We sat down with chefs and co-authors Frederic Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson, who wrote a cookbook about being introspective, self-sufficient and autonomous at a time when most people are none of these things.
“We’ve lost an enormous amount of intelligence in the past 50 years,” says McMillan. “And we’ve lost a lot of skills. My father and most of his friends came from subsistence farming. Growing up they all had chickens, they knew how to slaughter a pig and pick apples and make applesauce. They also knew what it was to understand literature. They read Steinbeck. They read Dickens. They were well versed in fishing, hunting and music. They were even great at getting the information they needed without the Internet. It was called going to the library and studying.”
“Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse”, is an opus of a cookbook where you learn how to do everything from making a chaga mushroom stock to delicious smoked nuts, and even your own bouillon cubes. (Note: for that one you’ll need a hashish pipe.)
Still, we wanted to learn more so asked the Joe Beef gang a handful of quick-fire questions. For the sake of space, we’ve edited their answers together.
The Apocalypse is here…we have 5 questions:
MODERN FARMER: City or country?
JOE BEEF GANG: The country. We can feed ourselves in the country. There’s fresh spring water. Less competition. No climbing over dead bodies. If you want to be around the most resourceful, knowledgeable and the best environment to survive, go to the first nations reservations. They’ve persistently kept these skills alive.
MF: Below ground or above ground?
JBG: Above ground. Solar panels. Longer viewpoint so you can see danger coming. Vitamin D. Apartments at ground level don’t sell. It’s better being rained on while high than being flooded in a hole.
MF: Fresh food or canned food?
JBG: We have a cellar centerfold in our cookbook preparing for the fact that the fields and food will be gone. Canned peaches. Canned milk to be able to make ice cream. Good canned is great. Or how about dried food? Potato flakes, lentils, chickpeas, a good steady store of dried vegetables. Spices. Salted foods.
MF: Day or night?
JBG: People get manic around too much light. But a long winter? That’s hard too. But we choose darkness.
MF: Fight or flight?
JBG: To paraphrase Bruce Lee, “It’s not how strong you can withstand the fight; it’s how strong you can avoid getting into the fight.” This is not about surviving. It’s about thinking about not getting there in the first place because we’ve all acted like idiots.
Unless you live on some vegan moon of Venus, you’ve probably heard about bone broth. From leaky gut to stiff skin, this concoction will surely help cure one of the most unbearable ailments—hunger.
We sing the praises of L’Express in Montreal quite a bit—see the Oeuf en Gelée (page 57) in Book One—and their pot-au-feu is an absolute Montreal classic. This pot-au-feu is often on the JB menu in snow season, and the Pot-au-Feu (Summer) recipe (page 000) arrives promptly with warmer winds. This recipe doesn’t involve poultry, but you can adjust the times and add a few drumsticks or even a Lyonnais cooking sausage.
- 1½ pounds (675 g) beef brisket
- 2 pieces (1 pound/454 g) bone-in beef short ribs
- 1 whole veal tongue
- Two 1-pound (450 g) flat-iron steaks
- 4 white onions, each studded with 1 clove 1 head garlic, cleaned
- 1 bouquet garni: 6 fresh thyme sprigs,
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs wrapped tightly in the reserved leek greens and tied with butcher’s twine
- ⅛ to ¼ cup (30 to 60 ml) Kikkoman or other naturally brewed soy sauce
- Salt and white pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 marrow bones, 2 inches (5 cm) tall 1 large carrot, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 yellow turnip, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 leek white, greens reserved for the bouquet garni
- Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
- Like most of our recipes, this one starts with a large Dutch oven—not a shameless plug for Le Creuset, we swear; we just seriously appreciate the brand’s ability to distribute heat evenly and maintain a solid seal! So, place the brisket, short ribs, tongue, flat-iron steak, onion, garlic, and bouquet garni in a large Le Creuset.
- Add ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce then enough water to barely Add 2 generous pinches salt and the vinegar. Cover and transfer to the oven.
- After 2 hours, retrieve the pot and add the bones, carrot, turnip, and leek white. Add a little more water to cover, but not drown, the veggies. Cover and return to the oven for another 1½ hours.
There is something refreshingly carefree about giving a grandiose name to a dish made from canned and frozen food.
You may approach this dish a few ways: it’s a good occasion to hit the small-batch canned peach section at your local yuppie grocer, or you can put up your own freestone peaches at the peak of the season, and pick your own raspberries wearing vintage summer attire.
- 1 6 oz. (170 g) can Carnation extra thick cream or 1 small jar clotted cream
- ½ cup (120 g) fresh quark cheese 1 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- 2 pints fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 8 peach halves
- Papineau or shortbread cookies
- In a small bowl, combine the cream, quark, Amaretto and ¼ cup (50 g) of the sugar, mixing Refrigerate.
- Bring the raspberries, lemon juice, and the remaining ½ cup (100 g) sugar to a slow Cook for 5 minutes and proceed to strain the coulis through the sieve, while pushing with the back of a spoon to extract every last drop. Refrigerate.