making Dandelion roots into a coffee-like drink:

Roast the roots slowly in an open over all afternoon until, shriveling, they resemble minature dragons and will snap crisply when broken, revealing insides as brown as coffee beans.

Grind these roots and keep tightly covered for use either as regular coffee or for mixing to extend your normal supplies. Dandelions may be used year around for this purpose.

Who knew? My grandmother actually and everyone her age.

I really like that information is contained in this book that would be lost. There aren’t many people tromping around in the weeds looking for wild things to eat. Before there were grocery stores people just walked out into their yards and grabbed stuff. That’s how the world worked. That’s how we got all our modern day vegetables and fruits. Somewhere someone was like, “Maybe I can eat that.” When they didn’t die from eating whatever it was, some more people figured out that maybe they could plant these items in gardens. Over the years farmers were able to create domesticated versions of things like potatoes. So without people who randomly ate wild plants you would not be able to have French fries from McDonalds. Think about that.

As for the physical book itself. It’s small. It’s almost pocket-sized. You would have to have a rather large pocket to fit it in, but it would be possible to carry it with you while you were trouncing around in the woods. The cover is textured and thick, which makes it a little more durable. That is probably why it’s lasted as long as it has, 1966 wasn’t yesterday. The fork on the front is actually stamped into the cover of the book. It’s not just printed on there. I like the extra little touch someone put into this book. Mine is actually a sixth printing from 1971, so it’s not quite as old as 1966. There is no index in the back of the book. It’s located in the front after the table of contents.

Bradford has written other books, none of which I have ever ran across.

  • Home in Your Pack
  • Mister Rifleman
  • We Like it Wild
  • Wilderness Cookery
  • How to Go Live in the Woods on $10 a Week
  • On Your Own in the Wilderness
  • Living Off the Country
  • How to Build Your Own Home in the Woods
  • At Home in the Woods
  • Skills for Taming the Wilds

I wonder if by any chance this guy was related to Jean Craighead George because he really liked to be outside.

This is Bradford by the way. Just look how he rolls, suspenders, hat, pipe, glasses and lots of personality. I wonder if he killed him a bear when he was only three? No, of course, Bradford wasn’t Davy Crockett, but he sure was an interesting guy.

Upon doing a little research on Angier, I found out that he was a lover of Thoreau, I didn’t see that one coming. *I roll my eyes* Everybody who loved Thoreau decided to run off into the woods and be one with nature and all that jazz. I am not denying that it might be a very good thing to do, it’s just a little extreme for most people.

In fact, Bradford was so Thoreau-ish, that he inspired others to run off into the woods as well. People actually thought Bradford was so awesome that they packed up the kids and headed for the hills, there weren’t even any air raid sirens going or anything, they just went.

Free for the Eating just has so much personality. Bradford was a little extreme, but this book is just great. I love it. There is no way this book will leave my collection. It’s just too neat. If you ever happen to see this at the thrift shop or the flea market pick it up. You’ll be glad.