Review and Giveaway: "Hunt, Gather, Cook" by Hank Shaw

HuntGatherCook

In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan endeavors to create a meal solely from food he can harvest with his own two hands. As part of this experiment, he goes out with a friend to hunt boar in the wilds of Sonoma County, forage wild mushrooms and stalk the wily abalone. For Pollan, it was a journey of discovery. For Hank Shaw, it's just another day at the office.

Hank, a regular contributor to Punk Domestics,  pens the very successful blog Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook, which received James Beard nominations in 2009 and 2010. He's an avid outdoorsman, and with his past experience as both a line cook and reporter, brings a triple threat to the food world: A man who can hunt and forage his own food, make creative and compelling dishes from it, and then wrap it in eloquent prose. 

The book is an extension of that concept, albeit more specific in focus. In "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast," Hank takes on three major topics -- foraging, fishing and hunting -- and breaks down what you need to know about each of them. Within each section, plants and animals are grouped into like subcategories, the hows and whys of finding them are explained, and each grouping is anchored with Hank's own recipes. 

Hank's premise is simple: You'd have to try pretty hard to starve in nature. Food abounds in our very surroundings, even sometimes the most urban ones, and you simply need to be armed with the information necessary to see the bounty in front of you. Wild greens, succulent berries and even unlikely candidates such as acorns and daylilies are completely edible, with a little finesse. 

The book is highly pragmatic, well positioned as a one-stop resource for the DIY foodist. But while it conveys a wealth of practical information, it is also thoroughly infused with Hank's indelible voice, affable and approachable, and never dry nor schoolmarmish. 

While not absolutely comprehensive (conspicuously absent from the foraging section are mushrooms, a topic so broad and dangerous as to require extensive special training, and not for the amateur), it's an excellent starter kit for budding foragers and hunters, and a good companion for those with at least a little experience in the field -- literally. And I know I'll be referring to it time and time again. 

Giveaway
I have one copy of Hank's marvelous "Hunt, Gather, Cook" to give to one lucky recipient. To qualify, simply leave a comment on this post describing an experience you've had foraging, fishing or hunting. (Be sure to enter your email so I know how to contact you if you win.) For a bonus entry, click to tweet this post. Entries will be open through midnight PDT on May 31. Go on, you know you want it. 

Giveaway

I grew up in Southern California, and we would go both freshwater and saltwater fishing as well as dig clams. My parents were huge fans of pick your own stands, but I never encountered real foraging until I visited my cousins in Massachussetts when I was 8. I simply could not believe that they could go out their backyard and pick berries! Now I live in Colorado and am on the prowl for wild asparagus, mushrooms, feral apples and ancient apricots. There's also hops, chokecherries, PLENTY of dandelions, and plenty more I'm sure. The siren song of free food has hit pretty hard and all I need is an idea of what to do with it!

Spare me, Mr. Bear

My first solo backpacking trip was in Yellowstone National Park in serious grizzly country. While it was exciting to be alone in the wild, I didn't sleep much that night.
On my way back to the trailhead, I came across a beautiful patch of berries. I nibbled on them thinking, "I'll bet the bears wouldn't like me eating all these berries." I continued walking up the hill. As I crested and began my descent, a huge black bear came charging through the valley before me. He stopped 20 feet ahead of me on the trail and stared. I swore he could tell my belly was full of berries. He did not look happy.
I forgot everything I knew about what to do during a bear encounter. Turning from the bear, I walked swiftly back up the hill. By the time I had the courage to turn back around, the bear had lost interest and continued on through the valley. I was spared, but shaken.

I love the wild.

Fishing and Hunting

I have fished all my life, with the exception of my teenage years when I was too busy being cool....I had a great disdain for hunting and firearms, until I met my husband and understood what it meant to responsiblu and humanely harvest an animal to feed your family....it brought a new respect of our fragile ecosystem to me, and in turn a great disdain for factory farming. Foraging is an aspirational activity, that I am sure I will develop over time, as we hunt turkey, partridge, rabbit and deer.....We preserve a lot of foods seasonally, not so much foraging as enjoying the bounty of seasonal goodness....

Fishing and Hunting

I have fished all my life, with the exception of my teenage years when I was too busy being cool....I had a great disdain for hunting and firearms, until I met my husband and understood what it meant to responsiblu and humanely harvest an animal to feed your family....it brought a new respect of our fragile ecosystem to me, and in turn a great disdain for factory farming. Foraging is an aspirational activity, that I am sure I will develop over time, as we hunt turkey, partridge, rabbit and deer.....We preserve a lot of foods seasonally, not so much foraging as enjoying the bounty of seasonal goodness....

City girl

Grew up in an area where hunting fishing and foraging were not exactly smiled upon, so I've only been fishing once.

Where I dropped my pole in the water and ran away screaming because I caught a fish. I was 9. I am fired.

Morel Mother Lode

I grew up in Michigan and hunted morels since I was a little girl. I was always a "child of the woods" and one day I stumbled upon the Mother Lode. I realized that I had to go home first and get something to carry them in. So I flew home and grabbed a couple of grocery bags. On my way out the door, I shouted to my Mom that we were going to have morels for supper, lots of morels! I easily filled 2 grocery bags but was careful to make sure that I left some for the following years crop. I continued to go back (keeping it my secret spot, of course) until one sad day when it turned into a golf course. I've never liked golf to this day!

Poke(polk) Soup

As a kid every spring, usually while camping, my mother and I would forage for wild pokeweed when it was young and tender. She'd make a creamy potato soup with the pokeweed in it. It was delicious. I just looked it up and the berries and roots are poisonous!

Dandelion greens

My family is from Lebanon, where eating dandelion greens is quite common. Unfortunately not so common here! So to get my dandelion green fix, I've been known to help my neighbors 'weed' their garden beds in the spring.

Asparagus tastes of spring... And Kent Kings

My family would always pick wild asparagus every spring and summer. This mostly involved my cousins and myself riding in the back of my grandfather's stationwagon while he chain-smoked and my mother and her sisters would spy for the green shoots. When they saw them, the station wagon would stop, we'd pile out and run to the edge of the country road, then make several trips back and forth so the adults could be satisfied we'd been thorough enough. This same ritual also took place with morels, you just have to swap the stationwagon with brutally long "fun nature walks." I still love'm.

Hunting Wild Fruit

During the season I cannot stop ogling fruit of any kind. When it comes to harvest time I have a hard time driving because I always think I spot a pear tree out of the corner of my eye. Dangerous fruit addict! So excited for this book. I'm planning on buying, but why not try winning it first?

Also tweeted this giveaway.

Also tweeted this giveaway.

Fishing

One of my best memories of fishing as a kid was the day I hooked a 10-pound catfish at a mountain lake in Idaho. I was maybe nine years old at the time, and wrestling with a frantic fish of that size takes some muscle. My dad just sat back and said "You hooked it, you land it." I don't know how long I fought with that thing, but I do remember my dad laughing at me--and the bruise precisely the size of my fishing pole on my belly. (I'd braced the pole against my stomach while trying to reel the monster in.) I don't know if I've ever felt more proud than I did that day.

Down the road from where I

Down the road from where I grew up and now live, there is an abandoned orchard with apples, quince, and figs. I spent so much time down there as a kid, and am so happy to take my kids down there to gather the fruit. The smell of ripe figs and the sound of bees buzzing while we rest inside the foliage is heavenly.

Giveaway

Last winter I was DYING to get my hands on some persimmons and had no idea how to get some. I had gotten so desperate that I stopped on the side of the road and picked one, ate it and got back in my car before realizing it was in some one's front yard.

A couple years ago I was in

A couple years ago I was in France. My mother and I were staying with friends in a country home in a medieval village in Burgundy. I took French in high school but now can only recall a few words. Our French hosts wanted to read in the garden and we decided to walk to the next town. Near the old church we saw a couple gathering fallen plums from someone's yard. They urged us to try the plums, Mirabelles, which were so good. We tried a few then walked home and told our hosts all about the plums. To our surprise they demanded to go get some plums. We returned (in the car) to the village and foraged a bowl of Mirabelles and a large sack of prune plums. I made jam with the Mirabelles and turned the prune plums into a delicious tart. They still to this day talk about how great the tart was every time we talk. A truly multicultural foraging trip.

Meyer lemon mania

Back in 2001/2002, I was obsessed with Meyer lemons. They weren't so common in the markets, so I was all about finding people with backyard trees. I would approach people talking on the bus, I'd hunt down anyone who even hinted at knowing about a source. After about a year of obsession, I was standing at my best friend's house in the Outer Mission, smoking a cigarette and drinking a can of beer. I looked up and realized that this dive house, that was literally falling down around us, had the biggest lemon tree I had ever seen. I turned to a friend and exclaimed, "These are Meyers!" Knowing my obsession, my friend shook his head and said, "There's no way this place could have a Meyer lemon tree." I reached up, pulled down a lemon and proceeded to eat the whole thing in front of him. It was sweet, tangy and delicious.
For the next 2 years, I made it my mission to strip as many bags of lemons that I could carry, until my friends moved out.
To this day, I drive by that house and wonder if the new tenants realize what a gold mine they have

What a great book & I love

What a great book & I love Hank's blog... I love to forage for wild mushrooms & huckleberries. This year I'm getting into other items like weeds :)

This one is on my list

I'm lucky enough to be able to forage for many things in my own backyard (chives, raspberries, blackberries, sorrel, even mustard seed) but I'm really lousy at plant ID. I keep meaning to study up - I'll bet Hank's book could help with that!

Kinda' foraging for wild strawberries

My foraging experience is a bit unusual because it happened in a dream. Perhaps I got frustrated with the search for truly ripe, red strawberries that never appear in the grocery store, and rarely at the farmer's market. They are rather an ephemeral fruit! In the dream, I was driving with my family when I spotted a large area of strawberry plants alongside the road, and I made them pull over. I began picking them, and watched as my family drove away, leaving me to my wild fruit. I don't know how the dream ended; I just remember picking strawberries one by one and popping them in my mouth. It was a marvelous fantasy of a dream.

Sniff it!

My earliest memory of foraging is at the age of 4 or 5. We lived on an old Colonial homestead in Eastern Pennsylvania; on the property, there were arrowheads, overgrown roads that led to nowhere, and an abandoned spring house a little way from the house. One day I wandered over there, and I found a ferny feathery stalk of something. It smelled familiar, and I broke the top off and brought it home. My father identified it as wild asparagus. What a find. It may have been planted or just grew in the wild; I don't know. Old homesteads will many times yield a variety of edibles that were once part of a kitchen garden but have since thrived without human tending. Since then, I have made it a habit to sniff at interesting looking plants wherever I go.

Best raspberries

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Scotland we happened to spot a hedge on the Culloden battlefield that was completely covered with raspberries...we were there for over an hour and I swear they were the best I've ever tasted. I wondered why there were so many on there since it was a tourist attraction...so many people seem to be unsure if it's not in a plastic bag from the grocery store.

morels!

when i was still living in michigan, some decades ago, my paternal grandmother had enough land for her dairy goats & a half acre of woods. every year, my father would take we 3 girls out to look for morel mushrooms. when i asked what they looked like, my father said "like macaroni stalks with brains on top". the most awesome description ever :) oh, my middle sister found the most every year we went out.

Foraging for mushrooms

I have had great times foraging for wild mushrooms like Blue Indigos, and Chanterelles.

I also Tweeted about the

I also Tweeted about the giveaway. :)

Giveaway!!!

I'm so excited to see this giveaway; I've been drooling over this book ever since I heard about it. I grew up fishing with my dad, and I have very fond memories of heading down to Grandma's pond (despite my fear of her horned cattle), catching fish, big and small, then watching as Grandma or Dad dipped them in cornmeal and fried them in a cast iron skillet. Now I can add a beginner's foraging experience to that, and one of my favorite "wild" meals is cornmeal fried fish (in Grandma's skillet!) with dandelion greens cooked with garlic and bacon. Few things taste better!

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