#35 Buy an old cookbook

If your favorite cookbook doesn’t include instructions on how to dress and cook a squirrel, it’s not going to be much use after the global climate change cataclysm.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Cooking is cultural, sociological, environmental and historical. What we cook depends on what’s available in our local grocery store or market. As globalization and international trade have grown exponentially in recent years, we’ve grown used to seeing ingredients from around the world on local grocery shelves, like Bulgarian feta, Italian proscuitto and Philippine tilapia.

As ingredients have changed, so have cookbooks, which was nice while the global supply chain still functioned. When it collapses and you have to rely on locally-grown ingredients, your fancy-pants modern cookbook will be next to useless. Well, I suppose you could use it to start a fire.

Luckily, I have the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking on my shelf. It includes detailed instructions for how to dress and cook squirrel, opossum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver, armadillo, and seven different ways to prepare rabbit. Plus recommended side dishes.

The 2006 edition only offers this advice: “Small game can be cooked following most recipes for chicken.” To survive on local game post-cataclysm, most of us will need more guidance than this.

I mean, the recipe for moo shu tempeh looks tasty – I’ll give it a try it while I can still buy the ingredients. But the odds of finding shiitake mushrooms, wood ear fungus, sesame oil, canned bamboo shoots and tempeh on the grocery shelf after the cataclysm are slim.

I’m keeping my old fashioned cookbook with old fashioned local ingredients in my cataclysm survival kit.


5 Responses to #35 Buy an old cookbook

  1. Cheryl says:

    When I read the phrase “dress a squirrel,” I immediately pictured a dashing hat and a tiny blazer. So maybe I’m not cut out for this. But I have trouble believing that just two years before I was born, my parents were eating muskrat and armadillo. I thought the mid-’70s were all about casseroles involving condensed mushroom soup.

  2. vbonnaire says:


    I own that cookbook too — haven’t been by since your garden tomato — something was wrong this year — for the tomatoes. Too cold? Red aphids which they do not get! Strange. Today I looked at Canada — farms. Charming. Safer. Colder? But, they feel like everything you talk about, B52. They do.

    My oldest cookbook is totally vintage 1900. Before “everything” you might say…
    be well—–

  3. blog52 says:

    vbonnaire, you may out-survive us all.

    cheryl, you might want to ask what else was in those mushroom soup casseroles.

  4. vbonnaire says:

    I have a vast collection of cookbooks and gardening books…part of what being a wife has been — but the 1900 one? Seriously — there were NO products, you know? People made stuff like soap out of their fireplace ashes…I swear!


    being a little jr. hippie in the 70’s probably helped me, doncha know……

    I’ll see if I can find one of those old recipes B52 — remember that 70’s book I told you about “Living on the Earth” — well, that is the post cataclysm bible of how to learn all the basics you talk about. When I was a kid? The hippies were all living like that! We ought to all have a copy I swear — the lady that wrote it is still around. My best friend and I made dresses from the patterns in that book in Jr. High out of Indian bedpreads — we are talking Brady Bunch era here…

    ps: Prince Edward Island — check it out! It looks fab. & water is no prob.

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