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Kate from Living the Frugal Life’s Desert Island Dinners

Posted by on Thursday 27 January 2011 in desert island dinners | 2 comments

I mentioned earlier that I had a bit of a wacky idea a few days ago – “Desert Island Dinners”. Basically Desert Island Discs but with a frugal/simple living theme instead of music.

I picked Kate from Living the Frugal Life to be one of the first castaways – since she’s got such a great, inspiring blog and I wanted to get my hands on some of her simple living secrets!

First up, the premise:

You’re about to become a castaway on a desert island. The desert island will provide you with misc edible vegetation/wildlife and items that can be fashioned into basic pots/pans/utensils — but just before you’re whisked away, you have enough time to grab a herb or spice from your store cupboard; a special kitchen gadget/tool/utensil or piece of equipment; a cookbook; and a packet of seeds to grow on your any-climate island paradise. What would you pick to take with you? And which of your simple/frugal living skills do you think would be the most valuable while you’re there, and why?

And here are Kate‘s replies:

Herb or spice: Unequivocally this would have to be fresh garlic. I use it constantly and am galled when the stores of our homegrown start to get sprouty (round about this time of year), which leaves me with the dilemma of either buying store-bought, or making do only with our dehydrated garlic.

When it comes to kitchen gadgets my answer is pretty boring. I’d take a good knife. A good knife in combination with good knife skills will answer so many needs in a kitchen. I’m not much for gadgets, and a good knife would be very hard to improvise. For preference I’d take the Japanese made santoku my husband gave me as a gift a few years back. It pretty much instantly became my most heavily used knife. I’d been skeptical of santokus up to that time.

When it comes to cookbooks, I’m more of a skimmer than a follower. Almost invariably I end up departing from written recipes when it comes to cooking. I trained as a chef, which provides the confidence to do so. But when it comes to baking, in which I lack formal training, that’s a very different story. In baking you must follow fairly strict guidelines, prepare your dough, and then relinquish control to the oven. So perhaps I’d take a baking cookbook. Tough call between Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia, and Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking. Very tough call. Forced to choose, it would probably come down to the first though, since it’s so comprehensive.

One packet of seeds would be tough to choose. I’d agonize over the choice, but would probably end up picking Tuscan kale. It’s reliable, healthy, tasty, versatile, and has a very long season.

Most valuable skill – I probably couldn’t predict which of my skills would turn out to be most most valuable. Whether well founded or not, I have a pretty high confidence in my ability to do most things at least passably well, so I’m willing to try anything once and unlikely to give up in despair. I think I’ve learned to improvise fairly well, which would surely be a useful skill on a desert island. I consider myself a decent observer of the natural world, which would also be useful. I can garden and cook and am quite content with solitude. Again if forced to choose, the first skill, confidence, would be the one I’d predict to be most valuable. On the other hand, I have absolutely no sense of direction, so my exploration of the island would be very slow and cautious.

Thanks so much to Kate for taking part – I’m really interested in learning about santokus now so I’m really glad I asked! I also can’t believe I forgot garlic when I was having my cumin or chilli conundrum! How could I cook without garlic?!!?

Anyone else want to join in the mirth and merriment? :)


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. mama b

    the desert island dream~ i always reckon myself pretty handy and i think i’d probably do pretty well.

    i think a few bulbs of garlic would be my spice of choice too (with patience, i could use one to replenish my supplies).

    for a kitchen gadget (and being as it’s in a drawer in my kitchen i think it qualifies) i’d never even contemplate taking the boat without packing my swissarmyknife- my constant travel companion.

    the cookbook? well, i think i’m a little recipe dyslexic as i’ve never successfully managed to follow a recipe, but tend to follow my senses instead. however, being as this is my dream, perhaps i’d include some sort of ‘how to’ make wine out of any fruit…

    the skill i’d like to brush up on would be knot tying. with a good knot you can do just about anything. make a fishing net, a good hammock, or whip yourself up a sea-worthy raft to pop down the shops with if the dream turns to custard…

    • louisa

      Hi mama b,

      for some reason your comment got classed as spam and I only just retrieved it!

      As I said about Kate’s, I’m annoyed I forgot about garlic! And good idea about knot tying – that could be a very useful skill!

      As for the book, if you want a similar book in real life, Brian Leverett’s “Winemaking Month by Month” is pretty good – the later editions are prettier but the facts/recipes are the same in the less colourful older ones. We picked it up for next to nothing on Abebooks.

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