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Book Review – The Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen

July 30, 2010

Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best – Over 700 Recipes Show You Why – Darina Allen 2009

Even if you have never set foot in a kitchen and if all you do with cookbooks is put them on your coffee table and admire the snapshots of amazing dishes, this book might get you (back) into the kitchen. 

This transporting (cook) book helps reconnect those interested in saving endangered domestic skills which have missed a generation or two such as churning butter, foraging for wild produce, and making homemade apple cider, vinegar, cheeses, and jams. Along the way, Darina shares stories, recipes, tips, and techniques that will inspire you to make all sorts of grocery staples we take for granted. This book is a must if you have a yearning for food of the past, or an interest in (aka… really want to geek out) making homemade food.

Side note on endangered skills: Our children need us to learn from our grandparents and those lucky enough, great-grandparents. Much like folk-lore, recipes also have a strong oral tradition. During our last outing my mother reminisced about her grandmother’s “Czech potato dumplings”. While she (my great-grandmother) was lucid many family members tried to squeeze the recipe out of her. Nothing measured, everything by sight.  Sadly this (and many others) dish died with her. This conversation has been one of many inspirations for my own personal cook book to hand down to my children. I am not going to assume the prolific status of my late grandmothers, but no matter how simple the dish I don’t want it to die with me, I want traditions to endure. I hope to relearn some of these endangered skills of my late (great) grandparents as to pass them along to my little ones. Even if they never make a pint of homemade jam (or insert other numerous food items)  for themselves, I want them to have the memory of helping their mother create them.

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