I've been meaning to do this write-up for months. On the one hand, I feel a little guilty for keeping this gem of a book to myself for so long; on the other hand, there are some benefits to my procrastination. I haven't just read this book - I've really lived with it. More than just an informative read-through, it has become a handy reference and recurring source of inspiration in our kitchen.
The cookbook is Shannon Hayes' Long Way On A Little, and the tagline sums it up nicely: "An earth lover's companion for enjoying meat, pinching pennies, and living deliciously." It is beautifully written and edited. The content flows logically and is richly educational without overwhelming. As a resource, it's easy to pick up and quickly find the piece of information or recipe you need. And, no less importantly, the nerd in me found delight in the occasional well-placed pun.
More than a cookbook, Long Way On A Little begins with an honest discussion on the sustainability of grassfed meat, followed by a thorough (yet concise) explanation of what makes good meat, from farming to processing to cooking. The remaining chapters include recipes and other helpful culinary guidance on: bones, fat, beef, lamb, pork, poultry, eggs, and "other unappreciated treasures." The pages include descriptions and cooking methods for different cuts of meat, crockpot meals, homemade lip balm, a life-changing technique called super-slow roasting - they teach more than I could summarize in this review. And the recipes! Braised beef in a cinnamon-orange coffee sauce, pork shoulder roast with caramelized onions and apples, rack of lamb glazed in balsamic butter, and so many other tantalizing dishes to choose from. We made the slow-cooked beef shanks with bacon and tomatoes when my mom was in town, and it was a hit.
Probably the most convincing reason to own this cookbook, though, is not that it will teach you why and how to purchase quality animal products but that it will motivate you to make the most of what you buy. For example, since reading the cookbook making stock has happily become a weekly ritual in our home. Ms. Hayes has a way of inspiring through Long Way On A Little that I would encourage you not to miss!