21 September 2010

how to learn and enjoy traditional american skills

Back to Basics:  How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills
The Readers Digest Association
copyright 1981
as promised...
From the introduction:
"Back to Basics is a book about the simple life.  It is about old-fashioned ways of doing things, and old-fashioned craftsmanship, and old-fashioned food, and old-fashioned fun.

Practical, useful information is provided on just about every skill and handicraft under the sun.  You will learn how to make your own cheese, raise your own chickens, harvest your own honey, generate your own electricity, and brew your own applejack." You also have access to information on "Creating a Homestead Out of Sundried Mud", starting a garden, preserving food and shearing sheep.

From the Table of Contents:
Part One.  Land:  Buying It- Building on It
Part Two.  Energy From Wood, Water, Wind, and Sun
Part Three.  Rasing Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, And Livestock
Part Four.  Enjoying Your Harvest The Year Round
Part Five.  Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead
Part Six.  Recreation at Home And in the Wild

Beekeeping:  One Small Hive Can Keep You in Honey All Year Round.
Honey!  And bees!

Cheese:  The Most Varied Of the Milk By-products
Cheesemaking is one of the last frontiers in our household, a forbidden fruit that I've been encouraged to ignore.  But c'mon, making cheese?  MAKING YOUR OWN CHEESE!?  I must do it.  What say ye, readers?  To make or not to make cheese?

Home Brew:  Fine Flavor At Modest Expense

And homemade wine!

Homemade Bread:  First Master the Basics And the Rest Is Easy. 
Which reminds me, I tried out a super easy bread recipe last week that I must share with you.  Five minutes of prep, that's all.

And lest you think that this is a total snoozefest, let me introduce you to some of the real gems of Back to Basics.

Coonskin for Heads, Cowhide for Feet. 
That's what I always say.

Making Your Own Moccasins.
I happen to have a stash of leather scraps and I can't say I'm not totally tempted to make my own moccasins.  Very tempted.

For Well-Dressed Hikers Fashions Never Change.  
That girl does look amazingly cool, doesn't she? 

And finally, a list of topics from the section on recreation:  Spinning, Weaving, Braided Rugs, Patchwork Quilting, Tanning and Leatherwork, Woodworking, Scrimshaw, Metalworking, Flower Drying and Pressed Flowers, Gourd Craft, Soapmaking, Candlemaking, Basketry, Crafting a Mountain Dulcimer.

Sounds a little bit cooler than what you did last weekend, eh?  Are these projects wonderfully tempting to anyone else?  If after work today I could go home and make a batch of cheese, check on on the homemade brew and then start work on a mountain dulcimer... well, my spirits would be in very good shape.


  1. "make your own cheese...and brew your own applejack." priceless. do it up.

  2. Hey, Christine, this is Elizabeth from Whole Living. I found your blog (and it's, of course, awesome), and I say ummmmm...NO BRAINER, make some cheese!

    Cheese is my vice, I couldn't imagine giving it up!

    I'm going to bake bread this week for the first time, I think.

    K I'll shut up now.

  3. Makin' cheese and brewin' applejack. Officially putting them on my to-do list!

    Hey Elizabeth! Glad you found me over here. Report back on the breadmaking and I'll report back on the cheesemaking whenever I get around to it.

  4. I've got a mountain dulcimer in kit form that I never completed. It's better than half built. I've still got the directions. Want it?

  5. Ooh maybe! Next time I'm over I'll check it out and see if my dulcimer-making skill level is up to it :)

  6. Wow...can't tell you how much I'm enjoying reading your blog!

  7. Just found your blog through your cider post on HOMEGROWN- love the sound of that book!


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