Salt, Smoke, Time

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Salt Smoke Time, Homesteading and Heritage Techniques for the Modern Kitchen

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece

–John Ruskin

Maybe you’ve kept your sourdough starter alive for a year or two, or you’ve got some kombucha bubbling in the corner of the fridge. Feeling pretty brave about those pickled ramps you bought at the farm market?

Will Horowitz has you beat. He’s making Beach Plum Preserves and Knotweed Jam. I don’t even know what knotweed is, let alone that I could make jam out of it. However, I’m intrigued by Chive Salt, which sounds like it would be good on pretty much everything. And I’m waiting for the season’s first batch of strawberries to make Roasted Strawberry and Cardamom Jam.

Horowitz is a restaurant owner, and a forager, fisherman, and naturalist. He finds food in nature, alert to season and savor. Salt Smoke Time takes a challenging but worthy position–certainly outside the supermarket and the production systems that supply it. Whether you visit the farm market, fish, or forage, gathering that food can be expensive use of time and money. So Horowitz advocates making the most of it and not wasting a scrap. It’s good for the planet and the palate.

In an era of Instagram unicorn cakes and gig economy food delivery,  Horowitz’s heritage techniques seem untenable. He admits, approaching food this way takes a “gradual shift in  our mentality,” but the shift to skill, independence, and flavor is worth it.

Let’s honest, this is not a “what’s for dinner, five minutes-five ingredients cookbook.” This is a book for adventurers who are willing to engage with their food at an intense level. It’s like Euell Gibbons, with the refinement of chef, and the hands of a homesteader. Horowitz directs you to plants that grow wild, possibly on your street, that supply food and flavor, like bayberry leaves, garlic onions, acorns, and sassafras, and how to find them, prep them, and cook with them.

Beyond some peaceful foraging, Horowitz pursues “a sustainable and ethical source of meat.” Beginning with eating less of it and making sure what you do eat is as delicious as possible. To that end he shares his experiences of tracking and hunting, and provides instructions for butchering and curing. To break down a goat, he suggests making “the first cut right above the hip plate…”. Remember that. The recipes start out familiar with Maple-Cured Bacon, and then go on to Venison Gravlax, Duck Prosciutto, and Boudin Noir.

The recipes are tempting–Capered Elderberries and Dandelion Honey. Some, like Sour Corn of the Cob with Duck Liver Butter and Shad Bottarga, are sheer torture, unless you are prepared to commit to serious lifestyle changes. But Horowitz makes it sound easy, whether you’ve got five acres or an apartment balcony, there is a way to produce and preserve your own food.

We’ve become inured to the shrink-wrapped anonymity of Costco’s mass quantities. We’re skeptical of cooking from a well-cured cast iron pan that looks “dirty.” Recalled lettuce and ethically and environmental questionable meat is out of sight, so we can put it out of mind.  Horowitz won’t allow it–every walk through the woods is a chance to gather food, and a pantry filled with mason jars is a living place. Take a risk and take a bite.

 

 

 

 

 

Brined Lemons smoothed with the additional of vanilla bean.

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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