I've admired cookbook author Jane Bryan and her culinary skills for some time now. She grows most of her own food and is an avid canner. What makes her stand out is the fact that she actually uses all the food she puts up (in either the pantry or the freezer) in recipes all year long. It doesn't just sit on the shelf looking pretty. Wasting it would not fit her philosophy of food nor giving (read more about her family's journey to Eating Simply In Order to Give).
While many like the idea of the farm to table fad, this is truly how Jane's family lives... it sustains them; nourishing while warming the soul with most meals having traveled only as far as the garden to the table, only a few yards away.
Another thing I learned from Jane is how to think in multiples. For example, she has a very nice pie crust recipe (p. 86) which she makes in large batches and freezes. By doing this, she is able to make a quick meal or dessert without having to stop and make the crust. I like that the recipe incorporates whole wheat flour along with the white and it's actually written out in the cookbook to make 9-11 pie crusts for both sweet and savory dishes.
Pie Crusts (p. 86)
Table of Contents
Breakfast & Brunch
breads, Muffins, & Rolls
Salads & Dressings
Soups, Stew, Chowder, & Chili
Vegetarian Main Dishes
All Kinds of Sides
Cakes & the Like
Bars & Cookies
Drinks & Sauces
Preserving: Canning Help
Preserving: Canning Recipes
Equivalents & Substitutions
What You Won't Find
These recipes are almost entirely "from scratch", so you won't see a bunch of "can of _______" or "cream of ________ soup" unless it's a canning jar holding something from the garden or a slightly more exotic ingredient such as coconut milk. Occasionally there is a box of Jello or a prepackaged cornbread mix, but these can easily be substituted for those who wish to avoid using anything from a box. There are a few recipes that occasionally call for shortening (something I personally do not use much, but again, substitutions may be made).
Summer & Fall Pesto Pasta Salad (p. 44)
You also won't find ultra difficult recipes that require the home chef to have a culinary arts degree. For example, the Coconut Curry Lentils was an easy dish that required only two pots with an additional pot for the rice. Cleanup was very modest. On the other hand, the flavor was 5 STAR! I felt like I got a LOT of bang for my buck with this dish (so to speak).
There are plenty of basic dishes as well, but mostly in the canning section, where you WANT basics in order to use them in other recipes later on. But make no mistake about it, there are plenty of twists on old favorites such as Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 126). WOW! Sounds good, doesn't it!
Please note this book is chock full of recipes, not photos. However, Jane does have an extensive list of recipes on her blog with many great pictures. The advantage to having the cookbook is:
a) so many recipes in one location
b) something to carry around the kitchen while you're cooking (computers aren't so handy at that)
c) a resource for making notes in the margins
d) her canning & preserving notes
e) great material for curling up in bed and planning future meals!
Blueberry Crumb Bars
(please note, this recipe is on her blog, not the cookbook)
What You Will Find
If you've followed Jane's blog, you know she is a rare jewel. This gal walks the talk. And these recipes reflect how her family eats every day. Based on this cookbook, I'd say they're eating well and enjoying some great meals and lovely treats!
Because Jane consistently puts food up in jars or the freezer, she has included a section for each with foods her family preserves. For those getting started or wanting to know her particular methods, these pages will be an welcome addition.
Basic Tomato Sauce (p. 160)
Update 2/23/13: For clarification, please note that some recipes contain refined sugar and white flour. In most cases, easy substitutions may be made such as sucanat for sugar, soft white wheat (for pastries) or hard white wheat for other recipes.
I confess, my favorite thing about Jane's cookbook... her pasta and pizza recipes. Spring is right around the corner and as soon as asparagus is in season, I'm making this dish...
Pasta with Asparagus, White Beans, & Mint (p. 43)
"The bounty of all good food available to us is overwhelming in a world where so many are hungry." ~ Jane Bryan
If you'd like to know more about Jane of Thy Hand Hath Provided, please visit her blog to find out "Why We Do What We Do" or read her interview with me on the Homestead Tour from August 2010.
Enter To Win a Cookbook!
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of the Thy Hand Hath Provided Recipes & Preserving Cookbook, all you have to do is click on the options below. Jane is hosting 2 copies so at the end of next week, Punch Tab will randomly select 2 different winners!
UPDATE 2/25/13: Jane has graciously offered to give away a THIRD cookbook! Why not order one for yourself and if you win, give one as a gift to a fellow homesteader, a new bride, or someone struggling to cook from scratch? Spread the blessings...